It's International Overdose Awareness Day….

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:58+00:00 August 31st, 2015|acting, addiction, death, Life, musical theater, overdose, overdose prevention|

This is a hard day of course, but not so different than any other day when I think about my brother’s drug overdose, or his girlfriend’s a year later, or the thousands of others who have died. Not so different than when I see the posts about Naloxone, the life-saving overdose reversal drug that my stepfather helped create years ago, saving lives every day. What’s different about this day is the purpose behind it, educating the world about overdose prevention, talking about Good Samaritan Laws that have been created to protect drug users and those that try to save them. To learn more about International Overdose Awareness Day, visit the site http://www.overdoseday.com for resources, and stay to read some of the heartbreaking stories from the families left to grieve for those who have died. I’ve written a lot about this topic and if you want to know more about my story feel free to click on any of these links:

https://totemtamers.wordpress.com/2013/11/21/would-you-know-what-to-do-if-someone-was-experiencing-an-overdose/

https://totemtamers.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/of-love-and-loss/

https://totemtamers.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/how-do-i-say-goodbye-to-a-man-who-not-only-changed-my-world-but-the-whole-world/

https://totemtamers.wordpress.com/2013/07/17/a-very-personal-warrior-wednesday/

That’s certainly more than enough for you to chew on, but I will also gladly use this awesome image that’s been circulating the internet today, about just how easy it can be to save someone from an overdose.

Overdose Awareness

Overdose Awareness

I had wanted to write earlier today, but my mind wouldn’t let me get to it, although I knew I wanted to write, had to write. It took having a moment with my older son today, to help me sit down and get it done. The moment has nothing to do with overdose, but it sadly has to do with someone dying at a very young age, while his potential was just being discovered by the world. Kyle Jean-Baptiste, a 21 year old taking Broadway by storm as he starred in Les Miserables as Jean Valjean. He was the youngest to ever have the role, and the first African American to ever play the role. Jean-Baptiste died this past weekend in a freak accident at his home, a memorial service was held in Central Park this afternoon. He attended the same high school my son attends now, and I just knew that my son needed to come with me to see a community come together to grieve and sing for the life of someone they knew and loved. A community, that as an actor, he is a part of, and as a voice actor and theater lover, I am a part of, as well.

Too young, too soon.

Too young, too soon.

The community of those touched by overdose is exactly the same. We grieve, and we sing, and we cry, and we share, and we hold each other up in the sadness. The biggest difference is that the overdose community isn’t one people choose to join, sadly you just get forced into it.  Then you look around and realize how blessed you are to be in contact with some truly remarkable human beings. People who travel the country, if not the world, to share the stories in the hopes that even one life can be saved. People who hand out clean needles, and train people how to use Naloxone. People who accept you no matter how you ended up a part of the community.

Totem reflection...

Totem reflection…

A single flower left by a mourner this afternoon, representing the solitude that grief can sometimes bring. The reflection of the fountain in the water however, reminds me that along with the image of sadness, the mirror image is happiness, and the blessing that I am still here to experience both.

Stay well.

Beautiful noise!

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:58+00:00 August 30th, 2015|brotherhood, brothers, childhood, children, divorce, Life, marriage, parenting, siblings, single parents|

Divorce has its goods and bads, positives and negatives, and hopefully it can at least be an easy transition for everyone involved. One of the positive aspects of divorce for me, is that I get built in “break time”, when I can tend to my own needs first, as opposed to the needs of my children. I can’t say enough how blessed I am (and how blessed my kids are), to be in the post-divorce situation that I am in. I get a couple breaks a week, every other weekend, and a few full weeks out of the year. My kids benefit just as much from the breaks as I do, and spending that kind of quality time with their Dad is brilliant and so meaningful. Sure, I always have these elaborate ideas of what I will do with my break time, especially when the kids are gone for a week, for example. I fantasize about flying to some far-off island, cleaning out my closets, cleaning out their closets, getting rid of the toys they say they want to keep but haven’t played with in years but can’t bear to let go of, yeah, those kinds of plans. Sometimes I manage to pull some of it off, and other times, it’s just awesome being home without much of anything going on. This past week, my kids were gone, and I definitely took advantage. I took naps, had massages, walked around nekkid, sang out loud (well, louder than I usually do), ate what I wanted when I wanted, had friends over without complaint. I got to lounge by the pool without having to worry about anyone drowning!  (That’s huge!) It might not have been as productive as I would have liked, but the chilling out was lovely and much needed. And it was quiet. So quiet, that every time the AC kicked in, I jumped a little. So quiet that when the ding from the elevator down the hall sounded, I wondered who might be coming. So quiet that I realized as much as I was enjoying my downtime, I missed my boys. Sure I have my pup, and he’s great company when he’s not begging for food or begging to be pet, but I realized he missed the kids, too. That was painfully obvious yesterday when I mentioned their names, my dog started wagging his tail and headed straight for the door. Here he is patiently waiting the boys’ arrival.

Zeke, lying in wait!

Zeke, lying in wait!

The boys finally arrived, all three a bit taller, and a bit tanner, and as miraculous as ever. Yes, miraculous, because they’re mine, and my heart explodes every time I see them after they’ve been away (well, every time, really.) Within minutes, the dog was barking, my middle and my youngest were quibbling, my oldest was playing the guitar. There were shoes and flip flops strewn across the floor, computers zinging to life, and televisions offering discounts if you ordered now. It was loud, it was chaos, and it was the most beautiful noise I had heard all week.

Stay well.

My boys are like Totems to me, because I am certainly calmer when they are around, but it always helps to have an actual Totem as a reminder to keep calm. If you need a Totem, head over to our store, and get one today!

Happy National Dog Day!!!

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:58+00:00 August 26th, 2015|animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, bulldogs, dogs, Life, pets, stress relief, therapy|

Today is the day to salute all of our four-legged family members that “arf” and “woof”! Of course the beauty of Bulldog, other than a shiny bronze coat, is the silent loyalty that comes along with a Totem!

Bulldog on National Dog Day!

Bulldog on National Dog Day!

However, my sweet puppy is another story, his coat is Bronze-like, but his voice is definitely much bigger than Bulldog! Bulldog and my pup do offer the same kind of calm though.

Show us your pups!!

Stay well.

Need a Bulldog to help you celebrate? Head to our store and get one today!!

No, thank you!

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:59+00:00 August 23rd, 2015|friendship, gratitude, Life, stories, story, storytelling, the moth|

These last ten days have been the longest I have gone without writing a piece in a very long time. Doesn’t mean I haven’t considered writing, but somehow, it just didn’t happen. In some ways, I’ll take it as an indication that my brain wasn’t overloaded with it’s typical madness edging to get out of me and onto the screen. In other ways, I’ll take it as an indication that my brain needed a bit of a break from always looking for inspiration, material, fodder, and content. And let me tell you, my world is consistently filled with all of the above and then some. I mean, I got stories. You need stories? I got em! Here’s the funny thing, I have a friend who is a Storyteller, like, for real, that’s why I capitalized the word. He’s been on The Moth, he hosts weekly storytelling events, he’s a great storyteller, and he’s great at getting other people to tell their stories. Well, great at getting everyone but me, and I like telling stories, but something stops me from getting up on the stage and sharing. Sure, most of his shows are like the unrated version of every dirty movie you’ve ever seen, but hey, I’m single, I have stories. (Not that being single is a prerequisite for a good dirty story. Just sayin’.) Maybe one of these days I’ll get up there, but at the moment, my bully pulpit is perfectly perched on the porch of my mom’s house.

Grateful view....

Grateful view….

And that perch is where the theme for today’s post comes in, gratitude. I’m blessed, lucky, fortunate, whatever you want to call it, bottom line is, I am grateful. That gratitude gives me a little room to be generous of spirit with other people, I guess. Yes, even people who aren’t grateful, people who are spiteful, angry, depressed, limited, damaged, and wounded, along with a host of other colorful adjectives. Sure it’s exhausting trying to reach these people but I don’t know how to do it any other way. I think I see parts of myself in them and it scares the crap out of me, so I try to extend myself in the hopes of making their loads a little lighter, and in the process, lightening my own. I think that’s what gratitude is, ultimately. Let’s check the definition:

grat·i·tude
ˈɡradəˌt(y)o͞od/
noun
  1. the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

What do you know? I was right! The key to gratitude isn’t just being thankful, but it’s the readiness to acknowledge and return kindness. So that’s where I sit, grateful for all the hardships I’ve endured, the blessings I have welcomed, the life I am granted on a daily basis, and in return, I will continue to ready myself with kindness for all who cross my path. So it’s not just a simple “Thank you,” it’s a “No, thank YOU!” And, thank you, for allowing me (and my cooky brain) a place to perch our gratitude!

Stay well.

I find it helps to have a Totem handy when I encounter those souls who have not yet achieved gratitude. Whether the Totem is to keep me calm, or to knock them on the head, it’s still a good thing to have at the ready.(Totem Tamers does not condone knocking anyone on the head with a Totem.)  So, if you need a Totem, click on any of the Totems on the side of the page and get one today!

Start now! @kateneckel

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:59+00:00 August 13th, 2015|art, childhood, creativity, Life, parenting|

Great advice for all of us to follow?! “Start now” were words of motivation for Kate Neckel, someone I knew in high school, when she penned her newly released “creativity journal”! I had the pleasure of seeing her again after a bazillion years (that’s like a long time), at her book launch last night and I couldn’t be more excited for her and what she’s accomplished!

Bulldog checking out Kate's book!

Bulldog checking out Kate’s book!

The beauty of Kate Neckel’s art and book, is that it’s accessible and that seems to be just what Kate wants! In Kate’s words, “It’s not about turning into anything or perfecting something. It’s about being yourself and feeling free to draw on the walls or knock them down. Become who you are. Start now.” I love the part about drawing on the walls or knocking them down! As children, we are encouraged to stay within the lines when we draw, Kate’s book reminds us that the lines are only where we put them. I remember being called in to school years ago, to talk to my oldest son’s teacher because he wasn’t listening. The teacher gave the example of having asked the class to draw a vista that included a house or something like that. My son drew a house. It was a nice house. His grass however, wasn’t green and his sky was most definitely not blue. According to the teacher, this was incorrect. I simply asked “Why?” That conversation didn’t go well…for the teacher. I encourage my children to express themselves in a way that is authentic to their nature and not disrespectful or inappropriate to others. There’s room for creativity and there’s room for everyone’s voices to be heard. As Kate says “Embrace your truth…Be vulnerable.” Kate is vulnerable everywhere in her book as she inspires and motivates with her words and pictures. I am vulnerable every time I publish a post in this blog. That vulnerability feeds my creative, as I am sure it does Kate’s, and other artists. We all have it, and we owe it to ourselves to use it to motivate others. And we should all…Start now!

Thanks for the inspiration, Kate!

Thanks for the inspiration, Kate!

Stay well.

Totems can help inspire and motivate, and they certainly help you through tough situations, so get one today by clicking on any of the Totems on the page!

Sometimes parents suck!

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:59+00:00 August 5th, 2015|camp, childhood, children, divorce, Life, marriage, parenting, soccer|

I know I’m going to get a lot of pushback on this one, but I can’t seem to stop myself from needing to vent this out!! I will qualify all by saying that I am very blessed to be in the situation that I am with my life and my kids. I have the wonderful ability to be there for them (even when they may not want me to), but the best part of it, is that I WANT to be there! You know why? I like my kids! Sure, I love a break, and my time alone and all that, but really, my kids are pretty cool and I like hanging out with them. Also, there is some tremendous satisfaction watching them grow and interact with others and being there when they screw up and make bad choices. My childhood was anything but easy, but compared to some horrors I’ve heard of, it was pretty mild. I love knowing that my kids experience will be different, and better, for sure. This takes us to this morning where I will gladly set the scene for you and give you a better idea of what my kids childhood looks like. Two out of three kids are home doing a soccer day camp (the oldest is still at sleep away.) Last night, the two youngest were at their Dad’s house, as per our family schedule. This morning, their Dad brings them to my place to get their soccer gear, and me. I pile in to the car right along with them to drop them off at camp. Most of this is just ease because my ex can stay in the car while I walk the boys into the park, and the rest of it is because my kids are just damned lucky that my ex and I have a great co-parenting relationship/friendship. I also needed to sign my little one up for the afternoon soccer tournament, which is a blast to watch because the kids and the coaches get so into it, and any team sport always offers some sort of learning opportunity. Again, I am blessed that I am able to be there in the afternoon to watch the tournament, but again, I wouldn’t want to miss it! There I am filling out the form and paying the fee when I hear a mother next to me ask in an exasperated tone “Do I have to be at the tournament, or can I just come when it’s over?” I couldn’t help myself when I turned to get a look at this woman, who clearly sounded like she was looking for any excuse to not have to show up until the last possible moment, and I said “It’s so fun to watch!” Needless to say, I don’t think I’ve ever seen “bitchy” come across in a look as well as I did in that moment. And there you have my ire! Now of course, it’s entirely possible that she has an ailing parent at home and she never gets any rest and she hasn’t had a shower in days (her hair was indicative, and yes I’m being really catty now), and maybe, just maybe she was hoping to use that extra time to feed the homeless or go downtown and give out clean needles to substance users. Maybe, just maybe, she needed to get her ailing cat to the vet for chemo treatments, or cook a big batch of stew to feed her elderly neighbor. Or maybe, just maybe, she’s a narcissist and has no idea what the face of her child looks like when he/she scores a goal and realizes there’s no one there to witness except a bunch of strangers.

These kids deserve medals even when some of their parents don't!

These kids deserve medals even when some of their parents don’t!

Thank you as always for letting me release some steam, as I try hard to withhold judgement most of the time, or at least most of the time I do it rather quietly. There is no big lesson here folks, just try to love your kids as much as you can because at some point, you won’t get to squeeze and smush them and give them high-fives and kiss their boo-boos and watch their games, because they’ll be all grown up!

Stay well.

I could have used a Totem with me this morning to calm me down, thankfully I was able to take some deep breaths and repeat the rhyme that Totem Tamers offers as a guide to remaining calm. Do you need a reminder? Order a Totem today by clicking on any of the Totems on the page, and keep calm with you always.

Happy Friendship Day from Totem Tamers!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:00+00:00 August 2nd, 2015|anxiety, anxiety relief, friends, friendship, Life, relationships, stress, stress relief|

Thank you being our friend. Thank you for supporting this meaningful little business of ours by liking our posts, sharing the blog, and buying Totems for your friends and family. Thank you! Hopefully, our friendship doesn’t feel one-sided in that regard, and hopefully what we give to you is the gift of calm, and my words, which I try to use to inspire and motivate. That to me is really what friendship comes down to, two entities engaging in a mutually beneficial relationship. Kind of like cheese and crackers, peanut butter and jelly, Bert and Ernie, and Bear, Shark, Owl and Bulldog, of course! Thanks to The Meeting House for reminding me of a wonderful quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson that reads “The only way to have a friend is to be one.”

Have you been a friend lately?

Have you been a friend lately?

The Meeting House is an amazing after school organization that helps kids develop their social and emotional selves, so they can participate in the community as thoughtful and empowered individuals. Part of that is learning how to be a friend!! I wish there was a booster class for adults to go to every couple of years. Not only to reinforce what it means to be a friend, but remind us how to be a friend. I believe that there are many different kinds of friendships. The ones that we have on Facebook with people we’ve never even met, for example. Than there are the friends we’ve had for years who we don’t talk to all that often, but we know they are there for us if we need them and vice versa. We also have friends during different phases of our lives. We have Mommy friends (Daddy ones, too), work friends, gym friends, dog friends, neighbor friends, etc.. We’ve all had friendships come and go, and hopefully there were lessons to be learned in all of them. I guess the lesson for me on this Friendship day, is that just because someone calls you a friend, doesn’t necessarily make them a friend, and if you want to have a friend, you need to be a friend. Go out and BE a friend today!

Totem Friends!

Totem Friends!

Stay well.

If you need a Totem friend, just click on any of the Totems on the side of the page and head to our store to get yours today!!