When doing the right thing can still feel wrong.

By | 2018-04-07T23:24:18-04:00 March 31st, 2014|Life|

I am still trying to convince myself that taking a man’s head and bashing it in to the table where he was sitting was definitely not the better option. Although when I imagine myself actually doing it, I feel strong, and powerful, and well within my right. After all, he terrified my 7 year old by grabbing his sweatshirt in anger and yelling at him. That man should have had the same done to him and more, but instead I quickly interceded and got between this coward and my child and diffused what would have, could have, even should have gotten much more intense. Here’s the story: After the final performance of Fiddler on the Roof, my middle son and his cast mates decided to descend upon a local restaurant. Of course, the other patrons were slightly annoyed at the energetic crowd of young ones, but most were understanding. They were kids after all. My youngest, always wanting to be in the middle of the action, was excited to be able to hang with the actors. His seat was tucked in a corner near another table that was pushed very closely to the kids’ table. I am able to understand the man’s frustration as my son moved in and out of his seat and bumped in to him more than once, but at no point did that man have any right to put his hand on my kid. NO POINT AT ALL! I stayed calm, mostly because I was in shock, but I got low in the man’s ear and made it very clear that I understood why he was angry, but that you don’t ever touch a child, especially one that’s not your own. I then grabbed my now hysterical son, and as my tears of anger started to flow, we fled. I know I did the right thing because there was a table of 15 kids watching this interaction.  I know if I had done what my fantasy butt-kicking mom wanted to do, I would have scarred these children’s memories, permanently. I know I did the right thing, because if I had yelled and screamed at this man, who clearly has no kids of his own, there is no telling what he would have done in return. I know I did the right thing because as my little one and I walked home, my son was able to go into his fantasy butt-kicking 7 year old head and talk about how he would have punched the guy hard if he could have. I know I did the right thing because when I kissed my boy goodnight and told him I loved him, he replied that he loved me more and that he always would. There’s nothing more right than that! And that guy, who left with his pal after his lunch was interrupted by a group of talented, sweet, innocent kids, yeah that guy, he will never be loved more, and I can see the wrong in that and yet still, it somehow feels right.

Stay well.

Today I was forced to be anti-choice.

By | 2018-04-07T23:24:18-04:00 March 28th, 2014|Life|

Calm down, calm down, it’s not what you think, but don’t you just love a really great title?! Although, there is truth in the title of me being forced to be anti-choice, but it’s not so political, sort of. That’s what happens when your little one, ok my little one, asks me a question that I absolutely can’t answer correctly, or at all, for that matter. After deciding that he wasn’t speaking to me this morning, my 7 and a half year old took to writing things down. Whether it was his breakfast option, drink option, or just to prove that he knew how to spell the word obnoxious, he wrote. Yes, I asked him to spell. Please note that these written interactions were taking place while I was also helping my other two kids get ready for their day. That includes making breakfast, making lunch, making sure teeth are brushed and cell phones charged (we do live in New York City,) and making sure they are out the door in time! It’s exhausting to say the least, but I love it, and them, and wouldn’t have it any other way. Somewhere in the madness, I get the next handwritten query from my sweet little boy. He asks: “If you were trapped on a desert island who would you rather be with me or the middle (name was changed to protect the innocent!)?” There is no right answer here!! I balked immediately and hemmed and hawed, and told him there was no way I could choose. I offered up the gruesome scenario of drowning myself so that they would be together and I wouldn’t have to choose. Oh relax, I know that might not have been the best thing to say, but I had to say something!!! He gave up eventually when I refused to commit to an answer and it wasn’t until the morning rush was over and I had a chance to chat with some friends, that it occurred to me what was going on. In that moment this morning, my little one was feeling neglected. In a perfect world, that light would have gone off immediately and I would have been able to say to him “Oh honey, what an impossible choice that would be for any parent to make, because I love you both so much. It sounds like you are feeling a little upset about the attention your brother has been getting, is that what’s going on?” Well sadly, a perfect world we do not have access to, so I will have to check in with him this afternoon and try to give him some one on one time.  I sometimes compare parenting to those games at the carnival that you know are rigged for you to lose, but they tease you with allowing you to come so close to winning, that you just keep trying and trying. You keep trying because you hope that eventually you will knock down all the bowling pins. The fun of parenting really is in the trying, the blessing really is in being able to play at all.

No choice but to breathe!

No choice but to breathe!

Our four Totems are on the left of this page, have a look and choose one to help you through your hectic mornings!

Stay well.

And the validation keeps on coming!

By | 2018-04-07T23:24:18-04:00 March 25th, 2014|Life, Uncategorized|

Thank you to everyone who forwarded me the article from the New York Times last week! That means Totem Tamers message is getting through, and that’s half the battle. In this insightful article by David Bornstein, he discusses childhood trauma and resulting behavioral issues that young children exhibit after experiencing trauma. Bornstein, introduces us to a group in Missouri, called Head Start Trauma Smart, that is teaching calming techniques not just to children, but to the adults that interact with these children.  Some of the techniques are the very ones Totem Tamers uses, such as deep breathing, repetition, and tactile exercises. As much as I love the validation, I am further overjoyed at the resounding belief that simply validating someone’s feelings is a step towards calming down. I am continually grateful to people like David Bornstein, who regularly talk about “touchy subjects”, because without the conversation and without mainstreaming the issues that most of us have had to deal with it at one time or another, we can’t move forward. This is progress, this is important. If it were up to me, Totem Tamers, would be in every classroom in every city, in every state, because every child deserves to have their feelings validated, and every child deserves to have the courage to calm themselves. The feedback that I get from parents on a regular basis motivates our message even further. When I heard from a mom of a 9-yr-old boy, who is having to make regular doctor visits, that he loves his Bulldog and even named it, I got shivers! That’s why the conversation about anxiety and stress is so important, because you never know when someone who really needs help will overhear and discover a coping mechanism that works for them and/or their child!

Validate feelings here!

Validate feelings here!

Have a look at our four Totems on the left and see which one makes you feel calm, and then order it today!!

Stay well.

The Map of Parenting.

By | 2018-04-07T23:24:18-04:00 March 23rd, 2014|Life, Uncategorized|

I can't tell Latvia from Laredo and that's ok!

I can’t tell Latvia from Laredo and that’s ok!

With all the peaks and valleys of emotion, rivers of tears, mountains out of mole hill’s, parenting is just like a map. Or more like several maps, one on top of the other. The top layer is the map of your child, the one underneath, is your map, the one under that belongs to your parents, the one under that, to your grandparents, and so on. There are many similarities in the topography, and there are scars of pins placed long ago. Every decision we make as parents, is a direct reaction to whatever maps and pins came before us. Mostly our parenting choices are a combination of “I do this because it’s how I was brought up,” or “I always hated this, so I’m doing things differently with my family.” There’s also that question of how much you inform your kids of why you react the way you do to certain events in their lives. For example, when my son’s teacher sent an email informing me that he had tanked his geography test, many feelings came up. First, I was horrified that he could have done so badly and he needed to be reprimanded and made to study. Then I experienced panic, because I was immediately thrust back in to Mr. Cernicek’s 8th grade geography class and him yelling at me and sending me out of the room because I confused the Euphrates River with some other river nearby it. Then I felt empathy for my son, because I too, suffered from geography-itis. That’s when, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t keep all those countries, let alone states, straight in your head. Look it up! (Ok, don’t, because I made it up, but I know you know what I mean.) Then I was filled with fear and confusion, because how was I supposed to punish my son for something I, in fact, had been guilty of when I was a child? Do I excuse the behavior simply because I could relate to it? My oldest had the wonderful gift of gestating during my stint in talk radio. So for hours on end he listened to me blabbing, with no escape because he was prisoner in my womb. When his teachers started to tell me that he spent way too much time talking in class, I was eager to take the blame! I apologized regularly and said it was clearly my fault because I am a talker. They would laugh it off, and then handle him accordingly. Wait! That’s it!! I can be the good guy here and blame the teacher, and the geography. I can simply tell my son that I get it, and that I had a hard time with geography too, and that all he needs to do is show me and the teacher that he’s making an effort to do better and whatever happens becomes just another teeny mountain on his map! He will either climb over it, or like me, always remember that it was a peak I never could quite approach. My map is made up of many peaks, some that I have conquered, some that I still climb, and some that I work very hard to forget. I know that my map, will inform the maps of my children and grandchildren, and I am glad that it spans a wide berth. I hope to continue adding pins for many years to come and witness my boys charting their own territories.

Stay well.

If you haven’t checked out our Totems yet, you can do so by clicking on the awesome images on the left! Choose your Totem today!

Death as usual.

By | 2018-04-07T23:24:18-04:00 March 18th, 2014|Life|

I didn’t know much about L’Wren Scott before yesterday’s news of her tragic suicide. The little I did know, she was seemingly living a grand life. She was well respected in the fashion industry and dating one of the most iconic rock stars in history. How could she possibly take her own life? That’s a question a lot will ask for years to come, but there really is no answer, because she took that with her when she decided to commit suicide.   The reality is that no one could know what was going on inside her head and there is talk now of debt, rumors about a breakup with Jagger, it’s all speculation. The sadness that a lot of people will experience is in part for missing someone that they respected, cared for and loved. The rest of the sadness comes from the self-doubts those nearest her, will contend with as they question what they might have missed, and what they might have done to save her. There are signs to look for, and if we talk about them openly, it may help us recognize them more easily in others. It’s the same as all those heart attack warning emails that go out, most people now know that jaw pain for example, is a warning sign to be aware of in possible heart attacks.

Gone too soon.

Gone too soon.

Some of the quotes coming out about Scott, talk about her not being the type to ask for help, whether personally or professionally. Allegations that she was millions of dollars in debt are swirling and it makes you wonder if her uber-rich boyfriend even knew about it, because he surely would have helped! Regardless, there has been a loss of life, and that’s the tragedy here. Her website, holds no evidence of her passing and it’s business as usual, but for everyone who knew her, nothing will ever be the same.

If you, or someone you know, is depressed or despondent, there is help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Please click your animal Totem on the left to learn more about Totem Tamers.

An important piece about Anxiety and Panic Disorders.

By | 2018-04-07T23:24:19-04:00 March 16th, 2014|Life|

Part of my efforts with this blog, is to help open the pathways to discussion about anxiety and panic disorders, and of course, about life in general (which usually doesn’t occur without a smattering of anxiety and panic.) So when someone writes an article related to anxiety and panic, I applaud. Loudly! Oh and I share it, like right here in this link. Lindsay Holmes, posted this piece in the Huffington Post last week, and it’s great. There are lots of quotes from mental health professionals, and lots of information regarding what people usually get wrong about anxiety and panic disorders. I remember when my son had his first anxiety attack on a flight to Australia.  I’ll never forget it because it was just so awful and painful to witness, and crippling as a parent when I thought there wasn’t much I could do for him but be present.  That my then 8-year-old, was begging for an injection to knock him out so he could escape the anxiety he was experiencing, was beyond upsetting to me. Most 8-year-olds don’t want anything to do with needles, so I knew this was big. We got through it, but the switch was flipped and the attacks would continue to come. I remember a couple weeks later, having a conversation with my friend Daniel, now my business partner, about his panic attacks. Hmmmm, what’s the difference, I wondered? There are many responses to this question, and there are no wrong answers, but I have to come to define it in very simple terms. A panic attack will usually occur seemingly out of nowhere, whereas an anxiety attack is usually connected to some motivating factor, i.e. flying, doctor visit, public speaking. The symptoms are very similar, and for both, can be very scary, not only to the sufferer, but to anyone witnessing someone in the middle of an attack. The idea for Totem Tamers came out of my feeling helpless as a parent, and my partner’s attempts at coping through his panic attacks! With something so basic as a tactile tool in the form of an animal totem, a simple rhyme, deep breathing, and visualization, Totem Tamers is offering help. Totem Tamers is the perfect tool for your mental health toolbox and it can certainly help relieve the powerlessness so many of us feel when a loved one is suffering, or we are suffering ourselves. There’s a line in Holmes’ piece from an expert, which reads “We all experience anxiety in some capacity.” I can’t tell you how many times I have said that when talking to people about Totem Tamers, we all have it, just some of us have a harder time processing the symptoms related to anxiety.  My partner and I are thrilled to be on the front lines helping people cope with overwhelming emotions, and every time we talk about it, or someone else talks about it, we are absolutely helping! If you haven’t seen our Totems, look left!! 

Stay well.

Harlem in our hearts.

By | 2018-04-07T23:24:19-04:00 March 13th, 2014|Life|

I have struggled since yesterday’s deadly building blast in Harlem, to find the words to share. I was prepared to do a WARRIOR WEDNESDAY, as I stared at the images of WARRIORS rushing to the scene of the destruction in my city. Firefighters, EMT’s, Police, even local residents, doing whatever they could to help the many that were impacted by the explosion. I found myself speechless, as I ran through the rolodex in my head to reach out to people I know in the neighborhood to make sure they were ok. Thankfully they were ok, but definitely shaken up.

WARRIORS:Anthony DelMundo/NYDailyNews

WARRIORS:Anthony DelMundo/NYDailyNews

But many others did not fare as well, as the death toll rises, and some are still missing. There is rubble where there used to be buildings. Not just buildings, but homes. Lives that were spent in the space that now only holds memories that are threatened by the shattered remains.

Remains of the day.  James Keivom/NYDailyNews

Remains of the day.
James Keivom/NYDailyNews

Hundreds have been displaced and lives are now forever changed, but there will be rebuilding. There will be a sense of community as neighbors cling to each other for solace and understanding. There will be investigations and plans to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again. There will be hope, and in times like these, it’s the hope that keeps us going. Thoughts and prayers go out to anyone affected by this event.

Stay well.

"There's gonna be a heartache tonight."

By | 2018-04-07T23:24:19-04:00 March 7th, 2014|Life|

There are so many songs about love, falling in love, searching for love, and just as many songs about losing love, breaking up, and heartbreak, just like the tune in my title. For many, it’s the music that helps us process our feelings, even recognize them if we didn’t before. I mean, think about The Carpenters’ and their song “Close to you.”

We know they are talking about love even though they don’t actually come right out and say it. Then there’s Ben Folds Five and “Song for the dumped.” There’s absolutely no mistaking what that tune’s about.

Then there’s my son’s song. I can’t share it with you yet, but he finished it yesterday, shortly after his “friend-girl” broke up with him. I wrote about them on Valentine’s Day. His song is filled with both love and heartache and I couldn’t be more proud. I told him that I wished for him a thousand heartbreaks. He looked at me like I was nuts. I explained that with every heartbreak comes love and there is nothing better than that. The song is just a bonus.

Stay well.

Look left to choose a Totem to keep you company whenever you feel down, or up!!

Totem Tamers presents WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

By | 2018-04-07T23:24:19-04:00 March 5th, 2014|Life|

Ouch! Totem Tamers is taking it a little tongue in cheek today, as we present this week’s WARRIOR WEDNESDAY to “Jan Thozomas,” better known as John Travolta!! If you haven’t heard by now, Travolta painfully introduced award-winning singer Idina Menzel, as Adele Dazeem. There have been several theories out there, ranging from dyslexia to drunkenness, but it might have been something as simple as, nerves. You get up there in front of an audience filled with superstars, knowing you’re being broadcast in to millions of homes, and pronounce a name that is always butchered because of it’s uniqueness, and let’s see if you don’t flub it up! The incident has taken on a life of it’s own and thanks to slate.com, you can “Travoltify” your name, too.

Jan Thozomas or John Travolta.

Jan Thozomas or John Travolta.

Maybe if he had had a Totem in his pocket, he would have been less nervous, but regardless, he’s being a good sport about the whole thing. The song Menzel performed, was “Let it go” from the Oscar-winning animated film, Frozen. Travolta issued a statement with tongue pressed firmly in cheek: “I’ve been beating myself up all day. Then I thought…what would Idina Menzel say She’d say, Let it go, let it go! Idina is incredibly talented and I am so happy Frozen took home two Oscars Sunday night!”

Well done, John! (or publicist, does it really matter?) We’re making you a WARRIOR because you had courage being up there in the first place (someone talk to his hair people, please) and because you’re handling the incident with poise and grace. I think you should do a duet with Adele, I mean, Idina.

If you’d like to have a Totem in your pocket before your next awards ceremony, choose from any of our four wonderful options on your left!

Stay well.

Adventure update!

By | 2018-04-07T23:24:19-04:00 March 3rd, 2014|Life|

Thanks everyone for your notes of confidence after I wrote on Thursday, about my anxiety, as I headed out on an “adventure!” Enough of you messaged words of encouragement and then followed up with queries of how it went, that I thought it only fair to fill you in!! It went well! I was attending a gathering for the Democratic National Committee to learn the state of the party and what was needed to help the party progress further. That meant I was going to be surrounded by some pretty fantastic folks, some of them in the political arena, and others those same politicians look to for support and consult. Turns out, I am the latter, with way too many skeletons to even consider the former! My support comes by way of getting out there and voting and encouraging everyone I know to do the same. It comes by way of sharing what’s important to me, a single mom and small business owner, who needs health insurance and tax breaks so I can run my business more productively all while gaining a wider audience. My support may be a check, may be a conversation, may be an introduction, but either way, my support is needed and that gave me confidence to be there. It gave me confidence when I had coffee with Senator Wendy Davis of Texas, who is known for her pink shoes and filibuster, and who is now running for Governor of Texas and making headway all the while!

And that stats just keep on coming!

And the stats just keep on coming!

Listening to Senator Davis rattle off statistics about her campaign was overwhelming and inspiring! She said she’s had over 90,000 unique contributors to her campaign with a lot of those contributions being $100 or less. That helps send the message that every little bit counts. She’s wonderful and I hope she wins and brings her vision and experience to the capitol of Texas!

My confidence continued playing the balance game with my anxiety when I found myself in a room with many other DNC members, ready to listen to people ranging from the Chairperson of the DNC, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, to the assistant to the President, David Simas! I was anxious because I knew I would have to sit at a table with complete strangers, some of whom have been coming to these events for years and know lots of other people. I was fortunate that I had my Totems with me and that there were two familiar faces in the crowd and they adopted me and helped me find my footing. I made it a point to venture out from under their wing at times to create some new friendships. I found myself with a new friend later in the day when I was ushered in to a back room, where a small group of us waited eagerly to greet the President! Yes, that President. It was awesome, he is awesome, but it’s so interesting that my anxiety level was non-existent. It’s likely because there is no room for insecurity when shaking hands with the leader of the free world. His smile is so disarming too, so that helps a bit! Anyway, I didn’t intend to turn this in to a political piece, but rather share something exciting that I was able to participate in, even though my anxiety was working overtime, almost preventing me from going in the first place. Realizing that I would be ok, no matter what, led me to make some new friends, connect with some familiar faces, and meet some incredibly brilliant and powerful people. We all have anxiety, it’s only a problem when we let it get in the way of what can be really wonderful experiences.

Stay well.

Take a Totem on your next adventure! Look left and choose your Totem today.