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
No, we aren’t selling anxiety, silly! But we are selling Totems that will help with any anxiety you or your kids might be experiencing as they go back to school. You might be saying “Hey, we’ve been back to school for almost a month, you’re a little late!” Well, all kids are different, and I learned this with my own, especially around back to school time. First day, usually a breeze. First week, pretty much unscathed. Second week, the “I don’t want to go to school dance” begins. My kids, all of them, would be fine for the first couple weeks, and then the s*%t would hit the fan. Sometimes it’s the excitement of a new beginning that helps hide the anxiety that kids might be feeling. Sometimes it’s the realization that this is the new normal that kicks the anxiety in to high gear. Either way, Totem Tamers can help. Anxiety typically leaves people overwhelmed and feeling out of control and powerless, more so for children, who struggle verbalizing these feelings. So, we want to make it easier for you and/or your kids, or anyone you know that might benefit from some simple coping techniques, and we are putting our Totems on sale!
Visit our shop at www.totemtamers.com/shop and choose from Owl, Bear, Shark, or Bulldog and empower yourself to find calm when you need it most. Every Totem comes with a super soft microfiber bag (which doubles as an eyeglass lens cleaner), a handy guide card that gives you simple steps on regaining calm, and a beautiful, weighted Totem that feels great in your hand and not too bulky in your pocket! We have an incredibly illustrated booklet available as well, that can be really helpful for children, who might benefit from visuals when trying to explain how they feel. And, if you’re feeling super generous, we can even add a gorgeous natural wood box if you want to give a Totem as a gift! Get on the road to calm, and get your Totem today!
My kids stash Totems in their backpacks, because knowing it’s there is sometimes all they need to know when they’re feeling anxious.
As a former Floridian, my concerns are with all my friends who stayed in their homes to ride out Hurricane Irma, and with those who have fled for safety. I have been watching the coverage nonstop, which is probably not the best idea, as my own anxiety ratchets up. I can only imagine what the folks hunkered down must be experiencing!
Totem Tamers was created to help people through incredibly overwhelming situations, and being in a shelter, or in your home without power, while hurricane force winds and storm surge are lapping at your door, is just one of those situations. When I explain to people the simple concept behind the Totem Tamers technique, it sounds like this: When you’re feeling anxious, see the color Red. Take a deep breath and see the color Green. Exhale and see the color Blue. These basic steps will help you either maintain or regain calm. The deep breathing and visualization is vital to keeping calm, and as you take your deep breaths, breathe in and out through your nose, as breathing in and out through your mouth may actually signal to your nervous system that you should be anxious. Here’s an image of the guide card we include in every Totem Tamer purchase, that helps you through the steps:
Be safe and calm!
Update:Today marks my second experience with these super bizarre migraines, but at least now I know what it is! Enjoy the weekend all!
Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop, that was the scene running through my mind the other night, when I was convinced I had a brain tumor.
Thankfully, Arnold’s words mirrored the doctor, who also said “It’s not a tumor, it appears to be a migraine.” Good news! So good, I started to cry with relief. Here’s the scene: My boys and I were getting ready to sit down to dinner and I was doing a last check of email on my phone. There was a smudge on the screen that I tried to wipe off, but it wouldn’t go away. Oddly enough when I looked away from the phone screen, the smudge followed me. Too much screen time perhaps? My eyes must be dry! I put some rewetting drops in and waited, and that’s when the technicolor-disco lights-shimmering prisms started dancing before my eyes. Only on the left side of my periphery, but visible when either eye was closed. I sit down at the table, and we are psyched because we have just started the final season of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, and I can’t really see the TV with all these lights dancing in my eyes. And there it is, that warm, far-away gurgle, that starts deep in my gut, then buzzes through me with a flash, where for a moment I feel lighter than air. Sounds almost pleasant right? Well, it’s not, it’s the start of a major panic attack because I have just realized that I’m in the middle of some kind of episode involving my brain, and I’m half expecting to drop, right there at the dinner table during Buffy. I get up and head to my room where I can take very slow, deep breaths, in an effort to calm my climbing blood pressure. The visual disturbance meanwhile, is becoming more pronounced. Thankfully my babysitter was still around, as I knew I needed medical attention. I had her do the stroke test with me so I could rule that out, and then I called my mom. By the time my mom came to get me, the disco had pretty much stopped. You’d think I would have been happy about that, but as soon as all the dancing lights faded away, a lovely headache creeped up on the opposite side of my head. Yup, I’m a goner.
There’s an Urgent Care around the corner so we headed there, my stiff upper lip, my headache, and my mommy. One friend had suggested it was a migraine, but I had never really had one before so I was skeptical, but clearly there’s a first time for everything! I experienced what is perfectly described as an ocular migraine with aura! I always knew I had a pretty shimmery aura, but I thought the point was for other people to notice it, not me! I have a sense of humor about it now obviously, but I was terrified, and I have tremendous empathy for everyone I know (and even those I don’t), that suffers from any kind of migraine. I got off easy with this one because I actually was functioning and doing fine considering the dull throb. So fine, that I was able to keep my chaperoning duties with 28 fourth graders for a trip to the Whitney Museum! I saw a piece from the Frank Stella exhibit that reminded me of my disco lights!
I’ve read about all the triggers, and of course, most of them are things I thoroughly enjoy (red wine, chocolate, etc.), I might just have to do process of elimination to determine what I can get away with!! It’s scary when something is going on and you feel helpless, I am grateful that Totem Tamers helps to remind me to take deep breaths, because I’m certain those deep breaths kept me from fainting out of fear. I hope I never experience this again, but at least now I know what it is and knowing is half the battle! Would love to hear from all you migraine sufferers, tips, triggers, suggestions!!!
If you are a sufferer, you are probably trembling under the sheets today! Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number 13! People who suffer from this phobia do whatever they can to avoid anything having to do with 13 as a number, apparently thirteen as a word isn’t such a big deal (no one said phobias were rational!) Today being Friday the 13th, I can’t even imagine what “Triskaidek’s” (I assume they like to be called that) are going through. I remember growing up with an irrational fear of this date because of the movie of course, and my brother, who thought it was hilarious to scare the crap out of me! Somewhere along the way, someone put it in my head that if I wore the color red on Friday the 13th, I would be protected from any evildoings. If any of you see me today, you may not see my red clothing, just know I’m wearing it! 😉 People have so many interesting superstitions and phobias for that matter, I had no idea Triskaidekaphobia even existed until today. The good news is that at least the Totems can help keep us calm!
So I bid you all a Happy Friday the 13th and may you not run through the woods today in a negligee. By all means, have at it tomorrow!
This is not a political post about gun control or mental health treatment (lack thereof), this is not about our current election crisis, or the state of the union, this is a post about a little boy who dreamed of superheroes. This is a post about Jacob Hall.
This is about a smile that will now only live on in photos and the hearts of Jacob’s family and friends. This is about a life lost way too soon. 6-year-old Jacob was shot by a teenager last week in South Carolina, and succumbed to his wounds this weekend, you might have heard about the story. Jacob will be laid to rest today in the outfit of his favorite superhero, Batman. Even a replica of the Batmobile will accompany his procession.
Jacob’s parents, who are the WARRIOR’s we honor today, have encouraged mourners to show up in costumes, dressed as their favorite superheroes. Not only to honor Jacob, but in the hopes of not scaring the many children that will attend the funeral to bid goodbye to the their lost friend.
This isn’t a post about propaganda and polling, this is a post about parents and children, about love and loss, and about making the most of the lives we are granted. I will keep my children close today with my invisible lasso and hope that my cape will keep them safe and all the while I will think of Jacob’s smile and his family’s tears and the unwitting WARRIORS they have become.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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!
What a week for impactful events! This includes the loss of two incredible superstars, and the birthday of my oldest boy, who turned 16 earlier this week. Yes, I put losing David Bowie, and Alan Rickman in the same sentence as my son’s birthday, because I’m really skilled at creating the teeniest thread of a connection that will end up tied in a beautiful bow by the time I’m done. Just wait for it.
I woke up on my son’s birthday to learn of David Bowie’s passing. I laid in bed longer than usual, reeling at the news, and marveling at the reactions across my social media network. I’ve been wanting to write about it for days, but couldn’t quite figure out how to put my words to it. I mean I’ve always enjoyed Bowie, but I wasn’t a super fan and I don’t think I ever had one of his albums. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t in awe of who he was, or whoever I thought he was or needed him to be, because he was super freaking cool! He seemed to love everyone, and everyone seemed to love him. He gave the impression of being really comfortable in his own skin. I have no idea what was in his head, except for what he let seep out in his music, and if we really examine it, maybe he wasn’t so comfortable in his own skin after all, but he never, ever, compromised his integrity by conforming. That’s why the spectrum of mourners is as wide as it is. Bowie touched so many lives by not only being a brilliant musician, but by honoring his restless spirit and sharing that with the public.
Then today, we say goodbye to Alan Rickman, an actor who could frighten us and make us fall in love with him almost simultaneously. An actor can only elicit that kind of impact if they become vulnerable to the role they’ve been given, and to find that vulnerability, there has to be some comfort in their own skin that allows them to shed that skin. And yes, sometimes it’s a discomfort that feeds the actor’s vulnerability or motivation, but ultimately, without truly honoring your authentic self, the persona you display will always be a step behind. There are a lot of quotes being attributed to Rickman today and they are all lovely, but one of them struck a chord with me (here comes a stronger thread!), “Talent is an accident of genes…and a responsibility.”
Wow. It doesn’t matter what your talent may be, but we all have the capacity within, to take that talent and turn it into something meaningful and impactful, just like Rickman, just like Bowie, and just like I hope my son (all three of them) will do. It just so happens that my oldest is an actor, and a good one at that, he is also a songwriter (he’s made me cry), but he’s also a remarkable mathematician with a love of science. He blew me away one night when he was sharing his latest math work and then went on about science class and how he figured something out and how good it made him feel. I realized in that moment, that this kid could be whatever he wanted as long as he remained true to himself, and in his own skin. It’s not about what I think he should do, or what society expects him to do, it’s what makes him shine in whatever he chooses to do. We all have that same privilege, but sadly, we all don’t feel comfortable in our own skin. So watch some Alan Rickman films (Truly, Madly, Deeply/Sense & Sensibility/Die Hard, and many more,) listen to some David Bowie (Blackstar, the album that was released two days before his death, Space Oddity/Young Americans, and many more), and find a way to be comfortable in your own skin and share that gift with your children.
There I was, quietly enjoying some me-in-the-morning time, sipping my coffee, and leafing through the as usual too thick NYTimes Sunday edition, when the ants showed up. I had actually managed to make it as far as the Magazine (which I save for last), and was looking forward to the cover story on brain surgery, when the creepy-crawlies appeared. Normally, I might have skipped over the pages covered with the imposing insects, but when I read the first line of the piece, I knew I had to fight through my discomfort! Author Leah Reich, begins her article with the opening question “Have you ever had an anxiety attack?” Considering that the M.O. behind Totem Tamers is helping people who struggle with anxiety, I was eager to see where this would go, and I’m grateful to report that Ms. Reich nailed it! She nailed it, simply for writing the article, but more so because she attempts to describe to those who don’t experience anxiety, what an attack might feel like to them.
I don’t particularly care for ants, especially the ones that look menacing and could bite, therefore the anxiety I experienced while reading this article was palpable. As a result, I think that anyone who hasn’t been able to put a finger on what anxiety feels like, perhaps even their own, may get a sense by reading this piece. It’s about the conversation, and I am grateful to Ms. Reich for being front and center in the discussion.
If you don’t have a Totem, and you have anxiety, it might be helpful to get one! Visit our store at https://totemtamers.com/shop and get one today!
You did it!! We did it!! I did it!!! Made it to the end of another year, the beginning of a new one. There are so many sentimental posts floating around about the hard years that were had, looking forward to easier times ahead, and I get it, I really do, if you’ve ever read my blog, you know I know sentimental. Right now, though, that’s not what I’m feeling. I’m feeling motivated, inspired, eager, and excited for every possibility. I don’t want to look back, I was already there! As great as some of it might have been, as awful as some of it might have been, I don’t want to do it again, I want something new and shiny! I want better than it was, for me, for my kids, for my family, for my neighbors, and for goodness sakes, for my country. We can do better, always, and if for some reason you don’t think you can, all you need to do is try! Trying is better than not doing anything at all, so it counts! Go right ahead, wish everyone a happy new year, but keep in mind the wish for a happier YOU near.
Take a moment to look at YOU and see who YOU are, and don’t walk away until you are committed to YOU! Mirrors serve to remind us that even if we can’t see ourselves, we are reflected in others, so make sure you’re a worthy mirror. Happy and healthy new You, and new year!
I keep hearing and even asking people what gifts they got for the holidays, because it’s fun to see people light up about the trinkets a loved one gave them, and then I like to ask what gifts they gave to other people, because that’s fun to hear about, too! Intermingled with all the lovely tales of unwrapped and surprise gifts, missing directions and vital pieces to anticipated toys and games, were also hints of sadness and heartbreak and frustration. This is what got me thinking about presence as opposed to presents. Having a presence in someone’s life in times of struggle (and in times of happiness) is a gift, and all it costs is a little time. Like when I got a message from a friend who is securely locked inside his “closet” for fear of being disowned by his parents, and I was able to give him love and support and guidance. Like the moment I was hugging a neighbor on the sidewalk on Christmas because it’s the first one she’s spending without her mother, who passed away a month ago. Then, later still on Christmas, happily sharing with my own mother, the heartbreaking, yet rewarding gift of serving Christmas dinner at a homeless shelter, where our presence was felt not only by the folks eating dinner, but by the staff who got a little break from serving while we were there.
The list goes on and on, and even in it’s underlying sadness, those moments of presence might have offered a gift of peace, even just for a breath or two, and all it required was time. I am grateful to hold this presence in many people’s lives, and that is my present, one that gives and receives simultaneously. So as you go through your holiday loot and slowly start to put away the decorations, think back not only on the presents you got and gave, but on the presence that you always have.
Don’t worry, you won’t find any spoilers here from the new Star Wars movie. By now, you’ve probably heard all sorts of things, and some of them may be true. I will say that people were getting really worked up about all the potential spoilers out there, with one guy getting arrested for threatening to shoot someone over leaked information. Personally, I had an experience that really ticked me off. A comic strip appeared in The Daily News before the movie premiered, giving away one of the biggest spoilers. I was shocked, although I didn’t have the energy to complain, there was a HuffPo article about it! The article does contain a link to the offending comic strip, if you really want to see it. Anyway, I finally went to see the movie yesterday, it was the last part of my middle son’s birthday celebration. It was my three boys, my ex-husband, and me, all ready for the IMAX 3-D experience, and I don’t know who was more excited!
There we all were with our silly glasses on, in a packed theater, with a bunch of really excited geeks and nerds! (Oh yeah, and Chris Rock, not sure which category he fits into.) When the opening credits began and that iconic John Williams score sang out, I was immediately 8 years old again. The theater started clapping and hooting and hollering, it was awesome! We were instantly transported to a galaxy far, far away, and for the next two hours everyone was transfixed! There are new characters that we connected with right away, one of them being the newest droid in the crop, BB-8, a cuter more compact version of R2-D2. BB-8, wheeled his way into everyone’s hearts from his first beep beep boop boop, but he wasn’t R2. There are old characters in the film as well, and we all know Han and Leia are back, and even space creatures are familiar, like General Akbar, and there was comfort in that. And yes, it was cool to see Han and Leia doing their thing, and the nostalgia was there, but it was the moment R2-D2 came onscreen, that I became a bit unglued. Suddenly tears are streaming down my face, and this was a happy scene! I was perplexed at first, but then I realized in that one moment, my whole childhood came rushing back! All the afternoons spent with my pal A.J., playing with his massive Millennium Falcon built out of Legos, imagining that I understood R2, and that the droid, not only understood me, but was my friend and my protector. Seeing the droid onscreen reminded me of some of the happier, more simple times of my childhood, and now I was sharing that with my own children, and that’s when I recognized they were tears of happiness on my face. My kids will remember seeing this film, just like I remember my dad taking me to see “The Empire Strikes Back” with my brother, when I was a little girl. It’s amazing how different generations can share love for the same characters and story, so many years later. Thank you JJ Abrams for bringing it back the right way, and thank you George Lucas for letting him! May the Force be with us all!