Tag Archives: Tension

5 Tips To Survive Summer Vacation With Wild Kids

3766009204_8721a00ddeThere’s a picture of my sister in our family album that has inspired a family idiom: the purple kitty face. In the photo, my sis is standing in our driveway on a summer day wearing light blue undies and holding a tiny black kitten, scooped from a litter of mates produced by our ginger cat, Selena. In her sweet and quirky four-year-old way, she had convinced herself (and probably me) that the kitty was not black, but purple.

If you look closely at my sister’s expression, you’ll notice that her lips are pursed tightly in a sort of painfully loving grimace. Her teeth are clenched, as are her two little hands that are quickly crushing purple kitty’s spindly rib cage.

If a thought bubble could appear magically above my sister’s head it would say, “You’re so cuuuuuuttteee! I love you to deeeeeaaaaath!” Fortunately, no animals were injured in the filming of that scene. At least not that we knew of, anyway. I imagine that Mom swooped toward her daughter after snapping the pic, rescued the kitten from imminent death and returned her to the cardboard box from whence she came.

There’s a psycho-medical term for this exact situation I’m sure, but nothing quite pins the tail on the donkey like purple kitty. (Though that Looney Tunes scene with Daffy Duck and the Abominable Snow Man comes close, “I will hug him and squeeze him and call him George.”)

The purple kitty is sort of like that feeling of being insanely cold. When you’re so cold that shaking is involuntary. Only when you notice that your teeth are chattering so much your jaw hurts and your thighs are sore from tightening them against the weather do you become aware of the tension and mindfully release it… only to squeeze up again with the next frigid gust. (I’m a lifelong New Englander, I know about these things.)

My children make the purple kitty face all the time. We just got a puppy and she is often the recipient of squeezey loving. But I know it’s not just a behavior reserved for my family. All kids do this. I remember one day my old boss came into work and told us that her beloved family pet, a hamster, was laid to rest in a shoe box that morning – a victim of her daughter’s loving embrace. It happens. And not just with animals.

I remember doing this with my neighbor as a kid. He was such an adorable baby. I remember hugging him a little to tight, sucking my breath in through clenched teeth, body shaking from the effort of physical love, releasing only when the little toe headed cutiepie squeaked rather than exhaled. Honestly, sometimes I notice myself doing it still. What can I say? Babies are cute.

As a parent of small children, I’ve noticed that my purple kitty face, once associated with over-loving, has become one of Holy-Shit-I-Can’t-Take-It-Anymore-You-Are-Driving-Me-Crazy-And-I-Need-You-To-Stop-Screaming-At-Each-Other-Before-My-Eyeballs-Eject-From-My-Skull. I think the more common term for this is frustration, but frustration is not a rich enough word for the exasperation, disheartened-ness, desperateness, and anger that I can feel when my kids are totally obnoxious.

So I admit it. I’ve been known to occasionally squeeze my kids. And not because they’re cute. Thanks to a committed mindfulness practice, I can typically defend them from my clenching grip, but I’d be lying if I said I’ve never sent my kids off to school praying that their teachers wouldn’t roll up their sleeves and find red stripes around their biceps from where I grabbed and squeezed, imagining that my vice grip would somehow convince them to stop screaming, listen to my words, or clean up their blasted Pokemon cards.

It’s summer vacation now, and all this quality time with our unscheduled babies, as delightful as it is, provides us with endless opportunities to feel emotionally overwhelmed by their antics. So there are a couple of things I’ve done that have helped me to stop the squeezing and relax my purple kitty face, and I wanted to share them with you all.

I have three small children ages 4 through 8, and I mother each of them differently, but these five things work consistently for me with all three.

  1. Meditate. Your reaction to your babies is not about them, it’s about you. When you’re composed, no amount of nagging, screeching or spoiled-rotten-American-kid complaining will offend you.
    • A meditation practice takes time to develop, so in the meantime try this: The second you reach for that little arm, breathe into your squeezy hand and let the irritation melt like butter on plain pasta with no red sauce. Think these words: “This will be over soon, and we will be happy again.”
    • Another great mindfulness trick is the 10-10-10 rule. Ask yourself, “How will I feel about this in 10 minutes? In 10 days? In 10 years?” Probably not so great. So loosen up the tourniquet and know that this too shall pass.
  2. Make sure they’ve eaten. Hungry kids are CRAZY. We all know this, but somehow we all forget. Feed them. I always have a bag of apples and a slicer wheel nearby. It’s the perfect emergency food. But even with that, I still forget, too.
  3. Whisper or speak very softly when you’re explaining or disciplining. They’ll be like, “What? What, Mommy? What?” and they’ll stop screaming long enough to listen. Most of the time, they start modeling my volume and instantly the stress level dissipates – mine and theirs.
  4. If whispering doesn’t work, try crying. Channel your inner soap opera diva. Most likely, fake tears will not be hard to conjure, but feel free to give yourself over to real ones. There’s nothing wrong with letting your kids see you cry. They should know the effect their behavior has on others. And when you’re teetering on the edge of an emotional volcano, a sobbing mommy meltdown can be a great side effect – they stop flipping out and turn their compassionate focus on you. “I’m so sorry, Mommy. I’m so sorry,” complete with hugs and kisses and sympathy. Then they can stop being lunatics long enough for you to regain composure and control.
  5. When all else fails, put them in water. My neighbor, an experienced mother of several, taught me this and I am ever-grateful. Draw a bath, toss in a few face cloths and buckets, turn on some Mozart and leave the room – bathroom door open, of course.

You Create



It began with tension. Tension contrasted with the utter peacefulness of a summer evening. It was when I noticed it first.

It was such a beautiful evening, balmy and fresh after a hot, summer day, pink and blue with golden highlights, and filled to bursting with the forest scents and grassy aromas. It was so quiet, so peaceful — but I wasn’t. That was when I noticed it. That was why I noticed it. The tension, the … tightness.

And I thought I was doing so well! I was pulling myself up from my traumas and dramas, I was getting back to my art and to my work, I was making an effort, I was doing stuff again, I even made a list and created a schedule (a tentative one), I was doing, I was doing, I was busy … and it all seemed so silly suddenly. The busyness, the schedule, the doing. It was supposed to be a remedy for not-doing anything, which was bad but … it seemed so silly.

Because it was never the problem, I realized. Doing nothing was never the problem. Reading books all day or hanging out on Facebook, avoiding my art and abandoning my projects — that was never a problem. Doing, doing, doing would never be a solution.

I lost my presence. That was the problem.

I allowed myself to become unconscious, I allowed my life to slip out of focus, I allowed my vision to become fuzzy. Doing things, schedules, plans, objectives and accomplishments were supposed to fix that problem for me, but they did not bring presence with them. They only brought busyness. They brought movement, bustle, hustle, doing. Lots of doing. And tension. There was no presence in all this activity. There was no presence in tension.

Presence was in the peacefulness of last night. As I walked my dogs in the midst of gathering dusk, through the splendid silence of nature around me, there was presence there and I became clear, yet again, that it is lack of presence that is the problem, and it is presence that is the solution.


Not doing, making, bustling and hustling, but presence. Presence as what I am, as my life, right now. Presence that transcends doing. Presence that renders doing obsolete because it, by the virtue of simply being, creates. Creates reality. Creates life. Spontaneously and effortlessly creates — everything.

That is one thing worth doing, I thought to myself last night, working on being present.

How The MELT Method Is Bringing Bodies Back into Balance


I took my first MELT (Myofascial Energetic Length Technique) class this past weekend at a local yoga studio. I’d heard amazing things about MELT and had wanted to try a class for some time, but hadn’t had a chance yet to experience it myself.

During the class we used a long, soft foam roller, multiple small, different-sized balls on our hands and feet, and a variety of short, repetitive movements on different areas of the back, legs, hands, and feet.

There was no big, overt movement, yoga poses, or breaking a sweat required, but by the end of the class my body felt noticeably balanced, rested, and remarkably calm.

I asked the instructor, Roeshan Shadravan, a certified MELT instructor and licensed holistic practitioner, to share some of her insights about MELT and how it works.

melt3MM: Roeshan, what is MELT and how does it actually work in the body?

RS: In a nutshell, without getting too technical, MELT Method gently stimulates or excites cells to produce more ground fluid (the stuff that makes joints juicy) through the use of a soft roller and hand and foot balls, thereby tapping into the connective tissue of your body to Reconnect, Rebalance, Rehydrate, and Release; the 4 R’s of MELT.

It then rinses or pushes the fluids into the areas of the body that commonly hold imbalances (areas that typically tend to be dehydrated, compressed, or unstable due to stuck stress in the body from active living and aging) which over time cause pain and instability.

Biomechanics reveals “you can’t be efficiently mobile if you are inefficiently stable,” and science shows us “connective tissue hydration is required for the extensibility necessary for whole-body stability.”

Thus, by learning and following the MELT Method techniques and sequences, you gain the tools to learn how to push and drive the fluids naturally produced and found in your body through your connective tissue, decreasing the number of barriers (stuck stress or restrictions in the body) and redistributing the fluids in your body more efficiently and evenly so that your connective tissue can return with ease from a taut, dry, brittle state back to a smooth, fluid, liquid state that moves and functions more efficiently. AKA MELTing your connective tissue! Simple, noninvasive, and effective. It’s brilliant!

MM: How did you get interested in MELT? What was your first experience with it?

RS: Where to begin? I look back to the Spring of 2011, when I was first introduced to MELT by Sue Hitzmann, the creator of the MELT Method. I had heard good things about it but wasn’t sure what exactly it was. So I decided to go to the source, Sue, and take a class, see what all the hype was about.

The roller was soft and comfortable to use and I actually enjoyed using it. (My previous experiences with foam rollers were painful and unpleasant to use.) This MELT roller was different, and I felt the positive shifts in body instantly.

For years I had been experimenting with any ball I could get my hands on (tennis, golf, lacrosse, etc.) on my hands and feet, knowing the importance and role the hands and feet play in relation to whole-body wellness. It’s like it is innately ingrained us; give someone in pain a ball and the first they do is roll around on it. But again there was something different, unique, about these MELT balls.

The immediate change the MELT balls yielded in my body was noticeable. And they were easy to use, no harsh, sharp, unpleasant surprises, as I followed the MELT sequences on my hands and feet.

My life has never been the same, in a good way, since that day.

MM: Can you talk a little about connective tissue, its role in the body, and how MELT works on it?melt1

RS: In all my years of studies as a Holistic Practitioner I was familiar with connective tissue, its importance and connection to the nervous system and the role it plays in creating a healthy, free moving, sound body.

I had been practicing and studying for over a decade how to address connective tissue through hands-on bodywork, but never had I seen or experienced how to address connective tissue so effectively through hands-off bodywork. This really opened my eyes and swung the door wide open on how I could help, not only heal my own body, but help others alleviate pain and tension (aka stuck stress) in their body through self-care via the MELT Method.

With all that said, truly the best way to really begin to grasp and comprehend the question “What is MELT Method?” is to experience MELT. Let your body answer the question, give you feedback, validation, and feel of how it all works. Trust me. Your body will thank you.

Really this is just the tip of the iceberg. As you dive deeper and deeper into your connective tissue via MELT, your body will being to reveal and unveil what is truly happening inside this delicate ecosystem we call the human body.

photo credit: Jesse Kaplan, Daniella DeVarney

#15: Excuse Yourself to Kiss the Sky

(photo by Affendaddy, Flickr Creative Commons)

This is 15 of 108 Ways to Livin the Moment. Let’s take back our lives one beautiful, funny, and delicious moment at a time.

#15 of 108: Excuse Yourself to Kiss the Sky!!!

“Kiss the sky!” is a classic line from Jimi Hendrix’s song Purple Haze.

Rolling Stone rated Hendrix as the #1 greatest guitarist of all time.  Take a moment to listen before reading on…

This is not about the music or the lyrics or the persona or the song…this is about the guitar.

I heard the guru Osho speak about how the guitar is based on tension.

(Photo by spacerock9)

If the strings are too loose or too tight, there can be no music, no sound…or certainly not the sound that we associate with a talent like Hendrix.

So it goes with life. To be in tune, you have to perceive the tension of your relationship, career, personal gift.

As Osho said, “Life exists through the tension of the opposites, the meeting of the opposites.”

All that you have and all that you don’t pull at you every day. This tension is the essence of all music, harmony, passion.

Woody Allen said, “Sex alleviates tension. Love causes it.”

So take a moment today, and feel all the ways you are being pulled and challenged and tried… all the ways you are tense.

Every one of these ways and intense moments provides you with a choice to bang the guitar to the ground in frustration…or to strike your fingers to the chords and make music.

As Emerson wrote, “The world is all gates, all opportunities, all strings of tension waiting to be struck.”

The trick is finding a little groove in the middle, and of course that, like learning to play guitar, takes practice.

Read the Tao:

Countless words
count less
than the silent balance
between yin and yang.


I’m getting ready to launch a little revolution, build a little arc, if you will.

Why? All this technology is crushing our quality of life, the fabric of our humanity. Something is not right and we need some kind of change!

It’s not that we stop using technology. But that technology stops using us.

To find out how you can save a seat on the arc and become a Momenteer, email yeahdave@mac.com and write Momenteer! in the subject.

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