Parenting by headphone?

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:10+00:00 September 24th, 2017|accessories, anger management, animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, bears, bird lovers, birds, birds of prey, bulldogs, cardinals, cars, childhood, children, family, Life, mental health, mind/body, motherhood, motivation, nyc, ocean creatures, Owls, parenthood, parenting, pets, sharks, single parents, stories, story, storytelling, strangers, stress, stress relief|

We’ve got attachment parenting, we’ve got authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive, but headphone parenting? That’s got to be the worst and saddest of em all! What is headphone parenting, you ask? On two separate occasions today, as I was taking my four-legged kid for a walk, I saw two parents engaging in what I’m dubbing headphone parenting. The first one was this morning, the sun was freshly warming my face and the sounds of the birds far outweighed the songs of sirens on my street. A cute little girl, maybe 2 or 3 years old at most, cuts through the chirping with her squirming grunts as she really wants out of her stroller. Dad and daughter are stopped on the sidewalk ahead of me. What’s the dad doing? He’s adjusting the headphones in his ears. Yes, both ears. The girl is clearly annoyed, probably because she’s being completely ignored!!!!  My heart sank, because I remember the thousands of stroller walks I took with my three kids over the years, and all of the things we used to notice around us, and chat about, even in the gibberish neither of us could understand. Sadly, this trend of headphone parenting is something I’ve been noticing a lot lately, not just with parents, but with the caretakers charged with watching the kids in my neighborhood. More than once have I witnessed a babysitter, headphones stuffed in to each ear, loudly having a conversation with some unknown on the other end of the line. All the while the kid they are supposed to be taking care of sits in silence unnoticed, yet listening to you as you bitch and complain about her parents who asked you to stay late tonight, or your boyfriend who didn’t bring you flowers again, or any other piece of nonsense that you go on and on about, instead of paying attention to the kid, which by the way is what you’re getting paid to do! It’s beyond frustrating to say the least. And I think today, if I was hiring a sitter to take care of my baby, I would insist that headphones not be used and that personal calls are only to be taken in the case of an emergency or at least when the child is napping, and still not with headphones!

Anyway, second walk of the day, and here comes another Dad, with baby strapped in to a harness. So cute, right? The kid had fallen asleep, so it didn’t annoy me as much that the Dad was fully plugged in to both ears, but when you think about how his senses are now diminished because he can’t hear if someone comes up behind him on a bike, skateboard, scooter or whatever, it’s actually kind of scary! When I’m walking, and I’m listening to music or one of several podcasts I enjoy, I almost always have one ear in and one ear out. I want to be as aware of my surroundings as possible, and I’m just looking out for me in those instances. When I’m with my kids, guess what? NO FREAKING HEADPHONES!!! Even if we aren’t talking, or even if they aren’t talking to me (yes, that happens), I give them my attention as best I can!! Oh, and you know what else? They aren’t wearing headphones when we are out and about together, either!

Please don’t tune out your kids, especially at a young age when they need and crave interaction. Yes, I know it can be tedious at times to always point out the doggy coming up the block, or the helicopter flying over head, but it counts, it counts for a lot.

Headphone parenting?

Ok my rant is over for now, but do yourself a favor, if you have kids, check in with them so they know you’re listening, even if they aren’t saying a word!

Stay well.

Back to school anxiety……sale!!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:11+00:00 September 17th, 2017|anger management, animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, bears, birds, birds of prey, childhood, children, education, Life, mental health, mind/body, motherhood, Owls, parenthood, parenting, school, shopping, stress, stress relief, Uncategorized|

No, we aren’t selling anxiety, silly! But we are selling Totems that will help with any anxiety you or your kids might be experiencing as they go back to school. You might be saying “Hey, we’ve been back to school for almost a month, you’re a little late!” Well, all kids are different, and I learned this with my own, especially around back to school time. First day, usually a breeze. First week, pretty much unscathed. Second week, the “I don’t want to go to school dance” begins. My kids, all of them, would be fine for the first couple weeks, and then the s*%t would hit the fan. Sometimes it’s the excitement of a new beginning that helps hide the anxiety that kids might be feeling. Sometimes it’s the realization that this is the new normal that kicks the anxiety in to high gear. Either way, Totem Tamers can help. Anxiety typically leaves people overwhelmed and feeling out of control and powerless, more so for children, who struggle verbalizing these feelings. So, we want to make it easier for you and/or your kids, or anyone you know that might benefit from some simple coping techniques, and we are putting our Totems on sale!

sale

Limited Time Only Sale!

Visit our shop at www.totemtamers.com/shop and choose from Owl, Bear, Shark, or Bulldog and empower yourself to find calm when you need it most. Every Totem comes with a super soft microfiber bag (which doubles as an eyeglass lens cleaner), a handy guide card that gives you simple steps on regaining calm, and a beautiful, weighted Totem that feels great in your hand and not too bulky in your pocket! We have an incredibly illustrated booklet available as well, that can be really helpful for children, who might benefit from visuals when trying to explain how they feel. And, if you’re feeling super generous, we can even add a gorgeous natural wood box if you want to give a Totem as a gift! Get on the road to calm, and get your Totem today!

My kids stash Totems in their backpacks, because knowing it’s there is sometimes all they need to know when they’re feeling anxious.

Stay well.

 

Frappuccino with a side of anti-semitism!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:15+00:00 April 10th, 2017|anger management, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, family, hate crime, holiday, Life, religion|

Happy Passover to those who celebrate. Chag Sameach to those who might know Hebrew. It translates into “joyous festival or holiday”, now you won’t have to look it up. The holiday starts momentarily and I hopped on a plane last minute with my kids to celebrate with Grandma and other family members. Anyone who knows me knows I am not religious, at all. I consider myself a “food jew” because I love Jewish food and make pretty darned good rugelach!  Well, today I felt more Jewish than I have felt in a really long time, and sadly it came out of the worst possible ugliness anyone should ever experience.

The Seder Plate!

I was picking up some last minute items for dinner, my two oldest along for company. They bribed me with their presence by weaseling out frappuccino’s from Starbuck’s. I’m a sucker, I know, but they are a pretty powerful team when they want something. There happens to be a Starbuck’s in one of the most religious areas near Grandma’s (it’s near a Synagogue), so I double-parked with my hazard lights a-flashing, while the boys ran in to get their drinks. There were plenty of cars doing the same thing, so even though I was blocking a lane partially, I wasn’t the only one. I was surprised when a very fancy black Rolls Royce (also a very chi-chi neighborhood) pulled up behind me and started laying on the horn. I mean, really honking! Everyone else went around, why didn’t this guy?! I was then totally and completely stunned, when the car pulled up next to me and the very distinguished looking, gray-haired passenger rolled down the window and screamed “Move you f#$ing Kike! You Kike!” I sat there in disbelief that someone could be so offensive, so horrible, and so angry! I hadn’t done anything personally to him, but the venom he spewed and the look in his eyes when he screamed that disgusting word at me, left me paralyzed for a good few minutes. It was in those few minutes I became overwhelmed considering every insult ever thrown at anyone for being different, and I got angry, really angry. Then I got sad, and then I got love, when my boys came back to the car and I told them what had happened. They were both shocked and both said how sorry they were that I had to experience that, and then they got angry too. We talked about the ugliness that exists in the world still today, and how we have to find a way to be a more accepting people. My middle suggested I write about the experience, so here I am, about to break Matzoh with family and friends and I will revel in the gefilte fish and the matzoh balls. I will also take pleasure in knowing that the man in the Rolls may be driving around in a fancy car but he will always be an angry and ugly human being. Chag Sameach!

Stay well.

Old dog, new human tricks!!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:24+00:00 August 21st, 2016|anger management, animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, bulldogs, dogs, inspiration, Life, mental health, mind/body, nyc|

Bark at the vroom!

Bark at the vroom!

That’s my doggy there, he’s awesome. He’s cute and fluffy and very smart, most of the time. Don’t get me wrong, put yourself between Zeke and a bone and you will be sorry, but more often than not, he’s just as gentle as a butterfly. When he barks though, it could strike fear into the strongest of man and beast, like the excavator pictured here with Zeke! My sweet and very smart dog barks his best bark at construction vehicles and street cleaners. I often giggle when he does this because he sounds like he can take on the world with all that “woof-woof-ing”, not realizing these vehicles could crush him in a blink. However, the other day when he was taking on the excavator, I didn’t giggle. Instead I watched my dog and saw inspiration in all the commotion. Trying to understand what was behind his barking, I realized it’s likely anxiety because the big machine is moving and making very loud noises and is seemingly threatening. Most of us have likely experienced those same construction bangs and booms, the sound can be very unsettling. What inspired me this time, is that in Zeke’s anxiety, he didn’t back down, he didn’t run away, he didn’t cower. Rather, he stood tall and gave plenty of ferocious ruff-ruff’s and would have continued to do so if I hadn’t pulled him away. Therein lies the lesson, anxiety can be truly crippling, but sometimes facing it straight on is where there is power. For those that struggle with anxiety, you know what it looks like: the sweating, the agitation, the palpitations, the actual freezing in place, the inability to speak, the list of symptoms go on. That’s why Totem Tamers came to be, because I was helpless watching my son experience many of these symptoms, and I knew he needed some tools to help him manage those feelings. When my son has an anxiety attack, thankfully few and far between of late,  he has figured out the way to use the deep breathing and visualization techniques from Totem Tamers to help keep him calm and measured. Sometimes though, you just need to bark, and bark really loudly!! That’s why I hang on to thick magazines and bubble wrap, for example! When any of my kids are needing to let out some aggression or excessive energy, which is often times instigated by anxiety, I put them in a room and give them the magazines to tear to bits, the bubble wrap to stomp on, or just let them bark at the moon if that’s what they need.

Diggin' the Totems!

Diggin’ the Totems!

Now when Zeke tries to take on something that is way bigger than he is, I don’t giggle, I pay attention!

Stay well.

T(each) his own!

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:42+00:00 April 15th, 2016|addiction, anger management, animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, brotherhood, brothers, bulldogs, childhood, children, creativity, death, drug use, drugs, education, family, harm reduction, health, heroin, Life, loss, mental health, mind/body, motherhood, overdose, overdose prevention, parenthood, parenting, prevention, school, sharing, stress, stress relief|

I am fortunate that I get to pick up my youngest kid from school most days. I love the look on his face when he sees me, it’s like an instant heart-warmer. I am also grateful that I can connect with other parents and check in with his teacher when necessary. There are those moments though, that I have to hold my breath. You know the ones I mean, when your child comes up to you and says “Mom, the teacher needs to see you.” Breathe. I always ask my children, and I highly recommend this technique for you, what they think the teacher might want to talk to me about. Sometimes they know, and they tell me right away, and other times, they don’t. Either way it helps me determine potential guilt or innocence. Yesterday afternoon, my sweet boy greets me at pickup and tells me the teacher needs to talk to me. I ask my question, and he has no clue why she wants to talk to me, and I believe him. Finally, most of the kids get dismissed and I approach the teacher. She’s magical by the way and engages children like I have never seen. A smile crosses her face as she sees me, but I can tell that it’s a heavy smile, like we are definitely going to talk about something of substance related to my child. She tells me she wanted to give me a heads up about the stuff my son is working on in class for their poetry unit. Immediate relief washes over me, because I actually already know what my son is working on because he told me. He’s writing poetry about addiction, substance use, overdose, overdose prevention, and family. My son is 9. I smile back at the teacher because I realize that she’s likely telling me because the poetry books will be revealed to all at an upcoming publishing party for the class that includes parents. I reassure her that this subject matter is regular conversation in my house, and that if she had any questions or need for clarification I would be happy to oblige. I did have a moment where I was concerned that it might be too much for the other kids and their parents, but that concern quickly turned into gumption and hope that my son being this open will spur his friends to ask questions and maybe even their parents to ask questions. It’s all about the conversation, and that my 9 year old is talking about Naloxone, “a life saving drug that his grampa made to help people who use drugs”, is miraculous. It’s also heartbreaking.

poetry and lyrics

My kid asked me for a journal the other day which is how I know about the poetry unit in class. He’s calling it a lyric book. He wrote his first poem and it’s called “Quit”. There’s a line in it about my brother who died of a heroin overdose a few years before my son was born. He refers to my brother as “the uncle he never had.” He also uses my regular statement of my brother’s death hopefully saving him from the same fate. I told him how beautiful the poem was and thanked him for sharing it with me. He seemed proud of himself and was eager to write more. This is how I know how important these conversations are with my kids, and how important it is to keep the lines of communication open. I am grateful that my son’s teacher didn’t freak out and didn’t tell him that he couldn’t write about this topic, instead she marveled at his depth and encouraged him along, and let me know what I can expect at the upcoming publishing party. I’m not too worried, I’m pretty good in a crowd, and who knows, maybe I’ll bring my overdose prevention kit for show and tell!

Stay well.

If you have questions, Harm Reduction Coalition and Drug Policy Alliance are wonderful resources. Feel free to email me, too: julie@totemtamers.com!

The power of distraction.

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:53+00:00 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.

 

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

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:04+00:00 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.