"What's so Bloody Funny?"

By | 2013-10-31T15:00:28+00:00 October 31st, 2013|Life|

That was the name of the event Totem Tamers had the spooky pleasure of attending yesterday. It was a fundraiser for the National Hemophilia Foundation! (Now you get it?) This was a great fundraiser because it was a comedy show, featuring some of the best in the business, all performing for free, for a great cause. My kids were psyched I was going because the host of the evening was Alex Borstein, the voice of “Lois” from “Family Guy”!

"Bloody funny,"says Bulldog!

“Bloody funny,” says Bulldog!

Borstein is a carrier of Hemophilia and one of her brother’s was born with the bleeding disorder. I was brought to the event by a dear friend, Marilyn Ness, who made a film about Hemophilia, after a close friend of hers died as a result of receiving a transfusion with tainted blood. She has remained close with this community that she says is “hugely resilient and finds strength despite a difficult, chronic, and at times disabling disorder.” I couldn’t agree more as to their resilience, as I watched the gathered supporters and sufferers alike, find humor in their situation. The comics who performed for free to support this community, ranged from Ted Alexandro, who had the tough job of breaking in the crowd, to Marcus Monroe, who wowed with his juggling and double-jointedness, to the incredible Sarah Silverman, who is just plain funny!

Bulldog and Sarah!

Bulldog and Sarah!

The highlight of the evening for me was surprise special guest, Reggie Watts! If you have never seen Reggie do his thing, look up some videos, or catch him and his funny on Comedy Bang Bang, on IFC. We were seated near the entrance to backstage, so I caught Reggie as he was sneaking in, he was the surprise guest after all!  I made a teeny fool of myself, but he handled it with aplomb. I tried to fist-bump Reggie Watts. I thought it was the cool thing to do, apparently not. Reggie took my fist-bump in his hand and uncurled my fingers only to then kiss the top of my hand. He then went on to rock the house, with his fly open the entire time! Sarah Silverman, came out to watch her friend perform, so when I whispered to her that his fly was open, she said with confidence, that he was probably aware. I will never know if he did it on purpose, because when Miss Swan (Alex Borstein’s lovable MadTv character) came out and told Reggie to zip his pants, he instead opened them up to reveal his undies matched his shirt. We all laughed! Lots of money was raised with awesome raffle prizes and supporters danced in to the night. Totem Tamers was glad to be there and glad to support the National Hemophilia Foundation and their dedication “to finding better treatments and cures for inheritable bleeding disorders and to preventing the complications of these disorders through education, advocacy and research.”

Stay well.

Oh, and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

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

Totem Tamers presents WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

By | 2013-10-30T10:55:37+00:00 October 30th, 2013|Life, Uncategorized|

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Every Wednesday in October I had the honor of highlighting a person, and/or organization that is somehow doing their part in the fight to find a cure for this disease. Since today is the last Wednesday, I thought it best to just recap all our WARRIOR’s in case you missed any, and it is always a pleasure to be able to introduce some truly fantastic individuals! Our first WARRIOR this month was the always inspiring Teri Trotter! I met Teri through a mutual dear friend and have been in awe of her ever since. Battling the disease herself (and kicking its ass!), Teri created a foundation to help others who are fighting cancer. The Pink Wig puts hot pink wigs on the heads of those who are looking for a boost while undergoing treatment, or heck, for atone supporting someone undergoing treatment! Read the post and visit the site to learn more!

Next, it was the Pink Fireman, also known as Marshall Moneymaker! Marshall’s story is so moving and heartbreaking yet at the same time inspirational and uplifting. With the help of his incredible wife Shannon, they began an organization called For 3 Sisters, in honor of Marshall’s sisters who all died as a result of breast cancer. Marshall is a great example of how someone can persevere in the face of true adversity, and that makes him a WARRIOR!

I was introduced to Marshall by our next WARRIOR, Mollie Simpkins! Mollie lost her mom to breast cancer and has since been involved in many amazing organizations related to finding a cure for breast cancer and providing education and resources to anyone who needs it. She’s all kinds of awesome.

If the world couldn’t get any smaller, the following WARRIOR WEDNESDAY I talked about the Avon Breast Cancer Walk after I ran into a woman who knows Mollie and Marshall! Evidence to how supportive this community can be and how special the people are that get involved.

A WARRIOR in his own right, is artist Ray Ferrer, who out of sheer generosity offered to donate a portion of proceeds from sales to the fight against breast cancer. Still two days left, so hit the link above and buy some art while doing some good at the same time!

Last but certainly not least, is a very brief update on a friend I first mentioned in April. After finding a cancerous lump, she bravely decided to undergo a double mastectomy to reduce her chances of a recurrence, and had her Bulldog Totem by her side throughout. I am happy to say that her new boobs look awesome and she’s happy and cancer free!

The hope for a cure is never-ending, please visit the links of any of the WARRIORS above and maybe you’ll find a way to do your part to help.

Stay well.

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

A new age in parenting set back many years by unrealistic expectations.

By | 2013-10-29T11:23:52+00:00 October 29th, 2013|Life|

I used to be a talk-radio host. I miss it. A lot. There is nothing more power-inducing than getting to blather my opinions on the air and hanging up on people who are boring, rude, or just plain ignorant. I miss it even more when I read articles in the paper that make me absolutely berserk. As the Totems and I sat with the morning paper and a cup of java, I came across this little nugget that had me spewing venom instead of coffee.

The New York Daily News, my morning paper

The New York Daily News, my morning paper

Ok, maybe it wasn’t that intense, but it certainly got my ire up and made me want to holler at someone, someone in particular, someone who is identified in the article as a “noted pediatrician and professor.” The article is about the age of kids using electronics getting younger and younger. I get that our kids have too much “screen” exposure and yes, it’s a tad bit concerning that my 7 year old can google better than I can, but I am also realistic about the world we live in today. I have two kids that go to an incredible junior high called “The Computer School,” for goodness sakes! I do have rules around the computer and screen time, (as most do) and mine may be more strict or more liberal than others, but they are my rules nonetheless. No “gaming” during the week is pretty much the biggest and the one that ticks my kids off the most! I also don’t let them have televisions in their bedrooms, because I want them to sleep. This noted pediatrician/professor, Dr. Victor Strasburger suggests we shouldn’t allow electronics in our kids bedrooms, not because it will distract them or prevent quality sleep, but to protect us from potentially “unpleasant situations.” The article goes on to quote Dr. Strasburger, “I guarantee you that if you have a 14-year-old boy and he has an Internet connection in his bedroom, he is looking at pornography.” Well, Dr. Strasburger, I have news for you, if my 14-year-old son is not looking at pornography, I would be really concerned. Click! (That’s the sound of me hanging up on the caller for being ignorant!) “That’s all the time we have today, thanks for listening and remember, mind your parents, and mind your own business.”

Stay well.

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

Grief is called a process for a reason.

By | 2013-10-26T14:19:13+00:00 October 26th, 2013|Life|

Yesterday, I wrote about an inspirational evening celebrating the work of an amazing organization, The Doe Fund. I wrote about the men being helped by the program and even about the money raised to further the organization’s efforts. What I didn’t write about was my mom, who got up on the stage in front of more than 500 people and talked about my brother, Jonathan, who died ten years ago today of a heroin overdose. She talked about how a program like this might have helped him and how all the men in the program are now her “symbolic sons.”

Proud of my Mom!

Proud of my Mom!

 

My mother grieves my brother’s loss every second of every day. How could she not? How could anyone not grieve the loss of a loved one? I told my brother’s story in A Very Personal WARRIOR WEDNESDAY because it’s part of my grieving process. The process is never ending. There are the five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. When you experience a loss, you go through these stages, but it certainly doesn’t mean the process ends. We continue to go through them forever, just in smaller bits and definitely much faster through the stages as time goes on, hopefully spending longer periods in the Acceptance stage. My mother will always grieve, as will I, as will you, if you have lost someone close to you. Today, on the anniversary of Jonathan’s death, I will go through the stages, more than once, because I need to, because I can’t stop it, because it helps me heal. Some people aren’t able to recognize or handle their grief in emotionally healthy and productive ways and that’s why there are places like Imagine in New Jersey. Imagine is a not for profit “center for coping with loss” and Totem Tamers had the incredible experience of seeing this facility firsthand.

Memories of loss.

Memories of loss.

This is a picture of the “Memory Tree” that had me on the verge of tears just trying to take the shot. There are “leaves” hanging  from the tree with messages from children to their parents that have passed away, to siblings that are gone, wishing them love and missing them. It’s heartbreaking to see, but you can sense the healing in the act of hanging your “leaf.” Imagine is a year round support center where children and adults can learn coping skills so that they can lead “meaningful and productive lives” after suffering a loss. Imagine also trains adults and teens to use the skills they learn so they can help others, whether at the center or in their communities. While touring the center, I thought a lot about my father who passed away when I was pretty young, and I tried to think about how I grieved for him. I realize now that I acted out in unhealthy ways, and was depressed for many years because I wasn’t allowing myself to grieve and frankly because I didn’t know how to grieve. It dawned on me that my brother was likely experiencing the same reaction, but sadly it set him on a path that he was unable to recover from, which has me here, grieving for him now as well.  Sets of Totem Tamers sit in the orientation room at Imagine, and there’s further healing in that for me and hopefully for everyone who comes through the center looking for help. Visit ImagineNJ.org to find out how you can help and for further resources if you or someone you know needs support.

Stay well.

To learn more about Totem Tamers or to donate Totem Sets to Imagine, please visit our site at www.totemtamers.com and mention Imagine in the Address 2 line of your order.

"It's not a hand out, it's a hand up!"

By | 2013-10-25T13:45:03+00:00 October 25th, 2013|Uncategorized|

What a beautiful evening at The Doe Fund’s Annual Gala in New York City!

Cipriani's 42nd St!

Cipriani’s 42nd St!

If you’re not familiar with The Doe Fund and their Ready, Willing and Able program, go to doe.org. This will help you really understand all that they do, not only for it’s clients, but for the city of New York! To put it simply, The Doe Fund, helps end the cycle of homelessness by providing transitional jobs, housing and training to get those who want the help, back on their feet. We listened and were moved by two people who represent what Ready, Willing and Able really means. First up was Devon Green, who is a trainee in the program. That means he is still finding his way, and is on his way to graduating the program, and has come a long way from foster care and a life of crime.

Devon Green, keeping it real!

Devon Green, keeping it real!

Devon’s real-life story of hardship gave chills to the crowds gathered. It was amazing to hear how this young man is willingly turning his life around and pledging to be a role model to many others when he completes the program. More chills were felt when the whole room stood to applaud Devon and his efforts. The inspiration didn’t end there, we next heard from Terrance Coffie, a graduate of the program.

Terrance and his granddaughter, Gracie!

Terrance and his granddaughter, Gracie!

Terrance is proof that work works, and that you can choose a better life for yourself and your family. Terrance said he was nervous speaking to the crowd lastnight, but you couldn’t tell. All we could see was a confident man on his way to making a difference in the world. Not shy to tell us that he has made the Dean’s list in college, twice. Not shy to tell us he was selected from a group of thousands, to represent his college in a leadership role at a global conference. Not shy to tell us he spent a decade of his life behind bars, and not shy to tell us he will never, ever, be in that place again. This was all inspiring and wonderful to hear, but it was the moment Terrance talked about reuniting with his son that the room grew silent and our hearts opened up. It was the moment that Terrance introduced his son, his son’s girlfriend, and their beautiful daughter (Terrance’s granddaughter) to the crowd, that we knew Terrance was on the right path. We knew The Doe Fund had helped yet another man end a vicious cycle and begin a new journey on a path that holds hope, and a future. I am proud to stand on the board of this organization, and proud to share the stories of these two men who will inspire many more to come. Visit doe.org to find out how you can be a part of this organization too, whether by volunteering or opening your wallet, there is so much that can be done, and so much that will be done.

Stay well.

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

 

Totem Tamers presents WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

By | 2013-10-23T10:43:28+00:00 October 23rd, 2013|Life|

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, every week we are highlighting a person or in this case an event that has had tremendous impact on the fight against Breast Caner. The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer is this week’s WARRIOR for their continued efforts to raise money to help find a cure for breast cancer, to educate women on mammograms and even help get them mammograms, and help those impacted by the disease. This past weekend, my children’s school playground was transformed into something magical!

Pause for Pink.

Pause for Pink.

Yes, a rest stop was indeed magical to approximately three thousand participants in the NYC 2-day AvonWalk event! The 2-day event has about 800 volunteers, if not more, and many of them showed up at the crack of dawn to make sure the playground was set up to welcome the walkers during the second leg of their trek around NYC. They had tents, port-o-potties, music, snacks, and all around support for the participants who had done their part to raise money so they could take part in this great fundraiser. It reminded me of when I did it almost 12 years ago (one of the first) when it was a three-day walk that was 60 miles! I’ll never forget it, not just because it was an incredible experience, but it was also when I found out I was pregnant with my second kid, which made the nausea and overheating worth it! Enough about me though, let’s talk about the people!

Four sisters and a guy!

Four sisters and a guy!

I was walking my pup (that’s his leash in the shot but he wouldn’t sit still long enough) and came across this incredible five-some. Two sets of sisters and a gentleman who have been participating annually in the Avon Walk for at least ten years, and one set of sisters, 12! They met on the walk and have become forever friends as a result. One of them is a ten year survivor!

In a bizarre twist, I also met Penny, who I didn’t get a picture of because she was non-stop running around! Penny, is connected to one of our WARRIORS, Marshall Moneymaker of For 3 Sisters! Marshall lost his sister, whose name was Penny, to breast cancer and when he came across a sign for the “Penny Loafers” at an AVON walk, he knew he wanted to get involved. I met that Penny, of the “Loafers”! It was very cool and very touching how this disease brings so many people together while it threatens to pull families and friends apart. Thanks to AVON, this week’s WARRIOR, for doing their part. Approximately 6.7 million dollars was raised in New York City alone and there are walks set up across the country, maybe even one near you!

Stay well.

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

Just around the corner….

By | 2013-10-21T14:05:53+00:00 October 21st, 2013|Life|

Ever have that feeling that it’s just a little darker in your world than you like it to be? That there are clouds trailing behind you, if not directly over you? We all have that feeling now and again and sometimes, there is a refuge in it. But there is no better feeling than when you turn that corner and BAM! The light from a shining sun hits you, forcing you to close your eyes for just a second to feel the healing warmth and lend you some of the glow to carry away with you.

Tanning Totems!

Tanning Totems!

Take a moment to find your sun, even if you work in the basement. Close your eyes and feel the warmth, feel the glow, and keep it with you as you move through your day.

Stay well.

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

Bear and Banksy!

By | 2013-10-20T12:43:44+00:00 October 20th, 2013|Life|

The crowds were gathered this morning when another Banksy piece is revealed. Totem Tamers was there!

20131020-124134.jpg

20131020-124156.jpg

I love New York City!

Stay well.

Art is great just because, but it's even better when it's for a cause!

By | 2013-10-18T12:20:45+00:00 October 18th, 2013|Life|

I love what I do! I love it because I get to meet really incredible people who do really incredible things and are generally just pretty awesome. One of those people is Ray Ferrer. I have a virtual friendship with Ray because we have never met, but many months ago, Ray, saw one of my posts and “liked” it and decided to “follow” Totem Tamers. I am always curious about the people who read my stuff, so I went to check him out and I was blown away!

"New York State of Mind"

“New York State of Mind”

His magnificent works of art are spray painted! Yes, that spray paint!

"Jimi Hendrix" (I'm a huge Jimi fan!)

“Jimi Hendrix” (I’m a huge Jimi fan!)

I’m going on and on about Ray, not only because he’s a fantastic artist, but because he is also generous of spirit. Ray is pledging to donate of portion of proceeds from sales made the rest of this month to the fight agains Breast Cancer! So you can get some original art and help a great cause at the same time. Everyone wins! Check out more of Ray’s work on his Facebook page, and “like” it while you’re at it, or go right to his Etsy page and make a purchase!

Stay well.

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

 

Totem Tamers presents WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

By | 2013-10-16T12:27:57+00:00 October 16th, 2013|Life|

All month long we have been honoring WARRIORS during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Our first WARRIOR was, Teri Trotter, who started a charity, The Pink Wig, after her own battle with the disease and she continues to be a source of inspiration for many! Next we honored, Marshall Moneymaker, who also began a charity, For 3 Sisters, after he lost his three sisters to breast cancer. I am blessed to have met Teri personally and she’s a superstar. I have not yet met Marshall, a superstar in his own right, but the woman who made me aware of him and his story though, is Mollie Simpkins, this week’s WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

WARRIOR WEDNESDAY Mollie Simpkins!

WARRIOR WEDNESDAY Mollie Simpkins!

Mollie’s mom, Gail, lost her battle with breast cancer at the young age of 51. Since that tragedy, Mollie has waged a fight to help find a cure for breast cancer, and she does her part in bringing joy to those who have been impacted by the disease. Mollie does this by participating in 3-day walk events to raise money, she does this by posting really great inspirational messages on her Facebook wall, she does this by introducing the world to great people like Marshall, she does this by just being her. Another organization that she introduced me to, that quite possibly changed the course of Mollie’s life, is Casting for Recovery (CFR). CFR uses fly-fishing to further their “principles that the natural world is a healing force and that cancer survivors deserve one weekend — free of charge and free of the stresses from medical treatment, home, or workplace — to experience something new and challenging while enjoying beautiful surroundings within an intimate, safe, and nurturing structure.” Mollie fell in love with fly-fishing as a result, and something only a WARRIOR could do, Mollie left her well-established life in Maryland and headed to Montana about a month ago for a new job, a new life to establish, and plenty of fish in the sea! As an example of how special Mollie is, especially to Marshall Moneymaker and his wife Shannon, they offered to drive Mollie to her new home! We’re talking days in the car with Mollie and her pup Vicky, you have to be special to get someone to do that for you. I spoke with Marshall and Shannon and this is what they had to say: “Mollie gives of herself; not for what she expects to get in return, but because her heart is golden and her intentions are pure. Those are noble traits. Warriors are noble. Mollie is a warrior…and we love her. – Shannon and Marshall”

I am honored to name Mollie this week’s WARRIOR and humbled to be her friend, and inspired just by knowing her.

Stay well.

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

Gray hairs are not just grown, they are earned!

By | 2013-10-14T15:17:45+00:00 October 14th, 2013|Life|

How am I earning my gray hairs lately? Applying my oldest kid to high school in New York City, that’s how! And we’re talking public school, not some chichi private school that will take you if you can pay your way in. This is me, trying to take advantage of one of the top public school systems in the country. The caliber of teachers is certainly up there, and there are definitely some amazing schools and students graduating from them, but at this point it’s a miracle that anyone gets to high school in NYC because they make it so damned hard to get in to them! Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful to live in one of the greatest cities in the world, but part of the sacrifice of being here is the sometimes ridiculously frustrating “different way” of doing things. We don’t have a local high school that the kids naturally transfer to after middle school. Oh no, here in the Big Apple, your child may have to get up at 6am to commute an hour to a high school in a different borough! I could go on and on about the process of touring schools, filling out essays, signing up for interviews, but my hair would likely fall out by the time I was done. It sucks, plain and simple. But the application process is almost not the worst part, the worst part, I think, is that my 13-year-old son is being pressured to consider what colleges certain high school kids get in to, and make a decision based on that! Seriously! 8th grade is supposed to be about zit cream and first base (la,la,la, I’m not listening to you, of course I know much more is happening but I am in total denial, look at my hair!)

Yes, that's all mine!

Yes, that’s all mine!

 

8th grade is supposed to be fun, because now you are the oldest in middle school and you have made some really good friends and you have more privileges. What does my kid know about where he wants to be in four years?! As the parent, I need to do my part by researching right along with him, and that’s only because I don’t have a time machine to take me back to where he would look up at me with those beautiful blue-green eyes and say “Pick me up, mommy!” Now, he’s tall enough to pick me up. Ok, fine, I don’t want to think about him going to high school, let alone college. I don’t want him texting girls and wearing deodorant and contemplating shaving that dirt-looking stain over his top lip. I want my baby back. Aww, heck, now look what you’ve done. Another gray hair, and a new box of tissues. This parenting is hard, but it’s the best job in the world and I have my Totems to help keep me calm and hey, I can always dye my hair!!

Stay well.

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

Perspective on a bench.

By | 2013-10-10T09:48:51+00:00 October 10th, 2013|Life|

As I was walking to meet up with one of my kids after his play date, I came upon a scene that basically stopped me in my tracks. I was approaching a subway station and there were several cop cars around and definitely a growing number of people. I immediately thought there must have been an incident underground, in the station. Never did I think, as I continued walking, that I would pass a body. No I didn’t say somebody, I said, a body. Right there, on my left, on the bench. Thankfully, it was already covered with a sheet, but I knew what it was. Someone’s life had ended on that bench. It’s an area where a lot of homeless people hang out, and it occurred to me it might have been a homeless person. That made me sad. It made me sad to think that this person died alone, in the middle of a bustling city and no one would be showing up to claim the body.  It pissed me off to see other people stopping, staring, taking pictures and gawking as if it were some sideshow at a circus. Have some respect people!! I continued walking seconds after realizing what I was seeing and remembering that my kid was heading in my direction to meet me! For the next few blocks I could think of nothing else but that nameless, lifeless body on the bench, and then I saw my boy from across the street. There was life right in front of me, smiling at me, sweetness, and cuteness, and family, and love. I hugged him hard and we continued our walk home, taking a different route so he didn’t have to see the bench. I have been searching in vain for information about the incident. There is nothing, not even a snippet about the nameless, lifeless, body on that bench by the subway. I won’t forget what I saw, as it will help me get through today and tomorrow and the next, reminding me to be grateful for my life and for those in my life, and that it is all too precious and fragile. I will pass that bench a thousand times I’m sure, and I will always remember. As you make your way through the day, if you see an empty bench, remember that there was life there at one point, and thankfully there will be life there again.

Stay well.

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

Totem Tamers presents WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

By | 2013-10-09T08:36:08+00:00 October 9th, 2013|Life|

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so all month long we are highlighting individuals and groups doing their part to increase awareness, compassion, and understanding about this disease that effects so many people. Last week, I introduced you to breast cancer survivor, Teri Trotter, and the company she founded called The Pink Wig. In writing that piece, I was made aware of this week’s WARRIOR, Marshall Moneymaker (isn’t that the coolest name ever?) Losing a loved one is never easy, imagine losing three relatives to the same disease within a couple of years. Marshall’s three sisters, Penny, Valessa, and Vicky, all died as a result of having breast cancer. Losing his sisters, Marshall, looked inside himself and found new life and purpose in their honor. Marshall, along with the support of his incredible wife Shannon, began a non-profit organization called For 3 Sisters.  This group provides “information about, and access to resources (of all kinds), and raises awareness about breast cancer through community outreach programs.” You have to go to the site and read Marshall’s Story, and you will understand why he is a WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

The Pink Fireman! Photo by Freed Photography

The Pink Fireman! Photo by Freed Photography

Marshall was already a WARRIOR because he had been saving lives as a fireman for many years, and now he is also known as The Pink Fireman. This big burly guy dressed up in pink in honor of his 3 sisters. Inspirational, and just special, Marshall! Totem Tamers is sorry for your losses, and we are grateful that you have turned those tragic events into something so positive and comforting to many others impacted by this disease. We are honored to call you a WARRIOR!

Stay well.

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

PS: Sending love and light to Amy and Lynnie, long time dear friends, who lost their Mom yesterday to cancer. xoxo