You put your left arm in, you put your left arm out…..

By | 2013-06-29T14:32:56+00:00 June 29th, 2013|Life|

I wanna hold your hand!

I wanna hold your hand!

Sometimes you see the strangest things walking down the street and they can be very odd and very moving. I came upon this scene last week and knew I wanted to photograph it, but wasn’t sure what the significance was for me, until now.

I’m not good at asking for help. Too often being disappointed or let down (I know, tragic) has left me independent to a fault. I have learned though, that not everyone will disappoint me, not everyone will let me down, and occasionally, people will impress the heck out of me. I am grateful to those people and for those lessons. I beat myself up all too often for taking on too much, for not saying “no” enough, for trying to please too many people, usually at my own sacrifice. It’s almost like a hobby, and not a productive one at that. Then I came across this tiny little doll arm in the street. It got me to thinking about the rest of the doll. Where was it? Who had it? Was the doll-keeper sad about losing the arm? I had a vision about the doll being thrown away because it was deemed useless since it was missing an arm. That vision made me angry. The doll without an arm, is still a doll. She can still be dressed, and “fed,” and cared for and even played with. Just because it is missing an arm doesn’t make it any less of a doll. Just as asking for help doesn’t make us any less of a person. Aha! There’s the big epiphany you were waiting for and the one that took a while to get to me. Sometimes true power comes not from doing it all yourself, but rather from asking for help to get it done. I will make an effort to ask for help more often. I will make an effort to receive help when offered. In those moments where it all starts to become a bit much, I will use my Totem and my Totem Tamers Tools to help keep me calm. You should too!

Stay well.

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

Totem Tamers presents WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

By | 2013-06-26T09:36:55+00:00 June 26th, 2013|Life|

I do my best to stay away from making political statements because we all have the right to believe in what we choose, no matter how ignorant our beliefs may be. This week’s WARRIOR is definitely politically charged and it may be difficult to praise Wendy Davis without calling attention to the issue at hand, but here goes. Senator Wendy Davis from Texas, took to her feet yesterday to stand up for what she believes in, and for the constituents she represents whom she swore to serve. Senator Davis’ 10-hour filibuster was an incredible example of our democratic process while also highlighting her commitment to women’s right, not only in Texas but across the nation.

Wendy WARRIOR!

Wendy WARRIOR!

In her pink sneakers, Wendy Davis talked and talked and talked in an effort to prevent a bill from moving forward that many believed would restrict a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body. At the ten-hour mark and nearing a midnight deadline, the gallery erupted in cheers for at least 15 minutes thereby preventing a vote from happening and essentially ending the session. I am proud of Wendy Davis, not only for all she has managed to accomplish so far in her life, but for using the system to make a stand. That’s why we are honored to call Senator Wendy Davis our Wednesday WARRIOR!

Stay well.

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

Sign me up for some "free time!"

By | 2013-06-25T09:29:01+00:00 June 25th, 2013|Life|

I had such a long day yesterday that it took me a night’s sleep to really process all that I had done. It’s days like yesterday that make me long for a pilgrimage to an area with no capabilities of outside communication, no responsibilities other than rolling over to the cool spot on the feather bed awaiting a tray of fresh fruit and strong coffee. Ahhhhh, let me soak that vision in for a moment, yes, that would be brilliant. As opposed to my Monday which started with a funeral (RIP Chief Potowatamie), then a visit to the dentist, followed by a visit to the gynecologist! Of course, my totems were with me, weighing down my purse just enough to remind me of their presence. Interspersed throughout the day was a super quick workout, getting three kids off to school, lunch with my mom, picking up said kids, getting one of them to the dentist, feeding them, taking them to park for an after dinner play, then getting them to bed, followed shortly thereafter by a collapsing me. Oh and wait…the best part? I did it all while wearing this:

That is definitely not a thumbs up!

That is definitely not a thumbs up!

I’m not looking for praise here, not even looking for the almost obligatory “how do you do it?” The truth is that I am grateful and blessed for the chance to have a hectic life every so often, so when there are those blissful moments of down time, I can enjoy them. A friend posed a question on Facebook yesterday regarding “Free time,” asking what it was. I commented that “free time” is all that time you spend bettering yourself and the world around you and not getting paid a dime. Which means we have to volunteer for our own free time and remember to take advantage of it. Give some free time today, to yourself first, and then anyone who is lucky enough to be in your presence afterwards.

Stay well.

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

"Hi, my name is Julie, and I'm a cryer."

By | 2013-06-22T11:25:00+00:00 June 22nd, 2013|Life|

The first step is admitting you have a problem, or maybe not so much a problem as a condition. I am afflicted with the inability to control my emotions when there is an overload of feelings. I can do singular feelings i.e. happy, sad, angry, elated, frustrated, etc., but give me more than one feeling to deal with at a time and you get “crying Julie.” This was me the other day at my middle son’s elementary school graduation. He was on stage with the other graduates and I was filled with emotions. As part of a Buddy Program, children from younger grades are brought in to sing to the departing kids. One of those younger kids was my little one, who in my mind was singing directly to his older brother (he will tell you that’s absolutely not true!) Needless to say, I lost my shit. I thought I would hold it together as the tears streaked down my face with melancholy, love, sadness, and pride, to name a few. I did ok for the most part, but then a teacher, who had two of my children in her class, got up to give her farewell speech, and I was done for. Teetering on the edge of a total meltdown, I occupied myself with turning a piece of the program in to another tissue, as I brilliantly forgot to bring extra, and I managed a little longer. Then it was over. Then it was time for gathering in the atrium to congratulate each other and take pictures with friends and teachers. Yes, when my two older children posed for a goodbye picture with their teacher (one of them towering over her), I lost my shit again. This time, it was on full display. I did my best to cork it, quell it, conceal it, you name it. I was a hopeless mess. I initially apologized and made excuses claiming I was clearly PMS’ing, but that hasn’t sat well with me the last two days. I understand now, that if I hadn’t tried so hard to keep it together, it likely wouldn’t have exploded out of me. Why are we so afraid to emote? Part of our philosophy at Totem Tamers, is that we don’t want you to deny that you have anxiety, or stress, or fear, just the opposite. When you are holding your Totem, recognize that you are experiencing just what you experiencing as only then can you really own it and manage it. I forgot that lesson. I became wrapped up in the story of not wanting to cry in public, but now I know I was the healthy one! It’s those parents who didn’t get choked up, who were unable to shed a tear or who moved through this very emotional event without so much as a pulse change, they are the ones who frighten me. So with that, I admit, I am a cryer, and although it makes my eyes red and swollen, and forces me to blow tons of snot in to already used tissues, I am not going to deny myself the release and expression of my emotions, because that’s what keeps me sane! There is more energy spent in denying ourselves than in letting ourselves truly feel, so  I hope you allow yourself to really feel your feelings, whatever they may be, and rejoice in the sense of calm you’ll experience afterwards.

Stay well.

Totem Tamers presents WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

By | 2013-06-19T11:13:19+00:00 June 19th, 2013|Life|

It’s a first I believe, that this week we are honoring an organization as a WARRIOR! Totem Tamers had the honor of being part of an event this week raising awareness of pet overpopulation and one organization that is doing its part in solving the problem is The Toby Project. The goal of The Toby Project is to ultimately “help make New York City a true “no kill” community.” This is done by way of mobile surgical vans that go in to underserved neighborhoods offering low or no-cost spays and neuters to cats and dogs.

Dr. Kaplan and Toby!

Dr. Kaplan and Toby!

The Toby Project is the inspiration of Dr. Andrew Kaplan, a well-known NYC vet, who adopted his dog Toby years ago, after the pooch was put on a euthanasia list. Dr. Kaplan knew there were too many animals and not enough homes and realized that the answer is preventing pet overpopulation, not just euthanizing animals because there aren’t enough shelters. The event the other evening brought animal lovers together to learn more about what The Toby Project needs to keep going, and in just a few short years, over 15,000 procedures have been performed! An avid supporter is the lovely Broadway, film and TV star Bernadette Peters who came out to show her support, as well as the well-known MASH TV star, Loretta Swit!

My lovely mom with Loretta Swit!

My lovely mom with Loretta Swit!

People were generous that evening and the hope is that more donations will come in to help this worthy not for profit cause, that’s why Totem Tamers is proud to call The Toby Project this week’s WARRIOR! If you’d like to donate, please go to their website at www.tobyproject.org and Totem Tamers will also donate a percentage of sales through Friday for any orders, just add TT/TTP to your address when you visit  www.totemtamers.com/store.

Stay well!

Planning is good, but planning for the unplanned is better!

By | 2013-06-17T16:45:02+00:00 June 17th, 2013|Life|

I don’t want this to be a message of negativity in terms of expecting something to go wrong, but more a positive message that will help change your mindset when something doesn’t go as planned. The first step of course is to relax. I know, easier said than done, but trust me, giving yourself a few minutes to take deep breaths and not rip your spouse’s head off for not bringing home the chicken you needed to make the dinner of chicken parm for the family is a safer bet. You have hot dogs, make hot dog parm! It’s a willingness to be flexible, to make decisions in a moment’s notice and to have confidence in those decisions even if they turn out to not be the best ones. I had a crazy week last week, nothing went as planned. I was headed to DC for a function and ended up coming down with a sinus infection. I got antibiotics and decided to go for it knowing I would have a chance to visit with a dear friend. Got a speeding ticket on the way (I blame Carly Rae Jepsen because I was singing loud!)  I ended up with food poisoning that night. The next day I was feeling better thankfully, and readying for my function when tornado warnings hit and the event was cancelled. I could’ve gotten angry, upset, annoyed, frustrated, etc. at all of these occurrences. Instead, I managed to cancel my hotel reservation without penalty (thank you Mandarin Oriental,) and decided to head back home where I knew I’d end up with a better nights rest. I would also be able to make my son’s final classroom celebration for the year, so it was a win-win all around. Even though many things went wrong in a sense, my remaining calm and flexible helped make the best of an otherwise lousy situation. So the next time you find yourself ticked off because the playdate is at your house when you thought it was at their house, take a moment, remind yourself that the sound of children giggling is always good therapy and move on. Doesn’t hurt to have a totem in your pocket, too!

Stay well.

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

Father is only one letter away from farther.

By | 2013-06-16T10:00:34+00:00 June 16th, 2013|Life|

Some dad’s are far away, whether in spirit or just location, some are close by, but even farther still. Happy Father’s Day to everyone, whether you are a father or not, you had a father, so enjoy the day!

We had a classroom celebration the other day and I got emotional watching one dad’s reaction to a picture of his daughter that appeared during a slideshow. His daughter was adopted you see, and some might not consider him her “real” dad, but in that moment when the corners of his smile lifted to meet the corners of his twinkling eyes, there was nothing more real in the room than that father’s love for his daughter. I was moved, and then sad. Father’s Day is always a tricky one for me. My father passed away when I was 13 years old and I hadn’t seen him since I was 11, and even then it was only once a week, if that. He’s still my father and I’m thankful to him for helping bring me in to the world and for my sense of humor (sorry mom, it’s all him.) I also love to hear the stories from people whose lives he, or his restaurant, had an effect on, there was goodness there, and I’m happy to know it. I am however, lucky enough to have a stepfather who has been in my life longer than my own father was, and who treats me like one of his children. He is Grandpa to my kids, and ultimately the word “step” is barely relevant. I will gladly wish him a Happy Father’s Day today and be grateful for the chance to do so.

I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to my children’s father. Divorce sucks and it’s difficult for everyone, but my kids (and me) are fortunate to have a dad who remains present, involved, and who shows love and care in the best ways, from awesome chocolate chip pancakes to relevant consequences for misdeeds and more. Thank you for making my job easier and Happy Father’s Day!

Stay well.

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

Mothering is only one letter away from Smothering!

By | 2013-06-14T11:03:46+00:00 June 14th, 2013|Life|

When my children were really young, I followed parenting method “learn by your mistakes.” I would give a warning that the stove was hot, or you could slam your finger in the door if you keep playing with it, or that the VHS machine will break if you shove your grilled cheese inside it, but children are curious creatures. The lesson didn’t penetrate until there was a burned hand or a smushed finger or an afternoon without Thomas the Tank Engine videos. After a few lessons learned, my kids would actually consider my warnings and sometimes heed them without question. I want my children to be curious, I want them to explore and investigate and experiment, up until about age 13. That’s the age of my oldest kid of course. At this age, there’s only so many warnings you can give before they actually have the opposite effect. You know the warnings about drinking, smoking, drugging, huffing, whip-its, cutting, naked selfies, kissing, petting, and the list goes on and on. The more they hear “no” however, the more eager they are going to be to explore what you really are warning them about. This is because 13 in general is the age of questioning and challenging authority and that includes parents, and apparently teachers, tutors, pediatricians, dentists, even the mailman who didn’t bring the Game Informer magazine yesterday. Basically they will question anyone who knows more than they do, but it’s not out of disrespect, it’s about finding their own way and being scared shitless on that journey. One of the hardest jobs as a parent is giving your children the space to do just that, mothering without smothering. My son asked if he could go to the movies with his friend after school. He quickly added that a friend who happens to be a girl would be joining them, oh and so would his friends girlfriend. This is how he informs me that he has a “girlfriend.” I had a couple choices here, I could just say no. I could tell him he is too young to have a girlfriend. I could reach out to the other parent and make sure they are on the same page. After conferring with my ex, and the other parent (without really spilling the girlfriend beans), we decided to let him go to the movies with a group of friends. I also explained that he can certainly have a girl who is special to him but that he’s too young for a girlfriend, then I reminded him of a girl who he was really close with and as soon as they identified themselves as a couple, the friendship dissipated and they barely speak anymore. (Sounds almost like marriage, hmmmm.) So he’ll be at the movies today, sitting next to a lovely young lady who will probably hold his hand and share his popcorn, because you’re not supposed to listen to everything your parents say!

Stay well.

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

"Oh, this old thing?"

By | 2013-06-11T10:59:43+00:00 June 11th, 2013|Life|

When someone pays us a compliment, most of us do the immediate, reflexive, knee-jerk, humility thing and throw it away.

“Your cake is delicious!” Typical reaction is “Thanks, but it’s just a mix from a box.”

“You look great in that dress.” Typical reaction is “Thank you, I’ve had it forever.”

“Have you been working out, you look fit!” Typical reaction is “HAHAHAHA, working out, that’s a good one!”

Ok, in all seriousness, the message for today (and that really means forever people), is that when someone pays you a compliment, says something nice about you, own it! Say thank you and nothing else. It doesn’t require us to qualify the kind words, and there is nothing conceited about accepting when someone says you are a good person, a smart person, a funny person, or that you look awesome or your hair looks great or whatever! Just say thank you and shut your mouth!! See how it feels to just take it in and not give it away immediately. Have a look in the mirror. Yeah, I know, we all have those bits of us we’d rather not have to look at, but for now just look at “you” as a whole. Not so bad, right?! Damn right! As soon as you have that thought, walk away. Don’t stare in the mirror waiting for the red flags to appear, because those red flags aren’t representative of the whole you. We all have red flags, but we need to stop waving them as soon as someone has something nice to say about us (including when we say them to ourselves!) All you need is a smile and a thank you and then those lovely words will stay inside you rather than ending up in the trash bin. Now we’re going to practice: “It means so much to me that you read all the way through this blog post, you are kind, caring and incredibly patient and supportive and I am glad to know you.” Your new typical response is…….”Thank you!” The end.

"Mirror, mirror..."

“Mirror, mirror…”

Thank you to the person who inspired this post today, thank you.

Stay well.

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

Trying is doing!!

By | 2013-06-10T10:19:39+00:00 June 10th, 2013|Life|

I was blessed to spend the day yesterday at a yoga/meditation retreat. It was beautiful and transformative. I have a bad knee so I was concerned about the yoga practice that would be going on during the day. My head is a circus on a usual basis, so I was also concerned about the meditation that was planned, but I was determined to give myself the gift of a day meant just for me. I knew good things were waiting when the night before the retreat I came across a child’s chalk drawing.

Shakti = Creativity

Shakti = Creativity

I was going to head to the retreat and bring my Shakti with me! Shakti is creative power, often linked to our feminine sides (yes, we all have feminine sides), and as we learned during one of the darma talks, we are constantly creating. Suzin Green, who led the retreat, used the example of our bodies that are always creating new cells, so we are inherently creative creatures! With that message, among other profound ones like “Be who you are”, I was ready to be creative and I was ready to be who I am without judgement.  There was an Arts and Crafts component to the retreat, and when all the supplies were brought out, we were simply told to pick the pieces that resonated with us and create something. Of course I became overwhelmed immediately at all the cool possibilities. When I decided to stick with what I know, the overwhelm disappeared and I was able to create and chant simultaneously and find balance and peace in it.

My shakti!

My shakti!

So I tried the yoga, led by the beautiful Claude, and I did it! I tried the meditation, and I even managed that! I tried the art and created something I like to look at! It wasn’t until the ride home though, with one of the retreat-ees, that I received the message loud and clear. When we were talking about our experiences and I recounted how I tried to meditate, this lovely person looked at me and in the kindest way, corrected me. She said “If you were trying to meditate, than you were meditating.” So simple, and so true. It changed my whole perspective. I meditated yesterday, and I did yoga, and I created art yesterday, period. Trying is doing! So do something today, or this week, or whenever you find the courage, but do find it, because there is something magical in the doing, always.

Stay well.

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

To Paris, with concern….(an open letter)

By | 2013-06-08T14:36:49+00:00 June 8th, 2013|Uncategorized|

Dear Paris,

I am so sorry that you are going through this emotional time in your life, goodness knows you have already had your share of roller coasters. No one can know your life, or your struggles, but many can relate. Your father was and still is one of the most well known musician’s in the world, he was brilliant, he was also tortured internally. Whatever demons he was battling his whole life, they ultimately won. Sadly, it seems that you have inherited them. Your demons may look different, sound different, even act differently than your dad’s, but the bottom line is they are trying to destroy you and you need help. Paris, you aren’t really different from a lot of 15 year old girls. Hormones raging, bodies changing, minds racing, school pressure, peer pressure, family pressure, there’s enough going on in the world of a 15 year old girl, it’s no surprise you tried to get away. Add in living in the public eye and well it’s almost too much! I was a 15 year old girl once. I was no different from you (except of course without the celebrity angle.) I was sad and didn’t really understand why. I was angry but couldn’t figure that out either. I looked older than 15 so people treated me as such (that didn’t help.) There were dark days for me, really dark. I talked about suicide in my poetry, listened to really sad songs, put myself in dangerous situations and even once took a lot more cold medicine than I should have. I was lucky. I also realized that I didn’t want to die, but I did want to quiet my head and change my life. I am grateful that I did, and today I spend a lot of time sharing with people in the hopes that it will help someone else. I wish I could tell you what it was that pulled me out of the depths I was in, but I don’t really know. Sure there was therapy (which I highly recommend,) but ultimately I think it was fear. Fear that I would miss out on something really cool, special, unique or exciting. That’s when I knew I was on my way up. I cared about stuff, about people, about music, about my puppy, my family, and about me. You still care, that’s why you’re still here, you asked for help and that means there is hope. You have choices to make still and that means there’s a chance for you to find yourself and find your path and make your own history, hopefully a very long one.

Stay well.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, there is help at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org, or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Totem Tamers presents WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

By | 2013-06-05T08:54:53+00:00 June 5th, 2013|Life|

Wendy Williams has a reputation of being a loud mouth, brassy, bitchy, opinionated and ballsy. You know what? I like her!! That’s why I am making Wendy Williams our WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

WARRIOR WENDY and I!

WARRIOR WENDY and I!

I had the pleasure of meeting Wendy yesterday thanks to an event put on by The Moms, where Wendy talked her signature talk and shared with us some very personal moments from her life. She has a new book out called “Ask Wendy,” and in it she shares letters from fans who are dealing with all kinds of drama, and in true Wendy fashion, she tells it like it is. In the process she also gives tips on how to avoid situations that are listed in the book, ranging from girlfriend drama, boyfriend drama, work drama, mama drama, you name it! Wendy opened up to this random group of women, who feel so close to her because of her openness, about the heartache of infidelity that threatened her marriage. One young woman was compelled to share her story as well, and the feeling of camaraderie among this group of strangers became very apparent. In just a short afternoon I made some new friends and had a chance to tell Wendy about Totem Tamers, she’s going to let me know which one she wants! Thank you Wendy for having the courage to say a lot of things that most women are uncomfortable saying (yes, there was a rant about men with turtlenecks, and it’s not what you think!) Totem Tamers applauds Wendy Williams as our WARRIOR WEDNESDAY! WW all the way!

Totems "Ask Wendy!"

Totems “Ask Wendy!”

We all can’t wait to read the book! Thanks to Mom to Moms Advisors for bringing Totem Tamers to this fun event!

To learn more about getting your own Totem and Totem Tamers, check out our site at www.totemtamers.com.

Stay well.

 

Totems Around Town!!

By | 2013-06-04T10:33:38+00:00 June 4th, 2013|Life|

Bulldog is certainly getting around town lately! Here is Bulldog near the Sydney Harbor Bridge in stunning Sydney, Australia!

Bulldog around Town!

Bulldog around Town!

Thanks to our Totem Tamers friends from Down Under for sending in this beauty! You can send us pictures of your Totems Around Town, too! Email pictures to info@totemtamers.com.

Stay well

To learn more about Totem Tamers and how to get your own Totem and start on a calmer path, go to our website at www.totemtamers.com.