Rejoice, World Class Poets of the East Bay

I am so happy to report that our first annual poetry contest was a terrific success. Even though the window for submissions was relatively brief, we received a good number of them—so many in fact, it was a challenge to rate them in the few days available to do so.  

Before I get to the punch line in announcing our winner, I would like to express my thanks to all of the poets that took the time to submit their work. I hope you all know that when it comes to artistic expression in any form—be it poetry, painting, photography, prose, music, or something else—ratings of any kind are always, purely subjective. It was obvious to everyone here at ALIVE that sincere, creative effort went into every poem we received, and we enjoyed reading each and every one, without exception.    

I must confess that our contest was the brainchild of the award-winning poet / writer / editor, Nadine Lockhart of Poetry Flash. Although we’ve received numerous, unsolicited submissions from poets over the years, it was Nadine’s enthusiastic, creative approach that motivated us to embrace the idea for this annual contest. We leaned heavily upon Nadine’s enormous knowledge and talent in judging the poems we received, and cannot thank her enough for all of the work she invested to help make this month’s ALIVE special.

Ironically, of the dozens of submissions that we received, it just so happens that one of the very first ones submitted was unanimously chosen as the winner of our contest. It is “Zephyr” by Ricardo Tavarez of Oakland. Congratulations, Ricardo!

In addition to Ricardo’s poem, we felt that two others deserved honorable mention: “Cesar Chavez,” by Juan R. Sequiera of Pleasant Hill, and “With Every Step I Take,” by Avotcja of Emeryville.

Thanks again to all of you who participated in our first poetry contest. We look forward to seeing more of your creative work next year!

ALIVE Poetry Contest

April just happens to be National Poetry Month and here at ALIVE, we want to showcase our local poets. With that in mind, we are calling for poetry submissions for what we hope will be our first annual poetry contest.

The guidelines for our first go at this are simple:

  • We will award a $100 Diablo Jewelers gift certificate to the winner in each of two categories—Young Poets, ages 12-17, and Adults, 18 and older. 
  • Anyone within ALIVE’s distribution area is eligible (if you’re reading this, like to write poetry, and are at least twelve years old, you can enter).
  • You may submit up to three poems, and there is no cost to enter.
  • You may send your poem(s) as WORD file attachments by email to, or via US Mail to ALIVE Magazine, 3200-A Danville Blvd., Suite 204, Alamo, CA 94507.
  • Previously published work is okay, though please note where and when it was previously published, along with your submission.
  • All submissions must be received at our office in Alamo no later than March 20, 2017.     

Shorter poetic works are preferred over longer poems, partially due to publication restraints. Sonnet length is a beautiful thing—14 lines, though sophisticated Haiku (3  lines of 17 syllables in a 5-7-5 format) may be chosen. On the other hand, so might longer poems of merit; however, there is a 40-line limit.

We love surprising, creative, unexpected word art; we don’t love clichés or narratives with overt messages. We are looking for “music and mystery” in the lyric; whole lives in the images.

By submitting your work, you are granting us permission to publish it in ALIVE Magazine, at our discretion, however authors will otherwise retain copyright  to their work.

Please include complete contact information with each poem submitted, including name, address, email, and phone number.

The winning poems will be published in the April issue of ALIVE, along with other selected “poems of merit.”

On your mark… get set… ready… write!


America’s Ring of Devotion

With Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day being in February, it seems appropriate to consider “love of country” and our flag, for just as a special ring on one’s finger symbolizes love and devotion to another, so too does the American flag symbolize the same toward our beloved nation. 

The Stars and Stripes represents something greater than a token banner displayed on holidays; it stands for a unique idea that is America—a nation founded upon the notion that life and liberty are precious and inseparable, and that the full value of the former is only  fully realized under the blessing of the latter.

The Americans with the fullest understanding and appreciation of what our flag represents are the patriots who have fought, are fighting, or who may one day fight under its banner. These are the men and women of our armed forces, first responders, and their families.

And while some suggest it ought to again be deemed a crime to deface the American flag—something that was once the case but later determined unconstitutional—I’d say that just like that ring on one’s    finger, the only way the symbolism of devotion is meaningful and relevant is when it is honored voluntarily. With all due respect to those who think otherwise, I’d bet those patriots just mentioned would likely be the first to defend any American who might choose to burn the flag. Indeed, burning or trampling upon Old Glory is protected “free speech”—but just because one has the freedom to do something   doesn’t mean one should do something.

It is by a full, clear, and deep understanding of what our flag truly  represents that those patriots defend the right of others to burn it, and it is what makes me and others repel at the very idea of ever disgracing it in any way.   

While it is true that being critical of the flag is a protected right, it is also true that, just as there are customs of respect for those “special rings,” so too are there specific customs and practices that apply to our flag. For example, a damaged or faded flag ought to be replaced. It should not be flown in inclement weather, nor should it be displayed after sunset, unless it is illuminated. 

Over the years, it has become a habit of mine to pay attention to American flags wherever I see them, and I am appalled at how poorly and carelessly they are often displayed, even over government buildings. Frequently, I see torn and ragged flags, un-illuminated flags at night, and flags flying during heavy rains.

In part, a ring symbolizes an eternal connection; a continuity of  mutual respect and support that has no end. It doesn’t imply perfection nor demand it; it merely encourages each in the relationship to strive in a common direction—one defined by love.

Seeing as how not all of us serve in the military or as first responders, we ought to think of the American flag as the ring that binds us as citizens. According it due respect is just one simple way to show that  same respect to those patriots who do serve.    

2016 = 2017 (not)

We begin this new year as we always do—with a choice of expectations. many tend to look back and put all their chips in that basket, believing future outcomes will be based upon what took place in the prior year. While this approach is valid to a degree, we ought to apportion it less significance than we do; as personal development guru Anthony Robbins reminds us: “The past does not equal the future.” Indeed, one advantage of having lived a while is being able to compare the present to the past and know that Robbins has it right; it’s what enables one to comfortably laugh at those comic strips showing a guy with a long, scraggly beard holding a sign that reads, “The End is Near.”

With that in mind, and in deference to those feeling “less than enthusiastic” about the future because of the turmoil during the past one or several years, I say: Don’t worry so much because things will likely turn out much better than you are expecting. I can say this because I remember the circumstances and mood in America during the late 1970s and the transition that followed, and it seems to me that the anxiety felt by roughly half the nation today is much as it was immediately before and shortly after the presidential election of 1980.

During much of the 1970s our problems seemed dire and many Americans thought we had little to look forward to. For starters, there was a recession. It was called “the worst economy since the Great Depression.” Sound familiar? We had rampant inflation, sky-high interest rates, and a collapsing stock market. Our supply of energy seemed doomed. Gas prices soared as it became such a scarce commodity that rationing was imposed along with a mandated national speed limit of 55 mph intended to “save fuel.” In some areas around the country, Christmas lights were prohibited in order to trim energy use.  

And terrorism didn’t start on 9/11 either, as the Middle East was a cauldron of conflict throughout the 1970s. Airplane hijacking was an ongoing problem and in 1979, America suffered the ultimate humiliation as sixty-six American diplomats and citizens at the American Embassy in Tehran were taken hostage. Fifty-six remained as prisoners for 444 days.  

Prior to the 1980 election, these problems served as the  backdrop for pundits and many Americans who worried that Ronald Reagan would sink America into an abyss and start World War III, should he win.     

Of course he did win, and what appeared then to many as “hopeless” soon became what most historians today consider a period of robust prosperity and unrivaled progress in America. And instead of causing World War III, Reagan ushered in the collapsed of the Soviet Union and the dismantling of the Berlin Wall.

There are striking similarities between then and now, and while nothing is ever certain, we need to know that 2016 is no predictor of 2017. We have every reason to be optimistic about the year ahead.

The past does not equal the future. 

Holiday Ups and Downs

Notwithstanding the commercialism, most people experience joy and a greater sense of emotional connection to one another during the holidays. Even so, there are some who tend to feel depressed this time of year, too. Of course it’s not one hundred percent in either direction—certainly no one is happy all the time, and I hope no one is gloomy 24/7 between Thanksgiving and New Years. The question is: Is there a way to make sure we tilt toward the “joy” side of the balance sheet?    smdepositphotos_16919033_original-1        

Many years ago, a good friend and mentor told me, “The person you become in life will primarily be determined by two things: the books you read and the people you associate with.” He also said that, “You don’t attract in life what you want but who you are.” Better than thirty years later, I’d say both of these statements are largely true.

The essential message in this advice is to be careful in choosing what we allow to influence us. Input from media—books, movies, TV, social media, magazines and the like—as well as the people we choose to spend time with, influence our attitudes and decisions to such a degree that they shape our character, the direction we take in life, and ultimately where we end up and who we become. Oh yes, and how we feel much of the time, too.

The ideas one has, as well as how someone feels about just about everything and everyone will be vastly different for the person who reads more classic literature, scripture, and books on personal development, than the person whose reading is dominated by Twitter feeds, romance novels and People (or Hustler) Magazine. And when we choose to surround ourselves with thoughtful, positive, edifying peers, we will speak, act and feel differently, from those whose associations are primarily with dour, petty, angry or otherwise negative people.

With the holidays upon us, I highly recommend some of my friends’ advice. Feeling down or depressed? Turn off the Computer or TV and pick up a book by Og Mandino, Stephen Covey, John Maxwell, Denis Waitley or Robert Schuller. Want to smile more during the holidays? Look for people who tend to smile and get around those people. And when it comes to interactions with others, decide to be a builder rather than a demolition expert.  

On behalf of everyone here at ALIVE, we wish you all the best in happiness, health, and prosperity for this holiday season and beyond.   














Now Look What You’ve Done

It’s likely that by the time you have this issue of ALIVE in hand, we will have a new president.—baring, that is, another “hanging chad” fiasco like the one we endured in 2000.

Illustration showing Republican Donald Trump versus Democrat Hillary Clinto face-off for American president with USA flag in background done in low polygon art style.Like many Americans, I was feeling queasy about this election early on, and now that it’s “over” (maybe), I can’t say I’m feeling much better. Emotions have been running high—so much so that people on both sides were predicting “violent uprisings” if the result wasn’t as they intended. Regardless of the outcome, roughly half the country is upset right about now—some, perhaps, to the point of downright despair or even anger. And Americans are more divided than ever on many critical issues. Veritable chasms exist in opinions on everything from immigration and healthcare, to abortion and energy. Looking back over the past ten presidential elections, I don’t recall it ever being like this.

It’s all deeply troubling.  How did we end up here? Who’s to blame for this? Maybe we all should take a good look into that shiny, flat surface on the medicine cabinet in the bathroom and say, “Hello, Knucklehead. Now look what you’ve done!” We are all to blame to one degree or another. Either we’ve been too “busy” to pay attention, or we didn’t “believe” it made any difference, so we just didn’t care. But beyond these reasons, we have another serious problem in America—ignorance.

By and large, far too many Americans have little or no understanding about the role of government and the intended limits placed upon our leaders by the Constitution. As a result, we make bad choices then fail to hold our leaders accountable because we don’t even know the limits of their jobs ourselves. The fact that the final contest came down to a choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump bears witness to my point.

In the last debate for example, when asked by Chris Wallace how they would go about selecting a Supreme Court Justice, Hillary said, “I’d choose someone with ‘life experience,’” never even uttering the word “Constitution” in her reply. What does “life experience” have to do with the law and interpreting the Constitution?  And Trump’s reply wasn’t much better. He rambled on about choosing “someone like the late Justice, Antonin Scalia,” offering scant evidence that he fully understands the issue. On the basis of their answers to this one question alone, neither candidate appears fit to serve as our Chief Executive. 

The first and most important obligation of the President of the United States is stated in their oath of office: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

If Americans had been well informed on this point all along, it’s likely neither Clinton nor Trump would be our president.


Sully, Lorrie and ALIVE: A Look Back

The last time I saw Lorrie Sullenberger was in 2010, in my office In Danville. She and her husband, Sully, came to visit with an autographed first edition copy of his first book Highest Duty. in hand. Aside from bringing the book the reason for their visit was, essentially, for Lorrie to say “goodbye,” as the course of their lives had changed so much as a result of Sully’s “Miracle on the Hudson” landing, she would no longer be able to write her To Your Peak fitness column in ALIVE. Lorrie had faithfully continued her column for more than a year after that fateful day– January 15, 2009–submitting her final piece in the February 2010 issue of ALIVE.1

Looking back nearly eight years, to say that Lorrie and Sully’s lives have changed may just be the understatement of the century. They have been guests of honor at everything from a Presidential Inauguration and the Super Bowl to the Rose Parade and they’ve appeared on every notable TV program from 60 Minutes to The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Sully has authored two books along with a re-release of hrs first j book under a clever new title-Sully-to coincide with the newly released film by the same name. Yes, I’d say “change” pretty well captures it when on top of all that they are being portrayed by Tom Hanks and Laura Linney in a movie directed by Clint Eastwood!alive-media-magazine-october-2016-56-sully-our-hometown-hero-michael-copeland

As the new film reinvigorates another wave of media attention, we thought it appropriate to take you back for a second look at our locally¬ connected, exclusive stories about the Sullenbergers that we originally published in April 2009.

First, you’ll again enjoy the casual interview that ALIVE feature writer Michael Copeland conducted with Sully and Lorrie In their Danville home where they discussed how the events on January 15, 2009 changed their lives forever, then you’ll read an open letter penned by Lorrie Sullenberger herself as she shares her thoughts and expresses gratitude for the outpouring of heartfelt letters they received soon after Sully’s miraculous landing in the Hudson River.

Finally, you’ll read author and ALIVE contributor Bob Fish’s unique perspective on just what makes someone a real hero-what sets them apart from the rest of us.

Even as the world might know the Sullenbergers as “celebrities,” here in the East Bay we still know Lorrie and Sully as neighbors and friends.

We hope you enjoy this issue of ALIVE, as you get to know Sully and Lorrie just a little better, too.

A Win Win for Our Community

Every so often I like to remind our readers that while it is our intention to bring interesting, informative and entertaining content to you each month, ALIVE Magazine also works hand in hand with our community, providing much-needed marketing services to various charitable and cultural non-profits. For example, in this issue alone we have pages for Sentinels of Freedom,  White Pony Express, Friends of the Blackhawk Museums, Discovery Counseling Center, the San Ramon Valley Education Foundation, the Lamorinda Film and Entertainment Foundation and the Clayton Theatre Company.     

Through the generous support provided by our loyal advertisers over the past ten years, ALIVE Magazine has been able to provide promotional support to over 50 non-profit, community organizations. In essence, the many fine companies that regularly advertise in ALIVE have enabled us to provide in excess of $250,000.00 in promotional and advertising space to these worthy organizations.

Now it’s time to take it up a notch.Alive Media Magazine September 2017  treehands White Pony Express

On November 1, 2016, we will launch a new program—the ALIVE Help Foundation—that will not only provide in-kind marketing and advertising support, but direct funding to worthwhile local charitable organizations as well.

The way the program works is simple: For any business or professional (must be a new or returning advertiser) placing either a full or half page ad in ALIVE, we will donate, every month, 15% of the cost of the ad to any legitimate charitable or cultural organization of the advertiser’s choice (so long as it meets out criteria), PLUS we will run a one-time, promotional, full page advertisement (or editorial) for that charity at no cost to the charitable organization.

So, to you business owners: This is your opportunity to provide significant support to a cause that you really care about, while helping your own business at the same time. Through this “win-win” program, together we can generate the awareness and an ongoing financial resource that so many of these organizations need.

Contact me today at 925-837-7303 or by email at to learn more.









Enjoy Your “Free” Copy

If you are a regular reader of ALIVE, you already know the answer to the question, “What makes ALIVE Magazine different from other local magazines?” I don’t need to tell you that our covers are unlike any other or that we generally have more editorial content than some magazines with three times as many pages. Why, from time to time—dare I say it—we even include some content that some consider “controversial.”  ALIVE 0713.qxd

We intentionally strive to provide something quite a bit different from the standard “lifestyle magazine,” because we know that, in the long run, it provides more value to both readers and advertisers. It’s a model that has worked well for nearly eleven years.

In addition to the mailed copies of ALIVE that are sent to subscribers, offices, and businesses, ALIVE is distributed each month to nearly 200 rack locations throughout the Diablo Valley, Tri Valley and Lamorinda Corridor. In fact, chances are, if you’re reading this, you probably picked up this free copy of ALIVE at one of those locations.

Now, here is the point I’d like to make: This issue of ALIVE isn’t really a “free” copy at all—someone, or some group, paid to have this very copy produced so that you could have the pleasure of reading it.

That “someone” just happens to be is our amazing, loyal advertisers—and I don’t use the word “loyal” frivolously. Indeed, many, like Fretwell’s Ethan Allen, Pattiv’s Jewelers, Katrina Rozelle, The Rouge Cosmetics, Dr. Donald Parsons, Sky Power Solar, Graham Hitch, Terry Thompson, Massage Envy, Align Healing Center, Dr. Robert Brown, Solar Technologies, Alamo Tax Service, Sentinels of Freedom, and Janna Chestnut, have been supporting ALIVE Magazine for many years—in fact, several have been with us since our very first issue in 2005.

Some advertisers that joined us more recently include Balanced Pain Management, Private Capital Investments, Diablo Valley College Foundation, and, last but not least, the newest member of our ALIVE family, Diablo Fine Jewelers in Alamo (please drop by for a visit and welcome them to the neighborhood).

So, as you enjoy this issue of ALIVE, please keep in mind that these fine businesses and professionals make it all happen. They are owned by and employ your neighbors and friends; they make our community the great place it is, but can only continue to do so with your ongoing patronage and support.



























Diablo Fine Jewelers in Alamo

After nearly 45 years in business, the well recognized landmark of uncompromising quality and personalized service in Alamo—Mark Kahn Jewelers—is excited to announce its transition to the next generation, as Diablo Fine Jewelers.

Built upon the rock-solid foundation of professional expertise and integrity so well established by Mark Kahn, Mark’s daughter, Julie Kahn-Crowder, along with co-owners Rod Shelly and David Fitts, bring their vast collective experience to Diablo Fine Jewelers, proudly continuing and expanding what was started by Mark Kahn in 1972.david-web

Julie was brought up in her father’s jewelry business and now has over 30 years of experience in the industry.  A long time Alamo resident, she loves to develop personal, long term relationships with her clients—something evident by her loyal following. Julie is an expert in re-imagining an outdated piece into something beautiful and current. She is also experienced in restringing and engraving.

Co-owner Ron Shelly has a wealth of experience in the jewelry industry. He has lived in the East Bay for over 30 years and, like Julie, has earned an extremely loyal following. Ron believes that jewelry is meant to be worn and enjoyed. He is very fashion forward and enjoys helping his clients build their jewelry wardrobes.

Lastly, David Fitts is the third member of this trio. David comes to Diablo Fine Jewelers with 25 years of experience in all aspects of this ever changing industry. As a salesperson, manager and buyer, he is uniquely qualified to serve all of your jewelry needs. He has traveled throughout the United States and Europe and developed a keen eye for style and trends.

Julie, Ron and David, along with customer service professional Kristine Walker and goldsmith Sean Wilson, invite you visit Diablo Fine Jewelers—where you’ll discover how a legacy of exceptional service and quality continues and why experience is the difference!