There is only silence in the Soundgarden today.

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

 

Melancholy beauty.

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:14-04:00 May 5th, 2017|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, apartment, central park, depression, earth, forecasting, inspiration, Life, meditation, mental health, mind/body, motherhood, nyc, sadness, single parents, stress, stress relief, therapy, weather|

It’s a rainy day here in my city, which seems apropos of the mood of pretty much all of the important people in my life today. Most of the country is reeling from a vote that occurred yesterday because now most of the country is fearful about their healthcare and future of insurance coverage. That’s a little more than a melancholy feeling of course, but you get the point. Meanwhile, I still got up this morning to walk the dog, wake the kids, make lunches, tie shoes, cover up dark circles, check for chin-hairs, contemplate exercise, have coffee, say hi to friends on the street, help my mom with an errand, and so forth. And all of that before noon! There’s a certain beauty in the mundane, a peacefulness to a regimen, a hope to things going seemingly unchanged. It’s Springtime in New York City, and even though the rain falls outside, like tears from a cathartic cry, there is beauty if you look for it, and sometimes even when you don’t.

Beautifully dreary!

Try to find something beautiful for yourself today, even if that means simply recognizing that you get today. I had a neighbor for a couple years who always managed a sunny disposition even on the worst of days when her aching bones would creak and she would find it hard to get up from a chair or take her walk down the block. Her disposition was evident whenever I asked  “How are you?” She would always smile and give the best answer, one that I have now adopted, she would say, “I’m upright. It’s a good day.”

Find beauty in being upright, no matter how dreary the world may look.

Stay well.

What’s in your reflection?

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:17-04:00 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.

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.

Gratitude before my eyes.

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:50-04:00 December 16th, 2015|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, art, beach, creativity, depression, earth, gratitude, inspiration, meditation, mental health, ocean, stress, stress relief, therapy, totems, Uncategorized, weather|

Natural beauty!

Natural beauty!

I took this picture a couple weeks ago and just came across it again. It takes my breath away now, just as it did when I snapped the shot. I remember standing there and feeling so grateful for the picturesque view and in that moment finding peace. Since that picture was taken, there have been plenty of moments that haven’t been peaceful, and I don’t mean the global tragedies that we’ve witnessed recently, but on the smaller more manageable scale of my life. Thankfully nothing terribly dramatic has happened, just the hustle and bustle of the every day that pulls me away from those moments of peace. When the picture popped up on my screen, it gave me pause because the reaction was to actually stop what I was doing (searching for a picture of one of my kids) and take in the view again. What a powerful tool that I didn’t know I had! This picture will find a place on my computer desktop now, so I can be reminded regularly to take a pause and find gratitude. Thankfully there is beauty all around us and in the simplest things, we just have to give ourselves permission to experience it and know that our busy, hectic lives will still be there waiting for us two minutes later. The gift is that we get to come back to the chaos with a renewed energy and appreciation for what we have. It’s the renewed energy that helped motivate me to share this with you! Enjoy the picture, or better yet, look for the beauty around you in this moment and capture it for your own gratitude! If you like, and I know I would, please share it with me at julie@totemtamers.com!

Stay well.

The thing about sadness…

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:02-04:00 July 19th, 2015|childhood, death, depression, friendship, Life, sadness|

There I am, doing what I do best (ok, one of the things that I do best, anyway), flirting away with my kids’ ridiculously cute, and ridiculously young dentist, and keeping the technician laughing. We are having a grand ole time because, well, we aren’t the one getting our teeth drilled and having cavities filled. My son was a trooper, he didn’t complain once, and I swear, he enjoys the banter and the giggling as much as we do. I’m checking Facebook, answering emails, texting with friends, and helping distract and occupy the space in the room to help with my own anxiety of the sound of the whirring from the drill. Then it happened. I didn’t see it coming, and was absolutely powerless over it. That familiar burn at the backs of my eyes, the heaviness on my heart, the widening of my eyebrows as I realize I am about to shed tears in the dentists office. It felt like minutes, but I am sure it was only seconds, that I sort of recovered, by checking the possibility of rain out the window, pressing a fingernail into another finger, burying my face in my phone, and now the spinning in my head to understand what had just happened. Sadness washed over me like a wave toppling an unsuspecting toddler frolicking on the shore. I was having a good time, and then boom, I’m reduced to a helpless mess, almost. I am really skilled at keeping my shit together when necessary. It’s a gift and a curse, because then I have to really figure out a way to release all those well-guarded emotions, and ask my therapist, the release doesn’t happen nearly enough. One of the benefits of this gift, is that I can go right into my head and analyze what’s going on inside me and then philosophize with it and turn it into something meaningful. Like this:

It makes sense that a dentist’s office could make me sad, since my dentist passed away last year. His loss had a tremendous effect on me and I wrote about it a few days after he died. But I had been doing ok, and going to a new dentist, where everything was/is shiny and happy and different! This new office is open 7 days a week and long hours at that, and they give you coffee mugs and sugar free gum and smiles and it’s great! And it’s not great, because it’s not my old dentist, where the smell of freshly baked cookies always hung in there ( a trick to see how well the kids could brush the chocolate out of pesky molars), and the fickle puppy would come out of the office to see if she deemed you worthy of her presence. I miss those things, and missing them makes me sad, and sadness makes my heart hurt and my tears fall. I have another gift though, and this is truly a gift, it’s the ability to look at a moment, a situation, an experience, and find gratitude for having had the moment.  I am sad because someone good, someone special, someone kind and funny, is no longer around to impart those feelings, but I am sad because I was able to have all those great feelings with that person, and that’s where the meaning lies. If it was someone who didn’t make me feel good and special and kind, I might have a moment of empathy, sympathy, but not this sadness that only comes from having been able to feel really happy in the first place. So the thing about sadness….welcome it, because it means you had happiness first, and you will once again. It also helps if your kids have a cute dentist.

Stay well.

My dentist was the first to suggest having Totems in his office to help anxious patients, and I promise all the Totems were in hand at the dentist on this last visit. If you, or someone you know, has dental anxiety, get them a Totem! It’s as simple as holding your Totem, taking deep breaths and repeating our helpful rhyme, the dentist can become tolerable and manageable. Just click on any of the Totems on the side of the page and get one today!