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PostHeaderIcon Business Milestones

PostHeaderIcon Free Yoga Classes and Massage at New Studio Today

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Ojas Yoga Center in El Cerrito is the newest place to do the Downward Dog.
They are opening Sunday, Oct. 24, in El Cerrito Plaza and to celebrate are offering free yoga classes and chair massage, raffle prizes, and one-day discounts on class packages.

Ojas offers a full schedule of yoga classes from gentle to active, and features a one-of-a-kind, 100 percent organic aromatherapy bar where guests can sample and buy essential oils and handmade remedies.
“For years I’ve been hoping that someone would open a traditional studio in El Cerrito, devoted exclusively to Yoga,” said Jazz Poitier, yoga teacher and the former owner of Yoga Source in Berkeley.

Ojas is a woman-owned, green business, featuring bamboo floors, non-toxic paint, non-toxic yoga gear, abundant bicycle parking, and close proximity to major BART and bus lines. The word Ojas (pronounced Oh-jus) means “vitality”, and is the essence of health that provides the foundation for a calm mind and resilient body.

“Not everyone is into yoga, but many people are interested in taking better care of themselves and learning natural ways to reduce stress and stay healthy,” said Nicole Becker, owner of Ojas Yoga Center, who received her teaching credentials in Anusara Yoga in 2004 and has a background in Kundalini and Iyengar Yoga, as well as an education in anatomy, physiology, and therapeutics.

"At Ojas we offer meditation, holistic health classes on topics like insomnia and nutrition, and by January we will be offering massage therapy, Ayurvedic healing, and holistic skincare,'' she said.

Ojas is located in Suite 701 in El Cerrito Plaza at San Pablo and Fairmont avenues. For more information, go to www.ojasyogacenter.com or call 510-525-1369.--KB

Last Updated (Wednesday, 26 March 2014 22:35)


PostHeaderIcon Tips to Get Out of Debt

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Are you sick and tired of facing that pile of bills every month?  Are you loosing sleep over how you are going to pay them?  Well, forget about the credit crisis in the rest of the country. If you are having financial difficulties due to excessive debt - don't wait for Washington to help you out. Instead, take charge of your financial life, by taking action.

Here are some tips that will help you get rid of debt faster and easier:

1.  Find out how much debt  you are carrying.  Begin by pulling out the most recent statements from all your credit cards, student loans, car loans, etc.  Make a chart with the total amount of debt you have, how much you owe, the interest rate and the required monthly payments. Add the totals. 

2.  Figure out where you stand in terms of income and expenses. That means adding all sources of income, including child support, alimony, stock dividends and freelance income. Add up all your expenses, and then figure out what you have left over. 

If you have no money left over, consider some new sources of income, (i.e., a part-time job), and use that money to pay some debt. Also, look at where your money has been going in terms of expenses and see where you can make cuts. Here are a few things to eliminate: dining out, magazine subscriptions,  cafe lattes, designer clothing and brand name foods.. Also, consider becoming more frugal by using store coupons, and buying only what is needed.  

3. Get a copy of your credit report for free. (www.annualcreditreport.com) from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, Experian, Trans Union and Equifax.  You can check your credit reports for free at: www.Credit .com or Credit Score Compass to estimate your score Your credit score can help you in you need to borrow money to pay off your debt. 

4. Your options:
Once you are know how much your owe, how much your are spending, your credit report and credit score, then you can decide what step(s) makes the most sense.

a.  Debt onsolidation
b.  Borrow from social lending networks
c.  Borrowing from your home equity line
d.  A reverse mortgage
e.  Refinicing your house
f.   Credit counseling
g.  Borrowing from relatives
h.  Debt settlement
i.  Bankruptcy

All of these options have advantages and disadvantages. You need to carefully examine which one is best for you based on your personal financial history and what seems best for you and your family.  Which ever way you go, please be aware of the three common mistakes that many people make:

1. Too much analysis. Do some research but don't spend an excessive amount of time considering your options. There is a point where you must take action. Don't make the mistake of making research the excuse for non-action, where paralysis sets in, and your bad situation worsens.

2.  Procrastination.  Avoiding creditors or refusing to open your mail will only make your situation worse, financially and emotionally.  The more you wait, the more it will cost you in the long run. Why? The debt continues accumulating and so does the interest that you pay to the bank.  It will take you longer to payoff your debt.

3.  Short-term and long-term goals:
Avoid confusing quick, temporary fixes with long-term solutions. You might have to make some painful choices in the short run, but keep your eyes on the long-term prize: financial health.

For further assistance please contact a money management organization, credit counseling or financial counselor to assist you in making the best choices.  Beware of scams by accepting guidance from only persons, companies or organizations approved by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. ---ML

Mari LoValvo, M.A., is a Certified Financial Counselor dedicated to helping people get out of debt as fast as possible, and start accumulating wealth.  She believes that developing a healthy relationship with money is the only way toachieving financial freedom. She offers workshops in learning money management skills and Prosperity Group Coaching for self-employed entrepreuners.  Reach her at 925-437-3303 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Last Updated (Wednesday, 31 July 2013 18:17)


PostHeaderIcon Virtual Blood Drive Pumps Up Nation's Supply

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The American Red Cross reminds us that blood can’t be manufactured. It can only be made – and donated – by humans. Every day, someone suffering from illness or injury needs blood. But currently, only 3 out of every 100 people in the United States regularly donate blood, according to American Red Cross statistics.

All types of blood are needed, and that need never goes away. In an effort to pump up the blood supply, TechProse, a Walnut Creek-based change-management consulting firm, kicked off its first Virtual Blood Drive in September, and invited thousands of people in its nationwide network to give blood, time or money at a blood center in their community.

Through October 31, people who tell TechProse about their donation at http://blood-drive.techprose.com will be entered into a drawing to win a Kindle and other cool gifts. Even if people try to give blood and are ineligible for any reason, they will be entered into the Virtual Blood Drive drawing.

"As we planned this virtual blood drive, we thought about the positive impact it could have on communities around the country," says Vic Passion, director of consulting services at TechProse. "Then, after the explosion in San Bruno, we realized how personal the blood drive is for Californians in our own backyard. We’re thankful for the donations that people in our network have already made and hope that our blood drive will make a significant impact."

So far, 10 people have participated in the Virtual Blood Drive. Every donation counts – and TechProse is hoping more people join the effort to help those in need. Passion recently gave blood at a local American Red Cross center; her co-worker Gina Gotsill came along and put a check in a handy donation envelope.

To participate in the virtual blood drive, start by visiting www.redcrossblood.org and use your zip code to find a center near you. Can’t find one? Try your local blood bank. TechProse will honor donations to these organizations as well. --GG

Last Updated (Wednesday, 23 April 2014 03:04)


PostHeaderIcon Job Search: Thank You Notes Matter

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I was inspired to write about the importance of post-interview thank you notes by an experience I had recently. I received an e-mail from a former co-worker and good friend who has been out of work for more than a year and frustrated that she hasn’t been able to get to the final round of interviews or get the offer.

In her e-mail, she told me she interviewed for a job that day that was a perfect fit for her and she wanted it more than any others she’s interviewed for. She asked what she could do to set her self apart with her thank you note and the 50 plus other candidates she was told she was competing against.

A well-written thank you note serves several purposes in the interviewing process:  
 1) It shows your professionalism and appreciation for the interviewer’s time.
 2) It keeps you fresh in their mind as an interested candidate.
3) It gives you the opportunity to reiterate why YOU are the best candidate for the job – a second chance to close the deal.
What I notice most about thank you notes that I receive after interviews is that most candidates tell me how much they want the job and how it would be a great opportunity for them. So they’ve made it all about THEM and what they want, when it should focus on WHAT THEY CAN DO for the hiring manager and what they bring to the company. What specific skills are they looking for that you possess? What need do they have that you can fulfill? What can you do for them that will make their job easier and their company more successful?

Remember to incorporate these 4 things into its structure to get the most out of your note:

1) Let the interviewer know how much you enjoyed meeting them:
“Thank you very much for taking the time to meet with me, I enjoyed learning about the opportunity with XYZ Company”.

2) Express your enthusiasm for the company and the position itself:
“I’m excited about where XYZ Company is heading and the successes its enjoyed this past year. I know the Customer Service Manager position is a key role in helping the company continue to grow and I’m very pleased to be considered.”

3) Reiterate a specific skill or point of expertise that you have that the interviewer discussed needing during the interview, and give an example of how it helped your past employer:
“You mentioned that you really need someone who can fine-tune your customer service process to make it more efficient and a better experience for your customers. At ABC Company, I helped implement our new customer service software and overhauled our process that resulted in our customer service scores increasing by 25 percent, customer retention doubled, and we substantially increased profits last year.”
4) Establish your next point of contact:
“Again, thank you for your time and I look forward to continuing the process. I’ll contact you next week.”

The key take-away here is to remember to make it ALL ABOUT THEM and how you can fulfill their needs. My friend took this advice and sent off her Thank You’s. I received an email from her over the weekend saying she had gotten the job! I’m sure it had everything to do with the person she is and that she was a great fit for the position, but hopefully her follow-up with a sincere Thank You that focused on why she is the best candidate and how she can help the company helped separate her from the pack and seal the deal. --JYP
Julie Youngblood-Perales has been recruiting top talent nationally for Fortune 500 companies for the last 10 years. She has been a senior recruiter for Toll Brothers Home Builders in San Ramon for the last 5 years and also enjoys individually coaching and advising people who are in a career transition and job search mode. Contact her through allnewsnoblues.com at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  

Last Updated (Thursday, 23 June 2011 00:56)


PostHeaderIcon Holiday Shopping on a Budget: Check

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Okay, I’m well aware that the Christmas /Hanukkah holidays are more than than 125 days away. Make no mistake, I’m the type who gets seriously irked when I hit the dollar store in September only to have Halloween décor, candy and costumes smack me in the head, much less the Thanksgiving and Christmas décor that I’m now seeing in department stores. Give me a break.

However, the flip side to this "let’s try to sell them some candy corn/turkey basters/Christmas trees/menorahs in September" mentality is an opportunity to discuss a concept that is so radical, so insane, and so unheard of, it’ll have you stopping in your overworked tracks. It’s a concept that will save you such huge amounts of money, time AND sanity this holiday season and you’ll never go back to shopping for holidays the same way again. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I am DONE with my Christmas shopping, all before the Labor Day weekend.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m 42 years old, and until a couple of years ago, I was amongst the holiday herds who took last-minute Christmas shopping to an Olympic sport level, despite being benched multiple times for Excessive Use of Force.

Then, I had kids, and my "kill or be killed" holiday shopping mentality morphed into a gentler kind of non-contact sport.  Nicer for all involved, but clearly, I’d lost my competitive shopping edge. Another strategy had to emerge for me to pull off any kind of decent holiday. 

It was about that time that I started shopping at the huge, gorgeous, meticulously organized thrift stores on a regular basis, usually for household goods and clothes for the kids.  An informal glance at some of the other departments quickly educated me on the fabulous bargains to be had at these frugal goldmines. 

Designer shoes, top-of-the-line handbags, designer clothes, scarves and accessories for 90 percent off the retail price.  Books, movies, DVDs, CDs, jewelry (new and vintage) for 90 percent off. Toys still in the boxes for 90 percent off.  Designer holiday clothes for everyone in the family (Dior? Hello!), often with the tags attached for 90 percent off.

Trust me, no one was more surprised than I was at the offerings.The only thing surpassed my shock at the prices was my shock at the fabulous customer service and the fact that it looked like you could eat off the floor. 

Every time I visited one of these fabulous stores (a.k.a. "Tiffany’s for Tightwads), I’d pick up not only what I needed for the house, but often a gift or two for an upcoming birthday, Mother’s Day, kid’s birthday, hostess gift, you name it.  When I saw a gift perfect for an occasion months away, it was stashed on a shelf in my closet for safekeeping. 

When I happened upon perfect Halloween costumes in August, they were stashed as well.  It was when I was pulling out said Halloween finds back out of the closet when I glanced at the "gift shelf" and realized I had quite the stash.  I started matching gifts to people and realized within minutes that my holiday shopping was already complete!  Sure enough, the dozen or so people with whom I purchase gifts were covered with designer gifts in spades. 

I have about $500 worth of educational toys, videos, games, dolls, trains, and more for my two kids, which I purchased for $25.  I have stockpiled 8 designer shirts and sweaters, three hardcover books on the New York Times' bestseller list, four DVD’s and a CD for my husband. I have golf shirts from the Masters for my dad, crystal service for my mom, cashmere sweaters and designer handbags for my sisters. Total tab on multiple designer gifts for 12 people ages 1 to 70?  $195.  Considering the national average on holiday spending is now more than $1,400 per household, nuff said.  
Luckily, my piranha-to-puppy shopping style metamorphosis coincided with a 50 percent reduction in our household income (when I quit the corporate workforce to start a family), and by sheer necessity, spending for the holidays needed to be at an all time low in order for the household budget to stay in tact.

Even more fun, from the first week of November through the entire holiday season, I will had my first holiday experience in which I had nothing to concern myself with but decorating the house and planning/attending a couple of holiday dinners.  No shopping panic, no wild search for elusive gifts.  It was…surreal. 

Everywhere, I saw throngs of people around me in pure adrenaline-fueled panic, embracing the holiday season like Rambo embraced a flame thrower. Didn’t exactly make you feel like breaking out into an Andy Williams medley. And yet, I felt serene, moving throught it as though I was in a protective frugal bubble, like one of those CDC suits in the movie "Outbreak" where you could experience the chaos firsthand, and no matter how close you got, it couldn’t infect you. It. Was. FABULOUS. 

So, this year,, I implore you to try this method.  We’re barely into autumn, and the dollar stores and department stores may be on to something with their holiday décor.  Get out to a local thrift store, church store or consignment store near you and hit the ground running.   Start stocking up now and you’ll not only be saving huge amounts of cash this holiday season, but a good chunk of time and your sanity as well, three things in short enough supply nowadays already. 

Dare I say it?  Happy Holidays, everybody! --KH

Kristen Hagopian is a mother of two who happily and frugally resides with her family in their as-of-yet finished fixer upper in Chester County, PA. Her book, "Brilliant Frugal Living" has been featured in print, radio and on television, including segments on ABC, NBC, Fox and the LiveWellHD Network. This is her second piece for allnewsnoblues.com

Last Updated (Friday, 07 January 2011 23:39)

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