Do you, you, feel like I do?

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:50+00:00 November 24th, 2014|anxiety, classic rock, cognitive behavioral therapy, mental health, rock and roll|

The answer is simple. No. We may have shared emotional experiences like the thrill ride of a roller coaster, the tears from a sad movie, the reflexive nervous laughter that happens when someone trips and falls. Sure we can all feel those things together, even at the same time, but your feelings are not like my feelings, and mine are unlike yours. Mine come from a different foundation, a different history, a different set of genes, so something that makes me laugh so hard I contemplate Poise pads, may not have the same impact on your bladder. Something that makes me cry so hard the snot just runs like a newly opened dam, may merely make you tear up. Does that make your feelings right and mine wrong? Does that make me more sensitive and you insensitive? Another simple answer, no. It makes you a human capable of a wealth of emotions and experiences based on those emotions, and the only job you have is to honor those emotions. It doesn’t mean that you can’t overdo it sometimes or get overwhelmed or find that your emotions aren’t physiologically manageable. That’s why we have all sorts of tools out there to help you, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Biofeedback, and yes, even medication. Depression for example, is not a choice, it’s an illness or a disorder, it’s something that goes on deep inside a person that impacts the outside of a person. Sure, depression can be brought on by trauma, whereas it’s experienced in a temporary way, and they’re the lucky ones in a sense, because they will get to the light at the end of the tunnel. Others that suffer deep depression aren’t necessarily looking for the end of the tunnel, but just a little relief from the darkness, and those people typically benefit from medication. Didn’t mean to end up so maudlin today, but the notion of emotions is a constant theme. Totem Tamers came out of my need to help my middle son deal with his anxiety attacks. I had no idea how to help him, I had no idea what was going on in his head, and I had no idea what would happen from moment to moment. Part of my frustration was not understanding why his shirt not fitting just right could set him off into a full blown rage, for example. Trust me, I get pissed when sucking in my gut and yanking up my pants from the heels  doesn’t help get me zipped, but I move on. My son gets trapped in his emotional response. I still struggle with his responses, but at least now, I can say “That’s his response and although I don’t understand or relate to it, my goal is to help him through it.” So when someone tells you something that is upsetting to them and you don’t quite get it or resonate with it, don’t dismiss it as unimportant or silly. That’s the worst thing you can do to someone. Take a deep breath, exhale, and let them know that you’re listening and that you hear their frustrations and that even though you may not “get” what’s causing them to have the emotional experience, you recognize and validate that they are having that experience. Maybe that was too convoluted. Let’s do a quick scene to demonstrate:

Son: “I can’t sleep in that bed now because my little brother was laying on it.”

Mom: (In my head: “Are you freaking kidding me?! It’s late. I’m tired. There are two other beds to choose from. Can you please just get into one so I can go read my trashy novel and hopefully fall asleep soon?!”) Out loud and for real now: “Honey, I hear how frustrated you are that your brother got on the bed. It’s late and we are all tired. You have two other beds to choose from so how can we make this happen?”

Make more sense? See how I didn’t tell him he was being ridiculous and incredibly infuriating? I let him know that I heard him, let him know that it was ok for him to have his feelings but also that the rest of have feelings too and the goal is to move forward and through the feelings not just stay in them.

So with that I leave you to feel your feelings and hum Peter Frampton all day!

Stay well.

If you don’t have a Totem Tamer to help you through your feelings, you can get one just by clicking on any of the Totems on the page!

Totems Around Town!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:50+00:00 November 18th, 2014|animals, anxiety, mental health, Owls|

Thanks to a loyal Tamer in Queens for this beauty of a picture!

Who? Hoot! Owl meets Owl!

Who? Hoot! Owl meets Owl!

Amazing things can happen when you keep your Totem with you as you travel around town! We love getting your pictures and your stories about your Totems! Please send more to info@totemtamers.com and you might see your picture or story here!

Stay well.

If you need a Totem to take around town, click on any of the Totems on the page and buy one today!

If you saw this post and liked it, “like” it please!

The many faces of our newest Totem Shark Tamer!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:50+00:00 November 14th, 2014|adoption, children, family, Life, mental health, muscular dystrophy|

I don’t know Manny, but I feel like I do because I watch his trials and tribulations, his worries and his wins, on Facebook! His mom Beth, is extraordinary (I don’t know her personally either,) and I suspect we will be hearing more about her soon. Meanwhile, Manny has a host of medical woes and it’s incredible to watch him shine through every test and procedure, every hospital admission and fever, and throughout there is always a smile on his face. When Beth posted recently that Manny had to go back in to the hospital, my son was standing over my shoulder, without hesitation we both agreed that Manny needed a Totem! I messaged Beth on Facebook and asked her to find out which Totem Manny would like, and he chose Shark!! Here is Manny in the hospital receiving his Totem:

A gift!

A gift!

What's in the box?

What’s in the box?

A Shark!

A Shark!

... 9, 10, I am calm again.

… 9, 10, I am calm again.

Totem Tamers sends thoughts and prayers to Manny as he goes through this next challenge, and now he has Shark by his side. If you want to learn more about Manny and his incredible family, you can send your good thoughts to his Facebook page (this kid is a rockstar I tell you!) by clicking on this link and following him!

Stay well.

If you know someone going through a rough time and you think they might enjoy having the calming benefits of a Totem by their side, click on one of the Totem images on the page and get one today!!

Totem Tamers presents WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:51+00:00 November 12th, 2014|animals, dogs, education, Life, mental health, therapy|

Every once in a while, you meet a good one. You know, those people who have a great story and in that story you learn of an experience they had that ultimately changed their lives for the better. All of that change, brought about by simply helping others. I met one of those good ones last week in Audrey Hendler. Audrey is the Founder and Executive Director of a not-for-profit organization called “A Fair Shake for Youth“. This organization works with middle school students and “uses therapy dogs to help kids build self-esteem and reduce bullying.” When Audrey told her story to a group of dog lovers gathered in my building, it gave me shivers. Not because it was based in trauma, or adversity, or anything earth shattering, but just the opposite! I got shivers because Audrey’s path seemed so simple and clear, and it reminded me of how Totem Tamers came to be. Audrey was donating her time to a program called Puppies Behind Bars, where inmates learned how to care for and ultimately train service dogs. Watching the inmates connect to the animals and find courage where there had previously only been failure and disappointment, is what moved Audrey and made her wonder how these people’s lives might have been positively impacted if they had had access to a therapy dog program at a younger age. She left the corporate world, and “A Fair Shake for Youth” was born. The program is already active in several schools in New York City, along with various after-school and summer camp programs, with the hope that it can add many more in the future. We had the pleasure of meeting two of the therapy dogs that are part of this organization, Lucy and Olive!

Bulldog with Lucy and Olive!

Bulldog with Lucy and Olive!

The dogs and their human partners go through a therapy certification program that prepares the team for going into situations with children, some of whom have never been close to a dog before. The teams that are assigned to a school, commit to an hour each week for a semester. This gives the kids a chance to connect with the dogs and also something to look forward to every week. A facilitator talks the kids through various exercises with the dogs, while also integrating anti-bullying education and building self-esteem and confidence. When I asked Audrey what one of the most challenging aspects of working with the kids has been, I was shocked and saddened by her answer. She said it was hard to get the children to praise the dogs after a trick was performed or a command was heeded. The reality that a lot of these kids are from shelters or broken homes and not receiving praise on a regular basis themselves, it’s a challenge for them to give praise freely to the dogs. However, by the end of the program, the kids “learn positive reinforcement, patience and respect.” Each child gets a trading card of their dog, like the ones seen above, and most of them carry those cards long after the program is over.

Naturally, “A Fair Shake” needs support which you can give by making a donation, or even considering becoming a team with your dog, so you too can effect change, not only in your life, but in the lives of children who really need it. Totem Tamers is proud to call Audrey and “A Fair Shake for Youth” Warriors this week and always!

Stay well.

You can carry a dog with you always in the form of a Bulldog Totem!! Click on Bulldog and order one today!!

Happy Veteran’s Day from Totem Tamers!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:51+00:00 November 11th, 2014|Life, military|

I always think of my Grandfather on Veteran’s Day, and the hundreds of letters he wrote to my Grandmother when he was drafted overseas. He wasn’t “in” long, but reading his letters, it was certainly long enough for him! I went through some of them today, and two lines from one of them brought beautiful tears to my eyes.

Heading home....

Heading home….

This is the letter he wrote telling my Grandma Selma that he was being discharged and coming home. He writes “Honey, in two weeks you will be in my arms again. Two more weeks and then I will be in Heaven.” Incredible words written by a 6’4 giant of a man with a gruff voice and sometimes the personality to match.

Big and burly, but sweet like a rose sometimes!

Big and burly, but sweet like a rose sometimes!

I can’t imagine what it must have been like for my Grandmother to raise her kids on her own while her husband was out of the country defending and protecting our country. It’s hard to imagine the many that do that today, and do so with honor! Totem Tamers thanks all the veterans who have served and continue to serve, and the many that support them.

Stay well.

Find your Totem by clicking on any of the Totems on the page and take one home today!

Happy Veteran's Day from Totem Tamers!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:51+00:00 November 11th, 2014|Life, military|

I always think of my Grandfather on Veteran’s Day, and the hundreds of letters he wrote to my Grandmother when he was drafted overseas. He wasn’t “in” long, but reading his letters, it was certainly long enough for him! I went through some of them today, and two lines from one of them brought beautiful tears to my eyes.

Heading home....

Heading home….

This is the letter he wrote telling my Grandma Selma that he was being discharged and coming home. He writes “Honey, in two weeks you will be in my arms again. Two more weeks and then I will be in Heaven.” Incredible words written by a 6’4 giant of a man with a gruff voice and sometimes the personality to match.

Big and burly, but sweet like a rose sometimes!

Big and burly, but sweet like a rose sometimes!

I can’t imagine what it must have been like for my Grandmother to raise her kids on her own while her husband was out of the country defending and protecting our country. It’s hard to imagine the many that do that today, and do so with honor! Totem Tamers thanks all the veterans who have served and continue to serve, and the many that support them.

Stay well.

Find your Totem by clicking on any of the Totems on the page and take one home today!

Bye bye, birdy.

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:51+00:00 November 8th, 2014|animals, children, family, Life|

Halloween night, and my three kids are contemplating their plans. One is off to a friends house after spending the day dressed as “Green Man” from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” My middle one is apathetic to the whole event but still had me buy a really expensive popular character costume. The youngest of the crew, who would end up with two costume changes, is fantasizing about all the Milky Way’s he is going to score. Then enters the sparrow. Not just any sparrow, but apparently a juvenile white-throated sparrow, in the middle of its migration South. It didn’t exactly enter, but instead crashed into the building and landed on my terrace. When your kids witness a helpless creature struggling, there is really only one thing to do, and that is help this teeny little bird, who looked so obviously in pain. These are the moments that I am grateful to live in New York City, because one google search and naturally I found the help this birdy needed.

On our way to help the birdy.

On our way to help the birdy.

That’s my middle, who is clearly concerned about the little bird flopping around in the box and wanted to come with me to the Wild Bird Fund. The Wild Bird Fund is an incredible place, not far from our house, where they provide emergency care to upwards of 1000 birds and exotic animals each year. When we got there, they thought we were trick or treating, and then realized we had an injured bird and invited us in. We were greeted by the most beautiful swan I had ever seen this close up!

No ugly duckling here!

No ugly duckling here!

Owl gets in on the action!

Owl gets in on the action!

There was a teeny Owl that had just been rescued but it wasn’t able to be out in public sadly, but Owl Totem was just fine getting close to the swan. The Wild Bird Fund uses a ton of volunteers, and we watched one of them work with the swan, which had an injured leg. It was amazing. Then we were called into the room with our sparrow and talked with a lovely wildlife rehabilitator, who explained what kind of bird we had and what likely had happened. He also explained that a lot of times, birds, especially small ones like our sparrow, typically die from stress related to the trauma, and not the trauma itself. There was nothing else we could do now, the sweetness of Halloween trick-or-treating lingering in the backs of our minds. We treated the Wild Bird Fund with a donation for their wonderful work, and headed back into the streets with the vampires and Captain America’s.

Sadly, our sparrow did not make it, but the lesson of helping an injured bird, doing something in a realm where you might think you can’t do anything, that will live on forever. The Wild Bird Fund always needs donations, and volunteers, and you can become a member and help them in their efforts to rescue and treat injured and orphaned wildlife in the hopes to return them to nature.

Stay well.

If you love owls, you can carry an Owl Totem with you always! Just click on the image of Owl and buy one today!

Totem Tamers presents WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:52+00:00 November 5th, 2014|elections, politics, voting, women|

I have a very clear memory from my school days as a young girl. The teacher had asked us all to write down what we wanted to be when we grew up. I looked around the room at the kids who were so sure that doctor, firefighter, super secret spy agent, and chef, were hats to be worn in their futures. I stared at my blank 8 1/2 by 11 page and heard the answer in my head, but how could I put that down on paper? Well, if you know me, you know I didn’t hesitate for too long, I quickly turned my sheet of paper horizontally and wrote down five words in big print. Then it was time to share our dreams with the class and we went around the room. There were lots of doctors, veterinarians, basketball players and gymnasts. Then there was me, this girl with a sign that simply said “President of the United States.” Sure there were snickers and giggles and finger pointing and more, but at that moment it didn’t matter, because I dared to dream big, and bigger than anyone else in the room, and that’s what counted for me. Yesterday, many women, who were once little girls just like me, dared to dream big. Midterm elections were partly a disappointment for the party I belong to, but as far as that little girl from years ago goes, it was huge progress! There were plenty of wins, and I couldn’t be more proud of the campaigns that were hard fought, but I am most proud of the WARRIORS I have met along the way who are helping more little girl dreams become a reality.

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts!

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts!

From Wisconsin...Mary Burke!

From Wisconsin…Mary Burke!

Senator Wendy Davis with my MOM!!

Senator Wendy Davis with my MOM!!

Secretary Clinton and possibly, hopefully, our next President of the United States, and likely the closest I'll come to that role!

Secretary Clinton and possibly, hopefully, our next President of the United States, and likely the closest I’ll come to that role! Oh yeah, that’s me!

There are so many more WARRIORS, and I wish I could show them all, but Totem Tamers honors them on this, the next day and next crossroad, where we make the choice to dare to dream big, or go home. I can promise you, we will not be going home, anytime soon.

Senator Wendy Davis said in her concession speech yesterday, “Being disappointed is ok, but being discouraged is not!” We are not discouraged, we are empowered and inspired by all of these WARRIORS and we look to the next generation of dreamers and believers to continue the charge.

Stay well.

Totem Tamers is a great tool to help you if you get overwhelmed or anxious, make sure you have one on the road to your dreams! Click on any of the Totems on the page and get one today.

If you don’t vote, you can’t complain!!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:52+00:00 November 4th, 2014|Life|

I’m not interested in your politics unless you are out there doing something about it. Then, even if we disagree, I will find respect for you. If you don’t vote, don’t complain about the state of the government. Period. End of story!

Totems for President!

Totems for President!

There’s still time to get out there and make your voice heard.

Stay well.

Anxious about making choices? Get all the Totems!! Click on any of the Totems on the page and head over to our store so you can buy one, or all of them, today!

If you don't vote, you can't complain!!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:52+00:00 November 4th, 2014|Life|

I’m not interested in your politics unless you are out there doing something about it. Then, even if we disagree, I will find respect for you. If you don’t vote, don’t complain about the state of the government. Period. End of story!

Totems for President!

Totems for President!

There’s still time to get out there and make your voice heard.

Stay well.

Anxious about making choices? Get all the Totems!! Click on any of the Totems on the page and head over to our store so you can buy one, or all of them, today!

Do something that moves you!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:52+00:00 November 3rd, 2014|animals, health, mind/body, running, totems|

About 50,000 people decided to run in the NYC Marathon yesterday. I knew several of them and was thrilled to watch their progress online and see victory photos of medals and exhausted bodies wrapped in tin foil. This wasn’t a decision these people made yesterday morning, it was a commitment they made months ago, if not years ago, that they wanted to train and run a marathon. I sit in awe of the commitment required to do something this intense, and do it safely. A dear friend, who happens to have MS, kicked marathon butt, and made it through! I’m so proud of her!

SLR's marathon medal!! She rocked it!

SLR’s marathon medal!! She rocked it!

A runner I am not, even though several years back I pretended, until my already bum knee became a full bummer. This isn’t about running though, this is about moving, moving yourself, moving others, doing something that at the end of the day, that makes you feel proud. Makes you feel like you have added value to the world, even if it’s just one person’s world, heck even if just for you. Find the thing that motivates you, it could be knitting, it could be yoga, it could be fostering animals, it could be a million different things, but just be motivated. We are blessed to have the chance to live in this great world and it would be a shame to waste that blessing. Totem Tamers moves me, because I know just by being here I am helping. Sometimes it’s helping me, because I get to share my story and my thoughts (which hopefully help others in turn.) Totem Tamers also hopes to help those who struggle with anxiety and stress that can sometimes get in the way of people enjoying their lives! I’m lucky that I have a bunch of things that move me, from my kids, to belting out show tunes in my kitchen. What moves you?

Congratulations to all the movers that were out in the fierce wind and cold yesterday running the marathon! Congratulations to everyone for finding the courage to move today.

Stay well.

Totem Tamers are pocket-sized animal Totems that help in times of potentially overwhelming anxiety and stress. Along with a simple guide, Totem Tamers can help get you moving! Click on any of the Totems on the page, and get moving today!!