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!

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.

Totem Tamers wishes all who celebrate Rosh Hashanah, a sweet new year!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:21-04:00 October 2nd, 2016|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, childhood, children, church, family, food, gratitude, holiday, inspiration, prayer, religion, stress, stress relief|

This is one of the good holidays in the Jewish religion, not that any are bad per se, but this is definitely a happy one. I am not religious, I am spiritual, but I guess I would call myself a “food-Jew”, because I actually really like gefilte fish, and I make great rugelach. I actually wrote about my rugelach in an old blog post, feel free to go back to it here https://totemtamers.com/religion-in-a-rolling-pin/. You can read about my rolling pin that was handed down, that is easily a hundred years old. That’s my religion. Or you can just marvel at this season’s rugelach waiting to be demolished over the next week!

My grandma in my heart and my heart in my dough!

My grandma in my heart and my heart in my dough!

Yes, that’s a butter heart that appeared in the dough as I was making this batch of rugelach!

This is rugelach before...

This is rugelach before…

This is rugelach after...

This is rugelach after…

I always make specialty flavors, which is definitely a departure from how my grandmother taught me, but I know she would be impressed!

There's Whitman's sampler, and then Selma's Sampler!

There’s Whitman’s sampler, and then Selma’s Sampler!

So yummy, and you should smell my house!! I don’t care what religion you choose, or don’t choose for that matter, just be kind and share sweetness! Who wants?

Stay well.

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!

Help a small child today!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:22-04:00 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.

Textual healing!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:26-04:00 July 20th, 2016|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, coffee, friends, friendship, gift, gifts, gratitude, inspiration, Life, mental health, mind/body, stories, stress, stress relief|

Don’t you just love a good pun?! I know I do. I also love when a simple texting conversation leads to some inspirational words of wisdom! Not sure the author would want me to call him out, but AC, you are in fact the “Man of the Match”! Thanks for making my morning a brighter one!

Ohhhhhhh, you want me to tell you what the inspirational text was? But of course! I am here to share. AC delivered some chuckle-worthy words via text message this morning. As I sat here almost snorting my coffee, it occurred to me that laughter is vital, and how wonderful it is to begin the day with a good chortle, snicker, guffaw even. I thanked AC for helping me start my day with the gift of laughter and he thanked me with brilliance: “Start as you mean to go on”, he typed back.

Totems!

Small screen, massive inspiration.

Mind blown! Start as you mean to go on! So I should start every day with a cackle, a belly laugh, a har-de-har, or a tehee, and then carry that with me throughout the day? YES!!!! There is so much sadness, hate, ugliness, divisiveness, and more going on in the world today and if we start our day with it, we will take it with us wherever we go. So from now on, I will “start as I mean to go on”, and that’s with laughter! Send your jokes, your one-liners, and your puns to me at julie@totemtamers.com, and I will gladly share them and we can spread good cheer to all!

Ever notice how you feel after a really good laughing fit? Those few minutes where you’re wiping the tears from your eyes because you were laughing so hard you cried? Where you’re slowly getting your breath back and calming down? Yes, I said it, calming down!!! Laughter is a perfect precursor to calm!!! Take a Totem, tell a joke, and feel calm!!! If you don’t have a Totem, get one in our store https://totemtamers.com/shop-2/, then you too can giggle your way to a calmer day!

Stay well. (And start as you mean to go on!)

 

Love welcoming new Totem owners to the Totem Tamers family!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:27-04:00 July 7th, 2016|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, childhood, children, co-parenting, friends, friendship, Life, mind/body, parenthood, parenting, sharks, single parents, stress, stress relief|

Meeting Shark at eye level!

Meeting Shark at eye level!

Shark has found a new home in Vegas!

Happy kid, Happy Shark!

Happy kid, Happy Shark!

Thank you to our friends in Vegas for sending these great snapshots along. We really enjoy seeing pictures of your Totems in their new homes! Send yours along to me at julie@totemtamers.com, and we can feature you too!

Stay well.

If you don’t have a Totem to help keep you calm, then visit our store at https://totemtamers.com/shop and get one today!

Totem Tamers presents WARRIOR WEDNESDAY or Happy birthday Serena!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:27-04:00 June 15th, 2016|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, Equality, friendship, gratitude, homosexuality, lgbtq, Life, mental health, mind/body, plastic surgery, sharing, stress, stress relief, transgender|

I shouldn’t be crying when I read my morning paper, but the last few days it’s been hard not to well up with tears in the aftermath of such ugliness and devastation from the tragic events that occurred in Orlando. The outpouring of love from around the world has certainly been remarkable and beautiful to witness. My heart hurts as we learn the names of those who were killed and about their lives, lost too soon.

Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old

Amanda Alvear, 25 years old

Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old

Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old

Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old

Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old

Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old

Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old

Cory James Connell, 21 years old

Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old

Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old

Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old

Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old

Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old

Frank Hernandez, 27 years old

Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old

Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old

Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old

Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old

Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old

Kimberly Morris, 37 years old

Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old

Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old

Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old

Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old

Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old

Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old

Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old

Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old

Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old

Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old

Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old

Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old

Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old

Many are still physically injured and some clinging to life in the hospital, the emotional injuries are enough to last a hundred lifetimes. We can only hope for some sort of healing for the community and the world, and the courage to live on.

I see some of that courage in a beautiful young lady named Serena, who has struggled, not only internally, but also externally with the ignorance and narrow-mindedness of people she comes in contact with as she moves through her life.

iHate

iHate

This is the text Serena received from someone she actually lived with and shared space with. It makes me sick to think that she had to walk on the same floor, sleep under the same roof, heck use the same door as someone so ignorant and hurtful. But in perfect Serena style, she let her have it on social media, as people like this shouldn’t be allowed to spew hate and not get called out on it! The comments of support for Serena were awesome and the collective that came to her defense even greater. Serena and I haven’t actually met irl (ha, I think I’m so cool for using text speak (it means “in real life”)), but I know her folks, her dad for a really long time, and I get the sense that she’s always been courageous, always a WARRIOR. Serena documented her transition for everyone to see in a blog that she maintained at http://www.cambio.com/2015/07/22/my-gender-confirming-surgery-and-recovery-meet-serena-2-0/. Serena happens to be a great writer, and her willingness to share her ups and downs while claiming her true self, going through surgeries, suffering discrimination and more, is what makes Serena a WARRIOR.

WARRIOR Serena!

WARRIOR Serena!

“In the wake of such horrific violence and discrimination against the LGBTQ community, I realize how proud I am to be unapologetically myself and part of a community that is all about solidarity, love, and acceptance. #TransIsBeautiful#GirlsLikeUs #LoveWins #Equality ❤️????????” Serena

Thank you for sharing your story Serena, and I’m honored and humbled to be able to watch it unfold!

Stay well.

The http://www.thetrevorproject.org has tons of resources for anyone questioning, knowing, or curious!

Meet the Parents!!!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:31-04:00 April 23rd, 2016|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, childhood, children, family, Life, love, motherhood, parenthood, parenting, stress, stress relief, teenager, teenagers, teens, totems, Uncategorized|

My son has a girlfriend. MY SON HAS A GIRLFRIEND!!!!!!!! Yeah, ok, he’s 16, 6ft tall, looks and acts even older and yeah, ok, he’s a good kid. And now he has a girlfriend. He had a girlfriend once before, like for a minute in 8th grade, and she broke his little heart. He wrote a beautiful song about it and still sings it occasionally. I hate her. She hurt my boy. I saw her not too long ago on the street and my mama bear was all catty and mean (in my head, don’t worry) and I judgy-judged her because she hurt my boy. Now there’s another young lady on the horizon, and my boy’s heart is even bigger than it was three years ago. She’s coming over today so I can meet her. I’ve been wanting to meet her for weeks now, but my son said he wasn’t ready, and she wasn’t ready, and it was clear he was nervous and he said she was nervous. If they only knew how nervous I am, too. I want to make a good impression just as I’m sure she wants to impress me. I’m sure she’s changed her outfits three times already. I’m sure she’ll put less lipstick and eye-shadow on as well. Hey, I’m going to take a shower, so you know this is a big deal. Thing is, I don’t want her to be any different than she is with my son. He’s googly-eyed for her. I want to see why. I want to meet her authentic self, her true self, her sarcastic self (that’s one of the characteristics my son said he really likes about her). I will be her champion all the way, unless there comes a time when my boy gets hurt, then she best get in line for the judgy-judging Mama Bear, because I will find her. Until then, it’s all about innocent until proven guilty. It’s all about the “talk”. Yep, the s-e-x, one. Truth is, I’m a rock star when it comes to awkward conversations so we’re good. We’ve already had lots of talks, my son and I, and now we’ve added consent to the topics of importance. I stress to him, that no matter he wants to do, he must ask if it’s ok, then ask again, and then double-check that. I also had the conversation with him about making sure they practice safe sex. Now I know they aren’t having sex……yet. They might be though, and I want to make sure he’s prepared, not only with condoms, but with all the necessary mental prep he might need. Truth is, I would rather he didn’t have sex, at least not for a while, and I told him there are at least 300 things they could do that don’t risk making a baby. I encouraged him to try all 300 before they move on to the good old in and out. Ya know?! He seemed receptive and admitted out loud that he wasn’t ready for a baby. Whew!! Because I’m not ready to be a grandma, and I’m certainly not ready to let my baby go. Not yet anyway.

Stay well.

I’ll surely have my Totems nearby to grab if my nerves get the better of me and I start acting like a silly embarrassing mom. If you need a Totem for those just-in-case moments, visit our store www.totemtamers.com/shop, and get one today!

 

 

baby boy

T(each) his own!

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:42-04:00 April 15th, 2016|addiction, anger management, animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, brotherhood, brothers, bulldogs, childhood, children, creativity, death, drug use, drugs, education, family, harm reduction, health, heroin, Life, loss, mental health, mind/body, motherhood, overdose, overdose prevention, parenthood, parenting, prevention, school, sharing, stress, stress relief|

I am fortunate that I get to pick up my youngest kid from school most days. I love the look on his face when he sees me, it’s like an instant heart-warmer. I am also grateful that I can connect with other parents and check in with his teacher when necessary. There are those moments though, that I have to hold my breath. You know the ones I mean, when your child comes up to you and says “Mom, the teacher needs to see you.” Breathe. I always ask my children, and I highly recommend this technique for you, what they think the teacher might want to talk to me about. Sometimes they know, and they tell me right away, and other times, they don’t. Either way it helps me determine potential guilt or innocence. Yesterday afternoon, my sweet boy greets me at pickup and tells me the teacher needs to talk to me. I ask my question, and he has no clue why she wants to talk to me, and I believe him. Finally, most of the kids get dismissed and I approach the teacher. She’s magical by the way and engages children like I have never seen. A smile crosses her face as she sees me, but I can tell that it’s a heavy smile, like we are definitely going to talk about something of substance related to my child. She tells me she wanted to give me a heads up about the stuff my son is working on in class for their poetry unit. Immediate relief washes over me, because I actually already know what my son is working on because he told me. He’s writing poetry about addiction, substance use, overdose, overdose prevention, and family. My son is 9. I smile back at the teacher because I realize that she’s likely telling me because the poetry books will be revealed to all at an upcoming publishing party for the class that includes parents. I reassure her that this subject matter is regular conversation in my house, and that if she had any questions or need for clarification I would be happy to oblige. I did have a moment where I was concerned that it might be too much for the other kids and their parents, but that concern quickly turned into gumption and hope that my son being this open will spur his friends to ask questions and maybe even their parents to ask questions. It’s all about the conversation, and that my 9 year old is talking about Naloxone, “a life saving drug that his grampa made to help people who use drugs”, is miraculous. It’s also heartbreaking.

poetry and lyrics

My kid asked me for a journal the other day which is how I know about the poetry unit in class. He’s calling it a lyric book. He wrote his first poem and it’s called “Quit”. There’s a line in it about my brother who died of a heroin overdose a few years before my son was born. He refers to my brother as “the uncle he never had.” He also uses my regular statement of my brother’s death hopefully saving him from the same fate. I told him how beautiful the poem was and thanked him for sharing it with me. He seemed proud of himself and was eager to write more. This is how I know how important these conversations are with my kids, and how important it is to keep the lines of communication open. I am grateful that my son’s teacher didn’t freak out and didn’t tell him that he couldn’t write about this topic, instead she marveled at his depth and encouraged him along, and let me know what I can expect at the upcoming publishing party. I’m not too worried, I’m pretty good in a crowd, and who knows, maybe I’ll bring my overdose prevention kit for show and tell!

Stay well.

If you have questions, Harm Reduction Coalition and Drug Policy Alliance are wonderful resources. Feel free to email me, too: julie@totemtamers.com!