OESHer of the Week: Kenny

OESHer of the Week is back: and, this time, for a very special installment.

Charlottesville High School’s own Marissa Tierney is an OESHer, and quite possibly the best AP English Language teacher on the face of the planet.  But although she certainly deserves a page of her own, our focus today is on her eighteen-month-old son, Kenny.  As anyone who’s ever had or cared for a baby could probably guess, there aren’t very many words in Kenny’s lexicon so far…”Mommy”, “Daddy”, and “Yeah!” flesh out the bulk of his vocabulary. However, one proper noun in particular seems to have taken hold: “OESH”.  Yes, for the past few weeks, Kenny has been repeatedly intoning the name of the most innovative shoe company in the world.  The impressiveness/cuteness is almost too much to handle:

Kenny is our very first male OESHer of the Week.  Although he’s a little too small as yet to fit into our La Vida v2.0, I don’t think anyone will begrudge him the title.  We here at OESH feel that he certainly deserves it.

You live a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. Do your athletic shoes know that?

DSC_0005OESH La Vida 2.0

  • Pure science-driven design

  • Zero pseudo-scientific design features

  • Locally sourced

  • Environmentally safe production

  • All seams sewn, not glued

  • 100% recyclable sole material

  • Zero heavy metals

  • Zero solvent adhesives

  • Zero VOC’s

  • No shoe box or other unnecessary packaging

We’ve been getting a lot of love for OESH La Vida being good not just for the body but for the environment. I mean a LOT of love. Which is pretty neat considering that the only real mention of La Vida’s environmental benefits is via a post I wrote about a year ago.

As the creator of OESH, what I care most about is getting all the biomechanical features from my research incorporated into the shoes. But here we are making shoes that not only have all those features, but also simultaneously have the least negative impact on our environment of any athletic shoe.

How we got here is pretty logical. As a physician-turned-shoe manufacturer I’ve had a rather unique perspective on the athletic shoe industry. People trust me when I say that the industry is unhealthy… from the polluting factories in China (which I’ve visited one too many times) to the toxic chemicals to an end product that is unhealthy on many fronts, not just biomechanically. Folks have expected that we do something about it, and we did.

We’ve been getting a ton of requests to shout out the unique sustainable attributes of OESH. So coming soon to our website will be a page that includes the following:

You eat locally grown, organic food. You don’t use toxic cleaners and use zero VOC paint. You don’t use pesticides or herbicides in your yard and try to grow at least some of your own food.

But what about your shoes?

At OESH we’ve taken the road less travelled by to offer a superior athletic shoe while simultaneously honoring our Earth like no other shoe company. Our soles are made locally and sustainably using zero waste and emissions free manufacturing. That means zero solvents with zero VOCs emitted not just during manufacturing but throughout the life of your shoes – which is important not only for wearing them but also when it comes to just keeping them inside your house.

With all of our materials locally sourced and regulated, we take the extra step to ensure that no toxic compounds or metals commonly used in various shoe sole materials ever make their way into your shoe soles…or garden. We are unaware of any other shoe company that can assure you of this.

OESH is committed to your long-term health, and we work hard at each step of the way – from design to manufacture – to create a shoe that is sustainable in every sense of the word. Yes, we are a very different shoe company. But OESH is THE shoe company that fully appreciates your commitment to a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.

Sound like a plan? Onward!

Out to Lunge: An Exercise Worth Doing

Which of the thousands of stretching and strengthening exercises out there should you make a habit of doing every day? It’s important to know that very few targeted type exercises have ever been studied scientifically. Meanwhile, there just isn’t enough time in the day to do more than a handful of them.

I’m fairly active. I run, I lift (not weights, just factory stuff), I garden like a maniac and occasionally decide that I should re-side the house. Even before starting OESH, when I had my “sedentary” job as a Medical School Department Chair, I’d often run to and from work. Because of this, I’d never felt the need to do any additional types exercise, except for one, and more recently, a few.

For years, besides studying the effects of different types of shoes on gait (walking and running), I studied gait in a variety of populations with the goal to better understand what types of targeted stretching or strengthening exercises might be effective in maintaining or reversing some of the age-related declines in mobility and function. Essentially, I was funded by the National Institutes of Health to look for the “holy grail” exercises to keep us feeling young, healthy and injury free.

My research team and I evaluated all the hundreds of kinematic and kinetic variables that can be measured in a sophisticated 3-D motion analysis force plate instrumented gait laboratory. You might think that we found a lot of age-related differences, but actually, and rather surprisingly, we found just one. As we get older, we don’t extend the hip of our trailing leg as far backwards as we once used to. We found this in multiple studies (listed below) and in multiple populations where the reduction in hip extension was exaggerated even further in various disease populations as well as in frail elderly people who are at risk for falls.

That we consistently found just one difference out of so many parameters was pretty interesting and gave hope that we did indeed hit upon a “holy grail” discovery. A reduction in hip extension during walking, which we found to be associated with the pelvis tilting more forward, could be due to a loss in flexibility in our hips and/or due to poor posture, and weakness in our back and hip extensor muscles. Each of these potential explanations are associated with other things besides a decline in walking performance — low back pain, falls, and vertebral fractures, to name a few.

Our findings were substantial enough that the National Institutes of Health funded us to study the isolated effect of stretching the hip flexors. We showed with a randomized clinical controlled study that stretching the hip flexors twice a day with an isolated static stretch resulted in modest improvements in both healthy and elderly subjects. The fact that we found any difference, given the isolated, controlled nature of the studies, is significant. But the fact that they did not completely reverse the age-related changes leads us to believe that hip flexibility is not the only issue. The results imply that poor posture, and back and hip extensor weakness are also factors in our age-related decline in walking function.

Personally, I’ve been doing the same standard hip flexor stretch we used in our studies. Jay Dicharry, one of my research team members, included a schematic of it in some exercise recommendations to avoid the hazards of sitting, here. But gradually I’ve morphed the stretch into something that is similar in some ways to what some yogis would call a Crescent or Warrior Pose in Yoga.

More and more I’m recognizing that my usual physical activity isn’t enough to keep my back and hip extensors strong. And so I’ve adapted my lunge stretch into what is more of a combination stretching / strengthening maneuver. There are numerous ways to lunge and stretch the hip flexors but some I think are better than others. I’ve found that by not bending down all the way and by not bending my knees too much, I can simultaneously work my hip extensors and lower back. While exercising the hip extensors, It’s important that the quadriceps muscles are not overworked since it’s the hip extensors, not the quadriceps, that are the weak link. I think many lunges recommended by well-meaning trainers and coaches unnecessarily tax the knee joint, which is never a good thing.

A couple months ago, a friend of mine told me about Eric Goodman’s Foundation Training and showed me his book that describes a lunge stretch that turns out to be very similar to, if not exactly, what I’ve been doing for the last couple years. I think that his lunge stretch, adapted below by Women’s Adventure Magazine here, is terrific for simultaneously addressing all the things, in varying degrees – tight hip flexors, weak hip extensors, weak back muscles and poor posture – that would explain our research findings.

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The Foundation Training lunge stretch is just one of a number of targeted exercises aimed to strengthen the back muscles, hip extensors and entire posterior chain of muscles. Interestingly, Goodman developed the Foundation Training exercises as a means to deal with severe back pain that he had while he was a student in chiropractic school. From what I know, not just through my research, but my experience as a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician and my own personal experience, I think these exercises are spot on to help with lower back pain (although as with any exercise, I recommend you first consult with your physician). And they really do target our “holy grail” research findings.

I’ve begun doing more of the Foundation Training exercises besides the lunge stretch, including a kind of lunge variation, that Goodman calls “the Woodpecker” (shown below).

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I’m trying to make a conscious effort to fit them in when I can… in the factory, at home, and in the garden.

Meanwhile, I continue to do the lunge stretch twice a day, faithfully. As busy as I get, it’s hard for me to find an excuse to NOT do it, as it really and truly only takes a minute.

Research Studies:

Kerrigan DC, Todd MK, Della Croce, Lipsitz LA, Collins JJ. Biomechanical gait alterations independent of speed in the healthy elderly: evidence for specific limiting impairments. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 1998;79:317-22.
Kerrigan DC, Lee LW, Collins JJ, Riley PO, Lipsitz LA. Reduced hip extension during walking in healthy elderly and fallers versus young adults. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2001;82:26-30.
Kerrigan DC, Xenopoulos-Oddsson A, Sullivan MJ, Lelas JL, Riley PO. Effect of a hip flexor-stretching program on gait in the elderly.  Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2003;84:1-6.
Laughton CA, Slavin M, Katdare K, Nolan L, Bean JF, Kerrigan DC, Phillips E, Lipsitz LA, Collins JJ. Aging, muscle activity, and balance control: physiologic changes associated with balance impairment. Gait and Posture 2003;18:101-108.
DiBenedetto M, Innes KE, Rodeheaver PF, Taylor AG, Boxer JA, Wright HJ, Kerrigan DC. Effect of a gentle Iyengar yoga program on gait in the elderly: an exploratory study. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2005;86:1830-1837.
Lee LW, Evans J, Zavarei K, Lelas JL, Riley PO, Kerrigan DC. Reduced hip extension in the elderly: dynamic or postural? Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2005;86:1851-1854.
Franz JR, Paylo KW, Dicharry J, Riley PO, Kerrigan DC. Changes in the coordination of hip and pelvis kinematics with mode of locomotion. Gait and Posture 2009;29(3):494-498.
Riley PO, Franz J, Dicharry J, Kerrigan DC. Changes in hip joint muscle-tendon lengths with mode of locomotion. Gait and Posture 2010;31(2):279-283.
Watt JR, Jackson K, Franz JR, Dicharry J, Evans J, Kerrigan DC. Effect of a supervised hip flexor stretching program on gait in elderly individuals. PM&R 2011;3(4) 324-329.
Watt JR,Jackson K, Franz JR, Dicharry J. Evans J, Kerrigan DC. Effect of a supervised hip flexor stretching program on gait in frail elderly patients. PM&R 2011;3(4):330-335.

Down But Not Out

NOT a selfie.

NOT a selfie.

I’ve been wearing my Fiji La Vida v2.0 for quite a while now (and running regularly in them, since the end of my high school lacrosse season at the very least), and I’ve noticed a phenomenon which you may have identified as well: the soles of my La Vida have worn down ever so slightly. The surface of each sole is still completely flat–they’ve worn down evenly–and, with that exotic “springiness” that’s unique to the La Vida, they feel exactly the same.

As it turns out (I regale you with information I gleaned after a lengthy conversation with my mom) the La Vida are exactly the same, despite their cosmetically thinner appearance. The material the soles are made of has changed in mass, not in chemical or physical composition. Unlike just about every other athletic shoe you could buy, the shoes still function just as they did when you first bought them; the biomechanical and medical aspects of the La Vida that make OESH the healthiest option in footwear are still entirely intact. Unlike Eric Clapton, your shoes have worn down, not out.

Of course, there may come a point at which the soles of your La Vida wear all the way through to the cloth outsole (consistently providing the same benefits to your feet, legs and entire body right up until the very end).  This hasn’t happened yet for me, but I must say I’m actually looking forward to it: I think I’ll expand my horizons a little by treating myself to a new pair of Deep Wisterias. I could use a little more purple in my wardrobe.

Yogaville

What do you do on an uneventful Saturday morning in the last June before you go to college? You and your La Vidas v2.0 recruit a friend, get in the car, and drive the forty minutes from Charlottesville to Yogaville.

Yogaville is located just outside Scottsville (we Virginians do love our ‘ville’s, don’t we?). This tiny town—and I use the term loosely, as I believe only a hundred(-ish?) denizens live there full-time—is dedicated to the physical and spiritual practice of yoga. I had only a passing, borderline-morbid fascination with Yogaville—and yoga itself—as I threw together the plans for this journey, so I quite honestly had no idea what to expect as we traveled down the main road, almost imperceptibly gaining altitude as we hurtled along through the central Virginia countryside. We almost missed the turn through the sheets of dust billowing from under the car’s wheels—braking sharply, we turned and stared. After forty uninterrupted miles of alternating woods and fields punctuated only by small, unobtrusive churches and stores, we were confronted by an enormous, pastel-pink arch. I found myself reminded strongly of a Sleeping Beauty birthday candle stuck into a loaf of whole wheat bread.

As we passed, shaken but undaunted, through the arch, the speed limit ticked abruptly down: after the 55 mph-zone and bright sunshine of the main road, we found ourselves peering along a wooded, one-way and perfectly paved path. We were directed by various signage to “ENTER”, as well as to decrease our speed to 10 mph—and then, after a particularly sharp turn, to 5 mph. And now it was quite clear that we were climbing into the mountains.

A few more turns—a few more held-breath moments—and we came upon it at last: the LOTUS shrine. If the entrance arch’s appearance amid its surroundings was striking, the shrine’s was garish. An immense field, constrained at its 90-degree angle corners by a barbed wire fence, stretched to the edges of a lake of similarly perfect geometric proportions. The massive pink LOTUS shrine, situated just before the lake and shored up on three sides by the Blue Ridge Mountains, beamed at us across a parking lot of the kind typically found in front of a Kroger. With no desire to change our state of willful ignorance by paying homage to the visitor’s center, we plunged straight for the shrine, passing several fountains and pairs of stone elephants.

We removed our shoes. Upon entering the completely dark and dome-roofed room upstairs, we discovered three women sitting in silent meditation; not wanting to disturb them—or the silence of the room itself—we hastened downstairs. The first floor of the shrine was comprised of a series of brief displays summarizing the major religions of the world: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and others. Quite alarmingly, “African” religions were all lumped together indiscriminately, as were “American Indian” religions. I chose to interpret the display to mean that the shrine does not intend to provide a conclusive catalogue of all religions that may be worshipped within its walls, but rather gives a sample: I would like to think that Yogaville intends to say “here are just a few of the religions we appreciate” rather than “here are the only religions we appreciate”.

This is a place surrounded by a peaceful, silent, truly wild mountainous Scottsvillian backyard, simultaneously inundated with commonplace construction work and the ever-present swirling red Virginia clay dust, and all these impressions are broiled thoroughly together by a lancing summer sun. The effect on the unwary, dispassionate traveller is not entirely good and not entirely bad, but distinctly eerie. Yogaville, for better or worse, is a powerful place, and I, for one, was touched by it.

Besides, my mom did one of the first scientific studies of the effects of yoga–the activity itself– and found only positive results. It should come as no surprise that yoga is entirely healthy and beneficial!

An actual signpost--leading to an actual road--in Yogaville.

An actual signpost–leading to an actual road–in Yogaville.

Are you exercising? Talk to your physician!

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My medical specialty (physical medicine and rehabilitation) has always attracted the jocks in medical school who not only appreciate exercise, but LOVE talking to their patients about it. Now more than ever, I see just about every type of physician, not just physiatrists (physicians specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation), actively advocating exercise through organizations such as The American College of Sports Medicine, which is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. Since 2007, the American College of Sports Medicine (which this year updated their recommendations on selecting running shoes), in combination with the American Heart Association has recommended that:

To promote and maintain health, all healthy adults aged 18 to 65 years need moderate-intensity aerobic (endurance) physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes on five days each week or vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity for a minimum of 20 minutes on three days each week.

Combinations of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity can be performed to meet this recommendation. For example, you can meet the recommendation by walking briskly for 30 minutes twice during the week and then jogging for 20 minutes on two other days. Moderate-intensity aerobic activity, which is generally equivalent to a brisk walk and noticeably accelerates the heart rate, can be accumulated toward the 30-minute minimum by performing bouts each lasting 10 or more minutes.

Vigorous-intensity activity is exemplified by jogging, and causes rapid breathing and a substantial increase in heart rate. In addition, you should perform activities that maintain or increase muscular strength and endurance a minimum of two days each week.

So that’s the minimum amount of exercise you should be doing.

Because of the dose-response relation between physical activity and health, if you wish to further improve your personal fitness, reduce your risk for chronic diseases and disabilities or prevent unhealthy weight gain you may benefit by exceeding the minimum recommended amounts of physical activity.

Increasingly, physicians are talking to their patients about exercise. Not just “are you exercising?” Rather they are having conversations about the specific types, amount, and intensity of exercises that their patients are engaging in. The Institute of Lifestyle Medicine, directed by my physical medicine and rehabilitation physician colleagues at Harvard Medical School, Edward “Eddie” Phillips, M.D. and Elizabeth “Beth” Pegg Frates, M.D., has been educating physicians and working with U.S. medical schools to incorporate exercise prescription into their curricula. Eddie and Beth who have been working on this for seven years now, have also helped spearhead the American College of Sports Medicine initiative, “Exercise is Medicine,” promoting physicians to regularly prescribe exercises in the same way that they prescribe medicines. That is, physicians should be able to prescribe the dose, amount, and how many times per week a patient should exercise.

Physicians are becoming increasingly knowledgeable about the musculoskeletal injuries that can occur with exercise and how to avoid them. A general guideline used by several of my colleagues is the 24-hour rule. It’s fine to get sore with exercise, but if you develop soreness or pain in a particular part of your body that stays for a full 24 hours after you did the exercise, that is a signal that you’ve done too much. Wait another 24 hours and cut back on the intensity and/or duration of the exercise.

Of course you don’t need to wait for your physician to ask you about exercise. I encourage you to engage him or her in a conversation about what you are doing. Try to be as specific as possible so he/she can help you best. Talk about all the different physical activities you’re doing – not just being at the gym – but housework, gardening, waiting tables, making rounds, etc. And talk about activities you’d like to try – running, swimming, hiking, etc.

Okay, so are you exercising as much as the American College of Sports Medicine recommends?

Haskerll WL, Lee IM, Pate RR, Powell KE, Blair SN, Franklin BA, Macera CA, Heath GW, Thompson PD, Bauman A. Physical activity and public health: updated recommendation for adults from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007;39(8):1423-34.

#Selfie: the OESH edition

I spent the week accumulating pictures of OESH employees and friends–but, taking a cue from Instagram, I had them photograph themselves.  Yes, the Selfie has made its way into OESH headquarters at last.

Dr. D. Casey Kerrigan, M.D. (known to some as "mom") with La Vida sole

Dr. D. Casey Kerrigan, M.D. (known to some as “mom”) with La Vida sole

Bob (dad) with his personal favorite OESH shoe: Fiji La Vida

Bob (dad) with his personal favorite OESH shoe: Fiji La Vida

Shannon stylin with one of her Charcoals

Shannon stylin with one of her Charcoals

Bill, a HUGE friend of OESH and the owner-manager of Specialty Fasteners, a local (Charlottesville) retailer of nails, screws, nuts, bolts, etc.  His establishment is much frequented by the OESH manufacturing squad--much of the machinery in the factory seems to be held together by Bill's products!

Bill, a HUGE friend of OESH and the owner-manager of Specialty Fasteners, a local (Charlottesville) retailer of nails, screws, nuts, bolts, etc. His establishment is much frequented by the OESH manufacturing squad–most of the machinery in the OESH factory is probably held together by Bill’s products.

My goodness!  What an infinitely elegant, mature and self-possessed young woman!  Buying a pair of OESH today will make you almost as cool as she is!

My goodness! What an infinitely elegant, mature and self-possessed young woman! Buying your pair of OESH today will make you seem just as cool!

Feel free to send us some of your own #OESHSelfies…this post could become a serial…

OESHer of the Week: My Sister Kellyn

In the summer of 2012, Ella Evans, one of OESH’s star interns, started the concept of the OESHer of the Week Contest. The Contest idea was wonderful and a real hit while it lasted, but quickly got out of hand as there were always so many OESHers to celebrate that we couldn’t possibly choose a winner. Anyhow, I thought I’d bring the contest back, for a limited time only (my very first week working at OESH), and give the award to one very special OESHer who just happens to be my younger sister, Kellyn (age 16). (Nepotism at its finest–you’ll recall that one of Ella’s OESHer of the Week articles was awarded to her awesome mom, Dr. Mary Evans.)

A few weeks ago, our lacrosse team celebrated the end of the Charlottesville Black Knights’ best season in approximately ten years—largely due to the efforts of Kellyn, affectionately known to all of our players as “the work-horse,” ever since she led our team with ten goals in a critical 26-25 barnburner win over one of our major rival schools. Kellyn’s activity on the lacrosse field is rather equine—our star midfielder charges up and down the field, seemingly tireless (she never had a sub—or asked for one—throughout the entire season). Literally no one in the district can catch Kellyn when, ball in stick, she heads straight for the opposing goal at a dead gallop.

It should come as no surprise that Kellyn played all of her games and practices in her OESH LaVidas, alternating between her White Sands and Deep Wisterias.

The reason, of course, for Kellyn’s success is not simply talent, which she has in abundance, but also her spirit of enthusiasm and, yes, work ethic. At least four days every week throughout our three-and-a-half-month season, she put herself through a grueling interval track workout after coming home from lacrosse practice!

Towards the end of our season, she was cajoled by her wonderful Indoor Track coach into running the 800 at an invitational meet, and—no surprises here—won her heat and qualified for the regional meet. At said regional meet, held this past Friday, Kellyn ran a 2:23.08 in her second 800-meter ever, winning her heat yet again, and qualifying for the Virginia State 800-meter.

I’m just about out of my mind with excitement to watch soror mea run this Saturday in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Whatever the outcome of the race, it’s fairly clear that Kellyn’s time and place will be up to her strength, steadfastness and genuine joy in giving it her all.

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OESH Makes Social Media & Entertainment Hire

As summer nears and the demand for the La Vida v2.0 escalates, we are pleased to dedicate corporate resources to widening the enthusiasm for OESH footwear and our unique message of medical-science based healthy footwear for women. As such, we’ve agreed to step into uncharted waters and expand our information reach via social media and the like with a new employee, Jayme Kusyk.

You’ve seen her featured in several blogs over the years, most notably whipping lacrosse balls into the goal, where she was recently named, unanimously, as the public high school Lacrosse Player of the Year in Central Virginia (Charlottesville Group). It starts like this:

Jayme making scoreboard go from 5 to 6

Jayme (#2) making scoreboard go from 5 to 6

and invariably ends like this (note goalie, who hasn’t seen the yellow ball since it left the stick, but will find it behind her after she hears the whoosh):

Jayme scoring in last game as a Black Knight

Jayme (in black vs. 4 defenders) scoring in last game as a Black Knight

Averaging 6.0 goals/game, scoring more than 300 times in her 4 high school years, and leading her Charlottesville High School team to its first winning season in over a decade, Jayme is taking her talents up to the University of Oxford this fall. She’ll play for the Varsity Blues and read English Language and Literature.

Moreover, she’s going to delight all of our OESHers with, well, whatever she decides gets the OESH Story out there in the most effective way possible. Such as this take on packaged foods (you can also follow her @SisterJayme on Twitter):

Welcome to the OESH Team, Jayme!

 

Expert Advice for Selecting Running Shoes

As I mentioned in a previous post here, my friend, Dr. Mark Cucuzzella, from the Natural Running Center, just interviewed Drs. Kevin and Heather Vincent, from the University of Florida. Kevin and Heather, who are gait and exercise researchers, wrote together the American College of Sports Medicine’s recently published brochure on Selecting Running Shoes, which, if you haven’t already, I encourage you to read.

Kevin, an M.D., Ph.D., did his residency with me at the University of Virginia when I was professor and chair of the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation. His wife, Heather, a Ph.D.in Exercise Physiology, worked in our department while Kevin completed his residency. As Mark explains in his interview, they met way back in graduate school and have been working together for over 20 years as research partners. Being experts in both exercise physiology and biomechanics (they co-run a human performance laboratory at the University of Florida), they are interested in the health of the whole body.

Mark’s full interview, which I also encourage you to read is here on the Natural Running Center website.

In his interview, Mark highlights again the American College of Sports Medicine’s recommendations for a running shoe:

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Point by point, the characteristics are all the same characteristics of our OESH La Vida.Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 9.43.26 AMViva La Vida!