Totem Tamers presents WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

By | 2013-07-31T10:47:35-04:00 July 31st, 2013|Life|

This week’s WARRIOR definitely has her s*%t together, but she didn’t just a few years ago, when tragedy struck. Chanel Reynold’s kissed her husband as he left for a bike ride, he never returned. He was a hit by a car  twenty minutes after he walked out the door and died as a result of his injuries about a week later. Chanel’s life was turned upside down. Now a widowed mother of two young children, Chanel was grieving while she also had to wade through a bevy of paperwork just to figure out what was what i.e. wills, life insurance, passwords to protected accounts, etc.. Out of that experience, a WARRIOR was born, and so was Get Your Shit Together! Chanel knew she didn’t want other people to have to suffer the same way she did every time it became clear that there was something else she hadn’t prepared for, so she found a way to make it easier for others. Chanel’s website offers resources for helping families get their shit together “just in case.” There are templates for living wills, power of attorney, and checklists to make sure everything’s covered. Chanel is the true definition of a WARRIOR, coming out of a truly awful and heartbreaking experience to help others. We are honored to call you this week’s WARRIOR and we are grateful for your courage and willingness to share your story and help so many in return.

Stuart Isett for the New York Times

Photo by Stuart Isett for the New York Times

Stay well.

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

Monday WARRIOR….yes, I just quoted a Rush song!

By | 2013-07-29T15:01:26-04:00 July 29th, 2013|Life|

It’s not often that I get to meet a WARRIOR past, but today I had the distinct honor and privilege to meet one of our WARRIOR WEDNESDAY honorees, the incredible Senator Wendy Davis from Texas. Senator Davis has gained a lot of recognition lately after her historic filibuster where she attempted to block a controversial abortion rights bill from being passed in Texas. It worked, only for a short time until her efforts were overridden, but it worked! She stood for 13 hours and as every minute passed she gained not only momentum, but support, support the state of Texas hasn’t seen for a Democrat in years.  Senator Davis has given a voice to many where they didn’t think they had one before, whether it’s for women and the continuing fight for reproductive rights, or communities of underserved constituents who had never been asked before what was important to them. Senator Davis has big plans for the state of Texas, and I know we will be seeing and hearing a lot more from her in the years to come.

Senator Wendy Davis and little ole me!

Senator Wendy Davis and little ole me!

I had the opportunity to give Senator Davis a Totem Set (I chose OWL for her because OWL is ever-wise and stands tall and unwavering), and she was grateful and gracious and even recognized having anxious moments of her own (who’s to blame her!?) Totem Tamers hopes OWL keeps you company and calm on your road ahead, Senator Davis, and we’re excited for the future and all that you hope to accomplish.

Stay well.

To learn more about Totem Tamers and choose a Totem of your own, please visit our site at www.totemtamers.com.

I am humble, hear me roar. (Sort of)

By | 2013-07-27T14:06:19-04:00 July 27th, 2013|Life|

The lesson of the week was clearly an important one since it kept hitting me over the head time and again. If it wasn’t a status update on a friend’s Facebook page (thanks K.B.), it was someone else’s utter disregard for me as a person, but finally, the message came through. Guess what? It has NOTHING to do with me!! Yep, that’s the message. No, seriously, that’s the understanding that came through loud and clear, that I will have to somehow manage to remind myself of regularly. When someone makes a choice to treat you poorly, know it has nothing to do with you. Or if I were to make it personal, I might say to myself “Wow, she’s being a real bitch! I wonder what’s going on in her life that’s so hard for her to manage that she’s taking it out on me, because I know it has nothing to do with me!” It doesn’t mean that people should get away with being jerks, but hopefully it makes it less personal and allows us to handle a situation in such a way that doesn’t make it worse for anyone involved. You can certainly walk away and feel free to let someone know that you won’t stand to be spoken to in such a manner. Or you might choose to say to said bitch, “Hey, you seem really upset. What’s going on with you?” This simple act of turning it back on them may result in the person taking a moment and recognizing their mood and treatment of you. Hopefully, you’ll get an apology, but more likely you’ll at least get a chance to collect yourself and your reaction so that you can ultimately walk away without an escalation. The flipside to this message, and yes, there is one, is that when someone does something truly lovely, and selfless, and wonderful, and generous, that’s all about you! And you know what? You deserve it! Bottom line is that when someone is behaving poorly towards you, their behavior is not your responsibility, but when someone is being sweet and kind towards you, own it!! Say thank you, of course, and it feels right give that sentiment right back. I have so many amazing people in my life and I am grateful for all of them, it will be interesting to see which ones email me to make sure it wasn’t them that pissed me off! Don’t worry, it wasn’t you, or you.

Stay well.

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

A Totem and a Wolverine….together at last!

By | 2013-07-25T09:25:06-04:00 July 25th, 2013|Life|

Totem Tamers is so excited because the one and only Hugh Jackman left a screening of his new movie “The Wolverine” with a Totem Bulldog Set in hand! The Jackman family has a French Bulldog at home so we thought our Bulldog would be the perfect companion, of course. Even though this mega-star has nothing to worry about in terms of the success of his new film, we thought it would be a nice gesture to give him a good luck gift. Somehow I know, now that he’s got Bulldog, his film will gross 100 million, at least! (There is a wink, wink in there by the way.) Meanwhile, this wouldn’t have happened had it not been for some amazing people, thanks to @MomtoMomsAdvisor stars Chinthani Pererra-Luneman and Lisa Schulman for being the kind of women who get more out of helping others than helping themselves. You rock!

Bulldog will help keep Wolverine calm!

Bulldog will help keep Wolverine calm!

Who wouldn't love that face?

Who wouldn’t love that face?

Stay well.

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

 

Totem Tamers presents WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

By | 2013-07-24T15:23:45-04:00 July 24th, 2013|Life|

A WARRIOR is anyone who is brave enough to talk about their personal struggles in an effort to help themselves and help others. This week provides us with a very public figure doing just that! Our WARRIOR for the week is Catherine Zeta-Jones, for her very open discussions about suffering from bi-polar disorder and the very public way she has handled it. Zeta-Jones discussed her illness in a recent interview and shared her hope of bringing greater awareness about the disorder as her motivation for being so open.

wikipedia media

wikipedia media

There are many resources available today to help those with mental illness and it’s as easy as a Google search! It helps remove the stigma further when celebrities like Zeta-Jones have the courage to speak out about their struggles. We salute you Catherine Zeta-Jones and we are proud and honored to call you this week’s WARRIOR!

Stay well.

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

I am humbled and moved and inspired.

By | 2013-07-19T13:24:59-04:00 July 19th, 2013|Life, Uncategorized|

Thank you. Those words cannot possibly encompass all that I have felt over the last couple days. The outpouring of support, of love, of understanding, has been so overwhelming and wonderful. Thank you. The reality is that it’s my story, but there are thousands and thousands of stories just like it. Brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, cousins, you get the idea. Addiction causes a ripple effect, like a stone thrown in to a calm lake, waves expanding and affecting so many. That’s why we need to talk about it. That’s why I talk about it, because I don’t want my children to suffer the same fate. That’s why Totem Tamers came to be, because one of my children was suffering, and as a parent, I needed to do something about it, to help him and hopefully many others. When my son had his first anxiety attack (on a plane, mind you) I wasn’t really sure what was happening. I chalked it up to him being too tired, too sugared up, too excited, but when he started to sweat, and turn pale, and get agitated, I knew I was dealing with something else entirely. The flight was a very long one, and I spent the next several hours softly stroking my son’s arm and talking to him in a low soothing voice to help him stay calm. We made it to our destination thankfully, but within a day, my son expressed anxiety about the return trip and “what if it happens again?” His anxiety switch was flipped. The attacks became more frequent after that first one and I felt completely helpless. It wasn’t until I spoke to my friend and now business partner about his panic attacks, that the idea for Totem Tamers was born. It has been an amazing journey so far as we’ve seen the transformation almost instantly in children with anxiety, my son included. I witnessed a child refuse to go ice skating because he was too scared. Within minutes of introducing him to the Totems, he chose Bear, and off he went. Another child who calls herself a constant worrier, chose Owl. When I saw her the next day she ran to me to tell me how Owl was already helping her stay calm. Her smile was big enough to warm my heart and validate what we are hoping to accomplish. These are just a couple of examples, and there a plenty more thankfully, and our goal is to continue to help those who need it. in order to achieve that, we need to talk about it. We need to remove the stigma attached to anxiety and panic attacks, having them doesn’t make you weak, not asking for help, does. Totem Tamers is a simple tool to help those who suffer from crippling anxiety and overwhelming emotions that interfere with everyday life. Find power in asking for help and finding calm in your life. Share your story, because I guarantee there are many more who feel just the way you do. To learn more about our products, please visit www.totemtamers.com.
Stay well.

A very personal WARRIOR WEDNESDAY.

By | 2013-07-17T13:10:49-04:00 July 17th, 2013|Life|

From parade.com

From parade.com

I’m angry today. Angry and sad and disappointed. Usually, Wednesdays bring us a WARRIOR to recognize, someone who is doing something wonderful to help themselves or others. I’m sure there are many I could mention today, but my thoughts continue to swirl around the death of “Glee” star, Cory Monteith. I laughed out loud at the headline on The Daily News today that read “Glee star heroin shocker!” There was no shock, not even surprise to learn that what killed the 31-year-old was a mix of heroin and alcohol. Duh, he was a drug addict. So was my brother. I’ve talked about him before and I’m sure I’ll talk about him again. My brother Jonathan, was 32 years old when he accidentally overdosed. That description has always annoyed the hell out of me, by the way. There was no accident, he put a needle in his arm and injected poison in to his body, eventually if he continued to do that, he would die. Someone once asked me if I thought my brother had a death wish, without hesitation I answered, yes. If you shoot heroin, you have a death wish, plain and simple. My brother tried to get clean, many many times. He even had a beautiful girlfriend whom he met in treatment and they were getting clean together. It was the first time in years that I had let him in to my life and even then it was only peripherally because I was protecting myself and my family. They were on their way to becoming productive members of society when my brother turned to his girlfriend and said “One last time.” She begged him not to go, but there’s no stopping an addict. I got the call that night that Jonathan was dumped on the steps of a hospital by his “friends” who were more concerned about not getting caught than about the guy in cardiac arrest. Hey, at least they took him to the hospital, right? Jonathan was on life support for several days. They were some of the hardest days I have ever had to face. I had to figure out how to say goodbye to someone who hadn’t been my brother for a long time but who still looked like my brother, who still lived on in my memories both good and bad, who I still loved and wanted so much more for in life. Jonathan passed on his own, sparing my mother more tragedy by thankfully not having to turn off support. There was a startling sense of relief when Jonathan died. Now we didn’t have to jump every time the phone rang, now we didn’t have to worry if he didn’t show up to dinner on time, now we would always know where he was and that he was safe and at rest. His funeral was packed, standing room only. He would have been psyched to see it and would have stood like a rock star to greet everyone with his trademark bear hug and smile. I spoke, my opening line pretty much all I can remember, “Hi, my name is Julie, and my brother is a drug addict.” I cry often when I think about Jonathan, I cry often when I hear of another life lost to drugs, I’m crying now thinking about Monteith who seemingly had everything going for him when he thought “one last time,” not considering it would end his life. I think of my brother’s girlfriend, Ashley, and standing with her so proud when she collected her one year chip from Narcotics Anonymous. I think about the one year anniversary of my brother’s death, when we got the call that Ashley had died shooting up, whether to honor my brother’s memory or to go be with him in some place beyond the pain on this earth, we’ll never know. I think about her funeral that was almost a carbon copy to my brother’s. It makes me angry. Angry and sad and disappointed. That’s not all though, I do have hope, really, I do. I hope that in the loss of my brother, his girlfriend, Cory Monteith, and the others who have passed and will pass, that somewhere in there, a message will come through to my children, all our children, that will help keep them safe and keep them here.

Ghosts of WARRIORS past.

Ghosts of WARRIORS past.

Stay well.

Exercising calm.

By | 2013-07-16T11:51:45-04:00 July 16th, 2013|Life|

Last week I shared an article about research that was done that showed the more sleep you get, the less anxious you may feel. Makes sense right? We know when we haven’t had a good night’s rest, the next day we are usually zombie-like and scrambling to get things done. It definitely doesn’t feel good and definitely doesn’t help us feel calm. The assignment was of course to get more sleep, and who wants to turn that down?!

There is another article out today that gives us another tip on remaining calm, and this one is connected to exercise. Research was done on mice who were given the opportunity to exercise and then exposed to a stressor. The ones that exercised didn’t freak out as much as the ones that didn’t exercise. If you’d like to read the more studious version of this article, you can find it here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130703160620.htm

 

In the meantime, the new assignment to help stay calm, other than your Totem Tamers of course, is to exercise a bit and then take a nap!

Sign me up!

Stay well.

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

 

We like to think that "no news is good news," but what about when there's a lot of news?

By | 2013-07-14T09:06:03-04:00 July 14th, 2013|Life|

As a parent I often struggle with how much my kids are exposed to via television, films, music, and really, life in general. My motto however, has pretty much been “more is better” in terms of explaining subjects they might question. I would rather be the one to give them the information they seek and not have them hear incomplete, exaggerated, sugar-coated details from the news or their friends. I am also quite comfortable admitting I don’t know something if they happen to stump me and we look it up and learn together. Well today I have to explain a whole lot more than I really want to, but I would be failing them if we didn’t have a conversation about George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin and the judicial system in this country. This is not going to be an easy conversation, because a young man’s life was taken away and another man’s life will forever be defined by his actions.  I don’t want this piece to be a political discussion or about my thoughts on that case, but more about parenting and sharing with our kids.

Trayvon Martin

Trayvon Martin

From parade.com

From parade.com

 

Meanwhile, the harder news that I am going to have to tell my kids is the report of Cory Monteith, the star and beloved actor from Glee, who was found dead in his hotel room. Monteith has struggled with addiction most of his life and had just last April admitted himself in to rehab for help. This is harder to share because the actor/character is someone my kids connected with every week on TV, they looked up to him and admired him and hoped to be a star like him one day. This is the opportunity to talk to my kids about drugs and alcohol. About addiction. About getting help. About my brother and his girlfriend who were both cut down in the prime of their lives as a result of their addictions. The sad bit is that my kids never knew their Uncle, so he’s always this “ghost” I refer to sometimes. The truth is the death of Cory Monteith will have more of an impact on them and hopefully on their futures. Ultimately this will be a discussion about the loss of two young lives, Trayvon’s and Cory’s, that could have and should have been prevented, and about how our choices may make all the difference. 

Stay well. 

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

A breath of not-so-fresh air.

By | 2013-07-13T11:54:13-04:00 July 13th, 2013|Life|

We always hear the phrase “think before you speak.” I want to change it up just a bit to “breathe before you speak.” The directive is to actually stop, take in a breath, exhale, then say whatever it is you need to say. Even just the second or two delay in speaking can alter the tone, attitude, and reaction you may be having to an outside force, be it the old lady at the grocery store elbowing you for prune juice, or one of your truly adorable children who clearly hasn’t gotten enough rest and is in a really pissy mood! It was one of these adorable children to whom I was giving this little lesson to when he called me on my shit. He was being pissy and speaking to me in a tone that was making me feel agitated and frustrated. Rather than snap back, which is what I really wanted to do, I simply said “I have to walk away.” I did this in an effort to protect him from my annoyance and from possibly yelling at him. My sweet, sensitive boy was able to express how my walking away made him feel really awful, I think he used the words “like a piece of crap, child.” Ouch! I did that! I suck! We then talked about what I was experiencing and what he was experiencing. We agreed that we would both take a deep breath before we spoke and I would not walk away from him even if I was angry, and he would do his best to stay calm. This was a beautiful moment, now all we have to do is remember it and implement it!! It’s one thing to have the tools available, it’s another to use them. Totem Tamers is an incredibly helpful tool for example, with a rhyme to redirect overwhelming emotions, colors to help visualize your changing mood, deep breathing to keep calm, and a totem to ground you. Sometimes we forget about the tools that are available to us, (duh, like I did!) but if we give ourselves that second to breathe, maybe we’ll do a better job at remembering for the next time. Inhale, exhale.

Stay well.

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

Sleep more, worry less!

By | 2013-07-12T13:04:23-04:00 July 12th, 2013|Life|

There’s nothing like reading a report that basically gives us permission to sleep more. We are all well aware of how lack of sleep or disrupted sleep can affect our mood, our health, and our overall mental health. A new study by researchers at UC Berkeley has found that anxiety is definitely ramped up if you experience a lack of sleep or inconsistent sleep patterns. This is more pronounced in people who have generalized anxiety disorders or who are prone to worry excessively, but definitely has an affect on everyone. If you have ever considered sleep therapy, complained about trouble sleeping, or if you experience excessive anxiety, a sleep study might be a good idea!

Here’s the article about the study if you want to know more http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130626143031.htm. Me? I’m going to take a nap!

Nap time for Totems!

Nap time for Totems!

 

Totem Tamers presents WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

By | 2013-07-10T16:57:04-04:00 July 10th, 2013|Life|

I love when WARRIOR WEDNESDAY basically writes itself. This week’s WARRIOR is a warrior through and through. Not just because he rushed to the scene of a horrific crime in progress, but also because he has been through a lot in his life and admits to mistakes, but is now doing what he has in his power to be a better man and a better citizen. And you know what? It’s working!! Our hats off to Charles Williams as this week’s WARRIOR WEDNESDAY! Charles was doing his part in The Doe Fund’s Ready Willing and Able program earlier this week, when he noticed people rushing out of a subway station screaming that someone was stabbing people. Rather than run the other way, Charles entered the station (risking his own safety mind you,) and with the help of another good samaritan subdued the still armed woman until police arrived. Charles doesn’t want to be called a hero, but he is just that, and he is an inspiration. See, Charles has a history. Who doesn’t? However, Charles made the decision that his history doesn’t define him as a person, and with the help of The Doe Fund’s Ready Willing and Able program, Charles has the chance to reinvent himself and is clearly on the right path today. We are proud of you Charles and we are proud to call you a WARRIOR! To learn more about The Doe Fund, visit www.doe.org.

Visit www.doe.org to learn how you can help.

Visit www.doe.org to learn how you can help.

To learn more about Totem Tamers visit our site at www.totemtamers.com. To nominate a WARRIOR, email info@totemtamers.com.

Stay well.

Totems Around Town and T.L.C. (Totem Loving Care)!

By | 2013-07-09T08:21:26-04:00 July 9th, 2013|Life|

T.L.C. or Totem Loving Care

T.L.C. or Totem Loving Care

This picture came to Totem Tamers from Long Island as a thank you of sorts. A loved one was entering the hospital for a fairly large procedure and the Totems were brought along to help keep everyone a little calmer and to provide some comfort to the patient whenever she was alone and feeling anxious. Happy to report the patient is on the road to recovery and thrilled that the Totems helped! The more calm and less stress you have when undergoing any procedure, the healing process can be that much easier and that much quicker. If you or someone you know has any event coming up that is causing stress or anxiety, a Totem can help! Visit our site at www.totemtamers.com and give the gift of calm today!

Stay well and keep those pictures coming. Send photos or drawings of your totems to info@totemtamers.com.