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.
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!
I was fortunate enough to be in Central Park last night with a lovely group of people. We were celebrating a friend’s birthday and the unofficial end of summer. We were laughing, we were eating, there might have been contraband beverages of several varieties, ahem, but we were enjoying each other and the beautiful night. As the sky darkened and we packed up our picnic, one by one, everyone’s eyes turned to the sky. There they were. The beams of light marking the place in the sky where the Twin Towers once stood. There was a momentary silence as we all realized what the lights were for, then realized we were on the eve of a horrific date that will forever be remembered. And then, with much gratitude, the kids starting running around, the crickets started chirping, someone might have spilled said contraband beverage (it might have been me), and the earth kept turning. In no way can the events of September 11, 2001 ever be minimized, but last night, the world was still going, and in that going, I find comfort. The lives lost, the heroes who are still impacted today by the illnesses related to Ground Zero, all of it, it’s unfathomable, but we have to go on, and we do, with the blessings of memories both old and new.
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.
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!
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:
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!
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.
Our bronze Totems are reflected beautifully in the light, get one today! Visit our store at www.totemtamers.com/shop.
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.”
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!
Send us your pictures and testimonials, to firstname.lastname@example.org, and maybe your story can help others. I know it will help me!
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!
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!!!
We are creatures of habit, aren’t we? There are things that we do every day that we probably don’t even notice we are doing because they have become habitual. Taking shoes off when you come in the house. Hanging the keys by the door. Leaving your socks in the middle of the hallway so your mom has to pick them up. These are things that just happen without even giving them a thought. So when something is out of whack, we notice!! When your favorite takeout place changes their french fry distributor, it’s unsettling. When your iOS platform updates, it can be downright aggravating. And when a resident in your building, whose name you don’t even know, walks out of the building without his banana, you can barely cope?! No, seriously.
Living in New York City, we are sardined together in these big buildings and we can ride an elevator with someone for years and never utter a word, but still, we know them. So one of the residents in my building has a banana thing. He’s gotta be at least 6’4 and lanky, but marathon runner lanky, so he’s super fit. I’m not sure how many times a week I see him because we are on similar schedules. Me, bleary eyed, barely dressed in presentable clothing, being dragged out by my furry four-legged kid at the crack of dawn. Him, impeccably dressed, clearly showered and coiffed, and finishing a banana. Every time I see him. Imagine how I felt the other morning when I noticed the hand that is usually armed with yellow sustenance, was awkwardly placed against his chest as he walked out the building, empty. “Banana Man” had no banana!!! I know at this point you’re thinking I’ve totally lost it, but I assure you I haven’t. Because when I walked in to the lobby and remarked to the doorman that the resident had no banana, the doorman immediately responded “I know, right? He must be missing it.” Maybe we’re all a little nuts, or maybe it’s just that we are creatures of habit? Either way, I like things to be the way they I expect them to be and if they aren’t, I at least want to know why. So next time I see “Banana Man”, if he has no banana, I will boldly inquire!
Do you have any sort of habit or ritual that you engage in every day? I don’t mean the standard stuff of brushing your teeth, but if when you brush your teeth, you sway back and forth to the tune of Barry Manilow’s feel-good hit “Can’t Smile Without You”, I would love to hear about it!
You read that right!! Me and “the girls” were out in full force this morning (or is it “the girls” and I), to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month and friends who have been touched by this disease, whether directly or indirectly. And when I say “the girls”, I don’t just mean the fabulous group of girls (and boys) who got up early on a Sunday to walk 5 plus miles in Central Park this morning with a bevy of other people!
I mean the gazongas, the melons, the tatas, the cans, the hooters, the knockers, and I’m sure I missed a bunch, but yeah, those are “the girls”! There were big ones, little ones, new ones, man ones, fake ones, and more! Mine were smushed to bits on Friday during my annual mammogram and ultrasound!! There were pictures of the many who fought breast cancer and lost the battle, there were plenty that were currently fighting, and thankfully even more who proudly wore the sash of survivor! It was a wonderful morning of community, of friendship, and of hope, and I was humbled to have been a part of it this year, and hope it’s not my last!! If you missed the walk but still want to be supportive, click on this link http://makingstrides.acsevents.org, and make a donation! (Our team was TNT if you want to get specific about it.) Next year I hope you’ll make it out to a walk or event in your neighborhood, because we not only need to find a cure, but we need to make sure there’s funding for women (and men) to get mammograms and ultrasounds annually!! As a dear friend told her insurance company when they balked at paying for the expensive procedure, “It will be a lot more expensive to treat cancer then pay for the screening!”
It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, all month long, which is probably why they call it that! Let this serve as a reminder to schedule your mammogram and ultrasound and do your self checks every month!! If you’re not sure what you’re feeling or how to feel for any abnormalities, feel free to ask a friend or follow the advice on this lovely website page.
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?
This is a hard day. A traumatic day. A painful day. A somber day. It is also a good day. A special day. A birth day. A memorable day.
I watch the news feed on my Facebook. I see “always remember” and “never forget” over and over and over again. I see names of people I never knew etched on a wall. I see names of people I used to know but now only linked through the virtual wonder of the internet. I see people posting baby pics celebrating birthdays of their children born on this fateful date. I remember.
Just days before the terrorist attack in New York City on 9/11/2001, I was visiting the city for my college roommate’s wedding and we went up to the observation deck of the Empire State building and marveled at the height of the towers. It was windy but clear, and we were all glad to be together celebrating our friends and our friendship. That’s what I try to remember on this day. My oldest, and at that point only son, pushing a bubble-blowing lawn mower down the aisle and rocking a tuxedo at the wedding the next day, I remember that.
This photo, along with others from that day, hangs on my wall. I also remember being back in Florida on 9/11 and the phone ringing off the hook and just staring at the TV all day in tears, not comprehending what had happened. That’s a harder memory to recall. My son, now one of three, stands at almost 6’1, the other two inching up behind him. They are my towers now and living our lives every day is done in honor of all those that perished on that fateful day, and for those who have died since, as a result of their efforts to help on that day. We remember not because we want to, but because we have to. My two older ones are old enough that they go out and about New York City on their own. I struggled letting them do that today, but we have to live and they don’t need to be crippled by fear of the unknown, but I will not rest until they are safely at home with me. My heart goes out to those who will truly never rest again.
That’s my doggy there, he’s awesome. He’s cute and fluffy and very smart, most of the time. Don’t get me wrong, put yourself between Zeke and a bone and you will be sorry, but more often than not, he’s just as gentle as a butterfly. When he barks though, it could strike fear into the strongest of man and beast, like the excavator pictured here with Zeke! My sweet and very smart dog barks his best bark at construction vehicles and street cleaners. I often giggle when he does this because he sounds like he can take on the world with all that “woof-woof-ing”, not realizing these vehicles could crush him in a blink. However, the other day when he was taking on the excavator, I didn’t giggle. Instead I watched my dog and saw inspiration in all the commotion. Trying to understand what was behind his barking, I realized it’s likely anxiety because the big machine is moving and making very loud noises and is seemingly threatening. Most of us have likely experienced those same construction bangs and booms, the sound can be very unsettling. What inspired me this time, is that in Zeke’s anxiety, he didn’t back down, he didn’t run away, he didn’t cower. Rather, he stood tall and gave plenty of ferocious ruff-ruff’s and would have continued to do so if I hadn’t pulled him away. Therein lies the lesson, anxiety can be truly crippling, but sometimes facing it straight on is where there is power. For those that struggle with anxiety, you know what it looks like: the sweating, the agitation, the palpitations, the actual freezing in place, the inability to speak, the list of symptoms go on. That’s why Totem Tamers came to be, because I was helpless watching my son experience many of these symptoms, and I knew he needed some tools to help him manage those feelings. When my son has an anxiety attack, thankfully few and far between of late, he has figured out the way to use the deep breathing and visualization techniques from Totem Tamers to help keep him calm and measured. Sometimes though, you just need to bark, and bark really loudly!! That’s why I hang on to thick magazines and bubble wrap, for example! When any of my kids are needing to let out some aggression or excessive energy, which is often times instigated by anxiety, I put them in a room and give them the magazines to tear to bits, the bubble wrap to stomp on, or just let them bark at the moon if that’s what they need.
Now when Zeke tries to take on something that is way bigger than he is, I don’t giggle, I pay attention!