Lessons from a displaced butterfly.

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:12-04:00 August 13th, 2017|accessories, animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, cars, civil rights, earth, gratitude, hate crime, immigration, inspiration, Liberty, Life, mental health, musical theater, parenthood, parenting, racism, sadness, strangers, stress relief, teenager, teenagers, teens, victim|

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!”

butterfly

Displaced butterfly

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.

butterfly

Butterfly found

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.)

Stay well.

 

Here’s one case for NO separation of “Church & State”!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:16-04:00 March 14th, 2017|activist, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, broadway, civil rights, Creative, creativity, death, donation, education, elections, family, grief, gun violence, hate crime, inspiration, Life, loss, mental health, motivation, nyc, politics, prayer, relationships, religion, sadness, school|

I don’t talk much about politics in this space, although if you have been a reader of this blog, you can pretty much gauge what side of the dais I would sit on. Don’t worry, this post isn’t going to be about politics….really, well, not really, but sort of, maybe a little bit. This post is going to be about theater, drama, comedy and friendship. I went to theater the other night with a group of friends, to see a play that was written and produced by friends, and it had equal parts comedy and drama. The play is called “Church & State”, and it’s in previews now at New World Stages. While I was watching the play, I was struck with imagery of a heated tennis match, because my emotions were being slammed across the net between laughter, anger, fear and sadness. In less than 90 minutes, I was moved to a point of paralysis. Yes, moved so emotionally, that I couldn’t move physically for a few minutes after it ended, because I was taking it all in and letting it wash over me. I was having varied experiences, mind you. I had just watched a play that someone I know wrote and someone I know produced, and it was good. I mean, not just like “Oh wasn’t that sweet” kinda good, I mean “Holy crap, that was impressive” kinda good. And, the content was just so relevant, and important, and crucial to the current state of affairs of our country and our communities, that I wanted to get up and holler that something needs to be done!!! So here is my holler, GO SEE THIS PLAY!

Powerful new play!

I can tell you that this play is about a lot of things including politics, but also faith, speaking your mind, marriage, community, and death. I can tell you that this play is already making an impact and it hasn’t even opened yet! Politicians and celebrities are not only coming to see it, but some will even be participating in panels throughout the run of the play to further conversation about the controversial subject matter. I guess I’m being a little vague on purpose here, because I want to protect the power of the play and if you go in knowing too much, it might color the way you receive it. Even thinking about the play now, I get choked up! Of course, you can click on the link above and learn a little more about it and what inspired it, or you can take a chance and see something that will undoubtedly leave you thinking, if not shaking just a little bit.

Off my soapbox!

Stay well.

 

It’s a personal foul for one ambitious football player!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:19-04:00 October 29th, 2016|activist, childhood, children, civil rights, family, friends, friendship, Liberty, Life, motherhood, motivation, nyc, parenthood, parenting, school, sports, teenager, teenagers, teens|

Some girls just wanna have fun, and some girls just wanna have fun playing football! What happens when some school rules get in the way of that? Well, we talk about it, and make some noise!  Especially when it’s the daughter of a friend who is being denied the chance to play  for her school even though she played last season! Once again it comes down to equality, the boys take a physical fitness test once and are on the team, for some reason, there’s an extra test for girls to take! An article detailing this young lady’s story can be found here!

Looks like a football player to me!  Photo cred:Sean Hale

Looks like a football player to me!
Photo cred:Sean Hale

I’m sure plenty of you are balking at the idea of a girl playing football, but I assure you Alison can hold her own. Heck, she’s been playing roller derby for years!!! This isn’t a question about safety, this is about fairness, and Alison, because she’s a girl, isn’t being treated fairly. So rather than give in and take this extra fitness test, she’s standing her ground like a solid linebacker, and not taking the test. She’s been kicked off the team as a result, and as her father says it “cost the school a good player.”

While we watch a woman juking and dodging every massive hit come her way as she runs for President of the United States, I can’t help but see that same resilience, courage and strength in Alison, and it gives me hope for the future. This “girl” should be able to play whatever sport she wants to play and be subjected to the same rules as her male counterparts. I’m sure the kid that was taken down by Alison last season by a massive hit, is probably relieved that she’s sitting this one out, but she’s doing anything but sitting, she’s standing up for herself and there’s nothing more important than that! Go Alison!!!

Stay well.

On the midnight train to NYC! (Woo, woo!)

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:25-04:00 July 30th, 2016|activist, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, civil rights, Creative, creativity, elections, Equality, friends, friendship, gratitude, inspiration, Life, motivation, nyc, poetry, politics, sharing, stories, story, storytelling, strangers, travel, Uncategorized, voting|

There I was on Tuesday, dropping everything because a dear friend called to say she had secured me entry to that evenings proceedings of the Democratic National Convention. I try not to get too political in this space because we are all entitled to our own opinions, (except of course for those voting for the Cheetoh-man).

Chilly train station

Amtrak station welcome!

I’ve never been to Philly, and I had been warned by my friends already at the convention that it was insanely busy with people, protests, street closures, etc.. I have a friend that lives in Philly and he was patient enough to text-guide me through my visit. (Thanks RC!) I navigated the subway system with the confidence of a New Yorker and only had to ask a few people for directions along the way. That’s not where my anxiety was, my anxiety lay well ahead of me when it was time to turn back and head home. A midnight train from Philly to Penn Station. A <ahem> young lady traveling on her own. I pushed those thoughts out of my mind and made my way to the convention, which was electrifying and inspiring! Yes,I got a picture of me with the unbelievable Senator from New Jersey, Cory Booker! Yes, I got a picture of me with the Vice Presidential nominee and Senator from Virginia, Tim Kaine! Yes, I met Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy who was brave enough to lead the moving and powerful sit-in regarding gun control a couple months back. Yes, I was still going to end up in Penn Station in NYC at 2 o’clock in the morning.

Credentials, train ticket, and Totems. Oh my!

Credentials, train ticket, and Totems. Oh my!

Fast forward and I get to hear the end of President Clinton’s speech (the first Clinton president) and I run out to make my train! I get to the station in plenty of time, but there’s still the issue of getting home from Penn Station. I figure I’ll find someone to talk to and see if they’re heading uptown and maybe we can share a cab. If that doesn’t work, thankfully I have a night owl friend who will gladly sit on the phone with me while I navigate my way home. (Thanks PR!) I board the train and I confirm for a gentleman that this is the train to NYC and I find a seat.  That same gentleman comes down the aisle and asks if the seat next to me is available, which it is, so he sits down. Then I oh so casually say “it would be great if you were heading uptown, because then we could go up together.” Not only does he say he is going uptown and that we can take the subway, but he even offers to get off the train and walk me home. Wow, this man was raised right!! I thank him and explain that once off the train I’m really only a block away so I’ll be fine, and I have my phone friend, of course. We introduce ourselves, he’s Paul and he was in Philadelphia because his son had just moved there and he was helping him with his apartment. We chatted a bit, Paul snoozed, I read my book. The trip to New York was pretty fast! We chatted some more and I learned that Paul came to New York years ago to pursue acting and through a series of fortunate events found himself a Librarian for the New York Public Library! That’s a big deal by the way. Paul also happens to be a writer and is clearly brilliant. I tell him that I write as well and we have a sort of meeting of creative minds, talking about the things we’ve done, the things we’d like to still do and in a way we push and inspire each other to keep going. Paul likes to quote famous creatives from Pablo Picasso to Georgia O’keefe. I smile and tell Paul that someday, people will be quoting him. Turns out I have the honor to be among the first to quote him, from a poem he sent me the morning after our journey. Paul wrote that “our chance meeting was a poem waiting to be written”, and I now hold that as a mantra for every chance meeting to come. Here’s the whole poem for you to enjoy!

 An Amtrak Ride To New York From Philadelphia 

at 12:A M On A Tuesday Morning

(To Julie @ Totem Tamers)

Chance meetings can reveal

the color of one’s eyes

if you take the time to look;

chance meetings can be a

conversation in which you

hear yourself in another person’s voice;

chance meetings can be pleasant

as homemade lemonade

on the front porch of a sunny day

Our chance meeting was a poem

waiting to be written, a time to

wrap ourselves in the shared

moments of what we already know –

how else can we change the world?

An Amtrak journey and a subway ride

uptown to 72nd street offered

the usual perspectives

on renown habits of the world;

nothing much has changed

It is better to practice caution

when a woman is coming home

in the peculiar darkness

of New York sorrows

aware and alone

Still, we made our way to wherever

We had to go, asking questions of ourselves

asking questions of tendered days –

one day, and if We meet again

We should compare answers

But, never accept things as they are

when We know how things should be –

How should We live within the days of our lives?

 

Stay well.

Where is my sun?

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:26-04:00 July 8th, 2016|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, civil rights, Creative, creativity, death, depression, gun violence, inspiration, Liberty, Life, loss, love, mental health, mind/body, poetry, racism, sadness|

darkness and the sun

Looking for my sun….

 

Where is my sun?

Woke up and it was gone

Clouded by a rain of ammo and tears

Shrouded by sadness and awash in fears

 

Darkness is here but not the dark of night

it is the dark that suffocates the power of light

I am searching in vain to understand what’s become

to understand why I can’t see my sun

 

I am not wise to how this all started

I only know I am broken hearted

my brothers and sisters demanding justice be done

all of us waiting for the light of the sun

 

The list is too long of those we have lost

we claim we want freedom but look at the cost

Two sides against each other but no one has won

as we stand in the dark longing for the sun

 

There can be no more death, no more blood spatter

and yes it is clear that all lives matter

now more than ever we have to stand as one

now more than ever we need the light of the sun

 

Where is my sun?

Woke up and it was gone

clouded by a rain of ammo and tears

shrouded by sadness and awash in fears

 

As I wait for the chance to feel the warmth again

I choose to shine my love on others from within

My right to bear my arms that I use to hug all and one

my right to laugh and smile and be my own sun.

 

Stay well.

Happy 4th of July from Totem Tamers!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:27-04:00 July 4th, 2016|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, bears, civil rights, Liberty, Life, military, mind/body, nyc, soccer|

I was lucky enough to enjoy a soccer game with my kids and dear friends yesterday at Yankee Stadium, which feels American in and of itself. There were peanuts and popcorn and lots of rah-rah’s! It also happened to be Military Appreciation Day at the NYCFC (New York City Football Club) game, so we were blissfully serenaded with our national anthem by the Sergeants Choir which was just awesome.

Bear waits for the flag!

Bear waits for the flag!

There were many members of the military on the field and it was heartwarming to watch the entire stadium rise to their feet even before the announcer asked everyone to rise.

Bear watches as the flag unfurls!

Bear watches as the flag unfurls!

This was definitely a beautifully choreographed scene and then it took an interesting turn, this was no ordinary flag!

American flag of America!

American flag of America!

The flag is in the shape of the United States of America!!! Never seen that one before and it was awesomely patriotic!

Celebrate safely my Totem Tamers friends, and marvel at the world we live in and keep those who are suffering and struggling and living in fear in your thoughts and prayers. We fought for independence but we are dependent on each other to stay safe.

Stay well.

Happy International Women’s Day 2016!!!

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:44-04:00 March 8th, 2016|activist, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, charity, civil rights, Equality, inspiration, Life, mind/body, motherhood, women|

Celebrate the women in your life today! Not just because it’s International Women’s Day, but because it feels good to celebrate other people. Give an extra smile. Make someone laugh. The reward will be your own.

International Women's Day

Celebrate #IWD2016

Stay well!

You could even give a Totem if you like! Visit our store and get a Totem for the women in your life!

 

A muslim-american, african-american, and caucasian-american all walk into my house….

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:47-04:00 January 18th, 2016|activist, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, childhood, civil rights, Equality, family, friends, friendship, holiday, inspiration, Liberty, Life, mental health, parenthood, parenting, racism, religion, stress, stress relief, Uncategorized|

and THAT my friends is part of Dr. King’s dream. This is just a cross-sampling of the kids that come over to hang out and play video games with my kids. And it’s awesome, because in those moments, it’s only about whose player has better stats or who has annihilated more zombies. There’s no question of religion or race, it’s just kids being kids, and that has to be attributed to all the work Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., fought for and ultimately died for. On this day, when we get a break from school, many get a break from work, maybe we will have a nice brunch or go to a movie, take a moment to acknowledge that we have indeed come very far. Then take another moment and consider how far we still have to go. Thank you Dr. King, for your dream, for sharing it, and for inspiring many to be better human beings.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Be the dream!

Stay well.