Happy Hanukkah/Chanukah from Totem Tamers!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:09+00:00 December 12th, 2017|accessories, animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, artists, bears, birds, birds of prey, christmas, Creative, creativity, Design, gift, gifts, holiday, mind/body, Owls, stress, stress relief, totems|

No matter how you spell it (there’s at least 16 ways), it’s holiday season! The Jewish Festival of Lights has a rich history behind it and it’s also become a holiday for gift giving!

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!

Boy Meets Girl meet Totems!

And if you’re looking for a last minute stocking stuffer, Totems make the perfect gift!

totems

What’s in the bag?!

Have a safe and wonderful holiday season!

Stay well.

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

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:13+00:00 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.

Bulldog Power!!!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:19+00:00 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.

I am ready for Snow!!!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:23+00:00 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+00:00 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+00:00 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!

Theater of the absurd.

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:54+00:00 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.

Totems Around Town! #folkartmuseum

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:03+00:00 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!

Totem Tamers presents WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:39+00:00 April 15th, 2015|anxiety, artists, Life, mental health, rock and roll, rock n roll|

It ticks me off that I have to write this post. Not because our WARRIOR isn’t just that, but because what inspired me to name this kick-ass chick a WARRIOR shouldn’t be something that makes news. Unfortunately in the last couple weeks, comments regarding women’s bodies have been front and center! One newscaster publicly apologized to singer Kelly Clarkson, for an insensitive remark that was made about her weight gain. He was goaded into that remark by another doofus newscaster, but somehow that guy wasn’t called to the carpet. Meanwhile, Kelly has a voice that can make people weep, and that’s all that we should be focusing on!

Our WARRIOR this week is another singer, and all around performer, who sadly, but gracefully, felt the need to come out and address fat-shaming comments that have surfaced about her. WARRIOR Pink, posted a picture of herself in a beautiful dress, and haters took to Twitter to slam her about weight gain. You know she looked freaking amazing in the dress, and that’s what blows me away.

Pink in hot black! (Getty Images)

Pink in hot black! (Getty Images)

I guarantee you that the judgement we render upon ourselves when we look in the mirror is bad enough, we don’t need other people to chime in. And we certainly shouldn’t have to apologize or defend why we look the way we do. Isn’t it enough to say that “Gee, she looks really happy”, or “Wow, how does she keep her boobs from falling out of that dress?” Actually, that last one is a real query. How?! I struggle with my body image every day. Even when I’m at my fittest, I still struggle. In the last few years however, I have come to love my body and all it’s bits and nooks and crannies, and bra-fat be damned, I’m not going to apologize for it! Thank you Pink, for being a voice, for being a superstar Mom, trapeze artist, sexy beast, and inspiration, among a gazillion other attributes, and for being this week’s, WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

Stay well.

I always try to imagine which Totem our WARRIORS might choose. Pink was tricky, but ultimately I would choose Bear for her, because Bear can be simultaneously cuddly and fierce. What Totem would you choose? Get yours today by clicking on any of the Totem images on the side of the page.

Totem Tamers presents WARRIOR WEDNESDAY or "It IS a tumor!" (not mine, don't freak.)

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:46+00:00 February 18th, 2015|art, artists, charity, family, Life, medicine|

Yes, I’m being very lighthearted in my title line today, because frankly, thinking about tumors of any kind is really freaking heavy and scary and usually overwhelming. Also, the person who is our WARRIOR WEDNESDAY this week, is handling his diagnosis of having a huge ass brain tumor nestled between his ears, with courage, fierceness, and humility. That’s why he’s a WARRIOR! His name is Ray Ferrer, and I have never met him. He’s an artist who ended up following Totem Tamers WordPress blog a long time ago. Intrigued, I went to his page and saw his art, and was immediately blown away!! I have mentioned Ray in this blog before, when his generosity moved me during Breast Cancer Awareness month, and he donated a portion of his sales towards the fight against breast cancer. Well, Ray is fighting now, and as I said before, his bravery and openness during his fight has been incredibly moving and inspiring. As with any difficult medical experience, the shock of medical bills and care can be almost more overwhelming than the actual illness. Ray continues to suffer seizures and even temporary paralysis, and as an artist, I can only imagine the terror he must go through when he can’t feel his hands, for example. In an effort to defray costs, Ray’s Etsy Page is offering a discount of 50% on works available on the site. I just ordered a few pieces, but I didn’t take the discount, because I’m grateful to be able to help. If you have it in you to make a purchase to help Ray in his fight, and his wife in her support for Ray, please look at his work and help this WARRIOR! One of the pieces I purchased (a few of them actually, to give as gifts), is a beautiful print of the deity, Ganesha, who I happened to write about a couple weeks ago!

Om Sri Ganesha!

Om Sri Ganesha!

Ganesha, known as the remover of obstacles and god of new beginnings. I can only hope that Ray will recover fully and be gifted with new beginnings, as this obstacle of a tumor shrinks to nothing so he can continue his art.

Stay well.

To learn more about Totem Tamers, go to our site at Totemtamers.com.