Friday, February 27, 2009

The Good News and Viral Optimism

by Pam Ripling

Doom and gloom. It’s everywhere. I can see the physical manifestations in the faces of the people I meet, hear it in the voices of friends over the phone. Negativity is one of those infectious diseases for which there is no antibiotic. It’s self-perpetuating, and in humans it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think things are bad, they will be bad. And with the collective population sighing and moaning over the economy, their lost jobs, their perceived waning benefits, it’s no wonder this black cloud has grown to epic proportions.

Enter the Good News. I’ve always been one who instinctively seeks the bright side of any given situation. So it didn’t surprise me that I stumbled across a website called the Good News Network. This site is loaded with—guess what—good news! Things you never hear in the regular news, but should. I’m convinced that if more people knew about all the really GOOD things going on in the world, there would be less depression, less contagion and probably less suicides!

The GNN’s home page is rich with uplifting items, some amusing and others serious. There are stories here that make you wonder why you haven’t heard about these things elsewhere. For example, we know that all the automobile makers are doing poorly, the biggest are on the brink of disaster. Ever heard of Hyundai? Big company, right? How about a 14% sales jump in January? Or did you know that researchers at Penn State University have developed a way to convert CO2 into fuel by using the power of the sun? And if this next one isn’t good news, I don’t know what is. UCLA has just released the largest clinical study ever involving the administration of genetically altered cells into humans in the fight against HIV. The study revealed that the stem-cell based therapy was safe and effective and may lead to a cure.

The bad news about the Good News is, it isn’t free. The website does ask for a subscription fee, starting at $2.00 per month. Of course, you can get all the free bad news you want almost anywhere. That, and $5.00 will get you a cup of coffee from Starbuck’s and an ulcer.

Reading the Good News Network isn’t enough to turn the world around. The real remedy is all about turning around your own attitude. Here is a group of people who make it their business to seek out stories of hope and prosperity, and spread that positive karma around. We can each be good news networks on our own by sharing what we know to be uplifting, optimistic ideas, by finding the good in the day and running with it.

No, one person’s attempt at constructive cheer won’t fix the stock market overnight, or get jobs for your husband, daughter or neighbor. It won’t stop stores from closing, or drop the price of gasoline. But I believe in the power of positive thinking, and in the collective power of viral optimism. The next time you encounter someone ranting about our new administration, what’s wrong with the economy or the price of bread, ask yourself if absorbing all that negativity is going to help anything. Then think about what you can do to find and share some good news. It could just catch on.

Pam Ripling is the author of middle-grade mystery, LOCKER SHOCK! Buy it at Quake, Fictionwise or Amazon today! E-book version now available for your Kindle! Visit Pam at

Friday, February 20, 2009

"Glad to See Your Back"

by Pam Ripling

If you think there's an error in the title, you might be right under most instances. However, in my case, my chiropractor's little pun elicited only a groan from me, especially since my back had been aching all day. So, naturally, the doc was glad to see my back, because it means business for him.

I don't want to give him business, but as it turns out, I seem to have spent several years too long sitting at my computer. The technical jabber is "herniated something-or-other", and it means that my lumbar [read: lower] spine is a train wreck. A wreck that involves the involuntary pinching of that rat's nest of electrical wiring we all have called the nervous system.

If you've ever been told, "don't take your health for granted," now's the time (no matter your age) to start believing it. Back pain is no picnic, and while you are typing, texting, blogging, gaming or being some other kind of data head, your backbone is silently wearing away, shifting its shape, degenerating into a different sort of animal.

Doc game me exercises. My son escorted me onto the Wii Fit. WalMart provided an exercise ball. Hubby went out and bought us a Sleep Number bed! (I am #35).

Bottom line kiddos, take care of yourselves. Don't become too close to your chair and keyboard. Get up! Move around... take a walk, a swim, dance. Stretch! Advil, Vicodin and Celebrex shouldn't be your new best friends. I'm not letting them become mine.

Pam Ripling is the author of middle-grade mystery, LOCKER SHOCK! Buy it at Quake, Fictionwise or Amazon today! E-book version now available for your Kindle! Visit Pam at

Monday, February 16, 2009

Relay For Life: BELIEVE 2009

BELIEVE. It’s our theme this year, and it means different things to different people. To me, it means that I believe in a time when cancer will be just a horrific memory, a disease that must be explained to future generations. Like the plague. Like polio.

When I “joined” Relay, it was just after my mother’s passing. Because there was so much cancer in her family, she lived in fear of falling victim to it. Her mother, grandmother and several sisters and cousins all succumbed to various forms of cancer, mostly during their fifties and to afflictions of the female organs. Ironically, it was lung cancer that caught up with Mom after 50+ years of smoking. So it is likely that she would have beaten the family odds had she not become addicted to cigarettes. (By the way, I don’t smoke!)

When my brother was diagnosed last spring, I was deeply affected. I didn’t expect that I, personally, would be experiencing a loved one’s battle again so soon. Little did I know that cancer was about to strike us again; this time, my husband, a kidney tumor just before Christmas. THE GOOD NEWS: both my brother and hubby are doing fine and are now cancer-free. There is a lot to be said for early diagnosis.

There probably hasn’t been a worse time in recent years to ask for a donation. We all know what a disaster our economy has become. Sadly, our charitable organizations feel the pinch first, as usual supporters tighten their belts in order to provide necessities. But if you can spare even $25.00, it will make a difference, I promise you.

On April 4, 2009, our team CARING FOR YOU is hosting our third annual wine tasting right here in Valencia. There'll be wines from local suppliers and vintners, music, refreshments, a dynamite silent auction and raffle prizes. $25.00 donation gets you in to a wonderful afternoon with friends and neighbors. Of course we are accepting other forms of donations, i.e., prizes to be raffled, baskets to be auctioned, etc.

You can also donate on-line

Relay is getting bigger and better every year, and you may already be lending your support to another dedicated walker. If so, God bless you and thanks!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Merlion, The Bumboats and The Flyer

By Pam Ripling

Can you guess where I've been? It's over 8,000 miles away from my hometown here in California.
The "Merlion" is a huge, water-spewing statue that is half-lion, half-merperson. The water sprays out onto a river that, in the late 1970's, was so polluted most people in this big shipping port avoided the Kallang Basin at all costs. Today, the tidal river is clean and marine life thrives.

The "Bumboats" are brightly painted water taxis that transport residents and tourists alike between points along the river. Decorated with bright red Chinese lanterns, the boats are a clean and comfortable way to travel "across town."

The "Flyer" is really a ferris wheel of sorts, although some prefer the term "observation wheel". This one, (similar to its shorter, sister wheel, The London Eye), soars 165 meters above ground (that's like 42 stories!), and boasts 28 passenger capsules that each hold 28 riders. The view of the Marina and city skyline is stunning. It takes about 30 minutes to go around once, and it never stops--passengers walk on and off as the wheel slowly rotates alongside the platform.

Have you figured out where my family and I traveled last week? It's SINGAPORE! And what a beautiful country it is! Nearly everyone there speaks English. The city is clean and safe, and there's lots of great public transportation such as the MRT (similar to San Francisco's BART and London's "Tube"), city buses and taxis (that drive on the wrong side of the street!)

It takes about 19 hours of flying time to get there from Los Angeles, so bring a good book and settle back for the ride. You will be delighted with Changi International Airport, considered by most travelers to be the best airport in the world. Plan on visiting Chinatown, Orchard Road for shopping, and the Esplanade for cultural entertainment!

Pam Ripling is the author of middle grade mystery, LOCKER SHOCK! Buy it at Quake!