Be proud of who you are, always!
love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love
Happy Valentine’s Day!! Or #galentinesday, which I hadn’t ever heard of until people started posting about it, and I guess it shows that I never watched the whole television series “Parks and Recreation”. Either way, it’s a fun concept and I’m all about it, but that’s not what inspired me to write today.
What inspired me was a heart, not anyone’s heart, but someone’s heart that ended up discarded on the sidewalk near my house. Now before you get all creeped out, it’s not an actual heart! Sheesh you guys are morbid! Here’s the heart:
I initially walked right by it and then I knew I needed a picture of this green sidewalk heart. Then it got me thinking, why is red the color associated with love? Is it because when we feel love our blood gets pumping? Is it because when we feel love, we feel it in our hearts which are essentially red? I continued to ponder how the color red actually has a lot of negative emotions connected to it, like anger, rage, and danger. Here at Totem Tamers, red is the first step in our visualization process when you’re trying to stave off or recover from an anxiety attack. Red is typically not where someone wants to be, so why then do we associate the color red with something that is supposed to be a good thing? Red on a stop sign, red on a traffic light, that tells you to hold up, back off, stand still, but green, green means go for it, proceed, pass go! That’s what I got when I passed this green sidewalk heart. That my heart is not red, my heart is green and wide open, ready to receive and give love to all who cross my path. So from now on, I will wear green on Valentine’s Day, not red! It’s a revolution I tell you!
Show me your heart is open, show me your green heart, and I’ll show you mine.
What better gift to give than the gift of calm with Totem Tamers!? Totem Tamers is truly honored to be featured on the holiday gift giving guide by fashion maven, Stacy Igel! Igel’s blog provides insight in to the world of fashion and all things fabulous, but also a peek in to her journey creating her brand Boy Meets Girl, and more! Be sure to click on the link to see what Stacy has to say, and check out the clothing and accessories line! Here are some mugs I just had to have!
And if you’re looking for a last minute stocking stuffer, Totems make the perfect gift!
Have a safe and wonderful holiday season!
I hope that whoever you are, whoever you want to be, whoever you want to love and be loved by, that you have the strength and the courage and the support to do just that. At Totem Tamers, we send you all that love and strength and courage, and we see you for all that you are, and all you deserve to be! Keep a Totem in your pocket for any time you feel anxious, and be reminded that you are beautiful and worth it!
I have ended up in tears more than once today. Started as shock and anger this morning when I woke to the news of what happened in Las Vegas. After making sure my loved ones who live there were ok, I had to start my day of waking up the kids, making lunches and walking the dog. I told the kids what happened. I had to. Mostly because I knew they would likely hear about it in school so I didn’t want the to be surprised by the news from anyone other than me. I was very matter of fact, with the little facts that had come in at that point, but it was still hard to do. We have had conversations about gun violence, and gun control recently, because family friends of ours had written and produced an incredible play about this subject, https://www.churchandstatetheplay.com. We all went to see the play and were all moved to tears, because it was all too real. I wrote it about it back then: https://totemtamers.com/heres-one-case-for-no-separation-of-church-state/
And sadly, here we are again. The death toll from the domestic terrorist incident that happened yesterday, which is now the worst mass shooting in US history, keeps climbing. The fear that these people felt last night, will never be erased from their minds. A childhood friend was on the strip last night, and reading his status updates was terrifying, even though I knew he was ok. THIS IS NOT OK!!! None of it. It’s not about your right to own and carry guns, it’s about protecting our fellow humans, and clearly we can’t seem to do that! No civilian should EVER have an automatic weapon. Period. I’m getting angry again, we should all be angry, we should all be doing something to make sure this never happens again.
And while my heart races, and blood pressure rises, and my teeth are clenched together, I hear music in the other room. The piano. My middle boy, the guitar player, is sitting at the piano. I walked out to see and my eyes filled with tears, my throat choked up, because there, creating something that sounded so lovely, there was my son teaching himself chords and seemingly crafting beauty out of nothing. There is my hope. There has to be my hope. We have to make sure our children do not need to live in fear. We have to make sure our children have a country they respect and believe in. We have to make sure our children continue to create and to live and to love. What will you do to make sure?
I was in Vegas a few years ago (my cousins remind me regularly of just how long ago, love you guys), and I found some of the pictures from that visit. A beautiful city bathed in lights, and now we have to bathe them with our light and our love. Viva Las Vegas!
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.
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!
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!
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.
I was fortunate enough to be in Central Park last night with a lovely group of people. We were celebrating a friend’s birthday and the unofficial end of summer. We were laughing, we were eating, there might have been contraband beverages of several varieties, ahem, but we were enjoying each other and the beautiful night. As the sky darkened and we packed up our picnic, one by one, everyone’s eyes turned to the sky. There they were. The beams of light marking the place in the sky where the Twin Towers once stood. There was a momentary silence as we all realized what the lights were for, then realized we were on the eve of a horrific date that will forever be remembered. And then, with much gratitude, the kids starting running around, the crickets started chirping, someone might have spilled said contraband beverage (it might have been me), and the earth kept turning. In no way can the events of September 11, 2001 ever be minimized, but last night, the world was still going, and in that going, I find comfort. The lives lost, the heroes who are still impacted today by the illnesses related to Ground Zero, all of it, it’s unfathomable, but we have to go on, and we do, with the blessings of memories both old and new.
As a former Floridian, my concerns are with all my friends who stayed in their homes to ride out Hurricane Irma, and with those who have fled for safety. I have been watching the coverage nonstop, which is probably not the best idea, as my own anxiety ratchets up. I can only imagine what the folks hunkered down must be experiencing!
Totem Tamers was created to help people through incredibly overwhelming situations, and being in a shelter, or in your home without power, while hurricane force winds and storm surge are lapping at your door, is just one of those situations. When I explain to people the simple concept behind the Totem Tamers technique, it sounds like this: When you’re feeling anxious, see the color Red. Take a deep breath and see the color Green. Exhale and see the color Blue. These basic steps will help you either maintain or regain calm. The deep breathing and visualization is vital to keeping calm, and as you take your deep breaths, breathe in and out through your nose, as breathing in and out through your mouth may actually signal to your nervous system that you should be anxious. Here’s an image of the guide card we include in every Totem Tamer purchase, that helps you through the steps:
Be safe and calm!
I must confess that it has been difficult to write in the last couple months because of the instability, unrest, fear, ugliness, uncertainty and more, that has been plaguing our great nation. Some might say “that’s the perfect time to write”, while others will say “I totally get it.” I simply continued to remind myself, that I tend to write when the story comes to me, and thankfully today it has. It’s not the story I intended to write about, but sometimes those are the ones that need telling.
I had pulled up to the dorm at Carnegie Mellon University, where my oldest son had just finished a Pre-college Drama program. Everyone had to be packed and out by 2pm, because the incoming students would be arriving shortly. I’m blissful in my “mommy-van” because my baby is coming home. There are lots of happy parents and families milling about, weepy teenagers sad to be leaving their newly made friends and surely sad to be giving up some newly found independence while they are whisked back in to the bosom of their family. A car pulls up behind me on the steep driveway of the dorm, it’s a mom and daughter, picking up a family member, too. I hop out to make sure there’s enough clearance for the trunk to open, and I immediately notice what looks like a big butterfly accessory pinned to the grill of this woman’s car. My first reaction is “Oh wow, another person who loves butterflies, and so much so that she didn’t hesitate pinning one to the front of her vehicle, right near the not-quite-peace-sign looking emblem announcing the make of her car!”
I quickly realized it wasn’t an accessory, but an actual butterfly that had gotten caught on the grill at some point during her drive. I walked over to the woman behind the wheel and motioned for her to open her window. With a smile, I told her that the most beautiful butterfly had gotten caught on the front of her car and that I wanted to take a picture of it before I tried to move it. I wasn’t asking permission, but just wanted to make sure she knew what I was doing, but also because I wanted to share my wonder of this creature. At this point, it occurred to me that this was not in fact another butterfly lover, this was a person who could care less about the beauty and delicate nature of such a creature pinned to her fancy schmancy car. You know how I know this? If someone came up to my car window and told me there was a butterfly stuck to my vehicle, I would have jumped out to see it and to see if I could help the butterfly. This woman seemed more annoyed than anything. I proceeded to take the picture of the butterfly and promptly walked right back to her window and made her look at it, then I told her I was going to try and remove it. Her reaction was formulaic with a “how sad” kind of awwww, and then a tacit approval of my wanting to save the insect.
I wasn’t sure if the butterfly was still alive frankly, but even if it wasn’t, this person didn’t deserve to have such beauty on her vehicle. I gently managed to pry the insect off the car, and moved it to some foliage nearby.
I waited. I watched. At first I thought it was the breeze causing the butterfly’s wings to flutter, but after a moment, it was clear this butterfly was still alive and now safe.
So many different morals I could pull from this event, that lasted all of five minutes mind you, but will surely stay with me for a long time to come. I guess the supremely important lesson, and yes, I use supremely intentionally, is that it is up to us to keep watch for those who are oppressed, and in need of protection and care, and not only must we stand up for those creatures and stand with them, we must make sure that their oppressors are forced to look and see the object of their hate and ignorance. It may not impact their hateful views, but it will at least let them know that we are not afraid and we will not back down.
Hug your loved ones today, and hey, maybe even a stranger (ask permission first, of course.)
When I first became a mom, I had lots of ideas about the kind of parent I would be. Organic food was just taking hold, and I was going to make my baby food from scratch! Nothing processed. That was my goal at least. What ended up happening was a combination of prepared and homemade food, and my kid is now 6 feet tall, so I think it was a good mix. Hey, at least I tried!
I was also going to be the kind of mom who didn’t resort to “the magic box” of screens to babysit my kid while I was eating bon-bon’s on the couch! That was my goal at least. Until at two months old, I noticed something wasn’t right with my baby and he couldn’t quite turn his head to the left. An MRI and diagnosis later (torticollis), the only thing that helped exercise my son’s neck and essentially repair this condition, was that darn magic box. My kid is now on his way to a very respected pre-college program, so I think it wasn’t too damaging. Hey, at least I tried!
My 17-year-old and I are heading out on a 6 hour drive to the pre-college I just mentioned. I can’t help but remember when I went to pre-college, ahem, just a few years ago, ahem. It was the summer before senior year in high school, and I wanted, no, I needed to get out of my house, and fortunately for me, Syracuse University still had a couple spots left for their summer program. Next thing I know, I’m on a plane with a duffle bag and my sheer will. The summer at SU changed the trajectory of my life, for all intents and purposes. It was a great summer, and I met some really incredible people and ended up going to, and graduating from Syracuse University. Go Orange!! I can’t help but wonder how my son’s experience this summer at Carnegie Mellon, will shape his future. I am beyond excited for him, and I can’t help but relive the feeling of walking around a college campus for the first time on my own, and how freeing it felt. Then of course, I imagine my son enjoying that same feeling and my eyes fill with tears. My baby is growing up, and the internal wrestling I’m experiencing between the recognition of how much time has passed for me, and how much more time my children have in front of them, is like a steel-cage match between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant! I’m already exhausted and we haven’t even left yet.
I’m going to be the kind of mom that helps my son unpack his bags and makes sure his clothes are put away. I’ll be the kind of mom that takes care of renting the fridge for the room while giving the speech about cleanliness and not attracting bugs. I’ll be the kind of mom that buys the school sweatshirt because I am damn proud of my son. I’ll also be the kind of mom who won’t cry until she’s well out of sight of her boy. Hey, I’ll at least try.
I’m a dog lover. I mean, I really like most animals, but when it comes to domestic creatures that can fit in an NYC apartment, it’s dogs and/or cats for me. My current living situation includes my three boys, one four-legged boy, and me! There’s a lot going on for sure, and I’m gratefully everyone’s “mommy”. Today, I’m wearing my doggy-mama hat, because my sweet boy of almost 7 years has something funky growing in his mouth and he needs to have it removed and biopsied. While they’re in there, they’ll clean his teeth, and also remove a small, but benign, growth from his eyelid. The pooch will be in the cone of shame for a couple weeks, I’m not looking forward to that, because I know just how annoyed he will be!
As I was bringing my boy to the vet this morning, he was being classically difficult, as somehow he knew we weren’t heading to get him a cheeseburger. The vet’s office is only a couple blocks away, but it took quite a while to coax him there, and a few giggles from passersby, who watched him just lay down mid-sidewalk refusing to move. We finally made it and I barely held it together, even though I know it’s all pretty routine. I choked back the tears when I kissed him goodbye and told him I would see him in a couple hours. Yes, he understands me. Duh!
Then I started thinking about the anxiety he must be feeling because he doesn’t have a clue of what’s going to happen to him, and he watched me walk out the door. Then I started thinking about the anxiety that I am feeling, because I know exactly what’s going to happen to him. Then I started to think about how we all handle anxiety differently and there is no right or wrong way, but it might be helpful to know how best you handle your anxiety. For example, are you the type that needs every detail, down to the last possible outcome, so that you can get through a situation with ease? Or are you the type that just likes to dive in head first and not spend too much time considering all the outcomes? Think about that the next time you’re faced with a potentially overwhelming situation, and see how you handle your anxiety. I’m definitely a combination of those two types and know that it depends on the situation for me.
Either way, I will have my Bulldog Totem close to me all day as I wait to hear from the vet about my doggy! Having my Totem (and even just writing this for you) reminds me to take deep breaths, which help me stay calm.
No matter how you take your anxiety, straight up or on the rocks with a twist, you can have a Totem, too! Visit our shop at www.totemtamers.com/shop and pick one out today!
Update:Today marks my second experience with these super bizarre migraines, but at least now I know what it is! Enjoy the weekend all!
Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop, that was the scene running through my mind the other night, when I was convinced I had a brain tumor.
Thankfully, Arnold’s words mirrored the doctor, who also said “It’s not a tumor, it appears to be a migraine.” Good news! So good, I started to cry with relief. Here’s the scene: My boys and I were getting ready to sit down to dinner and I was doing a last check of email on my phone. There was a smudge on the screen that I tried to wipe off, but it wouldn’t go away. Oddly enough when I looked away from the phone screen, the smudge followed me. Too much screen time perhaps? My eyes must be dry! I put some rewetting drops in and waited, and that’s when the technicolor-disco lights-shimmering prisms started dancing before my eyes. Only on the left side of my periphery, but visible when either eye was closed. I sit down at the table, and we are psyched because we have just started the final season of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, and I can’t really see the TV with all these lights dancing in my eyes. And there it is, that warm, far-away gurgle, that starts deep in my gut, then buzzes through me with a flash, where for a moment I feel lighter than air. Sounds almost pleasant right? Well, it’s not, it’s the start of a major panic attack because I have just realized that I’m in the middle of some kind of episode involving my brain, and I’m half expecting to drop, right there at the dinner table during Buffy. I get up and head to my room where I can take very slow, deep breaths, in an effort to calm my climbing blood pressure. The visual disturbance meanwhile, is becoming more pronounced. Thankfully my babysitter was still around, as I knew I needed medical attention. I had her do the stroke test with me so I could rule that out, and then I called my mom. By the time my mom came to get me, the disco had pretty much stopped. You’d think I would have been happy about that, but as soon as all the dancing lights faded away, a lovely headache creeped up on the opposite side of my head. Yup, I’m a goner.
There’s an Urgent Care around the corner so we headed there, my stiff upper lip, my headache, and my mommy. One friend had suggested it was a migraine, but I had never really had one before so I was skeptical, but clearly there’s a first time for everything! I experienced what is perfectly described as an ocular migraine with aura! I always knew I had a pretty shimmery aura, but I thought the point was for other people to notice it, not me! I have a sense of humor about it now obviously, but I was terrified, and I have tremendous empathy for everyone I know (and even those I don’t), that suffers from any kind of migraine. I got off easy with this one because I actually was functioning and doing fine considering the dull throb. So fine, that I was able to keep my chaperoning duties with 28 fourth graders for a trip to the Whitney Museum! I saw a piece from the Frank Stella exhibit that reminded me of my disco lights!
I’ve read about all the triggers, and of course, most of them are things I thoroughly enjoy (red wine, chocolate, etc.), I might just have to do process of elimination to determine what I can get away with!! It’s scary when something is going on and you feel helpless, I am grateful that Totem Tamers helps to remind me to take deep breaths, because I’m certain those deep breaths kept me from fainting out of fear. I hope I never experience this again, but at least now I know what it is and knowing is half the battle! Would love to hear from all you migraine sufferers, tips, triggers, suggestions!!!
I woke up this morning to the news that singer Chris Cornell had passed away last night. I was, and continue to be, in total shock. Shock is one of those emotions that encompasses so many feelings, sadness, anger, surprise, confusion, and many others, that all get rolled in to one numbing category, shock. I immediately think of my kids, especially my two older ones, who rocked out with me at the Beacon Theater in 2015, to Chris and his magical voice. I am reminded of the moment Chris brought his daughter on stage to do a beautiful rendition of “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley.
“None but ourselves can free our minds.”
I remember loving that they could perform together, and I related to it because of moments I share with my children, when we are either at a concert together, or home singing and harmonizing with each other. And now, now I would have to tell my kids that another musician, another rock star, another beautiful voice, has left us. I messaged their Dad because the boys were with him last night, and he decided that it would be best to let them get to school first, rather than upsetting them on their way to school. So I’ve been waiting for the texts that would inevitably come as they found out the news.
My oldest messaged first: “Chris Cornell, 52. I can’t believe it. I’m so angry.” Anger is good, anger is helpful and therapeutic, I still end up in tears because I know how affected he will be. I wait. My middle messages moments later in a group text to his brother, his Dad, and me: A link to the story followed by “This sucks so much. It’s sad.” I do my best to validate both of their feelings and share my own, and then I have to do the job of inspirational leader, which is not easy when you’re hurting, so best I can do is be honest. I write “I want to send you some positive, uplifting, inspirational text right now, but the only thing I can come up with is that I love you so very much and hope you will always be open and find strength in difficult moments and ask for help. Channel the anger and the sadness into creativity and hope. Easier said than done, but we go on.”
My boys, jamming together, creating together, making music together, being…together. They give me hope. They make sad news like this, shock like this, a little easier to manage, partly because I have to keep it together for them, but also because we have each other. I will hug them a little more tightly today, as we all process the passing of Chris Cornell, who impressed us with his vocal range, and his seeming ability to rise above. It’s not clear how he died, and I’m not sure that it really matters, I just find gratitude that he graced us for as long as he did and that he finds peace wherever he may be.