The color of love!

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

Parenting by headphone?

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:10-04:00 September 24th, 2017|accessories, anger management, animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, bears, bird lovers, birds, birds of prey, bulldogs, cardinals, cars, childhood, children, family, Life, mental health, mind/body, motherhood, motivation, nyc, ocean creatures, Owls, parenthood, parenting, pets, sharks, single parents, stories, story, storytelling, strangers, stress, stress relief|

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.

Headphone parenting?

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!

Stay well.

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

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

Wishing you much “Socks-cess”!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:15-04:00 March 26th, 2017|animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, charity, childhood, children, family, gift, gifts, gratitude, Life, mental health, mind/body, motivation, ocean, ocean creatures, sharks, shopping, social media, stress, stress relief, totems|

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!

Shark Totem meets Shark socks!

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!

John of John’s Crazy Socks!

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!

Stay well.

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

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

 

Her-knee-ugh!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:18-04:00 December 23rd, 2016|animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, gratitude, health, holiday, inspiration, Life, medicine, mental health, mind/body, motivation, recovery, stress, stress relief, surgeon, totems, travel, vacation|

I put my pants on ass backwards this morning. No, really, the ass was in the front, they’re not supposed to go on that way, but there I was walking my dog in my ass backwards pants and realizing that I could still put one foot in front of the other even if part of me was facing the wrong direction! I did try to put my hands in the pockets, but that didn’t work out so well. Point is, you never know what life will throw at you (or your country), and even though we can’t necessarily be prepared for every possibility, we can allow ourselves permission to just let it unfold.

Every Christmas, my kids go away with their Dad to see family upstate. They look forward to hanging out with their grandparents and their cousins and hopefully lots of soccer and football in the snow! Every year I convince myself that I am going to take a trip to some exotic location, or Miami, but those trips never quite seem to happen. This year, I was going to finally do it, and this past Monday I decided that I would head to my old stomping grounds in the 305 for a few days of warmth and visiting with friends. Monday night, my hernia, which has been close to me for quite a while, decided it didn’t want to go to Miami with me, so it’s begging to be shoved back from whence it came!

Where’s Sigourney Weaver when you need her?!

Ok that’s not my image, and for all I know that could be a guy, I can’t tell what all those nooks and crannies really are, but at least you can see the hernia there where the arrow is pointing. Mine thankfully isn’t that bad, or big, but it’s a bitch nonetheless and needs to be handled. So why am I telling you all this? Did you know that more than a million hernia surgeries are performed every year in the US? Yeah, I didn’t either, but what that means in all likelihood, is that several of you have probably had the surgery yourself! Mine is umbilical, for information purposes, but no matter your hernia, abdominal laparoscopic surgical recovery is surely somewhat similar. The tips and suggestions those of you, who are now experts might have, is probably very valuable to someone like me! So bring em on! I want to hear what helped you, and what didn’t help you, and what you wish you had known but weren’t warned about. And no, don’t tell me the horror story of your Uncle Sal who ended up bleeding out on the bathroom floor when he tried to pull out a stray nose hair after hernia surgery. But definitely tell me the story about Aunty Sheila whose flatulence was so horrific no one could stay in the room with her while she recovered! Get the drift? Keep it light, keep it helpful, keep it informative, but for goodness sakes, don’t keep it to yourself! We all benefit from shared experiences, so in the interest of helping me stay calm (I’ll have my Totems), please bestow the wisdom of your experiences on me and anyone else who might need it! Thanks and happy holidays!

Stay well.

We are magically sold out of inventory from this holiday season, but restocking shortly!! Put your orders in for Totems now and have them to use and share in the new year! Visit our store and choose your Totem today!

Seizing the moment…..

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:18-04:00 December 11th, 2016|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, apartment, bulldogs, childhood, children, dogs, holiday, inspiration, Life, meditation, mental health, mind/body, motivation, Music, nyc, prevention, rock and roll, rock n roll, stress, stress relief, totems|

I always talk about how much I love to hear from people who love their Totems! Sometimes the messages are bittersweet, especially if the Totems have helped them through some harrowing experiences.  For example, I received a message the other day from someone who could easily be a Totem Tamers spokesperson because he “gets it,” and I was glad when he said I could share his testimonial.

“As someone who has suffered from a seizure disorder his whole life, I think the Totems could be a big help to little kids who suffer from epilepsy or seizure problems.”

Bear Totem

Speaker buddy!

Bulldog sits on a speaker sending a regular reminder to take deep breaths and use visualization and repetition to help get through any potentially overwhelming scenario. Sometimes we need this reminder to help us prevent overwhelming situations. Like this Totem owner mentioned after a recent seizure, he was “overworked and stressed out”, which could describe most of us, if not all of us, especially around the holidays. So take it from me, speaker buddy, and our latest Totem Testimony, take a moment to listen to the music and remind yourself to breathe!

Stay well.

Send us your pictures and testimonials, to julie@totemtamers.com, and maybe your story can help others. I know it will help me!

It’s a personal foul for one ambitious football player!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:19-04:00 October 29th, 2016|activist, childhood, children, civil rights, family, friends, friendship, Liberty, Life, motherhood, motivation, nyc, parenthood, parenting, school, sports, teenager, teenagers, teens|

Some girls just wanna have fun, and some girls just wanna have fun playing football! What happens when some school rules get in the way of that? Well, we talk about it, and make some noise!  Especially when it’s the daughter of a friend who is being denied the chance to play  for her school even though she played last season! Once again it comes down to equality, the boys take a physical fitness test once and are on the team, for some reason, there’s an extra test for girls to take! An article detailing this young lady’s story can be found here!

Looks like a football player to me!  Photo cred:Sean Hale

Looks like a football player to me!
Photo cred:Sean Hale

I’m sure plenty of you are balking at the idea of a girl playing football, but I assure you Alison can hold her own. Heck, she’s been playing roller derby for years!!! This isn’t a question about safety, this is about fairness, and Alison, because she’s a girl, isn’t being treated fairly. So rather than give in and take this extra fitness test, she’s standing her ground like a solid linebacker, and not taking the test. She’s been kicked off the team as a result, and as her father says it “cost the school a good player.”

While we watch a woman juking and dodging every massive hit come her way as she runs for President of the United States, I can’t help but see that same resilience, courage and strength in Alison, and it gives me hope for the future. This “girl” should be able to play whatever sport she wants to play and be subjected to the same rules as her male counterparts. I’m sure the kid that was taken down by Alison last season by a massive hit, is probably relieved that she’s sitting this one out, but she’s doing anything but sitting, she’s standing up for herself and there’s nothing more important than that! Go Alison!!!

Stay well.

Just another Wednesday for most…..

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:20-04:00 October 26th, 2016|activist, addiction, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, brothers, drug use, drugs, harm reduction, heroin, inspiration, Life, loss, love, medicine, mind/body, motivation, overdose, overdose prevention, stress, stress relief|

Ghosts of WARRIORS past.

Jon and Ashley.

Wednesday started in typical fashion, walk the dog, kids off to school, have some coffee, catch up on Facebook and emails and texts. For a little it feels like just another Wednesday, and then I remember that it isn’t. Once again, the memories come crushing back as they have every year for the past 13 years, and I have to say goodbye to my brother all over again. I write about him every year on this day, the anniversary (seems like such a strange word to use) of his passing, because it helps. It helps me, it helps the people who knew my brother, it helps the people who didn’t know my brother, it just helps. My brother Jonathan is a part of my everyday, not just because he was my brother, but because his death from an overdose is what propels me to “do good” wherever I can. Deaths from opiod overdose can be prevented, we have my stepdad Jack Fishman, to thank for that. Now it’s our job to get that information out in to the world and get naloxone into the hands of anyone that needs it, thinks they’re going to need it, or thinks they might know someone who needs it. Yeah, that basically means everyone. I have written about this subject so many times, that I will just link a few of those posts here for you to peruse when you have time.

https://totemtamers.com/corned-beef-and-pastrami-on-rye-with-a-side-of-heroin/

https://totemtamers.com/a-very-personal-warrior-wednesday/

https://totemtamers.com/would-you-know-what-to-do-if-someone-was-experiencing-an-overdose/

I could write so much more, but part of me wants to go back to this being just another Wednesday, at least until later when my mom and I will be together and drink a toast to my brother, his girlfriend Ashley, and all the others who have been lost. I hope it’s just another Wednesday for you, even for just a minute.

Stay well.

My name is Julie and I have a mug problem.

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:22-04:00 September 29th, 2016|accessories, addiction, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, apartment, art, coffee, creativity, Design, gift, gifts, Life, mind/body, motivation, women, work|

It’s true. I see a mug and I want it. Mugs don’t have to be just for coffee or tea, they are awesome for soup, hot cocoa, hot toddy’s, chocolate pudding when you want people to think you’re really just drinking herbal tea, so many uses!!! I figured since it is National Coffee Day, that it is a good time for me to open about my problem. And please understand that it’s not a problem that affects my daily life or functioning, the problem is that I don’t have enough room for all the mugs I want, let alone for the mugs I have!

That's only one shelf of mugs!

That’s only one shelf of mugs!

So you’ll see everything from the iconic Zabar’s mug, to a holiday mug, to a mug that mocks Canada, to the Stig from the show Top Gear, and don’t forget one kid’s favorite soccer team, Dortmund! I have just added two new mugs that I saw online, and knew I had to add to my collection, partly because they’re adorable, and partly because it’s a pair of mugs!! Yes, two that come as a set!!! Ok fine, maybe it is a wee bit more of a problem than I admit to, but just look at these mugs from Boy Meets Girl!

Boy Meets Girl meet Totems!

Boy Meets Girl meet Totems!

Aren’t they the cutest mugs ever!!!!

Now that I feel better about my mugs, I want you to feel better with a list of places offering all kinds of freebies for National Coffee Day, click here http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2016/09/28/how-score-free-cup-joe-national-coffee-day/91231350/

Stay well.

Oh, and if you see a mug that you think is just awesome, or you have a favorite mug you’d like to show off, take a pic and send it to me at julie@totemtamers.com. Even better, if you have a Totem, include it in your picture! Cheers!

Cane and able…..

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:22-04:00 September 25th, 2016|accessories, animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, childhood, children, gratitude, Life, mind/body, motherhood, motivation, nyc, parenthood, parenting, strangers, stress, stress relief, totems|

I love teachable moments, and if you really think about it, every day we live there is a teachable moment somewhere in there. Whether it’s the time you tried to put the milk away while holding your bowl of Crunchberries filled to the brim, only to have it scatter across the kitchen floor where your dog happily helps you clean it up, or the time you helped that blind person across the street after watching six people walk by and not even offer to help! Sometimes those teachable moments have you in the teaching position, like the one I experienced with one of my kids earlier today. It’s always great to have one on one time no matter how you get it in, so I was glad to be walking with my youngest as I brought him to a friends’ birthday party. He was contently chatting away while we walked down our block. We were approaching a restaurant that has benches out front, and one of the bench regulars was sitting down for her usual respite from the day. She is white-haired and dainty, and the slightest bit feeble, she always a touch of makeup on, and is often smiling while she sings the day away. As we neared her, her cane fell over. She was slowly leaning down trying to retrieve it and I said to my son, please give her a hand with her cane. He quickly bent down and handed it to her. She smiled, revealing several spaces where teeth used to be, and thanked him. He smiled back and we continued on our way. My son looked at me and said “I feel kinda weird now after helping that woman.” I asked where he felt weird, was it in his belly, his chest, or in his head? He said it was sort of in his body and his head. I smiled because I understood and I said, that’s what it feels like to do something nice for someone you don’t know without any expectation. What struck me was that he then said that that was the first time he had done something like that. I laughed a little and explained that he actually does stuff like that all the time, from holding the door open for someone, to waiting for people to get out of the elevator first, to simply saying “please” and “thank you.” The difference I went on to tell him, is that those are examples of common courtesy, but when you go out of your way, even just a teeny bit, to help someone else, that’s true compassion, and it has the capacity to make you feel good all over. Even though I nudged him to help the woman, that’s where the teaching comes, because now the hope is next time he comes upon a person who needs a little compassion, he will know exactly what to do without being told.

What did you teach today? Or better yet, what did you learn?

Stay well.

Teachable Totem!

Teachable Totem!

The shoulda, coulda, woulda shuffle!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:23-04:00 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 | 2018-04-07T23:19:25-04:00 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.

It only takes a second…..

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:29-04:00 May 4th, 2016|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, bears, birds, bulldogs, charity, gratitude, inspiration, Life, mental health, mind/body, motivation, nyc, office, Owls, prevention, relationships, sharks, social media, strangers, totems|

There I was heading out of a building, when I noticed a woman also heading towards the exit. It was one of those double door situations where you actually had to exit twice, ok? So I held open the first door for her and let her exit first, me following out behind her. Nothing. Not a smile. Not a nod. Nothing. She reached the second exit door ahead of me and pushed through it. I, being younger, more agile and way prettier (that’s important), was right behind her and loudly said “Thank you” as exited I the still opened door. I suspect if I hadn’t been fast enough, she would have let the door slam in my face. She didn’t even blink at my “thank you” which made me even more annoyed. Sure, I can have compassion and think that maybe she was just having a bad day, but seriously, it only takes a second! Thank you! Please! One second. I timed it!!! It’s true!!

So I don’t care if you are having a really crappy day, you assuredly have one second to be courteous to another human being. Try it!! Oh, and give it as a gift. Meaning don’t be attached to their response, as you may not get a “Thank you” or a “You’re welcome” but at least you’ll walk away knowing you’re not an a*@hole!

Stay well.

Totems say BE NICE!!!

Totems say BE NICE!!!