Totems Around Town: Bulldog on the loose!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:00-04:00 July 30th, 2015|bulldogs, dogs, Life, pets, stress relief|

I usually carry my Totems with me everywhere. Not just because I may encounter a situation that requires me to take some deep breaths and stay calm, but also because you never know when you’re going to have a photo op!! I was out with Bulldog the other day, and wouldn’t you know that just such an occasion arose.

Salt and pepper, here! With a little spice in the middle!

Salt and pepper, here! With a little spice in the middle!

Bulldog faces are so expressive and can reflect any mood they are exposed to. These Bulldogs are clearly all smiles!! Where will you take your Totem? Send any pictures to

Stay well.

Don’t have a Totem to take around town? Get one today! Just click on any of the Totems on the side of the page and head over to our store to order yours! Thank you.

"Where do broken hearts go?", sang Whitney Houston. We still don't know the answer.

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:01-04:00 July 27th, 2015|addiction, death, harm reduction, Life|

It’s Monday and my head is spinning with all the madness of the last couple weeks. Mass shootings, tragic car accidents, suicide bombings, and now punctuated by the death of Bobbi Kristina Brown. I can’t really do anything about mass shootings, other than let my politicians know we need stronger gun control and more mental health help. (And please, this isn’t about starting a debate about gun laws.) Tragic car accidents, are just that, tragic. Wear your seat belts. Don’t drive drunk. Don’t text and drive. Suicide bombings? Well, misguided religious fanatics cannot be helped. We can only be vigilant and hope that there are no casualties other than the fool with a bomb strapped to his/her back. Then there’s Bobbi Kristina. I know I should be sad, and maybe I was 6 months ago when she was found facedown in a bathtub, just like her mother almost three years earlier, but now I’m angry.  Bobbi Kristina struggled with drugs and alcohol, this was not a secret, and she apparently had been hospitalized more than once in her short, yet troubled life. I’m not sure anything could have been done to save her, but there is a simple answer out there that could help save thousands upon thousands from overdose. Naloxone, is a wonder drug that has already helped save so many, yet it is difficult to get, and expensive at that. I even get to say that my stepfather helped formulate this wonder drug. However, I also get to say that Naloxone wasn’t available to save my brother, or his girlfriend, when she overdosed a year later. Overdose deaths in 2013, surpassed deaths from car accidents. How absurd is that?! That’s why I’m angry. That’s why I’m doing something about it. I’m talking about Naloxone. I’m talking about Good Samaritan Laws, that offer protection if you’re with someone experiencing an overdose and you call 911. Not all states have Good Sam laws, and some states are defined differently, but a simple check on the Drug Policy Alliance website and you can find out about your state. Thanks also goes to the tireless workers at Harm Reduction, for their part in getting the word out and getting Naloxone into the hands of those who need it. In the meantime, I am making a pledge, if you are a drug user and at risk of overdose, or know someone who is, email me at, and I will find a way to get you an Overdose Prevention Kit!

Save someone's life...if not you're own.

Save someone’s life…if not you’re own.

We need to educate and inform, and make Naloxone available to anyone who might need it, including co-prescribing Naloxone with any opiate prescription. This is all possible but we need to make this happen together so we don’t have to mourn another young life gone too soon.

Stay well and rest in peace, Bobbi Kristina.

Totems Around Town! (in style!)

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:01-04:00 July 25th, 2015|accessories, fashion, funky, gifts, Life, Owls, retro|

There’s just something about a small business isn’t there? The ones owned by a young person just looking to do something passionate, or the ones owned by generations just looking to make it in the world. I love those! Heck, Totem Tamers is a small business, and we know I love that! There’s also something about finding unique gifts for people, because who doesn’t love getting a gift when you know there was some thought put in to it?! Well, there’s a small business near me called, Icon Style, and it’s a small business filled with unique gifts! It’s all vintage jewelry and fashion and accessories, and I could spend hours just looking at all the different pieces. I did spend some time there yesterday looking for a gift, and had the best time with the owner, Lara. She was eager to help, and guided me to some pieces that I fell in love with, not just for gifts, but for myself, too. In the process, I excitedly spotted some owls, and that of course led me to introducing Owl to Lara, and to some new friends.

Owls are Icon-ic!!

Owls are Icon-ic!!

The cool thing about Icon Style is that the inventory is always changing, which means I will always be popping in to see what’s new!! Thank you Lara, for helping me find a gift for myself, and for a friend, and best of luck to your small business!

Stay well.

Icon Style, can be found on Facebook, “like” and “follow’! You can also do the same for Totem Tamers here! If you need a Totem to take around town, just click on any of the Totems on the side of the page and get yours today!

Totem Tamers presents WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:01-04:00 July 22nd, 2015|addiction, death, drugs, Life, overdose, overdose prevention|

I have been fortunate enough in my life to meet a wide variety of people, from all walks of life and practically all corners of the globe. When I say meet, I don’t even necessarily mean meet in person. I have a whole network of people online that I have never met, yet I know about their kids and their grandkids, and I know about their sorrows and their triumphs. This network is one of the most supportive and inspirational groups of people I have come to virtually know, and the common thread is that we have all been touched by substance use disorders in one way or another. Many in the group have lost loved ones to overdose (like my brother), others are living one day at a time to stay sober. Regardless of how we’ve become eligible to join the group, the bottom line is everyone wants to make sure that others are educated and that hopefully we can help prevent overdose deaths from increasing, along with the amount of members in the group. A key characteristic to this network of people, is that they are all WARRIORS! Some have become lobbyists, others have been trained to train others in overdose prevention, and all have taken up the fight to educate and inform. This is where today’s WARRIOR WEDNESDAY comes in. A member of this group, who I have only communicated with online, came across a horrifying shirt being sold at a popular clothing store called Jimmy Jazz. I actually hate to give them publicity, but I’m doing it because they need to be called out, and called up (1-877-307-JAZZ(5299)), to remove this clothing from their stores! That’s a customer service number but the more calls and complaints, the better!

Here’s a picture of the shirt:

This is your mannequin on drugs, this is disgusting.

This is your mannequin on drugs, this is disgusting.

The manufacturer of this shirt is called Smith & Graham. Researching and trying to find this companies contact info has led me to a dead end, but by all means take a shot!! Even the lawyer listed on the trademark is hard to find. Anyway, this WARRIOR network noticed that Nike shoes were on this mannequin, and had the brilliant idea of reaching out to them, to let them know their product was being associated with something so horrible. I don’t blame Nike because they were unaware, but they need to be told and then make a stand, so feel free to let them know that you will hold them accountable as well if they don’t demand Jimmy Jazz to stop carrying this shirt! Here’s a number for Nike: 503-671-6453. We all have to be WARRIORS in this fight, because too many people die, and more are at risk, especially if we send the message to kids that wearing a shirt like this is “cool”. I want you to align yourself with this incredible network of people, because in all honesty I don’t want you to ever have to join the network. There is now a petition, it’s as simple as filling in your name and zip code, to make some noise about this clothing line. I plead with you to find your inner WARRIOR and take two minutes to sign. Even a local news channel has done a story on this offensive clothing.


Stay well.

The thing about sadness…

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:02-04:00 July 19th, 2015|childhood, death, depression, friendship, Life, sadness|

There I am, doing what I do best (ok, one of the things that I do best, anyway), flirting away with my kids’ ridiculously cute, and ridiculously young dentist, and keeping the technician laughing. We are having a grand ole time because, well, we aren’t the one getting our teeth drilled and having cavities filled. My son was a trooper, he didn’t complain once, and I swear, he enjoys the banter and the giggling as much as we do. I’m checking Facebook, answering emails, texting with friends, and helping distract and occupy the space in the room to help with my own anxiety of the sound of the whirring from the drill. Then it happened. I didn’t see it coming, and was absolutely powerless over it. That familiar burn at the backs of my eyes, the heaviness on my heart, the widening of my eyebrows as I realize I am about to shed tears in the dentists office. It felt like minutes, but I am sure it was only seconds, that I sort of recovered, by checking the possibility of rain out the window, pressing a fingernail into another finger, burying my face in my phone, and now the spinning in my head to understand what had just happened. Sadness washed over me like a wave toppling an unsuspecting toddler frolicking on the shore. I was having a good time, and then boom, I’m reduced to a helpless mess, almost. I am really skilled at keeping my shit together when necessary. It’s a gift and a curse, because then I have to really figure out a way to release all those well-guarded emotions, and ask my therapist, the release doesn’t happen nearly enough. One of the benefits of this gift, is that I can go right into my head and analyze what’s going on inside me and then philosophize with it and turn it into something meaningful. Like this:

It makes sense that a dentist’s office could make me sad, since my dentist passed away last year. His loss had a tremendous effect on me and I wrote about it a few days after he died. But I had been doing ok, and going to a new dentist, where everything was/is shiny and happy and different! This new office is open 7 days a week and long hours at that, and they give you coffee mugs and sugar free gum and smiles and it’s great! And it’s not great, because it’s not my old dentist, where the smell of freshly baked cookies always hung in there ( a trick to see how well the kids could brush the chocolate out of pesky molars), and the fickle puppy would come out of the office to see if she deemed you worthy of her presence. I miss those things, and missing them makes me sad, and sadness makes my heart hurt and my tears fall. I have another gift though, and this is truly a gift, it’s the ability to look at a moment, a situation, an experience, and find gratitude for having had the moment.  I am sad because someone good, someone special, someone kind and funny, is no longer around to impart those feelings, but I am sad because I was able to have all those great feelings with that person, and that’s where the meaning lies. If it was someone who didn’t make me feel good and special and kind, I might have a moment of empathy, sympathy, but not this sadness that only comes from having been able to feel really happy in the first place. So the thing about sadness….welcome it, because it means you had happiness first, and you will once again. It also helps if your kids have a cute dentist.

Stay well.

My dentist was the first to suggest having Totems in his office to help anxious patients, and I promise all the Totems were in hand at the dentist on this last visit. If you, or someone you know, has dental anxiety, get them a Totem! It’s as simple as holding your Totem, taking deep breaths and repeating our helpful rhyme, the dentist can become tolerable and manageable. Just click on any of the Totems on the side of the page and get one today!

Totem Tamers presents WARRIOR WEDNESDAY or my baby is growing up!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:02-04:00 July 15th, 2015|anxiety, anxiety relief, chidlhood, Life, stress relief|

This blog space provides a forum (mostly for me) to engage and initiate conversation on a variety of subjects, topics, and experiences. A lot of what I write can be extremely personal, but hopefully everything I write allows for others to connect and resonate with whatever I’m going on about. Totem Tamers is about helping people. Totem Tamers is about people helping themselves. When it comes to choosing a WARRIOR, it is always someone who is helping people, or helping themselves.

That leads us to this week’s WARRIOR WEDNESDAY! I am blessed with three boys, and my middle child, who was the inspiration behind Totem Tamers, has been a WARRIOR WEDNESDAY. That was about three years ago, highlighting his courage going to sleep away camp. My youngest would have been 6, and smart enough to recognize that he wanted to be a WARRIOR, too. “All in good time,” I would tell him.  Then about a year or so later, my oldest son exhibited such extraordinary character, that he too, became a WARRIOR WEDNESDAY. Once again, my little one huffed and puffed and tried to become WARRIOR-like. There’s a deeper lesson there about just “being” a WARRIOR, not trying to become one. It was also hard to explain to a 7-year-old that just because you give your brother the top half of an Oreo cookie, doesn’t a WARRIOR make. I’m sure you’ve figured out by now where this is going, right? Yup! The moment has arrived, my now 9-year-old has become a WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!



His becoming a WARRIOR involves sleep away camp, too, the way it did with my middle child. The boys go to this amazing camp called, Campus Kids. Campus Kids is a weekday sleep away, meaning that the campers are away from home Monday morning until Friday evening. They get to come home on the weekends!!! It’s brilliant. The kids are also allowed to call home every night if they want or need to, which can pose a problem sometimes, but can also be very helpful to some kids (my middle one has been going for 4 summers now and he still calls every night.) This being my 9-year-old’s first time away from home, I expected him to call regularly. The first night’s phone call was quick and loud, but he seemed ok. The second night is when my heart broke. My boy was homesick and in tears on the phone wanting me to come and get him. I knew that I needed to arrange with the camp to let him call home earlier in the day, because when you’ve been running around and distracted, and then wind down by calling home and hearing your parents’ voice, it can be overwhelming. So the third day phone call, which was earlier in the evening, was awesome! He was excited and telling me all about his activities (including the archery shot you see above), and eager to get off the phone because he wanted to get back to a game he was playing. Whew! It worked! Then Thursday night came and went, and there was no phone call. I worried for sure, but I hoped that it was just that he was so busy and occupied, he didn’t have time to call. When I saw him Friday evening it was revealed that he had become a WARRIOR. My little boy explained to me that the reason he didn’t call the night before was not that he was too busy having fun, it was because he knew it would upset him and he didn’t want to be upset. Yes, protecting yourself and protecting your feelings, and recognizing your feelings, makes him a WARRIOR! He’s back at camp this week, and still feeling a little homesick, but he’s making the best of it and I couldn’t be more proud! He’s also going to be totally psyched when he hears he’s this weeks WARRIOR!

Stay well.

My kids have taken Totems to camp, just like plenty of other kids, too. The beauty of the Totems is not only in their artistry, but in their compact size. You can carry a Totem and no one has to know (sometimes that’s important to kids.) So if you know someone who needs a Totem, just click on any of the Totems on the side of the page, and get one today!

Connect for…..!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:02-04:00 July 12th, 2015|animals, anxiety, bulldogs, childhood, dogs, Life, pets, stress, stress relief|

What do we connect for? Does there have to be a purpose in the connections we make? Does it matter how long the connection lasts for it to have a lasting impact? These are some questions I consider regularly as I move through my day making connections. For example, why did I let my dog sit on the sidewalk and wait for a family to come up the block so they could pet him? Turns out, that it was a much needed connection. A family of three kids, and one of them turned out to be very allergic to dogs and it forced them to give away their beloved pet. The mother cringes as she remembers how difficult it was for the whole family. As we all walked up the block talking, the oldest boy was all over Zeke (that’s my beloved pet), and the twin girls kept asking if they could walk the dog. It was sweet and cute, but it wasn’t until they were headed on their way that the connection became clear. They all thanked me, and Zeke of course, for the petting opportunity, and before going in to the playground, the boy looked at me and said “We had to give our dog away. He was a Bulldog.” Ding ding ding ding!!! A huge grin crosses my face as I call the mother back to let her know that they can in fact have a Bulldog once again!!! I left her with Totem Tamers information and look forward to getting those kids a Bulldog Totem so they can remember their family dog.

Four Totems Connect! (See what I did there?)

Four Totems Connect! (See what I did there?)

That’s why we connect! That’s why most connections have a purpose. It may not be for you, but it may in fact, be for the person on the other side of the connection. That means that every connection you make has meaning and purpose no matter how long or short, no matter positive or negative. Sometimes the meaning is immediately clear, the Bulldog story is a perfect example of that, and sometimes it may take weeks, months, even years before you figure out what the purpose of a particular connection might be. Point being, don’t be afraid to connect. Don’t close yourself off to experience because you’re afraid of being hurt, or disappointed, or rejected, or anything! Allow yourself to make connections and to create connections, even for other people. There’s a great satisfaction that comes out of being the conduit to connection, as well. So get out there and discover what you have to connect for!

Stay well.

Totems are great connectors! Get one today by clicking on any of the Totems on the side of the page and visit our store.

Totem Tamers congratulates the 2015 FIFA World Cup Champs: the U.S. Women's Soccer Team!!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:03-04:00 July 10th, 2015|championship, FIFA, Life, soccer, sports, US Women's Soccer, world cup|

There has never been a ticker tape parade for a Women’s sports team, until today!

Unbelievable view of parade and ticker tape!  Photo credit:EE

Unbelievable view of parade and ticker tape!
Photo credit:EE

Thousands upon thousands of eager fans lined the streets of New York City to watch the 23-member team parade by on floats. There were grins from ear to ear, and even tears of joy from many in the crowd!

World Champions!!

World Champions!! Photo Credit:PR

Many dignitaries including the mayor, and Governor Cuomo, were on hand to honor the team, all thanks to Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who circulated a letter earlier this week asking for the team to be honored! Robin Roberts, whom I’ve long admired (there was a time I wanted to be a sportscaster) was the emcee of the event (she was also gifted a Totem a while back!) Keys to the City were given, and cheers were sounded, as the masses celebrated this team of women who played brilliantly in the World Cup event. Congrats and thanks for bringing this community together to celebrate your accomplishments!

Stay well.

How about a Totem Tamer Ticker Tape parade? Ok, maybe not, but it’s fun to say Totem Tamer Ticker Tape, isn’t it?! Maybe you still want a Totem, though? Yeah, you do. Just click on any of the Totems on the side of the page and order yours today!

Totems Around Town! #folkartmuseum

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:03-04:00 July 7th, 2015|animals, anxiety, art, artists, birds, birds of prey, Life, museums, Owls, recycle|

There are a lot of museums in New York City. To be sure, there are a lot of museums I have never even heard of! There is one lovely spot however, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, that I have discovered, The American Folk Art Museum! It’s perfectly small and manageable and has one of the funkiest gift shops where I can pick up out of the ordinary, last minute gifts. The exhibits are always interesting and the people are super engaged, and I encourage you to take a little time out one afternoon and head over for a visit. It’s free! (Although a donation is always a nice thing.) Owl was certainly at home in the gift shop!

#museumshop OWLS!

#museumshop OWLS!

These are Owl figurines handmade by Haitian artists, using recycled newspaper. So cool!! Owl Totem certainly finds birds of a feather!

Stay well.

Do you have a Totem to take around town? Well, you should! Just click on any of the Totem images on the side of the page and order yours today!

#tbt, only about an hour ago, but it counts. Or, what I did with my anger.

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:04-04:00 July 2nd, 2015|anger management, anxiety, Life, strangers, yoga|

There I was, innocently walking along on my way to yoga this morning. It was one of those mornings where I would have much rather stayed in bed a little longer, but I knew that going to class and sweating my patootie (yes, that’s a word) off, would certainly wake me up and ready me for the day ahead. There’s this one intersection in my neighborhood, that no one gets right. From the pedestrians to the cars, there’s always someone in the crosswalk that shouldn’t be. I am cognizant of this every time I cross, whether on foot or on wheels, but I will happily defend my position if I have the right of way. So, back to me blissfully walking with my yoga mat, frozen water bottles, etc., when I approach the intersection and see that I have the right of way, at least according to the little walking man sign!

Clearly my turn to walk!

Clearly my turn to walk!

Well the cabby who almost ran me over, either didn’t see the sign, or more likely, didn’t care. His window was wide open, practically begging for me to yell an obscenity and let him have it, while staking my claim as a pedestrian. But something so strange happened, when I opened my mouth to let out a tirade, nothing came out! It was an anomaly to be sure, because I am never (rarely) at a loss for words, especially colorful ones that have four letters! I continued on in silence, with my anger quickly being replaced by an almost nervous giggle. I didn’t yell. I didn’t give rise to the blood pressure that had bubbled to the surface. I didn’t allow my anger to take over and potentially effect the rest of my morning. Brilliant!! This was big of course, and I spent a portion of yoga contemplating what it might have felt like to give voice to that anger, and guess what, I couldn’t come up with anything positive! Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting bottling up your anger, or not finding some sort of release for it, but I am suggesting it be situational, perhaps. Me yelling at that cab driver for having blatant disregard for pedestrians crossing the street would have accomplished nothing. The cab driver wouldn’t have cared, and might have even gotten mad himself and yelled back at me, or taken it out on his next fare, or worse, might have gotten distracted enough to hit someone or something. Any of those things might have happened, and nowhere in there is the option of the cab driver apologizing to me for almost ruining my morning. What would have happened to me had I yelled? Well, my blood pressure surely would have gone up and stayed up, and that’s not a great thing. My mindset would have been darkened and that’s not a good thing. I might have been further distracted in yoga class, in a negative way, that might have led me to go into a posture improperly and hurt myself. See, nothing positive would have come out of my 15 second explosion, but everything positive came out of my holding on to that 15 seconds. All that being said, what am I really saying? Hold on to your anger when possible, because there can only be positive reactions when you do, and when or if you can’t hold on to it, be swift about it and release it as quickly as you can. Then you can go on looking at silly #tbt pictures of you when you had that mullet in high school. Yeah, I saw them. Hilarious.

Stay well.

Totem Tamers instills the concept of recognizing your emotions, and then you can move through them. That’s the visualization and deep breathing techniques we share in our beautifully illustrated booklet or our handy pocket card. Get yours today when you order a Totem! Just click on the Totem of your choice on the side of the page, and get on with being calm.