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!

On the midnight train to NYC! (Woo, woo!)

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:25-04:00 July 30th, 2016|activist, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, civil rights, Creative, creativity, elections, Equality, friends, friendship, gratitude, inspiration, Life, motivation, nyc, poetry, politics, sharing, stories, story, storytelling, strangers, travel, Uncategorized, voting|

There I was on Tuesday, dropping everything because a dear friend called to say she had secured me entry to that evenings proceedings of the Democratic National Convention. I try not to get too political in this space because we are all entitled to our own opinions, (except of course for those voting for the Cheetoh-man).

Chilly train station

Amtrak station welcome!

I’ve never been to Philly, and I had been warned by my friends already at the convention that it was insanely busy with people, protests, street closures, etc.. I have a friend that lives in Philly and he was patient enough to text-guide me through my visit. (Thanks RC!) I navigated the subway system with the confidence of a New Yorker and only had to ask a few people for directions along the way. That’s not where my anxiety was, my anxiety lay well ahead of me when it was time to turn back and head home. A midnight train from Philly to Penn Station. A <ahem> young lady traveling on her own. I pushed those thoughts out of my mind and made my way to the convention, which was electrifying and inspiring! Yes,I got a picture of me with the unbelievable Senator from New Jersey, Cory Booker! Yes, I got a picture of me with the Vice Presidential nominee and Senator from Virginia, Tim Kaine! Yes, I met Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy who was brave enough to lead the moving and powerful sit-in regarding gun control a couple months back. Yes, I was still going to end up in Penn Station in NYC at 2 o’clock in the morning.

Credentials, train ticket, and Totems. Oh my!

Credentials, train ticket, and Totems. Oh my!

Fast forward and I get to hear the end of President Clinton’s speech (the first Clinton president) and I run out to make my train! I get to the station in plenty of time, but there’s still the issue of getting home from Penn Station. I figure I’ll find someone to talk to and see if they’re heading uptown and maybe we can share a cab. If that doesn’t work, thankfully I have a night owl friend who will gladly sit on the phone with me while I navigate my way home. (Thanks PR!) I board the train and I confirm for a gentleman that this is the train to NYC and I find a seat.  That same gentleman comes down the aisle and asks if the seat next to me is available, which it is, so he sits down. Then I oh so casually say “it would be great if you were heading uptown, because then we could go up together.” Not only does he say he is going uptown and that we can take the subway, but he even offers to get off the train and walk me home. Wow, this man was raised right!! I thank him and explain that once off the train I’m really only a block away so I’ll be fine, and I have my phone friend, of course. We introduce ourselves, he’s Paul and he was in Philadelphia because his son had just moved there and he was helping him with his apartment. We chatted a bit, Paul snoozed, I read my book. The trip to New York was pretty fast! We chatted some more and I learned that Paul came to New York years ago to pursue acting and through a series of fortunate events found himself a Librarian for the New York Public Library! That’s a big deal by the way. Paul also happens to be a writer and is clearly brilliant. I tell him that I write as well and we have a sort of meeting of creative minds, talking about the things we’ve done, the things we’d like to still do and in a way we push and inspire each other to keep going. Paul likes to quote famous creatives from Pablo Picasso to Georgia O’keefe. I smile and tell Paul that someday, people will be quoting him. Turns out I have the honor to be among the first to quote him, from a poem he sent me the morning after our journey. Paul wrote that “our chance meeting was a poem waiting to be written”, and I now hold that as a mantra for every chance meeting to come. Here’s the whole poem for you to enjoy!

 An Amtrak Ride To New York From Philadelphia 

at 12:A M On A Tuesday Morning

(To Julie @ Totem Tamers)

Chance meetings can reveal

the color of one’s eyes

if you take the time to look;

chance meetings can be a

conversation in which you

hear yourself in another person’s voice;

chance meetings can be pleasant

as homemade lemonade

on the front porch of a sunny day

Our chance meeting was a poem

waiting to be written, a time to

wrap ourselves in the shared

moments of what we already know –

how else can we change the world?

An Amtrak journey and a subway ride

uptown to 72nd street offered

the usual perspectives

on renown habits of the world;

nothing much has changed

It is better to practice caution

when a woman is coming home

in the peculiar darkness

of New York sorrows

aware and alone

Still, we made our way to wherever

We had to go, asking questions of ourselves

asking questions of tendered days –

one day, and if We meet again

We should compare answers

But, never accept things as they are

when We know how things should be –

How should We live within the days of our lives?

 

Stay well.

Totems Around Town!!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:30-04:00 April 26th, 2016|animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, bears, friends, gratitude, mind/body, totems, travel|

We love seeing pictures from around the globe with your Totems!!! This time we see Bear taking on Chicago! The reflection in Cloud Gate aka The Bean, shows a proud Totem owner and her Bear and we couldn’t be happier to see them both.

chicago bear

Bear and The Bean!

It seems wrong to write a post about Chicago and Bear and somehow not include a reference to “Da Bears”!

Wherever you might be and whichever Totem accompanies you, send in your pictures to julie@totemtamers.com.

Stay well.

Paris in our hearts and on our minds.

By | 2018-04-07T23:21:54-04:00 November 14th, 2015|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, brothers, death, family, gun violence, hate crime, Liberty, Life, loss, military, nyc, parenthood, parenting, politics, prayer, soccer, totems, travel, Uncategorized, victim|

We wake up to a new day, the sun shining in New York City, a chilly wind providing shivers and reminders that winter is around the corner. Those shivers hardly distinguishable from the ones I’ve experienced since last night while following the tragic, and horrific attacks that took place in Paris. I can only consume the news in small doses, and find that watching it is even too much, so I periodically check Facebook and Twitter for the latest little tidbits. It is just so overwhelming. Some people need to know every detail and not miss any news update, because that’s helpful to them, but not me. A friend’s status update on Facebook  helped me find the words I wanted to share this morning. She was contemplating having the conversations with her children about what was happening in Paris, understanding that her older child would be able to process more info than her younger child. This made me consider how I would talk to my children as well. I know there will be lots of counselors and authorities out there giving their tips and suggestions, and they will all surely be helpful in some way or another. Please know that I am not a psychologist, or a social worker, or some “lettered” authority, I am a parent, and that gives me a voice for my experiences, and gratitude for a forum to share them. This is not about advice, this is not about right or wrong, this is about one person’s process, mine. My youngest (9) is sitting in the other room now, blissfully unaware and playing some game on his computer. I will go to him and plainly give him the facts about what happened in Paris, because opening that communication is more important than protecting him from reality, no matter how horrible. “Honey, I want to tell you what happened in Paris yesterday because you will probably be hearing a lot about it over the next couple days.  There was an attack, and many people were injured and killed by some very angry and very bad people.” That’s how the conversation will start, and then I will take his lead while guiding him along the way. He may ask tons of questions, he may also choose to go right back to watching silly YouTube videos, and that’s perfectly ok. I am all about honesty and being very straightforward with my kids, because I have found that the imagination can color way more horrifying pictures than the truth can. That being said, my almost 16 year old will be able to handle a whole lot more information than my little one, and even my middle one, and he’ll discover it on his own on the internet. So with him, the conversation will surely be different and maybe even more philosophical, but again, he may not want to go into all the details, but I will reassure that I am here to talk if he needs to. The bottom line is giving your children permission to ask questions, and giving yourself permission to being ok with not having the answers. Also, not being afraid to be open with them, even if it is about your own fears. Because sure I’m scared, and that’s reasonable, but I have faith that the people we charge to protect and serve us will do everything they can to protect us, and that’s how I go about my days. That’s what I will share with my children as I pray for their innocence to last just a little bit longer, and as I pray for the people of Paris and the rest of the world while we mourn right along with them.

Praying for Peace in Paris

Praying for Peace in Paris

Stay well.

Totems Around Town!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:40-04:00 April 10th, 2015|family, holiday, mental health, parenthood, siblings, stress, travel, vacation|

Thank you to one of our loyal Totem Tamers for sending in this gem, all the way from Santa Fe, New Mexico!!

Must be a pic-a-nic around here!

Must be a pic-a-nic around here!

We love seeing your Totems as they visit different sites and come upon different creatures! Send us your pictures to julie@totemtamers.com.

Stay well.

Need a Totem to take around town? Get one today by clicking on any of the Totems on the side of the page!