Be proud of who you are, always!
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We are creatures of habit, aren’t we? There are things that we do every day that we probably don’t even notice we are doing because they have become habitual. Taking shoes off when you come in the house. Hanging the keys by the door. Leaving your socks in the middle of the hallway so your mom has to pick them up. These are things that just happen without even giving them a thought. So when something is out of whack, we notice!! When your favorite takeout place changes their french fry distributor, it’s unsettling. When your iOS platform updates, it can be downright aggravating. And when a resident in your building, whose name you don’t even know, walks out of the building without his banana, you can barely cope?! No, seriously.
Living in New York City, we are sardined together in these big buildings and we can ride an elevator with someone for years and never utter a word, but still, we know them. So one of the residents in my building has a banana thing. He’s gotta be at least 6’4 and lanky, but marathon runner lanky, so he’s super fit. I’m not sure how many times a week I see him because we are on similar schedules. Me, bleary eyed, barely dressed in presentable clothing, being dragged out by my furry four-legged kid at the crack of dawn. Him, impeccably dressed, clearly showered and coiffed, and finishing a banana. Every time I see him. Imagine how I felt the other morning when I noticed the hand that is usually armed with yellow sustenance, was awkwardly placed against his chest as he walked out the building, empty. “Banana Man” had no banana!!! I know at this point you’re thinking I’ve totally lost it, but I assure you I haven’t. Because when I walked in to the lobby and remarked to the doorman that the resident had no banana, the doorman immediately responded “I know, right? He must be missing it.” Maybe we’re all a little nuts, or maybe it’s just that we are creatures of habit? Either way, I like things to be the way they I expect them to be and if they aren’t, I at least want to know why. So next time I see “Banana Man”, if he has no banana, I will boldly inquire!
Do you have any sort of habit or ritual that you engage in every day? I don’t mean the standard stuff of brushing your teeth, but if when you brush your teeth, you sway back and forth to the tune of Barry Manilow’s feel-good hit “Can’t Smile Without You”, I would love to hear about it!
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?
This is a hard day. A traumatic day. A painful day. A somber day. It is also a good day. A special day. A birth day. A memorable day.
I watch the news feed on my Facebook. I see “always remember” and “never forget” over and over and over again. I see names of people I never knew etched on a wall. I see names of people I used to know but now only linked through the virtual wonder of the internet. I see people posting baby pics celebrating birthdays of their children born on this fateful date. I remember.
Just days before the terrorist attack in New York City on 9/11/2001, I was visiting the city for my college roommate’s wedding and we went up to the observation deck of the Empire State building and marveled at the height of the towers. It was windy but clear, and we were all glad to be together celebrating our friends and our friendship. That’s what I try to remember on this day. My oldest, and at that point only son, pushing a bubble-blowing lawn mower down the aisle and rocking a tuxedo at the wedding the next day, I remember that.
This photo, along with others from that day, hangs on my wall. I also remember being back in Florida on 9/11 and the phone ringing off the hook and just staring at the TV all day in tears, not comprehending what had happened. That’s a harder memory to recall. My son, now one of three, stands at almost 6’1, the other two inching up behind him. They are my towers now and living our lives every day is done in honor of all those that perished on that fateful day, and for those who have died since, as a result of their efforts to help on that day. We remember not because we want to, but because we have to. My two older ones are old enough that they go out and about New York City on their own. I struggled letting them do that today, but we have to live and they don’t need to be crippled by fear of the unknown, but I will not rest until they are safely at home with me. My heart goes out to those who will truly never rest again.
There are a lot of museums in New York City. To be sure, there are a lot of museums I have never even heard of! There is one lovely spot however, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, that I have discovered, The American Folk Art Museum! It’s perfectly small and manageable and has one of the funkiest gift shops where I can pick up out of the ordinary, last minute gifts. The exhibits are always interesting and the people are super engaged, and I encourage you to take a little time out one afternoon and head over for a visit. It’s free! (Although a donation is always a nice thing.) Owl was certainly at home in the gift shop!
These are Owl figurines handmade by Haitian artists, using recycled newspaper. So cool!! Owl Totem certainly finds birds of a feather!
Do you have a Totem to take around town? Well, you should! Just click on any of the Totem images on the side of the page and order yours today!
Diane Keaton is one of those classic New York actresses, thanks in part to Woody Allen, of course, and the movies she’s made with him. She also commandeered a fashion sense that made pants and suit wearing for women, sexy, acceptable, and fun! She’s got a movie out now with Morgan Freeman, called “5 Flights Up”. I haven’t seen it yet, but the two of them in a film should certainly be good! The irony, that was discovered in a Daily News article promoting the film, is that Keaton is afraid to fly. That she freely mentions her anxiety, is what makes her this week’s WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!
Keaton discusses that she doesn’t travel much because of her fear of flying and uses medication to manage. Totem Tamers understands that medications can be helpful in extreme cases, but we hope to give people the tools to remain calm, so that maybe at some point, medication can be an option, not a necessity. I would guess that Ms. Keaton might choose OWL to accompany her on her travels, but you never know what Totem someone might connect with. It’s the simple techniques of visualization, deep breathing, and repetition that can help keep you calm in potentially overwhelming situations. What Totem would you choose?
Thank you Diane Keaton, for your courage in sharing your anxiety, and we are proud to call you this week’s WARRIOR WEDNESDAY!
If you would like to have a Totem travel partner, just click on any of the Totems on the side of the page and buy one today!
Or better yet…Cardinals rule!! The cardinal has long been a favorite bird of mine (and my mom’s), maybe it’s the plumage, maybe it’s the distinct call they make, or probably more to the point, it’s the way their color cuts through just about any nature scene. I hear them chatting to each other all the time, and it’s comforting to me as I navigate the cityscape on a regular basis. I can usually find the source of the call when I have time to stop and look, but sometimes, I am gifted with a clear sighting. This picture was one such gift, but also very poignant as well.
Even in the midst of sirens, and babies crying, and cars honking, this beautiful bird gave me pause and a chance to chuckle at the irony of it’s landing spot. I can only hope it found some nice grubs to bring back home in that newly seeded lawn. Hope you’ve had the chance to take pause, but more so, that you’ve had the chance to chuckle!
While we don’t have a cardinal Totem (yet), we do have Owl, and Owl is definitely awesome. If you want Owl to help give you pause, then click on the link on the side of the page and get one today!
Halloween night, and my three kids are contemplating their plans. One is off to a friends house after spending the day dressed as “Green Man” from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” My middle one is apathetic to the whole event but still had me buy a really expensive popular character costume. The youngest of the crew, who would end up with two costume changes, is fantasizing about all the Milky Way’s he is going to score. Then enters the sparrow. Not just any sparrow, but apparently a juvenile white-throated sparrow, in the middle of its migration South. It didn’t exactly enter, but instead crashed into the building and landed on my terrace. When your kids witness a helpless creature struggling, there is really only one thing to do, and that is help this teeny little bird, who looked so obviously in pain. These are the moments that I am grateful to live in New York City, because one google search and naturally I found the help this birdy needed.
That’s my middle, who is clearly concerned about the little bird flopping around in the box and wanted to come with me to the Wild Bird Fund. The Wild Bird Fund is an incredible place, not far from our house, where they provide emergency care to upwards of 1000 birds and exotic animals each year. When we got there, they thought we were trick or treating, and then realized we had an injured bird and invited us in. We were greeted by the most beautiful swan I had ever seen this close up!
There was a teeny Owl that had just been rescued but it wasn’t able to be out in public sadly, but Owl Totem was just fine getting close to the swan. The Wild Bird Fund uses a ton of volunteers, and we watched one of them work with the swan, which had an injured leg. It was amazing. Then we were called into the room with our sparrow and talked with a lovely wildlife rehabilitator, who explained what kind of bird we had and what likely had happened. He also explained that a lot of times, birds, especially small ones like our sparrow, typically die from stress related to the trauma, and not the trauma itself. There was nothing else we could do now, the sweetness of Halloween trick-or-treating lingering in the backs of our minds. We treated the Wild Bird Fund with a donation for their wonderful work, and headed back into the streets with the vampires and Captain America’s.
Sadly, our sparrow did not make it, but the lesson of helping an injured bird, doing something in a realm where you might think you can’t do anything, that will live on forever. The Wild Bird Fund always needs donations, and volunteers, and you can become a member and help them in their efforts to rescue and treat injured and orphaned wildlife in the hopes to return them to nature.
If you love owls, you can carry an Owl Totem with you always! Just click on the image of Owl and buy one today!
This was merely looking down the block at the Climate March, from a spot on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Impressive to say the least! There are plenty of photos online that show the true scope of this event that took place this past Sunday, with estimates approaching 400,000 marchers. People from all walks of life came out to show their passion and ultimately their commitment to keeping this Earth healthy and green. There were drummers drumming, and babies with protest signs, there were bare breasted women with painted-on signs, and of course, celebrities. Because what’s a march without a few important people thrown in? There was Sting and his fountain-of-youth-drinking wife Trudie Styler. Leonardo DiCaprio, still recognizable behind a bushy beard and kombucha gut (hey, it coulda been organic beer, but I love my Kombucha!) Mark Ruffalo, who would have been more than justified to come dressed as The Hulk, he is “green” after all. And one of my all time favorites, Ed Norton, a fave because he played a character with my last name once, and he is a great actor, too! Not to make light of the issue at all, but more to show how important it is that even VIP celebrity types were willing to mix it up with the regular crowd for a common, and truly important cause! I certainly hope people were paying attention. I was participating in an event that day marking the International Day of Peace, so I wasn’t able to march, but we talked about the issue at home, and the way the schools are working to educate about Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, for example, is crucial. The event made me realize how important it is for our kids and our kids kids, to be able to have an environment they can thrive in, and that means lowering our fossil fuel consumption and reducing the amount of harmful chemicals in the air! I want my kids to roll in the grass, and swing on the swings, and play soccer in the fields without having to worry about asthma. It’s a shame that we have to worry, but in the meantime, I’m not raising boys in little bubbles (big ones really, because they’re all so tall), I want them out in the fields, and tumbling on the grass, because then they can truly appreciate this green planet!
Want a Totem to play in the grass with you? Order one today!! Click on any of the Totems on the left to buy one now.
Sometimes we just need to take a moment and breathe (ignoring the fumes, cigarette smoke, and cheap perfume of course.) I grew up in Miami Beach, a resort-like town with pristine beaches and endless sunshine. Sounds amazing right? Somehow though, I never felt comfortable there, it just never seemed to suit me. Don’t get me wrong, I love the beach, and the palm trees, and the sunshine. I even love the afternoon thunderstorms, but there was always a restlessness to living in Miami for me. I moved to New York City 11 years ago last month, and I have never looked back. It finally clicked about six months into my new life here, that NYC is just how my brain works. Miami is too languid, even-paced, almost boring. NYC offers me excitement, from spotting my “good friend” Hank Azaria on the street every other day, to finding new and creative ways of wiping dog poo off my shoe! I am always thinking, always on alert, always on the go. I love it! And then come those moments when I realize, I need a break. I need to slow down a little and just breathe.
The slower pace from Miami hasn’t fully left me and I recognize that sometimes when using the Subway. People rushing and running and ignoring others just to get on mass transit where they will have to sit and wait. There’s always another train so I never really stress it and that’s one way I hold on to my Miami-brain. I also make an effort every day to stop and look at the sunset. I am very blessed with a great western view, so that makes it easy, but giving myself even just a minute to watch the sky turn colors as another day ends is restorative enough sometimes!
Today I am making a conscious effort to slow down and breathe, and I eagerly await another sunset which reminds me that tomorrow is another day. I hope you do the same.
Need a Totem to remind you to breathe? We have them and you can get one!! Just click on the images to the left and choose your Totem today!
I am grateful to live in New York City for many different reasons, but chief among them is the opportunity to be out and about on foot witnessing all the sights and sounds this bustling metropolis has to offer. Sure there are plenty of places I still haven’t been to (Staten Island, Coney Island, to name a few), but even in my little neck of the woods there is plenty to see. The trick though, is to actually look. Today is a beautiful day, and I found myself walking some errands (I wasn’t running, so that cliche didn’t really work) when I noticed some lovely flowers planted outside a brownstone. I noticed them, “Pretty,” I said in my head. They were thriving, and there were yellow ones and purple ones, and I noticed them, and I kept walking on my way. Then it actually registered. What I had noticed, were not yellow flowers and purple flowers planted together in the same flower bed, they were yellow and purple flowers! I know, sounds confusing, so I turned and walked back, not caring that I was on my way to an appointment, because I had to make sure my mind wasn’t playing tricks on me. Well, no tricks this time!
I was struck that each flower had what seemed to be three yellow petals and two purple ones on the same stem! I don’t know what this flower is, so if you do, please let me know. All I know is that I began to think about how as a culture we often get uncomfortable when we see objects (whether people, foods, or things) that we don’t expect to see together, in the same place. This could be as simple as mayo on a hot dog (blech!), or as complex as an interracial couple, for example. I am hopeful that our current societal culture is evidence that different makeups of families are now more the norm than anything. Kids with two moms or two dads, kids that have only one parent, adopted children from other countries, these are all things that at least my children, don’t question. I am grateful for that, but I also hope that even though they don’t question, that they at minimum take notice and see how beautiful something can be, even if we don’t originally think it belongs. But never mayo on a hot dog, never.
What Totem do you connect with? If you don’t have one yet, click on any of the four images to the left and get one today!
Some weeks go by when I don’t have a WARRIOR WEDNESDAY. It’s not to say that those weeks there isn’t someone or some group that isn’t deserving of being named a WARRIOR, but sometimes I just don’t have it in me to write it, to get inspired by it or them, or share. I don’t beat myself up over it too much, I just hope that it will happen the next week, or the week after. Today is Wednesday, and I really wanted to be able to come up with some inspirational person, group or event that would qualify and serve as WARRIOR WEDNESDAY, but I’ve been having a hard time of it. Then I understood what my struggle was, and I seemed to find inspiration in that. I have a friend that popped in to town for a quick visit because she wanted to see her grandkids and an old friend. She asked for my couch and I gladly offered it up. This morning she got all dressed up rather early and I asked where she was headed with her friend, and she told me she was going to the opening of the 9/11 Museum. We both looked at each other and simultaneously placed our hands on our hearts as if to symbolize the heaviness of the event. That heaviness has stayed with me all morning. I don’t know how I feel about the museum, really. On one hand I keep hearing the words “never forget,” and on the other I keep hearing that this is not a tourist attraction where we should be selling commemorative gifts in a gift shop as you exit. I’m conflicted and I didn’t even live in New York at the time of that awful event. I can’t imagine how the families of victims are feeling, but I have read plenty of reactions that reflect both hands I struggle with. Then the bigger picture appeared. The families of everyone affected by 9/11, they are our WARRIORS today and every day. No one can know what you feel, what you went through or continue to go through. And I’m not just referring to the family members of those who were killed, but I’m talking about everyone who was impacted, the ones who weren’t killed, the ones who were injured, or escaped unscathed, the first responders, the residents of this city who came together as a community when the world was watching. All of you are our WARRIORS and I marvel and applaud your courage and strength to go on as best you can. So as the 9/11 Museum opens and allows others who weren’t here to maybe get a teeny glimpse in to the horror that has impacted and continues to impact so many, I hope you’re ok. I know you’re ok, because you are WARRIORS and we need you to be ok. Whichever hand you fall on, whether it’s in support of the museum, or against it, that’s your right and your choice. For me, for now, I can’t go there yet, and I frankly don’t know if I ever will be able to visit, and I live here now. I am part of the New York City that resurrected itself after unspeakable horror, and I am proud to be here.
New York City is a magical place….most of the time. When the weather warms up and people take to the streets in droves, you never know what you will encounter. The kids and I were heading to Grandma’s the other day when we came upon a father and daughter using chalk on the sidewalk. It was a lovely sight to see even though they seemed to just be scribbling. Well we were certainly taken aback on the walk home when we saw the finished product!
Yes, they used a stencil, yes they may have been a somewhat well-known artistic family, but it’s still lovely! The Totems were happy to jump in the shot! Take your Totem with you the next time you’re out and about and send us any pictures!
If you don’t have a Totem to take around town with you, click on any of the images on the left and order one today!
Calm down, calm down, it’s not what you think, but don’t you just love a really great title?! Although, there is truth in the title of me being forced to be anti-choice, but it’s not so political, sort of. That’s what happens when your little one, ok my little one, asks me a question that I absolutely can’t answer correctly, or at all, for that matter. After deciding that he wasn’t speaking to me this morning, my 7 and a half year old took to writing things down. Whether it was his breakfast option, drink option, or just to prove that he knew how to spell the word obnoxious, he wrote. Yes, I asked him to spell. Please note that these written interactions were taking place while I was also helping my other two kids get ready for their day. That includes making breakfast, making lunch, making sure teeth are brushed and cell phones charged (we do live in New York City,) and making sure they are out the door in time! It’s exhausting to say the least, but I love it, and them, and wouldn’t have it any other way. Somewhere in the madness, I get the next handwritten query from my sweet little boy. He asks: “If you were trapped on a desert island who would you rather be with me or the middle (name was changed to protect the innocent!)?” There is no right answer here!! I balked immediately and hemmed and hawed, and told him there was no way I could choose. I offered up the gruesome scenario of drowning myself so that they would be together and I wouldn’t have to choose. Oh relax, I know that might not have been the best thing to say, but I had to say something!!! He gave up eventually when I refused to commit to an answer and it wasn’t until the morning rush was over and I had a chance to chat with some friends, that it occurred to me what was going on. In that moment this morning, my little one was feeling neglected. In a perfect world, that light would have gone off immediately and I would have been able to say to him “Oh honey, what an impossible choice that would be for any parent to make, because I love you both so much. It sounds like you are feeling a little upset about the attention your brother has been getting, is that what’s going on?” Well sadly, a perfect world we do not have access to, so I will have to check in with him this afternoon and try to give him some one on one time. I sometimes compare parenting to those games at the carnival that you know are rigged for you to lose, but they tease you with allowing you to come so close to winning, that you just keep trying and trying. You keep trying because you hope that eventually you will knock down all the bowling pins. The fun of parenting really is in the trying, the blessing really is in being able to play at all.
Our four Totems are on the left of this page, have a look and choose one to help you through your hectic mornings!