Happy #nationalcomingoutday !!!!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:10-04:00 October 11th, 2017|activist, animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, bears, birds, birds of prey, bulldogs, dogs, Equality, homosexuality, lgbtq, Life, love, marriage equality, mental health, mind/body, Owls, sharks, stress, stress relief, suicide prevention, therapy, totems, transgender|

National Coming Out Day!

I hope that whoever you are, whoever you want to be, whoever you want to love and be loved by, that you have the strength and the courage and the support to do just that. At Totem Tamers, we send you all that love and strength and courage, and we see you for all that you are, and all you deserve to be! Keep a Totem in your pocket for any time you feel anxious, and be reminded that you are beautiful and worth it!

Stay well.

Melancholy beauty.

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:14-04:00 May 5th, 2017|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, apartment, central park, depression, earth, forecasting, inspiration, Life, meditation, mental health, mind/body, motherhood, nyc, sadness, single parents, stress, stress relief, therapy, weather|

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.

Beautifully dreary!

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.

Stay well.

Being different IS beautiful!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:15-04:00 April 24th, 2017|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, art, Creative, creativity, earth, flowers, gratitude, Life, meditation, mental health, stress, stress relief, therapy, totems|

Leading the way!

So many things that I see when I look at this picture, from the yellow tulip managing to shine in a sea of pink tulips, to the yellow tulip leading the way for all the others to follow! Either way, it brought up for me that sometimes being different can be hard, but it is always beautiful, no matter how you look at it! Think of a way you are different and embrace it, even let it shine so that others can see just how beautiful your difference is, and you’ll let them know that they too, can revel in their differences!

Stay well.

The push and pull of parenting.

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:17-04:00 February 4th, 2017|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, brotherhood, brothers, childhood, children, co-parenting, family, friends, friendship, gratitude, Life, mental health, mind/body, motherhood, parenthood, parenting, stress, stress relief, teenager, teenagers, teens, therapy|

The push and pull of parenting starts immediately upon birth as your infant is pulled from a dark cocoon of safety and pushed into the light of the world. We coo and cuddle and marvel at their perfect little fingers and toes and those plump cheeks and their smell and even at the impressive size of their poops! Yes, you know what I’m talking about, don’t deny it! Then what? Well, then we start pushing them to fall asleep on their own and that’s usually when the first heart-pull happens. Any parent who has done sleep training with their infant can tell you how painful it is to listen to their baby scream their head off until at last they pass out from sheer exhaustion. It seems cruel, hell, it is cruel to all parties involved, but the lesson is that if we don’t push them to self-soothe, then they will never be able to fend for themselves. I don’t know if this is true, but I can tell you that I’ve gone on some dates with men who clearly still have apron strings attached to mommy. Scientific data right there.

Next on the “push list” is the simple act of your baby reaching milestones like crawling and walking and eating solids. Nothing is as gross as going to your “mommy & me” class and having to defend why your kid isn’t up to peas yet, while all the others are chowing down on homemade organic sustainable kabocha (whatever the hell that is.) So we push, because somewhere on the parenting journey someone thought competition was a good idea. The best part of this stage is when you find the other parents that are like you and you “pull” apart from the wacky ones. You join your parent gang because they don’t see anything wrong with your cleaning off the pacifier that just fell on the ground by actually sticking it in your mouth to get rid of any potential germs. My peeps! I love that I am actually still really close to several of my old gang members. ‘Sup guys?

Now for some more pulling. Pulling them out of the playground for example, after they’ve thrown sand in some kid’s well-deserving face and you’re trying to show that you’re disappointed when inside you’re beaming with pride that your kid stuck up for themselves. Ice cream! Pulling them out of the store where some evil manager decides that a ride-on sesame street car is a great way to torture parents. Your kid is freaking out and won’t leave and you and Dad are pulling and then pushing, no, shoving him in to his carseat as he strong arms and stiffens like a California Redwood. I feel you, we’ve all been there.

Then there’s the normal push and pull that happens in the middle. The pushing to eat more veggies, the pulling the crumpled homework out of the backpack, the pushing to take a shower, the pulling of dirty socks from in between the couch cushions. That’s all the physical stuff, it’s the emotional stuff that’s really hard. You push your kid to say hi to a kid he doesn’t know so that maybe he’ll make some new friends. You pull your kid in close when he suffers his first heartbreak because the girl he liked decided she wanted to go to the dance with someone else. You push your kid to try out for the basketball team, and then pull him in for the victory dance when he makes it!

This is all pretty basic parenting, but sometimes it isn’t all that basic, or normal, or average, and sometimes it’s pretty freaking hard. As we push and pull our kids, we feel the push and the pull a thousand times more, it all just happens to our hearts so no one really sees, but man do we feel it. I’m usually pretty good at keeping my shit together when one of my kids is going through something tough, but it’s not easy. There’s that constant inner turmoil I experience, do I push or do I pull? There’s moments when I have to call on alter-egos like John Madden, when I need to do the gruff football coach yell of “Get out there and do it! Don’t be a wuss! You’ve got this”! Then there’s my Mother Teresa (a nickname I earned from one of my early parenting gang members) and that’s when I open my arms and cradle my baby and tell them everything is going to be ok. Two very different parenting styles, but both incredibly effective, and both so vital to getting through this parenting journey.

I will continue to push and pull my kids, and sometimes I will even apologize for making the wrong choice, pushing when I should have pulled or pulling when I should have pushed. The end game is that my kids will be the ones pushing me around when I’m old and frail and pulling me close when I need them most.

Am I pulling them close or pushing them away?

Stay well.

I am Butterfly.

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:18-04:00 January 2nd, 2017|animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, art, bird lovers, Creative, creativity, flowers, gratitude, inspiration, Life, mind/body, poetry, sharing, therapy, totems|

I am Butterfly.

No matter if my wings are open or closed.

No matter if I am midair or clinging flowers by my toes.

No matter my purpose I go where the wind blows.

 

I am Butterfly.

My colors reflect by making sure I am seen.

My colors protect by hiding me in between.

My colors attract by shades of yellows, reds and greens.

 

I am Butterfly.

I go through change to find my true self.

I go through change to see I’m like no one else.

I go through change to watch your heart melt.

 

I am Butterfly.

I am unapologetic in my bright-colored sights.

I am unapologetic as I soar to new heights.

I am unapologetic because I bring the light.

 

I am Butterfly.

My life may not be everlasting all time.

But my beauty lives on and my colors still shine.

My blessing is you on this journey of mine.

 

We are Butterflies.

I am Butterfly.

Stay well.

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.

Gratitude before my eyes.

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:50-04:00 December 16th, 2015|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, art, beach, creativity, depression, earth, gratitude, inspiration, meditation, mental health, ocean, stress, stress relief, therapy, totems, Uncategorized, weather|

Natural beauty!

Natural beauty!

I took this picture a couple weeks ago and just came across it again. It takes my breath away now, just as it did when I snapped the shot. I remember standing there and feeling so grateful for the picturesque view and in that moment finding peace. Since that picture was taken, there have been plenty of moments that haven’t been peaceful, and I don’t mean the global tragedies that we’ve witnessed recently, but on the smaller more manageable scale of my life. Thankfully nothing terribly dramatic has happened, just the hustle and bustle of the every day that pulls me away from those moments of peace. When the picture popped up on my screen, it gave me pause because the reaction was to actually stop what I was doing (searching for a picture of one of my kids) and take in the view again. What a powerful tool that I didn’t know I had! This picture will find a place on my computer desktop now, so I can be reminded regularly to take a pause and find gratitude. Thankfully there is beauty all around us and in the simplest things, we just have to give ourselves permission to experience it and know that our busy, hectic lives will still be there waiting for us two minutes later. The gift is that we get to come back to the chaos with a renewed energy and appreciation for what we have. It’s the renewed energy that helped motivate me to share this with you! Enjoy the picture, or better yet, look for the beauty around you in this moment and capture it for your own gratitude! If you like, and I know I would, please share it with me at julie@totemtamers.com!

Stay well.

Happy National Dog Day!!!

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:58-04:00 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!!

Totem Tamers presents WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:51-04:00 November 12th, 2014|animals, dogs, education, Life, mental health, therapy|

Every once in a while, you meet a good one. You know, those people who have a great story and in that story you learn of an experience they had that ultimately changed their lives for the better. All of that change, brought about by simply helping others. I met one of those good ones last week in Audrey Hendler. Audrey is the Founder and Executive Director of a not-for-profit organization called “A Fair Shake for Youth“. This organization works with middle school students and “uses therapy dogs to help kids build self-esteem and reduce bullying.” When Audrey told her story to a group of dog lovers gathered in my building, it gave me shivers. Not because it was based in trauma, or adversity, or anything earth shattering, but just the opposite! I got shivers because Audrey’s path seemed so simple and clear, and it reminded me of how Totem Tamers came to be. Audrey was donating her time to a program called Puppies Behind Bars, where inmates learned how to care for and ultimately train service dogs. Watching the inmates connect to the animals and find courage where there had previously only been failure and disappointment, is what moved Audrey and made her wonder how these people’s lives might have been positively impacted if they had had access to a therapy dog program at a younger age. She left the corporate world, and “A Fair Shake for Youth” was born. The program is already active in several schools in New York City, along with various after-school and summer camp programs, with the hope that it can add many more in the future. We had the pleasure of meeting two of the therapy dogs that are part of this organization, Lucy and Olive!

Bulldog with Lucy and Olive!

Bulldog with Lucy and Olive!

The dogs and their human partners go through a therapy certification program that prepares the team for going into situations with children, some of whom have never been close to a dog before. The teams that are assigned to a school, commit to an hour each week for a semester. This gives the kids a chance to connect with the dogs and also something to look forward to every week. A facilitator talks the kids through various exercises with the dogs, while also integrating anti-bullying education and building self-esteem and confidence. When I asked Audrey what one of the most challenging aspects of working with the kids has been, I was shocked and saddened by her answer. She said it was hard to get the children to praise the dogs after a trick was performed or a command was heeded. The reality that a lot of these kids are from shelters or broken homes and not receiving praise on a regular basis themselves, it’s a challenge for them to give praise freely to the dogs. However, by the end of the program, the kids “learn positive reinforcement, patience and respect.” Each child gets a trading card of their dog, like the ones seen above, and most of them carry those cards long after the program is over.

Naturally, “A Fair Shake” needs support which you can give by making a donation, or even considering becoming a team with your dog, so you too can effect change, not only in your life, but in the lives of children who really need it. Totem Tamers is proud to call Audrey and “A Fair Shake for Youth” Warriors this week and always!

Stay well.

You can carry a dog with you always in the form of a Bulldog Totem!! Click on Bulldog and order one today!!