Totem Tamers presents WARRIOR Wednesday! #LeelahAlcorn

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:48-04:00 December 31st, 2014|family, lgbtq, Life, mental health, transgender|

This was not the blog post I had in mind to write today and this was certainly not a WARRIOR I would have wanted to share this way, but even in her own words, her death “has to mean something.” There are tears across the globe today as the story of Leelah Alcorn continues to get shared. These are tears of sadness for a young person’s life cut short, because of the ignorance of so many others, including her own family. These are tears dressed with anger that even in this day and age we are still shunning people for expressing themselves and for being themselves and for loving themselves. These are tears that will hopefully fall to the earth and water the ground filled with seeds for a new life, where we won’t be judged by the color of our skin or the people we love. As with any burgeoning garden, we need to tend to this earth and treat it with compassion and tenderness, with an openness that allows for everyone to have their say and to have their peace. No one should ever feel that they have no choice, or no safe place to turn. No one should ever feel as alone as Leelah was clearly feeling because she believed that she could never truly be herself. This is the last day of 2014, and tomorrow we start anew, tomorrow we get to open our hearts and try harder to cherish each other and ourselves, tomorrow we are given a gift of another chance. Leelah, gives her gift in her final message of sorrow, but ultimately of hope. I leave you with her words, and my love.

Stay well.

“If you are reading this, it means that I have committed suicide and obviously failed to delete this post from my queue.

Please don’t be sad, it’s for the better. The life I would’ve lived isn’t worth living in… because I’m transgender. I could go into detail explaining why I feel that way, but this note is probably going to be lengthy enough as it is. To put it simply, I feel like a girl trapped in a boy’s body, and I’ve felt that way ever since I was 4. I never knew there was a word for that feeling, nor was it possible for a boy to become a girl, so I never told anyone and I just continued to do traditionally “boyish” things to try to fit in.

When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was. I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong. If you are reading this, parents, please don’t tell this to your kids. Even if you are Christian or are against transgender people don’t ever say that to someone, especially your kid. That won’t do anything but make them hate them self. That’s exactly what it did to me.

My mom started taking me to a therapist, but would only take me to christian therapists, (who were all very biased) so I never actually got the therapy I needed to cure me of my depression. I only got more christians telling me that I was selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help.

When I was 16 I realized that my parents would never come around, and that I would have to wait until I was 18 to start any sort of transitioning treatment, which absolutely broke my heart. The longer you wait, the harder it is to transition. I felt hopeless, that I was just going to look like a man in drag for the rest of my life. On my 16th birthday, when I didn’t receive consent from my parents to start transitioning, I cried myself to sleep.

I formed a sort of a “fuck you” attitude towards my parents and came out as gay at school, thinking that maybe if I eased into coming out as trans it would be less of a shock. Although the reaction from my friends was positive, my parents were pissed. They felt like I was attacking their image, and that I was an embarrassment to them. They wanted me to be their perfect little straight christian boy, and that’s obviously not what I wanted.

So they took me out of public school, took away my laptop and phone, and forbid me of getting on any sort of social media, completely isolating me from my friends. This was probably the part of my life when I was the most depressed, and I’m surprised I didn’t kill myself. I was completely alone for 5 months. No friends, no support, no love. Just my parent’s disappointment and the cruelty of loneliness.

At the end of the school year, my parents finally came around and gave me my phone and let me back on social media. I was excited, I finally had my friends back. They were extremely excited to see me and talk to me, but only at first. Eventually they realized they didn’t actually give a shit about me, and I felt even lonelier than I did before. The only friends I thought I had only liked me because they saw me five times a week.

After a summer of having almost no friends plus the weight of having to think about college, save money for moving out, keep my grades up, go to church each week and feel like shit because everyone there is against everything I live for, I have decided I’ve had enough. I’m never going to transition successfully, even when I move out. I’m never going to be happy with the way I look or sound. I’m never going to have enough friends to satisfy me. I’m never going to have enough love to satisfy me. I’m never going to find a man who loves me. I’m never going to be happy. Either I live the rest of my life as a lonely man who wishes he were a woman or I live my life as a lonelier woman who hates herself. There’s no winning. There’s no way out. I’m sad enough already, I don’t need my life to get any worse. People say “it gets better” but that isn’t true in my case. It gets worse. Each day I get worse.

That’s the gist of it, that’s why I feel like killing myself. Sorry if that’s not a good enough reason for you, it’s good enough for me. As for my will, I want 100% of the things that I legally own to be sold and the money (plus my money in the bank) to be given to trans civil rights movements and support groups, I don’t give a shit which one. The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say “that’s fucked up” and fix it. Fix society. Please.

Goodbye,

(Leelah) Josh Alcorn”

Any transgender person needing help can reach out to Trans Life Line, or the Trevor Project. Anybody feeling depressed or suicidal can reach out to Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Totem Tamers Teen Testimonial! (say that 5 times fast!)

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:48-04:00 December 30th, 2014|anxiety, children, family, mental health, teenager, teens|

Don’t you just love the feeling you get when you know you’ve reached someone? I do, and that feeling gets magnified a thousand times over when I receive the kind of feedback I got from one remarkably aware teenaged girl! I will say that when Tori, almost 14 (it’s important!), first received her Bulldog Totem set, she was not happy. Her reaction ranged from defensiveness to even anger that someone would think she “needed” a tool like Totem Tamers. Well, that reaction shifted quickly. Here are Tori’s words about Totem Tamers:

“I think Totem Tamers is a great product to use when you’re feeling overwhelmed-better than a stress ball in my opinion. Think of these vivid colors (red, green, blue), makes me feel calmer somehow. I was skeptical at first,but it made a big impact on me just after my first try.

Just thinking of red when I’m pissed off, just plain red. It makes me feel as if the color understands me. Having the moment with red then moving on to green makes me feel stabilized. And no-I’m not reading from the back of the booklet. Well, I did read it and before I did I didn’t know the word for how green made me feel, and when I saw “stable”, it just clicked. I was just like- that’s exactly how it made me feel. But also, green made me feel as though I didn’t have to do anything drastic. 

Now Blue. Blue just makes me feel calm. It made me feel relaxed. If I just filled my mind with the color, it reminded me of an ocean, but you know, it could be different for anybody. The ocean in general is just calming for me. My head just feels emptied from all the anger I was just feeling moments ago.

So basically, that’s why I think Totem Tamers is a great product to use! Oh, and also a bit of a side note, that little guy that comes with the kit is just great to hold. I love the feeling of the weight on my hand, the coldness and texture of it, and squeezing it in general.” Tori, 14 (almost)

A teenager and her Totem!

A teenager and her Totem!

Besides the fact that this message brought tears to my eyes, I couldn’t help but be amazed at Tori’s insight into her own process, and then being so generous as to make room for other people’s processes and possibilities! Thank you Tori for being so brave and sharing your Totem Tamer Testimonial (it’s even fun to type) with us!

Stay well.

If you have a teenager who might want a Totem, or anyone for that matter, just click on any of the Totems on the page and shop now!

Happy Holidays from Totem Tamers!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:48-04:00 December 25th, 2014|christmas|

Once again, Totem Tamers was lucky enough to score an invite  (or hitch a ride in a purse) to the holiday party at a very special house of White this year! We managed to get a couple of pictures, and we’re thrilled to share them with you!

Happy holidays!

Happy holidays!

Beautifully decorated tree!

Beautifully decorated tree!

Ginormous tree!

Ginormous tree!

May this holiday season bring you all the love and light you deserve, and even some you haven’t earned. Cherish your loved ones and smile at strangers and may all your wishes for a happy and healthy new year come true!

Stay well.

Festival of Feedback!!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:49-04:00 December 22nd, 2014|anxiety, family, friendship, Life|

The lesson for this holiday season is to have a conversation with someone new, because you never know where it may lead!! About two weeks ago, I forced myself a tad out of my comfort zone and went to an event alone, I knew there would be some familiar faces at the event, but not people that I knew very well. The event was lovely and the views spectacular!

Exhale to a beautiful view!

Exhale to a beautiful view!

As I left, I shared the elevator with a gentleman who just had one of those warm and magnetic personalities. We started to talk and inevitably, I mentioned Totem Tamers, gave him my card and hug and bid him farewell. The next morning I awoke to an order he had placed!! He wanted to give the gift of Totem Sets to his niece and nephew. I was so touched that I hand delivered the sets (happy to do that to most of Manhattan, btw, saves you on shipping!) Well, my new friend got back to me yesterday to let me know that the gifts “were so appreciated” by his 10-year-old nephew and 8-year-old niece. Also that their mom happens to be a gifted healer who thought “the story and the paintings are all beautifully expressed & crafted.” That’s the kind of feedback we love!!

Share your feedback with us at info@totemtamers.com, and even send a picture of where you keep your Totem! You can still place orders for Totem sets, and if you live in New York City, send an email before you place your order and maybe I can hand-deliver for you before Christmas!! Just click on any of the Totems pictured and choose one today!

Stay well.

A life in a day.

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:49-04:00 December 15th, 2014|death, Life, overdose, prevention|

It’s December 15, 2014. It’s December 15th again, just like it was last year and the year before, and just like it will be next year and the year after. What’s my December 15th been like so far? Well, I saw my naturopath this morning to help with my aches and ills (thankfully nothing a friendly face, some pressure, and some expertly placed rice grains can’t help). Then I finally managed to get a mani/pedi, removing the trace of old nail polish and fixing broken nails. Then it was off to pick up one kid, which inevitably means playdate, which equals more than one kid. Another kid is having his guitar lesson, and yet another is on his way for his bass guitar lesson (I have three kids to call my own.) So why the significance in a day that seems so normal? Well, it’s also my brother Jonathan’s birthday. He would’ve been 44 today, and I’m sure if he were here and healthy, we would have some family dinner planned where we would eat and laugh, two things my brother was expert at. Sadly, my brother left this world (assuming there are others) 11 years ago, so today is simply another day in a life that I am blessed to still be living. We all have dates in our memories that mark events, whether sad or happy, tragic or celebratory, but what remains is that it is another day that we get to be here, that we get to remember, that we get to live. So even though my brother is gone and I miss him every day, I am here and he would want me to go about my day, go about my life, as if he were right here celebrating with me. So with my sparkly nails, and a houseful of kids, I will cook dinner, and listen to music, and maybe even have some cake, because i’m living my life today and I’m grateful to be doing just that!

Totems and sparkles to help me through this day.

Totems and sparkles to help me through this day.

Stay well.

The roads are clear!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:49-04:00 December 11th, 2014|Life|

Thank you for all your patience and support while our experts repaired the shopping cart filled with all of your lovely orders!! We are back up and running, so if there’s a Totem gift you’ve been meaning to buy, now would be the time to do it!!

This being our busy season, there’s always a chance that we end up sold out of your favorite Totem, so don’t delay. All Totems deserve a good home, and why shouldn’t that home be yours!

Ommmmm, Totems!

Ommmmm, Totems!

Happy Buddha with Totems, kept us nice and calm and patient. It also helps when you have experts like the folks at MEV, on the job!! Thank you guys!

Stay well.

Don’t hesitate, why wait, breathe deep, your Totem to keep!! Just click on one of the Totems on the left and get yours today!

Nothing better than a traffic jam!!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:49-04:00 December 10th, 2014|Uncategorized|

As the holiday season is fast upon us, we appreciate everyone who wants to get Totems into the hands of all their loved ones! Apparently, the excitement has exploded our shopping cart and the orders are kicking back!! Sorry! I know, we have the Totems, so we are totally calm, but we promise, you will be soon, too!

Totems on hold, but coming soon!!

Totems on hold, but coming soon!!

Hang tight and soon enough a Totem will be yours. Thank you again to all of you who we have notified about your outstanding orders and to those who are waiting in the wings, we will get to you too. Deep breaths all around!

Stay tuned for the all clear to place your orders!

Stay well.

How do you measure a year?

By | 2014-12-07T21:49:25-04:00 December 7th, 2014|death, family, Life|

I know, don’t hate me, because really it’s the song from Rent that’s in my head, “525,600 minutes”, and now it will be in your head. There are worse tunes though, that’s for sure. Why is this song in my head? It was a year ago today that my stepfather passed away. I can hardly believe it because there are moments it feels like just yesterday that I held my mom, and reached for my children to keep them close. Maybe that’s because still today, I hold my mom and keep my children close. I am grateful for them because they give me strength and purpose. My stepfather gives me purpose, too, purpose I hadn’t realized until recently. With his crucial development of the overdose antidote, Naloxone, more than 50 years ago, my stepfather’s legacy goes on, but still needs beacons to light the way. I am proud to serve as one of those beacons, and with my stepbrothers, and the rest of the family, along with thousands of others who have witnessed the miracle of Naloxone, we will continue to light the way. We had a couple Rabbis with us tonight, and one spoke about how appropriate it was for my stepfather’s anniversary to be so close to Chanukah this year. He talked of how Jack was a light and how he shined his light on all of us. I’m not very religious, at all, but in that moment, it made so much sense. Jack was and is, still a light and what he has done for so many already is remarkable, and what his creation will continue to do for lifetimes to come is unfathomable. I wrote about Jack two days after he passed, http://totemtamers.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/how-do-i-say-goodbye-to-a-man-who-not-only-changed-my-world-but-the-whole-world/, I actually can’t even read it, but if you want to know more about him, please feel free. Spreading the word about Naloxone and meeting people, so many people, who have been spreading this word for so many years, has been transformative and it is truly an honor to know those who have been saved and to comfort those who have lost loved ones. That a virtual stranger, now at least a Facebook friend, shared with me her gratitude for Jack, because his drug gave her two more years with her son, is as heart-breaking as it is heart-mending. We share in our loss and our gratitude, and we share our stories in the hope that someone else can be a light that will continue to shine.

Stay well.

Where y’at?

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:49-04:00 December 4th, 2014|Life, politics|

What it is! Well, what it is, is the chance to go back for a moment to a great time in my life when I lived in New Orleans, LA.. It was basically just for middle school and a bit of 9th grade, but I remember it with great fondness and even have Facebook friends from that time period. So when events happen in Louisiana, I pay attention. When Katrina hit, I was actually doing some volunteer work for The Red Cross in Manhattan. It was remarkable watching everyone coordinate and try to help find ways to let other people help. As I sat there fielding phone calls, or filing papers, I thought about the man who was my stepfather during the few years I lived in New Orleans and I couldn’t help but wonder if he was ok. He was thankfully, and we had a lovely sort of phone reunion and managed to touch base a couple more times before he passed away several years later. The news was sad to me and I realized that my connection to New Orleans will always be there.

Get out and vote!

Get out and vote!

When word came around that Louisiana Senator, Mary Landrieu, was being forced into a runoff for her seat, the tug at my heart was there again. My mom was moved to help as well, as she knew Mary Landrieu during our time in New Orleans. Senator Landrieu was extremely helpful when my mom created a battered women’s shelter, and now my mom could return the help! We were honored to attend a fundraiser this past week for the Senator, who is busy in the final days leading up to the runoff, getting her message out and reminding the state of Louisiana that she has been there for them all along and will continue to be a voice in the Senate for them. That meant of course, that Senator Landrieu couldn’t be at the fundraiser, but I think the person they sent in her stead to motivate us and speak on her behalf, was more than adequate.

No, she still didn't tell me anything "really" important. ;)

No, she still didn’t tell me anything “really” important. 😉

Senator Landrieu has served Louisiana in some capacity since the age of 23, from state representative to state treasurer, and in 1996, she became the first woman from Louisiana elected to a full term in the Senate. She has never been afraid to fight for the good of the state even when it’s not a popular or universal issue. Her runoff is this Saturday and she needs support from anyone and everyone to make sure voters get out and cast their ballots. She’s been the underdog before and has managed to win every time and she can do it again! I don’t love to be so political, and I often confess to not being politically savvy enough to even have an opinion, but this is for a woman who has given her everything to the state she loves, and for an adopted home state of mine! Who dat?!

If you want to help, even with $5, click here and get involved.

Stay well.

Anxiety and stress around the holidays is always tough to deal with, if you need a Totem to help you through, click on any of the Totem images and get one today!

Where y'at?

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:49-04:00 December 4th, 2014|Life, politics|

What it is! Well, what it is, is the chance to go back for a moment to a great time in my life when I lived in New Orleans, LA.. It was basically just for middle school and a bit of 9th grade, but I remember it with great fondness and even have Facebook friends from that time period. So when events happen in Louisiana, I pay attention. When Katrina hit, I was actually doing some volunteer work for The Red Cross in Manhattan. It was remarkable watching everyone coordinate and try to help find ways to let other people help. As I sat there fielding phone calls, or filing papers, I thought about the man who was my stepfather during the few years I lived in New Orleans and I couldn’t help but wonder if he was ok. He was thankfully, and we had a lovely sort of phone reunion and managed to touch base a couple more times before he passed away several years later. The news was sad to me and I realized that my connection to New Orleans will always be there.

Get out and vote!

Get out and vote!

When word came around that Louisiana Senator, Mary Landrieu, was being forced into a runoff for her seat, the tug at my heart was there again. My mom was moved to help as well, as she knew Mary Landrieu during our time in New Orleans. Senator Landrieu was extremely helpful when my mom created a battered women’s shelter, and now my mom could return the help! We were honored to attend a fundraiser this past week for the Senator, who is busy in the final days leading up to the runoff, getting her message out and reminding the state of Louisiana that she has been there for them all along and will continue to be a voice in the Senate for them. That meant of course, that Senator Landrieu couldn’t be at the fundraiser, but I think the person they sent in her stead to motivate us and speak on her behalf, was more than adequate.

No, she still didn't tell me anything "really" important. ;)

No, she still didn’t tell me anything “really” important. 😉

Senator Landrieu has served Louisiana in some capacity since the age of 23, from state representative to state treasurer, and in 1996, she became the first woman from Louisiana elected to a full term in the Senate. She has never been afraid to fight for the good of the state even when it’s not a popular or universal issue. Her runoff is this Saturday and she needs support from anyone and everyone to make sure voters get out and cast their ballots. She’s been the underdog before and has managed to win every time and she can do it again! I don’t love to be so political, and I often confess to not being politically savvy enough to even have an opinion, but this is for a woman who has given her everything to the state she loves, and for an adopted home state of mine! Who dat?!

If you want to help, even with $5, click here and get involved.

Stay well.

Anxiety and stress around the holidays is always tough to deal with, if you need a Totem to help you through, click on any of the Totem images and get one today!

#GivingTuesday, there’s still time left to give something of yourself!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:50-04:00 December 2nd, 2014|anxiety, charity, donation, gift, mental health, stress|

#GivingTuesday started in 2012 and seems to have caught on!! With the onset of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, a bunch of really generous people decided to give the rest of us an opportunity to give back! So what are you giving? I could certainly hand you a list of worthy organizations, some that I love and think are ever deserving of your money, but I won’t do that. I want you to dig deep, not financially, but emotionally and see what rings true for you. Today I went through some papers and found something from my University asking for money. I went to Syracuse, and I am Orange through and through, but at decision making time, I realized that my children’s public schools are already greatly underfunded and not-for-profit, so it makes more sense to me and feels more true, to give money to them. I gave money to a dear friend of mine who is running the Boston Marathon next year and is raising money for a cause dear to him. I didn’t give a lot, but I gave something and that’s all that matters. If it’s ten bucks or ten thousand, the giving feels good.

You can even give a Totem!

You can even give a Totem!

Stay well.

If you need a Totem, get one! If you want to give a Totem, well, you can do that too! Just click on any of the Totems on the left and shop today!

#GivingTuesday, there's still time left to give something of yourself!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:50-04:00 December 2nd, 2014|anxiety, charity, donation, gift, mental health, stress|

#GivingTuesday started in 2012 and seems to have caught on!! With the onset of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, a bunch of really generous people decided to give the rest of us an opportunity to give back! So what are you giving? I could certainly hand you a list of worthy organizations, some that I love and think are ever deserving of your money, but I won’t do that. I want you to dig deep, not financially, but emotionally and see what rings true for you. Today I went through some papers and found something from my University asking for money. I went to Syracuse, and I am Orange through and through, but at decision making time, I realized that my children’s public schools are already greatly underfunded and not-for-profit, so it makes more sense to me and feels more true, to give money to them. I gave money to a dear friend of mine who is running the Boston Marathon next year and is raising money for a cause dear to him. I didn’t give a lot, but I gave something and that’s all that matters. If it’s ten bucks or ten thousand, the giving feels good.

You can even give a Totem!

You can even give a Totem!

Stay well.

If you need a Totem, get one! If you want to give a Totem, well, you can do that too! Just click on any of the Totems on the left and shop today!

Totem Tamers remembers on World AIDS Day!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:50-04:00 December 1st, 2014|AIDS, HIV, Life, mental health|

December 1, today, marks the 26th anniversary of the first World AIDS Day, and more than 35 million people have died from HIV/AIDS since. There is still so much work to do and education to be fanned out across the globe. Visit the World AIDS Day site to learn more about the disease and how you can help.

Estimated 34 million living with HIV.

Estimated 34 million living with HIV.

Stay well.

Looking for a stocking stuffer? How about a Totem! Order one today to make sure it arrives for the holidays. Just click on any of the Totem images to start shopping!