Happy #nationalcomingoutday !!!!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:10-04:00 October 11th, 2017|activist, animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, bears, birds, birds of prey, bulldogs, dogs, Equality, homosexuality, lgbtq, Life, love, marriage equality, mental health, mind/body, Owls, sharks, stress, stress relief, suicide prevention, therapy, totems, transgender|

National Coming Out Day!

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!

Stay well.

Parenting by headphone?

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:10-04:00 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.

Dog Day Afternoon…..

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:13-04:00 June 6th, 2017|animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, bulldogs, dogs, family, pets, totems|

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!

My four-legged baby!

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.

Bulldog 3

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!

Stay well.

The next one’s gonna be a King or wisdom from my 10-year-old.

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:14-04:00 April 27th, 2017|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, bears, birds, brotherhood, brothers, bulldogs, childhood, children, Creative, creativity, education, family, gratitude, inspiration, Life, mind/body, motherhood, motivation, Owls, parenthood, parenting, sharks, single parents, stress, stress relief, totems|

It’s really incredible when a life lesson happens when you least expect it and manage the divinity to recognize it! Now I will attempt to translate it to you as it happened to me. Hang in there for it.

My 10-year-old has picked up the card game Solitaire. It’s fun for me because I grew up playing card games, especially Solitaire, which reminds me of my Grandmother. However, watching my kid play a card game on his iPad was starting to make me nuts! I pulled out a brand new deck of cards and sat him down to teach him how to play with actual playing cards. We then both remembered a game his awesome 4th grade teacher had taught the class, called Clock Solitaire! It’s fun and simple, a total  game of chance and a perfect tool for procrastination. If you want to learn how to play click here for rules and visuals. Bottom line, your cards get laid out like the face of a clock with one stack in the middle where the Kings land. The game ends either when you have uncovered all the cards and placed them on their appropriate piles and you win, OR you have turned over all four Kings before turning the rest of the cards over and you lose. Got it? Hope so.

Watch the clock!

Now my son is totally reanimated by Clock Solitaire and is playing over and over again, with actual cards, and I’m having fun watching him and listening to his play by play. Then it registered what he was saying every time he was about to turn a card over, “next one’s gonna be a King, next one’s gonna be a King, next one’s gonna be a King.” What struck me was the seemingly negative attitude my son had, assuming that the next card he turned over was going to be a King and therefore leading him closer to losing. So I interjected and said “well that’s a pretty negative attitude, thinking that every next card is going to be a bad card. Maybe you should think positively and think that the next card will be a good card!” The look he gave me required no words, and that’s when the lesson smacked me right between the eyes! I was trying to teach my son about positivity, but he was actually doing it already, just in reverse. I’ll explain.

My way of playing, the “positive” way, encourages me to think that each card I turn over will be a card I want, as opposed to a King which is what I don’t want. Right? The next card WON’T be a King. I’m all happy and content turning the card until BOOM, it’s a King, and I’m all dejected and disappointed and frustrated. Darnit, it was a King.

My kid’s way of playing, the “negative” way, encourages him to think that each card he turns over will be the card he doesn’t want, so the assumption is that EVERY card will be a King. He’s focused, and intent on his game while turning the card and BOOM, it’s not a King! Whew! Relief, celebration, motivation to keep going and to keep playing. Wait, what? That sounds like positive feelings. Well I’ll be! Those ARE positive feelings. Lesson learned!

So with that, I take my newly discovered perspective, thanks to my 10-year-old, out in to the world with the mantra that the next one, IS going to be a King!

Happy playing!

Stay well.

Seizing the moment…..

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:18-04:00 December 11th, 2016|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, apartment, bulldogs, childhood, children, dogs, holiday, inspiration, Life, meditation, mental health, mind/body, motivation, Music, nyc, prevention, rock and roll, rock n roll, stress, stress relief, totems|

I always talk about how much I love to hear from people who love their Totems! Sometimes the messages are bittersweet, especially if the Totems have helped them through some harrowing experiences.  For example, I received a message the other day from someone who could easily be a Totem Tamers spokesperson because he “gets it,” and I was glad when he said I could share his testimonial.

“As someone who has suffered from a seizure disorder his whole life, I think the Totems could be a big help to little kids who suffer from epilepsy or seizure problems.”

Bear Totem

Speaker buddy!

Bulldog sits on a speaker sending a regular reminder to take deep breaths and use visualization and repetition to help get through any potentially overwhelming scenario. Sometimes we need this reminder to help us prevent overwhelming situations. Like this Totem owner mentioned after a recent seizure, he was “overworked and stressed out”, which could describe most of us, if not all of us, especially around the holidays. So take it from me, speaker buddy, and our latest Totem Testimony, take a moment to listen to the music and remind yourself to breathe!

Stay well.

Send us your pictures and testimonials, to julie@totemtamers.com, and maybe your story can help others. I know it will help me!

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.

Heart on a cutting board!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:24-04:00 September 9th, 2016|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, brotherhood, brothers, bulldogs, childhood, children, coffee, dogs, food, gratitude, Life, motherhood, Owls, parenthood, parenting, school, sharks, siblings, single parents, totems|

So there I am going through the daily routine of waking up three kids to get them ready for three different schools and three different start times. I manage to brush my teeth, walk the dog and somehow pour a cup of coffee, while everyone is straggling around the house in a morning haze. The only time I short-order cook is in the morning, even though they mostly eat the same things, but either way I’m barking out options and getting grunts for answers. Then I prep their lunches. Again, three different kids, three different taste buds, three different lunch preferences. Yes, I know, I could have them make their own lunches and be responsible for their food choices, thanks for that epiphany. But you know what? I’m freaking grateful that I get to make my kids lunch. Am I so grateful that I put dorky little notes in their lunch bags with smiley faces and x’s and o’s? Ok, fine, every once in a while I succumb to a smiley face. And every once in a while I do get pissy about having to make lunch, but then something incredible happens, and I am reminded what a blessing it is to have these three different kids, three different taste buds, three different lunch preferences.

totem heart

Heart to heart for lunch!

I’m packing lunch, juice box, fruit, snack, and I look down and see this heart just staring up at me! It gave me the millisecond I needed to stop, take a deep breath, smile, and smear on the mayo for the 3,467th time! Put some heart into everything you do and the impact will last a lifetime. It’s morning and breakfast time as I write this, but you know what? I think I’ll make some lunch.

Stay well.

Totems are a great reminder to take that millisecond to breathe. Get your Totem today at www.totemtamers.com/shop

Happy Labor Day from Totem Tamers!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:24-04:00 September 5th, 2016|animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, bears, bulldogs, holiday, labor, labor day, labor movement, Life, mind/body, Owls, sharks|

Labor Totems!

Labor Totems!

Labor Day is essentially a day commemorating those who labor. Well, that means that this is a day for EVERYONE!! We all labor in our own way, and we all deserve to be recognized for that labor, even if it’s labor that doesn’t come with a paycheck. The Totems certainly labor. They’re job is to help keep you calm whenever possible, and we all know that sometimes that is a very hard job indeed!

Kick back today, even for just a second, and be grateful for the opportunity to labor and for all those who labor around you.

Stay well.

Happy National Dog Day!!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:24-04:00 August 26th, 2016|animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, bulldogs, dogs, mental health, mind/body|

If you have a dog, celebrate! If you don’t have a dog, rescue! If you can’t have a dog but still want one, Bulldog Totem is the answer! Visit our store https://totemtamers.com/shop to get yours today!

In the meantime enjoy this:

Zeke and Naia say hello!

Zeke and Naia say hello!

Bulldog Totem!

Bulldog Totem!

The love I get from my dog has helped me through some tough times and makes the good times even more special!

Here’s hoping you enjoy National Dog Day!!

Stay well.

Old dog, new human tricks!!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:24-04:00 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.

It only takes a second…..

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:29-04:00 May 4th, 2016|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, bears, birds, bulldogs, charity, gratitude, inspiration, Life, mental health, mind/body, motivation, nyc, office, Owls, prevention, relationships, sharks, social media, strangers, totems|

There I was heading out of a building, when I noticed a woman also heading towards the exit. It was one of those double door situations where you actually had to exit twice, ok? So I held open the first door for her and let her exit first, me following out behind her. Nothing. Not a smile. Not a nod. Nothing. She reached the second exit door ahead of me and pushed through it. I, being younger, more agile and way prettier (that’s important), was right behind her and loudly said “Thank you” as exited I the still opened door. I suspect if I hadn’t been fast enough, she would have let the door slam in my face. She didn’t even blink at my “thank you” which made me even more annoyed. Sure, I can have compassion and think that maybe she was just having a bad day, but seriously, it only takes a second! Thank you! Please! One second. I timed it!!! It’s true!!

So I don’t care if you are having a really crappy day, you assuredly have one second to be courteous to another human being. Try it!! Oh, and give it as a gift. Meaning don’t be attached to their response, as you may not get a “Thank you” or a “You’re welcome” but at least you’ll walk away knowing you’re not an a*@hole!

Stay well.

Totems say BE NICE!!!

Totems say BE NICE!!!

Shopping with Bulldog!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:30-04:00 April 30th, 2016|accessories, animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, bulldogs, Design, dogs, gift, gifts, shopping, social media|

Bulldogs at Robert Graham Columbus Circle!

Bulldogs at Robert Graham Columbus Circle!

So many colors which is what brought me into the Robert Graham store in the Shops at Columbus Circle, but it was their bulldog that made me hang out! Bulldog seems happy, too!

Where does your Totem take you? Send me a picture at julie@totemtamers.com, or tag us Instagram @totemtamers.

Stay well.

T(each) his own!

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:42-04:00 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!