The color of love!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:09-04:00 February 14th, 2018|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, art, Creative, creativity, gratitude, holiday, inspiration, love, mental health, mind/body, motivation, nyc, stories, story, storytelling, stress, stress relief, totems|

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:

green heart

Green is for love!

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.

Stay well.

It’s NOT a tumor! (Starting off holiday weekend revisiting disco lights of migraines past!)

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:13-04:00 May 27th, 2017|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, art, artists, children, coffee, creativity, dining, dinner, gratitude, health, Life, mental health, mind/body, stars, stress, stress relief, totems, Uncategorized|

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!

Like my migraine, only art!

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!!!

Stay well.

Being different IS beautiful!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:15-04:00 April 24th, 2017|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, art, Creative, creativity, earth, flowers, gratitude, Life, meditation, mental health, stress, stress relief, therapy, totems|

Leading the way!

So many things that I see when I look at this picture, from the yellow tulip managing to shine in a sea of pink tulips, to the yellow tulip leading the way for all the others to follow! Either way, it brought up for me that sometimes being different can be hard, but it is always beautiful, no matter how you look at it! Think of a way you are different and embrace it, even let it shine so that others can see just how beautiful your difference is, and you’ll let them know that they too, can revel in their differences!

Stay well.

I am Butterfly.

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:18-04:00 January 2nd, 2017|animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, art, bird lovers, Creative, creativity, flowers, gratitude, inspiration, Life, mind/body, poetry, sharing, therapy, totems|

I am Butterfly.

No matter if my wings are open or closed.

No matter if I am midair or clinging flowers by my toes.

No matter my purpose I go where the wind blows.

 

I am Butterfly.

My colors reflect by making sure I am seen.

My colors protect by hiding me in between.

My colors attract by shades of yellows, reds and greens.

 

I am Butterfly.

I go through change to find my true self.

I go through change to see I’m like no one else.

I go through change to watch your heart melt.

 

I am Butterfly.

I am unapologetic in my bright-colored sights.

I am unapologetic as I soar to new heights.

I am unapologetic because I bring the light.

 

I am Butterfly.

My life may not be everlasting all time.

But my beauty lives on and my colors still shine.

My blessing is you on this journey of mine.

 

We are Butterflies.

I am Butterfly.

Stay well.

Bulldog Power!!!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:19-04:00 November 17th, 2016|animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, art, artists, bulldogs, Creative, creativity, dogs, friends, friendship, gift, gifts, gratitude, inspiration, Life, loss, mental health, mind/body|

When I get a message about a Totem helping someone, I am always deeply moved. When I get a message and a stunning photograph, I am compelled to move others.

Bulldog POWER!

Bulldog POWER!

I got this image from an amazing photographer and friend, who I had just given Bulldog to because he has done so much for me. Included with the photo was a short note telling me how he held Bulldog through his Grandfather’s eulogy and thanking me. Heartbreaking, but beautiful at the same time.

There is power in the Totem when you allow yourself to recognize it. Find your power and your Totem at www.totemtamers.com.

Stay well.

My name is Julie and I have a mug problem.

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:22-04:00 September 29th, 2016|accessories, addiction, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, apartment, art, coffee, creativity, Design, gift, gifts, Life, mind/body, motivation, women, work|

It’s true. I see a mug and I want it. Mugs don’t have to be just for coffee or tea, they are awesome for soup, hot cocoa, hot toddy’s, chocolate pudding when you want people to think you’re really just drinking herbal tea, so many uses!!! I figured since it is National Coffee Day, that it is a good time for me to open about my problem. And please understand that it’s not a problem that affects my daily life or functioning, the problem is that I don’t have enough room for all the mugs I want, let alone for the mugs I have!

That's only one shelf of mugs!

That’s only one shelf of mugs!

So you’ll see everything from the iconic Zabar’s mug, to a holiday mug, to a mug that mocks Canada, to the Stig from the show Top Gear, and don’t forget one kid’s favorite soccer team, Dortmund! I have just added two new mugs that I saw online, and knew I had to add to my collection, partly because they’re adorable, and partly because it’s a pair of mugs!! Yes, two that come as a set!!! Ok fine, maybe it is a wee bit more of a problem than I admit to, but just look at these mugs from Boy Meets Girl!

Boy Meets Girl meet Totems!

Boy Meets Girl meet Totems!

Aren’t they the cutest mugs ever!!!!

Now that I feel better about my mugs, I want you to feel better with a list of places offering all kinds of freebies for National Coffee Day, click here http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2016/09/28/how-score-free-cup-joe-national-coffee-day/91231350/

Stay well.

Oh, and if you see a mug that you think is just awesome, or you have a favorite mug you’d like to show off, take a pic and send it to me at julie@totemtamers.com. Even better, if you have a Totem, include it in your picture! Cheers!

I am ready for Snow!!!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:23-04:00 September 22nd, 2016|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, art, artists, friends, friendship, inspiration, Life, mental health, mind/body, snow, stories, story, storytelling, stress relief, teenager, teenagers, teens|

The Snow Queen to be technical, “Stealing Snow”, to be exact. I am often humbled by the people I get to meet, and even more so when I get to hang out with them and celebrate their awesomeness!! I did that this week when author Danielle Paige, launched her new series “Stealing Snow”, at Books of Wonder in New York City!

The Totems are excited to get reading!

The Totems are excited to get reading!

I was psyched to be there to help celebrate the launch, mostly because Danielle deserves it, and a teeny bit because maybe now she’ll be able to hang out more since the writing is done! I know, I know, the writing is never done, but one of these days!!

So cute signing books for tons of fans (including me) who came out to celebrate!

So cute signing books for tons of fans (including me) who came out to celebrate!

There were plenty of writers in the room at the book launch, some published, and some hoping to be published. It was wonderful to hear their questions, and Danielle’s answers about the process, the inspiration, and the motivation to write. There is definitely some (probably a lot) anxiety that goes in to writing, and creating in general, because there’s always the concern for how it will be received. That’s likely the biggest obstacle for me! I am always in total awe of artists who can manage a work from start to finish, whether it’s a book, a painting, a song, a dance, whatever. I’m good at the starting, but the finishing somehow tends to allude me, so that Danielle is now kicking off her second series is just incredible and inspiring. Danielle’s first series, a fantastic retelling of The Wizard of Oz, solidified her as a New York Times Bestselling Author, and there’s no doubt that “Stealing Snow“, a retelling of The Snow Queen, will have her maintaining that honor.

Witches abound!

Witches abound!

Witches abound!

Witches abound!

Witches abound!

Witches abound!

Witches abound!

Witches abound!

Some gorgeous illustrations of some of the characters to be found inside “Stealing Snow”! If you’re into fairy tales with a twist, then I highly recommend all of Danielle’s books, but definitely get right in to “Stealing Snow”! I can’t wait to get into some Snow myself!! And maybe, just maybe, I can put some of the anxiety aside, and find a way to finish something. Oh wait!! I just did! The end. 😉

Congratulations Danielle!!

Stay well.

Owl and Penguin pop at the launch!

Owl and Penguin pop at the launch!

 

Music is the stuff of life!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:25-04:00 August 6th, 2016|animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, art, artists, children, classic rock, co-parenting, creativity, Life, Music, nyc, rock and roll, rock n roll|

In the last few weeks I have had the pleasure of witnessing , in one form or another, each of my three kids doing something they love. Rocking!! Music has always been a big part of our family life and has always been something we loved to share. Well, ok maybe not all of the music, but most of it. I don’t expect to be going to a Slipknot concert anytime soon, and my youngest son would sooner eat a tub of mushy green beans than be subjected to any Counting Crows! Either way, there’s always music happening wherever we are. Whether it’s my little one banging out a rhythm on the couch while watching TV, my middle listening to a guitar solo so he can emulate it later, my oldest thumping out a bass line while I’m trying to have a conversation with him, or me singing Broadway tunes while I do the dishes! There are some moments that are beyond priceless, when we all sing a line together, or I hear my boys harmonizing on a tune, then I threaten to get out the Tambourine and rent a tour bus! C’mon get happy!! I can see it, I really can!! Ok fine, it’s not about me, it’s about how in the last few weeks, my kids have taken this gift, this love of music, and individuated from each other and created their own space. My oldest hit a rock band camp for a couple weeks (shout out to NYC Guitar School), where they basically put a band together on Monday and less than two weeks later “Stay Hydrated” is jamming on the stage at a local bar!

"Stay Hydrated"!

“Stay Hydrated”!

You’ll have to forgive the photos, they’re all kind of lame but I was seeing through tears anyway so the blurriness is fitting!! The show was super fun and the lights and the smoke machine was a dream realized for my teenager. Up next is my middle, who is attending a weekday sleep away camp (shout out to Campus Kids!), where he excitedly called to tell me he and his pal were going to perform in the talent show. Even though I couldn’t be there to hear them do “How to save a life” by The Fray, the camp is awesome about posting pictures! I did crop out the pal because I didn’t ask permission to post (even though I’m sure I would have gotten it.)

My middle "saving a life"

My middle “saving a life”

Last but certainly not least, my youngest kid had such a good time watching his oldest brother on stage, he decided he was going to rock band camp, too!! So off he strutted with his drumsticks (given to him by a highly regarded NYC drummer) and had an unbelievable experience with his band called “Gus”! Kids ages 8-11 and they managed tunes by AC/DC and Foo Fighters!

Keeping the beat!

Keeping the beat!

There is nothing as magical as watching your child doing something they love and I am thankful that they each have found something that they can share with each other while maintaining their individuality! Music just happens to be what works in my family, in terms of bringing us all together. Maybe for yours it’s baseball, or geocaching. Whatever it is, find something that you can all enjoy together and you will make a lifetime of wonderful memories. Me? I’m off to get that tambourine!!

Totems in tune!

Totems in tune!

Stay well.

If anxiety keeps you off the stage, maybe you should get a Totem!! Visit our store to find your calm https://totemtamers.com/shop!

Just call me “blockhead”!

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:46-04:00 February 3rd, 2016|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, art, artists, Creative, creativity, Design, inspiration, Life, mental health, politics, sharing, stories, story, storytelling, stress, stress relief, totems, Uncategorized|

There it is, mocking me once again, that blank page. I swear it’s even laughing at me, through text shorthand of course, you know, the “Lol’s” and the “LMFAO’s”. I can’t write! I’ve wanted to, I’ve even contemplated some topics, more than once, and when it comes down to it, I just can’t seem to frame enough to get it on the page. Oh, there’s been plenty to talk about for sure, from parenting frustrations, to societal wins, to politics….wait a minute, no politics. Please! Regardless, I’m never the one that people refer to as “quiet”, or “lacking opinion”, or “subtle” for that matter, I’ve always got something to say, except for those moments when I can’t seem to say a freaking thing! Then it hit me, that’s what I have to write about! I am struggling with writing. I remember when my therapist/guru/kirtan leader, who I refer to as “Chai-ma” (she makes amazing chai), suggested a book called The Artist’s Way. I dutifully went out and got the book, because Chai-ma has never steered me wrong (thank you again for “Outlander“). I still haven’t gotten through The Artist’s Way, but that has nothing to do with the book and more to do with me and my incredible gift of placing obstacles in front of my personal growth and progress, but I did manage to get through a very important part of the book! The part that suggests you write every day, no matter what, even if you have nothing to write about. It’s an important, although difficult exercise, because you have to flex the muscles even when they may not be working properly. I needed that reminder today. Therefore, you’ll have to forgive this Seinfeldian post (a post about nothing, get it?) while I work through my block and get back to the regularly scheduled program where I hope to enlighten, inspire, motivate, and who knows, maybe even surprise! I recommend getting The Artist’s Way, even if just to serve as a coaster for the time being, because at some point, you (me) may pick it up and actually take advantage of the suggestions within to help feed the creative soul that we all have to nurture. For now, the Totems are doing their part, and nudging me that I have to do mine.

Artists and Totems

I would certainly appreciate hearing from the lot of you creative types out there, and I know you’re out there! What tricks, tips, suggestions, might you impart to someone experiencing “blockhead” syndrome? TIA!

Stay well.

Thankfully my Totems help keep me calm (even if they don’t help keep me from judging myself), I’m sure they could help you, too! Get one today!

Gratitude before my eyes.

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:50-04:00 December 16th, 2015|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, art, beach, creativity, depression, earth, gratitude, inspiration, meditation, mental health, ocean, stress, stress relief, therapy, totems, Uncategorized, weather|

Natural beauty!

Natural beauty!

I took this picture a couple weeks ago and just came across it again. It takes my breath away now, just as it did when I snapped the shot. I remember standing there and feeling so grateful for the picturesque view and in that moment finding peace. Since that picture was taken, there have been plenty of moments that haven’t been peaceful, and I don’t mean the global tragedies that we’ve witnessed recently, but on the smaller more manageable scale of my life. Thankfully nothing terribly dramatic has happened, just the hustle and bustle of the every day that pulls me away from those moments of peace. When the picture popped up on my screen, it gave me pause because the reaction was to actually stop what I was doing (searching for a picture of one of my kids) and take in the view again. What a powerful tool that I didn’t know I had! This picture will find a place on my computer desktop now, so I can be reminded regularly to take a pause and find gratitude. Thankfully there is beauty all around us and in the simplest things, we just have to give ourselves permission to experience it and know that our busy, hectic lives will still be there waiting for us two minutes later. The gift is that we get to come back to the chaos with a renewed energy and appreciation for what we have. It’s the renewed energy that helped motivate me to share this with you! Enjoy the picture, or better yet, look for the beauty around you in this moment and capture it for your own gratitude! If you like, and I know I would, please share it with me at julie@totemtamers.com!

Stay well.

Start now! @kateneckel

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:59-04:00 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!

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!