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Dr. Christine Cave

Uses Her Superhero Might to Help Patients and Wow at Figure Competitions

Visit us for more stories and trusted advice from holistic health professionals and experts Fall 2020


Page 30 On the Cover:

Christine Cave

Page 10

Page 20

Jason Mercado

Michelle Vilchez

our Publisher

Fall 2020

Dear Readers, 2020 has been full of surprises. As we watch the news, we are astounded by the sacrifices made by frontline workers, the commitment of protesters against social injustice, and the dedication of firefighters and rescue workers. Their selfless acts seem to come so naturally, but truth be told, they are human beings that have to dig deep to harness inner strength to overcome setbacks and to keep going. We can learn so much from them as each one of us wrestles with our own daily battles. Our featured stories also inspire us to be of service to others and motivate us with their perseverance and mental fortitude. We bring you Dr. Christine Cave as our cover model. She is an astounding figure competitor who overcame a personal tragedy only to emerge as a stronger performer and competitor in other sports while impacting those around her as a nurse practitioner. We also had the wonderful opportunity to meet Michelle Vilchez, executive director of the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center and the California State Assembly's 2016 Woman of the Year. And Jason Mercado, founder of Sweet Mission, tells us about how he turned his life around through baking and his work to help others do the same. Finally, this August, it was especially poignant and bittersweet that one of the finest human beings, Chadwick Boseman showed us how to live life to the fullest with dignity, grace and humility. His life helped validate our ongoing commitment as a publication to educate our readers about cancer and ways to support the community of survivors. We encourage you to share this very special issue of Live & Thrive CA with your family and friends. Be well and be safe. Love,

Rosalidia Dubon Publisher, Live & Thrive CA

Rosalidia Dubon



Rosalidia Dubon is an entrepreneur and educator in the media publishing and content marketing industries. She is the founder of Dubon Consulting and a committed advocate of women and children’s issues worldwide. She's recently launched a co-working and event space for entrepreneurs with access to a podcast studio and business seminars to help entrepreneurs elevate their brands.

Eva Barrows


Eva Barrows is a San Francisco Bay Area writer and editor. In 2007 she created Imitation Fruit Literary Journal ( to showcase fun and upbeat short stories, poetry, and artwork. She blogs about the craft of writing and local historical places 1



Cancer Patients May Find Relief With CBD


Myths and Misconceptions About Hemp CBD


Support Your Immune System with these Wellness Practices


5 Reasons Why You Should Have that Cookie


Susana Torres’ Bizzy Fit Meals


Nutrition Q & A

10 Tasting Sweet Success: Jason Mercado Turned His Life Around Through Baking 14 Get Better Sleep 15 Following Your Dream During Hard Times 16 How to Transition Through Crisis


Fall 2020


Unwind with a Hot Cup of Tea


Walk Strong Bay Area’s Mission to Support Cancer Patients


Influential Nonprofit Leader: Michelle Vilchez Has Dedicated Her Life’s Work to Guiding Community Through Conflict


Healthy Bay Area Real Estate Market


6 Lessons Learned from a Week of Silence Retreat


Your Game Plan for Battling a Sedentary Lifestyle


Strength of Purpose and Poise: Dr. Christine Cave Uses Her Superhero Might to Help Patients and Wow at Figure Competitions


Get Your Workouts Back on Track


Calming Fall Skin Care

Publisher Rosalidia Dubon

Layout & Graphic Editor Nicole Lacasse

Editor-in-Chief Eva Barrows

Production Associate Wing Yu

FitNFabs 1375 Burlingame Ave Suite L6 • Burlingame, CA 94010 3

Live Healthy Cancer Patients

May Find Relief With CBD By Carmen Milagro Does hemp CBD offer comfort to cancer patients? There is no one-size-fits-all approach to this question. One thing to note is that hemp CBD is in no way a cure or magic pill for cancer. But yes, hemp CBD may bring comfort and relieve symptoms for some patients. Patients should always consult and communicate with their doctors about their intention to incorporate the use of hemp CBD into their treatment regime. It is also important to check for any potential adverse drug interactions. A hemp CBD advocate, or better yet, a hemp CBD therapist can help a patient better navigate the dialog with their medical team. In recent years, doctors caring for adult cancer patients in the United States who recommend the use of hemp CBD do so predominantly to manage their patients’ symptoms. According to the National Cancer Institute (, some doctors believe the use of hemp CBD may help their patients with: • Nausea • Appetite stimulation • Pain management • Sleep issues


Doctors have to consider factors like the following when making a treatment plan for patients: • What is the patient’s diagnosis? • Which symptoms are being addressed? • What does comfort or relief mean to the patient? • What other treatment is the patient receiving? • How far along is the current treatment?

Various sources indicate many patients seek alternative relief during their cancer treatment journey. One must remember a few key things before considering the use of hemp CBD for their specific case. Hemp CBD does not work the same for everyone, and in some cases, it doesn’t work. Everybody is unique and will react differently to doses of hemp CBD. If a patient decides to use hemp CBD in conjunction with their treatments, as always, they should ensure the product they use is free from contaminants, is third-party tested, is non-GMO, organic and is as pure and clean as possible. This cannot be stressed enough.

Myths and Misconceptions About Hemp CBD By Carmen Milagro Although there are probably just as many misconceptions about hemp CBD as there are plant varietals, we’ll focus on the following three that come up most often during my CBD education presentations.

Will hemp CBD get me high?

The reality is no, not in the vast majority of people. Although there may be very slight traces of THC in clean, pure hemp CBD, it is not enough to cause a mind-altering experience in people, other than perhaps in their own mind. It’s possible that feeling a “sense of well-being” is completely foreign to someone who has been suffering from anxiety and/or pain for extremely long periods of time. Upon using a product made with clean, pure, organic, third-party tested hemp CBD, they may indeed feel a sense of relief, euphoria or combination of both. They feel so much better and so good that they confuse it with a “high.”

Is hemp CBD addictive?

The World Health Organization (WHO) found that hemp CBD is not addictive. A number of years have passed since the WHO declared hemp CBD safe for human use and consumption as it has practically no side effects. It is virtually impossible to reach a lethal overdose limit with hemp CBD. As opposed to opiates, prescription drugs, alcohol or cigarettes, people do not die from using hemp CBD. Thousands of people have died from legal substances, but not from hemp-derived CBD products.

Is cannabinoid a man-made or natural substance? Hemp CBD is a natural plant-based crystalline substance. CBD is the abbreviation for cannabidiol, a non-intoxicating cannabinoid compound and the second-most prevalent compound found in the hemp and cannabis plants. Hemp CBD is derived from the male hemp plant and has been used by mankind for various ailments for thousands of years prior to any modern-day manufacturing or extraction techniques. In the mid-1990s, it was discovered that the human body produces its own cannabinoids designed to maintain a balanced sense of health that supports our immune system. We need to replenish and support our endocannabinoid system to live a healthy life. 5

Live Healthy Support Your Immune System with these Wellness Practices By Donya Fahmy Has the COVID-19 pandemic left you feeling anxious or vulnerable about your health? You’re not alone. While there’s still a lot we don’t know about this coronavirus, what we do know is the condition of your immune system. How much underlying inflammation you have is among the biggest determinants of how you will respond to it and your odds of surviving it. The simple truth is that strengthening your immune system and keeping it strong is your best strategy for weathering and surviving whatever comes your way. Here are some simple wellness practices to support your immune system: Be mindful of what goes into your mouth. Avoid processed foods, especially sugar and polyunsaturated seed and nut oils, foods contaminated with pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and GMOs. All these lead to inflammation. Instead, eat more nutrient-dense whole foods and healthier fats. Be mindful of what goes onto your skin. At least sixty percent of what you rub on it is absorbed into your bloodstream where it can’t easily exit. Over 10,000 chemical ingredients are used in personal care products, which can accumulate and create a 6

chemical body burden. Stick to plant-based and natural skin care products made with herbs and essential oils. Be mindful of what’s in your physical environment. Your home can be a trove of toxins — everything from cleaning and laundry products to synthetic air fresheners to plastic off-gassing, flame retardants and chemicals used to finish carpets, mattresses, and upholstery. Stick to natural plant-based cleaning products, furniture made from natural and organic fibers, and where possible, avoid carpeting. Manage and lower your stress. Just five minutes of anger can suppress your immune system for up to five hours! Emotional stress that sticks around for weeks or months can seriously weaken your immune system. It’s hard to live with the uncertainty that this pandemic has brought us, but it’s also a great opportunity to learn to accept what you can’t control and instead, focus on what you can. Practice letting go of attachments and being kinder, gentler and more compassionate with yourself and others.

5 Reasons Why You Should Have that Cookie By Nico Abaya Looking for alternative snacking options when all you really want is a cookie? You can achieve your goal physique while eating the foods you love as long as they fit in your daily calorie and macronutrient allowances. You can and should have that cookie and here are five reasons why:

And when you finally do crack and trust me, everyone does, the floodgates will open, and it won’t just be one cookie. It’ll be an entire box and then some. Work on trusting yourself to have the discipline to only have one. Enjoy it and move on with your day.

Flexible Dieting

Fat loss is simple. It’s about burning more calories than you consume. There is not a single food item that will inherently make you fat. You will, however, gain fat when you have too much of it. Practicing flexible dieting is understanding that you eat foods you enjoy (that cookie) as long as it’s within your calorie and macronutrient allowance.

Let's say you absolutely will not have that cookie and want an alternative. Have you ever seen protein cookie options? Next time you’re at the gym or grocery store, pick one up and check the nutrition facts. More often than not, they’ve added additional protein, so you’ll be getting more calories with the alternative cookie than in the one you were eyeballing in the first place.


Live Life

Quit trying to be perfect. The best way to guarantee failure is to adopt an all or nothing approach. With fitness and health, it's about progress not perfection. The time it's going to take for you to truly transform your body is much longer than the amount of time you’ll be capable of being perfect. Bend, don't break, and adopt an 80/20 approach to things. Eighty percent of your food should come from nutrient-dense, whole foods and allow twenty percent for fun foods you enjoy.

Alternatives Just Don’t Cut it

Sometimes self-care means having that cookie. Diet culture has made so many of us think that we’ll be happier when we hit a certain weight. It makes us forget to love ourselves at every stage in the journey. Even if it feels like you have a long way to go, remember to celebrate how far you’ve come.

Binge Restrict Cycles So many diets fail because they’re centered around the things you should avoid. Telling yourself you can't have that cookie will only make you want it more.


Live Healthy

Susana Torres’ Bizzy Fit Meals By Rosalidia Dubon

Cooking came to Susana Torres later in life as she began to learn the power food had over her health and fitness goals. Beginning three years ago, she started educating herself on how nutrition and fitness work together. As she competed in athletic bodybuilding, she left her corporate career to pursue her passion for educating others through her business Bizzy Fit Meals. She wanted to create recipes that would help people maintain a healthy lifestyle. Susana has discovered that food is her love language. To share her excitement

over home cooking, she’s developed an apron line too. Susana is one of Live & Thrive CA’s entrepreneur $1,000 grant winners. She will be investing her award money in new equipment and a website refresh focused on offering healthy and affordable cooking classes.

Lean Turkey Meatballs

Tomato Sauce and Pasta

Ingredients: • 1 pound lean ground turkey • 2 fresh medium-size garlic cloves or 1 very large garlic clove minced • 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning • 1 teaspoon of granulated garlic • 1 teaspoon of pink salt • 6 fresh basil leaves minced • ½ cup of firm tomatoes diced Preheat oven for 10 minutes to 400ºF Spray sheet pan with 0 calorie butter spray Mix all ingredients well and make 1 inch round meatballs Place meatballs on the sheet pan then spray the top of meatballs with 0 calorie cooking spray Bake for 10 minutes


Ingredients: • Olive Oil • 2 large fresh garlic cloves • ½ cup of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! • 5 Roma tomatoes pulsed in a blender • ½ cup zucchini diced • pink salt • black pepper • 4-5 thinly sliced fresh basil leaves • 1 box of spaghetti pasta • Parmesan cheese for grating

Drizzle a saucepan with olive oil over medium to low heat Place minced garlic in the saucepan, sauté for a few minutes Add the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! Add the Roma tomatoes to the saucepan, bring to a boil, then lower the heat Add the diced zucchini, cook until the zucchini is soft Add pink salt to taste Add the fresh basil leaves and simmer for 2-3 minutes on low heat As you are making the sauce boil the spaghetti pasta, once the pasta is soft, drain it and drizzle on some olive oil, sprinkle with minced garlic, black pepper and pink salt to taste. Plate the pasta, top with tomato sauce, add meatballs and more sauce, top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and finally, garnish with some sliced basil leaves.


What are the best in-season fall foods for an energy boost? Aurora Valley • Atascadero, CA

Given all the challenges of 2020, your health is a top priority. Let's consider four foundational foods to keep your energy level up as the days get shorter. Brussels sprouts have been making a comeback in recent years. Their buds are rich in protein, dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They may help protect against cardiovascular diseases, colon and prostate cancer. Pears are a healthy, sweet snack with fiber. They are perfect for a high-fiber diet, helping to maintain stable blood sugar, keeping cholesterol levels down and are linked to heart benefits. Cauliflower is versatile as a side dish, either steamed or served as a mash. It is an excellent source of vitamin C and antioxidants to boost immunity and prevent infections. Finally, one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes includes sweet potatoes without all the sugar. These spuds are packed with calcium, potassium, vitamins and antioxidants. The antiinflammatory properties may be beneficial for people who have asthma or arthritis.

Is coffee really a bad thing? Are there healthier drink options to help stimulate your mind? Vanessa Reyes • Rancho Palos Verdes, CA Actually, many health professionals believe that coffee is one of the healthiest beverages in the world. Coffee is one of the richest natural sources of caffeine and a source

of antioxidants, making it very popular for the stimulation it provides. So, go ahead and enjoy your morning cup of joe and be mindful not to add too much sugar. However, if you are looking for some alternatives, here are a couple of options. Yerba Mate is made from naturally caffeinated holly tree leaves grown in the South American rainforest. It does not result in the heavy crash coffee can bring. Tea is another drink option to consider with all the different forms and blends available. Caffeine-free and naturally sweetened varieties make tea a pleasant alternative. In addition, many teas are a source of antioxidants, B vitamins and minerals.

I’ve read that vitamin D can help my immune system. What are the best food sources for vitamin D? Patricia Acosta • Huntington Beach, CA

Although your body produces vitamin D when the sun’s ultraviolet rays touch your skin, most people don’t get enough. Supplements can help such as those containing vitamin D3, which is found in animal sources or through plant-based vitamin D2. Another way to get vitamin D is through the foods you eat. Cold-water fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel or sardines are a good source of vitamin D, protein and omega-3s. Mushrooms don’t naturally offer a lot of vitamin D, but if they are treated with UV light they will produce vitamin D. Check packaging labels for information on UV exposure, then make veggie stuffed portabella or add the mushrooms to egg or fishbased dishes to increase your vitamin D intake.


Live Inspired

Tasting Sweet Success Jason Mercado Turned His Life Around Through Baking

and Has Made it His Mission to Help Others Do The Same By Rosalidia Dubon

Jason Mercado, CEO of Sweet Mission, acquired his impeccable baking skills from his grandmother and by studying Food Network shows. He has now perfected several original recipes. Jason’s love for baking is matched only by his love for helping others which is how Sweet Mission came to be. Sweet Mission's long term goal is to train and employ individuals from vulnerable backgrounds including the homeless to deliver superb products while offering hope and a foundation to those in need of a second chance. Jason’s motto is “Everyone deserves a second chance.” His own second chance came in the form of a scholarship through Entrepreneur Works, which allowed him to participate in their 11-week business startup course. His goal is to pass along that knowledge and encourage the people he plans to employ to take steps in creating businesses of their own. He wants to inspire with his story, empower by giving back and let others know they should follow their dreams and not give up when the going gets tough.


Tell us about spending time with your grandmother and learning baking skills from her. During the holidays, my grandma would make pies and some cakes. I would help out and just watch what she put in the bowl. That was my favorite part. Most of the desserts she made without any measuring cups or spoons. She just did it by memory. What is it about baking that enticed you to make it your career? I found it to be therapeutic. It's really relaxing, and you can be creative as well. How have you used the Food Network as a cooking resource? Usually, when I'm watching the Food Network or any food shows, I take a lot of mental notes. Then I try to repeat what I learned on my own. You've had some challenges in your life, drug use, jail time and homelessness. How did you overcome all these hardships to arrive at a positive and maybe even lifesaving outlet—baking? I just decided I no longer wanted to be caught up in drugs and alcohol and that I needed to make a change in my life for the better.

What kinds of assistance and resources have been available to you on your entrepreneurial journey? I've had quite a few different resources made available to me, most of them learning resources. When I first started, Philadelphia Lutheran Ministries helped coach me through entrepreneurship and even gave me some seed money to get started as well. And then there was the Friends Center which is where I did my baking when I was in Philadelphia. They helped me get started. What role did Entrepreneur Works have in helping you start your business? Entrepreneur Works played the biggest role in helping me get started because they gave me all the tools that I needed. I was even able to get a scholarship for their classes. Did you have any cooking or business mentors along the way? Two of the most prominent mentors I had when I first started and I still have them today are Lauretta Pierce of Covenant Cookies and Wally Amos known to most people as Famous Amos — now he goes by Cookie Kahuna. Was moving to California to set up your cookie business Sweet Mission a good choice? Moving to California was a great choice. I didn't know anybody in California when I moved here. I knew nothing about California, but I had the feeling that California would be the place my business would take off. Tell us about your first big cookie order. My first big cookie order was for an Oscars postparty that was for 1,500 cookies. It felt good to get that order. It was awesome. When did you first feel like you "made it" and have obtained your business goals? Well, to be honest, I'm still working on my business goals, but when I won the 2015 American Small Business Championship sponsored by SCORE and Sam's Club, that was a real sense of accomplishment. 11

Live Inspired As a for-purpose cookie company, what does that entail? It's giving people that come from a vulnerable background a second chance at life — to bring them on board and just help them to find themselves again. It’s a chance to rediscover life and see what it is that they can do as an entrepreneur or as a chance to learn more about entrepreneurship. How have you directly helped others through Sweet Mission? We've been able to sponsor families during the holidays, specifically Christmas. With a dedicated planning committee of over one hundred volunteers and donations from Savers "Give to Get" program, United Across Borders Foundation, Official No One Left Behind, Stranger Prints and several other local restaurants and small businesses, we host two dinners a year for those who are in need of a hot meal at Thanksgiving and Easter. Tell us about being given a second chance in your life and how you strive to help others get a second chance in their lives. Because someone took the time out to help me and look beyond my past, that's the same thing Sweet Mission is about. I want to give people a second chance at life and help them not to look at their past when looking at their future and seeing what it is they want to do. What makes a good cookie? Great ingredients and lots of love. Cookies are significant for Sweet Mission because cookies are round and at Sweet Mission, all we want to do is teach people how to be complete in life, to do a complete circle in life, a complete turnaround. That's why the cookies are so important to the company. Describe the smell of your favorite cookie that you make. The Hawaiian Cooler Cookie that's lemon, coconut, white chocolate and macadamia nuts all melting in your mouth at one time. 12

What's the process behind creating an original cookie recipe? Your flavor profile. Meaning, what do you want your cookie to taste like? Then you need to decide what style of cookie you want to create. Do you want to go drop cookie, do you want to do a sugar cookie, or do you want to do a cookie bar? Then you have to pick the fat for your cookie. Are there any substitutes you want to make? Then you get it together and boom you’ve got your cookie. Where can people buy your cookies? I would encourage people to follow our website ( as we prepare to relaunch. What other types of sweets and food do you enjoy making? I like to make cheesecakes and brownies. I love to make any type of food. How did you find out about the Live & Thrive CA entrepreneur pitch contest, and what will you do with your winnings? I found out about Live & Thrive CA’s pitch contest on Facebook. My winnings will be used to relaunch Sweet Mission, to get some inventory and pay for some kitchen time. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not baking? When I'm not baking, I enjoy cooking, meeting new people and just hanging out. Anything else you’d like to share about your journey? It's been an exciting and interesting journey. I know that the best is yet to come and that's why I never give up. If you are a budding entrepreneur, don't give up no matter what.

Sweet Mission

Cranberry Apple Almond Cookie Ingredients: • 1 box of Pillsbury Sugar Free Classic Premium Yellow Cake Mix • 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce • 1/2 cup of canola oil • 1/2 cup of dried cranberries • 1/2 cup of dried sliced almonds or walnuts • 1/2 cup instant apple oatmeal • 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips (optional, if you want to treat yourself) Instructions: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Mix ingredients together in a bowl. Scoop cookies onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Place cookies in a preheated oven for 9 to 11 minutes. Turn the cookie sheet at 4 minutes and continue baking. Once cookies have baked, remove them from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire baking rack.



Live Well Get Better


By Donya Fahmy

Getting a good night’s rest is critical to your health and wellness. If you’re tired all or most of the time, you may think it’s because you’re not logging enough hours in bed. Most of us are under the misconception that the longer we are in a deep sleep, the more rested we will be when we wake up. However, we experience several sleep cycles during the course of a night. Within each sleep cycle, you move through different stages of sleep — from light sleep to deep sleep and back. As it turns out, how much time you spend in a state of deep sleep is less important than how many sleep cycles you complete without interruption. There are a number of obstacles that may impact your ability to easily fall asleep, stay asleep or quickly fall back asleep if you wake up in the middle of the night. Here are five seemingly obvious but often overlooked factors that can disrupt your sleep cycles and affect the overall quality of your sleep:

Sleep Environment

This is related to things like room temperature optimization to help you fall asleep, how much light or noise is present, whether you have electronic devices in your bedroom or other disruptions like pets wandering in and out during the course of the night.


Sleep Posture and Structural Support

This is related to how well your head, neck and body are supported by your mattress and pillows, based on your typical or preferred sleep position.

A Pre-Sleep Wind Down Routine

This speaks to allowing time for your mind to wind down before bed so you can easily check any stress-related or emotional baggage at the bedroom door. Let your mind relax for a while so you can too.

A Relaxing Bedtime Ritual

This speaks to some simple things you can do just before getting into bed to ease your mind and relax your body to help you drift off to sleep. Whether it’s taking a hot bath with some lavender bath salts, diffusing a relaxing essential oil blend in your bedroom, drinking a small cup of chamomile tea, or my favorite— doing a brain bliss activation.

Timing and Consumption of Certain Foods and Beverages

Last, but certainly not least, this speaks to what you eat and drink and when. Eating too many simple carbohydrates early in the day sets you up for an afternoon slump that often drives caffeine consumption later in the day. Since caffeine stays in your system for up to seven hours, this impacts your sleep quality. For more tips on how to enjoy better sleep, grab a free copy of my Better Sleep Quick Start Guide & Checklist here: BetterSleep/

Following Your Dream

During Hard Times By Lauren Brollier

There is a place in you that is far greater than any circumstance, situation or condition. You may be wondering, “How do I find that place?” In times like these when, as a global community, we are facing unprecedented challenges, it’s important to tap into that place. Envision a turbulent storm on the ocean’s surface with thunder, lightning, and waves that could sink a boat. Then imagine that you dive down below the ocean’s surface, and somewhere not too far from the surface, you find stillness. You wouldn’t even know there was a storm outside. You have that place in you. Just a bit down below your own surface is a place that is calm, still and peaceful.

What if I got sick and then my parents got sick?” Just from reading these words, you’re likely feeling a tightening inside. Thoughts have a vibrational frequency to them, and they send that frequency throughout our whole body and cause feelings. So, if you catch yourself worrying this way, ask yourself these three questions.

Most of the outside turbulence is actually caused by our thinking about circumstances. All circumstances are neutral until we ascribe meaning to them. When you think of COVID-19, it’s the meaning you make that will ultimately cause worry thoughts or peace thoughts. For example, does your mind go, “I hope it doesn’t happen to me.

Do I want it to happen? If you don’t want it to happen, do not energize it. Where attention goes, energy flows. If you do not want it to happen, it’s important to move your thoughts to what you would love to create, or what you can bring to this moment.

Is it happening now? Likely you will hear a no to that question, because it’s not happening now if you are imagining “what if.” Hear yourself say “no” to this question, so your subconscious mind gets an alert.

What would I love to bring to THIS moment? The only moment we have is now. What would you love to bring to it? Perhaps peace, calm confidence or relaxation. Take a nice deep breath — in through your nose and out through your mouth — and generate those calm, soothing thoughts. For every challenge, there is an equal or greater gift to cultivate from it. Decide to get the gift. Place your thoughts there and let yourself truly shine, no matter the circumstance. You are a powerful being, and power lives in a deep place within you and your thinking.


Live Well How to Transition Through Crisis By Pat Obuchowski

The Chinese character for crisis consists of two parts: one signifies danger and the other opportunity. This is the nature of change; we respond to both aspects, danger and opportunity. There is opportunity in danger and danger in opportunity. The path through transitions, whether our choice or due to outside forces such as a pandemic, is rarely smooth or predictable. We need to recognize that change is occurring and let go of our old ways, which is often an emotional struggle. External global forces, as well as internal economic and social pressures, are now contributing to transition in all of our lives, affecting both our personal and our professional worlds.

There are four phases of transition. The first phase is denial. Our first response is often shock, a general refusal to recognize the information. In this way, we protect ourselves from being overwhelmed. Common responses to this include: Denial: “This can’t be happening.” Ignoring: “I’ll just wait until this blows over." Minimizing: “This just needs a few minor adjustments.” “I can just tweak this.” “If only…” The second phase is resistance. In this phase, things often seem to get worse. It is common to spend time looking for someone or something to blame. Personal distress levels rise. You may become physically ill or feel all sorts of physical, emotional or mental symptoms. In this phase, you are mourning the past more than preparing for the future. By acknowledging your feelings, you are ready to move more quickly to the next phase.


The third phase is exploration. After a period of struggle, individuals and organizations usually emerge from their negativity, breathe a sigh of relief, and shift into a more positive, hopeful, and futurefocused phase. You realize you are going to make it through OK. What emerges here is the energy to put an idea into action. You begin to discover and explore new ways of doing things. You start clarifying goals, assessing resources, exploring alternatives, and experiment with new possibilities. This is a period of high energy. Finally, the last phase is commitment. You have broken through the challenges and adapted to the new situation. The commitment phase begins when you focus on a new course of action. There has been growth and adaptation. This cycle of transition never ends. As long as you live, you will continually experience a rhythm of change and face new challenges and crises. Knowing the different phases of transition may help make the transitions easier to move through.

Unwind with a

Hot Cup of Tea By Nirali Patel

As much as you love the hot summer months, fall brings comfort of its own in hot teas that promote calmness. The cooler weather puts us on the hunt for teas that feel like a warm hug. Here are some recipes to nudge you in the right direction:

Warming Cold-Day Tea

Consuming warm herbs relaxes your mind and warms your restless body in the cooler months. This tea can be brewed in water or milk. Ingredients and Benefits: Rooibos This African plant is sweet and caffeine-free. It is a powerhouse of antioxidants that supports the immune system and strengthens your body’s response to stress. Turmeric Root This wonder root is chock-full of antioxidants. It reduces inflammation, warms the body, and supports muscle and joint pain so your body can ease into relaxation mode. Ginger Root This very popular culinary ingredient increases peripheral circulation. Increased circulation helps to warm cold hands and feet and heat up stiff and sore muscles allowing the body to relax in the cooler fall and winter temperatures. • ½ tablespoon rooibos • ½ tablespoon turmeric root • ½ tablespoon ginger root Brew these herbs in 12 oz of hot water, strain and enjoy!

Soothing Tea

This tea is fantastic for calming the mind, easing tension and promoting full-body relaxation. Ingredients and Benefits: Chamomile Flowers Not only does this beautiful yellow flower promote sleep and reduce those restless nights, but when consumed during the day, it helps relax the mind and balance mood. Think of this flower as a natural tranquilizer. Licorice Root This herb is a staple in traditional Chinese medicine and is used in a variety of formulas. Licorice root is a sweet herb that soothes the mind, skin and the digestive system. It is even used to increase focus and concentration. Lavender Flowers Not only does lavender smell heavenly, but it also helps promote sleep, balance mood, reduce stress and calm anxious nerves. Plus, lavender does wonders for the skin by removing toxins, helping with dark spots and hydration. This flower is beneficial for your body inside and out! • ½ tablespoon chamomile flowers • ½ tablespoon licorice root • ½ tablespoon lavender flowers Brew the herb mixture in 12 oz of hot water, strain and enjoy!

Brew your tea, grab a good book

and melt into your sofa with a cozy blanket.


Live Well Walk Strong Bay Area’s Mission to Support Cancer Patients By Raelynn Rodriguez A group of friends, some of whom are cancer survivors, formed and bonded over their shared mission to raise awareness and funding to support women with breast cancer. Since 2006 they’ve conditioned together, preparing to walk 39 miles over two days at Avon sponsored breast cancer walks. When Avon abruptly canceled their event in January 2018 just one week before the scheduled walk date, Bahar Tolu and her group of walkers were devastated. Instead of giving up on fundraising for breast cancer, they came up with a plan to create their own nonprofit cancer initiative called Walk Strong Bay Area (WSBA). The group of friends now serve on WSBA’s board. Darlene Heath is president, Bahar Tolu is treasurer, Gary Egan is secretary, and Barbara Ranes, Monica Hernandez, Donna McCurdy and Patty Herrera are in advisory roles. These dedicated folks, along with the assistance of friends and family, made the creation of the nonprofit possible, and in particular, Mr. Heath, a partner at a Palo Alto law firm, completed the paperwork to establish WSBA’s 501c status in May 2018. The group’s mission is as follows, 18

“Walk Strong Bay Area partners with community nonprofit breast cancer health organizations that provide support to people from diagnosis to recovery, one step at a time.” WSBA organized its first walk which took place in September 2018 and raised over $35,000. The funds benefited the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital (ZSFGH) Cancer Center to help support projects and assist in the care of cancer patients. WSBA quickly got into the swing of meeting the requirements of a nonprofit and went to work organizing fun fundraising events to raise additional funding. They used their networks to recruit assistance with fundraising through other organizations such as Polka Dot Powerhouse San Mateo. WSBA is continually looking for charities to support their cause and found Bay Area Cancer Connections (BACC), a nonprofit that supports anyone affected by breast or ovarian cancer with personalized services that inform and empower.

About 250 Bay Area patients are offered these services annually. The Karen Swanson Fund grants a client near the end of their life an opportunity they could not otherwise afford to do something that would make them feel complete or improve their quality of life. WSBA funds sponsored ten grant recipients at $750 apiece.

WSBA held its second walk in October 2019 and raised $36,000, which was split between donations to ZSFGH Cancer Center supporting professional development to directly benefit cancer patients and to BACC for their boutique, comfort totes, and the Karen Swanson Fund. The BACC boutique helps patients find wigs, hats, scarves, bras, and swimsuits. Comfort totes are given to new clients providing resources and comforting items such as tea, fuzzy socks, underarm pillows, healing imagery and more to support them mentally and physically as they move through cancer treatments.

WSBA is very proud of what they have accomplished, but 2020 has proved to be a very different year from previous ones in so many ways and has brought with it many challenges. Walk Strong Bay Area’s walk is tentatively scheduled to happen October 10th but may be postponed or canceled due to the pandemic. Despite the unusual circumstances and hardships, several things are still true: people are still developing breast cancer, and WSBA is still committed to fighting breast cancer. Their goal for 2020 is to raise $20,000. WSBA is continuing to raise funds and to support and serve those with a cancer diagnosis. Please think about contributing to WSBA this year. Your donations will enable and continue critical programs and services for cancer patients. You can donate in one of two ways: you can support one or more of the 20 walkers on the 2020 team by going to, or you can make a generic donation by reaching out to the leadership team at


Live Inspired

Influential Nonprofit Leader Michelle Vilchez Has Dedicated Her Life’s Work to Guiding Community Through Conflict By Eva Barrows

A Latina born into an immigrant family, Michelle Vilchez was raised with an attitude of gratitude. She grew up serving her community, and as executive director of the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center (PCRC), she positively impacts countless lives. PCRC facilitates communication between diverse communities in order to solve complex issues like community policing and the far-reaching effects of the pandemic. Michelle’s leadership strength lies in her ability to forge meaningful relationships with other organizations and creating strategic partnerships with them. She 20

helped shape the strategic plan for San Mateo County First 5 — formerly Children & Families First Commission, launched a violence prevention network and supported the creation of the Fatherhood Collaborative in San Mateo County. She is currently a W.K. Kellogg fellow working with other exceptional leaders to find ways to address our nation’s biggest challenges. In 2016, Michelle was named Woman of the Year by the California State Assembly for her dedication to creating better communities for all.

What’s your first memory of giving back to the community when you were growing up? My parents were farmworkers. My father tells me stories of implicit racism that he experienced as an immigrant in the South or other places. There were signs saying “No Mexicans and No Dogs Allowed.” He talks about when he was in school and if they were caught speaking Spanish, they were spanked by school officials. They were not allowed to use the restrooms in the school facility and had to go outside in bushes. It was just really hard growing up. This attitude of gratitude for what we have and the sacrifices that were made are such a critical part of my growing up. After my father’s family finally settled in California, he decided to go into ministry. He felt giving to his community, especially those coming from Latin American countries, was about connecting resources and faith to those families. He backed that with acts of service and acts of giving food and shelter and employment. He continues to this day at the age of 75. My mom has since passed away. The two of them really dedicated their lives to constantly giving to the community.

How did your upbringing influence your career path in community service? My father was constantly giving anything we had to someone else. When you’re a teenager, it’s difficult, but later on, you understand those are the values your parents are training you with to understand that this doesn’t only belong to me. It’s what can I do for my community, and how can I be in service to it? Growing up, I knew I was going to work in community service somehow, so I studied psychology and cross-cultural education, understanding my connection to my community.

Early on, I was certain I would be working with young people in particular. And some of my earlier positions were about assisting pregnant teens. I then began working for the health department, and I’ll just be honest with you, I could not see myself working long term in any type of government organization. It didn’t allow for the flexibility of meeting the need with service the way I understood it was needed. I went back into nonprofit and decided it was less about just serving one given population. How could I really be of service to all community? I never imagined that I was going to be an executive director or leader of a nonprofit.

What does being a successful leader mean to you? Recently success has been about the ability to stay humble and understand where my failures are and learn from them. I want to be able to fail and learn from it and decide, yeah, I’m not going to do that again. I’ve been an executive director now for over a decade, and I think back to my early years, and I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I made the most stupidest decisions ever in my life. Why did I do that?” I’ll tell you, I certainly have learned from them. I learned how to build consensus and buy-in around particular issues. For me, a successful leader is someone who really leads by example and is quick to acknowledge when they’ve been wrong and is humble enough to say help me through this because I can’t do it alone, or I don’t know how to do this. I think a successful leader means that you surround yourself with talented, brilliant individuals, and then you utilize them. I’m just as strong as the phenomenal individuals that I’ve surrounded myself with and have chosen to be really close and at the helm to lead with me. 21

Live Inspired When did you first feel like you met your definition of being a leader? I’ve been with PCRC for 20 years now and have been the executive director for 11 of those. Before that, I was serving as the managing director and associate director over programs and services. It’s interesting because I really felt like at that point I was a leader working together to build the leadership of others. Everyday I ask myself the question, how can I be a better leader today? Everyday I strive to be better because the organization deserves it. When I was accepted to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Center for Creative Leadership fellowship, that’s when I really felt like a leader. I looked around at 79 other leaders from across the nation who do powerful work, and I asked myself, “Do I even belong here?” In recognizing my surroundings, I was so honored to identify, “Wow, I guess I do.”

As a Latina leader, how does your background help you create change within the community? In my leadership progression, I didn’t have a whole lot of Latina elders around me. I think that has impacted me greatly because I don’t want that to be the case for other Latina leaders. I want to do all that I can to support them and others in their trajectory of leadership. I want to share my bumps and bruises and how I got them. I want to be a sounding board more than anything. Being at the helm of an organization is a very lonely place to be. It’s very stressful, and then being a person of color makes you feel more isolated. Leaders of color represent less than 6% of the 4,000 plus nonprofits in San Mateo County. We show up in a room of nonprofit leaders and there might be one or two of us in a room of 200. Layer that on the fact that we already feel alone or marginalized, because we’re not the staff that we’re responsible for, and we’re not the board, we’re in this middle ground. I want to help in any way I can to ensure others have a different type of experience, one that is surrounded with support, appreciation, and is a safe environment to share and be vulnerable. 22

What does the Peninsula Conflict and Resolution Center (PCRC) do? We are an alternative dispute resolution organization focused on conflict and communication. We believe we can advance equity through good process. We’re not aligned with any given topic. We engage those who need to be engaged, those who are going to be impacted by a particular decision being made and ensure good, equitable process that feels welcoming. What is PCRC’s approach to dealing with conflict? Conflict is everywhere, and it’s inevitable. Clearly, all we need to do is turn on the news and open social media, and we see that conflict is all around. That means PCRC is applicable anywhere conflict is. PCRC’s approach to conflict is about identifying the issues behind what is being shown. It’s about communication. When you think about community violence and what’s happening even today, the need for racial reconciliation, or the need for reconciliation amongst community and law enforcement, what are the issues behind that? We believe our approach to dealing with conflict is meeting the parties where they’re at, ensuring the right individuals who need to be involved in the process are engaged and that the process is an equitable one.

How can violence be addressed safely in the community? Violence is often what we see as a result of conflict. Violence takes on so many forms in the community and relationships between municipalities and in the community themselves, neighbors. If we can address the conflict, we are going to be able to mitigate the violence. Unfortunately, we’re not all given the ability to learn how to de-escalate and still address the conflict in a healthy nonviolent way. That’s why conflict resolution needs to be taught in schools. We need to teach our kindergarteners to utilize words and understand the impact of actions and take responsibility.

What have some of PCRC’s biggest highlights been under your leadership? A few years ago, there was a deputy-involved shooting in a coastal community Pescadero, CA. There was a deputy who responded to a 9-1-1 call. As a result, a young immigrant woman with special needs lost her life. The community was in outrage, rightly so. The Sheriff’s Office, city officials, and other nonprofit leaders called PCRC to facilitate a series of community conversations and dialogues around allowing the community to vent. The best part about it was they trusted us with the process. We brought the community together in a number of conversations. The result at the end of the day was the district attorney decided not to press charges on the deputy. As you can imagine, that was even more difficult to be able to engage and hear the stories. It didn’t make for easy or comfortable conversations, but it was important. The role we had to play was critical. No one else could have done it the way we did to come into a place of vulnerability and such despair and fear and be able to work through it, not find a solution for it, but work through it.

In what ways has PCRC been able to help the community during the pandemic and recent calls for racial justice? After the shelter-in-place orders, we held webinars on COVID-19 and engaged thousands of individuals across the internet. We’ve been adaptable, nimble and flexible. As the pandemic hit, we jumped into action, and we figured out how we can tailor what we’re doing to the circumstances. An emergency happens, and we tailor what we do. The work we’re doing right now around racial reconciliation, racial justice is standing true to the process and engaging the public. We’re working with countless cities, and we’re engaging the public on this issue and hearing from them. When you’re involved in a high-conflict situation, the first thing you want to do is be heard. You want to feel validated that your experience is valuable to hear and that your perspective is being honored and not negated. This is not always easy, but it’s important for us to do.

How is PCRC able to support change in community policing on the Peninsula? If we don’t address it now together collaboratively, it’s going to resurface again. We’re not advocating for particular policing changes. We want to hear from the community so those who are responsible can make informed decisions and not decisions in isolation. It’s engaging the public who are ultimately impacted and especially those who are traditionally not involved in these types of processes. Certain segments of the community feel like their documentation status and their lack of understanding of how to navigate city council public comment sessions can be a barrier to their engagement. Or, they’ve been engaged in the past, and nothing happened as a result. That’s also another way where the community starts to feel hesitant to continue to talk out. 23

Live Inspired Congratulations on being honored as Woman of the Year in 2016 by the California State Assembly. What work were you being honored for and how did it feel to receive the award? Assemblymember Kevin Mullin and I have known each other for many years. In 2010, at the time he was being sworn in as the mayor of the city of South San Francisco, there were a number of shootings that took place and five young people lost their lives to gang violence. He brought PCRC in, and we conducted a huge strategic planning process with the community and developed a South San Francisco strategic plan to mitigate youth violence. We engaged over 50 organizations and the school district law enforcement and, of course, city council. I didn’t know it was such a big deal until I found myself at the California State Assembly. I downplay it because it makes me feel a little uncomfortable, but I’m very grateful and very honored to have been selected amongst so many individuals across California who were honored.

As a fellow with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Center for Creative Leadership, what initiatives are you working on and how is the fellowship helping you grow as a leader? We are focusing our attention right now on how to utilize relationship building and dialogue to heal communities who are experiencing racial tension. Everything I’m learning fits perfectly within my own work at PCRC. I am with powerful individuals from different states as part of my cohort. I couldn’t be happier given what’s happening right now. What an opportunity for learning. What has it been like for you to juggle family and lead PCRC during the pandemic? The problem with working at home is that your days start to extend and blur into each other. My husband and I have four children, and my husband is in community engagement as well. He worked from home already so we’ve completely invaded his space. I think that self-care is a big issue I need to address because I’m constantly meeting the needs of others 24

within my family, the organization, or the community. I’m very grateful to the organization for their understanding of the needs of my family. I think it’s one of the values that we’ve tried to share with our employees is that your family does matter and does come first.

Do you have any advice for our youth who are adapting to virtual schooling and other unexpected changes during these times? Tell somebody if you’re struggling. Talk to somebody. During the spring, there was one day my youngest just couldn’t be on Zoom anymore. She was outside, and she broke down. She was crying and was like, “I’m so done with this.” She is immune-compromised. So we’re very mindful of who she’s around. We don’t want our young people to struggle in silence. What positives have you seen come out of the pandemic shut down? I have heard stories from other nonprofits who were forced to be innovative in a state of emergency. It gives us the opportunity to grow and see things from a different perspective. Had we not been adaptive we would have just conducted business as usual and then we would lose out on that innovation and creativity. The team has stepped up completely. What is your self-care routine and why is it important? The biggest thing is my faith. That’s where I get my hope from. It’s not about hope in myself or in what my abilities are. It’s understanding there’s a greater purpose in mind. That’s what has kept me in this work for 20 plus years, an understanding of it’s for a bigger goal. But my faith is what holds me and what continues to be my northern star through all of what we are enduring together.

Live Smart Healthy Bay Area Real Estate Market By Zack Sit The unfortunate reality is that COVID-19 has severely impacted the world economy. Like many other industries facing hard times, the real estate industry also experienced an initial shock. However, as time unfolds, the effects on the real estate industry are not what you might think. In this quick breakdown, I’ll share how the real estate industry is still going strong despite the ongoing pandemic.

Interest Rates Are at a 50 Year Low

In mid-March, the Federal Reserve announced they would cut the interest rate to zero. After the initial shockwave of this news settled, the mortgage industry was able to stabilize and adjust.

Fast-forward to today, we are currently seeing interest rates at a 50-year low. With interest rates so low, it has drawn a lot of homebuyers into the housing market in attempts to capitalize on the low interest rates. With a lot of buyers in the market, we’re continuing to see a very active and competitive market.

Supply is Short

As we’re seeing a lot of buyers enter the market, we’re inversely seeing sellers shy away from the market. On average, home inventory is down fifty percent. As the pandemic unfolds, sellers are finding it difficult to make a move. With fewer homes for sale meeting an influx of buyers looking to purchase a home, we see a trend in the Bay Area we know far too well, overbidding and multiple offers. Even with fewer homes for sale, the overbidding and multiple offer situations are signs of a healthy real estate market. Are the interest rates at an all-time low? Yes. Is supply short? Yes. Will we see another real estate crash in the Bay Area? Probably not. Fortunately for us, being in the Bay Area has kept us insulated from a lot of the national statistics. When low interest rates cause an increase of buyers and demand, a supply shortage will naturally drive up the price and in our case, keep the Bay Area housing market healthy. 25

Live Well 6 Lessons Learned from a Week of Silence Retreat By Esther Ekhart from

1. The Importance of Listening A week in silence brought me to a deeper understanding of human interactions. Even a quiet person like me is guilty of mindless chatter. Not that I’m saying there’s anything wrong with small talk, but am I present for it? Can I listen without interrupting? Since the retreat, I’ve been more present, and I’ve developed meditation habits that stick while also finding my own balance regarding social interactions. Learning my own limits and boundaries has helped me give all of myself sometimes, rather than giving some of myself always. 2. I Never Missed My Phone I thought being without my phone would be the hardest part of the retreat, but it was probably the most therapeutic and easiest task of the whole week. Following my week of no contact, I found that in my absence, the world didn’t miss a beat.


3. If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again I once believed that I would sit down to meditate and achieve perfection and bliss immediately, but then (gasp), that peaceful tranquility didn’t arrive. Meditation made me feel anxious, frustrated, even furious. Eventually, I found that I could settle down and sit with it. Acceptance ultimately found a place in my heart, but it was not immediate or automatic. Through purposeful practice, I’m enjoying where I am today. I have come to know that no matter how I feel – it is ALL okay. 4. I Am The Tree. The Tree Is Me We were given an assignment to meditate for 20 minutes while in the presence of, or in my case, physically touching a plant or tree. On day three, I met my tree and met myself in the process. This poem excerpt reflects what I experienced and learned that day:

“Still I fought; Remembering what the tree taught ‘I am just living, and so should you;’ In my heart, these words grew Feeling anew; Goodness shown through Because I am the tree; The tree is me All at once we are free; No song left to plea”

5. Self-Care Is Not Laziness, and Equanimity Does Not Mean Apathy In the past, I might have defined self-care in terms of turning off my brain, like spending a day on the couch after a hard week at work. Over time, meditation helped me become mindful of my body to know what it needs, not just what my mind thinks it wants. I’ve learned that what my body truly wants is balance and equanimity. The idea of equanimity is that all things are truly equal. It is an acceptance of the self and the world, as they are, without feeling the need to change them. It also comes from within and is not dependent on external circumstances. When I’m not worrying about all the minutiae, my mental energy can refocus on things that really matter, such as

calling my mother, holding a door, smiling at someone who needs it, and showing up for those who count on me for support. 6. Meditation Is For Anyone, but It Might Not Be For Everyone While meditation is an accessible practice for most people, it might not be what they want or need. Silence helped me to accept myself on my path, and to accept those around me that want nothing to do with it. Teaching yoga gives me the opportunity to share what I’ve learned with my students, but beyond that, my personal practice is for me. This article was originally posted on “”


Live Well Your Game Plan for Battling a Sedentary Lifestyle By Laurel Mines So you thought COVID-19 was going to be a moment in time? We now realize we’re in it for the long haul and will be battling this pandemic well into 2021 and possibly beyond. Fortunately, many of us are able to work from home. You might enjoy hanging out with your dog and family, not putting pants on, and getting chores done. But, working from home does not come without consequences. The weird office corner we set up at home worked for the short term but may be problematic in the long term. Our regular commute to work, whether you drive a car and walk the length of a parking deck, ride public transit, bike or walk to work used to make up the bulk of our daily activity. Now our commutes entail a few shuffle steps from the bedroom to a desk or the couch. We may have back-to-back video conferences with little time in between for a stretch. We aren’t moving around the office to get snacks, use the restroom, go to meetings or catch up with coworkers. Working from home is much more sedentary than our office life was.


Here are some tips on how to battle a sedentary lifestyle while working from home. Use your commute time wisely. If you used to commute 45 minutes each way, that’s an hour and a half per day. Consider getting up at the same time you used to instead of sleeping in, and use your old commute time to exercise. You can even lump your commute time together for an hour and a half block of exercise. Don’t skip your lunch. Make sure you are getting away from your work and refreshing your mind. Walk the dog, take a solo walk around the block or play with the kids. Exercise between meetings. Consider doing 25 bodyweight squats before each meeting. You may get in 100 squats or more by the end of the day. It will increase your blood flow and wake you up before the meeting.

Change positions throughout the day. Take a walking work call. Sit in the sun for a while. Have fun with it!

Stay away from working on the couch. There is not one couch set up that will work over a long period of time.

Make a schedule. Schedule in your work start and stop times and schedule your workouts in. Stick to your schedule.

Invest in a proper work station. Ask if your company will reimburse you for office equipment, including a proper desk, desk chair, keyboard and computer screens. Your company may let you borrow your desk and desk chair from work.

Set up different parts of your home for work and working out. When you are in the right physical space, being in the right mental space to perform the tasks designed for that space becomes easier. Re-evaluate your work setup at home. Working from home happened so fast we didn’t have time to adjust. You may be carrying your laptop around your home looking for the best place to work. It may have worked for a while, but aches and pains start to creep up.

Evaluate your ergonomics. If you have an ergonomic department at work, see if you can do a video visit to have an ergonomic evaluation at home. You can also ask your physical therapist for a home ergonomic evaluation.

Feel Your Best When Working From Home A Simple Ergonomic Guide From The Bottom Up Have your feet on the floor or resting on a stool. Keep hips, knees, and ankles at about 90-degree angles. Sit back in your chair, so it is supported. If your chair is too deep, try putting a bed pillow upright behind your back for extra support. Relax your shoulders by your sides or support them on armrests. Just make sure your shoulders aren’t raised or elevated. Keep elbows bent and relaxed, and wrists straight and relaxed. Avoid too much bend of your wrist in either direction, up or down, and in or out. It’s difficult to get a laptop at the right height for your keyboard and your screen. You may opt for a

stand-alone keyboard or computer screen. Ideally, you want the top of the computer screen at eye level, so you will be looking slightly down. Your eyes will adjust. Try not to let your head and shoulders drift too far forward. Be creative with the furniture and resources you do have. The bottom line: Just like us, one size does not fit all. Do what’s comfortable. But if your position is causing problems, try changing it. The goal is not perfect posture 100% of the day, just try for better posture more than 50% of the time. Stay safe and stay well while working from home.


Live Inspired

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e s i o P d n a e s o Purp Dr. Christine Cave Uses Her Superhero Might to Help Patients and Wow at Figure Competitions By Rosalidia Dubon Figure competitor and Nurse Practitioner Dr. Christine Cave is successful now, but she has experienced her share of physical setbacks and emotional traumas. As a young gymnast, she had dreams of performing at the elite gymnastic level, but that was cut short when she was injured by an adult who chose to operate a jet ski while drunk. Christine was able to continue performing through her love of dance during her university years. Dreams changed and evolved. A trip to the emergency room to treat a terrible bout of food poisoning convinced Christine that nursing was her true calling even though she had just received her degree in communications. She immediately began taking classes to become a nurse. In her mid-20’s, Christine discovered bodybuilding and figure competition. She was drawn to the strength needed as well as the beauty, stamina and grace. Through all this, health and exercise have always been central in her life. Her next stop? Teaching students who are pursuing their doctorates in nursing practice and getting her figure competition pro-card. 30

As a girl, what did you enjoy most about being a gymnast? My parents divorced when I was four years old, so gymnastics became a pseudo-parent. I had wonderful teachers and coaches, and I think they knew about the drama that was going on at home. I felt accepted into a family, a big class of sisters, and we all just bopped around in leotards feeling like amazon women. I always had tough coaches. They impressed upon me that I was strong, able, capable and needed to be brave. Gymnastics taught me discipline, persistence and rewarded my efforts to continue a daily practice. As my skill level grew, my confidence grew. I think the lessons gymnasts learn in general is that pain is a part of the process of performance. Gymnastics is a high-risk sport. It’s hard, it hurts when you fall, and you get injured a lot, but this engaged my daring and bold interest to defy gravity. I loved all of this about gymnastics. Over the years, how have you developed a balance between the art of performance and the pressures of competition? The more graceful and effortless your performance appears, the tougher you are in your competition. In the sports I have pursued, the element of performance is an integral part of the overall competition battle. You’re not judged for your beauty, stamina or grace when you are getting to the finish line in a triathlon, but you are in gymnastics, dance competitions, color guard and in figure competition. I see the art of performance as a component of your overall package when it comes to one-upping the next competitor. In my current sport as a figure athlete, the art of my performance, in many cases, places me above other athletes who walk out like they’re walking into a gym to lift weights. But figure athletes must come out with an element of grace, poise and beauty. Not that it’s a Miss America pageant, but the feminine physique is still expected to appeal with controlled stamina while displaying the conditioning and muscularity. Wendy Fortino is my inspiration. She is a pro and certainly has set the standard in our industry for how to properly present on stage.

Tell us about the injuries you suffered at 15 and how you found dance when you couldn’t go further with gymnastics. What a travesty. I was having a great time in Blue Springs, MO with family. We were on jet skis out for the sun. A friend of my uncle had too much to drink, got on a jet ski, lost control of it, and slammed into me. I flipped into the water and suffered blunt trauma. I had a life vest on and I remember hearing my left arm crack and feeling my hand go numb. The guy was too drunk to even take it seriously, and I’ll never forget how he laughed. I was only 15 years old and cried so hard because I knew this was going to change everything for me. I had big dreams of being a college athlete at the University of Missouri. And I was right, my dream was over. I grew and put on weight after having surgery. Wearing a cast and sling then brace after brace and physical therapy, I returned to the gym and felt awkward, slow, and deconditioned. By the time I got my conditioning back and was in better shape, I fell behind my teammates and just couldn’t get back my tumbling capacity without pain in my left elbow. I still had my grace and turned to my love for dance. In high school, I got into the marching band color guard, auditioned for show-choir and took springboard diving classes. I stuck with dance after graduation and took classes at my university while I majored in communication studies and nearly minored in modern dance.

Looking back, what did you learn from this traumatic experience and shift in your life? Life is not fair. Accidents happen. I didn’t deserve it. Drunk driving is bad. But you move on and find something new to be good at. For about a year, I was so mad. I wasn’t depressed. I was angry. I felt so cheated out of a chance to be great at something. My mom, however, is a faith-filled woman and was very gentle in her guidance to move away from bitterness and helped me find something new and enjoyable to do. And I did. I found dance, pole-vaulting, distance running, hiking, singing and music.


Live Inspired What was one of your most memorable dance performances? A semester final at Cal-State, University Northridge, a women's trio performance we choreographed ourselves. My dad and my stepmom were there, and it was a rather risqué piece. I guess I kind of felt like I was coming into my own sense of self at that time, but I had total support from my parents. We had a piece of music from “O Brother Where Art Thou,” a slave trade sounding song and we came out scantily clothed in these very feminine night-gowns that looked tattered, dirty and frayed. We didn’t wear bras. I felt so defiant and powerful. It was a push back against feminine expectations. We had talked through our choreography. We wanted to show strength, stature, and power. We picked the song to impress upon the audience that no person should ever own another person. With my gymnastics background and my capacity to leap and the other girls who were also strong, we looked like powerhouses out there. I remember seeing the video playback, and we looked like badass chicks who had been sleepwalking in a pasture!

You have a BA in Communication Studies. What made you jump right back into school and train to become a nurse? The night before graduation, I was so sick after eating some contaminated food. Acute gastroenteritis landed me in the hospital by midnight. I puked my brains out. And because I had such amazing care there, and also because my step-mother was an RN and was the one to say we needed to go to the ER because I looked so bad, I changed my plans that night. The miracle of two IVs running fluids plus zofran and antibiotics helped me walk the graduation stage the next morning. I was pale and puffy, but that day I graduated knowing I wanted to be a nurse. I graduated in May 2000, and I was enrolled in human anatomy and physiology in September the following semester.

What do you love about being a nurse? I love feeling like there’s nothing I can’t do. I have no fear. Being a nurse has given me a whole-person, whole-world perspective about problem-solving. There isn’t an emergency I can’t handle. And that makes me feel very confident, brave, and courageous. Why was it important for you to go all the way and become a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)? There’s a theory about nursing that has been widely accepted: the novice nurse moves into an expert level of practice with experience. The theorist to credit is Patricia Benner (Novice to Expert Theory of Nursing), and some nurses will accelerate quickly through this process; others move slowly. I am a nerdy, overachiever. My ingrained approach from my life as a gymnast is that you do “it” until “it” is perfect and once “it is perfect” you find something harder to do and do all of “it” again. I am someone who asks why are we doing anything again when it doesn’t work? There are a lot of loopholes in medicine where we do the same thing over and over because “we’ve always done it that way.” However, with new technologies and standards of care, those loopholes


waste time, increase the risk for a safety threat and ultimately may lead to medical errors, communication breakdown and patient harm. The DNP is an academic doctorate for the advanced practice nurse who seeks to solve a global, system-based problem. My DNP took all of my years of practice as a rehabilitation registered nurse and as I moved into my role as a Nurse Practitioner, I studied how to properly care for and manage bowel and bladder dysfunction in post-acute care settings. My work on this subject was published and stays alive and well today online. I created online virtual learning and training modules for nurses and acute care teams, and I published a chapter in the Core Curriculum for Rehabilitation Nurses.

Tell us about how you became interested in physique competitions and your training journey. When I was about 26 and working out in a local gym, I saw pictures posted of some gym members who had competed. They had tan silky bodies, were wearing sparkly suits on stage with numbers on their waists and were standing there all lined up. “What in the heck is that?” I asked someone behind the desk and she answered, “That’s a bodybuilding contest. That girl right there is one of our trainers.” So I connected myself to the trainer, and I told her, “I want to do that!” I competed for the first time when I was 27 years old. I placed like eighth out of ten girls, and I was so proud of myself. Only in the last few years, I have started to do well. I placed first for the first time in 2017, then again in 2018, and in 2019 I won two overalls. Last year I placed 3rd in the over forty national show. Now I am in pursuit of earning my pro card.

Pick my dogs up and put them into the car? Okay. Aesthetically, I think that’s why I love the nutritional and conditioning requirement of the body of a figure athlete. I’m not just strong; I look like a superhero. And that feels good. I stay covered up in average clothes; I look exactly that, average. But you can see my muscles. And I love that. As for photoshoots, and this is really important to me, at every photo shoot and each photographer I work with, what has been most important is that I am not objectified. I do not ever wish to portray my physique in a way that makes me appear sexual. I have always wanted to have photos of my muscular physique to portray that a woman can be strong, graceful, independent, talented, and playful without being hypersexual, arousing, or judged for tits and ass. That’s not me; that’s not what I work hard for. I want my pictures to give testimony of my desire to be an honest, wholesome person, a fierce competitor, a thoughtful and insightful educated woman, and a strong, healthy and rested human.

Any tips for the ladies to help ward off disrespectful men in the gym? Ha! I’m actually very confrontational when it comes to this issue. I have no problem letting a lazy ass dude know that he needs to rack his weights. “Excuse me, is your mom here? No? Then go rack your own weights, bro, because I’m not gonna.”

What do you like about developing your muscles for aesthetics? Talk about your gorgeous photoshoots too! First, before aesthetics, I love feeling strong. I love lifting heavy and having the power and ability to do anything. Nothing intimidates me. You need me to get your patient out of bed? Okay. Push your car off the road? Okay. 33

Live Inspired I also have no problem letting a creepy voyeur know that I am not there to be stared at. It happens less now because, apparently, I intimidate men, or so I have been told. I guess because I have muscle and because I lift with knowledge and skill. But for men who look a little too long, I let them know it’s unwelcomed. And that’s what I say, “Hey, you looking at me is not welcomed, what’s your deal?” That’s my line. Posing a question usually leads to a response of “I have no deal” or something like that. I also have been known to pick my nose or farmer blow a snot rocket at a man who’s staring. That brings me right back down to a human level for them, and they stop looking. Good to gross a guy out from time to time! Look here’s the reality; nobody should be disrespectful anymore, especially men towards women in the gym setting, but it does still happen. And let me just say some women actually seek this attention. Which is why I can understand the confusion. I chide women too. So here’s my message on that, ladies conduct yourself respectfully, and you won't have anyone messing with you. But if a woman wants to objectify herself and throw her ass out there for men to gawk and stare, she’s getting what she wants.

At what point in your life did you actively incorporate a healthy diet into your lifestyle? I was raised eating a Weight Watchers diet because that’s what my mom was eating when I was a teenager. Healthy food was just part of my life. When the food pyramid came out and carbohydrates were supposed to be awesome for you, and all fats were bad, I just followed along. I think my knowledge of nutrition flourished when I became a nurse in 2015. And now as a doctorally-prepared nurse practitioner, my healthy life is a testimony of my knowledge and skills to counsel and educate about nutrition and fitness. I earned a certificate as an exercise physiologist, and I coach and counsel my patients about dietary management for all kinds of chronic diseases. Nutrition is truly medicine. So is exercise. I perform group visits with my physician partner in our medical practice on a monthly basis. Pre-pandemic up to 30 patients at a time sat with me and I would do a cooking demonstration, talk about chronic illness and disease, and methods of prevention. 34

Share a few helpful nutrition tips with us to help keep the pounds off as we shelter in place: • Keep your relationships healthy. People are going crazy and feeling stuck with their housemates. People are also going crazy for feeling isolated from their outside, less significant relationships. • Get good sleep. Sleep is immune-boosting and immunoprotective. • Supplement with Vitamin D3, zinc, a daily multivitamin and stay hydrated. • Master your time management. Keep a routine schedule, especially if you’re working from home and doing a lot of online stuff. Your enemy is screen device distractions i.e. your smartphone or the internet. • Stay active. If you’re stuck at home, get up and go outside and get your fasted morning cardio done. • Don’t cope with alcohol. You’re shooting yourself in the foot. • Make your space do double duty. Home gyms can be in your family room. How have things changed for you during the pandemic? I am regularly testing patients for COVID-19 and am regularly exposed to the possibility of the virus. I know I said being a nurse I have no fear. That was true, except this. I am afraid for my patients. There is no road map right now for the U.S. to navigate this pandemic. At this point, it’s just day by day. And I hate that, because I’m a planner. I have acquired some home gym equipment, and I train in my backyard. I have found a small private gym and pay an arm and a leg to train on limited days when no one else is there, which allows me to keep my heavy training routines too.

What ways have you found to still do what you love during this time? I’m introverted and love being home. I love to paint, knit, sew, garden, plant things, arrange flowers, sing, play my piano, play with my dogs, and hike the outdoors.

What does a typical workout look like for you? Fasted morning cardio is 30-50 minutes, which may include intervals like burpees, jacks, and box jumps. My average weight training time is 5-6 days per week, sometimes twice a day. Training sessions are about 1 hr 15 minutes. Training focuses are: legs/quad dominant, shoulders/ chest, back/lat dominant, legs/glute-ham dominant, full shoulders, back/rear delt dominant. By the end of each workout, I am exhausted. I push hard, heavy, and am unrelenting.

Where do you and your dogs like to go for an active outing? Anyplace with water, they love the water. Olivia is a golden retriever/lab mix and she is the faithful fetcher. Charlotte is a seeing-eye-dog flunky. She was too distractible to work with the blind. She is a love and gives kisses and snuggles. She is playful and a best friend to Olivia and me. We are an inseparable #familyof3

I want to be sure that I share how much I believe in the resolve and aptitude we all possess to change the direction of our lives and uphold something great and seek to be our best selves. The good news is that I left the relationship, have kept my boundaries and learned a very valuable lesson: the independent power and capability of a woman in her life often begins with her ability to say no to a man. I wholeheartedly believe this. I left a relationship. I said no to a man. And now I sleep with peace of mind and heart. I feel I am living my best life and living out the best version of myself. I have aspirations to be so much more year after year with a 10-year plan on the horizon. My next adventures include earning my pro card, continuing to teach doctoral students and to own and operate at least two board and care homes in the next 5-10 years. And, I hope to bring home two new puppies too!

Anything else you’d like to share with us? I left an abusive relationship. If you ever have to promise your mom, that you’ll leave a relationship “if he ever puts his hands on me,” you’re in the wrong relationship. If you ever have to have a bag ready and packed in case he ever puts his hands on you, you’re in the wrong relationship. If you’re afraid of him when he’s drinking, you’re in the wrong relationship. If he comes home drunk on the regular, you’re in the wrong relationship. If his ex-girlfriend seeks you out to warn you about him, you’re in the wrong relationship. If he is condescending of your success because it makes him feel insecure, you’re in the wrong relationship. I was engaged to a man who had too much to drink one night and put his hands on me. He struggled to control his temper and like most men who have a problem with anger management, he was passionate, interesting and charming. But, leading up to this there were multiple red flags, I just kept ignoring them. I guess I just want to make sure I share a dark and sad story because I have shared a lot of successes and wonderful experiences, but I have had my disappointments and made my mistakes too. I’m human. I am so human, and 35

Live Strong Get Your Workouts By Jennifer Slaboda Has the pandemic sidelined your workout routine, putting you on the couch and fearful of leaving your home to get exercise? You wonder, is working out worth the risk? Ease back into exercising by identifying an activity you like within your comfort level for risk exposure. Action comes before motivation, so pick something and go for it while keeping in mind the following safety tips when working out around others. Highest Risk: Gyms and Fitness Studios Risk: The risk level is high due to many people being in one place, possibly not wearing masks, and it's difficult to physically distance. Benefits: You get access to a variety of equipment, personal training and group classes. How to reduce exposure risk when gyms reopen: • Ask the gym what they’re doing to reduce risk (they should be following county guidelines). • Make sure the equipment you use is clean and avoid using equipment if you can’t use it exclusively during your workout. • Don’t touch your face. Use a clean towel to soak up your sweat. • Stay in well-ventilated areas with open doors, windows, and fans running. • Keep your distance from others and stay back from people who are breathing heavily. • Follow mask-wearing guidelines. • Reduce time in common areas such as cafes, locker rooms and showers. • Choose classes carefully. Attendance should be greatly reduced to allow for distancing.

Lower Risk: Outdoors Risk: The risk level is minimal due to good ventilation, ability to stay distanced, and no shared equipment. Benefits: You can exercise safely with others with California’s mild weather allowing for year-round activities. How to reduce exposure risk: • Always bring a mask with you in case you can’t keep a safe distance from others. • Avoid crowded areas such as beaches and pools. Don’t congregate in parking lots. • If working out with a trainer or friend, use your own equipment. Stay more than six feet apart. • When using hiking trails, follow any one-way signs, or stay on the widest trails. Lowest to no risk: At Home Risk: You’re not in physical contact with others outside of your family. Benefits: You can use technology to connect with others using recorded videos or live stream. How to do it: • Schedule your workout time with a personal trainer or friend to get motivated. • Make use of the workout “equipment” you have available: soup cans, water bottles or milk jugs as dumbbells, or do bodyweight workouts. • If you have commercial equipment (i.e., BOSU, TRX), check to see if the brand offers online workout videos. • Do online workouts led by certified professionals to avoid injury. Plan the type of exercise you do during the week, so you don’t over-train: • HIIT – Do no more than three times a week with a rest day in between for recovery. • Strength/resistance – Depending on frequency, either do different body parts on alternate days or a whole body workout (squat, lunge, hinge, push, pull, rotate, gait) • Pilates or yoga – They can be done more often or as an active rest day. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it’s something you enjoy, so you stay consistent. Recruit others to help you get going. Any activity you do besides sitting can add up to over half of your daily calorie expenditure. Yes, house cleaning and laundry count!


Live Beautiful Calming Fall Skin Care By Dr. Nirali Patel As we tiptoe our way into fall, we begin to feel the cool breeze on our faces. As refreshing as it is to the soul, our skin won’t feel the same way. Transitioning your skin care routine to prepare for the cooler weather is as important as wearing sunblock every day. Follow these tips to make sure your skin gets everything it needs for the cooler weather that’s on the way!

Thick Moisturizer Swap Switch out your light summer moisturizer for a heavier face cream, lotion or balm to repair the skin’s barrier that becomes damaged due to the lack of hydration. The best time to moisturize is when your skin is still wet after washing. These heavier moisturizers will leave your skin feeling smooth and silky!

Getting Rid of Breakouts

As the weather changes, your skin needs time to adjust to the cooler temperatures. This may lead to breakouts, but don’t freak out just yet! This is normal, and these breakouts can be prevented. As you transition your skin care routine, use specific products on different areas of your face. • For dry skin, moisturize with a thick moisturizer all over your face in the morning and at night. • For oily skin, use a light moisturizer during the day and a heavier cream at night. • For combination skin, use a light moisturizer in oily areas like the T-zone and a heavier moisturizer on the cheeks.


When you hear the word “steam,” you may be thinking, that’s so much work! Steaming is a highly beneficial step to add to your skin care routine one to two times per week. Steams are gentle on the skin. They open up and clean out your pores while detoxing the skin. All this can be done in as little as two to three minutes. Grab a cup of boiling water and throw soothing herbs and flowers in there such as chamomile, lavender and rose. It’s like making a cup of tea for your face. Keeping your face 10 inches from the cup, cover your head with a towel and let the steam do the work. After your steam, apply moisturizer on your damp skin. Your skin will feel like it did when you were a kid!


Facial masks not only do wonders for our skin, but they’re so calming and super fun to do with your girlfriends. However, just like swapping out your summer moisturizer, masks are no exception. It is important to switch your cooling and detoxing masks to something more soothing and hydrating. These important steps will change your routine so you can have glowing and radiant skin even in the coldest months.




Dr. Nirali Patel is an acupuncturist and skincare specialist with a practice in Foster City, California, with over 12 years of experience. She is the founder of Twigs And Tansy, a skin care company that infuses eastern plants, western herbs and healing gemstones in its products. All ingredients are from the earth, in their pure form and contain no harmful additives. and

Carmen Milagro


Carmen Milagro is a certified CBD educator, Leukemia Lymphoma Society's 2020 Woman of the Year candidate, entrepren-artist, writer, producer and co-host of You Soy Latina and host of #FU Conversations. She is also the founder of Borbón Skincare, a premium plantbased, food-grade and CBD-infused skin care product line.

Zack Sit


Zack Sit is the co-founder of the Sit Group real estate team, a family business providing passion and peace of mind to the Bay Area through real estate. Zack makes sure his client’s interest is a top priority and that they feel comfortable throughout the whole process. He knows the importance of having a helpful heart and knows no bounds when it comes to service. His vibrant and positive personality will make you feel at home.

Nico Abaya



Nico Abaya is one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s top fitness coaches. He’s a certified fitness nutritionist and personal trainer. He actively competes as a Men’s Physique competitor while coaching hundreds of people toward their own fitness goals. His unique, flexible approach to dieting helps his clients achieve amazing transformations without giving up the foods they love.

Donya Fahmy


Donya Fahmy is the Alchemist in Chief for Sustainable Health Solutions Inc., and Founder and Formulator for Dropwise Essentials, a brand specializing in aromatherapy and organic plant-based personal care products. She is a passionate advocate for plant-based healing and living. Donya is also a speaker, a #1 Amazon international best-selling author, and a natural health and lifestyle transformation expert.

Marisa Gonzalez



Marisa Gonzalez is an Arbonne Independent Consultant coaching, educating and sharing with others ways to live abundant and health-filled lives. “I believe we are placed in one another’s lives for a reason. It is our job to follow the path where it leads and contribute as we are called.” 38

Dr. Laurel Mines


A physical therapist working in the San Francisco Bay Area. She sees patients at Agile Physical Therapy in San Carlos and has a private practice. She received her degree from Massachusetts General Hospital Institute and specializes in orthopedics with a focus on the metaphysical aspect of healing.

Lauren Brollier


Lauren Brollier is an inspirational speaker and transformational life coach. Lauren brings easy, practical applications to spiritual principles. Her own experience with grief, betrayal and loss is what fuels her to help others dust themselves off and reach their highest potential. Through her speaking and coaching, she has inspired thousands of people to live a life they love.

Pat Obuchowski


Jennifer Slaboda


Pat Obuchowski is CEO, Chief Empowerment Officer, of inVisionaria, an Executive and Leadership coaching company. She is the founder of Gutsy Women Win (www., an organization that supports women leaders; a best selling and award winning author; and a public speaker. Connect with her at

Jennifer Slaboda is passionate about helping people live healthier through better food, personal care products, and exercise. She is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer with Fitphoria, an Independent Consultant with Arbonne, fitness instructor at Pilates ProWorks of Burlingame, and a mom of two teenagers.


Esther Ekhart



Esther Ekhart, face and founder of EkhartYoga, brings years of personal yoga and meditation practice, therapy training and study of yoga philosophy into her teaching. She loves teaching dynamic styles like Hatha or Vinyasa Flow, focusing on strength, stability and fitness, along with slower practices such as Yin Yoga and Meditation that allow you to drop in and get to know yourself better.

Raelynn Rodriguez

Raelynn Rodriguez has worked in a variety of industries including audit, healthcare, and health and wellness. Using her past experience, she helps keep things running smoothly behind the scenes for the team at Live & Thrive CA. Raelynn also enjoys getting to know people and asking interview questions. 39

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