There is only silence in the Soundgarden today.

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:13+00:00 May 18th, 2017|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, brotherhood, brothers, childhood, children, classic rock, death, depression, drug use, drugs, family, gratitude, grief, inspiration, Life, loss, mental health, mind/body, motherhood, Music, parenthood, parenting, rock and roll, rock n roll, sadness, stress, stress relief, suicide, suicide prevention|

I woke up this morning to the news that singer Chris Cornell had passed away last night. I was, and  continue to be, in total shock. Shock is one of those emotions that encompasses so many feelings, sadness, anger, surprise, confusion, and many others, that all get rolled in to one numbing category, shock. I immediately think of my kids, especially my two older ones, who rocked out with me at the Beacon Theater in 2015, to Chris and his magical voice. I am reminded of the moment Chris brought his daughter on stage to do a beautiful rendition of “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley.

“None but ourselves can free our minds.”

I remember loving that they could perform together, and I related to it because of moments I share with my children, when we are either at a concert together, or home singing and harmonizing with each other.  And now, now I would have to tell my kids that another musician, another rock star, another beautiful voice, has left us. I messaged their Dad because the boys were with him last night, and he decided that it would be best to let them get to school first, rather than upsetting them on their way to school. So I’ve been waiting for the texts that would inevitably come as they found out the news.

My oldest messaged first: “Chris Cornell, 52. I can’t believe it. I’m so angry.” Anger is good, anger is helpful and therapeutic, I still end up in tears because I know how affected he will be. I wait. My middle messages moments later in a group text to his brother, his Dad, and me: A link to the story followed by “This sucks so much. It’s sad.” I do my best to validate both of their feelings and share my own, and then I have to do the job of inspirational leader, which is not easy when you’re hurting, so best I can do is be honest. I write “I want to send you some positive, uplifting, inspirational text right now, but the only thing I can come up with is that I love you so very much and hope you will always be open and find strength in difficult moments and ask for help. Channel the anger and the sadness into creativity and hope. Easier said than done, but we go on.”

Always create together!

My boys, jamming together, creating together, making music together, being…together. They give me hope. They make sad news like this, shock like this, a little easier to manage, partly because I have to keep it together for them, but also because we have each other. I will hug them a little more tightly today, as we all process the passing of Chris Cornell, who impressed us with his vocal range, and his seeming ability to rise above. It’s not clear how he died, and I’m not sure that it really matters, I just find gratitude that he graced us for as long as he did and that he finds peace wherever he may be.

Stay well.

 

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!

The day the music died…..again.

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:51+00:00 December 4th, 2015|addiction, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, brotherhood, brothers, childhood, children, classic rock, creativity, death, drug use, drugs, family, harm reduction, heroin, loss, Music, overdose, overdose prevention, parenthood, parenting, prevention, rock and roll, rock n roll, stress, stress relief, Uncategorized|

Score another one for the Demons as we wake up today to the news that former lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots, Scott Weiland, was found dead on a tour bus yesterday. This one is devastating, well they’re all devastating really, but this one hits closer to home. We are a musical family, there’s always music happening in one form or another, whether it’s my two older boys jamming in their room, or my little one tapping out a rhythm or humming a tune. Stone Temple Pilots has been a band my kids have enjoyed a lot lately, plucking out acoustic versions, even my son and I harmonizing on some songs occasionally. Telling them this morning was hard, especially for my older one. It reminds me of when I had to tell them that Cory Montieth, of Glee, had passed away. That one wasn’t easy for my middle son, who was a big Glee fan. I talk about my brother often, he lost to the Demons as well, and as hard as it is to talk about him, it’s important. So this morning when I told my boys about Weiland, I could only offer them my hope that Weiland’s death, like my brother’s, like Monteith’s, would somehow help them make better choices in their lives. I could only feel the frustration that the life-saving drug Naloxone, invented by my step-dad, isn’t more widely available and easily accessible. So I talk about it, and I talk about it some more, and hope that people will be shocked to hear that overdose deaths topped deaths from car accidents in 2013, because that is shocking and a lot of those deaths, likely preventable.

Scott Weiland earlier this year. wrkr.com

Scott Weiland earlier this year. wrkr.com

This image of Weiland gives me shivers because I see my sons in it, and my brother, who also played guitar and sang and loved Stone Temple Pilots. This image gives me shivers because it’s another ghost added to the horror story of drug users who couldn’t be saved. This image gives me shivers because until we realize that the “War on Drugs” has only created casualty after casualty, we will continue to lose more and more beautiful people, like Scott Weiland. I hope he finds peace and that the Demons are satisfied, for at least a little while.

Stay well.

PS:If you are a drug user, or know someone who is, and you would like access to an overdose prevention kit, email me at julie@totetmtamers.com

Do you, you, feel like I do?

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:50+00:00 November 24th, 2014|anxiety, classic rock, cognitive behavioral therapy, mental health, rock and roll|

The answer is simple. No. We may have shared emotional experiences like the thrill ride of a roller coaster, the tears from a sad movie, the reflexive nervous laughter that happens when someone trips and falls. Sure we can all feel those things together, even at the same time, but your feelings are not like my feelings, and mine are unlike yours. Mine come from a different foundation, a different history, a different set of genes, so something that makes me laugh so hard I contemplate Poise pads, may not have the same impact on your bladder. Something that makes me cry so hard the snot just runs like a newly opened dam, may merely make you tear up. Does that make your feelings right and mine wrong? Does that make me more sensitive and you insensitive? Another simple answer, no. It makes you a human capable of a wealth of emotions and experiences based on those emotions, and the only job you have is to honor those emotions. It doesn’t mean that you can’t overdo it sometimes or get overwhelmed or find that your emotions aren’t physiologically manageable. That’s why we have all sorts of tools out there to help you, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Biofeedback, and yes, even medication. Depression for example, is not a choice, it’s an illness or a disorder, it’s something that goes on deep inside a person that impacts the outside of a person. Sure, depression can be brought on by trauma, whereas it’s experienced in a temporary way, and they’re the lucky ones in a sense, because they will get to the light at the end of the tunnel. Others that suffer deep depression aren’t necessarily looking for the end of the tunnel, but just a little relief from the darkness, and those people typically benefit from medication. Didn’t mean to end up so maudlin today, but the notion of emotions is a constant theme. Totem Tamers came out of my need to help my middle son deal with his anxiety attacks. I had no idea how to help him, I had no idea what was going on in his head, and I had no idea what would happen from moment to moment. Part of my frustration was not understanding why his shirt not fitting just right could set him off into a full blown rage, for example. Trust me, I get pissed when sucking in my gut and yanking up my pants from the heels  doesn’t help get me zipped, but I move on. My son gets trapped in his emotional response. I still struggle with his responses, but at least now, I can say “That’s his response and although I don’t understand or relate to it, my goal is to help him through it.” So when someone tells you something that is upsetting to them and you don’t quite get it or resonate with it, don’t dismiss it as unimportant or silly. That’s the worst thing you can do to someone. Take a deep breath, exhale, and let them know that you’re listening and that you hear their frustrations and that even though you may not “get” what’s causing them to have the emotional experience, you recognize and validate that they are having that experience. Maybe that was too convoluted. Let’s do a quick scene to demonstrate:

Son: “I can’t sleep in that bed now because my little brother was laying on it.”

Mom: (In my head: “Are you freaking kidding me?! It’s late. I’m tired. There are two other beds to choose from. Can you please just get into one so I can go read my trashy novel and hopefully fall asleep soon?!”) Out loud and for real now: “Honey, I hear how frustrated you are that your brother got on the bed. It’s late and we are all tired. You have two other beds to choose from so how can we make this happen?”

Make more sense? See how I didn’t tell him he was being ridiculous and incredibly infuriating? I let him know that I heard him, let him know that it was ok for him to have his feelings but also that the rest of have feelings too and the goal is to move forward and through the feelings not just stay in them.

So with that I leave you to feel your feelings and hum Peter Frampton all day!

Stay well.

If you don’t have a Totem Tamer to help you through your feelings, you can get one just by clicking on any of the Totems on the page!