Small Business Saturday!

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:52-04:00 November 28th, 2015|accessories, animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, bears, birds of prey, bulldogs, children, creativity, dogs, friendship, gift, gifts, holiday, labor, Life, mental health, mind/body, Owls, parenting, shopping, stress, stress relief, totems|

Shop a small business like Totem Tamers!

Shop a small business like Totem Tamers!

Today is Small Business Saturday, where you are encouraged to shop at small businesses because they are the foundation of our society! Small business.com is a website that has tons of resources available for anyone who wants to start a business, or who has already started a business and needs support. A small business is exactly how Totem Tamers identifies! Do you know how we got started?  It’s a simple story really, my middle son was experiencing anxiety attacks, and I was struggling with how to help him. I reconnected with my friend (and now business partner) Daniel, who was suffering panic attacks. In the span of a couple emails, Daniel and I realized we wanted, no, we needed to help others who were surely struggling with the same issues. With Daniel’s incredible artistry, and my words, Totem Tamers was created! Pocket-sized bronze animal totems, a beautifully illustrated guidebook, and simple steps that are accessible by all, and a small business is born. We can both attest to how Totems have helped our families, but we have also heard from many others who have been helped as well! Have a look at our original four Totems, and keep checking back as more Totems are added!

Totems

Shopping small businesses should happen every day, not just one day of the year, so shop wherever you see the Shop Small sign, and shop often!

Stay well.

Giving thanks one heartbreak at a time.

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:53-04:00 November 23rd, 2015|cats, childhood, death, Life, loss, mental health, parenting, pets, suicide, suicide prevention|

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of year. Partly because of the sweet potato casserole with the marshmallows on top, and partly because everyone comes together to just eat and have a good time and give thanks. When we lived away from family or couldn’t travel, we had a habit of inviting anyone and everyone who didn’t have a place to go, and people always came and always brought interesting additions for the table. Like the year we had a Tofurky, and Japanese food! So fun.

One reason I don’t love Thanksgiving is because it’s so close to my birthday. Everyone just expected that it was ok to combine the two and I never had just a day for me. Maybe that explains why I have a hard time with birthday celebrations for myself, who knows. 14 years ago, my birthday took on a whole other meaning when my sweet Grandma Selma, who was dying from lung cancer and holding on for the birth of my first son, couldn’t hold on anymore, and she passed away on my birthday. Ever my guardian angel, it was bittersweet for sure, but in true Selma fashion, she was making a statement to me that my birthday mattered. I will always be thankful for that parting gift.

This year’s birthday takes another turn, this one truly painful, because someone I cared for tremendously and who shared my birthday, died this past weekend. Larry was too young and too good and so kind and loving, but his suffering was clearly too much for him to take and he found relief in the only way he thought he could, by taking his own life. I am devastated, but thankful he isn’t suffering anymore. I am experiencing a wide range of emotions and likely will be for a while, but I will always try to go to thankfulness, because I knew him and I am forever thankful for that. My whole family knew Larry, because he was also the neighborhood dentist and he treated most of us. Larry was the first to carry Totem Tamers in his office and he always carried Owl in his pocket. Even though he wasn’t a pediatric dentist, he also treated my kids, and I was dreading telling them. I reached out to my therapist for advice. She’s amazing. I spoke to a mom at school who has been brave enough to share her experience with her father’s suicide, in a school workshop for parents. She’s incredible. I also reached out to Imagine, a grief support center in New Jersey. They have Totem Tamers on hand as a tool for anyone who comes in seeking support after losing a loved one, and the people there are just amazing. I was emailed back by both the Founder and Program Director with resources and suggestions on how to tell my kids. I am thankful for all of those who helped.

The last two days have been so difficult trying to hold back the tears before telling the kids, but last night it was time. My ex-husband, who also knew Larry, came over and graciously told the kids because I wasn’t sure I could manage it clearly. He was great. When the kids asked what happened, we told them the truth and explained that sometimes the pain is so much that it seems like death is the only chance for relief. We explained that there are always other options other than suicide. We talked about Larry, and his dog, and his humor and his smile. We let them know that if they wanted to talk more about it, we were here for them. My 8 year old said, “It’s too hard to talk about it because it would take two days.” I asked him why it would take two days and he said “Because there is so much to say.” His big tears crashing down were enough to break my heart, but I am thankful that he too knew Larry, and was clearly affected by Larry’s kindness. It was interesting watching the other two boys react, one in silent tears and the other noting a bit of anger and confusion. Still, I am thankful that their Dad and I could sit together and share their grief and share our tears at this loss. Sadder still, was that when the boys left to go to their Dad’s house last night, it became painfully clear that one of the cats at their Dad’s house was not doing well. Mr. Honey, didn’t make it through the night and the boys had to wake to another loss. Mr. Honey, was a cat that my ex took in, along with another kitty, after a dear friend of ours passed away, years ago. Her kids, are forever thankful that he opened his heart and home. I worry about my kids and all this loss, but I am thankful that their Dad and I can be present and available to them.

There’s a lot of unrest in our nation today as we sit back and contemplate how far we have come or how it is we that we still haven’t come far enough, where people are still characterized by the color of their skin. I am thankful that there has been progress, but not naive enough to recognize that it hasn’t been enough. My dear friend Larry loved a good Prosecco. So this year, on our birthday, I will raise a glass to him, I will raise a glass to all those in pain and hope that they seek help, I will raise a glass to my family, my friends, and my nation, where I still believe hope exists. I am thankful for my voice and the opportunity to use it in this space and can only hope it helps someone else as much as it helps me. Find someone or something to be thankful for, because there’s plenty of hope in that, too.

Stay well.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline page or call 1-800-273-8255 24/7.

UPDATE: Larry was so special that he let me believe we had the same birthday, but his was in fact the day before. Hard to fathom that it’s already been a year of missing Larry.

The power of distraction.

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:53-04:00 November 19th, 2015|anger management, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, bulldogs, childhood, christmas, gift, gifts, holiday, Life, mind/body, stress, stress relief, totems|

A friend shared this article from the NY Times that appeared the other day about the power in a “fiddle toy.” This is exactly what Totem Tamers do for anyone who might experience potentially overwhelming emotions. Always great to find validation from a psychotherapist, who has witnessed how her patients are better able to open up when they have a tactile object to focus on.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/11/17/the-invisible-power-of-tchotchkes/?_r=0

With a Totem in your hand, and the simple visualization and deep breathing techniques we share, you can have the power to get through almost anything! Totems also make a great gift because they are beautiful, too! Get yours in time for the Holidays.

totems

Stay well.

 

Theater of the absurd.

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:54-04:00 November 18th, 2015|animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, artists, broadway, broadway musical, brotherhood, brothers, childhood, children, creativity, family, Life, lions, mental health, motherhood, musical theater, nyc, parenthood, parenting, stress, stress relief, Uncategorized|

IMG_4071 (1)

Cue lights. A hush falls over the audience. The first actor takes position on the stage and the first note is heard, crashing like a wave over all of us: “Ahhhhh-segon-ya babba-di sebabba” or whatever it is Rafiki calls out in the dramatic opening of The Lion King on Broadway. No matter, it’s beautiful, and the african jungle comes to life before your eyes in the middle of Times Square. The opening of the show still chokes me up because it’s so exquisite and masterful, and not many shows have an elephant move so gracefully through a theater. I’ve given you the show setting, now picture me sitting with my three boys, who, living in NYC, are lucky enough to experience the theater on a regular basis. My three boys understand that the actors spend hour upon hour rehearsing, and then hours putting their makeup on, that the least they can do is wear clean socks to a show! (I do try for the occasional collared shirt, too.) My kids have been going to theater since they were fairly young, and respect for the actors on stage was something instilled from their very first show. My two older ones have seen The Lion King before, and they were super excited for their younger brother to experience the magic. Back in the theater, gazelles are prancing across the stage, birds flying above, the elephant makes its way through the house, and it starts, “Where Simba?” “Is that Simba?” “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Where Simba?” These are not the sounds of animal calls deep in the african jungle, these are the sounds of the unrestrained 3 year old in row L, orchestra left. I took a deep breath and thought, he’s just excited, he can’t wait to see his pal Simba, he’ll calm down once the dialogue starts. Right? WRONG! When the little boy wasn’t talking, even trying to be quiet with what I will refer to as “whisper-screaming”, he was bouncing in his seat. That meant bouncing on the not one booster seat, but two booster seats that propped him up right in front of my kid (my boys switched seats so my youngest could see.) I am incredibly tolerant, and generally very patient, and I tried very hard to remind myself that theater, especially family theater, is a wonderful blessing to enjoy. I realized that getting angry and complaining wouldn’t help, because we were surrounded. There were chatty little kids everywhere!!!! Even the website for the show has an FAQ that reads:

Does my child need a ticket? Is there a minimum age requirement to attend the show?

All guests require a ticket, regardless of age. We recommend that children be at least six years old to attend a performance of THE LION KING.

For younger children, consider one of these exciting Disney touring productions: Disney On Ice or Disney Live.

Which is why I decided I would take to the internet with this simple theater primer for families.

  1. Do NOT bring children under 6 years old (probably even under 8 years old) to a Broadway show where other patrons have spent well in to the hundreds to escape into some other world, and not to be assaulted with your child’s pleas of “pee-pee”  and “soda”, “Now, MOMMY!”
  2. If you do bring a child, make sure that they are prepared to sit for an hour and a half at a clip without making any noise, other than the appreciative clapping after every number. Maybe even a respectful hoot and holler.
  3. If your child normally goes to bed at 7pm, for goodness sakes, DON’T bring them to an 8pm show and expect them to behave!
  4. Consider buying a less expensive seat, perhaps in the mezzanine, so that if your child is struggling to sit still (and it’s a struggle for most under 8), you won’t feel terrible having to leave midway through the show, out of respect for everyone else in the theater!
  5. Start with shorter theater experiences. New Victory Theater has great children’s programming and is perfect introduction to the wonder of acting.
  6. Be respectful of others around you, and hey, even apologize for what you know is distracting and detracting from the experience.

I could go on and on with rules and such, but I won’t. I will add the suggestion that family shows should consider offering those with youngsters a special section, so that other theater goers can choose their seats accordingly. FAR, FAR, AWAY! Hey, aren’t matinees tailor-made for the family set?

Stay well.

Paris in our hearts and on our minds.

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:54-04:00 November 14th, 2015|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, brothers, death, family, gun violence, hate crime, Liberty, Life, loss, military, nyc, parenthood, parenting, politics, prayer, soccer, totems, travel, Uncategorized, victim|

We wake up to a new day, the sun shining in New York City, a chilly wind providing shivers and reminders that winter is around the corner. Those shivers hardly distinguishable from the ones I’ve experienced since last night while following the tragic, and horrific attacks that took place in Paris. I can only consume the news in small doses, and find that watching it is even too much, so I periodically check Facebook and Twitter for the latest little tidbits. It is just so overwhelming. Some people need to know every detail and not miss any news update, because that’s helpful to them, but not me. A friend’s status update on Facebook  helped me find the words I wanted to share this morning. She was contemplating having the conversations with her children about what was happening in Paris, understanding that her older child would be able to process more info than her younger child. This made me consider how I would talk to my children as well. I know there will be lots of counselors and authorities out there giving their tips and suggestions, and they will all surely be helpful in some way or another. Please know that I am not a psychologist, or a social worker, or some “lettered” authority, I am a parent, and that gives me a voice for my experiences, and gratitude for a forum to share them. This is not about advice, this is not about right or wrong, this is about one person’s process, mine. My youngest (9) is sitting in the other room now, blissfully unaware and playing some game on his computer. I will go to him and plainly give him the facts about what happened in Paris, because opening that communication is more important than protecting him from reality, no matter how horrible. “Honey, I want to tell you what happened in Paris yesterday because you will probably be hearing a lot about it over the next couple days.  There was an attack, and many people were injured and killed by some very angry and very bad people.” That’s how the conversation will start, and then I will take his lead while guiding him along the way. He may ask tons of questions, he may also choose to go right back to watching silly YouTube videos, and that’s perfectly ok. I am all about honesty and being very straightforward with my kids, because I have found that the imagination can color way more horrifying pictures than the truth can. That being said, my almost 16 year old will be able to handle a whole lot more information than my little one, and even my middle one, and he’ll discover it on his own on the internet. So with him, the conversation will surely be different and maybe even more philosophical, but again, he may not want to go into all the details, but I will reassure that I am here to talk if he needs to. The bottom line is giving your children permission to ask questions, and giving yourself permission to being ok with not having the answers. Also, not being afraid to be open with them, even if it is about your own fears. Because sure I’m scared, and that’s reasonable, but I have faith that the people we charge to protect and serve us will do everything they can to protect us, and that’s how I go about my days. That’s what I will share with my children as I pray for their innocence to last just a little bit longer, and as I pray for the people of Paris and the rest of the world while we mourn right along with them.

Praying for Peace in Paris

Praying for Peace in Paris

Stay well.

WARRIOR Wednesday on Veteran’s Day!

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:55-04:00 November 11th, 2015|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, friends, friendship, Life, mental health, military, stress|

Totem Tamers is giving thanks to all those who have served, and continue to serve in the military, protecting us and helping to keep our country safe. You are all WARRIORS. My grandfather served in the Army, and at a towering 6’4, would happily tell you he was a great big scaredy-cat most of the time. I cherish the box of letters he sent to my grandmother when he was deployed during the war.

Letters from a veteran

Letters from a veteran

Now there’s new letters from a new WARRIOR in my life. A dear friend made the tough decision to change the trajectory of his life and enter the Army. He’s only been away at boot camp for two weeks now, but his first letter is as encouraging as it was long. I could barely get through it before wanting to get out my stationary to write him back!! Yes, handwritten letters back and forth the way it used to be!!

Letters on Veteran's Day!

Letters on Veteran’s Day!

In his letter, my friend mentions one young man who quit in the first week, and another young man who he was counseling the courage to stick it out. I am beyond proud of the role he has taken on, and I know this will be an amazing journey and certainly a few good chapters in the book of his life. That’s why “Turk” is this week’s WARRIOR. From what I understand, the soldiers don’t have access to the internet and getting mail is so important to them, which is why I am going to post my friends address. If you’re inspired to send him a card or a quick note of thanks, that would be amazing, and would certainly count you among the WARRIORS.

PVT Edwards, Ronnie

D CO 3/60 TH IN REG

2nd PLT Demon Dawgs Roster #212

5500 Marion Ave

Fort Jackson, SC 29207

Our Veterans past and present need us. The ones serving have support, but what about their families at home without them. The Veterans who have fought and served and come home, need our help, too! The VA Hospital was there for my grandfather when he needed it, but many Veterans don’t get the support they need. Here’s a helpful link on ways you can help Veteran’s today.

Stay well.

Totem Tamers in the community!

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:55-04:00 November 7th, 2015|animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, bulldogs, charity, dogs, donation, gifts, totems|

Totem Tamers is always thrilled to help out where and when we can, I mean, that’s our whole mission, really! We are thrilled to donate a Bulldog Totem Set for the 3rd annual Rock & Rawhide Black, White & Red Gala.  Rock and Rawhide is a wonderful organization that “aims to increase adoptions and quality of life for dogs and cats in shelters, by providing distraction therapy and noise/stress reduction through the donations of toys, tough chew items, Kongs, Nylabones, bones, rawhides, blankets and more.” Click on the link below to see all the wonderful items up for auction:

https://www.biddingforgood.com/auction/item/browse.action?grouping=ALL&auctionId=247125245

Click on the link below if you want to come to this awesome event and support a great organization while supporting animals and having a great time simultaneously!

https://www.showclix.com/event/randrgala

bulldog 1

Bulldog says “I’ll be there, and so should you!”

Stay well.