The color of love!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:09+00:00 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.

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.

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

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:14+00:00 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.

Being different IS beautiful!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:15+00:00 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.

There’s not a Monopoly on anxiety!!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:16+00:00 March 21st, 2017|accessories, animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, bears, childhood, children, cognitive behavioral therapy, Creative, creativity, family, gift, gratitude, inspiration, Life, meditation, mental health, mind/body, parenthood, parenting, stress, stress relief, totems|

That’s a cute intro to share the picture I got from a new Totem owner, but it’s also true. I don’t know how many times I have had the conversation regarding anxiety, and how EVERYONE has it. The difference is, that some people manage it better than others at different times and for various reasons. Some folks have no problem getting up in front of a crowd and speaking, for example, while others will break out in a cold sweat just thinking about it!! Hopefully it helps you to know, you are not alone in your anxiety, otherwise Totem Tamers would never have come to exist! This is why I love to share when Totem owners reach out to tell us (or show us) how they have connected with their Totems. This next picture is currently relevant, since the makers of the game Monopoly have just announced that many of the traditional tokens (totems) are being replaced! I vote we add Totems to the board!

Pass go!

Bear sitting on “Electric Company” is perfect, because anyone who has ever had an anxiety attack (see above: that means everyone), it can feel like electricity coursing through your body, and not in a good way. That’s why Totem Tamers not only come with weighted, bronze Totems, but also visualization and deep breathing techniques, to help you through your anxiety. If you don’t have a Totem, get one today by visiting our store at https://totemtamers.com/shop!

Thanks to the Totem family that sent this photo! If you want to share with us, and others, how Totem Tamers has helped you and found a place in your home, email me at julie@totemtamers.com.

Stay well.

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

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:16+00:00 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.

 

What’s in your reflection?

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:17+00:00 January 18th, 2017|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, apartment, Creative, creativity, depression, earth, gratitude, Life, mental health, mind/body, nyc|

The sun isn’t out today and I miss it. I often say that I don’t really care what the temperature is, as long as the sun is shining. Other people would trade temperature for sunlight. My apartment faces west, so I am often blessed with incredible sunsets, like this one:

Ahhh, what a way to make the end of a day!

My kids will testify that I often holler out during a sunset when the vista changes, imploring them to stop their homework and look outside. “Sunset!! Look now!!” They roll their eyes and then turn west and are always glad they have, which I mark with audible “wow’s” and “oooh’s”.

Mornings are different of course, because we don’t face the sunrise, so we don’t get to wake up with the sun in the same way we go to bed with sun, sort of. Living in a concrete jungle has it’s pluses and minuses, and one of the pluses I have found, is in the reflections. Maybe we don’t get to see the sunrise first hand, but boy do we get to see the reflection of it in the buildings around us, and sometimes it’s even better than the real thing!

Sunrise reflection!

I thought of the reflection this morning when I was missing the sun, and it actually provided me with a bit of a boost! It also made me think of how we reflect when we go out and about in the world. What does your reflection say about you? What does your reflection make other people feel? I smile. I also wink. Sometimes I smile and wink. It’s my greeting, my hello, my acknowledgment, my reflection. When I see someone, I smile, 9 times out of 10, they smile back. That’s the reflection we all want, and it’s the reflection we all need. So today, in the gray of the day (at least in the Northeast), while you’re out and about, reflect brightness, reflect happiness, reflect sunshine. Even if it’s not reflected back, the pleasure in giving is simply the giving and has nothing to do with receiving.

Stay well.

Our bronze Totems are reflected beautifully in the light, get one today! Visit our store at www.totemtamers.com/shop.

I am Butterfly.

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:18+00:00 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+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.

The shoulda, coulda, woulda shuffle!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:23+00:00 September 17th, 2016|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, Creative, creativity, Dreams, gratitude, Life, mental health, mind/body, motivation, sharing|

Have you heard about the latest dance craze? The shoulda, coulda, woulda shuffle! In all likelihood you haven’t seen it, not because it’s invisible, but it’s because it’s all in your head, and yours, yours too, and definitely mine! I am dancing all the freaking time inside my noggin. I shoulda had a green juice, I coulda gone to the gym, I woulda not eaten that donut. Just an example, and a light one at that. Sometimes the dance is very intricate and complicated. I shoulda taken that job all those years ago, I coulda been more successful, I woulda been happier. Maybe some of those shoulda, coulda, woulda’s, sound familiar? Maybe you’re in the dance right now? It’s definitely reminiscent of the two steps forward, one step back routine. And I know I have had many conversations with people who detest the dance and say “well, I’m not going to do the shoulda, coulda, woulda shuffle because I have no regrets!”

While my head was engaged in a full on lambada version of the dance this morning (lambada is that super sexy, hip grinding, gonna tease the heck out of you but not give you a darned thing dance), it occurred to me that it’s not about “having no regrets,” it’s about not settling for the space you’re in. I don’t mean to imply that the space you’re in, or I’m in, is not awesome and fabulous, but more that you haven’t stopped hoping for more and remembering where you came from. So even though the shoulda, coulda, woulda shuffle has you thinking back on choices you made or didn’t make for that matter, it reminds you that you have the option of choice, and that’s the best part of the dance. Maybe you went right when you shoulda gone left, maybe you picked red when you coulda picked blue, and maybe you chose to thrive when others woulda chosen to sit quietly in the corner. No matter what you choose, the shoulda, coulda, woulda shuffle is your own and it’s not defeatist to engage in the dance, in fact it’s motivating because it means you should have more, you could have more, and you will have more!

totems

The shoulda, coulda, woulda shuffle!

Stay well.

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

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:25+00:00 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+00:00 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.

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!