Life and loss and a quilt that gives it all meaning.

By | 2013-05-30T11:23:48+00:00 May 30th, 2013|Life|

A truly lovely woman passed away this morning. She was Great-Grandma to my kids, and grandmother-in-law to me, and she was always ready with a smile and a kind word. I was this young Jewish girl who appeared on the scene when I started dating her Irish-Catholic grandson. Loretta couldn’t have cared less about my background (I’m more spiritual than anything by the way, but I make great rugelach!) and she embraced me with open arms. I knew I was “in” that first Christmas I spent with the family when I received a big box from Loretta. Inside the box was a beautiful, handmade, quilt. It made me cry to know that she created something for me and with me in mind. That was 20 years ago and that quilt has since cradled three children, kept many a guest warm, and still has a place on my couch!

Totems on the quilt, Loretta's quilt.

Totems on the quilt, Loretta’s quilt.

Loretta’s quilt will comfort my boys tonight when they are told of her passing. I am grateful that they knew her and that there’s always a piece of her around in our home and in our hearts.

Stay well.

Totem Tamers presents WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

By | 2013-05-29T13:45:50+00:00 May 29th, 2013|Uncategorized|

Happy Wednesday! At least I hope it is for all of you, and if it’s not, there’s always Thursday! I know there are a gazillion WARRIORS out there (yes, gazillion is a word), and I wish I could write about them all, but alas it is just not possible. The majority of us are warriors on a daily basis, some on a big scale like doctors, firefighters, policemen and women, and nurses. Some on a smaller scale, like the guy at the coffee cart who knows you take it light and sweet, the homeless chanteuse you encounter on the subway who does Donna Summer better than Donna Summer (yes, I know she passed away but you get my point!), and of course moms and dads getting their kids off to school with a packed lunchbox for example! Sometimes, the simple act of getting through the day makes us WARRIORS.

As my teenager was getting ready to walk out the door to head to school this morning, several minutes late mind you, I stopped him and told him I had an assignment for him. There was a noticeable eye-roll, and a fairly audible huff. I grinned and I told him that I wanted him to do his best to make at least one of his teachers smile today. The mixture of relief and understanding that crossed his face was worth it. I look forward to him coming home so I can find out if he was successful, but it’s enough to know the idea was planted. With that, I bid you strength and courage to make it through the day, then make the extra effort to make someone smile. A WARRIOR smile! 

Stay well. 

To learn more about Totem Tamers, visit our website at www.totemtamers.com. 

Memorial Day Memories

By | 2013-05-27T10:33:07+00:00 May 27th, 2013|Uncategorized|

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Sure the sun came out and now we can barbecue and usher in the start of the summer season. We are grateful for the long weekend. We should be reminded however, why we have a long weekend. Totem Tamers is grateful to all of the service men and women who have lost their lives while protecting and serving our country. Stay well.

Bumper sticker inspiration!

By | 2013-05-25T08:59:37+00:00 May 25th, 2013|Life|

A friend of mine posted on Facebook about a bumper sticker he’d seen that read “If you’re anti-American, I’m anti-you!” It was interesting reading the comments that followed including another one by the original poster. He mused about the negativity and wondered if the bumper sticker might have had more of an impact if it had read “If you’re pro-American, I’m pro-you!” So simple! The shift to a positive statement is not that difficult. Even if you don’t like something (or someone), there’s a better way to make that statement that doesn’t incorporate negativity but rather protects your opinion. Let’s say you don’t like chocolate sauce on your sundae, rather than responding with an “Ick, gross, I hate chocolate sauce,” you can simply respond with a “No thank you, I prefer my sundae’s to be completely plain and boring.” Let’s say you meet someone who likes listening to Justin Bieber. Rather than say “You freak, you lack a complete sense of musical appreciation and we could never hang,” you could simply say “You freak, you lack a complete sense of musical appreciation and we could never hang.” Yeah, there’s no way out of that one actually. Ok, here’s one more: If someone offers you a cigarette perhaps, rather than say “Smoking is disgusting and it will kill you,” you can say “No thank you, I prefer not smelling like an ashtray and my lungs to stay clean.” Getting the picture? Just try reframing your responses so that they are not shooting anti-vibes at everyone but rather pro-vibes about you! It’s an easy shift, but a difficult task. Make an effort over this long weekend to just be aware of other people’s responses and statements and how you react to them. Rather than say “I can’t believe I just spent two minutes reading this piece of self-indulgent crap,” you can say “How brave that someone has the courage to write such self-indulgent crap.” Thank you, I’ll be here all week!!

Stay well.

To learn more about Totem Tamers, please visit our site at www.totemtamers.com.

 

"Oh what a beautiful morning…." a song for Oklahoma

By | 2013-05-22T13:32:39+00:00 May 22nd, 2013|Life|

That’s the song I usually hear in my head when I think Of Oklahoma, but not today. As the devastation from the monster twister earlier this week becomes apparent, it’s hard to sing at all. I was on a field trip this morning with my first grader and his class. We were joined by schools from all over the city and it was loud, and kids were kicking seats and had to pee, and picking their noses, and emitting bodily noises that you just don’t want to be near. You get the picture. The truth is, I am not complaining. I am rejoicing in the gift of being able to be grossed out by all these adorable little stink machines who are oblivious to the destruction that occurred in a far away city. I am grateful for the chance to sit in the last row of the yellow school bus feeling every pothole and bump this city has to offer while praying no one pukes. My heart goes out to the families who have been affected in Oklahoma, some mourning the loss of loved ones, some mourning the loss of everything they own. Either way, there will be grief and there will be pain for some time to come, and if there’s any way you can take heart in knowing that people around the country are grieving with you, know that you are not alone. In the days to come there will be many opportunities to help those in Oklahoma and I hope you will find it inside yourself to do just that. I will leave you to find your own way to help because as I learned today on the field trip, “I’m not the boss of you.” I have faith always, and maybe cooties now too. 

Stay well. 

To learn more about Totem Tamers, visit our website at www.totemtamers.com.

Oklahoma on our minds……

By | 2013-05-20T23:06:21+00:00 May 20th, 2013|Life|

Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the storms in Oklahoma today. These are the moments in life when we have no race, no religion, no separation, we all grieve as one and we all recover as one. Hug your kids a little tighter and make someone smile, you will feel better and make someone else feel good.

Stay well.

TT

Totem Tamers presents WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

By | 2013-05-15T11:35:08+00:00 May 15th, 2013|Life|

Imagine being told that you carry a gene that can make you sick and potentially take your life. Imagine being told that carrying that gene increases your chances of getting breast cancer to 87%. Imagine being an Oscar winning actress known for your beauty and sex appeal along with great humanitarian efforts. Imagine that actress thinking always of her mother that had been taken too soon after her body was ravaged by ovarian cancer. Imagine that a surgery to remove almost all of the risks was possible decreasing your chances to just 5% of getting cancer. Well there is no need to imagine what has become a reality for Angelina Jolie. Totem Tamers is honored to make the actress our WARRIOR WEDNESDAY for not only having the courage to undergo physically altering surgery, but for sharing her decision with the world.

Angelina Jolie courtesy of imdb.com

Angelina Jolie courtesy of imdb.com

Many women are choosing this path after being tested for the gene that carries breast cancer, known as the BRCA test. Women are choosing double mastectomies, and hysterectomies in an effort to decrease the likelihood that they will get cancer and therefore increasing their chances for long, prosperous lives! Angelina Jolie is not the first and she won’t be the last to make this decision that I can only imagine came with great thought and consideration but ultimately no other choice. For all the WARRIORS out there who have or may deal with this issue in your lives, we salute your strength and your courage and applaud those who share their story with others.

Stay well.

To learn more about Totem Tamers please visit our site at www.totemtamers.com.

Happy Mother's Day from Totem Tamers!

By | 2013-05-12T09:33:04+00:00 May 12th, 2013|Life|

My mom used to always say to me that I would “understand” when I became a mother. It used to aggravate me, but of course it’s because I didn’t understand. I do now. I have three amazing kids and I would go to the ends of the earth for them. So Mom, I love you and I get it, and thank you. I occasionally write poetry, some if it good, some of it not, but all of it meaningful. I wrote this next poem thinking about a friend who had recently lost his mom, and it made me reflect on my own relationship with my boys. This is what was created:

The Bond

A mother feels love deep within her core
it stretches and expands
when you think it holds no more

a child of innocence loves without choice
warming and reacting
to the sound of her voice

there is no match for the bond that forms
through childhood and beyond
it weathers every sunrise, and every storm

the kisses for all the scrapes and skinned knees
the groundings, and the hugs
the forgiveness of mistakes she didn’t even see

the valentine’s made out of clay
a bad grade, a broken window
the sight of you always made her day

this is the love of a mother for her child
the power, and the scope
the strength to push through every last mile

this is the child who now switches roles
a new home, a new baby
an understanding deep in his soul

as his mother takes notice of his talent and growth
his wisdom, and understanding
she realizes her oath

“to love with open arms and open mind,
my children, and my world,
it is only then that you will find

someone to love you and to love in return,
your son or your daughter
will teach you this oath and you too will learn”

now it is time to let me go, let me leave this solid place
find freedom, and find bliss
while you have love to fill the empty space

even though I may be here no longer
please remember this,
our bond, my son, there is none stronger

 

Stay well and enjoy the day!

A heart to heart with my cardiologist.

By | 2013-05-10T12:11:01+00:00 May 10th, 2013|Life|

On a gurney in the ER a year and half ago, a really cute doctor with a porn star name, came in to tell me that it didn’t look good. In fact, he said “It’s bad.” Holy shit, I’m a 38-year-old woman with three young kids and this (thankfully very cute) doctor, is telling me that I might be having a heart attack and that my heart may be severely damaged. Well fast forward, I am here writing this, so clearly I survived, but I did have a serious bout of Myopericarditis. Definitely not fun and definitely scary. I was having symptoms of a heart attack that included chest pain, pain in my left arm, pain in my jaw, and severe palpitations. The palpitations I had been dealing with for years, so it was the addition of the other symptoms that freaked me out, and rightfully so. Thank goodness I am fine, but I still have the palpitations and will possibly have them forever. We all do apparently, and some of us just feel them more intensely than others, I’m just lucky that way. That old saying “once a bell has been rung…,” is sadly how I’ve been living for the last year or so. Anytime I get a blip or a funky feeling or what feels like chest pain, I call my cardiologist. And every time, he checks me out and tells me I’m fine. I love my cardiologist, for the most part. I respect him as a doctor, but sometimes his bedside manner sucks. Today, I finally had the courage to tell him so. At first he was almost argumentative, but then he heard me and that gave me courage to really explain what I was feeling and what I needed from him. I told him that he is the expert so he understands exactly what’s happening to my body and even though he knows it’s no big deal, I don’t know that. In fact, I think it’s much more and that I will end up in the hospital again. (Thank you anxiety!) I explained that no matter how many times I call, it’s because I am in fear for what could be wrong and that I need him to validate my fears and then calmly tell me its ok. The doctor admitted he had some work to do on his communication skills and would try to soften his edges. He heard me, and even though I may have had a ridiculously expensive test for no reason today, my peace of mind is worth everything. If you are afraid to talk to your doctor, or call your doctor in the middle of the night, then your doctor is failing you and you should start looking for another one pronto!

Stay well.

PS: My Totems were with me today thank goodness as they were helpful in keeping me calm and giving me strength. Take your Totem with you next time you know or even think you might be in a stressful or anxiety producing situation. If you don’t have one, get one! Shop our site at www.totemtamers.com/store.

Totem Tamers presents WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

By | 2013-05-08T10:29:52+00:00 May 8th, 2013|Life|

The news this week of three young women found alive after having been missing for ten years is simply astounding, uplifting and miraculous. We don’t want to consider the horrors that those women endured while held captive, but we know it was awful and basically unimaginable. We are better off to think of the joy the families of the women are experiencing now, learning that their loved ones are in fact alive and will for the most part be ok. I, like any other mother, shudder at the thought of one of my children disappearing. I, like any other mother, have hugged my boys just a little tighter this week and fought against those overprotective leanings that wants to keep them all home and away from the potential dangers of the real world. I, like any other mother, will cherish this Mother’s day with my children, and thankfully with my own mother. It’s all about the Mother, so this week’s WARRIOR WEDNESDAY is Mothers! It makes no difference if you mother biological children, adopted children, or step-children, you are blessed with the chance to nurture, guide, teach, and love impressionable young souls. We do the best we can and that’s the only thing that matters. On the way to Grandma’s yesterday, one of my boys asked me what it’s like to be a mother. I answered that it was exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time. He seemed to understand. Then my little one announced his gratitude for not being able to be a mother so he didn’t have to have his stomach or “magina” cut open. A vocabulary lesson quickly followed along with my gratitude at being able to tell my boys that I am thrilled to be their mother and then having the gift of hugging my mom, who was waiting at the door. If you are a mother, if your mom is still with you or not, you are a WARRIOR or blessed to know one, so we honor you on this WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

Stay well.

Want to get your mom a Totem for Mother’s Day? If you order today she can have it by Mother’s Day! Visit Totem Tamers to pick one out!

Thank you!

By | 2013-05-06T09:16:26+00:00 May 6th, 2013|Life|

Looks cool, right?

Looks cool, right?

Thank you to everyone who came by our table this weekend at The Stoop Sale. It is always fun to talk to people and explain to them what Totem Tamers is all about. The more we talk about anxiety and stress and overwhelming situations, the more chances for people to get help and to face their fears. There is nothing like watching a child’s expression as they leaf through the booklets and take in the incredible illustrations by my partner, Daniel Mather. There is nothing like watching someone take a Totem in their hand and feel the weight and the texture and the temperature. I was grateful to those who offered support and encouragement and even advice on helping get the word out. We believe in Totem Tamers and we know you do as well, so thank you for your support and constant motivation and inspiration along the way. Spread the word by following us here, on Facebook, and Twitter.

Stay well!

 

 

Totem Tamers presents WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

By | 2013-05-01T10:47:47+00:00 May 1st, 2013|Life|

It’s hard to imagine that someone measuring in at 7 feet tall and over 250 pounds could ever be afraid of anything, but Jason Collins was afraid. Collins lived in fear for many years that someone would find him out, that his secret identity would become known, that his successful career as an NBA player would come to an end, all because he was gay. This week, Jason Collins decided he was done with the fear and was ready to tell the world “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.” That’s why Totem Tamers is proud to make Jason Collins our WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

No more fear for this WARRIOR!

No more fear for this WARRIOR!

Becoming the first active NBA player to openly identify himself as gay, Collins, is fast becoming a hero to many. The impact on his career is yet to be known as he is still an unrestricted free agent. It is sad that in this day and age there are still people who will be treated differently because of who they love. Jason Collins is a solid basketball player managing a successful 12-year career in the NBA, he deserves respect on those merits and also as a WARRIOR, for his willingness to be open about his sexuality in the hopes that more people will find the courage to leave their fears behind. Totem Tamers salutes Jason Collins as our WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

Stay well.

 

Do you know a WARRIOR? Are you a WARRIOR? Send us your story to info@totemtamers.com. To learn more about Totem Tamers, visit our website at www.totemtamers.com. Find us on Facebook!