I inhaled…..through my nose!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:55-04:00 September 30th, 2014|health, Life, mind/body|

Ok cheap shot at grabbing your attention, but it worked!! And it’s true, I did inhale, and I do inhale, because that’s how I help keep calm. I’m talking about breathing and it is one of the simple techniques Totem Tamers reminds you to do, so you can regain calm if you find yourself overwhelmed. The trick is to inhale through your nose and not through your mouth, because once you are taking breaths with an open mouth, your autonomic nervous system gets activated and your mind/body connection will believe you are stressed. Consequently, if you find yourself stressed and overwhelmed, it is very likely that you are open-mouth breathing, taking shallow breaths, or over-breathing. So if you close your mouth and start inhaling and exhaling through your nose, voila, you will immediately start to regulate your nervous systems response to exterior stressors. Doesn’t mean your head won’t still be spinning, but at least your physical response can be relieved and then you can get to work on whatever’s in your head.

Totems on a mat!

Totems on a mat!

The practice of Yoga (whatever method you follow) usually focuses on breathing through the nose. I have been doing Bikram Yoga of late, which is also referred to as “sweaty yoga” or “stinky yoga” depending on the day. Mondays are usually worse because most people increase their levels of toxins over the weekend, only to sweat them out in the steaming hot studio Monday morning. I know, gross. Totally. Now if you’ve never done Bikram, you may not be able to relate to the immediate chokehold of the smell that hits you when you first walk in to the studio. It’s a combination of wet dog and socks that have been worn in the middle of summer for two weeks straight in the tennis shoes of a teenaged boy. Nasty. Don’t forget that you have to breathe through your nose! So imagine little ole me, lined up in a packed yoga room on a Monday morning, sweltering at a comfy 104 degrees with approximately 30% plus humidity. On one side of me is a man I would safely say, was in his late 60’s. Impressive! On the other side of me was a man around my age (the age of fabulous, so be quiet), who was an extremely big dude. I am pretty short, but no shrinking violet, and this guy towered over me. Oppressive! At one point in the middle of class, one of these two lovely gentleman burped. I can’t begin to describe to you the odor that nailed me straight in the face, simultaneously forcing me to close off my nose and breathe through my mouth, mostly so I wouldn’t gag or worse yet, toss my cookies on my already slick yoga mat. In the maybe thirty seconds of mouth-breathing, my heart rate absolutely began to climb and I absolutely began to feel more anxiety. Of course my anxiety was warranted, because where there’s one burp, there’s plenty, and we hadn’t even gotten to the floor postures that kick off with “wind-removing pose!” I know, still gross!! What helped me get through the rest of the class, was the validation that Totem Tamers and the breathing that we remind you to do in stressful situations can help. I also didn’t want to think about any other possibilities for the rest of class, and thinking about my Totems always serves to calm me. Inhale…..exhale. Whew!

Stay well.

Need a Totem? Get one today by simply clicking on one of the Totem images to the left!

Religion in a rolling pin.

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:55-04:00 September 26th, 2014|Life, Uncategorized|

The start of the Jewish High Holy Days began two nights ago with Rosh Hashanah, the equivalent of the Jewish New Year. Everyone walks around saying “Happy New Year” and you’re supposed to dip apples in honey to signify the sweetness for the upcoming year. This marks the holiest season in the Jewish religion as opposed to the 272 other holidays that are celebrated by the tribe. Yeah, I can call them that because I am one of them, but in truth, I am only one of them by birth. Oh and I guess by the virtue of me using “Oy” in my regular speech and text patterns. Oy! I have come to describe myself as more of a “FoodJew” than anything. I make great chicken soup, with that perfect combo of floater vs. sinker matzoh balls, I actually enjoy gefilte fish and chopped liver, and I make perhaps the best rugelach this side of, well, this side of the Mississippi? Oy! People are always blown away by the notion that I make my own rugelach because it’s a process, and everyone assumes it’s a difficult process. For me, when I make rugelach, it is likely the most religious expression I have. It started when I was 15 and we had moved back to Miami Beach after a short but lovely stint in New Orelans. Not too many rugelach in The Big Easy. In Miami, we had Grandma Selma, and we looked to her every holiday for the rugelach we all coveted. So I asked Grandma Selma to teach me, because for some reason the fear of the recipe and method disappearing was palpable, and I also liked to hang out with my Grandma. A win-win. We made a lot of rugelach that afternoon, and we laughed as we ended up covered in flour and repeatedly shushed Grampa in the other room who kept asking if they were ready yet! I think back on that memory, and it brings tears to my eyes because it was perfect. That memory and the resulting passing down of the recipe is my temple, my shul, my synagogue. Grandma Selma gave me her rolling pin, much like her mother had passed it down to her before me. It’s not a traditional rolling pin in that it’s just a long rounded wooden stick, but just as the Torah is protected and passed down, for me, so is this rolling pin. It’s likely close to a hundred years old and I can’t imagine how many rugelach it’s had the privilege of making, but I am honored every time I use it, and I am transported somewhere magical when the pin hits the dough.

Rolling Pin Religion ( with a little assistance from Hans Solo!)

Rolling Pin Religion ( with a little assistance from Hans Solo!)

I love baking in general because I love to give it away and provide sweetness to as many people as I can. That’s my religion, and I know my congregation is huge and can be found in the smiles of anyone who takes a bite.

Many flavors and many smiles!

Many flavors and many smiles!

Bring some sweetness to someone today, and you will feel the exultation!

Stay well.

Totem Tamers and anxiety relief is a process too! If you need a Totem, get one today by simply clicking on one of the Totems to your left.

Who are the people in your neighborhood? Maybe even a WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:55-04:00 September 24th, 2014|Life, Uncategorized|

I am lucky to live in a pretty cool neighborhood in New York City. Forget that there are tons of families and Grandma lives close by, but there are some amazing people that live within a ten block radius of where I am! That means I get to meet some of them occasionally, and no, it’s not really creepy if you follow Sting down the street for a while hoping he’ll turn around so you can at least wave. (The restraining order doesn’t allow for much more than a wave.) Kidding!!! There’s even some remarkable people in my building. Robin Quivers used to live here, that was fantastic, and we have a whole assortment of incredible medical professionals. From ER doctors, to neurologic radiologists, to oncology experts, to ENT’s! One of those incredible ENT’s, and todays WARRIOR WEDNESDAY, is Dr. Jonathan Aviv. As a voice actor in my oh-so-spare time, I knew of Dr. Aviv because he is the Clinical Director of the Voice and Swallowing Center at ENT and Allergy Associates. What I didn’t know, was that Dr. Aviv is also a pioneer in the world of acid reflux, which happens to be a world that I am all too familiar with, unfortunately. Turns out, “Doc” (that’s what I call him now), is such an expert, he is frequently an invited guest on television to talk about his advances. He was even called upon to comment on the procedure that sadly preceded the death of Joan Rivers, on the Dr. Oz show.

When I learned Doc was working on a book, I was really excited for him. When I found out it was a book that would potentially help me (and a gazillion other people), I was really excited for me! I ordered the book, Killing Me Softly From Inside, as soon as I could, because I was tired of that lump in my throat that would sometimes cause soreness and even hoarseness, and it had become clear on visits to my doctor, that it was reflux. Even though I didn’t have the “regular” symptoms of heartburn, I had what Dr. Aviv refers to as Throatburn. Yup. And now I have this book, that to be honest is so simple and straightforward, that I should never be symptomatic again. Of course, I am not the most compliant patient, but the book has absolutely helped me make better choices throughout my day, which certainly impact whether or not I will be symptomatic. I asked Dr. Aviv some questions about the book that I am happy to share with you, although I urge you to get it for yourself because there’s so much useful information in it, along with great recipes, too!

Some light Totem reading!

Some light Totem reading!

When considering acid reflux, most people think it is a gastrointestinal issue. I asked Dr. Aviv when people should go to an ENT instead or in addition to a Gastroenterologist:

“This is where the history comes in and this is where distinguishing between Heartburn Reflux and Throatburn Reflux comes in. If you have heartburn see your GI doctor. However, if you have Throatburn Reflux, that is complaints of chronic cough (more than 8 weeks), hoarseness, frequent throat clearing, and/or a lump like sensation in the throat, start with your ENT doctor.”

When discussing the differences further between Throatburn and heartburn, here is what Dr. Aviv had to say:

     “Throatburn reflux is a term that I coined that means acid reflux disease without the classic symptom of Heratburn. Remarkably 90% of the patients in my practice have Throatburn Reflux.  So instead of heartburn, patients complain of chronic cough, hoarseness, excessive throat clearing, and a lump-like sensation in the throat. I call these THROATBURN REFLUX symptoms, “ALARM” symptoms which means that acid injury has likely been going on so long that your are numb in the stomach and esophagus, but you still feel changes in your throat. So you need to have your throat and esophagus examined.”

The book has a whole plan, referred to as the Acid Watcher®Diet, which is pretty simple, if you follow it, and again has great recipes. After I read the book, which was pretty much in an evening, I ran into Doc in the lobby and told him I hated him. True story! I told him that his ridiculously simple list of ten things to avoid was basically  made up of all the things I enjoy! He gave me that look that all doctors give when a patient is non-compliant, and he said that it’s my choice to be healthy or not. So there! With that knowledge, I asked him out of the Top Ten no-no list, what are the three most important to follow immediately, and he said:

                                         “No soda or other processed food.

                                          No smoking.

                                          No laying down within 3 hours of eating.”

Now that I can manage! You can get the rest of the list when you get the book, that I have now recommended to many people. Two dear friends of the family went out and got the book immediately, and positive results for both, were instantaneous. One of them had even gone to Duke University Hospital to try and figure out why she was having such difficulty breathing. They diagnosed her with chronic pulmonary disorders and yet she still had no relief. Following Dr. Aviv’s book, she immediately stopped coughing, and for the first time in a long time, was able to take deep breaths without ending in a coughing fit. To her, this book is a miracle. So much so, that she started calling Dr. Aviv’s office to try to get him on the phone! I couldn’t be happier for her and  for the many, including me, that will receive tremendous relief from this book. That’s why Dr. Jonathan Aviv, is this week’s WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

Stay well.

Click here to order Dr. Aviv’s book. Click here to order yourself a Totem!

 

 

While the grass is still green, go play in it!!!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:56-04:00 September 23rd, 2014|Life, Uncategorized|

Still doubt people care about Climate Change?

Still doubt people care about Climate Change?

This was merely looking down the block at the Climate March, from a spot on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Impressive to say the least! There are plenty of photos online that show the true scope of this event that took place this past Sunday, with estimates approaching 400,000 marchers. People from all walks of life came out to show their passion and ultimately their commitment to keeping this Earth healthy and green. There were drummers drumming, and babies with protest signs, there were bare breasted women with painted-on signs, and of course, celebrities. Because what’s a march without a few important people thrown in? There was Sting and his fountain-of-youth-drinking wife Trudie Styler. Leonardo DiCaprio, still recognizable behind a bushy beard and kombucha gut (hey, it coulda been organic beer, but I love my Kombucha!) Mark Ruffalo, who would have been more than justified to come dressed as The Hulk, he is “green” after all. And one of my all time favorites, Ed Norton, a fave because he played a character with my last name once, and he is a great actor, too! Not to make light of the issue at all, but more to show how important it is that even VIP celebrity types were willing to mix it up with the regular crowd for a common, and truly important cause! I certainly hope people were paying attention. I was participating in an event that day marking the International Day of Peace, so I wasn’t able to march, but we talked about the issue at home, and the way the schools are working to educate about Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, for example, is crucial. The event made me realize how important it is for our kids and our kids kids, to be able to have an environment they can thrive in, and that means lowering our fossil fuel consumption and reducing the amount of harmful chemicals in the air! I want my kids to roll in the grass, and swing on the swings, and play soccer in the fields without having to worry about asthma. It’s a shame that we have to worry, but in the meantime, I’m not raising boys in little bubbles (big ones really, because they’re all so tall), I want them out in the fields, and tumbling on the grass, because then they can truly appreciate this green planet!

Totems in the grass with Cows!

Totems in the grass with Cows!

Stay well.

Want a Totem to play in the grass with you? Order one today!! Click on any of the Totems on the left to buy one now.

 

All aboard! Travel anxiety does not discriminate!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:56-04:00 September 18th, 2014|Life, Uncategorized|

It’s remarkable what happens when I’m traveling with my kids. I’m on top of it. I own it. I am MacGuyver at a moments notice when one kids shoelace breaks and another’s lost the rubber bands for his braces…well, why not? Ok, gross, but really there’s no time to be anxious when it’s me and my three kids, mostly because I’m so concerned with their anxiety to even acknowledge my own. Even still, I’m grateful that when I do recognize that I’m having anxiety, I can typically cope fairly well. Then there are the times I travel alone and I swear I am a different person. My anxiety gets so ratcheted up that I can’t think straight and/or I think too much. What happens to that uber competent Super Mom that has it all under control? I’m writing this while on a train to our nation’s Capitol, but there were many moments I didn’t think I’d make the train! From forgetting to take my ID out of one bag and put it in my travel bag, to doubting whether Amtrak really leaves from Penn Station or not! Yeah, I know, I’m a total goofball, but it’s not me, it’s the anxiety talking! Clearly I made it onto the train and I can sort of relax for the quick trip to DC, but my mind is already racing about finding a taxi, getting to the hotel, convinced that I might have forgotten something crucial, you name it! Thankfully, I have my Totems, yes, all of them, including some I hope to get into the hands of some very important people while on my trip. Lucky me that I get to share with people the wonderful calming techniques that Totem Tamers provides, all the while using those techniques on myself! Would it be wrong to wake up my snoozing seat mate so we can talk about Totem Tamers? Just kidding! Unless of course she starts snoring then all bets are off!

IMG_0494.JPG
Thanks to my seat mate for her help with the photo (she doesn’t snore!)

“I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…..”

Stay well.

Don’t have a Totem? Get one! Click on one of the Totems on the left and buy one today! Oh, and if you haven’t liked us on Facebook, it would be great if you would, please!

….and the “hits” just keep on comin’!

By | 2018-04-07T23:24:04-04:00 September 16th, 2014|Life, Uncategorized|

Oh NFL, what are you thinking? So Sunday I wrote about the Ray Rice drama, you know the one about the NFL player who punched his now-wife, knocking her unconscious and dragging her out of an elevator. Yeah, that one! I just glanced over a new story that was surfacing about a player for the Vikings, Adrian Peterson, who had turned himself in on allegations of child abuse. His lawyer says it was discipline, the photos say it was a beating. Peterson, allegedly took a switch (tree branch) and hit his son repeatedly, leaving welts, and breaking the skin. Writing it out, it doesn’t sound soooo horrible, but you know what? Let’s go to the pictures!

Um, ouch?

Um, ouch?

Yeah, that’s the marks left on his four-year-old son! But get this, the NFL says Peterson can play! That’s right, indicted for allegedly abusing his child, but because he’s a star football player, he gets to keep playing. Meanwhile, Josh Gordon, a wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns, tests positive for marijuana and he’s suspended for a year!!! What am I missing? Clearly the executives at the NFL are smoking a ton of weed because they really got this one wrong!!! You can apparently beat your fiancé, beat your child, and you can still get paid to play, but if you get caught smoking marijuana which is legal in a couple states and more to follow, you’re out?! Someone get me Goodell’s number so we can have ourselves a chat! Now I’m going to take my Totem and take some deep breaths because this has clearly gotten me incensed! Oh wait, that’s the point of Totem Tamers after all, calm myself before I get out of control. Ok, so Goodell, call me, and we can get Totems to all the players in the league and teach them some coping techniques for those moments that are too overwhelming!!! I can see it now, mascot Totems for the NFL!!! I would happily carry a Miami Dolphin Totem! (Don’t judge me!)

This is a serious issue, and I make light because it’s somehow easier to tolerate, but if you or someone you know needs help, click here or call 1-800-799-7233

*****UPDATE*****

Apparently, Adrian Peterson is now on the exempt list and will not be playing for the Vikings for the foreseeable future. I can only hope he uses this time to reflect on his behavior and seek some guidance and anger management help. I can also hope that that NFL will pull their collective heads out of their padded asses and educate their players and offer them some help before we see another gridder raise a hand in anger!

Stay well.

If you would like a Totem, click on one of the images on the left and order one today.

….and the "hits" just keep on comin'!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:56-04:00 September 16th, 2014|Life, Uncategorized|

Oh NFL, what are you thinking? So Sunday I wrote about the Ray Rice drama, you know the one about the NFL player who punched his now-wife, knocking her unconscious and dragging her out of an elevator. Yeah, that one! I just glanced over a new story that was surfacing about a player for the Vikings, Adrian Peterson, who had turned himself in on allegations of child abuse. His lawyer says it was discipline, the photos say it was a beating. Peterson, allegedly took a switch (tree branch) and hit his son repeatedly, leaving welts, and breaking the skin. Writing it out, it doesn’t sound soooo horrible, but you know what? Let’s go to the pictures!

Um, ouch?

Um, ouch?

Yeah, that’s the marks left on his four-year-old son! But get this, the NFL says Peterson can play! That’s right, indicted for allegedly abusing his child, but because he’s a star football player, he gets to keep playing. Meanwhile, Josh Gordon, a wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns, tests positive for marijuana and he’s suspended for a year!!! What am I missing? Clearly the executives at the NFL are smoking a ton of weed because they really got this one wrong!!! You can apparently beat your fiancé, beat your child, and you can still get paid to play, but if you get caught smoking marijuana which is legal in a couple states and more to follow, you’re out?! Someone get me Goodell’s number so we can have ourselves a chat! Now I’m going to take my Totem and take some deep breaths because this has clearly gotten me incensed! Oh wait, that’s the point of Totem Tamers after all, calm myself before I get out of control. Ok, so Goodell, call me, and we can get Totems to all the players in the league and teach them some coping techniques for those moments that are too overwhelming!!! I can see it now, mascot Totems for the NFL!!! I would happily carry a Miami Dolphin Totem! (Don’t judge me!)

This is a serious issue, and I make light because it’s somehow easier to tolerate, but if you or someone you know needs help, click here or call 1-800-799-7233

*****UPDATE*****

Apparently, Adrian Peterson is now on the exempt list and will not be playing for the Vikings for the foreseeable future. I can only hope he uses this time to reflect on his behavior and seek some guidance and anger management help. I can also hope that that NFL will pull their collective heads out of their padded asses and educate their players and offer them some help before we see another gridder raise a hand in anger!

Stay well.

If you would like a Totem, click on one of the images on the left and order one today.

Thank you to the NFL! No, seriously, thank you!

By | 2018-04-07T23:24:05-04:00 September 14th, 2014|Life, Uncategorized|

I know, you’re thinking “What the heck is she doing thanking the NFL?” I have a point, I promise. The National Football League has been dominating the news of late, and it’s not just because the men in tight pants bending over for each other are back on our weekly TV schedules. One of their players, Ray Rice, punched his then fiancé in the face and knocked her out a couple months ago, and it was all caught on video. That’s why the NFL is in the news. I actually had planned to write about the NFL and their policy on domestic abuse a while back, after reading an article in the paper describing the leagues policies. Apparently, if you hit your wife, for example, the first time could get you a six-game suspension. Do it again, and you could face a lifetime ban. My first issue is with the “could”, because that means you may only get a two-game suspension like Ray Rice did, or if your wife or lover really deserved it, then maybe you could get off with a heartfelt apology and a bunch of people standing up for your character, defending your “mistake.” (That’s sarcasm people.) The other issue I have is with the offer of letting the player beat the crap out of his girlfriend a second time before really suffering the consequences. Look, as parents attempting to guide our children’s behavior, we often make concessions and yes, a lot of times we give in to whining and crying just to get them to be quiet. How many times have you said to your child “If you wipe another booger on the couch, you’ll be in big trouble”? Ok, maybe you haven’t said that exactly, but my point is, why give your child another chance to do something that he/she knows is completely unacceptable? And I’m talking about kids who haven’t fully developed the capacity for right and wrong yet, but still know they shouldn’t wipe boogers on couches. I shouldn’t be talking about grown men who are paid ridiculous amounts of money to bandy about an arena for several hours every weekend giving us an excuse to eat crappy food, drink beer, and sit on our asses. DO NOT HIT SOMEONE YOU SAY YOU LOVE! EVER! You don’t get a second chance. Ray Rice punched his fiancé, knocked her unconscious and then dragged her out of an elevator. The NFL said, “Dude, you can’t do that because you make us look bad, so we’re going to slap you on the wrist and make you sit on the sidelines for two games and think about your behavior.” Oh wait, now that the NFL has seen the whole video, they’ve decided that Rice should be suspended indefinitely. Yeah, BS, it’s more because it became a story and that the NFL realized they screwed up the first time and now they’re covering their collective asses and trying to do right by the public through the media. If you go to the official website of the NFL, you have to scroll pretty far down to find anything on the Rice case. You will however, pass a piece about another player who was just arrested for alleged child abuse. He says he was disciplining his kid. Let’s see how the NFL handles this one.

I hadn’t written about this topic yet, because well, everyone else was. It was a scene I came upon yesterday afternoon that had me shaking though, and I realized I needed to write. I was walking my dog and chatting on the phone with a friend when I saw an older couple on the corner. The man looked angry. The woman looked frightened. I noticed a few other people had also stopped or slowed down. The angry man grabbed the woman by the arm and continued to yell at her. At that moment several of us bystanders made our move towards the couple, ready to get involved. The man let her go and stormed off. The woman, visibly shaken, headed in my direction. I had all sorts of ideas about who these people were, but when I asked the woman if she was ok and if she needed help, her answer stunned me. She said “Yeah, I’m ok. He’s crazy, I really should divorce him.” The angry man screaming at her on the corner in front of countless people, ultimately putting his hands on her, is her husband. She’s been putting up with this behavior for who knows how long and it made me so sad. I told her she could get out and that there was plenty of help available to her if she wanted it. She said thank you and walked off. I was reminded of the battered woman’s shelter my mother had opened more than 20 years ago when we lived in New Orleans. The sweatshirts and t-shirts, notepads and pens, were all emblazoned with the same slogan “Every 8 seconds….”. It meant that every 8 seconds a woman is battered, and that could be physical or mental abuse. I shudder to think what that number might be today. Here is where I express my gratitude to the NFL, for screwing up so majorly, but in the process, giving us a platform to talk about an issue that doesn’t get talked about nearly enough. Maybe some battered person is out there watching as Ray Rice’s now wife, stands by him and says he’s a good man, and the split screen shows his fist connecting with her face, just maybe, they’ll get the courage to stand up as well. Stand up, and walk out! If you, or someone you know is being abused, please get help. You can go to the National Domestic Violence website, or call 1-800-799-7233.

Stay well.

“Them” and us.

By | 2018-04-07T23:24:05-04:00 September 12th, 2014|Life, Uncategorized|

One of the hats I get to wear occasionally is that of a voice actor. Basically, when you hear a voice but don’t necessarily see the person speaking, that’s the kind of stuff I do! It’s great fun, and any opportunity for me to talk, talk, talk, is one I don’t usually let slip by. Anyway, sometimes I get access to cool events, like the one I went to last night! It was a screening of the movie “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby.” The movie stars Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy, along with the ever-funny Bill Hader, and always remarkable William Hurt (looking very hipster in a beard!)

Q&A with the cast and writer!

Q&A with the cast and writer!

After the screening, we were treated to a Q & A with Chastain, McAvoy and the writer-director of the film, Ned Benson. That part was awesome, and it helped to process the film further which is an artistic feat, considering that it is culled from two other films. What did I say? Yeah, so the talented Mr. Benson had this brilliant idea to make two films from the different perspectives of his lead characters. They are called “Him” and “Her”, they will be released in October it seems. What “Disappearance” is, is a compilation of sorts, of those two films given to us objectively as opposed to subjectively, which is how we will see “Him” and “Her.” Geez, am I making any sense here? Trust me, you will connect to these characters in this film, and want to delve deeper when the other two movies come out, that’s kind of all you need to know. “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby” opens today and if your head is in a thinking mood, and/or you want motivation to be introspective and reflective, then go see it!! My kids were excited that I was going to be at an event both with Chastain and McAvoy. I have boys, so they were excited about Chastain, well because she’s kinda hot, and McAvoy because duh, he’s Professor X from X-Men.

Professor X has a Totem!

Professor X has a Totem!

The boys wanted me to try to get Totems to the actors and I couldn’t let them down! Unfortunately, I did not see Ms. Chastain, after the event, but James McAvoy was milling about so I had someone hand him Bulldog. In his exquisite Scottish accent, he asked “What is this?” The woman told him it was from me and he promptly headed up the stairs to say thank you and introduce himself. He was gracious and lovely (which is why I didn’t ask for a picture) and he happily talked to my friend and I about his 4 year old and preparing for his upcoming theater stint. Needless to say, my friend and I were completely besotted, because yes, he’s that good looking in person, too! Go see the movie and then go see the other two, because it’s a study in human nature and who can’t relate to that?!

Stay well.

If you would like a Bulldog Totem, just like James McAvoy, you can order one today just by clicking on any of the images on the left!!

"Them" and us.

By | 2018-04-07T23:24:05-04:00 September 12th, 2014|Life, Uncategorized|

One of the hats I get to wear occasionally is that of a voice actor. Basically, when you hear a voice but don’t necessarily see the person speaking, that’s the kind of stuff I do! It’s great fun, and any opportunity for me to talk, talk, talk, is one I don’t usually let slip by. Anyway, sometimes I get access to cool events, like the one I went to last night! It was a screening of the movie “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby.” The movie stars Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy, along with the ever-funny Bill Hader, and always remarkable William Hurt (looking very hipster in a beard!)

Q&A with the cast and writer!

Q&A with the cast and writer!

After the screening, we were treated to a Q & A with Chastain, McAvoy and the writer-director of the film, Ned Benson. That part was awesome, and it helped to process the film further which is an artistic feat, considering that it is culled from two other films. What did I say? Yeah, so the talented Mr. Benson had this brilliant idea to make two films from the different perspectives of his lead characters. They are called “Him” and “Her”, they will be released in October it seems. What “Disappearance” is, is a compilation of sorts, of those two films given to us objectively as opposed to subjectively, which is how we will see “Him” and “Her.” Geez, am I making any sense here? Trust me, you will connect to these characters in this film, and want to delve deeper when the other two movies come out, that’s kind of all you need to know. “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby” opens today and if your head is in a thinking mood, and/or you want motivation to be introspective and reflective, then go see it!! My kids were excited that I was going to be at an event both with Chastain and McAvoy. I have boys, so they were excited about Chastain, well because she’s kinda hot, and McAvoy because duh, he’s Professor X from X-Men.

Professor X has a Totem!

Professor X has a Totem!

The boys wanted me to try to get Totems to the actors and I couldn’t let them down! Unfortunately, I did not see Ms. Chastain, after the event, but James McAvoy was milling about so I had someone hand him Bulldog. In his exquisite Scottish accent, he asked “What is this?” The woman told him it was from me and he promptly headed up the stairs to say thank you and introduce himself. He was gracious and lovely (which is why I didn’t ask for a picture) and he happily talked to my friend and I about his 4 year old and preparing for his upcoming theater stint. Needless to say, my friend and I were completely besotted, because yes, he’s that good looking in person, too! Go see the movie and then go see the other two, because it’s a study in human nature and who can’t relate to that?!

Stay well.

If you would like a Bulldog Totem, just like James McAvoy, you can order one today just by clicking on any of the images on the left!!

Towers of strength.

By | 2018-04-07T23:24:05-04:00 September 11th, 2014|Life, Uncategorized|

I remember.

I remember.

This is a hard day for so many people and even though so many are connected by the awful events that unfolded on 9/11, everyone processes differently and has different experiences and recollections. I didn’t live in New York when terrorists changed the makeup of the world, I was in Miami with my almost 2-year-old. I was in bliss as a stay-at-home mom and my boy and I had a great routine. Part of that routine was taking a morning walk around the complex in which we lived. We would spot wildlife (yes, squirrels and feral cats counted), and we would go to the bay and hope to spot a manatee or two. Of course, as a boy, my son eagerly kept his attention skyward hoping for a plane or a helicopter to happen by. “Avion!”, he would scream. I was trying to teach him Spanish, we lived in Miami after all.  I would watch with him and we marveled at the flying machines. My cellphone rang shortly after 9 that morning, while my son and I were turning the bend into the deep part of our complex “forest” where we used to feed the squirrels. It was a friend from LA calling, which meant it was just after 6am for her, and she was asking if my Mom was ok. My mom lived in New York City. I had been out enjoying the sunshine with my kid, so I had no clue what was happening in the real world, then she told me. I hung up and dialed my mom as I hurriedly pushed the stroller back towards our building. Now any approaching plane brought fear rather than wonder, but I couldn’t take that wonder away from my son. He was young and innocent and didn’t deserve to live in fear, a fear that I now recognized almost immediately in myself. I got him home and put him down for a nap and kept dialing for my mother, who thankfully was just fine but certainly scared. I sat in front of the TV with periods of anger, terror, and sadness alternating in my mind. Then my sweet, beautiful boy woke up from his nap and I had to find the strength to hold myself together and do whatever I could to keep him happy and safe. Now 13 years later, my boy stands many inches taller than me, just like a tower, a tower of strength that keeps me going every day and reminds me to be grateful for the gift of being here. I remember.

Stay well.

 

Just say no….to the failed “war on drugs.”

By | 2018-04-07T23:24:06-04:00 September 10th, 2014|Life, Uncategorized|

That’s right, the “war on drugs” that was launched about 50 years ago has failed. Why? Let’s just say that the incidents of deaths by drug overdose in a year, now ranks higher than deaths by car accidents. And that’s just one component of the “war” that was built on the notion of prohibition and abstinence. “If we make the drugs harder to get, then people won’t use them,” somebody somewhere likely said at some point. When in actuality what happens is that the people who use drugs will do whatever necessary to get the drugs and that includes sharing dirty needles, stealing, and other dangerous activities. So what’s the answer you ask? I had the honor of being invited to the press conference for the Global Commission on Drug Policy’s unveiling of their new report. The report has 7 main recommendations for nations across the globe to help end the drug epidemic. “Taking Control:Pathways to Drug Policies That Work”, is an interesting read and is perfectly and simply summarized in each section, which only makes me wonder why it has been so hard to get a handle on the drug crisis.

Presidents, Sirs, Secretaries, and Ministers working together.

Presidents, Sirs, Secretaries, and Ministers working together.

At this conference there were many notables from the former Presidents of Brazil and Mexico, to the goldilocked Sir Richard Branson (who even with his feathers and toothy grin makes an incredible impact on the commission.) Sir Branson was very eloquent yesterday in the moments he chose to speak and one of his comments stuck with me, he said “Drugs should be treated as a health problem, not a criminal problem.” Genius!! As soon as we start decriminalizing drug users, nations can start saving tons of money and police resources going after these mostly non-violent offenders. Some other disturbing information that came out at this conference was related to HIV/AIDS and hepatitis cases. In countries where there are stricter laws against drug use, the numbers are rising and getting worse every day. One in five drug users who use needles is infected with HIV/AIDS and two in three users have hepatitis. These were numbers shared by the former President of Portugal, one country that changed it’s policies ten years ago and has seen a dramatic impact and improvement since then!

At the end of the conference, we were treated to a video that succinctly displays the failure of the war on drugs. It’s not very long, but it is powerful.

I was invited to attend the conference by the Drug Policy Alliance, which is working very hard to decriminalize drug use, increase overdose prevention by making access to naloxone easier, and helping to enact Good Samaritan Laws, just to name a few of their ambitions. Many of these ambitions are being realized as I type, for example, there are now 23 states that have approved the use of medical marijuana, that’s due in part to some of the tremendous efforts of the DPA!

I’m off my soapbox now, well almost, but understand that this is a cause close to my heart because my brother died of a drug overdose, and he may have been saved by the drug my stepfather helped to create if he had had access to it. This won’t be the last you’ll hear from me on this issue because I am still here and it is important that people are educated. Feel free to email me at julie@totemtamers.com if you would like to know more.

Stay well.

Oh and if you need a Totem, there right there, on the page, just look!! Then click, and buy one today.

Just say no….to the failed "war on drugs."

By | 2018-04-07T23:24:06-04:00 September 10th, 2014|Life, Uncategorized|

That’s right, the “war on drugs” that was launched about 50 years ago has failed. Why? Let’s just say that the incidents of deaths by drug overdose in a year, now ranks higher than deaths by car accidents. And that’s just one component of the “war” that was built on the notion of prohibition and abstinence. “If we make the drugs harder to get, then people won’t use them,” somebody somewhere likely said at some point. When in actuality what happens is that the people who use drugs will do whatever necessary to get the drugs and that includes sharing dirty needles, stealing, and other dangerous activities. So what’s the answer you ask? I had the honor of being invited to the press conference for the Global Commission on Drug Policy’s unveiling of their new report. The report has 7 main recommendations for nations across the globe to help end the drug epidemic. “Taking Control:Pathways to Drug Policies That Work”, is an interesting read and is perfectly and simply summarized in each section, which only makes me wonder why it has been so hard to get a handle on the drug crisis.

Presidents, Sirs, Secretaries, and Ministers working together.

Presidents, Sirs, Secretaries, and Ministers working together.

At this conference there were many notables from the former Presidents of Brazil and Mexico, to the goldilocked Sir Richard Branson (who even with his feathers and toothy grin makes an incredible impact on the commission.) Sir Branson was very eloquent yesterday in the moments he chose to speak and one of his comments stuck with me, he said “Drugs should be treated as a health problem, not a criminal problem.” Genius!! As soon as we start decriminalizing drug users, nations can start saving tons of money and police resources going after these mostly non-violent offenders. Some other disturbing information that came out at this conference was related to HIV/AIDS and hepatitis cases. In countries where there are stricter laws against drug use, the numbers are rising and getting worse every day. One in five drug users who use needles is infected with HIV/AIDS and two in three users have hepatitis. These were numbers shared by the former President of Portugal, one country that changed it’s policies ten years ago and has seen a dramatic impact and improvement since then!

At the end of the conference, we were treated to a video that succinctly displays the failure of the war on drugs. It’s not very long, but it is powerful.

I was invited to attend the conference by the Drug Policy Alliance, which is working very hard to decriminalize drug use, increase overdose prevention by making access to naloxone easier, and helping to enact Good Samaritan Laws, just to name a few of their ambitions. Many of these ambitions are being realized as I type, for example, there are now 23 states that have approved the use of medical marijuana, that’s due in part to some of the tremendous efforts of the DPA!

I’m off my soapbox now, well almost, but understand that this is a cause close to my heart because my brother died of a drug overdose, and he may have been saved by the drug my stepfather helped to create if he had had access to it. This won’t be the last you’ll hear from me on this issue because I am still here and it is important that people are educated. Feel free to email me at julie@totemtamers.com if you would like to know more.

Stay well.

Oh and if you need a Totem, there right there, on the page, just look!! Then click, and buy one today.

Sticks and stones….

By | 2018-04-07T23:24:06-04:00 September 6th, 2014|Life, Uncategorized|

Remember that one from when you were a kid? A lesson that I’m sure was repeated to me just as I have surely repeated it to my children. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.” Well, I’m older now, and I guess my experiences have led me to revisit that old saying, and you know what? I call bullshit! Words have tremendous power and can harm, really harm. Someone can say something to us that is so hurtful it can reduce us to tears. Consequently, someone can say something so touching and beautiful that we are left feeling light and almost giddy! It’s only halfway through my day and I’ve experienced both and in reverse as well. I found myself on the receiving end of some truly lovely sentiments from a dear friend that made me feel good and special and cared for and loved. I also had the chance to share some kind words with another friend and hopefully they made him feel good (especially because it feels good to say good things!) Conversely, I said something to yet another person that was interpreted as mean-spirited and hurtful and the reaction to what I said was a tongue-lashing that definitely upset me. The lesson though is that it made me think about the scenario and realize that maybe that person is having a hard day and my words, although not intended to be hurtful, just landed at the wrong time. Rather than react further, I was able to reassure this person that my intention was not to harm, and that I was sorry for causing any undue pain or hurt. Done. All good. The sting is still there though, on both sides I’m sure, but it will heal. I am certain that the more kind and helpful words that are spoken will make the healing that much faster. In that frame of mind, I leave you with knowing that you are special, and important, meaningful and useful, and your light, no matter how bright, provides an ember that can spark up the world at anytime. Use your light wisely.

Stay well.

Totems can make you feel good too, so if you don’t have one, you should get one!! Click on any of the four Totem images and shop for yours today.