Kick your Plantar Fasciitis, Once and for All!

Using Laser Therapy to Heal Foot Pain
What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is an irritation and swelling of the thick tissue (plantar fascia) on the bottom of the foot. The plantar fascia is a thick fibrous band of connective tissue originating on the bottom surface of the calcaneus (heel bone) and extending along the sole of the foot toward the five toes.The plantar fascia helps hold up the bones on the bottom of the foot, creating the arch. When this fascia becomes inflamed it makes walking painful and difficult. The pain is usually felt on the underside of the heel and is often most intense with the first steps of the day. Plantar fasciitis is commonly thought of as being caused by a heel spur, but research has found that this is not the case. On x-ray, heel spurs are seen in people with and without plantar fasciitis.

Risk factors for plantar fasciitis include:

  • Foot arch problems (both flat foot and high arches)
  • Obesity
  • Running
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Tight Achilles tendon (the tendon connecting the calf muscles to the heel)

What treatments are available for Plantar Fasciitis

Western medicine typically treats Plantar Fasciitis with oral and/or injectable anti-inflammatories. These may temporarily reduce the pain associated with Plantar Fasciitis but they do not treat the cause of the problem, and by no means heal it.

Long term correction of Plantar Fasciitis is a two step process.

First: Heal the Damaged Fascia
Ending the pain caused by Plantar Fasciitis requires stopping the cycle of inflammation. Class IV laser therapy is an excellent method for this, because it is presently the only modality that can both reduce inflammation and heal tissue simultaneously. Laser treatments at Align Healing Center are done with the K-laser 1200 a Class IV Laser. This laser does not cut or burn but is gently absorbed by the tissue. During Laser Therapy the infrared laser light interacts with tissues at the cellular level, increasing metabolic activity and improving the transport of nutrients across the cell membrane. This initiates the production of cellular energy (ATP) that leads to a cascade of beneficial effects, increasing cellular function and health. This creates an optimal healing environment that reduces inflammation, swelling, muscle spasms, stiffness and pain. As the injured area returns to normal, function is restored and pain is relieved.

Second: Correct the Foot and Gait Mechanics
This involves rehabilitation of the arch of the foot. Arch rehabilitation is achieved by utilizing specific insoles and/or specific taping of the foot in order to re-establish proper motion of the arch while walking, then specific strengthening and stretching exercises are used to rehabilitate of the musculature of the foot and lower leg to ensure lasting results.

At Align Healing Center we are having great success treating plantar fasciitis, sciatica, shoulder and neck pain, migraines, arthritis, tendonitis, carpal tunnel, post surgical pain, sports injuries and more; even if it’s long-term residual pain. Even arthritis and degenerative disc disease sufferers can see long term benefits from this treatment without any of the negative side effects experienced with the long term use of medications.

Dr. Niele Maimone, DC is the owner and founder of Align Healing Center in Danville, CA. She has been active in our natural health & wellness community since 1999. For more information or to set up a consult call 925.362.8283 or visit

In the Search for Perfection

Golfing great Ben Hogan has been quoted as saying that he never hit more than seven great shots per round. 2010 Remax World Long Drive Championship runner up Dominick Mazza told his dad after the competition that he felt he only hit one real solid shot in the competition and yet he blasted ball after ball 350 to 404 yards during the multi day competition to finish second.

I was asked recently to help an eight year-old girl, who by the way, has a very nice and strong swing to help her understand that she does not have to be perfect in order to play good golf. I thought this would make for a nice piece for all golfers at every level.

As I contemplated how I would address the issue the dad presented me regarding his eight year old, I began to realize that this is a pretty common challenge for all who play the game. And, to make a further point, I don’t think anyone has really ever had a perfect game. I know at the end of every really great round I have ever had, I could think back and count a few shots I would love to play over. I thought I would broach this subject to another golfer and it just happened to be another young golfer only ten years of age. As I talked to her about the challenge of golf and how difficult it is to hit every shot the way you want or the way you think you should hit it, she gave me some great insight that I want to pass on. She said, “I try to do my best. When I don’t hit a ball well or miss hit it, I don’t like it but I know that it is part of the game and that it will happen. I can accept that and then I just try to do my best the next time.”

My jaw dropped a little and then I broke out in a huge smile. She has the correct attitude. It’s realistic and healthy, and she proved to me that she is winning that part of the game that so many people struggle with. This ten year-old girl said it better than I could have. Perfection is a pursuit that many think they should be able to attain. Look at what Ben Hogan said about each round—and he was regarded as one of the best ball strikers of all time.

Hitting great shots are wonderful. They build confidence and it feels great. But in order to play well, more playable miss hits need to be realized and accepted. The bad ones hurt, but it’s how you handle the poor ones that can determine whether or not you are giving yourself the best possible chance to do well! Adopt the attitude of this brilliant ten year old and you too will play better and have more fun.

Early Unwrapping

From the PublisherI have a confession to make—I opened my best Christmas gifts early this year. Although to be accurate I really had no other choice because the best (real) gifts I received came incrementally over the course of this past year. I received so many in fact, it would be next-to-impossible to list them all.

The first gift I received came on January One, 2010. It was the gift of a new year. For reasons I can’t explain, some time before it arrived I had a premonition about receiving this gift and I became progressively
excited about it as the date approached. In fact, I became so excited I actually stayed up until 11:59 PM on December 31st, just so that I could unwrap it at the first possible opportunity.

As the time when I would receive my gift drew closer, much to my surprise, everyone I came in contact with seemed to be excited too. Apparently, we were all expecting the same gift. And when 12:00 AM,
January 1, 2010 finally arrived, that’s exactly what happened—everyone received the exact same gift. Incredible! At the precise moment that everyone unwrapped their gift “New Year’s” gift, cheers, smiles and kisses were everywhere, as worries and troubles and fears of every kind were completely blotted out. What an amazing gift!

My next gift came shortly after that one and it came in the form of a “realization.” It was the gift of understanding that each subsequent 12:00 AM held the same promise as that first one. By now you’ve
probably figured out what came next—yes, I continued to receive what turned out to be a wonderful string of “new” days, one after the other, each one filled with promise and the fact that events that occurred prior did not determine everything that would occur going forward.

As it turned out, I opened (early) a total of an additional 364 of these gifts in 2010. But that’s not all. I also received and un-wrapped a liberal measure of other gifts. Some of these were expected, like the
special celebrations of my son’s graduation from high school and my wife’s and my thirty-fourth wedding anniversary; some were not, like unexpected visits from old friends. And, as if that were not enough, I
also received numerous get-togethers and conversations with friends and loved-ones, and even the special gift of making some new friends!

Yes, I was blessed in 2010 with a great many gifts, all of which I opened early.

This holiday season, I wish for you the very best of everything that life has to offer. And I hope and trust that you, too, have already unwrapped the most precious gifts… “early!”
Eric Johnson

The Virtue of Giving

Scouts - Virtue of Goving

Who are the important men and women among us? What actions define the character of one’s personal substance? Important people are all of us; we are the history makers, people who give back to others—sharing and caring, showing compassion, generous with time and talents. By supporting communities, we demonstrate benevolence by example; children learning the virtues of charity by observing their parents, grandparents, families, neighbors and friends—all giving back by helping in schools, churches, museums and hospitals. Many philanthropists are able to give on a grander scale, with foundations, financial grants, or networking to rally community support. The principles of philanthropy are not confined to finances, but also the little acts of kindness that repair communities and can incrementally repair the world. I heard my Irish mother say once that charity begins at home—and our home is Mother Earth.

The virtue of giving, sharing and doing good works for the single body of humanity, can be galvanized in us through religion or philosophy. The Christian faiths teach us that charity is a virtue and in the Jewish faith, it is the Sedaka—meaning righteousness; in the first book of Isaiah—give to people, devote to justice, uphold the rights of orphans, and look after the widows….


If only space were not an issue, I could mention the myriad of benevolent people—I could compose a tome—a Golden Book of Givers. However, I feature but a few, highlighting how young children can truly make a difference—compassionate, kind and caring children—too many to mention.

Let me start with the charities I know in Danville; children at St Isidore School have raised, not only money, but have gathered baseball equipment; bats, balls, shoes and uniforms for Father Frank’s Kids, Inc, who sponsor orphans in Latin America. The charity, run by kids, founded by Monte Vista High students, has raised $129,606 for equipment and soccer fields in Africa—all fenced in Bush Country to prevent elephants from tearing up the fields. San Ramon Valley High students sponsor many charity clubs and volunteers raise money for various causes.

There are hundreds of such call-to-action opportunities in our area, and all over America—children helping children, raising money or sharing their energies with hands-on projects, giving quality face time to orphans and homeless children. Schoolchildren send goody boxes to our overseas troops and write heartrending letters thanking them for their brave service protecting freedoms. There are children who are Scouts, working to better their character with core values, discipline, courtesy, kindness, love and respect for family and friends—to do good things for others, prepared to make a difference, confident to look any one in the eye and say, “I care.” They are all makers of history, the molders of the future, the compelling new citizens of the world—thriving to make a difference, one little step at a time—a leap for mankind on adventurous benevolent journeys.

The Boy Scout Movement is one of the world’s most recognizable brands, founded in 1908 by Robert Baden-Powell, later titled Lord. He was born in London and died in Kenya, buried in the shadow of Mount Nyeri, his headstone marker: Lord Baden-Powell, Chief Scout of the World. Baden-Powell served in India and Afghanistan when “the sun never set on the British Empire”—and then served in South Africa, where British expansionists coveted the mineral-rich land, under control of the Boers, the citizen farmers whose families first colonized the Cape in 1652. Centuries later, they fought the British to maintain control of their farmlands in the diamond-rich Kimberley region. At 43, Baden-Powell rose to Major General in the 5th Dragoon Guards, leading the 217-day Siege of Mafeking during a phase of the Boer War—October 1899 to May 1900—rising to glory by defeating the Boers. During the ‘civilized siege’, the Major General called for a ceasefire on Sundays, to attend church and have cricket matches with the Boers, and then on Mondays the bloody siege continued. Why do these historical facts have relevance to the story? Major General Baden-Powell defeated 8,000 Boer troops by conserving his fighting men, and using in their stead, a task force of 12 to 15-year-old boys—a cadet corps of mere lads. “Trust should be the basis for all our moral training…”—Baden-Powell. The boys rose to the challenge as field scouts in wild animal country; messengers who raced like long-distant runners across the snake-infested veldt and were water carriers like the Indian Gunga Din, proving their bravery and leadership abilities as boy soldiers—while still in short pants. “We never fail when we try to do our duty; we always fail when we neglect to do it…”—Baden-Powell. The victorious major at the Siege of Mafeking, took an idea, expounded on it and in 1908 published Scouting for Boys—and as they say—the rest is history.


If the path to happiness is benevolence—there are some very happy people. One such couple is Frank and Marilyn Dorsa, honored at the 2010 Distinguished Citizens Dinner presented by the Santa Clara County Council, Boy Scouts of America at the Santa Clara Convention Centre.

The Dorsas are third generation San Joseans of Italian heritage, whose families immigrated to America in the late 19th century, their grandmothers, coincidentally traveled from Sicily on the same ship to meet their waiting husbands in San Jose. Frank Dorsa’s father founded Eggo Food Products, and invented the industrial potato peeler. Innovation ran in the family, and while at college, Frank started a car wash company that went national as Classic Carwashes with 38 operations.

As a six-year old, multi-faceted Marilyn Dorsa, performed on weekly television shows on KPIX, then retired at age fourteen after grueling shows in Las Vegas, and rejected a Warner Brothers offer for a movie and recording contract. She had already met her future husband Frank, at thirteen.

Creativity was in Marilyn’s DNA, and after college she veered to art and jewelry design, winning several awards for her paintings; her work innovative, color palettes rustic, pallet knife and brushstrokes daring, reminiscent of the Post-Impressionist School—subjects unshy, free, and bold.

The themed carwashes became landmarks in the 1970s—the Delta Queen Riverboat, where cars pass revolving paddle wheels in ponds replete with ducks waddling between the shiny cars. Robertsville was the next themed carwash; a Victorian mansion with turrets and gabled windows, where dusty vehicles ran through brushings, coming out clean near the grape arbors and a small cornfield, and chickens cackled in coops, amusing the children. A once seemingly incongruous business venture was to incorporate the Queen’s Chest Gift Boutiques in the carwashes, offering jewelry, Italian ceramics, art, candles, greeting cards, flowers and giftware treasures. Such a venture was brilliantly innovative—as someone once said; ‘build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door…”

Not strangers to hard work, and intrepid determination, Frank and Marilyn Dorsa purchased acreage in the Santa Cruz mountain terroir of Los Gatos, where they planted vineyards and built an Italian-style estate with wine cellars, fountains and ponds reflecting tall cypresses and heritage oaks. They designed rose gardens where bronze sculptures create old world elegance, and the crème de la crème—La Rusticana d’Orsa Vineyards—where trellised vines run up the ridge, touched by perfect arching sun exposure and ocean breezes, producing an award-winning Bordeaux blend estate wine of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot grapes.

La Rusticana is a serene retreat in the Los Gatos foothills, a peaceful tapestry of nature’s artistry that runs up the terraced slopes and down into the hearts of visiting guests—where the vineyard estate is often generously opened to charity events, culinary and plein air-painting workshops. Frank and Marilyn Dorsa have chosen the path to philanthropy, by doing good works for others, practicing compassion, and by celebrating the virtue of giving and sharing—they are leaving an imprint among the history makers—by making this world a better place.

A Merry Christmas to all our readers and God bless you at this very giving season

If I Was Santa

If I Was Santa

Santa is The Man! Everyone loves that jolly present bringing, sleigh driving, reindeer flying, carol singing, list reviewing, letter reading, stocking stuffing, cookie eating, Ho-ho-hoing, red suit wearing, giant elf- of-a-man during the holiday season.

By all outward appearances, Santa would seem to have a charmed life. He is loved by billions, has a palatial mansion located on sprawling estate (just like David Duffield), is married to his one and only love and successfully portrays the captain of industry as CEO of a prosperous business. However, look a little deeper and you might see a man struggling through midlife crises.

  1. Being adorned by the entire world has its challenges, just ask Justin Bieber. You’re constantly hounded by fans and paparazzi, your every embarrassing guffaw is caught on video and replayed on YouTube the same day and did I mention the celebrity stalkers?
  2. Santa’s sweet pad is located on the North Pole. The North Pole! Not real convenient if you need to get to Safeway, B of A, Starbucks or Baja Fresh. Does Comcast even service the North Pole?
  3. When it comes to the ladies, I don’t want to be the one to say Santa’s got a wandering eye, but face it, he is a man. They don’t just make up songs like, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”. There’s no question that he loves Mrs. Claus, but women throw themselves at him all in the hopes that he’ll stuff their stocking with something special.
  4. Finally, running a year round multi-line manufacturing operation with worldwide distribution has got to be stressful. Think of the procurement issues, think workers comp and the HR nightmares connected with hundred year old elves.

Granted, Santa is one cool cat, but don’t let perceptions fool you until you’ve walked a mile in his red and white Uggs.

We can all agree that Tim Allen turned in an Oscar worthy performance portraying Kris Kringle in The Santa Clause movie trilogy, but what would any of us do if we got to try on the big red suit and take on the job of Santa for a day? I, for one, would keep tradition alive. For instance, I would maintain a rigidly strict Naughty and Nice list. There has got to be consequences if you’re going to go off the deep end and have a meltdown during the year. Kids are you reading this? Accountability means rewarding the nice kids and totally blowing off the naughty kids. Here’s a quick N&N list off the top of my head.
Naughty – Charlie Sheen, Tiger Woods, Jesse James, the entire Lohan family, politicians (Republicans and Democrats), mean people and terrorists.

Nice – Chilean minoers, every player, coach and front office person connected with the San Francisco Giants, Bono, Bill and Melissa Gates, teachers and every person serving in our armed forces.

If I was Santa, I would make more public appearances throughout the year so everyone believed in me. Children’s imagination is important, but sometimes you have to meet people. Izzy S. 12, Danville.

If I was Santa, I would breed Rudolf. We could use more flying reindeer. Tiffany R., Danville

If I was Santa, I would patent the Reindeer powered sleigh. How long will it be before Toyota is cranking out hybrid sleighs at the Nummi plant in Fremont and taking all the credit for another environmentally efficient “aka – Green” breakthrough? Santa has been using magic dust, reindeer poop and simple lift versus thrust antler aerodynamics for years and he deserves some recognition for that alternative energy discovery. The intellectual property rights along could go for hundreds of millions of dollars not to mention the value of stock options if he put together a VC backed start-up company and went the IPO route.

If I was Santa, I would spread the holiday out. Hanukkah has the right idea utilizing eight nights. We should make Christmas at least a week which would give Santa more time to deliver all those presents. One night to hit every house in the world is stretching it a bit thin. Lisa W. 50, Walnut Creek

If I was Santa, I would make sure every child had a present under the tree even if they didn’t have a tree. Christina D. 33, San Ramon.

If I was Santa, I would wipe out everyone’s debt. It would be so nice to begin Christmas morning with a financially clean slate. David R., Danville.

If I was Santa, I would learn how to fly like a superhero so that I could give the reindeer a water and food break once in a while on Christmas Eve. Jessica F. 11, Danville

If I was Santa, I would wrap a Victoria Secret model up and place her under Matt’s tree. Matt M. 26, Danville.

If I was Santa, I would bring the Raider fans a Super Bowl victory. Santa was obviously paying attention to Giant’s fans last year seeing how he just delivered San Francisco a World Series. Dave B. 44, Walnut Creek.

If I was Santa, I would deliver family members to all military service men and women who aren’t able to be home with their family during the holidays because they are protecting our country & freedom! Julie L. 40, Dublin

If I was Santa, I might start thinking about a pre-season conditioning program. Much like the National Football League with all of their off season mini-camps and organized team activities (OTA’s), Christmas has become so huge that you’ve got to arrive at camp in shape. Chances are, the North Pole probably has a 24 Hour Fitness facility. I would hire a personal elf trainer to set up a cardio and weight training program that would allow me to shed some weight, shape and tone. I would even be open to taking a yoga class or two. After that, I would start modifying my diet to reduce the carbs and high caloric goodies such as hot chocolate with whipped cream, fruit cake and egg nog. Having Santa like proportions myself, I’ve recently made the same commitment to health and fitness. Hey, maybe we could be work out partners.

If I was Santa, I would go on a diet. He’s not a big as those people on The Biggest Loser show, but if he keeps eating cookies he might be one day. Olivia P. 12, Danville

If I was Santa, I would shave off my beard. Men don’t really have beards anymore and it makes him look really old. Nicole C. 11, Danville

If I was Santa, I would bring Lou Wolfe, the A’s owner, the MLB rights to move his team to San Jose. I would also handsomely distribute coal to everyone involved in our legal and political systems. Gabe A. 40, Alamo.

If I was Santa, I would make a few changes to my toy making facility simply to be more efficient. What’s the old saying, if you’re not getting ahead you’re falling behind. I’m not saying Mr. Clause doesn’t know his stuff, I’m simply suggesting old he might consider hiring IBM or Accenture to perform a needs analysis of his overall operation in this environment of enterprising technology and outsourcing.

Oh, who am I kidding? Santa is doing just fine. He’s the man behind the magic of the holiday season. Keep doing what you’re doing St. Nick and if it’s not too much trouble, would you bring me a new bike. I’ve been real good this year. Just ask Eric Johnson, my editor at Alive.

Manage Your Holiday Stress—From the Inside Out

Manage Your Holiday Stress Inside Out

When you think back to the most meaningful moments that you experienced during last year’s holidays, what comes to mind? Were you giving or receiving? Maybe you shared a rich conversation with someone, and you felt understood and loved afterward. Or, maybe you received a warm feeling in your heart after giving (or donating) your time and attention to others. Or, perhaps a gift that you received made you feel appreciated.

Or possibly, when you think back to last year’s holidays…you feel anxiety in the pit of your stomach. You flash back to the traffic jams, shopping madness, credit card bills, as well as overeating, overdrinking, and the subsequent family drama that commonly occurs during holiday gatherings (like when your competitive sibling sent some sarcastic “zingers” toward you—that subtly sliced through the cranberry sauce—during the holiday dinner).

Let’s face it, in our culture holidays often become highly charged due to demanding and unrealistic expectations. As a result, if we are not tuned in to (or in touch with) our emotions…holiday interactions can turn prickly.

For this reason, in my book Stress Reduction Journal: Meditate and Journal Your Way to Better Health, the following Barrel Cactus diagram illustrates how many of us express (or repress) the emotions that challenge us.

Manage Your holiday Stress from the Inside Out

In my illustration you’ll notice that there are emotions “above ground” as well as emotions that are buried “below ground.” The so-called powerful emotions that create the prickly needles on the outer skin of the cactus include anger and frustration. The so-called vulnerable emotions are buried under the ground’s surface and include fear, worry, guilt, sadness (and its counterpart: grief).

This diagram illustrates the complexity of our emotional landscapes. An important point that I often share with clients regarding emotional expression is that…
Yep, the prickly parts of anger express above ground…but the vulnerable roots of anger FIRST originate below ground. To clarify how anger is a secondary emotion I offer the following scenario.
For those of us who drive cars, we’ve probably experienced being on a freeway when a car driving erratically pulls in front of us—abruptly moving into our lane. If we’re lucky, we slam on our car’s brakes to avoid hitting the son of a gun and quietly gasp under our breath as we do so. Then, as soon as we see that we are still “in one piece”—we feel steam pouring out of our ears, and we may wave an angry fist (or a middle phalange) out the window. In this instance, see how our vulnerability—or FEAR—was experienced first and expressed during the quiet gasp? Secondly, our anger ignited and was negatively expressed or “acted out.”
So, with a plethora of external holiday pressures now upon us, why don’t we consider managing our holiday stress from the inside out? We can begin by being mindful of our emotions and keeping a watchful eye…turned toward our own personal Barrel Cactus. Here are some examples of destructive expressions of emotions, followed by some examples of more constructive options.
Destructive Expressions of Emotions Include:
Emoting Indirectly: Sarcasm, gossip, nagging, or complaining
Turning Unaddressed Emotions Inward: Depression, guilt, self-criticism, or psychosomatic illness

Acting-out Emotions: Faultfinding, blaming, screaming, throwing things, stealing, excessive drinking, drug abuse, self mutilation (picking or cutting), over-eating, under-eating, extramarital affairs, reckless driving, seeking revenge, or violence toward ourselves or toward others.

Constructive Expressions of Emotions Include
Communicating Assertively: We respectfully communicate to others using “I-statements” to own our feelings—rather than using blaming “You-statements.” In many circumstances, when we express to others how we are feeling “below the prickly cactus” (sharing our vulnerable feelings) we have a higher probability of being heard.
We attentively listen to others when they share. We imagine stepping into their shoes. To clarify that we understand what is being said, we mirror back what we heard. We seek win-win solutions to challenges, rather than creating “power struggles” that result in win-lose dynamics. In our personal relationships, we sincerely apologize when we realize we are wrong.

Setting Healthy Boundaries: To avoid “acting out” our emotions, we mindfully set healthy limits with our behaviors (shopping, eating, drinking, and so on), as well as protecting ourselves from the unhealthy or destructive behaviors of others. For example, we don’t drive under the influence, and we won’t be driven by anyone under the influence (calling a cab is always a smarter option).
Seeking Outer Positive Resources: When needed, speaking with a therapist or a seasoned minister about our feelings can help us clarify what is going on in our emotional landscapes. If our anger is a challenge, then we may choose to sign up for a local Anger Management Class. In a crisis, when immediate help is needed, we call 911 or our local police. Other resources include the 24-Hour Contra Costa Crisis Hotline: 1-800-833-2900 and the National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433).

Taking Time to “Go Inward” and Tuning into Our Emotions: Meditation, prayer, and journaling are a few methods for turning inward. When we identify feeling frustrated or angry, we quickly ask ourselves: “What vulnerable feelings are buried below my prickliness?” Then after identifying other feelings (like fear, worry, guilt, sadness, or grief) we ask: “What can I do right now—to take good care of myself?” We may consider taking a nice deep breath, along with a momentary “time out,” to calm and collect ourselves.

Exercising: Dancing, running, walking, and playing sports are healthy ways to release stressful emotions. And, when exercising reaches certain levels, it triggers a pleasurable release of endorphins. (Always check with your doctor before changing your exercise routine).

So, there you have it—a number of destructive and constructive examples of emotional expression. It’s up to you which list you choose to express from. In closing, I’d like to wish you and your loved ones a safe and a happy holiday! And, remember to manage holiday stress from the inside out by decking the halls with plenty of the following: loving hugs, laughter, music, heartfelt compliments, appreciation, time to recharge, playfulness, creativity, walks in nature, restful sleep, spiritual reflection, and a humble…attitude of gratitude.

Trina Swerdlow, BFA, CCHT, is a certified clinical hypnotherapist, an artist, and the author of the 2-CD Set, Weight Loss: Powerful & Easy-to-Use Tools for Releasing Excess Weight. She is also the author of Stress Reduction Journal: Meditate and Journal Your Way to Better Health. Her CDs and her book are available from John Muir Women’s Health Center online store:
Trina has a private practice in downtown Danville. You can reach her at: (925) 285.5759, or To receive her free newsletter, “Trina’s Transformational Tips for Mindful Living,” sign-up at her site: (Certified Clinical Hypnotherapy services in California can be alternative or complementary to licensed healing arts, such as psychotherapy.)
Photo by Susan Wood,

A Word About Speakers

It’s All About Enjoying the Holidays

Treat yourself and your family with great holiday gifts this year. A new audio system or simple speaker upgrade makes a great holiday gift. There are audio speaker solutions available for every budget.

Today there are many new choices for sound systems in the home or office, large or small. Let’s examine several solutions that can raise the bar for music and audio enjoyment with friends and during family events.

Playing music in the home during the holidays brings additional enjoyment to any gathering. Since some of you may be considering this type of equipment purchase as a gift, let’s talk more about what these products look like today. With so many makes and models available, it can be overwhelming when trying to make an informed purchasing decision. On a basic level, you chose a type, size, a color and one of several brands.

There are several types of speakers available. “In-wall,” “Inceiling,” and “Wireless” are three speaker options for consumers.

The first type we will consider are called “In-wall” speakers. These are among the least invasive and are perfect for blending in with room décor. They are flush mounted, out-of-sight, inside the wall. The speaker grills that fit over the front are very thin and barely noticed from a side view. They can be painted any color (or textured) for an exact match with room décor making them nearly invisible.

“In-ceiling” speakers are similar to the in-wall speakers. They are also flush mounted, but installed in the ceiling rather than in the wall. Once again, the in-ceiling speakers grills can be painted or textured so that they blend exactly with room décor.

Next we have “Wireless” speaker technology. This type of audio system uses your home or office wireless broadband connection to broadcast music, sports, news and weather from such sources as iTunes, Pandora, Rhapsody, SIRIUS Radio or Napster, which have become so popular over the past several years. Unless you have some skill or background with home or office networking, this type of installation is best left to a trained professional.

It’s possible for the do-it-yourselfer to install speakers, but for an exact match with existing equipment or a high quality upgrade, it’s best to get the advise of a credentialed audio expert. You may want to consider a gift certificate for installation in order to assure the best possible match. Professional audio consultants offer advice and present possible options.

While the big box stores provide a few brand names, workers are not always trained or highly skilled. Audio and video professionals provide a much higher level of service and have credentialing from organizations such as the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA).

Better quality speakers can take your music to the next level of enjoyment with family and friends. They can help make all of your holiday celebrations joyful and merrier!

Dave High is a LEED Green Associate with Karbon Consulting in Pleasant Hill.

GCUniverse – A World of Greeting Cards

GCUniverseDoesn’t everyone enjoy getting a greeting card in the mail? Of course we do. I always thought that I would make a good greeting card writer. Over the years, I’ve crafted some pretty darn nice homemade birthday, anniversary and holiday cards for my friends and family. Below is a sampling of a Get Well card I recently sent to my sister.

Comets, meteors and asteroids
Sorry to hear of your aggravating hemorrhoids
A warm bath, ibuprofen and cream
Would be any “roid” sufferers dream

I realize your inflammation and itchiness
Is likely the cause of your bitchiness

Everyone hopes you’re feeling better soon
(Trust me when I say that you don’t want to see my cut and paste graphic images.)

Until recently, the typical greeting card customer has been somewhat limited to fairly generic choices found at a drug store or specialty card shop. Finding a card that was unique, customized or personalized was extremely difficult. Enter, one of many websites that husband and wife team, Mindy Rosso-Gaemi and Nasser Gaemi, operate under their company BigDates Solutions. Located in San Ramon’s Bishop Ranch all of Big Dates’ services revolve around reminder services (birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc.) since 2000. Suggesting gifts, e-cards and paper greeting cards in important date email reminders was the onset of BigDates’ venture into the greeting card space. Greeting Card Universe (GCUniverse) is a greeting card website. Not electronic greeting cards like many people may think, but real paper greeting cards that you purchase online and have mailed to you or directly to the recipient.

GCUniverse is an open community where freelance artists from around the world join and sell their art in the form of paper greeting cards. With over 3,900 artists and counting in the GCUniverse community, artists earn commissions when their cards sell. Much like might fancy itself as the largest bookstore in the world, GCUniverse has quickly become the largest greeting card store on the planet with an inventory of 400,000 cards and growing. With over 1,000 new cards a day GCUniverse expects to reach 500,000 cards by year’s end. The company carries no physical inventory. Everything is printed on demand, which means all cards are digital until ordered then are printed and mailed, so shoppers can order just 1 card or 10,000 cards. “Due to our virtual shelf space we’re not limited to offering a collection of best selling cards that are typically pretty generic,” Mindy says. “We have all the every day cards you’d expect at a typical card shop, but we have so much more. Unique, specific and personalized cards are quickly becoming our hallmark”, she adds in a “no pun intended” play on words.

If you let your imagination run wild you can imagine all types of creative and memorable occasions to send a card such as a special day for your pet, a mine rescue, a vasectomy or augmentation, in addition to birthday cards for every age 1 – 125, not just the landmark years. There are also design features which allow for ethnicity/skin tones (dark skinned groom w/ light skinned bride, etc). Now, in addition to getting a card for the prototypical mom and Grandmother, you can add step mom, birth mom, neighbor mom, room mom, team mom, partner mom, sorority mom and Mr. Mom aka Dad. Personalized cards for every name ever imagined can be created from traditional names like Mike and Mindy all the way to the more Bohemian names such as Asia, Austin, Boston, Savannaugh, Summer, Autumn, Rain, Race, North, Ocean or Apple.

Even though you ate my hamster, rabbit and rat
And I’m pretty sure you swallowed Twinkle – the neighbor’s cat
But snakes will be snakes
And you’re my best friend/boa constrictor “Jake”
So Happy Bar Mitzvah on your special day …..another Mike Copeland original

GCUniverse isn’t afraid to get specific and address niche markets. In fact, that is what the site is all about. Lesser known holidays now have their place such as Persian New Year, Diwali, Feast of St. Joseph, Festivus, Canadian Boxing Day, Teacher Appreciation Day, Talk like a Pirate Day and Ride Your Bike To Work Day to name a few. Unique occasions will now be marked in perpetuity when someone gets a card commemorating events such as obtaining an Eagle Scout designation, hitting a Hole in One, becoming a US Citizen, Graduating from boot camp, getting out of jail, making the cheer squad, becoming an on-line ordained minister or selling the most girl scout cookies. We can also give thanks to our coaches for anything from Lacrosse to Lamaze, religious training to personal life enrichment. The possibilities are limitless and if you can’t find what you’re looking for GCUniverse artists can create it at no additional charge, typically within 48 hours. Colors, names, relationship, subject matter all for $2.79 a card plus 44 cents postage with a real, honest to goodness stamp.

Today’s modern bride is a staple at GCUniverse with daily sales of cards asking and thanking members of their wedding party like Bridesmaids, Flower Girls, Readers, In-laws, Ushers, Ring Bearers and even Best Man and Maid of Honor.

“We are making it possible for people to send greetings that truly hit the mark and show the recipient that the sender really cared to find or create exactly the right card,” says Mindy. It’s empowering people to celebrate special, nontraditional moments and occasions in a very traditional way. With the trend of electronic communications this is never more appreciated. Ecards don’t cut it. Email and Facebook don’t scream “I care” either. However, receiving a special paper greeting card in your mailbox is I think a timeless delight.”

“I recently read an article that really shed some light on these changing times which will have a direct impact on our offerings. The article was about a generation of gay / lesbian couples who came out in the 70’s and are now becoming grandparents.” Mindy recounted. “Shoppers will undoubtedly be asking for cards for same sex couples for weddings, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, Grandparents Day, not to mention Mother’s and Father’s day. Our collection of cards will grow to serve them all”. Similarly, with multiple births now commonplace, GCU has baby announcements, baby congratulations and birthday party invitations for twins, triplets, quads and more if you happen to know Kate Gosling (Kate Plus 8), Nadia Suleman, the Octo-mom or the Duggars. “Our collection of cards really journals the changing landscape of our lives individually and collectively around the world. We don’t lead cookie cutter lives anymore-” adds Mindy.

To the best two Moms in the world
Who have six little boys and three beautiful girls
Our house might seem at times crazy
And our surrogate dad a bit lazy
But who says families have to be perfect to work?
Happy Mother’s Day …a Mike Copeland Original

The Gaemi’s seem to be pioneering a revolutionary concept within the monstrous $7 Billion a year industry where three companies command a staggering 85% of the market share. “Our goal from day 1 was to revolutionize the age old paper greeting card industry. To bring it online and offer shoppers cards limited only by their imaginations and not by the shopkeepers’ shelf size. To date most of our sales and traffic come from natural search via Google and the like. It’s evident that shoppers are not finding what they want in the stores and go online to find unique and hard to find products.” When asked what is next for GCUniverse Mindy replied “We’ve had great success with our Birthday Calendar application which has 45 million users on Facebook and 150 thousand on the iPhone so we’ve set our sights on bringing GCUniverse cards to shoppers right at their fingertips via the iPhone. When coupled with our core competency of reminder services it just won’t get any easier than that.” While my greeting card career may not yet have a market, Greeting Card Universe shows all the signs of being an innovative company with (a universe of) unlimited potential.

2011 Ford Fiesta: It’s a Party on Wheels!

They say the world is becoming a smaller place and with natural resources being demanded by more and more countries, costs are increasing in the auto market as well. In Europe the price of fuel is nearly twice what it is here, so the call for smaller fuel efficient vehicles has been strong. That same cry is coming to America and success is being found by manufacturers including Mini and Honda. So how are our domestic brands reacting to smaller is better? For Ford Motor Company, the 2011 model year brings the introduction of the subcompact Ford Fiesta that has been very successful in Europe, and is finally available here.

The 2011 Ford Fiesta was designed and developed in Europe; with a Euro feel. In the past, automotive manufacturers would sell small cars but never make any real money on the sale. These were considered lost leaders and stepping stones for future up-sales. Those cars had low-budget features and quality; however, things do change!

Car companies know that Americans demand high quality features, gadgets, style, and comfort, so they are designing and building small cars that have bold designs, possess the comforts of home, and are loaded with features. For Ford, this has generated larger transaction prices and satisfied customers who are reaping the rewards!

In Fords 2011 lineup, the Fiesta is the smallest vehicle sold in the Ford stable, measuring 15-inches shorter than the Focus. The Fiesta, with a successful track record in Europe, is among the first of a fleet of vehicles designed and sold ‘oversees’ to finally make it to the U.S. shores. Ford believes the subcompact Fiesta will attract first-time buyers and even some baby boomers. To reach its main audience, Ford created a marketing plan that has been centered on social media including Facebook.

The 2011 Ford Fiesta is available in two body styles – Hatchback and Sedan and four trim levels. The trim levels are: SE Hatchback ($15,795), SES Hatchback ($17,795), S Sedan ($13,995), SE Sedan ($14,995), and SEL Sedan ($16,995). All prices include a $675 destination fee.

All models come with a 4-cylinder 1.6-liter engine mated to a 5–speed manual transmission that produces 28 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. The Fiesta is also offered with a new automatic transmission technology that acts like an automatic, but gets the fuel economy of a manual transmission. This optional six-speed automatic transmission comes with PowerShift™ for $1,070.00 and earns an estimated 30 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. The Fiesta’s 4-banger engine manages to run 120 horses, which produces some pretty good get-up-and-go power.

Ford’s European design team carved out an edgy profile with sharp angles, a steeply ranked windshield and large aggressive headlamps. The front lower grille opening has what Ford calls a reverse trapezoid and large side intake ports delivering an in-your-face look. This dramatic style is favored by the young demographics that Ford is aiming at as new owners of the Fiesta.

A feature that in my opinion is an “about-time” for Ford is the remote key entry, which is where the door handle has a small black button that when pressed, detects the key fob in your pocket. This feature unlocks the (front) door and allows you to open the door without digging for a key. I understand this may seem like a minor convenience feature, but it has been available on both higher priced, and mid-range cars for a while, but as far as I can tell this is the first time it is available on a Ford.

The interior is sharply dressed with proud eagle-like arches incorporated into the center dash. A blend of black and brushed metallic trim-touches adds a sport flare and stylish quality. The ‘info’tainment controls are housed in a metallic shell center-dash, and runs the interior theme. Planted above the center dash is a data screen that displays everything from radio information to phone activity.

The front seats felt comfortable with a rich feel to the material, and had enough side and bottom bolsters to keep me properly positioned during turns. Overall interior quality was above what you would expect with plenty of soft-touch points. Ford added features that you wouldn’t typically find in a car this size including leather seat surfaces, SYNC voice activated system, heated front seats and lighted cup holders; to name a few.

Ride quality and handling of the Fiesta felt more confident than some of its competitors like the Toyota Yaris and Nissan Versa. When pushing it to the limit I felt a little understeer (which is when the car wants to go straight instead of turning), but nothing that couldn’t be controlled. During typical driving situations the car reacted and responded well.

Room for improvement:

  • No center arm rest

Cool Features:

  • Push button start
  • Smart key with remote keyless entry
  • The 2011 Fiesta safety equipment includes seven airbags: dual stage frontal, front seat side impact, side curtain and driver knee. Also standard is antilock brakes, electronic stability control, child safety seat anchors (LATCH) and tire pressure monitoring system.

    In Summary – The 2011 Fiesta is an important entry for Ford and its small car effort, since this category is growing in popularity. It has been designed and equipped to be profitable and delivers an upscale subcompact vehicle that is fun to drive and fuel efficient. The Fiesta is another example of Ford building a vehicle that people want, which meets and exceeds their expectations.

    For more information and a complete list of features and specifications go to


    2011 Ford Fiesta SES Hatchback

    Base price: $17,795 as driven: $18,890 (including destination and optional equipment)
    Engine: 1.6-Liter 4-cylinder
    Horsepower: 120 @ 6000
    Torque: 109 foot pounds @ 4250 rpm
    Transmission: 5-speed manual transmission with PowerShift™
    Drive: Front Wheel-Drive
    Seating: 5-passenger
    Turning circle: 34.4 feet
    Cargo space: 26 cubic feet
    Curb weight: 2575 pounds
    Fuel capacity: 12 gallons
    EPA mileage: 37 highway, 28 city
    Wheel Base: 98 inches
    Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
    Also consider: Chevrolet Aveo, Honda Fit, Nissan Versa, Toyota Yaris

Dirt Gardener: Thanks for Asking

Dirt Gardner Image - Dahlia
Q. How do I separate and store the Dahlias that I have recently taken out of the ground? I planted one in April and it has multiplied into a clump of twenty to thirty bulbs.

A. Dahlias are actually classified as a tuber and not a bulb. A true bulb contains modified leaves called scales, a basal plate that develops roots and a shoot that emerges from the center. Dahlias lack the basal plate, scales and the roots and the new shoots develop from ‘eyes’ or growth buds. Tulips, Daffodils and Cyclamen are true bulbs, while Dahlias, and Potatoes are examples of tubers. You should first wash the dirt off the clump, exposing all the tubers. If the dirt is already dried, submerge the clump in a bucket of water. After thirty minutes, hose them off and let the clump air-dry. Next, you have two options: divide the clump into individual tubers now and store them or store the entire clump until next year. In April or May, the clump is divided two to four weeks before planting. You’re probably not going to plant all the tubers, so select the largest and firmest, discarding the rest. Each tuber must include a growth bud or ‘eye’. The ‘eyes’ are located along the narrow end of the tuber close to where it attaches to the main or last year’s stalk. With freshly dug Dahlias, the eyes are easy to recognize; otherwise, include a piece or section of last year stalk. All the fresh cuts should be dip in dusting sulfur to prevent rotting. Dahlias are stored in a cool, dry location in an open container in sawdust, sand, vermiculite or perlite. Dividing Dahlias is not as difficult as it might seem. It does have a high success rate.

Q. My cherry trees were traumatized last year with the Black Cherry Aphids. In the past, I controlled Aphids by putting a ring of the sticky stuff around the trunk. This year it didn’t help at all. Will the Lime Sulfur dormant spray keep me Aphid free next year?

A. Two applications of dormant spray, Lime Sulfur and or Oil, are recommended on cherry trees during the winter months. The dormant spray controls the over wintering insects such as scale, mites, and the Aphid eggs. Unfortunately, this dose not guarantees that you will be Aphid free next year. Aphids can over winter on many other woody ornamentals as well as perennials plants. Therefore, I wouldn’t be surprise to see them again. Aphids are not that difficult to control if caught early. You need to monitor the trees in the spring for the first sign of curly leaves. Once they are detected, they are removed and you make three applications of Insecticidal Soap a week apart. This should keep the leaves pristine all season long. I’d still apply the sticky stuff, sold as Tanglefoot or Pest Barrier to the tree trunks. This prevents ants from ferrying the Aphids into the canopy as they feed on the clear sticky residue called ‘Honey Dew’ produced by the Aphids.

Buzz Bertolero is Executive Vice President of Navlet’s Garden Centers and a California Certified Nursery Professional. His web address is and you can send questions by email at or to 360 Civic Drive Ste. ‘D’, Pleasant Hill, Calif. 94523