Be proud of who you are, always!
love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love
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!
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).
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.
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?
I shouldn’t be crying when I read my morning paper, but the last few days it’s been hard not to well up with tears in the aftermath of such ugliness and devastation from the tragic events that occurred in Orlando. The outpouring of love from around the world has certainly been remarkable and beautiful to witness. My heart hurts as we learn the names of those who were killed and about their lives, lost too soon.
Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old
Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old
Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
Cory James Connell, 21 years old
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old
Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old
Many are still physically injured and some clinging to life in the hospital, the emotional injuries are enough to last a hundred lifetimes. We can only hope for some sort of healing for the community and the world, and the courage to live on.
I see some of that courage in a beautiful young lady named Serena, who has struggled, not only internally, but also externally with the ignorance and narrow-mindedness of people she comes in contact with as she moves through her life.
This is the text Serena received from someone she actually lived with and shared space with. It makes me sick to think that she had to walk on the same floor, sleep under the same roof, heck use the same door as someone so ignorant and hurtful. But in perfect Serena style, she let her have it on social media, as people like this shouldn’t be allowed to spew hate and not get called out on it! The comments of support for Serena were awesome and the collective that came to her defense even greater. Serena and I haven’t actually met irl (ha, I think I’m so cool for using text speak (it means “in real life”)), but I know her folks, her dad for a really long time, and I get the sense that she’s always been courageous, always a WARRIOR. Serena documented her transition for everyone to see in a blog that she maintained at http://www.cambio.com/2015/07/22/my-gender-confirming-surgery-and-recovery-meet-serena-2-0/. Serena happens to be a great writer, and her willingness to share her ups and downs while claiming her true self, going through surgeries, suffering discrimination and more, is what makes Serena a WARRIOR.
“In the wake of such horrific violence and discrimination against the LGBTQ community, I realize how proud I am to be unapologetically myself and part of a community that is all about solidarity, love, and acceptance. #TransIsBeautiful#GirlsLikeUs #LoveWins #Equality ❤️????????” Serena
Thank you for sharing your story Serena, and I’m honored and humbled to be able to watch it unfold!
The http://www.thetrevorproject.org has tons of resources for anyone questioning, knowing, or curious!
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.
Well, sort of. As a dear friend calls it, this is “love day”! This isn’t a day where you’re supposed to feel sad if you aren’t in a relationship, for example, this is a day where you find gratitude for being able to love in the first place!! And the best way to find that gratitude is by loving yourself, and then you can make room to love others. I know people who think this day is a crock of you-know-what, others who use this day to lament that they are ever lonely and will never meet the right person, and still others who cherish their loved ones and celebrate them with flowers and chocolates and fancy dinners. Me? Sure I’ve gone through different iterations of this day, but I’m wiser now (fine, older), and I realize it’s not about romance, it’s not about relationship, it’s about finding love in yourself so that you can share it with others. Then it can be shared back with you, and that’s what “love day” is about. I am blessed with three incredible children who fill my heart on a daily basis, so it’s Valentine’s Day every day in my house! So whenever you need a Valentine, start by looking in the mirror, and there you’ll see the best Valentine of all, then offer your love from that reflection, and this day, and every day, will always be special, no matter what!
A Totem is a great Valentine to have because they always keep you company and always keep you calm. Get yours today or even better, get one for you and your Valentine!
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.
It’s International Women’s Day! Yes, a day when we are supposed to acknowledge women all over the world and recognize that we are vital, contributing members of society who should be treated equally in the workplace, as well as the community! Sure, we can all say that, and it is true of course, but it isn’t so easy when there are so many cultures across the globe that continue to keep women oppressed, suppressed and ultimately depressed. I can sit here in judgement because I live in a free country that allows me to do so, a country that allows me every opportunity to further myself and better myself without risk of retribution or persecution. I do not judge the women who choose to live and respect the cultures they are in, although I often do not understand the choice. The cultures that do not allow women to learn, to work outside the home, to show their bodies without fear of punishment, etc.. I am young enough not to remember what it was like for women who fought for the right to vote, however I am experienced enough to know that my breasts have gotten in the way of me being promoted, for example. Yes, the power and the curse of the boob! Thankfully, today we see beautiful, sexy, and yes, really smart women, getting attention and progressing in the workplace. However, most of them will probably tell you that they struggle with the balance, heck, I’ll happily tell you! (See what I did there?) In all seriousness, women have come very far and continue to make tremendous strides in the workplace, but gender inequality is still an issue, when men and women get paid differently for the same job. That has to change, that will change, and we will work together to make that change. As we do so, continue to celebrate the women around you and thank the ones who came before you, while guiding the ones following close behind!
We celebrated the birthday this week, of a man who had a dream. I had intended to post a happy birthday blog, honoring Dr. King and his dream. I got too busy and couldn’t get to it on Monday. Then yesterday, more life got in the way and I was managing the schedule of three kids, myself and even the dog (yes, he has a schedule, too!) Once again, no blog post. Then it hit me, it’s never too late to honor someone who had a vision of unity and hope, it’s never too late to say thank you to someone who had the courage to stand up for what he believed in, it’s never too late to dream. Happy birthday and thank you Dr. King! Last night, as our President delivered the State of the Union address, Dr. King’s dream was floating in the space around us all. We heard the President talk about how far we have come, and yet remind us that in so many ways, we are still a long way from realizing the dream.
This is the view Dr. King had when he delivered his “I have a dream” speech, more than 50 years ago. Standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and looking out across the reflecting pool, I am humbled and awe-inspired. We all have the ability to dream, and in the United States of America, we all have the right to dream. It makes no matter how big or small, how lofty or far-reaching, how minor or how grand, as long as you exercise that right to dream! You dream of being a rock star? Jam on! You dream of being a scientist? Study on! You dream of being a teacher? Lead on! That’s the beauty of being able to dream, there are no limitations. Dr. King’s dream wasn’t out of reach, and yes, look at how far we have come, but still, so far to go. Dr. King’s dream requires a collective, all of us, dreaming together. Working towards the same reality where we are all treated equally, where you can love who you want to love, work and earn what you deserve, where you can live without fear for being who you are, where we can all rest our heads on our pillows at night and have sweet dreams instead of nightmares. In the words of another dreamer, Steven Tyler, “Dream until your dreams come true.”
Keep a Totem by your bed while you dream to keep you calm even in your sleep! Click on any of the Totems on the page to shop for your dream today!