Parenting by headphone?

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:10+00:00 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.

Dog Day Afternoon…..

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:13+00:00 June 6th, 2017|animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, bulldogs, dogs, family, pets, totems|

I’m a dog lover. I mean, I really like most animals, but when it comes to domestic creatures that can fit in an NYC apartment, it’s dogs and/or cats for me. My current living situation includes my three boys, one four-legged boy, and me! There’s a lot going on for sure, and I’m gratefully everyone’s “mommy”. Today, I’m wearing my doggy-mama hat, because my sweet boy of almost 7 years has something funky growing in his mouth and he needs to have it removed and biopsied. While they’re in there, they’ll clean his teeth, and also remove a small, but benign, growth from his eyelid. The pooch will be in the cone of shame for a couple weeks, I’m not looking forward to that, because I know just how annoyed he will be!

My four-legged baby!

As I was bringing my boy to the vet this morning, he was being classically difficult, as somehow he knew we weren’t heading to get him a cheeseburger. The vet’s office is only a couple blocks away, but it took quite a while to coax him there, and a few giggles from passersby, who watched him just lay down mid-sidewalk refusing to move. We finally made it and I barely held it together, even though I know it’s all pretty routine. I choked back the tears when I kissed him goodbye and told him I would see him in a couple hours. Yes, he understands me. Duh!

Then I started thinking about the anxiety he must be feeling because he doesn’t have a clue of what’s going to happen to him, and he watched me walk out the door. Then I started thinking about the anxiety that I am feeling, because I know exactly what’s going to happen to him. Then I started to think about how we all handle anxiety differently and there is no right or wrong way, but it might be helpful to know how best you handle your anxiety. For example, are you the type that needs every detail, down to the last possible outcome, so that you can get through a situation with ease? Or are you the type that just likes to dive in head first and not spend too much time considering all the outcomes? Think about that the next time you’re  faced with a potentially overwhelming situation, and see how you handle your anxiety. I’m definitely a combination of those two types and know that it depends on the situation for me.

Either way, I will have my Bulldog Totem close to me all day as I wait to hear from the vet about my doggy! Having my Totem (and even just writing this for you) reminds me to take deep breaths, which help me stay calm.

Bulldog 3

No matter how you take your anxiety, straight up or on the rocks with a twist, you can have a Totem, too! Visit our shop at www.totemtamers.com/shop and pick one out today!

Stay well.

Help a small child today!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:22+00:00 September 23rd, 2016|accessories, animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, childhood, children, education, friends, friendship, loss, motherhood, parenthood, parenting, pets, school, stress, stress relief, therapy, totems|

Ok, maybe it’s a dramatic title, but I guarantee that there is a little kid somewhere devastated that he or she is without their bunny right now!

Rescue this bunny!

Rescue this bunny!

I wrote a post a long time ago about security objects and seeing this stranded bunny, which was actually in the middle of the street next to a car, I was immediately heartbroken for the child who is most definitely longing for this stuffed animal. That’s why we have these connections, they are grounding to us and let us know that everything is ok, or at least will be ok as long as these objects are with us. It’s just like having a Totem in your pocket! A lot of our Totem owners say they don’t go anywhere without their Totems, and part of that is just the comfort of knowing it’s with you in case there’s a situation that may become overwhelming. Of course, it’s always best to have more than Totem, or security object, because you never know when you might lose one or need to lend yours to someone else in need. Get a Totem today at https://totemtamers.com/shop! Let’s see if we can reunite this bunny with it’s caretaker and I will gladly award the child with a Totem of their choice!!! This is of course in NYC near the PS 199 school playground. Share and hopefully by this afternoon we will have good news!

Stay well.

#NationalPuppyDay although it’s puppy day in my house everyday!

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:44+00:00 March 23rd, 2016|adoption, animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, bulldogs, dogs, pets, stress relief, totems|

Seriously, there’s a day for everything, and I’m sure there’s even a day for things that don’t have an actual official day! On this day, when there’s much to be worried about, concerned about, and upset about though, let’s try to find some cheer, and what better way to do that than to talk about our puppies! It’s National Puppy Day! This is a day to commemorate puppies, and pet adoption, and to celebrate our dogs.  Sure, there’s Totem Tamers official puppy, Bulldog, and there’s no better calming friend than that.

Bulldog 3

Sup?

As much as I love Bulldog, my life wouldn’t be complete with our furry, four-legged, family friend, Zeke! Here he is with his very own puppy!

a dog and his dog

“A dog and his puppy”

Yes, it can be hard to have to get up super early to walk the dog in the middle of the winter with the freezing cold, but the snuggles and cuddles make it all worth it. Zeke has a job in our house, he is the official waker-upper! I promised my middle that I wouldn’t post the picture I took yesterday of Zeke pouncing on his bed and waking him up with a face full of kisses. It was perfect. So let’s celebrate our puppies of all ages and sizes and if you don’t have one, adopt one! So many need homes and have so much love to give. Visit http://www.adoptapet.com and maybe you can find a puppy of your own. You can always start by adopting a Bulldog Totem, too!

Stay well.

Giving thanks one heartbreak at a time.

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:53+00:00 November 23rd, 2015|cats, childhood, death, Life, loss, mental health, parenting, pets, suicide, suicide prevention|

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of year. Partly because of the sweet potato casserole with the marshmallows on top, and partly because everyone comes together to just eat and have a good time and give thanks. When we lived away from family or couldn’t travel, we had a habit of inviting anyone and everyone who didn’t have a place to go, and people always came and always brought interesting additions for the table. Like the year we had a Tofurky, and Japanese food! So fun.

One reason I don’t love Thanksgiving is because it’s so close to my birthday. Everyone just expected that it was ok to combine the two and I never had just a day for me. Maybe that explains why I have a hard time with birthday celebrations for myself, who knows. 14 years ago, my birthday took on a whole other meaning when my sweet Grandma Selma, who was dying from lung cancer and holding on for the birth of my first son, couldn’t hold on anymore, and she passed away on my birthday. Ever my guardian angel, it was bittersweet for sure, but in true Selma fashion, she was making a statement to me that my birthday mattered. I will always be thankful for that parting gift.

This year’s birthday takes another turn, this one truly painful, because someone I cared for tremendously and who shared my birthday, died this past weekend. Larry was too young and too good and so kind and loving, but his suffering was clearly too much for him to take and he found relief in the only way he thought he could, by taking his own life. I am devastated, but thankful he isn’t suffering anymore. I am experiencing a wide range of emotions and likely will be for a while, but I will always try to go to thankfulness, because I knew him and I am forever thankful for that. My whole family knew Larry, because he was also the neighborhood dentist and he treated most of us. Larry was the first to carry Totem Tamers in his office and he always carried Owl in his pocket. Even though he wasn’t a pediatric dentist, he also treated my kids, and I was dreading telling them. I reached out to my therapist for advice. She’s amazing. I spoke to a mom at school who has been brave enough to share her experience with her father’s suicide, in a school workshop for parents. She’s incredible. I also reached out to Imagine, a grief support center in New Jersey. They have Totem Tamers on hand as a tool for anyone who comes in seeking support after losing a loved one, and the people there are just amazing. I was emailed back by both the Founder and Program Director with resources and suggestions on how to tell my kids. I am thankful for all of those who helped.

The last two days have been so difficult trying to hold back the tears before telling the kids, but last night it was time. My ex-husband, who also knew Larry, came over and graciously told the kids because I wasn’t sure I could manage it clearly. He was great. When the kids asked what happened, we told them the truth and explained that sometimes the pain is so much that it seems like death is the only chance for relief. We explained that there are always other options other than suicide. We talked about Larry, and his dog, and his humor and his smile. We let them know that if they wanted to talk more about it, we were here for them. My 8 year old said, “It’s too hard to talk about it because it would take two days.” I asked him why it would take two days and he said “Because there is so much to say.” His big tears crashing down were enough to break my heart, but I am thankful that he too knew Larry, and was clearly affected by Larry’s kindness. It was interesting watching the other two boys react, one in silent tears and the other noting a bit of anger and confusion. Still, I am thankful that their Dad and I could sit together and share their grief and share our tears at this loss. Sadder still, was that when the boys left to go to their Dad’s house last night, it became painfully clear that one of the cats at their Dad’s house was not doing well. Mr. Honey, didn’t make it through the night and the boys had to wake to another loss. Mr. Honey, was a cat that my ex took in, along with another kitty, after a dear friend of ours passed away, years ago. Her kids, are forever thankful that he opened his heart and home. I worry about my kids and all this loss, but I am thankful that their Dad and I can be present and available to them.

There’s a lot of unrest in our nation today as we sit back and contemplate how far we have come or how it is we that we still haven’t come far enough, where people are still characterized by the color of their skin. I am thankful that there has been progress, but not naive enough to recognize that it hasn’t been enough. My dear friend Larry loved a good Prosecco. So this year, on our birthday, I will raise a glass to him, I will raise a glass to all those in pain and hope that they seek help, I will raise a glass to my family, my friends, and my nation, where I still believe hope exists. I am thankful for my voice and the opportunity to use it in this space and can only hope it helps someone else as much as it helps me. Find someone or something to be thankful for, because there’s plenty of hope in that, too.

Stay well.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline page or call 1-800-273-8255 24/7.

UPDATE: Larry was so special that he let me believe we had the same birthday, but his was in fact the day before. Hard to fathom that it’s already been a year of missing Larry.

Happy National Dog Day!!!

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:58+00:00 August 26th, 2015|animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, bulldogs, dogs, Life, pets, stress relief, therapy|

Today is the day to salute all of our four-legged family members that “arf” and “woof”! Of course the beauty of Bulldog, other than a shiny bronze coat, is the silent loyalty that comes along with a Totem!

Bulldog on National Dog Day!

Bulldog on National Dog Day!

However, my sweet puppy is another story, his coat is Bronze-like, but his voice is definitely much bigger than Bulldog! Bulldog and my pup do offer the same kind of calm though.

Show us your pups!!

Stay well.

Need a Bulldog to help you celebrate? Head to our store and get one today!!

Totems Around Town: Bulldog on the loose!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:00+00:00 July 30th, 2015|bulldogs, dogs, Life, pets, stress relief|

I usually carry my Totems with me everywhere. Not just because I may encounter a situation that requires me to take some deep breaths and stay calm, but also because you never know when you’re going to have a photo op!! I was out with Bulldog the other day, and wouldn’t you know that just such an occasion arose.

Salt and pepper, here! With a little spice in the middle!

Salt and pepper, here! With a little spice in the middle!

Bulldog faces are so expressive and can reflect any mood they are exposed to. These Bulldogs are clearly all smiles!! Where will you take your Totem? Send any pictures to julie@totemtamers.com.

Stay well.

Don’t have a Totem to take around town? Get one today! Just click on any of the Totems on the side of the page and head over to our store to order yours! Thank you.

Connect for…..!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:02+00:00 July 12th, 2015|animals, anxiety, bulldogs, childhood, dogs, Life, pets, stress, stress relief|

What do we connect for? Does there have to be a purpose in the connections we make? Does it matter how long the connection lasts for it to have a lasting impact? These are some questions I consider regularly as I move through my day making connections. For example, why did I let my dog sit on the sidewalk and wait for a family to come up the block so they could pet him? Turns out, that it was a much needed connection. A family of three kids, and one of them turned out to be very allergic to dogs and it forced them to give away their beloved pet. The mother cringes as she remembers how difficult it was for the whole family. As we all walked up the block talking, the oldest boy was all over Zeke (that’s my beloved pet), and the twin girls kept asking if they could walk the dog. It was sweet and cute, but it wasn’t until they were headed on their way that the connection became clear. They all thanked me, and Zeke of course, for the petting opportunity, and before going in to the playground, the boy looked at me and said “We had to give our dog away. He was a Bulldog.” Ding ding ding ding!!! A huge grin crosses my face as I call the mother back to let her know that they can in fact have a Bulldog once again!!! I left her with Totem Tamers information and look forward to getting those kids a Bulldog Totem so they can remember their family dog.

Four Totems Connect! (See what I did there?)

Four Totems Connect! (See what I did there?)

That’s why we connect! That’s why most connections have a purpose. It may not be for you, but it may in fact, be for the person on the other side of the connection. That means that every connection you make has meaning and purpose no matter how long or short, no matter positive or negative. Sometimes the meaning is immediately clear, the Bulldog story is a perfect example of that, and sometimes it may take weeks, months, even years before you figure out what the purpose of a particular connection might be. Point being, don’t be afraid to connect. Don’t close yourself off to experience because you’re afraid of being hurt, or disappointed, or rejected, or anything! Allow yourself to make connections and to create connections, even for other people. There’s a great satisfaction that comes out of being the conduit to connection, as well. So get out there and discover what you have to connect for!

Stay well.

Totems are great connectors! Get one today by clicking on any of the Totems on the side of the page and visit our store.

Totems Around Town!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:39+00:00 April 17th, 2015|animals, anxiety, Life, pets, stress|

'sup?!

“‘sup?!”

Bulldog finds a pal to hang out with!! C’mon, don’t tell me you’ve never imagined what your Bully’s voice would sound like if they could speak?!

Stay well.

Taking your Totem Around Town? Send us a picture to julie@totemtamers.com. Don’t have a Totem, just click on any of the images on the left side of this page and get one today!