Happy Tuesday! A while back I posted about an old friend whom I had not been in touch with regularly and had recently and sadly passed away. It made me ponder about “Touch Base Tuesday” where we would reach out to someone we haven’t spoken to in a long time to just say “Hey!” Thinking about that and my business partner, made me realize that Totem Tamers wouldn’t exist had I not reached out to Daniel after we had lost touch and checked in with him! Pretty amazing things can happen if we remove the guilt and expectations from our lives and just proceed with honest intent. I am proceeding here to tell you that I am blessed with a great business partner who is also a great friend. I am the one who gets to be the “voice” of TT and I am honored, challenged, inspired, and motivated to continue bringing you stories that will hopefully impact you positively. However, my partner, is super fantastic and we wouldn’t be Totem Tamers without him and his experiences with panic attacks. Daniel sent an email the other day that was so brilliant and eloquent that I decided I had to share some of it with you (he knows, and thanks Dan!) Here’s a snippet:
“I watched a show on TV that was saying we have the same physical brain that we did as cavemen, it’s basically a chimp’s mind. They are practically identical in fact. So we have an ancient computer and we’re trying to run state of the art software (i.e. cities, laws, social pressure, jobs, money etc.) that basically makes no sense for what the brain was intended for. Our brains feel most comfortable when they are figuring out ways to keep us warm, fed, and sexy. Anything that is not working to one of those three ends, is sort of out of bounds. And this is why we have so many misfiring “fight or flight” signals. This is why Anxiety is increasing in our society. Our brains misinterpret conceptual situations, like being socially embarrassed (let’s say trapped in the middle of a row at a theater and having to disturb everyone in the row to get out) as being trapped by a hungry predator. So since we can’t fight the theater, we must escape from it (because naturally we are cornered). ”
By opening up and sharing our experiences, Totem Tamers, hopes to help you take a step towards something that has been challenging and approach it with calm and confidence. Daniel and I have seen the Totems work their magic firsthand and we are excited at the possibilities. Thank you for supporting us and for inspiring us to continue expanding and creating more tools to help you achieve your goals. Please share your stories with us and pictures of you and your Totems, at firstname.lastname@example.org. To shop for a Totem, please visit www.totemtamers.com/store.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is typically associated with men. Unfortunately, women are more and more becoming afflicted with this disease that robs people of the use of their bodies while their minds are still active and alert. A dear friend and mentor, Connie Zimet, passed away a couple years ago from this awful disease. Connie was known in the entertainment business for her voice acting, singing, and for many, her coaching. It was heartbreaking for all who loved Connie to witness this disease take away her voice that was her hallmark and signature. Connie is missed daily, and is thought of every time one of her students gets in front of a microphone. We keep her legacy going because she no longer can. Thank you Connie for having an impact on me and so many others.
Another woman suffering from ALS is Susan Spencer-Wendel. I don’t know Susan, and she may not have had the celebrity-like life that Connie did, but Susan is making the effort to keep her legacy going as well. Having lost a tremendous amount of muscle control, Susan used her thumb to write a book chronicling the last memories she is capable of making with her family and friends. In her book, she talks about taking her 14-year-old daughter shopping for a wedding dress because she won’t be around when her daughter actually marries. Susan takes her son to see the last Space Shuttle launch so he will have a truly special, historical, and lasting memory with his mom. As painful as the story may be, Susan Spencer-Wendel, makes the choice to live out her life “joyously,” and that makes her a WARRIOR in our book. If you want to read her book, you can find it here, www.susanspencerwendel.com. Thank you Susan for sharing your journey with us and reminding us to live every moment with joy. Totem Tamers wishes you a peaceful journey and long-lasting legacy.
As a parent, I want to protect my kids from hurt, both physical and emotional, from disappointment, failure, creepy old guys hanging around the playground, violent video games, and fast food. There are a thousand plus items I could put on that list of course, but I kept to the basics. The truth however, is that sometimes protecting our kids from the “basics” doesn’t actually allow them to build their own internal method of protection. That ultimately turns these kids in to oblivious adults who function with a sense of entitlement and warped sense of self. So yes, I try to protect my kids, but sometimes that protection comes in the form of drying the tears when they get disappointed, putting on the band-aid when they fall off the scooter, laughing when they call the jerk kid in the playground a “poopy-head” instead of scolding, and rubbing their tummies an hour after that quarter-pounder works it’s way back up.
One of my boys came home a couple weeks ago talking about a cool bowling birthday party his friend was having, and that he was sure to be invited. Imagine my surprise when I found out the party was happening and that my son was not actually invited. I was hurt for my son and my immediate reaction was to protect him from the potentially hurtful information. However, when I saw my kid I realized that telling him about it was probably going to make it easier for him to take, rather than hearing about all the fun come Monday morning at school. I gave him a couple of possible explanations for why he might not have been invited, that had nothing to do with him. I also told him it was totally ok to feel hurt and disappointed. Then I told him we didn’t need a stinkin’ birthday invitation to go bowling, we’d just go bowling for the heck of it! He liked that part the most. My son, because he is a beautiful, innocent, sweet boy, got it and said it was ok, although it was clear he was hurt and disappointed. Part of me really wants him to question the kid so that the kid learns a lesson here too, but part of me also wants him to just experience the feelings and move on. All I can do is give him the tools and then permission to make some of his own choices, and promise to be there no matter what. With a hug and a kiss and a Harry Potter-like protection spell, I sent him off to the big, reality playground we call, LIFE!
Every once in a while someone just gets it, and every once in a while it’s a young child! This weeks WARRIOR is “E.” He gets it, and he had little trouble explaining to his parents that sometimes we all need a little “magic” to get through the night. “E” was starting to have some nighttime anxieties and his parents weren’t quite sure how to validate his fears without feeding them. (Been there!) Well “E” needed something to keep him calm so he grabbed the nearest thing to him and created the “magic cork.” (Yes, it was a wine bottle cork. No, there isn’t an issue.) “E” explained that the “magic cork” was something he needed to hold in his hand to make him feel better. (“Just like a Totem Tamer,” Julie thinks to herself.) Well lucky for “E” and his parents, they heard about Totem Tamers and realized it was just what they were looking for! Something for their son to hold in his hand when he gets anxious, and a booklet that gives simple steps for staying calm. His Mom picked out the Shark for “E” and this picture proves she made the right choice!
After reading the book a couple times, “E’s” Mom recounts that he went in to his room and placed Shark on his pillow and said “For later Mama. We will sleep together.” With that he returned the cork and their house stayed calm. That’s why “E” is our WARRIOR this week, he gets it!! Thanks to “E’s” parents for recognizing that sometimes kids just know what they need and for teaching him that he has the power to stay calm, which keeps everyone calm!
Keep calm today with your very own Totem Tamer! Find your power at www.totemtamers.com. We would also love to see your WARRIOR photos and hear your stories, send them to us at email@example.com.
Oh my goodness, I was fully prepared to write this deep moving post about growth potential when I came up with the title. It, of course, reminded me of my childhood and the “grosser than gross” jokes we used to tell as kids. I was only remembering fairly inappropriate ones, so I did a search to see if I could find one that wasn’t so horrible. Well let me tell you, the ones I knew are nowhere near as horrible as the ones I found!!! Go ahead, have a little disgusting fun and search it, I dare you. Meanwhile, the only one I found that I can share goes a little like this: What’s grosser than gross? Finding a worm in your apple. What’s grosser than that? Finding half a worm in your apple. Ewwww! Now I will attempt a segue from apples in to the wonderfully hopeful post I had intended. The following image is what spurred me:
I was walking through Central Park in the rain and the trees are still bare of leaves from the winter, which is beautiful in and of itself. When I noticed through the bare trees, however, the lovely tulips sprouting up, it put a spring in my step! It made me think about how sometimes as individuals we need to shed our layers just so we can continue to grow. We are constantly playing out patterns that don’t necessarily work for us, but we sometimes find it very difficult to break out of them. So the green sprouting from the ground is a motivational message to break the patterns, shed the layers that are keeping you from progress, and grow, just grow. After taking the picture, it was nice to put my hand in my pocket and feel my Totem still warm from my energy. I took several deep breaths and made my way home. I hope you do the same.
Did you remember to turn your clocks ahead an hour? Yes, it’s that “Spring forward, Fall back” madness that kicks in and this is the one event that tends to affect everyone more greatly. Even the Totems have been impacted by the loss of an hour.
Losing an hour shouldn’t be a total loss. Use it as motivation to push yourself just a little bit harder this week and see how much more you can accomplish!
Stay well and stay calm!
I have been sitting here for a bit typing and deleting, and typing and deleting. Why? I want to write something lovely about International Women’s Day, but everything keeps coming out sounding really snarky and obnoxious. I have typed lines like “Isn’t everyday International Women’s Day?”, or “Shouldn’t every day be IWD?” Those are just a couple of examples but that’s where the thread wants to take itself. I even looked up to see if there was an International Men’s Day and there was one last year, but it seems like it was only in the UK. Then I remembered that men have sort of taken over the month of November now with “Movember,” where they all grow facial hair to call attention to men’s health issues. Geez, what can we do as women? Stop shaving our legs, stop waxing our bikini areas? See? I’m getting snarky again. And just so you know I am being watched and judged!
So with my Totems keeping watch, I will safely and calmly say “Happy International Women’s Day!” Celebrate special women in your life and if you are a woman, gosh darnit, celebrate yourself!!
This week’s warrior has a Totem connection all his own as he is performing in Cirque de Soleil’s extravaganza called “Totem!” Our WARRIOR is acrobat and performer Joe Putignano. Joe has twisted, and flipped, and spun, and contorted himself in almost a thousand performances and now his body is beaten and he needs surgery. That’s the life of a gymnast you might say, but what would you say to that same gymnast who turned to the sport as a last resort in an effort to save himself from multiple addictions? This is Joe. Joe is a recovering heroin addict who needs surgery but is petrified of using pain killers (and he will definitely be in a lot of pain) and is trying to come up with a plan so the much needed surgery doesn’t derail his 6 years of sobriety. Joe’s story of his challenge with sobriety hits close to home for me, as my brother was a heroin addict, right up until the moment he over-dosed. The reminder of my brother’s death will hopefully keep my children on the right path, so in a strange way I am grateful, but I am also grateful for the brave souls like Joe who have the courage to come out and talk about the struggle in an effort to stay sober and maybe help someone else do the same. There is the belief that if you tell someone you’re going on a diet you will more likely stick to it, because then you can be held accountable for that bag of Doritos you just couldn’t resist. In this instance, Joe is letting people know his fears, his plan, his hopes, and in doing so is holding himself accountable and asking for support. Well, you’ve got support from Totem Tamers, Joe Putignano, and as a tool to help you stay calm, and focused, and determined, and even sober, we are honored to call you a WARRIOR! You can read more about Joe’s journey in his upcoming book “Acrobaddict:A Contortionist’s Heroin Romance”.
I woke up this morning to an email from a high school friend alerting me to the passing of another high school friend. It’s a sad story when anyone young dies, even more here as Henry was seemingly trying to set his life right after having made some not so great choices and suffering the consequences. Henry reached out to me two years ago on Facebook after not having had any contact basically since high school. Henry and I had known each other for years and we were buds. He opened up to me in that Facebook conversation and shared with me about his personal life things that he had not shared with many (and no I won’t share with you.) I was touched that he felt safe enough to do so after all these years and I was able to be encouraging and supportive and non-judgemental in return, which is what friends do. Henry didn’t reach out though when he became ill. He didn’t reach out when he was dying. His parents had passed away years ago and his relationship with his sister was estranged. He had friends from what I’m gathering, but his pals from high school, he didn’t reach out to any of us. And we didn’t reach out to him. That’s what makes me sad, that in his final months, a friendly blast from the past might have made the difference between a shitty day and a good day. And I know I can’t take that on myself and that’s certainly not what I’m doing, but it has motivated me to reach out and touch base with people I haven’t been in touch with for a long time just to say “Hey, I was thinking about you and hoping that you’re doing well.” That would brighten my day for sure and it just might’ve brightened Henry’s. There are many out there who have great memories of Henry and in flipping through yearbooks, I found one where he signed mine and it made me smile as he knew it would when he wrote it. You are missed my friend.
Think about someone you used to know and maybe send a message or if it’s too hard, then at least think good thoughts about them. I promise it will leave you feeling good just to send some positive energy. I’m thinking good thoughts about you right now!