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The Cincinnati Experience

        Somehow I was granted the privilege of being a chaperone for 10 Nardin High School young ladies along with Stephanie Malinowski and Rosalie Sperrazza.  In two mini vans we headed to Cincinnati, Ohio to give a week of service to others.

 

           I cannot tell you the amount of people who said to me, why Cincinnati? We have so many opportunities to help people right here in Buffalo. True enough. But staying in your own city fills you with distractions, and you stay in the safe zone, and the unknown tends to bond with the group together.

 

           The best reason to go on a service retreat is that you see the world differently and you see each other differently too. You really grow in admiration of each other. New friends. New perspectives. And you become so grateful for what you have waiting for you back home. A family, a home, a comfortable bed, a dog, a school you are proud to attend, and the list goes on and on.

 

Please watch the movie to better understand.

 

        Our world was expanded in the city of Cincinnati. Driving over the Ohio River into Kentucky a few times, all the hills, all the stairs, the trains, and the historic row houses. We over came fear and we had a boost in our confidence that we can return home and paint a deck for someone too. We discovered the positive difference you can make in someones life. You witness immediate results and see the smiles on their faces. The young ladies saw the good in their own city of Buffalo too. Little things that they took for granted like our beautiful view of Lake Erie, walking along Canalside and the cooler temperatures. No matter where you go, you always stay loyal to your hometown and getting out of town just reinforces that.

 

 

 

 

          We lived in simple housing, cell phones were restricted, mirrors were hard to find in the house, and meals were prepared together.Each day began and ended in the chapel for reflection and prayer. What a peaceful way to live.

 

 

         We all have opportunities to mentor, to share our talents, to influence for the good , to life people up, to love and encourage each other, to believe and help others. I hope that Ava, Amelia, Adrianna, Caroline, Isabella, Leah, McKenzie, Melanie, Shannon, and Tori all realize how much I care about them and see their goodness and light shine so bright.

 

           Thank you to the City of Cincinnati who opened our eyes to the amount of non profit agencies that we don’t have to help people along when they need it most. The generosity of it’s residents is so impressive.

 

 

          See the world differently. Leave our distractions behind and go on a service trip. You will return home in a new light.

 

Sincerely, Trish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://franforthepoor.org/

The “Healing” Power of Dogs

This past week I had the privilege of speaking before the National Veterinary Associates who held a conference here in Buffalo. An established relationship with a friend that I met during our active years at the Junior League of Buffalo, Bethany Botzenhart who knew our story, asked me to speak about our dogs. She knew the power of healing these dogs gave us from following along on my Instagram account poodlewalker1.  Bethany is a strong reminder that our associations are truly life enhancers.

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I spoke about this blog. I spoke about how I use to write Christmas letters which were always filled with laughter with stories of everything that has always mattered most..faith, and family.

It helps to look back and see that even going back to my first posts confirmed that our life was deeply rooted in our Catholic faith. Those deep roots saved us.  We needed to dig deep into our faith. We are so thankful our faith was in place. Faith does not prevent the tragedies in life but it is there to catch and save you.

Our dogs were also there. No matter how trivial it may seem…our dogs gave us immesureable comfort.

These crazy dogs Rory and Lucy held us together in a very real way. Yes, a standard poodle and a cockapoo. One a better listener, more attuned to our emotions, more obedient, with her only desire to please. The other is the one we call “Baby”, she is the one we give belly rubs and attracts children on our walks and to our home. They are quite a team and proof that size and breed doesn’t matter.

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Here is Natalie with Rory at the Farmers Market in Buffalo not long ago. They are both natural beauties and reminders of all the beauty found in nature.

The dogs became our buffer, our way of coping of the painful reality of what has happened has really happened. Each of us, my husband, son and daughter needed those dogs more than we care to admit. Each of us has an unique relationship with each dog. When we needed time to grieve alone, a dog was grabbed before entering a room. We needed their comfort. We needed to touch, and feel and we needed to pet them.

There is no question that dogs live a selfless life and dedicate themselves to their pack. They look to serve their master and are constant companions in our home.

Dogs are life coaches without trying. They are certainly not our whole life yet they make a house a home and add wholeness to our lives.

It would be so easy to stay in our house and close the shades but the dogs depended on us for walks. Going outside and walking in all kinds of weather was incredibly therapeutic. The dogs reminded us how to breath in the outside air, how to look around, pay attention to all the little details on walks, the sights and smells, and the simple joy of walking. One foot in front of the other and looking up at the big magnificent sky.

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Natalie with Lucy.

 

The most important benefit of walking was connecting again with our wonderful neighbors who are not only familiar with the dogs but also shared in watching Natalie grow up and flourish before their eyes. There was no barrier for people to stay away from us because we were out sharing hugs and compassionate conversations. To eliminate the awkward barrier was crucial. Those dogs made sure no one stayed away and our hearts are so filled with gratitude to all the examples of beautiful friendships and neighbors.

The dogs added an enormous feeling of life back into our homes. They helped us feel alive again. When you hear the dog toys squeaking, the paws pattering across the hardwood floor and the loud barking every time the mail carrier, UPS delivery or someone passed our house..you can’t help but feel on alert.

Dogs will always listen. I think that is why God created them with such big ears. Dogs never tell you what you are doing wrong, they simply enjoy that you are there. You are present. That is enough. Dogs connect us and without Lucy we would not have visitors like our dear friend Sylvia who we joke doesn’t need vaccinations because she has received so many dog kisses slobbered on her face.

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Sylvia is a frequent visitor due to her friendship with Lucy.

I get a kick out of all the vocabulary words they know and how dogs know exactly what we are saying. Dogs even enjoy when we pray the rosary. Sure, they lay at our feet quietly and know that peace is filling our hearts.

Our lives will never return to what they were and our wound is so deep, yet we know Natalie touched so many by her smile and laugh, her kindness, her joy and her discipline and willingness to help others. We all miss her in different ways.

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The dogs are looking out the front window ready to bark at any passerby.

 

It’s crystal clear to us now the more you focus on how temporary this life is the more you focus on what is important. Value life. Value each day. Love your family. Keep it together. Draw your strength together during good times and bad. Marriage is sacred. Be there. Be present. Be loyal like the dog.  Show you care, be kind to each other, don’t blame each other, be gentle. Love. And above all else..Hold onto your faith. Celebrate the life rather than the death because the fullness of life is with God Our Father and Our Blessed Lady forever.

Oh, and you know that old expression, “Live each day like it’s your last?” I think we learned that from dogs.

Thank you for reading.

Sincerely,

Trish

One Year

Natalie lead the way. A natural leader by the way she lived. Here she is opening the gates for us at the Virginia House. Natalie was a history buff and loved teaching us all about the Capital of Virginia - Richmond. Natalie loved nature and was a natural beauty.

Natalie lead the way. A natural leader by the way she lived. Here she is opening the gates for us at the Virginia House. Natalie was a history buff and loved teaching us all about the Capital of Virginia – Richmond. Natalie loved nature and was a natural beauty.

 

It still doesn’t seem possible. It seems unreal. There is no possible way this could have happened. I still don’t want to believe it. Natalie. Our beloved Natalie. We just celebrated your wedding engagement. Yet, everything changed with one phone call. One unbelievable phone call. Natalie was in trouble. The hot air balloon she was riding in had hit a power line. We went numb. And we prayed. Not Natalie. She was never in trouble. She followed every rule. Natalie was a sure bet for a long and beautiful life.

Somehow the impossible came true. Natalie, the golden one, is gone from this earth. We were stunned. We fell to our knees and thought we could not get up.

Inside my narrow vision, I search for answers.  I don’t pretend to understand but I try. A dear friend sent me the book “Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?”  I did not read the book. I know. I lived it. It’s to develop deeper compassion, deeper understanding, to become more sensitive, more caring and more tolerant. You flaunt less and live with the realization that everything in this life is temporary. News stories and death of children hit you hard and you understand their pain. You realize every second of every minute counts. That we are on earth for something greater than ourselves. We are all filled with potential to make this world better and we have an obligation to do so. 

Natalie left such an impact. It’s no wonder. We are all in great need of quality people who have the ability to lift and encourage others. Natalie was so incredibly valuable to so many. And she valued herself and had the  confidence to encourage others by giving you that “you have it in you” feeling to accomplish anything you wanted to do. Suddenly you started to believe that you could win the Atlantic 10 Championships in the 100 freestyle, that you could lead the team in re-bounds in the basketball championships, that you could land that job you were dreaming of, that you could host and prepare a gourmet dinner or that you will find someone special in your life.

We can’t begin to express to you how much we miss Natalie. She was such a giver. Natalie gave and gave and gave. Her gifts were endless and she shared them with all. I used to to ask her all the time “how are you so good?” I still can’t believe how much she accomplished in 24 years. Natalie was so selfless, so disciplined, so joyful, unspoiled and loving.

I read this bible passage In Hebrews 1:3 Continue to love each other like brothers,and remember always to welcome strangers, for by doing this, some people have entertained angels without knowing it.

That’s when I pause and realize that Natalie was truly an angel. Natalie showed us how to live. We truly were indeed touched by an angel.

We search for answers and always will. There is no doubt that our Catholic faith has sustained us. Gathering together for the rosary each night brings us such a comfort. Instead of counseling we attend daily mass. We feel closer to Natalie there. Heaven and earth come together and our faith supports, nourishes and gets you through the day. I imagine the joys in heaven. I believe nothing can separate us from Natalie. Mostly I believe in God’s love for all of us. I believe in Gods promises of everlasting life. Natalie said yes to Gods’ will. It’s a scary thought and I know most of us want to be in control. We plan. We try to control everything. But if you say YES to God’s will you will be eternally happy in paradise.

Natalie always so joyful and happy. She realized all this life had to offer and that you need give to get. You need to love and be loved. I took pictures of her constantly because her smile and was so contagious.

Natalie always so joyful and happy. She realized all this life had to offer and that you need to give to get. You need to love and be loved. I took pictures of her constantly because her smile and was so contagious.

Our family gains strength from each other. Natalie meant so much to us and we all struggle without her. We never would have chosen this life but trust in Gods plan. Our marriage and family unit is sacred. I love my husband more than I ever realized. We are not meant to go through life alone and this sadness has made that crystal clear. Do you know how a team feels when the star quarterback is sidelined with an injury? We feel like our QB is out and we have to all step up and keep going onto victory in her honor. We feel like we have a lot more good left to do on this earth. We all make a difference. We all have no idea how we touch people each day. Natalie taught us we all have the power and the ability to lift others up and the ripple effect goes on and on.

This Mother’s Day I will imagine Natalie with the Blessed mother in heaven. I will pray for all the mother’s out there who have lost their children before their time. I will pray for our dear friend Ginny Doyle and her family. I will hold all of our friends close in our prayers for showing us so much kindness.  I am inspired to be a better person by the outpouring of cards and gifts sent to us. Our family will hold each other tight and I will pull out one of the homemade cards from the box I have over flowing with cards that Natalie has written to me. And I will read it over and over and remember what an honor it is to be Natalie’s mom. And what an amazing honor it will be to have Evan Jr and Caroline along side of me.

Oh Natalie. Your beautiful homemade cards are truly breathtaking. Show kindness. Show appreciation. Show love. Thank you for showing us the way.

Oh Natalie. Your beautiful homemade cards are truly breathtaking. Show kindness. Show appreciation. Show love. Thank you dear sweet Natalie for showing us the way.

 

Lead by example. Live to inspire. Love and be loved. Love conquers all.