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PostHeaderIcon Around Town

PostHeaderIcon Three Tips for Finding Love

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As a certified matchmaker and love coach, I constantly hear what people want in a partner. Their list usually includes someone who is physically fit, attractive, emotionally secure, thoughtful, kind, and interesting.

After hearing their extended list of must haves in a partner, I ask “What have you done or are doing to be the best partner you can be? If you are lucky enough to find this incredible person, will you be prepared to be their most perfect partner in return?” To which, more often than not, they give me a confused look. Most people have not spent much time looking in the mirror. Once in awhile I get someone who has taken the time to learn how to be their best but that is rare. I hope you make the choice to be the exception.

To get my clients ready, I begin with the following are three strategies to help them find and maintain a fabulous partnership.

Strategy One: Think of yourself as a rechargeable battery. When you are out of juice it is your responsibility to plug yourself into things that make you feel refreshed and renew your inner energy. Things such as going out into nature, walking with your dog on the beach, soaking in a bubble bath, and watching the sunset are just a few ways to rejuvenate. Our society and ingrained belief systems often make us feel guilty when we choose to put ourselves first. If you don’t put yourself first, you won’t have the inner surplus and inner love to deeply connect with others. Think of a time when you were feeling totally happy and radiant. What was your body posture like? What was your mind state? When you are fully nourished, you are more self-confident. This is sexy. People are attracted to and want to be around people who know how to make themselves happy.

What makes you feel fabulous, stunning, creative, and radiant? Beyond exercising, is it getting a massage, cooking a meal, or painting that makes you happy? What about going on a hike or listening to music?  I want you to brainstorm a list of at least ten things that really fill up your inner joy. By having them written down, they will become an excellent reference for those times when you might be down and your creative mind is blocked. Use these activities and create rituals; then schedule meetings with yourself to take care of yourself. Literally, block that time out on your calendar and don’t cancel or postpone. Make yourself a priority.

By filling up your own love reserves, you come to the relationship not expecting your partner to do that for you. Being at least 80 percent of the way to your total happiness gives your partner the ability to add the cream on the top. On the flip side, when gauging whether or not someone is going to be an excellent match for the long run, determine if they are expecting you to fulfill something that is missing in their lives. If yes, sort fast and move on… a relationship should never be a fix-it project. Plus, even if you could make someone happy or fix them, have you noticed they never really stay happy or fixed for long?

Strategy Two: Cultivate a curious mind. This is key to being interesting and interested. Keeping someone special interested in you, begins with your o own happiness, self-confidence and whether or not you are an interesting person. So what makes you interesting? Do you have unique hobbies? Are you learning about cooking or wine, have you traveled to foreign lands, are you studying a particular spiritual practice? Make the time to do interesting things and constantly grow as a person. As you do, you will become more engaging.

Be authentically interested in your date. On first dates, people are often nervous and nervousness can lead to rambling chatter. Become aware of the flow of conversation. Do your best to keep the dialogue at an even exchange. Be fully present and interested when you are listening. Do not assume anything about this person or their experiences. This is critical. If you keep your assumptions aside, you will be more curious and ask richer questions allowing you to get to know them on a deeper level quicker.

When you first connect with someone find things you have in common; direct the conversation to shared points of interest. Initially, stay clear of ways you differ. I’m always amazed at those who think they are doing some sort of good deed to get all the negative things about themselves on the table right away. You must first find commonalities to see if someone likes you before they will want to take you with all your flaws. Always work on putting your best foot forward without being someone your not. 

Strategy Three: Do things that develop your self-confidence. As Eleanor Roosevelt challenged us: “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Fear is one of the biggest enemies of self-confidence. Trepidation and anxiety are not sexy. In fact they do damage to you and your potential for being the best partner you can be. When you have negative feelings and inner self-talk, they are transmitted through your whole being. It cuts you off from people and makes you feel isolated.

Learn how to dismiss your negative self-talk if you want to truly connect with people in a positive way. When you are nervous, your body language reflects it and you unknowingly make those around you uncomfortable. In turn that affects their body language toward you. It becomes a vicious downward spiral.

Here is an exercise that will help you train yourself to become aware of your thoughts. We have between 60,000 to 90,000 thoughts every day and for most people 9 out of 10 are the same ones we had the day before. That being said, to alter thoughts, we have to first become conscious of them. In the beginning when I was using this exercise I lived near a clock tower that would ring every 15 minutes. I made the effort to pause for a second each time the bells rang to mentally check what thoughts were on my mind.

So throughout the day have at least two to three times where you can just pause for a moment and listen to what you are thinking about. It's easiest if you find triggers for this conscious pause whether it is in the morning and evening when you are brushing your teeth, each time you are going to open or close a door, or if you can set your phone to buzz three times a day, just make the time. Think to yourself are you fully present in the moment or are you caught up in your mind's internal chatter? If you are in your mind and not the moment, say oh that's just my mind having a thought about X, Y, or Z. Is this thought what is happening in this moment? If not, then dismiss the thought. If you caught yourself in a negative thought, you can choose to note that and then rewrite the script. It takes practice but is well worth it on many levels for your peace of mind to learn how to quiet the chatter, especially if it is negative.

Be conscious of your thoughts because they affect the people with whom you are interacting. If you have judgmental or critical thoughts either about yourself or the person you are speaking with they will sense that and feel uneasy and uncomfortable. Shift the negative chatter to positive by thinking about something you really like about this person. Is it something they are wearing, is it the way they just told a story, or is it their humor? Hold onto the positive and look at them with appreciation, admiration and understanding. As Mother Teresa said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” Approach people wanting to see them in their best light. Hold them in high regard and in turn, they will reflect that back at you.
We are a continuous work in progress. If we choose not to coast through life but to push ourselves out of our comfort zone, it forces us to grow into richer individuals. Taking care of your whole body, inside and out, not only prepares you to find a partner but is crucial to maintaining a thriving, passionate relationship. What are you going to do today to become the best you can be?  --JN

Joy M. Nordenstrom is founder of Joy of Romance, Inc., a certified matchmaker, relationship coach, and romantic event and vacation planner. She has her MBA from Mills College in Oakland and attended the Matchmaking & Behavioral Sciences Institute in New York City. Joy lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area. To learn more, visit www.joyofromance.com or email her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Follow her on Twitter at JoyofRomance and like the Joy of Romance fan page on Facebook.


Last Updated (Friday, 19 August 2011 21:16)


PostHeaderIcon Portola Railroad Days Festival This Week

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Are you searching for a summer sojourn? A trip without the hassle of highway hang-ups, but with plenty of history Americana style, sightseeing and enlightening entertainment?  Why not meet at the depot for a weekend of family fun, a carefree jaunt to kick up your heels or just kick back?

Gandy Dancer-Pride of the West sets the theme for the 29th Annual Portola Railroad Days Festival, August 18-21 in Eastern Plumas County, CA.

Day 1 on Thursday, Aug. 18 will be marked by kick-off events for local residents and early arrivals.  There will be speeches from civic dignitaries as vendors set up on Commercial Street to sell their wares, everything from arts, crafts, books, antiques and, of course, foods to satisfy all tastes.

Inside the Railroad Museum, the big attraction will focus on operating model trains running the tracks amid the presence of faithful representation from RR Clubs from far and wide. An appropriate accompaniment of RR memorabilia, artifacts and photos amplify the ambiance and lend interest to front and center stage at the ciity parking lot, heart of the festival.  A classic car show, live music, rides for the kids and the famous spike-driving contest fuel the fervor of fun and frivolity

The Black Irish Band, of Patrick Karnaham fame, the commissioned artist for the annual OSH Railroad calendar, will offer a preview on board the in-bound train trip and continue to entertain during the Portola Festival.This cozy little town, population 2,227, with a huge sense of pride, evolved from a stage stop for early Gold Rush pioneers to its current claim to fame:  the home of the Western Pacific Railroad Museum.

It was the hard-laboring maintenance workers, referred to as Gandy Dancers, who built the Western Pacific Rail lines from Oakland, CA to Salt Lake City, Utah, driving in the rails spike by spike, beginning a century ago.

This year the annual festivities will be in honor of the untiring efforts of these fore bearers of the railroad industry.   “It is a celebration of just how important the railroad is to the history and development of Portola” reports Chris Skow, Portola Railroad Days promotion manager. The famous Western Pacific RR was the last transcontinental line built and Portola marks the division of East and West, where all trains halt for crew changes and mechanical checks.

The Feather River Rail Society, founded by former Western Pacific Railroad employees, keeps Portola civic pride right on track, with an aim “to preserve the memories and significant equipment from the 100 year history of the Western Pacific for future generations.”  The Western Pacific RR Museum, housed on the grounds of the old locomotive facility, has the most outstanding array of early diesel locomotives in the country.

No whistle stop tour here, visitors are captivated by the streamlined displays of a by-gone era in cross-country transportation.  Whether you may be a train aficionado, railfan, enthusiast or are looking for a fun-filled weekend of adventure for kids of all ages, hop on, All Aboard for climbing the grade up Feather River Canyon. The Feather River Express will bring visitors to Portola from the Bay Area and Sacramento Valley for Portola Railroad Days on Friday, Aug. 19, departing from Emeryville at 8 a.m., loading additional passengers in Martinez, Davis, Sacramento and Oroville before arriving in Portola at 5 p.m.

Lunch is included on board the train on the journey out and on the return passage, while passengers take in the spectacular scenery and the train courses along the former Southern Pacific route beside water’s edge of the San Francisco Bay.  Views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Carquinez Straits, Suisun Bay Bridge and the US Navy’s Mothball Fleet in Grizzly Bay are just the ticket for building up a perfect head of steam for the climb into the High Sierra.

Proceeding onward, through a series of 32 tunnels and under Big Bend Mountain, the train emerges deep in the lower region of the Feather River Canyon and traverses the remaining 91 miles across rugged canyon terrain.

After arrival at the Portola destination at 5 p.m., passengers will step off at the RR Museum Station, where buses will take them to motels and lodges for the night.  In addition, a Mexican buffet will be set up on the Silver Plate, California Zephyr car at the station.  Passengers and local residents feast together in this unique setting. Last year’s event brought 500 visitors on board for a memorable weekend.

On Saturday, Aug. 20, the Rotary Club offers a special breakfast to start the morning in time to be on track for the Golden Spike Parade beginning at 11 a.m.  The main thoroughfare, Commercial Street will be closed to vehicles so vendors and pedestrians have free reign for the many ongoing festivities, the parade, a community barbeque, carnival and live music.

Running concurrently with the Railroad Days celebration are two other local attractions:  Graeagle Arts and Crafts Festival and Stars in the Barn, “Spirit” show, featuring The Magical World of Dancing Horses.  There are 7 Portola restaurants within walking distance. Horse-back riding is available and 6 golf courses grace the enchanting Mohawk Valley. Space is provided on the train to bring on your bicycle, at no additional cost. In August, it is mildly warm, with an average daytime temp of 84 degrees and overnight lows in the 40’s.

Departure for home on Sunday, Aug. 21, will be at 8 a.m. from the Portola RR station, heading westbound for the five hour journey down the awesome Feather River Canyon, with a stop in Oroville at 1 p.m.  The train is set to arrive in Emeryville at 5 p.m. Accommodation options range from One-Way Coach Class to Round Trip Pullman Sleeper Car with on-board linen and fine china dinner included. For a full range of prices and availability, visit www.traintrips.biz or call 1-800 359-4870. --KRB

 Karen R. Balch is a retired nurse, freelance writer and San Ramon resident. She writes regularly for allnewsnoblues.com. Contact her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it




Last Updated (Tuesday, 16 August 2011 23:41)


PostHeaderIcon Fast and Furious in Pleasanton

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Bike races in Pleasanton? Yep. On  Sunday, Aug. 7 the inaugural Safeway Fast & Furious Festival will kick off at 8 a.m. and run until 9 p.m. along Main Street in Pleasanton. The day starts with a 5K run/walk sponsored by US Bank About 1,500 runners and walkers are expected to compete in the race that includes prizes and awards for the top three finishers in each age group division.

A 1-mile "open" follows the 5K. Dubbed the “Mile of Truth,” the 1-mile open will feature elite runners competing for a portion of $1,500 in cash and prizes during the race, which starts under the arch on Main Street in Pleasanton.

Criterium-style bicycle races are scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. and continue throughout the day and into the evening. The festival concludes with an all-out, under the lights, high-octane men’s and women’s professional bike race with the winners taking home the inaugural Fast & Furious championship title and their share of  $10,000 in cash and prizes.

In addition, a free kids’ run is scheduled for 10 a.m. and free kids’ bike races will take place at 3 p.m. All kids will receive a finisher’s medal.

Racers and spectators are encouraged to visit the health and wellness expo, listen to live music and stop by downtown merchants for special deals.

A portion of proceeds from the event will be donated to three Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) foundations: Augie’s Quest, ALS TDI and The Blazeman Foundation. For more information and to register, visit www.fastandfuriouspleasanton.com.---- KB

Last Updated (Sunday, 17 July 2011 19:59)


PostHeaderIcon Jail Break Run is Sunday

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Psssssssst…pass it on….on Sunday, July 17, there’s going to be a jail break—and the Alameda County Deputy Sheriff’s Association invites everyone join in.  The 9th annual Jail Break Run, benefiting Special Olympics Northern California, offers an “escape plan” for everyone: a 5K run (or walk), a 10K run, a kids’ ½-mile run, and a kids’ 1-mile run.

The event starts at the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Training Center at 6289 Broder Blvd. in Dublin, next to the Santa Rita Jail.

The 5K course is a flat and fast loop. The 10K run is primarily flat and fast, with one hill — the very same hill you must master to join the Alameda County S.W.A.T. team; members of the S.W.A.T. team will be on hand to run the 10K course with participants. The course, along the outside walls of the jail, is USA Track & Field certified.

Runners will receive the Jail Break Run T-shirt, refreshments, and entry into the Jail Break raffle, which features a lot of great loot. Every child participating in either the ½-mile or 1-mile runs will earn a special award medal. Trophies will be awarded to the first overall male and female participant in each event, as well as the top Masters (45-years and older) male and female in each race. 

5K Medals will also be given three-deep to the finishers in each male and female age category, in 10-year increments, beginning 9-years and under.  10K Medals will be given three-deep to the finishers in each male and female age category, 10-year increments, beginning 18-years and under.

In addition, all participants will have the opportunity to run, or walk, with a number of local Special Olympic athletes who will be competing as well.

Last year’s winning times:
Men’s 5K Run: 0:16:48       Women’s 5K Run 0:18:31
Men’s 10K Run: 0:35:18    Women’s 10K Run 0:40:05

Entry fees for either the 10K Run or 5K Walk/Run are $30.00 pre-registered, $35.00 race-day registration.  The kids’ ½-mile and mile event fees are both $10.00.  Check-in and race-day registration will open at 6:30 a.m., with both 10K and 5K events starting at 8:00 a.m.  The Kid’s ½-Mile and Mile, which takes place on the Sheriff’s training center track, will begin around 10:00 a.m.  The post-race awards, raffle, and prize give-away ceremony is scheduled to start around 10 a.m.

For more Jail Break Run information and/or an application, contact On Your Mark Events at 209-795-7832 or visit their website at http://www.onyourmarkevents.com/. To register online, go to www.active.com. ---KB

Last Updated (Thursday, 14 July 2011 23:59)


PostHeaderIcon LGBT Community holds Camp It Up

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Registration for Camp It Up! is now open, and welcomes families and friends for a week of fun and relaxation at beautiful Feather River Camp in Quincy, California.

Camp It Up! is the first family camp in the country to do particular outreach to the LGBT community, holding the first summer camp in August, 1990 at Berkeley Tuolomne Camp. It now has served more than 2,300 campers.

The community is warm and inclusive. The camp offers programs for children, adults and families. The children’s program is for kids aged
1-12, and specialty programs include Music, Drama, Crafts, Healing Arts, and Sports for kids of all ages— staffed by creative and performing artists from across the state.

Activities include hiking, horseback riding, advanced specialty crafts, discussion groups, dances, a spa and salon, and an all-camp musical — just part of the camp program.

The camp also sponsors a special program for teens which trains 15-17 year olds to work as camp staff.

Camp runs July 29 through August 6. Fees are based on a sliding scale. Each family is housed in their own cabin or tent-cabin. The site is breathtaking, and registration fee includes three bountiful meals (vegetarian always available). For more information, please call Jill at (510) 338-0370, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or visit the website at www.campitup.org. --KB

Last Updated (Wednesday, 13 July 2011 02:41)

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