Happy National Cat Day!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:53-04:00 October 29th, 2014|animals, cats, health, Life, loss, mental health, mind/body|

Finding out that it is National Cat Day, made me sad for my two kitties, who are long gone.

"Peanut" & "Butter"

“Peanut” & “Butter”

I miss them a bunch, but have since gotten a very large fluffy dog that rules the roost, so no room for kitties at this point. However, Totem Tamers is always thinking about new Totems to create and we do get requests for cats from time to time. If Totem Tamers wanted to make a feline Totem, what kind of feline would you like to see? A tiger, lion, cheetah, panther, a domestic house cat? Let us know your thoughts and maybe your idea could end up a real Totem!! I’m thinking that’s what I need for sure to help me remember my kitty cats. Hug your cats today!!

Stay well.

Even though we don’t have a feline Totem, we do have several other options for you, so click on any of the Totems on the page and get one today!

Of love and loss.

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:53-04:00 October 26th, 2014|death, drug use, family, health, Life, loss|

I have been wanting to write this post for days, but it makes sense that today is the day I find the strength to sit down and actually do it. I started thinking about this post a few days ago, even when my alarm went off at 4:45 am to get me up to catch a train to Baltimore. I was asked by my friends at the Harm Reduction Coalition if I wanted to come to their national conference, where hundreds would gather for four days to learn, share, educate, understand and “promote the health and dignity of individuals and communities impacted by drug use.” Of course I said yes, though I only had a couple hours to give, I knew this was not an experience to miss, and one that I needed to have. I met a couple of the amazing people from HRC last year, when they came to my mom’s house to do a Naloxone training. Naloxone is an antidote to overdose, and it happened to be created by my stepfather, Jack Fishman. Sharon and Bill from HRC, showed up and shared some of their knowledge and armed anyone who wanted it, with an overdose prevention kit. I wrote about that evening here and even though it was almost a year ago, the shivers still remain. Here was a group of people being given an answer, a cure so to speak, a tool that can help save thousands of lives and has helped countless already. Sadly, it didn’t help my brother, who didn’t have access to Naloxone, who we said goodbye to 11 years ago today. It didn’t help his girlfriend Ashley either, when on this same day ten years ago, we lost her, too.That’s why today was the day for me to get this out.

Mr. Michael Botticelli, ONDCP

Mr. Michael Botticelli, ONDCP

When I first arrived, Sharon was eagerly waiting for me and excited to introduce me to Michael Botticelli, the Acting Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. He was there to give us all hope that the government is finally grasping that overdose deaths are the leading cause of injury-related fatalities in people aged 35-54, and the second leading cause of death for young people. Botticelli talked about Naloxone, heck, everyone was talking about Naloxone, and I sat there so proud of my stepfather and inspired by all these people who showed up at this conference. I met one man who had used Naloxone to reverse 27 overdoses! That’s 27 lives that were saved, by one person!!! Then I met another man who called my stepfather a hero. Wow, this was overwhelming, then a man walked by me with a t-shirt on, that stopped me in my tracks.

Keep calm and carry Naloxone!

Keep calm and carry Naloxone!

I asked if I could take a picture of the shirt, and he kindly obliged and walked away. My HRC friend Sharon, hopped up and ran after him to whisper in his ear who I was and why I was there. Next thing I knew, this man was crouched down at my side, his big arms around me, shaking, as he whispered in my ear “Your family is so important to me, Naloxone saved my life….twice.” He thanked me and quickly walked away. I started to lose my composure a bit at this point, but truly lost it moments later when the room took a moment of meditation to remember those who had been lost. One by one, names were called out from all corners of the room, and I was done for, no longer in control of the tears. This was also the moment I was informed that I was supposed to get up and say a few words. WHAT?! I did my best to pull it together while this lovely young lady introduced me as a special guest. There I was, standing in front of hundreds of people, some former drug users, some active drug users, many that have been saved by Naloxone or that have used Naloxone to save someone, and many that have lost loved ones, just like me. I was a stranger until I explained that my Stepdad created Naloxone, and then in an instant, I became family. In that instant, the room erupted in hoots and hollers and applause, and people were on their feet and the smiles and the tears enveloped me. Then I told them about my brother Jonathan, and I got the chance to thank them for all the work they are doing to help make sure that not another person has to die from overdose. Needless to say, it was incredible. During a break, I walked around to see the exhibits, and of course to meet a ton of people that Sharon kept wanting me to say hello to. That guy with the t-shirt was there, too.

Mark, a blessing in a t-shirt.

Mark, a blessing in a t-shirt.

The few hours I was able to be there, have changed me forever. I know I will go to the next conference, and I know I will stay longer. I know that I will continue on the mission, like all of these dedicated people, to make sure Naloxone is more accessible to those who need it most. I know that in doing so, the memory of my stepfather lives on, and the memory of my brother and his girlfriend will as well. There was one exhibit that was the hardest for me to visit, but one I knew I had to visit. It was the memorial corner where people could put the names of loved ones they have lost on a board. There were so many names, so many boards, and now, I had to add two more.

For Jonathan and Ashley..

For Jonathan and Ashley…

The hope is that the names will stop adding up, that people who need access to Naloxone can get it, that we are not powerless anymore. There is a lot that you can do and if you’d like to help, visit the Harm Reduction site, or the Drug Policy Alliance site, and take action. No one else needs to die from a drug overdose, no one.

Stay well.

Not the wake up call I asked for!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:53-04:00 October 22nd, 2014|education, family, health, Life, mental health, parenting, school|

A couple days a week, I get to sleep past my typical 6:15 am wake up call. Only by about an hour, but an hour is a gift to most of us who struggle with getting good quality sleep. So imagine my horror when my phone rings at 7am this morning right when I’m at the denouement of the dream where the guy gets the girl, just as the bomb goes off not injuring anyone, but safely preventing the bad guys from getting to the hero couple! As soon as I looked at the caller ID and read “Board of Ed, City of New York”, I heard the shell casings fall to the floor. “Is this the mother of —-?” Otherwise known as my oldest, the teenager, the kid who breaks my heart when he sings, the baby who was my first foray in to the wonderful minefield that is parenting, my sweet boy who is now towering over me? “Yes, this is she.” Here it was, the phone call that gets threatened to the kids in the honors English class, from the first day of school. It was really happening. My immediate reaction was to defend this child of nicknames and cuteness, but I took a deep breath and decided to listen to his teacher instead. (Let’s not forget that the dream images of Jason Statham carrying me to safety are still lingering in my head, so I was a tad distracted.) This is a teacher whose reputation precedes her. For example, school officially begins at 8am, but she implores her students in first period to be there at 7:30. Trust me, this annoyed the crap out of all of us at the start, but I began to understand her logic. When school starts at 8, she wants kids in their seats ready to go, not just getting in to the room and sorting their desks and checking instagram feeds with their friends. She wants, and deserves, a room full of kids who have gotten their willies out, and are settled in for the lesson of the day. So fine, we push for our kid to get there as close to 7:30 as possible, which coming from Brooklyn a couple days a week isn’t always easy. I knew the phone call wasn’t about that, so why was I chatting with Dr. Teacher so early in the morning? My boy wasn’t doing his best, plain and simple. There wasn’t anything that this teacher said that surprised me, in fact her dedication to these kids, her waking up at 4:30 every morning to make sure she’s in the classroom by 6:45 for those kids who want to get their even earlier, made me frustrated with my kid more than anything! I was then able to imagine the scores of parents who I’m sure challenge Dr. Teacher, and defend their kids and complain about her practices etc.. I was tempted, don’t get me wrong, because my kid is a superstar in my book, but I realized in that moment, he wasn’t a superstar in her book, and that was unacceptable! I thanked Dr. Teacher for the call after we came up with a plan of action, and expressed my frustration that she isn’t getting to see the “superstar” that I see everyday. She assured me that with us collaborating, that “superstar” will make himself evident soon enough. Of course, she didn’t use the word superstar, and neither did I, but I know, you know, just what I mean! We are all parents of superstars, and all we can wish for is that everyone sees our kids for the superstars they are and can be. Working with the teachers, who once our kids hit school age, will spend almost as much time with them as we do, is the best way for our superstars to shine!

Stay well.

PS: He’s totally grounded if he doesn’t get his grades up!

I’ll encourage my superstar to carry a Totem with him for times Dr. Teacher pushes his buttons. Maybe your superstar could use a Totem as well? Order one today by clicking on any of the Totem images to your left!

Le Totem Quotidien!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:54-04:00 October 19th, 2014|health, Life, mind/body|

I had the best lunch the other day, mostly because I was catching up with a dear friend, which is always a wonderful activity. The lunch however, was topped (literally) by a bonus when my friend asked for a coffee to go!

A latte with a Totem twist!

A latte with a Totem twist!

Le Pain Quotidien, is known for their healthful options (don’t even ask me about the gooey, delicious spreads they have on the table), and their commitment to bringing people together to share their “daily bread.” When I think about their locations, I always think about the natural look of them, with their wooden tables, and muted decor. Needless to say, I was immediately struck by the bubble gum pink top that adorned my friends coffee! Then I realized, not bubble gum pink, but breast cancer pink! Brilliant! In that moment, Le Pain, gained major points in my book and space on the Totem Tamers pages! There are so many resources available in terms of support for those battling breast cancer to the family members affected by those who are battling, too many to list, but certainly easy to google. The Breast Cancer Awareness page on Facebook, is a good place to start, at least! This pink-lidded cup of coffee gave me pause to consider my friends that have either lost someone to breast cancer, or are currently dealing with their own breast cancer diagnosis and wishing that my arms were bring enough to hug them all at once. The best thing I can do for them though, is to schedule my annual mammogram for which I am due this month and had somehow forgotten to do! So in honor of those here and those lost, I am going to get my boobies smushed, and you should too!

Stay well.

I always take my Totems with me to my mammograms because it can be a stressful situation for sure. If you need a Totem to help get you through, order one today by clicking on any of the Totems on the border of the page.

Totems Around Town!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:54-04:00 October 13th, 2014|animals, family, Life, mental health|

While walking through Central Park today, Bear spotted some of his own and just had to get a picture!!

Bear at the Base!

Bear at the Base!

Bear on Bear!

Bear on Bear!

Group of Bears!

Group of Bears!

That’s why it helps to keep your head up while you walk, because not only is it easier to give a smile to a passing stranger, but you never know what you might see!

Stay well.

Need a Totem to take around town? Click on one of the four Totems to the left and get one today!

Porcelain inspiration!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:54-04:00 October 8th, 2014|family, Life, mental health, mind/body|

You never know what you’re going to find when you walk the streets of NYC, that’s part of the fun! Also a challenge, because you never know if you’re going to step in it, on it, or through it. I come across plenty of things that I am compelled to take pictures of because I never when it will inspire me. Lucky me, I was inspired just this morning, by this site on the way to dropping my little one to school:

Don't put a lid on it, rip the lid off!

Don’t put a lid on it, rip the lid off!

I know, you want to understand how I could be inspired by a toilet seat lid. Well, first of all, we are talking about me, I can find inspiration in the nuttiest of places, and second of all, isn’t everyone inspired by the toilet (or at least on the toilet?) So here’s the inspiration: We spend so much time stuffing our emotions, whatever they may be, because we don’t want to be “seen.” Many people don’t often share their true happy times because they don’t want to seem boastful or conceited. Many people don’t often share their woes or sad times because they don’t want to be burdensome or depressing. I get it, I really do, because I am one of those people. I am also one of those people who realizes that after sharing, after tearing the lid off (see how I did that?), we feel better! It tends to be easier to share the good stuff of course, but it’s when we close the lid (I did it again) on the bad stuff and don’t share that, that’s when we are asking for trouble. That inner turmoil of silent suffering can be so damaging, not only mentally, but physically. Eventually it all bubbles up and overflows (more plumbing humor), and everyone around you ends up suffering. We need an outlet to share, but sometimes you just don’t want to share with people you know, which is why some smart individual created BlahTherapy! It’s a website where you can vent, bitch, complain, and cry to complete strangers….for free! They do have therapists available as well, at a very cheap rate, but come on, free venting without the added pressure of being burdensome! It’s brilliant! So when your pipes are clogged up from months, even years, of stuffing your feelings, rip that lid off and set it free! If you don’t have a trusted friend(s) or a therapist, vent it to a stranger! There is no excuse. My last piece of inspiration from the toilet lid on the sidewalk: we are all the same, we all look when we’re done, all of us!

Stay well.

Find inspiration from a Totem Tamer!! Get one today by clicking on any of the Totems to your left. Totems are not flushable.

Brotherly shove!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:54-04:00 October 5th, 2014|family, Life, mind/body|

Oh boy. Well, really, it’s “oh boys,” because I have three of them. Yep, my household consists of me and my three incredibly wonderful, beautiful, talented and different boys! Almost forgot about the dog, he’s a boy, too. My house is typically the site of an impromptu living room soccer (football apparently, but since I’m not cool, I call it soccer) game, or a rock band jam, a pillow fort, movie theater, or doggy wrestling center! Those are the moments I cherish most, when even in the chaos, we are all in our space together and enjoying each others presence. It’s those other moments that cause me great stress and discomfort. When the name calling starts, and the under breath muttering that’s just loud enough for everyone to hear but quiet enough to deny having said anything really hurtful. All of that, on the way to one of the boys ultimately shoving, swinging, or smacking. That’s when I lose it. I’m usually all about sharing your feelings. I encourage it, even if you worry that your feelings might in fact be hurtful to someone else (“Can you please stop singing mom? My ears are bleeding.”) I draw the line at the physical, though. Please do not hit your brother, or your other brother. As I’m writing this, I am realizing that my aversion is partly my projection from a childhood lived in fear of my older brother punching me or giving me a “charlie horse” or “indian rug burn”, for example. My brother was two years older, so we were close enough in age that we could appreciate Dr. Demento late on Sunday nights, and share an affinity for classic rock. Those are the memories I go back to most when I think about him, and I am grateful for having them. My brother however, was bigger than me, so he could also have me running for safety with just a look. Sadly, my brother passed away about 11 years ago, and we hadn’t had a relationship for a good ten years before that (longer story for another time.) So when I look at my boys, all I want is for them to find a love and respect for each other that will carry them through the rough times and joyous times they are sure to experience. The struggle is trying to figure out how to make that happen, and as a parent this is one of those pathways they don’t really tell you about in the manual. When one of my kids says “my life is ruined because I have to live with him,” my heart breaks a little bit. In those moments, I try my best to validate the frustration and the anger, but I can’t help but share the bigger picture, my picture. My brother is gone, I tell them, and even through the bumps and the bruises, we still had “Fishheads”, and Pink Floyd. I can only hope that my boys will have the same.

My boys....together.

My boys….together.

Stay well.

Click on any of the Totems to the left to your calm-keeper today!

Totems Around Town!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:55-04:00 October 2nd, 2014|Life, mind/body|

Bulldog making friends!

Bulldog making friends!

Can’t wait to find out the story behind this incredibly life-like guide dog statue that is near a subway station on the Upper West Side. Apparently Bulldog is really curious too!!

Send us your pics of Totems Around Town to info@totemtamers.com!

Stay well.

Don’t have a Totem to take around Town? Get one today!! Click on one of the Totems on the left and shop now.