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
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:
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.
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!
We’ve got attachment parenting, we’ve got authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive, but headphone parenting? That’s got to be the worst and saddest of em all! What is headphone parenting, you ask? On two separate occasions today, as I was taking my four-legged kid for a walk, I saw two parents engaging in what I’m dubbing headphone parenting. The first one was this morning, the sun was freshly warming my face and the sounds of the birds far outweighed the songs of sirens on my street. A cute little girl, maybe 2 or 3 years old at most, cuts through the chirping with her squirming grunts as she really wants out of her stroller. Dad and daughter are stopped on the sidewalk ahead of me. What’s the dad doing? He’s adjusting the headphones in his ears. Yes, both ears. The girl is clearly annoyed, probably because she’s being completely ignored!!!! My heart sank, because I remember the thousands of stroller walks I took with my three kids over the years, and all of the things we used to notice around us, and chat about, even in the gibberish neither of us could understand. Sadly, this trend of headphone parenting is something I’ve been noticing a lot lately, not just with parents, but with the caretakers charged with watching the kids in my neighborhood. More than once have I witnessed a babysitter, headphones stuffed in to each ear, loudly having a conversation with some unknown on the other end of the line. All the while the kid they are supposed to be taking care of sits in silence unnoticed, yet listening to you as you bitch and complain about her parents who asked you to stay late tonight, or your boyfriend who didn’t bring you flowers again, or any other piece of nonsense that you go on and on about, instead of paying attention to the kid, which by the way is what you’re getting paid to do! It’s beyond frustrating to say the least. And I think today, if I was hiring a sitter to take care of my baby, I would insist that headphones not be used and that personal calls are only to be taken in the case of an emergency or at least when the child is napping, and still not with headphones!
Anyway, second walk of the day, and here comes another Dad, with baby strapped in to a harness. So cute, right? The kid had fallen asleep, so it didn’t annoy me as much that the Dad was fully plugged in to both ears, but when you think about how his senses are now diminished because he can’t hear if someone comes up behind him on a bike, skateboard, scooter or whatever, it’s actually kind of scary! When I’m walking, and I’m listening to music or one of several podcasts I enjoy, I almost always have one ear in and one ear out. I want to be as aware of my surroundings as possible, and I’m just looking out for me in those instances. When I’m with my kids, guess what? NO FREAKING HEADPHONES!!! Even if we aren’t talking, or even if they aren’t talking to me (yes, that happens), I give them my attention as best I can!! Oh, and you know what else? They aren’t wearing headphones when we are out and about together, either!
Please don’t tune out your kids, especially at a young age when they need and crave interaction. Yes, I know it can be tedious at times to always point out the doggy coming up the block, or the helicopter flying over head, but it counts, it counts for a lot.
Ok my rant is over for now, but do yourself a favor, if you have kids, check in with them so they know you’re listening, even if they aren’t saying a word!
No, we aren’t selling anxiety, silly! But we are selling Totems that will help with any anxiety you or your kids might be experiencing as they go back to school. You might be saying “Hey, we’ve been back to school for almost a month, you’re a little late!” Well, all kids are different, and I learned this with my own, especially around back to school time. First day, usually a breeze. First week, pretty much unscathed. Second week, the “I don’t want to go to school dance” begins. My kids, all of them, would be fine for the first couple weeks, and then the s*%t would hit the fan. Sometimes it’s the excitement of a new beginning that helps hide the anxiety that kids might be feeling. Sometimes it’s the realization that this is the new normal that kicks the anxiety in to high gear. Either way, Totem Tamers can help. Anxiety typically leaves people overwhelmed and feeling out of control and powerless, more so for children, who struggle verbalizing these feelings. So, we want to make it easier for you and/or your kids, or anyone you know that might benefit from some simple coping techniques, and we are putting our Totems on sale!
Visit our shop at www.totemtamers.com/shop and choose from Owl, Bear, Shark, or Bulldog and empower yourself to find calm when you need it most. Every Totem comes with a super soft microfiber bag (which doubles as an eyeglass lens cleaner), a handy guide card that gives you simple steps on regaining calm, and a beautiful, weighted Totem that feels great in your hand and not too bulky in your pocket! We have an incredibly illustrated booklet available as well, that can be really helpful for children, who might benefit from visuals when trying to explain how they feel. And, if you’re feeling super generous, we can even add a gorgeous natural wood box if you want to give a Totem as a gift! Get on the road to calm, and get your Totem today!
My kids stash Totems in their backpacks, because knowing it’s there is sometimes all they need to know when they’re feeling anxious.
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!”
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.
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.)
When I first became a mom, I had lots of ideas about the kind of parent I would be. Organic food was just taking hold, and I was going to make my baby food from scratch! Nothing processed. That was my goal at least. What ended up happening was a combination of prepared and homemade food, and my kid is now 6 feet tall, so I think it was a good mix. Hey, at least I tried!
I was also going to be the kind of mom who didn’t resort to “the magic box” of screens to babysit my kid while I was eating bon-bon’s on the couch! That was my goal at least. Until at two months old, I noticed something wasn’t right with my baby and he couldn’t quite turn his head to the left. An MRI and diagnosis later (torticollis), the only thing that helped exercise my son’s neck and essentially repair this condition, was that darn magic box. My kid is now on his way to a very respected pre-college program, so I think it wasn’t too damaging. Hey, at least I tried!
My 17-year-old and I are heading out on a 6 hour drive to the pre-college I just mentioned. I can’t help but remember when I went to pre-college, ahem, just a few years ago, ahem. It was the summer before senior year in high school, and I wanted, no, I needed to get out of my house, and fortunately for me, Syracuse University still had a couple spots left for their summer program. Next thing I know, I’m on a plane with a duffle bag and my sheer will. The summer at SU changed the trajectory of my life, for all intents and purposes. It was a great summer, and I met some really incredible people and ended up going to, and graduating from Syracuse University. Go Orange!! I can’t help but wonder how my son’s experience this summer at Carnegie Mellon, will shape his future. I am beyond excited for him, and I can’t help but relive the feeling of walking around a college campus for the first time on my own, and how freeing it felt. Then of course, I imagine my son enjoying that same feeling and my eyes fill with tears. My baby is growing up, and the internal wrestling I’m experiencing between the recognition of how much time has passed for me, and how much more time my children have in front of them, is like a steel-cage match between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant! I’m already exhausted and we haven’t even left yet.
I’m going to be the kind of mom that helps my son unpack his bags and makes sure his clothes are put away. I’ll be the kind of mom that takes care of renting the fridge for the room while giving the speech about cleanliness and not attracting bugs. I’ll be the kind of mom that buys the school sweatshirt because I am damn proud of my son. I’ll also be the kind of mom who won’t cry until she’s well out of sight of her boy. Hey, I’ll at least try.
Update:Today marks my second experience with these super bizarre migraines, but at least now I know what it is! Enjoy the weekend all!
Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop, that was the scene running through my mind the other night, when I was convinced I had a brain tumor.
Thankfully, Arnold’s words mirrored the doctor, who also said “It’s not a tumor, it appears to be a migraine.” Good news! So good, I started to cry with relief. Here’s the scene: My boys and I were getting ready to sit down to dinner and I was doing a last check of email on my phone. There was a smudge on the screen that I tried to wipe off, but it wouldn’t go away. Oddly enough when I looked away from the phone screen, the smudge followed me. Too much screen time perhaps? My eyes must be dry! I put some rewetting drops in and waited, and that’s when the technicolor-disco lights-shimmering prisms started dancing before my eyes. Only on the left side of my periphery, but visible when either eye was closed. I sit down at the table, and we are psyched because we have just started the final season of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, and I can’t really see the TV with all these lights dancing in my eyes. And there it is, that warm, far-away gurgle, that starts deep in my gut, then buzzes through me with a flash, where for a moment I feel lighter than air. Sounds almost pleasant right? Well, it’s not, it’s the start of a major panic attack because I have just realized that I’m in the middle of some kind of episode involving my brain, and I’m half expecting to drop, right there at the dinner table during Buffy. I get up and head to my room where I can take very slow, deep breaths, in an effort to calm my climbing blood pressure. The visual disturbance meanwhile, is becoming more pronounced. Thankfully my babysitter was still around, as I knew I needed medical attention. I had her do the stroke test with me so I could rule that out, and then I called my mom. By the time my mom came to get me, the disco had pretty much stopped. You’d think I would have been happy about that, but as soon as all the dancing lights faded away, a lovely headache creeped up on the opposite side of my head. Yup, I’m a goner.
There’s an Urgent Care around the corner so we headed there, my stiff upper lip, my headache, and my mommy. One friend had suggested it was a migraine, but I had never really had one before so I was skeptical, but clearly there’s a first time for everything! I experienced what is perfectly described as an ocular migraine with aura! I always knew I had a pretty shimmery aura, but I thought the point was for other people to notice it, not me! I have a sense of humor about it now obviously, but I was terrified, and I have tremendous empathy for everyone I know (and even those I don’t), that suffers from any kind of migraine. I got off easy with this one because I actually was functioning and doing fine considering the dull throb. So fine, that I was able to keep my chaperoning duties with 28 fourth graders for a trip to the Whitney Museum! I saw a piece from the Frank Stella exhibit that reminded me of my disco lights!
I’ve read about all the triggers, and of course, most of them are things I thoroughly enjoy (red wine, chocolate, etc.), I might just have to do process of elimination to determine what I can get away with!! It’s scary when something is going on and you feel helpless, I am grateful that Totem Tamers helps to remind me to take deep breaths, because I’m certain those deep breaths kept me from fainting out of fear. I hope I never experience this again, but at least now I know what it is and knowing is half the battle! Would love to hear from all you migraine sufferers, tips, triggers, suggestions!!!
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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!
Ever had a pair of socks bring tears to your eyes? Well, I have, and I’m not ashamed to admit it! See there’s this thing on the interweb called Facebook. On this Facebook, people and businesses create profiles so they can connect with one another and introduce each other to really cool and interesting things that are floating around in Cyberspace, and yes that includes cat videos, pictures of food, weird selfies, vintage photographs, babies being silly, adults being silly, and certainly some interesting and inspirational businesses (like Totem Tamers)!
Most everyone who knows me, knows that I am a bit of a sock lover. Bottom line, I’m a sucker for a great pair of socks. I have sushi socks (thanks partner), I have stripes, polka dots, stars, argyle (my faves), in all kinds of crazy colors. I may be dressed for a business meeting and look all conservative and such, but I guarantee there’s a party on my feet! One day, trolling around on that Facebook thing, I see a post about socks (can’t remember who originated it, but thank you), so of course I click on it, it’s socks! And not just any socks, it’s John’s Crazy Socks! There’s every sock style you can think of, butterflies (I got some of those), drum sets (got one for the kid), sports of all kinds, owls (like Owl Totem) and even shark socks (like Shark Totem!), had to get those!
So this John person clearly has great taste in socks, who is he? Turns out John is a sock lover just like me, who wanted to share his love of socks with everyone. John also happens to have Down Syndrome, but that didn’t stop him, with the help of his dad, in creating a great company that helps sock lovers like me find super cool socks, and also gives back to his community. 5% of profits from the sale of socks goes to the Special Olympics. How do you beat that? Great socks and charity in one place! Turns out John is also an athlete who competes in the Special Olympics, in many different events. Impressive!
The next time you decide you need to replace the socks in your drawer that have holes in them or somehow no partner, why not get crazy, and buy from John’s Crazy Socks!
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!
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!