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PostHeaderIcon Got Happiness? Contagious Optimism is Here

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"Contagious Optimism" is a bestselling and uplifting book series that contains inspirational stories from real people around the globe, along with insight from professionals.  The author, David Mezzapelle, is convinced that we all have the ability to spread optimism by sharing our own life experiences.  By virtue of including personal successes as well as those endeavors which did not play out well, but served as stepping stones to later positive outcomes, other people can benefit as the message of hope is conveyed.  Everyone can learn something about happiness and success from the lessons of  Mezzapelle.

His book contains advice, actions and insights from business leaders, visionaries, professionals and just plain folks.  James F. Mooney, chairman of the board of Virgin Media, Inc., endorses the concept as “it empowers, motivates and leads people to tremendous results.”

Aren’t the successes in life what kindle the fire within us and keep the blaze alive?  Whether it is a success in finding your own true love, succeeding in overcoming adversity or landing the job you have forever sought after, expert direction and wise counsel can be found within the pages of Contagious Optimism: Uplifting Stories and Motivational Advice for Positive Forward Thinking.

Maintaining focus on the mark, when hills and valleys present discouragement, might add a challenge to the equation, as we may well know.  Yet, a success validates that you have been on the right track, heading for your goal or expectation.   Mezzapelle “has taken the secret to a joyfully lived life and packaged it in a book” according to Will Glennon, author of Practice Random Acts of Kindness.  Created as a compendium of encouragement, "Contagious Optimism" is formatted with more than 100 stories and parables of inspiration to motivate a movement of pass-it-on hope and happiness from individuals, sharing personal insights, advice and guidance from all walks of life, worldwide.

The concept of clearing the mind of negative thinking and tuning in to the idea of positive forward thinking renews lost confidence in one’s-self, attests Mezzapelle, serial entrepreneur and founder of several well-known companies, such as Goliath Technology. A motivational  magnet, Mezzapelle has impacted the lives of many since his youth.  Always a “glass is completely full” advocate, he lays the foundation of the book’s pervasive positive theme:  “Lacking talent only means you have the ability to recognize what needs practice…patience, persistence and perseverance.”

As a college student, he served as an intern at IBM.  He later implemented a most innovative academic internship program at his Alma Mater, Fairfield University in Connecticut, leading students to success in being hired or advancing into graduate school.

A regular contributor to the Wall St. Journal, Mezzapelle is an invited guest on radio and TV presentations.   A portion of the sales proceeds will be donated to charity from his 272-page volume, Contagious Optimism, published on National Smile Power Day, June 15, 2013.

Throughout  the book, each chapter is a helpful advisory account on topics such as relationships, goals, health and fitness, business and careers, maturity and more, with a pertinent parable included.  References from notable individuals highlight the precept of optimism.  Winston Churchill is quoted as having said “The optimist finds opportunity in every difficulty, not difficulty in every opportunity." Wayne Gretzky of hockey fame relates “you miss 100% of the shots you never take,” a simple maxim for success.

Sometimes failure is the first step toward success.  When you think you’re failing at something, try reading a biography of one of your favorite figures in history.  You’ll find that their path to success was likely filled with bumps as well.  Walt Disney suffered bankruptcy repeatedly with several enterprises he attempted.  Not content with defeat, he recognized that he had not yet succeeded and persevered until he eventually built the amazing empire of Disneyland.

Serving in the volunteer arena offers a method to spread the forward thinking theory of Contagious by Example.  Investing skills and experience in a community cause or non-profit where compensation includes intangible rewards, reaps a bounty toward changing the world.

Books published by Viva Editions, Berkeley, CA, “are intended to inform, enlighten and entertain the reader, quality books for inspired living”.  For further information, contact  www.vivaeditions.com or www.lifecarrots.com.--KRB


Karen Balch is a retired nurse, freelance writer, avid travel and eternal optimist. She writes frequently for All News No Blues.

Last Updated (Friday, 20 September 2013 22:51)


PostHeaderIcon Harley Across the USA: The Sequel

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In 1993, David Bieber (left) of San Diego took possession of the remnants of a WLA 1945 model U.S. Army issue Harley Davidson motorcycle as collateral for a loan to a personal friend.  The bike was retrieved from a chicken coop in Montana, where it had sat for some 20 years or so, non-operational and unloved.

The plan was to return it to his friend upon repayment of the loan but the plan was rendered moot when the friend unexpectedly passed away, leaving David as proud owner of the feather-covered relic.  He moved the Harley to his airplane hangar at a small San Diego airport and it remained there for another 20-plus years.

Early in 2009, he began to work at restoring the bike by acquiring parts for it from all over the world.  By June of 2012 he had gathered the original parts that were necessary. He cleaned, painted, welded, and soldered everything until it was ready to be assembled.  During one 36-hour session, the Harley was restored by David and his 3 sons to its original condition. You can see the story and assembly in a 5-minute clip on YouTube: WLA 45 Solo.

Now that this unique machine was road worthy, what to do with it?  He did not want to sell it or donate it to a museum just yet. So, David came up with an idea to honor the soldiers that rode this motorcycle in action. The plan was hatched to display the bike across the country and along with that, to raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project, which provides services to military personnel who were injured in the line of duty.

The ambitious schedule was set during the next several months: Fifteen locations in 15 days, beginning at the VA Hospital in San Diego and culminating at the VA Hospital in Washington, DC.  The distances required that the bike be pulled on a trailer between locations for the most part.  No other way to make the tight schedule.  Bob Stratton (that's me), his childhood friend, would drive the support truck and trailer and David would ride the bike, always in authentic WWII Army garb.

The trip started June 1.  WWI veterans at the VA hospital were present for the send off, as were about 40 motorcyclists who escorted them out of town.  Two hours later, Bob received his only moving violation of the entire journey for excess speed while towing a trailer.  Camp Verde, AZ was the first stop.

The next morning, a police and local motorcycle club escorted them through the town to a local park where there was a presentation by the airmen of a local Air Force base as well as a barbecue fundraiser.  A similar theme played out at their next destination in Monticello, UT.  In Salt Lake City, they were greeted by a contingent of 10 motorcycle police and a large group of bikers at the local Harley Davidson shop. They were led 30 miles through the neighboring towns to a Veteran’s Memorial Park where they were presented with commemorative coins from the Special Forces unit.  There was another barbecue fundraiser held at a nearby American Legion hall.

This was the general trend throughout the trip.  Legion posts, Harley shops, and VFW halls were the usual focal points  The next days took them to stops in Wyoming, where they were greeted by the mayor of Cheyenne, Kearney Nebraska, Cedar Rapids Iowa, Valparaiso Indiana, Erie Pennsylvania, and Binghamton New York.  Some events were large and festive, and some were smaller, but all were enthusiastic.  Even stops for gas or rest drew crowds and quite a few donations to the cause.

The next to last venue was Laconia, NH which is the home of a very large week-long annual motorcycle event, which happened to be in progress (not by coincidence).  Tens of thousands of motorcyclists generated a plethora of donations and a good impetus to the last stop in Washington, D.C. on June 15.

Once they arrived there, another day-long barbecue fundraiser was held at the Harley Davidson dealership and then the very touching culmination at the VA Hospital where, again, they were greeted by appreciative WWII veterans.

From this point, all scheduled events were completed.  Part B of the plan was for David to realize a dream by riding the nearly 70-year-old motorcycle the entire way from DC back to San Diego.  Traveling at moderate speeds and making mechanical adjustments along the way, he realized his dream.  They rolled up to the Veteran’s Memorial on Mount Soledad in San Diego on the morning of June 20 to a crowd of about 50 well wishers and family members.

The final tally for donations was in excess of $25,000.  Not bad for three weeks’ work and 8,000 miles traveled.  David dedicated the trip to his father, who was a veteran of 3 wars (WWII, Korea, and Vietnam), and he wore his dad’s Navy dog tags for the entire trek.

It should be noted that David and Bob paid their own way for the trip.  Gas, food, lodging, and incidentals were all out-of-pocket.  They did accept some meals and places to spend the night but any cash offerings to defray personal costs were returned or placed in the donation box.

The WLA 45 Solo Harley Davidson motorcycle is now on display at the Air & Space Museum in Balboa Park, San Diego. For more information on the Wounded Warriors Project, go to Wounded Warrior.  .-BS

Bob Stratton is an adventure seeker who has run 32 consecutive Bay to Breakers, has danced and sang on East Bay stages in plays and musicals and now training to do a hike in Machu Picchu. He's written several stories for All News No Blues.

Last Updated (Saturday, 10 August 2013 17:39)


PostHeaderIcon Pony Express Ride: Leg Two

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Last summer, Ben Clayden of Danville rode his road bike more than 800 miles from Sacramento to Salt Lake City as leg one of the 2000-mile Pony Express Route. Today, July 2, he resumes the ride from the Amtrak station in Salt Lake City where he left off last year to Scottsbluff, Nebraska. He expects to arrive next week.

He'll cross Utah's Wasatch Range, traverses Wyoming, the Rockies and Continental Divide, to the Platte River Valley into Nebraska and the Central Plains.

Clayden will be on the bike for about six days and log about 700 miles -- alone on his Trek Madone road bike with just the water and food he can carry, a change of clothes, an iPad, credit card and a healthy bit of enthusiasm.

"I don't know how many others have done this before me, certainly some, but clearly it's not a popular idea,'' he said.

The ultimate goal is to eventually arrive at the Pony Express Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri but that third and last phase will be next summer's project.

The Pony Express was established in 1860 as the first reliable means to send messages across the vast American West. The Civil War was looming and timely news and communication between California and the East was crucial. The Pony Express was, essentially, a relay. A specially designed horse saddle could carry important correspondence in leather pockets.

A rider would leave St. Joseph, Missouri, where the railroad and telegraph lines from the East came to an end, and ride his horse westbound at full gallop. Ten to 15 miles later at an established relay station, rider and saddle would change to a fresh horse and continue. After a series of horses and 100 or so miles the rider would stop to rest and pass the saddle on to the next rider and so it went. About 150 relay stations and 10 days later the saddle and its important contents would arrive in Sacramento. During the journey riders were subjected to extreme weather, high elevation, darkness, and particularly in Nevada, serious trouble with Indians.

Last year, Clayden said he enjoyed immensely riding his bicycle from Sacramento to Salt Lake City and following the Pony Express route eastbound. He peddled about 100 miles each day, over the Sierra Nevada and across desolate Nevada and western Utah. He was alone but said he was never lonely and enjoyed the solitude of countryside most folks don't see.

"(It was) a very remote and fascinating part of North America. It was an amazing week and after returning home I hung the bike in the garage, put the maps away, and enjoyed the great memories,'' he said.

Want to follow Clayden's journey and check out his progress? Go to http://bensponyexpress.blogspot.com/ --BC/KB



Last Updated (Wednesday, 03 July 2013 03:32)


PostHeaderIcon One Bike. Two Guys. 3K Miles. All For a Great Cause

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My name is Bob Stratton and I have lived in Walnut Creek for more than 20 years and am about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime.

On June 1, I began driving the support vehicle for my childhood friend, David Bieber (left) of San Diego as he rides his completely restored WWII Harley Davidson motorcycle (also left) from San Diego to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.

We'll travel more than 3,000 miles to raise awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project, a program that provides assistance for veterans who have been been injured as a result of their military service.

Along the route, we'll stop and David will make presentations at veterans’ hospitals and centers in California, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, New Hampshire, and D.C.

The road trip has been a longtime in the works.

In 1992, David found an old Harley Davidson (model WLA45 for you gearheads) built for use by the U.S. Army in WWII, in a chicken coop in Minnesota. He bought it and brought it back to his workplace at Paladin Aviation, an aircraft restoration company at Brown Field, a small airport near the California-Mexico border.

Like all good ideas, this one took a few years to get rolling, but he never gave up on the plan to restore the bike to its original condition.

Besides being a pilot, David is a lifelong motorcyclist and mechanic. In 2009, he began accumulating original parts for his bike with the goal that all the components were to be authentic, right down to the grease fittings and gaskets.

It took him more than three years of locating and amassing the parts, cleaning, painting, cataloging, labeling and boxing up the parts before he was ready to assemble the bike last year.

His dream was to work along with his three sons and assemble it as a team in one session, and make a video of the event for posterity.

Along with my friend Mike Montany, a Concord resident and videographer, we hit the road to San Diego with a carload of video equipment to capture the assembly-- both in real time and time-lapse.

Last June, his dream came true when he became the proud owner of the only known running WLA45 made from original specs and parts.

Because David wasn't interested in selling or donating the motorcycle but wanted to do something to benefit from the fruits of his labor, he decided to raise funds and awareness for veterans. He is also honoring his late father who was a Navy man who served in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.

He hopes to ride it most of the way back home.  We’ll see.  He’s almost 62 and these bikes were designed for combat, not long distance travel.  I’ll be there to assist in any case.  And we do have a trailer.

Wish us luck!-- BS

To help David reach his personal goal of $45,000, click HERE to go to his Facebook page and donate. To see the YouTube video about the process click HERE. David would also like people to LIKE and SHARE both on their personal Facebook pages.


Bob Stratton is a retired white collar guy who has taken up acting and can now be seen singing and dancing on East Bay stages. In his spare time, he enjoys doing one-handed push ups and other athletic endeavors. He just finished running his 32nd consecutive Bay to Breakers race.

Last Updated (Sunday, 02 June 2013 18:53)


PostHeaderIcon Turning Memories into Memoirs

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Perhaps you have considered your assorted collection of notes, jotted down in a journal, on scraps of paper or in other various notebook forms, to be all you would ever do to preserve your most significant life memories.  You might think “What, me? actually gathering my thoughts and facts together into a written form chronicling my personal life experiences or family stories?  It is a plausible endeavor worth your confidence and, yes, worthy of publishing as a lasting document for posterity, generations to come.

There are, in fact, resources through Soleil Lifestory Network for the coaching services necessary to afford interested individuals aid in creating a memoir of which to be proud.  Details of editing and book production are all included in a free e-book by Denis Ledoux, with 25 years of memoir-writing skills, at www.turningmemories.com.

This accessible-on-line FAQ guidebook outlines the Ghostwriting Services available and elaborates on how a co-author or ghostwriter provides the technical skills and sensibility to help you realize your dream of preserving and sharing your life story in manuscript form.  The finished product will be your story, autobiography, and yours alone!

There are myriad obstacles which might detain a person from being a self-starter in composing the draft, initiating their written work.  Indeed, a first step complimentary half hour consultation helps sketch and craft your life story, as an architect employs your vision to create your dream house.  Loose bits of recall, scenes, dialogues and vignettes can be woven into a tapestry of vivid themes and meanings, creating a “text that fully expresses and embodies the life you wish to memorialize in your book”, reports Ledoux.

From its inception in 1988, Soleil Lifestory Network has been an advocate to thousands with a desire to document personal and family stories.  Not uncommon is concern that someone’s story is not worth preserving.  Overcoming this initial doubt and taking the preliminary steps offered as a motivational jump start, gives writers the confidence to get going!  A live interview and providing you with digital photos can be arranged with Denis Ledoux at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

The added benefits of putting your purpose to print might be the healing or developmental process for the writer.  Much can be learned, experienced or shared with others in the process of relating your life story or excerpts from family history.  Or the writing can be significant just for itself. The process of “letting go, opening up to share well-kept treasures of family history or little-known events of a by-gone era, can serve as a catharsis or cleansing for repressed emotions, evoking a sense of relief for both the writer and the reader.

Thinking the unspoken words and consigning a lasting text for family to read has intrinsic value.  Ledoux expresses “The worth of a memoir is [best] measured by the inherent value to the writer and to its selected audience.”  There is a unique quality about each and everyone’s life.  It could be that you were the first person to accomplish a certain success  in your community, organize a group or discover a simple remedy for removing impossible stains.

Giving it some thought, it is highly likely that we all can find a reason to write our own story that would be unique and different from anyone else’s.  As you embark upon the trip down memory lane, new avenues of exploration can be guided by the expert coaching at Soleil Lifestory Network at www.turningmemories.com or at 207-353-5454, 9-5 EST. --KRB

Karen Balch is a retired nurse, avid traveler and freelance writer. She is currently working on her memoir. Reach her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .



Last Updated (Saturday, 16 March 2013 02:58)

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