World Hemophilia Day 2014

Today is April 17, 2014. Today is a day for remembrance. Today is a day of gratitude and thanks. Today is a day like no other… Today is World Hemophilia Day.

For those of you who don’t know… Hemophilia, Von Willebrands, and other bleeding disorders are inherited or mutated problems that affect our ability to clot. In other words, if we get an internal injury (bruise, muscle injury, joint damage, or other form), it is impossible (or nearly so) to stop the bleeding. Prior to the 1960s we bled until we died or suffered irreparable injuries. Once blood products were available to stop the bleeding we were living longer lives. But… Along with this miraculous cure came blood-borne pathogens and viruses like Hepatitis and HIV. These cursed side-effects nearly killed off all hemophiliacs during the 80s and 90s. However, we overcame this plague era and thrived to carry on for future generations.

World Hemophilia Day was set aside to think about and remember people with bleeding disorders. This day is a special day designated to raise awareness and care for people who suffer from bleeding disorders.

Along with many of the bleeding disorder community, I am going to work hard to raise awareness by tweeting throughout the day. I will use the HASHTAG “#WorldHemoDay” and, along with many others, attempt to make this HASHTAG a “trend.” In order to get a HASHTAG to trend, you need thousands of related tweets within the same hour… So, I plan to HASHTAG it all day long, with an emphasis on banging out bunches of tweets during the one hour window of 11 a.m. until 12 p.m. EST. Please join me and help raise awareness!!!

If you do decide to participate in our tweet-fest, please make sure you include the HASHTAG “#WorldHemoDay” at the very least, and consider including these awesome organizations: @WFHemophilia @HemophiliaFed @NHF_Hemophilia

Here is a sample tweet that you can adjust accordingly:

Today is #WorldHemoDay PLS remember all easy bleeders and visit these orgs: @wfhemophilia @hemophiliafed @NHF_Hemophilia PLS RT

 

Also, @hemophiliafed, @NHF_Hemophilia, and @wfhemophilia are having a discussion on Twitter at 1 p.m. EST. Search for the HASHTAG #HemoChat and chime in!!!

In addition, please help me with my bid to put a hemophiliac on the cover of Men’s Health magazine for the first time ever. We can make a statement that hemophiliacs and other people with bleeding disorders are capable of being healthy and fit too. And, we can raise a huge amount of awareness with this cover. You can vote here: www.mhguysearch.com/entry/37

No matter what you do to spread awareness, also remember to take a few peaceful minutes to remember our fallen brothers and sisters. They died so that the rest of us can have better service and treatment. They died so that we have better and safer blood products and medicine available. They died for US.

God bless the easy bleeders!

Thank you for your love and support,
Vaughn “the Easy Bleeder” Ripley

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Ankle Fitness

In the past we have done many health and fitness related articles. And, even though some of these discuss good routines for hemophiliacs, none have specialized or been pinpointed at easy bleeders. I recently decided to start a series of articles that are primarily based on people with bleeding disorders. All of these workouts will work for clotters (non-hemophiliacs), but they are a gentler way to strengthen your body, and will focus on specific joints.

Today we will tackle one of my target joints, and also one of the most popular joints for bleeds. The ankle. Like all joints, the ankle is complicated and consists of several large muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Because this joint is so easy to injure and start a bleed, it is imperative that we strengthen it when its healthy. A strong and flexible ankle is a fantastic foundation to avoid injuries and potential bleeds. That said, hemophiliacs and Von Willebrands sufferers need to strategically exercise these joints to carefully and slowly strengthen them over time.

WARNING: Exercise, stretching, sports, and other fitness related activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Most important: listen to your body…

There are three primary muscles that are associated with flexing and securing the ankle joint. Most people think of only one and simply call it the calf muscle. However, the calf muscle is actually made up of two large muscles: Gastrocnemius and Soleus. The gastroc (short for gastrocnemius) is normally the muscle we refer to as the calf, because it is larger and more pronounced. But, the lesser known soleus is very important for ankle flex too. The difference comes mainly from the position (bend angle) of the knee. When the leg is straight (or fairly straight) the gastroc is the muscle that comes into play when standing on your toes. If your knee is bent, then the soleus is the one that flexes the toes (and foot) down.

You work the gastroc by doing the exercise known as standing calf raises. You work the soleus by doing the exercise known as seated calf raises. Both exercises are very important to strengthen the calf muscles and associated ligaments and tendons.

If you recall, I said there are three primary muscles… Well, there happens to be a muscle on the front side of the shin called the tibialis anterior; which is important for lifting the foot and toes upward (as opposed to pressing them down). Most people overlook this muscle entirely, because it doesn’t really add much bulk or “look” to the calves. However, hemophiliacs (and anyone interested in a stronger more supportive ankle), should not skip this important muscle. Every muscle in our body has an antagonist muscle or muscles. When we are strengthening a joint, it is important to hit the agonist (primary muscle) and the antagonist (opposite side the flexes the joint in an opposite direction). This is the secret to a health, strong, and supportive joint!

Since we listed the tib (tibialis anterior), let’s touch base on how to exercise it. The simplest way is to sit on a chair or bench, place some weight (light weight is more than ample for this weak muscle) on your toes and then do reps lifting your toes off the ground. You can (and should) add range of motion by placing something under your heel and lifting it a few inches off the ground.

Just like other muscles, your calves need rest, so do not exercise them everyday.

Once your muscles are good and warm from a workout, do some slow, deep stretches that you hold for 22 (or so) seconds. Never bounce or pop into a stretch. Instead you will gradually and carefully deepen a stretch during the 22 seconds. Also, make sure to stretch both calf muscles (gastroc and soleus) by stretching with your leg straight and bent. And, hit your tib by pointing your toes out and away from you as far as they’ll comfortably go.

One final note. There are generally three agreed upon types of weight training for muscles:
1. Strength (perform 5 to 8 reps of extra heavy weight failing on the last rep)
2. Bulk/hypertrophy (perform 8 to 12 reps of moderately heavy weight failing on the last rep)
3. Endurance (perform more than 12 reps of moderate weight without a real failure rep)

For hemophiliacs, we are trying to strengthen the joint without injury so I recommend not going to absolute failure. In other words, “leave one in the can.”

That’s all for today… Look for other joints, and hemophiliac related workouts in the near future.

Let’s work together and create Healthy Wealthy joints!!!

Cheers,
Rip

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Every Thorn has its Rose

Fairly certain that you’ve heard the song, Every Rose has its Thorn, by Poison. If you haven’t heard it, you certainly have heard the saying… Right?

Anyway, I think about this song and saying often. Honestly… I don’t like it. To me, it sounds negative. It sounds like, “you’ve got something beautiful in your life (a rose), but it always comes with pain (a thorn).” The other day I was scrubbing my underarms in the shower, and it hit me… What if you reversed the saying? Wouldn’t that put a positive spin on it? Think about it… “Life is full of pain (thorns), but where there is pain, there is beauty (roses).” Sort of like, “Every cloud has a silver lining.” Love it!

So I came up with my own saying, “Every Thorn has its Rose.”

Life is tough… Life will beat you up… Some days are incredibly hard… Bad things will happen to you, your family, and your friends…

So what? Bad days and hard times do not define you… They only make you stronger and more prepared. When bad days come (and they will), hunker down and roll with it. Just know that good times are coming.

If you run into thorns, just know that there is a rose on the horizon! Hang in there and believe. In the long run you will have many more roses than thorns. Take my word on this.

Life is a beautiful thing. It is a special experience designed just for you and me. Live. Live happy. And… Spread the happiness in the form of love!

I’ll leave you with a few of my related quotes that I’ve said throughout the years.

“We’re all going through something … The trick is to go through it anyway!”

“Life has its ups and downs… Ride the downs and climb the ups!”

“Life throws punches. It’s not about punching back… It’s about taking ’em, and still standing.”

 

Hoping this article touched you and maybe even gave you a dose of inspiration.

Hugs,
Vaughn

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Tall Poppy Syndrome

I was born in 1967 with a rare bleeding disorder called, hemophilia. All through elementary school I was bullied because of my weakness and difference. Also in junior high, where the bullying became more dangerous. Fortunately, the varsity football team took me under their wing and protected me in high school… For the first time, I was not bullied.

I thought the bullying was over… Then, in the mid eighties I received a bad batch of blood to cure a bleed. This blood product, called Factor VIII, was tainted with HIV and I was the lucky recipient. Little did I know that the bullying was about to go to a whole new level. Besides the whispering of people whom I called friend, the biggest first thing that happened to me was being asked in front of my entire community at our neighborhood swimming pool, “Do you have AIDS?” I lied and ran crying from this situation.

Next, the death threats started coming in via anonymous telephone calls (back then there was no caller ID). Someone also threatened to burn our house down if we did not move out. This was a scary time for everyone and the stigma was in full swing. I quickly realized that a safer bet was to hide my HIV status and act as if there was nothing wrong. Well, this was tough because it was becoming more known that most hemophiliacs had it. So, I also hid my hemophilia.

Within a few, short years, all of my hemophiliac friends were dead. I was literally the last man standing and completely quiet about my affliction. Twenty-three years later, I compiled my life journal into a book and published my memoir, Survivor: One Man’s Battle with HIV, Hemophilia, and Hepatitis C. This was my “coming out” party. I mean, it was impossible to hide my status with a published book out there… I felt relief overcome me as I admitted to the world that I was a long-term survivor and thriver. People came out of the woodwork with questions and stories. I was thrown into the limelight and overnight became an inspiration to thousands of hemophiliacs who had dealt with this situation in their own lives.

There was a down side… The stigma surrounding HIV was lessened, but still in operation. So, I have managed to duck and dodge my way through a few of those situations that brought back horrific memories of the old days. Mostly though, it was all up-side and inspirational things that happened to me.

Out of the blue, an amazing man, Barry Haarde, approached me as another HIV+ hemophiliac who was also coming out about his status. He was quickly becoming a special man in our easy bleeding community. Barry talked to me, and inspired (more like motivated) me to get back into the bleeding disorder community and not only tell my story, but help raise awareness and battle for other hemophiliacs. I did.

What does all of this have to do with poppy plants? You ask… hmmm… Well, I wanted to give you a little back-story of where I’ve been before discussing today’s article.

The Australians have a saying… It’s called tall poppy syndrome. See, if a particular poppy grows taller than the others, it will steal the sun and water from a bunch of other, smaller, poppies. So, they chop the tall one down in a sacrifice to save many others. When this saying translates to people, it has a less positive outlook, and means when some people see you attaining success and growing before their very eyes, they chop you down to keep you down among them. You can see this derogatory version is a little bit disheartening.

Today’s post was inspired because I find myself trying to promote me, hemophilia, HIV, and fitness to raise awareness in this callous world. I am currently leading a competition (by a long shot) to appear on one of the most popular Men’s magazines in the world, Men’s Health. You can see my entry (and vote for me) here: www.mhguysearch.com/entry/37 (yes… that was a shameless promotion).

Of course I want to be on the cover! I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished despite my “issues.” However, I’m not so shallow that this is only to get ME on the cover… I’m doing this for you too. I have found a purpose that is more important than just me. Supporting people with hemophilia, Von Willebrand, other bleeding disorders, and HIV+ or other life-threatening diseases. Also, for anyone who struggles with staying fit and healthy! I am the poster child for all of us!!!

The rules of the competition state that people can vote once daily. I did not write these rules, but I understand the importance of them. Therefore, I posts a daily plea to my friends to request their vote.

Can you imagine putting an HIV+ hemophiliac on the cover of a popular health magazine (for the first time ever)?? This is an incredible opportunity to raise a huge amount of awareness in an otherwise unknown community of bleeding disorders.

With this in mind, over the last several days I have received a few messages talking about me spamming the community. Now I must mention that I am receiving thousands of like, votes, and messages saying how inspiring this is. And, hundreds of hemophiliac moms have reached out to me saying how important my message and story is to their children. The good outweighs the bad by the hundreds. However, the bad messages do stand out to me, and hurt my feelings.

You see, I was asked by many, a few years ago, to please stand up and be heard. To help support the community by sharing my story. And, I answered this calling by doing so. Yet I now find myself occasionally battling people who seem to be trying to bring me down. I know these feelings might be my own internal battles, but I can’t help but wonder if some are merely picking on me and my advocacy simply because they are miserable and want to attack people who they see doing good things in this world. I’m certain that not everyone of these spam name callers feel this way, but I’m also aware of a few who literally are negative and sometimes downright mean.

Spam? Really?

Let’s define Spam… Besides being a canned meat product, spam is also defined as a noun that means: Irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of recipients.

While I am posting in an environment that has a large number of recipients, I feel that my appeal for awareness is extremely relevant and appropriate. Perhaps I’m nitpicking by defining spam and excluding my posts from it, but I’m making a point. If I’m reaching out to a community to raise awareness and help those who cannot help themselves… How can I possibly be spamming? It is not always easy to raise awareness, be an advocate, and speak out to the world about tough subjects… If it was easy, everyone would do it!

No one is asking for your money (although I might if the event warrants it). I’m not asking you to do some crazy thing… I’m simply asking you to visit a website and make your voice heard, by voting for me. How do you think I got in first place (by more than double)? Do you think I would have this many (or any) votes if I didn’t post anything? Of course not!

I’m an honorable man doing honorable things. I stand by a community that all but disappeared when they all died around me. I feel like a phoenix who has risen again and find a whole new generation of young bleeders and their families flocking to me for advice and inspiration. I will continue to tell my story to the ones who want to hear it. If you don’t appreciate my outlook on life, then simply don’t read my posts!

We recently passed the thirty year mark of discovering AIDS. And, I have been living with it for more than twenty-eight years. It is high-time that we broke this stigma and show that you can be a HIV+ hemophiliac and still be healthy.

I’m not only standing up for hemophiliacs. Nor only HIV+ people. I’m also standing up for average people in general. Statistics show that more than 65% of Americans are overweight. I fear this number is far higher than advertised. I am using myself as an example of someone who is suffering through much more than the average person and still manages to stay extremely fit and healthy. My message is simple: If I can do it, so can you! This applies to everyone!!!

Most of you are VERY supportive of me and my platform. Because of you wonderful people, I will not stop my efforts. This is despite (and sometimes to spite) the naysayers who try and beat me down. To quote Chumbawamba, “I get knocked down, but I get up again.”

You all lift me up and make me feel like a loved person. You also inspire and motivate me to continue my work and voice… Thank you!

Have you ever run in to “Tall Poppy Syndrome,” or know someone who has? Have any advice or thoughts on the matter?

Cheers,
Vaughn

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First Quarter Goal Gut Check

You guys might or might not have read and participated in my 2014 New Year’s Resolution post, Are New Year’s Resolutions Bullshit?

Well, today’s article is a quarterly check-up on where we stand, and what we’ve accomplished since that initial post.

Here is my list and notes on how I’m doing:

Vaughn’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Do something special for Kristine;
  • It is our 20th Anniversary next month… Must think of something special.

  • Start my new(ish) career and get back on track;
  • This is in the work and the gears are spinning. More on this later…

  • Continue the debt turnaround (path to becoming a financial wizard);
  • Last year’s job situation made this one tough… Slow going.

  • Turn up the training for triathlons;
  • No injuries yet this year, and my workouts are more powerful than ever.

  • Do Mountains of Misery again and stay in the saddle for both hills;
  • I’m signed up and training hard…

  • Start 5/3/1 weight lifting routine and get stronger;
  • Done!

  • New Military Press PR (personal record) of 150 pounds;
  • Started 1/1/14 at 135. My current PR is 150. Yahoo!

  • New Deadlift PR of 315 pounds;
  • Started 1/1/14 at 255. My current PR is 305. Very close…

  • New Bench Press PR of 235 pounds;
  • Started 1/1/14 at 205. My current PR is 215. This one will take some work!

  • New Squat PR of 275 pounds;
  • Started 1/1/14 at 235. My current PR is 260. Getting close.

  • Preparation for Mt. Rainier in July 2015;
  • Books and backpack purchased. Starting to study and plan training. Plenty of time, but don’t want to slip.

  • Publish Decrypted;
  • My agent is working diligently on this one and I’m helping where I can.

  • Finish Weapon 67 (my second fictional title);
  • Struggling here. 2014 has proven to be a very busy year. That said, I am working on it.

  • Finish outline for non-fictional book, (title pending for a “growing up” book) and get agent approval;
  • About 15% done with this one, so I’m behind schedule… Ramping up the efforts.

  • Start super-secret business idea and start ball rolling;
  • Planning is done and planning has begun.

  • Work with Hemophilia Foundation of MD (HFM) on the board and make progress;
  • I was sworn in as a board member, and I have visited Maryland senate to help pass a bill. Yay!

  • Continue focusing on this (HealthyWealthyTribe) blog and update at least twice per week.
  • I was averaging three posts per week in 2013… This year Ive struggled. Must work harder!

    Now let’s list all of the people who commented on the initial post with their own goals and resolutions:

    Andrea’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Staying fit in ways that are not dangerous to me, including exercising at least 5-6 days a week.
  • Doing at least 3 different kinds of exercise on a regular basis to mix things up (e.g., running, swimming, cycling, lifting, hiking). Bonus points if I can get up to 4 modalities on a weekly basis.
  • Maintaining my weight. Bonus points for dropping 5 lbs.
  • Maintaining or growing my running group.
  • Visiting my mom and sister at least 3 times.
  • Helping my son to stay fit and pursue any sports activities he is interested in (right now learning to swim, hiking, running).
  • Going out on a date night with my husband at least once a quarter. Bonus points for going monthly.
  •  

    Lesley’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Make religion part of every day.
  • By the end of the year will be debt free.
  • Lose my final 10 pounds.
  • Allow myself to learn the art of forgiving, compassion, and loving towards others.
  •  

    Sara’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Better manage my time.
  • Make a reasonable schedule for myself to adhere to each day.
  • Cook more often.
  • Read at least one book a month.
  • Do one project for myself each month to completion.
  •  

    Melanie’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Reduce my 5K time to 25 minutes by the end of 2014.
  • Go on monthly date nights with my husband + use our firepit more and go on more weekend camping trips together.
  • Email/write my brother at least once a month (he’s in the military).
  • Schedule my work so I can spend time back home in Indiana for about 2 weeks this summer.
  • Cut way back on soda, ie., Sprite. (I already gave up caffeine in 2009.)
  • Improve core strength and do more strength training.
  •  

    Eric’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Be a better father: listen more, make more small time, yell less.
  • Get a new job.
  • Fitness Metrics: get weight <195, squat 135×10, deadlift 195×10, Clean&Jerk 135×5, Pullups x5, Dips x10; get flexible enough to squat below parallel with wide stance heels.
  • Do a ‘new’ fitness event for me – something not already checked off.
  • Get the cub scout pack in order.
  • Get 20 minor projects done around the house.
  •  

    Please comment and let us all know how you’re doing with your 2014 goals and resolutions!!!

    We’ll be back in three months with another check-up. Here’s the goals/resolution post schedule for 2014:

  • Wednesday, January 1, 2014 – The initial post
  • Wednesday, April 2, 2014 – Our first quarterly check-in
  • Tuesday, July 1, 2014 – Our second Quarterly check-in
  • Wednesday, October 1, 2014 – Our third Quarterly check-in
  • Wednesday, December 31, 2014 – Our final check-in and evaluation
  •  

    Your friendly neighborhood motivator,
    Vaughn

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    T’ai Chi and QiGong

    T’ai Chi is a way of life. It is also a way of living… I am one of the longest surviving HIV+ people on the planet. I believe that there are manifold reasons for this. Also, there are many pieces to my “survival pie.” I stay very fit by lifting weights, riding my bikes, and running. I also try to maintain a healthy nutritional plan and eat the right things. I work closely with my support system (family, friends, community, articles, and so on) to insure that I stay positively motivated and supported as needed. I also challenge myself to create a more balanced life that evenly distributes my time and energy to family, fun, and business. Over the years I’ve struggled with my spirituality, but I still work on a daily basis to build this area. I coordinate with and stay in touch with several specialized doctors and always take my prescribed medication.

    Along with these many things I do to keep myself healthy and sane, I also practice T’ai Chi. I know that this fits in the health and fitness category, but I thought a separate article was in order. I have tried many things in this area… Yoga, meditation, martial arts, and a combination of these and other things. However, I keep coming back to T’ai Chi. I believe that it is the perfect combination of relaxation, stretching, exercise, and meditation. And, I feel like a million bucks after each session! So, today is dedicated to this incredibly valuable exercise and art form.

    World Tai Chi & Qigong Day is held each year on the last Saturday of April. This year, it’s on Saturday, April 26, 2014. I recommend that everyone participates!

    Before we talk about my routine, let’s tackle the primary benefits that I get out of my daily T’ai Chi ritual:

  • Start your day with a powerful inspiration
  • Posture improvement
  • Weight lifting enhancements
  • Balance (physical and mental)
  • Sinuses and allergies
  • Immune system strengthening
  • HIV supression
  • Hemophilia (joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments are all stronger)
  • Meditation
  • Mindset and positive thinking
  • Stress relief
  • Spiritual strengthening
  • Motivation
  •  

    While most of these benefits are self explanatory and easy to understand, I thought I would chat briefly about hemophilia. As a hemophiliac, I have joint issues, bleeding concerns, along with all of the standard worries that folks in general have. I have found that T’ai Chi is very soothing on my joints and helps to strengthen the supporting structure (bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments) for my joints. Suffice it to say that I feel I have fewer bleeds and problems when I’m practicing T’ai Chi on a daily basis. Along with weight lifting and cardio, I believe that T’ai Chi helps me avoid and repair injuries and especially bleeds!

    Let me describe how a typical training goes for me…

    I weight lift four days per week, ride my bike four days per week, and run three days per week. Many of these workouts overlap, because there are only seven days in the week. Also, I take one rest day per week to skip all of these workouts and give my body time to heal. That said, I do T’ai Chi seven days per week, and do not feel the need for a rest day from this relaxing and energizing routine. Also, I prefer to get my T’ai Chi fix the first thing in the morning. I’m talking about leaping out of bed, into my sweat pants, and getting busy! I like this for many reasons, but the primary one is that T’ai Chi is a great introduction to the day. It opens my mind, wakes me spiritually and physically, and gets my blood flowing in a gradual and energizing fashion.

    My session normally takes precisely sixty minutes. It is roughly broken down into thirds.

    I like to start with a sitting QiGong meditation for about twenty minutes. With my eyes closed, I evaluate and venture into each and every part of my body. This is an enlightening way to wake and take control of your mind and body. This time is also used for deep controlled breathing and really ramps you up for an energized day.

    After my meditation is complete, I move into a stretching and moving session of QiGong and T’ai Chi warm ups. This really gets my muscles warmed up and the blood pumping. As my twenty minute session of warm up continues I add to the speed and energy of the stretches. By the end of this session I am amped and ready to dive into the last section.

    Basically (for me) the first two sessions are about waking and opening my mind and body. It prepares my body and spirit for the last section; which is the actual T’ai Chi moves. I follow the Guang (also called: Kuang) Ping Yang (standard long) form of T’ai Chi that is covered perfectly by Bill Douglas in his DVD, Anthology of T’ai Chi & Qigong: The Prescription for the Future, and book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to T’ai Chi & QiGong Illustrated.

    After completing this sixty minute routine, I literally feel like a new man. My recommendation is that everyone practice T’ai Chi on a daily basis. You will be amazed at what it does for your mind, body, and spirit!

    Cheers,
    Vaughn

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    The Ultimate Men’s Health Guy Search

    A sudden and powerful change happened to me on (or about) March 11, 2014. I was flipping through the pages of Men’s Health magazine and saw an ad titled “Are you fit? Healthy? Driven? Giving? Enter to win the Ultimate Men’s Health Guy Search.” The ad went on to say that one lucky winner would be featured on the cover of Men’s Health magazine.

    I smiled and thought… I’m extremely fit. I’m very healthy. I’m over-the-top driven. And… I absolutely love giving. My smile eased a little and the gears started grinding in my head. I chuckled… But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized… I was cut out precisely for this competition.

    Then the doubt started creeping in. You know the doubt… The realist inside each of us. It was saying things like, “Dude, you’re 46 years OLD.” “You’re medication over the years has stripped fat from your cheeks and butt and stuck it in funky places!” “Life has put battle scars on you.” “There will be two dozen or more seriously good looking model-ish men competing in this among a field of hundreds of others.” Finally my inner demon said, “What possible chance do you think you have?”

    For a few minutes I nodded my head in agreement with the dark side of my mind. Then, a tipping point happened. I thought of John Belushi saying, “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?” I laughed again. And something neat happened… A glimmer entered my eye. And, I realized that this was doable. I knew it would be an uphill battle, but honestly what great outcome isn’t tough? I decided then and there that I would enter. The contest started on March 15, 2014 – so I stored this thought in the back of my brain, tore the page out, and got on with life.

    Jump to 3/15/14 – Some of the original negative thoughts started pouring in. I was nervous. Am I being silly? Before these bad feelings could bring me down, I suddenly had another thought… Has a hemophiliac EVER been on the cover of Men’s Health? I don’t know… Maybe..? Has an HIV+ person ever graced the cover of Men’s Health magazine? Again, I didn’t know, but figured probably… (I should know this stuff). Then it hit me – I know… That there has NEVER been an HIV+ hemophiliac on the cover of Men’s Health magazine, because I know them all! It was settled then and there… I opened the website and started my entry process.

    March is Hemophilia Awareness Month. For goodness sakes, Ronald Wilson Reagan made it so back in 1986!!! And, more than 90% of ALL hemophiliacs born before the mid-1980’s got HIV from a bad blood transfusion. And, almost ALL of them died from AIDS or complications around this horrible disease! It was destiny that I would stumble on this opportunity in March, during Hemophilia Awareness Month!!! I was in head first!

    Honestly, I was simply hoping to be in the top ten, so I could raise awareness for hemophiliacs and HIV+ people. When I entered I sincerely did not think that I would win. The competition would be far too strong and who the heck am I?

    Guess what… On day one, I skyrocketed to first place. And, I’m not talking about a little jump, I was ten times ahead of the second place person! It was incredible.

    By day two, many more men had joined and they were gaining, but I was still at least four times as many votes ahead of everyone else.

    By day three I realized, I could actually win the voting portion of this competition. That was when it happened. You see, in life, nothing (I mean NOTHING) worthwhile is easy. And, there is no reason that this would be different. Realizing that I could win this voting section of the contest, I re-read the rules carefully. There it was glaring at me…

    Upload at least one (1) but up to three (3) digital photographs … taken within thirty (30) days prior to the date of your Entry into the Contest…

    Holy crap! In my rush to enter… With the mindset of “I can’t possibly win this thing…” I had made a vital mistake. I had uploaded older photos of me… You see, I am 46 years old (47 next month) and because of how fit and healthy I stay, my physique really hasn’t changed very much in over a decade. So, I assumed any photo would do, because quite honestly I am in the best shape of my life NOW and even look better than those photos from a year or two ago…

    The sinking feeling of dread overcame me as I realized that I could potentially be disqualified. And, on top of that, I was essentially cheating by not following the rules. My head pounded and my stomach was upset… This couldn’t be happening to me. Moments later, I wrote the editor of Men’s Health and explained my situation looking for a resolution. Well, fortunately for me, the editor was very cool and said simply “you are also permitted to enter once per day per email address throughout the entry period. So, you are welcome to submit another entry with current photos…”

    Well… That settled it… I had to ditch my first place entry that had more than 2,200 votes already and start a new entry with current photos. So, I worked with my Aunt, Patty Abrams, to quickly take a few “today” photos of me. These photos were nowhere near as cool as my previous entry (me posing in a triathlon suit looking all heroic, me on Mount Rainier in -40 degree temperatures, and me on a 185 mile bicycle ride on the C&O canal towpath), but they are legit and follow the rules.

    My new entry, was sitting there with zero votes in 113th place… Wow! Talk about a buzz kill. To add insult to injury, my original entry is still sitting there on top of the pack all pretty and perfectly happy. DANG!

    Time to eat some humble pie… I spent a few minutes typing up a quick status update for my social media friends that had all helped escalate me to the top of the heap. I had to explain that our 2,200+ votes weren’t going to count toward this newest entry. I laughed at myself. Cheered them for their support. And then asked for their continued support. I wasn’t sure how folks would respond. I mean, I’ve already been SPAMing them with numerous requests to vote for me as a cover model… yada. I thought they might rebel. *insert upbeat music here* Something very special happened. They all stood behind me, and picked me up. From the nadir of this event, my friends and their friends all wiped the dirt off my face, picked me up, brushed the tears from my eyes, and gathered as a community to support me… Their brother.

    After adding my second entry, folks got behind me and stormed the contest pouring in massive votes. Within one day I had gone from 113th place to 3rd place and had a solid 600 votes! Just when I thought all was cool, Men’s Health reached out again and said that they need to remove my second entry. So, they offered to put one of my new photos in the original entry and delete my second entry into the contest. Unfortunately they were not able to migrate my votes over. However, I still had the healthy amount of votes and a solid lead. Stuff happens, and I’m usually one that rolls with the punches. Besides, I can’t really complain considering my sizable lead.

    You guys have all given me so much support during this entire process, and I am eternally grateful!

    This is what it’s all about. I now know why I’ve entered this competition. It’s not some vain attempt to plaster myself on a magazine… It’s not about me. It is about us. It is about hemophiliacs. It is about HIV+ people, it is about average Joes who are beaten down ever day of their lives and continue picking themselves up and reporting for duty despite the odds stacked against them.

    I have survived for more than 28 years as an HIV+ human being. I believe there is a reason why God spared me. I honestly believe that it is my duty to spread awareness and advocate for people who struggle to have their voices heard. Well… I am here. And, I felt you help pick me up. I feel your love. I feel your support and caring. I feel you. And, I love you. I will fight for this and every other opportunity that we have to scream at the world.

    Together, you and I can and will put the first ever HIV+ hemophiliac on the cover of one of the most popular men’s magazines on the planet.

    Please help support this cause by sharing my link, voting (you can vote daily), and spreading the word.
    www.mhguysearch.com/entry/37/

    I’m currently standing with a strong lead in first place…

    Love to you all,
    Vaughn Ripley

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    Hemophilia Advocacy

    It has been nine days since my last article… I try to get a blog post in every other day or so… However, this skipped time was warranted, because I was spending time preparing for the exciting meetings that I had in Annapolis with the rest of the Hemophilia Foundation of Maryland (HFM) peeps. It was our goal to meet with many of the Maryland House Delegates and Senators to discuss the “Health Insurance – Specialty Drugs” bill (House Bill 761 and Senate Bill 874), inform them of the bill and how it will be beneficial to the hemophilia community (and rare chronic disease communities in general), and to ask each of our representatives to please vote “yes” on the upcoming bill.

    I was recently elected to the HFM board of directors as one of the advocacy chairs. These meetings with state and federal representatives is just one piece of my role as a hemophilia advocate. And, like everything else in my life, I dove in head first!

    This is how my two day march on Annapolis Maryland went:

    Monday, February 17, 2014 – My wife Kristine and I piled our children (Trinity and Xander) into our car and drove the 90(ish) minutes to Annapolis. We arrived and checked in at the Historic Maryland Inn of Annapolis on Main Street. This is a gorgeous hotel that throws back (literally) to the 17th and 18th centuries. The elegance and ambiance is immediately heart warming and downright awesome! Our room was spacious and beautiful. After dropping our bag in the room, we headed downstairs for lunch with our fellow easy bleeders (hemophiliacs) to discuss politics and our plan of action.

    HFM and a few important sponsors did a fantastic job of supplying us with information packets (for ourselves and the representatives we would visit), providing food and fun, giving us some role-playing examples of how our meetings would go, and covering any additional questions we had. Let the nerves start to tingle and the sweaty hands begin! After the informative meeting, we broke for a few and then went for a fantastic dinner at Buddy’s Crabs & Ribs (an Annapolis staple). Along the trek to Buddy’s, we passed an alley that had a perfect (and serene) view of the Maryland State House… Trinity and Xander were kind enough to pause and pose with this historic monument and achievement.

    After dinner, we waddled back up the little hill and entertained ourselves by reading over the materials that HFM provided. Before long, our lights were out and we were sleeping soundly… Until… 1:17 a.m. when Xander suddenly kicked out (he was upside-down in his bed) and knocked the phone off the bedside table. I put it back up, hung the receiver up, spun Xander upright, and climbed back into bed. Just before sleep hit me again, Xander suddenly kicked the phone off again… How the heck did he get spun upside-down again?? Deja vu all over again and then back to sleep. The next morning, Xander told Mommy and me that he had a great dream about Ninjas attacking our family and he protected us by kicking them in their “parts.” Ahhhh… I see… The phone was a ninja’s parts. Now it all makes sense. Xander is five by the way. HA!

    Lest this long night be over, Kristine and I were both awakened at 3:09 a.m. to the beeping of a truck in reverse. WTH? I decided to drain myself of last nights iced teas and waters and take a peek out the window. Low and behold, it was snowing… There was a snow plow out there, moving back and forth and beeping along the way… Great. hehe. It honestly felt like that truck stayed below our window and stuck in reverse for two hours.

    Perhaps there is a little bit of irony in this story as I think about icy cobblestone streets and brick sidewalks that were recently covered with snowfall. Now picture a handful of hemophiliacs walking said streets and sidewalks. HA! The things we will do to get a vote!

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014 – Waking bright and early, we joyfully bounced around the room preparing and packing. A quick shower, shave, and so on and so forth… Soon, I had on my fancy-dancie blue suit (complete with U.S. flag lapel pin) and we were off running. Downstairs we enjoyed a brief breakfast, and then made our way to our first meeting at the Senate building.

    Kristine, Trinity, Xander, and I started our day by meeting the Honorable Senator Ronald Young. Firstly, I honestly was expecting to only meet aides… And, it started out looking like we would. The Senator’s aides greeted us, and explained that he was about to leave for the Caucus assembly and he would not have time to see us. However, he overheard us chatting and came out with a smile on his face. Senator Young was very polite and personable. He listened to our story intently. and when we finished he said, “I will absolutely vote yes on this bill.” YAY!

    I should note that we were ten minutes early to our meeting with Senator Young and I firmly believe this is why we even had a chance to talk with him. He gladly posed with us (see the “featured” photo at the top) and then took a picture with Trinity and Xander…

    Next, we crossed Bladen Street and entered the House of Delegates. We were early, so we dropped off three information folders for delegates that we didn’t have appointments with. One of these aides we met with previously worked with a congressman (I think from Minnesota or Michigan) who had three hemophiliac boys. She was very helpful and said she would not only hand off the folder, but also push our point with the delegate. Another win!

    Our final face-to-face was with the Honorable Delegate Michael Hough. It turns out that he is our neighbor, and my wife is actually friends with his wife, Jo. When we first arrived, his aide said that Hough was in session and not available for a meeting. He was kind, sat with us, and said he would pass the info packet on to Delegate Hough. Just before we left the meeting, my wife said, “Mike lives in our neighborhood, and I’m friends with his wife.” This had a very big impact on the aide, and he immediately texted Hough. Moments later, he announced, “Delegate Hough is going to be out of his session with a few minutes to spare before the Caucus and he would very much like to meet your family.” WOW??!!

    Delegate Hough was truly awesome and kind as he not only met with Kristine and me (and our kids), but he took time out of his busy schedule to walk us over to the State House and give us a guided tour! He actually walked us through some of the history of the building and told us stories about Washington, Hamilton, and Franklin while walking us into various rooms. We literally got the behind the scenes tour filled with neat tidbit of history.

    He took us into the original House of Delegates room; which was recently renovated. In here he took another fun photo with the kids. By now, they were really enjoying themselves and learning so much about our country and the way the government works.

    Delegate Hough also showed us the resignation letter of George Washington with a twinkle in his eye. It was incredible awe inspiring and very positive! As we parted ways, he explained to us how we could go up above the Senatorial and Delegate meetings and view them from a balcony. I never knew that we (the public) had so much access, but I learned just how high these representatives hold us, their constituents.

    This is Kristine and the kids watching the Delegate session starting up:

    All-in-all I would call this trip a huge success. And, an incredibly strong learning session to boot! We met a Delegate and a Senator. We met dozens of aides. We told our story and the story of H.B. 761. We asked for a “yes” vote from everyone. We passed out five information packets. And, I gave away three signed copies of my book, Survivor.

    Takeaways

  • Always be completely prepared for meetings with representatives. Study their CV, know the names of their aides, and plan some alternate conversation points, should there be contention. Know what your point of contact looks like, in case you run into them in the hall, rather than their office.
  • Arrive early! The only reason that Senator Young had a few minutes for us, was because we were ten minutes early and caught him on the way out the door.
  • Be confident and well-read. Leave them feeling as though you are someone who carefully studies the issues and also someone who votes!
  • Don’t be afraid to bring your children (if appropriate). Trinity (nine years old) and Xander (five years old) were a bigger hit than me and Kristine. All of the aides loved them, and the representatives were delighted to take photos with these youngins. On top of that, the learning experience for these children was immeasurable!
  • Enjoy yourself and be stress-free. This one may be tough for some, but it is well worth it to approach these people as peers (and actually employees), because they are. We often put them on a pedestal and think they’re impossible to reach. Nothing could be further from the truth. Everyone I’ve ever met has been extremely nice and listened and talked openly and in a friendly manner.
  • Before you part ways with your representative(s), ask for their support, and ask for a “yes” vote. You will be surprised how polite and honest these folks are!
  •  

    I hope you dug this article. And, perhaps even gleaned something from it.

    Cheers,
    Vaughn

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    The Miracle Baby

    HaPpY BiRtHDaY to my darling angel, Trinity. She turns nine years old today! As many of you know, it is an unbelievable miracle that she’s even here with us. Today’s article is dedicated to her, and other miracle babies like her.

    Why do I call her the miracle baby? hmmm… We need to travel back a bit and go over a few hurdles we (and especially she) have had to endure in less than a decade. Let’s list some of the things that lead me to call her a miracle:

    I’m HIV Positive
    I realize that this post is about Trinity, and not me… However, this is a very important fact. Being HIV+ has me facing many facts. Until medical science caught up, one of those facts was that I would never have a child. At least not without the possibility of transferring HIV to my wife and/or child. Hence, until about a dozen years ago, Kristine and I assumed we would not have children. That changed when a form of in vitro fertilization (IVF), called ICSI, was approved for serodiscordant couples (where one partner is HIV-positive and one partner is HIV-negative).

    You can read more about IVF here: healthywealthytribe.com/creating-life-in-a-laboratory.

    Another potential miracle part is that Kristine and I made attempt-after-attempt before the fourth one finally took. Kristine actually got pregnant on our first attempt and then lost the baby at ten weeks. This was devastating. We nearly gave up after the next two attempts didn’t take at all. We decided to take one more crack (no pun intended) at this, and Kristine got pregnant. We were very close to giving up entirely…

    Breech Baby
    From before she was born, Trinity was a stubborn baby. Right around her due date, we found out that Trinity was sitting breech in the womb. The doctor made some simple attempts at turning her, but such a headstrong child was not moving for a mere doctor. Kristine was admitted for a cesarean section.

    During the C section, the doctors exclaimed that something was wrong with Kristine and she was losing too much blood. Her whole body went deathly white and they wrapped her in heated blankets to keep her warm. I’m certain that they covered up a serious problem by telling me that there were complications, but that she would be fine. Again, this doesn’t have a direct correlation with Trinity, but she might very well have lost her mother from day one!

    Esophageal Atresia
    When Trinity was born, she didn’t cry immediately. And, her breathing sounded a tad raspy to me. I turned to the nurse and said, “Something is wrong.” The nurse disagreed and said everything was fine. Within minutes they were scurrying around looking flustered like a barn full of clucking hens. I knew something was serious, but didn’t know what. Asked to leave, I went to get something to eat from the cafeteria. In a matter of minutes, I thought we were close to losing Kristine, and now, something was wrong with Trinity. My head was swirling.

    Returning from eating a meal, I found Kristine crying. She explained to me that Trinity had esophageal atresia and needed an immediate surgery to live. Essentially, Trinity’s esophagus had not fully developed and it wasn’t connected to her stomach. To top it off, she would need to be transported to Children’s Hospital for this emergency.

    About 1 in 2,500 babies is born with some form of esophageal atresia. The scary (and another miracle) part is that all babies with this disorder born prior to the operation invention (approximately fifty years ago) died from starvation! Can you say, miracle?

    While couped-up at Children’s, the first communication that Trinity had was grabbing my finger. She reached out, grabbed it tightly, and peered into my eyes as if to say, Don’t worry Daddy, I’m strong and will be fine. I knew that she was special, and dare I say it… A miracle.

    The doctors told us that she was strong when she pulled out her feeding tube. Actually, they couldn’t keep it in… She refused to give in! Strong heart this one…

    MRSA
    Another situation occurred while Trinity was still in Children’s Hospital. She caught Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). MRSA is a staph infection and bacterium that’s responsible for several difficult-to-treat infections. It is especially dangerous in young children. Considering that approximately 10% of people with MRSA die from it, I would say that warrants another Miracle Baby check-mark.

    Oxygen Deprivation
    When Trinity was a wee-little-one she had oxygen related issues. Kristine brought her in to see the doctor and the doctor immediately called an ambulance. She was taken to the hospital on a few occasions to tackle this problem, and she spent a few nights in an oxygen tent. Even as a little baby, she was still dealing with life threatening illness and troubles. And, perhaps more importantly, she was surmounting these deadly issues as soon as they came.

    Asthma
    At a young age, Trinity was diagnosed with asthma. Nothing like some of the things she dealt with at birth, this is still a tough challenge and something she will deal with for her entire life. I’m confident that her headstrong attitude and downright stubbornness will get her by this speed bump without a hitch.

    Hemophilia
    Most women born to hemophiliac fathers do not get the disease. Rather, they become carriers, but lead normal “clotting” lives. Never one to miss an opportunity, Trinity was tested and revealed the fact she, in-fact, is a type A mild hemophiliac.

    I feel like I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but you get my point. Obviously there are things she’s only been able to tackle with the advent of modern medical miracles. However, I feel that above those things, my darling daughter, Trinity, is a miracle baby.

    Like her Mom and Dad, she is a loving and caring person. Talented and smart, she was born to be a leader and survivor!

    Everyone is rightfully proud of their kids. Today I salute a wonderful human being, a miracle…

    HaPpY BiRtHDaY, Trinity Viola Ripley!

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    The Secret

    The secret is… Are you ready for this? Do you have pen and paper ready? There is no secret. No secret to life. No fountain of youth. No secret to fitness and health. No secret to money making. No secret group watching you.

    But wait… Don’t you believe in an ultra secretive Illuminati that is working very hard to mold us into automated machines to do their bidding? Of course I do! This article is not to say that I don’t believe in the dastardly secret societies… Because I do. It’s more like, I don’t really care about “them.” Who cares if someone is out there trying to draw in all of the power, money, and glory? I have too many of my own problems, issues, and challenges then to worry about a bunch of old (dying just like the rest of us), bald, crotchety, control freak men, in drab robes, chanting under candlelight. WTF?

    HA!

    I’m just kidding… This post isn’t about the Illuminati or some other secret society. Instead, it is about the secret of success. When I say, “the secret,” I mean any old secret. Folks often ask me for the secret to fitness, health, success, money, parenting, and so on and so forth. I honestly love this question, because it gives me a chance to do one of my fun skits… It usually goes down like this:

    The lights in the expansive restaurant reflected off a myriad of shiny surfaces and glimmered through hanging wine glasses to create Pink Floydesque colorful prism sparkles on the bar counter.

    Mike leaned in to Vaughn slightly, furrowed his brow, and asked, “What’s your secret, man?”

    Vaughn sipped his water, squinted his eyes slightly, and queried, “Whadda ya mean?”

    Adjusting himself on his stool, Mike leaned in a little further and softly said, “You know… How do you stay so fit and lead such a healthy life?”

    Nodding, Vaughn says, “Ahhh… You want the secret to my longevity and healthy lifestyle.” Nodding a little more, Vaughn leans in and lowers his voice, “There is a secret.”

    Mike leans further and carefully listens over the music’s deep bass and the chatter of mingling patrons. Turning his head slightly, Mike puts his best ear forward.

    Sotto voce, Vaughn says, “The secret…” Drawing in a breath, Vaughn plays with Mike’s emotions. Finally, chuckling, Vaughn continues, “There is no secret, Mike.”

    Discouraged and angry at being left out, Mike diverts his eyes and leans back huffing.

     

    This is obviously an exaggeration, but I do love toying with this one. So many of us think there is some super secret to accomplishing things in life. The truth is, if you want to be successful at ANYTHING, you simply need to follow this list:

    1. Carefully assess the result you want, and write it down as a desired outcome.
    2. Investigate your goal and find out information about how to accomplish it.
    3. Track down friends and acquaintances who have already achieved your goal, and ask them for assistance.
    4. Complete and write down a plan of action with milestones and goals along the path to this ultimate result.
    5. Buckle down and follow your plan.
    6. Adjust your plan as sticking points get in your way.
    7. Stay focused and determined.
    8. Reap the rewards of your hard work, focus, and drive!

    It really is this simple. The funny thing is… You already knew this. We all know this. The thing that separates those of us who do from those of us who don’t is writing down our goals and following through with them.

    If you want incredible results. Change yourself today!

    Do you know a secret that you can share with the rest of us?

    Thanks for reading! I wish I could have given you a real secret, but hopefully you gleened something anyway.

    -V

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    I Need You

    This is article number 100. YAY! (mini celebration over silly stuff). Seriously though… I started this blog on July 8, 2013 and haven’t looked back. Here I am, freaking, as I realize that I’ve already written one hundred articles!!! It’s time to evaluate our mission… Look at our goals… Determine if our course remains the same… And, make adjustments as necessary. In short, I need your help building this blog into something even better. YOU are the reason I created this dang thing in the first place. Now I’m asking you for input. Please help me make an even cooler blog.

    Our mission with Healthy Wealthy Tribe is: We inspire people to lead extraordinary lives!

    Our goals were simple… Help people improve themselves in key areas of life: health (dietary, mental, and fitness), wealth, business (and entrepreneurship), family, writing (I hallucinate that some of you like my writing advice), technology, parenting, and general philosophizing.

    Notice that I said “our” not “my.” The simple reason for this is because this blog is bigger than just me. It takes you guys and your participation to really turn this into something special.

    After careful scrutiny and analyzing the data, I am finding that my blog categories are sort of off-kilter… Let’s look at the statistics:

    Health = 30%
    Philosophizing (other category) = 26%
    Kaizen = 15%
    Inkslinger (writing) = 7%
    Wealth = 6%
    Parenting = 5%
    Technology = 5%
    Grooming = 4%
    Entrepreneurship = 2%

    Obviously we are health bent (for leather). Also, the general topic (philosophy is outside our standard categories) has many posts as well. This part is kind of okay for me. However, I’d really like to improve by adding more articles in the other areas. This is where you come in. I’m asking you to comment below and let me know which articles and categories you like (love) reading, and which ones you avoid (God forbid). Also, is there one category that is most important to you?? And, is there some information or story that you’d like to get from me?

    Essentially, How can I make my blog even more entertaining and useful to you?

    As I said, I need you! Please, let me know how to better serve YOU!!!

    Thank you very much for your support, caring, and kind comments!

    Sincerely,
    Vaughn

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    Surround Yourself with Good People

    I’m sure you folks already know this, but one of the best ways to improve yourself is to surround yourself with friends who are also improving themselves! Think about this for a moment, if you wanted to improve your golf score do you think you’d do better playing with people less motivated and worse at golf than you? Nope! And, this applies to life as well.

    We can’t pick our family, our coworkers (for the most part), our neighbors, or our classmates… However… We can pick our friends.

    Everyone of us have had friends who brought us down and friends who lift us up. And, if you’re honest with yourself, you know which kind of friend is better for you. Sometimes you need to evaluate your life and make adjustments. Your friends, and relationships in general, is simply one of those areas that you must assess and adjust accordingly.

    Don’t blame me when you break off a friendship, take responsibility for your own choice. But I firmly believe that you should take control of your life and surroundings. A good way to accomplish this is by figuring out who you are surrounding yourself with and dropping the deadbeats.

    Just as important as dropping the deadweight, you must also strive to add friends who will help improve you. This often starts in the form of mentorship. Find someone who is already doing something that you wish you could. Then approach them. Be honest and sincere with them. Tell them that you wish you could do “X” better, and that you know they are proficient at it. Then ask if they would mentor you and help you to improve and figure out how to accomplish their level of expertise. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how receptive people are at helping you to improve.

    If you have a friend who is constantly bringing you down, or belittling you, perhaps you should consider kicking them to the curb.

    What do you guys and gals think about this? Have you ever had to break off a detrimental relationship? How did you do it??

    Thanks for reading!

    Hugs,
    Vaughn

    Be an Alpha Male

    You are a man… Now grow a pair, and act like it!

    Dear ladies – I know that I have a few women who read this blog, and I feel very lucky to count you among my readers. Please, please do not be offended by today’s article. Instead, embrace it. Allow me this one diatribe and I promise to get back on track… Actually, this post is about being healthy… Just in a manly sort of way. You see, I am an alpha male. And, I am happy being an alpha male. There are moments when I walk around like a rooster (cock) and flair my feathers… Most of my friends know this is so, and they like me anyway. My wife says it’s because I’m an Aries… I think it’s a combination of things (and none of them is my cosmo sign). I imagine that some of it I was born with (genetics and all of that jazz from the jizz). Some is root cause (we’ll talk briefly about my Dad and upbringing). Some is because of my hemophilia (being told I can’t do anything masculine during most of my childhood). Perhaps most of it is because I faced death (in the form of HIV and AIDS) at a young age and lived through the hoopla. Regardless, (and despite what many of you might be thinking) today’s post is not about me. It is about men in general.

    There is a problem in America. I call it the pussification of Americans. We are getting weak. We whine too much. We sit in our cars, at our desks, and on our couches. We complain about stupid shit. Don’t get me wrong… I love that technology and inventions are making our lives cool and supposedly easier. However, I can’t stand some of the by products of this enlightenment. For instance, I take a hard stance against giving every single player and every single team a trophy. Some of you may not agree with me on this, and I’m cool with that, but hear me out. When you give every one of our kids the same trophy (win, lose, or draw) you are teaching them something innately wrong. You are teaching them that everyone wins regardless of ability, talent, and most important, will to succeed. Think about it… Do you want your kid to believe that he can do a half-assed job and get the same reward as someone who works his or her butt off? I don’t! I refuse to teach my children that! Success requires grit, determination, willpower, and hard work! PERIOD

    ego digresso

    Let’s start out by defining what an alpha male is. I normally think of the alpha male as the leader of the pack. The wolf comes to mind… Hence my headline graphic. “Pack” is a very broad term. To me, the pack is your immediate family and close friends. Your pack is the epicenter of your life and must be protected at all costs.

    The alpha male is someone who can protect himself and his pack (the pack always comes first). He is someone who is not afraid to fight for what he believes in. And, he is ferocious when he needs to be. That said, he is also calm, good-natured, loving, nurturing, and understanding. He is a peaceful being that will try and find a peaceful solution before falling back on aggression. But, God help you if you force him to the level of aggression.

    Fighting is not the way of the alpha. First and foremost, an alpha displays compassion, expresses gentleness, and always tries to find a reasonable way out of a fight. An alpha does not fight out of anger or for revenge. Rather, the alpha only fights when there is no other option, and he only fights until it is no longer necessary. He never continues fighting a man who is down and/or out of the fight. A coward kicks a man who is down, the alpha refrains and refuses to do this. He uses his head and best judgement always. An alpha male stays in complete control, even in violent moments. Most importantly, an alpha never compromises his values in the heat of the moment. A calm presence and cool head are distinct attributes of the alpha male.

    “The best fighter is never angry.”
    – Lao Tzu

    My Dad was an alpha male. And he taught me and my brothers to be alpha males. He taught me that I must NEVER start a fight. And, that I must ALWAYS finish a fight that I enter. Never give up. Always be strong and fight for what you believe in. Care for others and protect those who cannot protect themselves. NEVER EVER be the bully, but stand between the bully and anyone he would try to bully. These are the alpha values that I am now passing along to my son.

    The alpha male is a warrior. He is strong. He is courageous. The alpha male is adventurous and has great stories, because he is not afraid to live life. He is also funny and has a great bond with those around him. The alpha is a hard worker. He is often quiet and an avid listener. The alpha has a thirst for knowledge (kaizen). The alpha never fights to destroy things, only to defend. He defends women and is always chivalrous. The alpha male is generous and gives his time, energy, and money to help others. The alpha male is an alpha male without trying, he does not strive to be one… He simply is one. Most of all… The alpha male is a humble man.

    My son (and all of the alpha male offspring) are the beta males while living under the roof of an alpha male. He is there to support the alpha and learn from him. It is your duty (as alpha) to teach him the way of the warrior. He must learn and understand that values like honor, courage, and commitment (thank you, US Navy) are incredibly important. And, that you must stick to your values (once they are properly defined and fine-tuned) at ALL costs. My son will grow into a strong alpha, because it is in his heritage. It is in his bloodline. He will grow up like the fathers before him. He is an alpha, because he is.

    If you want to be an alpha, or you are unsure if you are one, here are a few pointers (my humble opinion) that can assure you get there:

  • Increase your testosterone – lift heavy weights (intensity level needs to be high), burn fat, have more sex (I’m not kidding), take Zinc supplements (fewer than 40 mg per day), increase your vitamin D (the sun is the best source), get quality sleep, limit (or eliminate) alcohol consumption, eat quality fats, lower your sugar intake, and eliminate stress (alpha males do NOT worry).
  • Strive to be a born leader – read leadership books, and coordinate your skill building around this essential alpha male skill.
  • Create your own moral code – design a moral compass based around a personal mission statement, vision, and a list of values. Most importantly, once you create your list of values, strive to live them!
  • Listen to others – you must listen to and carefully assimilate what other people (especially those in your pack) have to say.
  • Practice daily kaizen – spend a little time EVERY day adding to your knowledge.
  • Confidence over cockiness – learn the difference and hold your chin high with confidence.
  • Give back to your community – you know what to do, now do it!
  • NEVER EVER back down from protecting your pack and those who cannot protect themselves.
  •  

    Either you are part of the solution, or you are part of the problem. I’m asking all of you to step up (unless you already have) and accept responsibility for your role as a man on this small blue dot that we affectionately call Earth. Be the alpha male that you were born to be! Together, we can change the world.

    Last note… When you see another alpha, you will recognize him. Nod, shake his hand, and encourage him. We are all in this life together. Act like the man you are.

    Man up!

    Written with sincere feelings and love,
    Vaughn

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    Virtual Friends

    These days, it can be hard to differentiate your real-life friends from your virtually created connections. I often find myself referring to virtual connections and friends (I call them VCFs) simply as “friends.” This tag (friends) often leads people to believe that I’m discussing someone I know in real-life, or have met face-to-face. However, this is often not the case. Yet I still refer to my VCFs as friends. I actually have a rather large contingent of friends, followers, advisors, and mentors… The majority (by a long-shot) of these people are VCFs that I’ve never met in “real life.”

    With this article, I’m going to let you in on my super secret sauce. I’m not bragging when I say, I have more than 22,000 people in my virtual black book (address book). The majority of my connections breakdown as 4,000 in LinkedIn, 3,000 in the Facebook, 12,000 in Twitter, and more than 3,000 in other social media sites.

    Many people believe that this virtual community is not worth much (or anything at all). I would argue that this community is every bit as valid as my real-life connections. In some ways, it might be even more important. The main reason I believe this is because on a daily basis I get VCFs who broker additional relationships and help me to build solid foundations with people I never would have had the chance to meet a decade ago.

    The caveat is that you must make some extra efforts to communicate (reasonably) and stay in touch with a much larger contingent when you use a virtual community as a resource.

    To help with this monstrosity, LinkedIn has really upped the ante by making your contact list much more robust. They have added built-in reminders that tell you when one of your 1st connections has any of the following events:

  • New job
  • Moved
  • Work anniversary
  • Birthday
  • News interview or article
  •  

    All that you need to do is hover over Network on the top menu. Move down the list and click Contact. This will open your contact list with one new very important addition… Now the top three contacts are ones that have one of the above listed life changing events happening to them. After you select one of these people and “congratulate” them, it pops another contact in the top three list. This list continues to update until you’ve patted all of these friends on their virtual backs.

    In addition, there is a new option; which I consider the most awesome (and powerful) contact change at LinkedIn… You can setup reminders to alert you when it’s time to contact a specific person. When you have clicked on a particular contact, look under the relationship tab and find the “Reminder” button and click it. You can now enter a recurring appointment that will alert you to reach out to this particular person. I use this to remind me to stay in touch with friends or colleagues on a regular basis. Let’s face it, in today’s world of having 22,000+ contacts you cannot possibly keep up with 1/10 of them… Using features like LinkedIn’s reminder tool helps greatly!

    Now that we’ve broken the ice and talked about how important social media is, let’s talk about something even MORE important. Keeping up with all of your contacts. *insert sound of fingernails scraping down a chalkboard*

    It is IMPERATIVE that you not only reach out and connect with folks, but also that you make regular (daily… yes, daily) routine messages to touch base and congratulate your VCFs. Don’t over burden them with petty discussions, and avoid barraging them with inundating information. However, when they pop-up on your list of contact events, make sure to at least :like: or say “congrats.” I prefer to add a minor personal message with each contact.

    The tough (and sometimes overwhelming) part of this is that you need to check on your contacts daily. Think about it, if a birthday passes, it is pointless to reach out and wish them a happy birthday. You absolutely MUST login to LinkedIn and/or the Facebook every day and (at the very least) check for birthdays and life changing events. I set aside twenty minutes of each morning to do this daily ritual. Believe me, if you make this effort you will become a genuine friend and valued connection to your VCFs.

    Now that you know to login and check this stuff every day, make sure that you are efficient with your time, and that you don’t waste time on there. You can easily get sucked into tons of time on social media sites reading through posts and statuses. Skip this time waster and be quick. Get in, get it done, and get out!

    Look for another VCF blog article coming soon… We will breakdown making your connections and offer advice on how to hook the more famous and or popular connections that often reject every day average Joes like you and me.

    Please feel free to reach out and connect with me. Here’s a linkable listing of all of my virtual personalities:

    Stalk Me Online

    My Online Blogs and Sites

    Also, a few months back I also wrote a social media post: Social Media is Here to Stay. Please check it out!

    How do you use social media?

    I hope this blog article was beneficial!

    -Vaughn

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    Through My Eyes

    We often hear statements like, “Oh yeah… Well you should try walking in my shoes…” Today, I’d like to offer my shoes and allow you to see through the eyes of a hemophiliac. Let’s start off by explaining what the heck hemophilia is. Hemophilia is a rare bleeding disorder in which your blood does not clot normally or properly. It is carried in the X chromosome, and is called an X-linked genetic disorder. Cutting through all of the obfuscation, it essentially means that I inherited a factor VIII (factor-8) deficiency from my mother, who was a carrier. Dumbing (is that even a word?) it down even further, it means that unlike average boys and girls, if I get bruised or cut, I will not stop bleeding without medical assistance.


    My disclaimer: While I have lived with this confounded disease for 46+ years, I do not claim to be a medical professional nor someone who even knows what the heck he’s talking about. I am a mere mortal who loves sharing information. I am often wrong, and for that I apologize. I try to investigate and ensure that my data/information is correct, but as is always the case, I am bound to be wrong about something. At the least, I probably will have a misinterpretation or two in here. So, seek the advice of a medical professional if you are planning on writing a report on my post. Also, I do not necessarily condone some of the things I did and am not in any way suggesting that hemophiliacs should avoid listening to their parents and doctors. I am merely pointing out that I did some things and got away with them. Carry on!


    About a generation or two ago, science made some huge breakthroughs with the hemophiliacs, and we created products based on blood donations called plasma, cryoprecipitate, and factor VIII that could temporarily turn an “easy bleeder” (my term for a hemophiliac) into a normal clotting person. This technology added years even decades to the longevity of hemophiliac. It also made it possible for us in the bleeding community to participate in more normal activities and sports (to some extent). I should mention that there are different types of bleeding disorders and they do not all use factor VIII to stop the bleeding. But, for simplicity’s sake, I went with what I am (type-A).

    During the early years of this modern medical miracle, hemophiliacs were unfortunately hit with several life-threatening blood-borne pathogens, diseases, and viruses. Among these were HIV and Hepatitis. Because I am the lucky one, I got both of these. You heard me right… I said, “Because I am the lucky one.” I do consider myself lucky, because were it not for the advent of modern medical science I would have died from a bleeding issue years ago. As I’m sure you can imagine, the life expectancy of hemophiliacs was very short prior to the 1950’s (I believed the average death occurred by eleven years old back then). This is one of the reasons that I feel lucky. I also feel lucky in that I am only a mild hemophiliac. Whilst at hemophilia camp back when I was thirteen I had the pleasure of meeting many hemophiliacs that were not as lucky as me. One was in a padded wheelchair because his ankles and knees were so bad off that he would have bleeding episodes from simply walking.

    In addition to the technology and mildness, I also feel lucky because of the awesome support system that is now available to hemophiliacs. Not only do we have the World Federation of Hemophilia, National Hemophilia Foundation, Hemophilia Federation of America, and state groups (I am a board member for the Hemophilia Foundation of Maryland), we also have hemophilia camps (I went to Bold Eagle), support groups, discussion forums (I’m a huge fan of HFA’s Blood Brotherhood Forum, and online services galore.

    And, as if that wasn’t enough, we easy bleeders are also surrounded and supported by loving family and friends!

    Now you can see why I feel lucky.

    Now that I convinced you that I’m lucky, we can dabble in a few of my unlucky areas. When I was a kid I was regularly picked on and even bullied. A few of the more obstinate bullies even punched me exclaiming, “I wanna see you swell up!” And, they called me names like: homo-feel-ya or something similar. It was often brutal, but it also taught me how to calmly take these attacks and live despite them. So, in some weird way, the bullying also strengthened me.

    “What does not kill me, makes me stronger.”

      —Friedrich Nietzsche

    I was very sheltered by my mother as I grew up. I fear that some of this may have been the cause for my dramatic outburst as a teenager when I started doing things I shouldn’t have (like playing football with neighborhood kids and skateboarding). However, I know that she was worried about me, and wanted me to be safe. The funny thing about this protection and my adrenaline-based extracurricular events is that I often sustained some serious bleeds while being “safe.” As a matter of fact, the very most damaging and worst bleeds occurred while playing at camp Bold Eagle (with other hemophiliacs-and being safe), getting my wisdom teeth pulled, and, of all things, having my toe lanced to cure an ingrown toenail issue. So, avoiding contact sports and other dangerous habits was not my only nemesis. As a bleeder, I was acutely aware of the fact that I was susceptible to all manner of painful bleeds.

    If I have learned one very important thing, it is something that ALL of us should learn (bleeder or not). That is, our choices have consequences. That statement is so important, that I will repeat it, “Our choices have consequences.” And, it is our responsibility to choose wisely. Actually, I love the word responsible. I prefer to break it down and say it like: response able. In other words, each of us is able to respond. Thinking like that might save lives!

    Now that I’ve put the fear of a slow and painful death by horrible bleeding episodes in you, let me leave you with a parting note… Live life! You heard it from me… As long as you realize (honestly) that there are consequences for your decisions, and you weigh those consequences carefully thinking about the future and how it will affect you, I think you should do whatever you want (please read the above disclaimer). I may not necessarily be the best role model for fellow hemophiliacs, because at some time or another I have rock climbed, raced motorcycles, and skateboarded (among other deadly things *insert dastardly music here*). However, I am still here. I’m still here because I’m lucky… But, I also create some of my luck through careful thought and recognition of what I’m doing. I guess what I am saying is, be response-able with your choices!

    I hope this article touched a nerve. And, I sincerely hope I helped in some way. If you aren’t a hemophiliac, then maybe this opened your eyes a little bit.

    Thanks for listening (reading),
    Vaughn “the easy bleeder” Ripley

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    Manscaping

    Since we recently had a discussion about sculpting your beach body ( healthywealthytribe.com/get-your-beach-body-now ), I thought we’d talk about another component to this subject… Before I dip into this touchy article, let me tell you a quick story:

    I’m climbing out of the shower the other day, and my five-year-old son looks me up and down.

    After a moment, he says, “Dad, You know I saw this thing on TV… It removes your body hair permanently.”

    Then looking straight into my eyes, he cocks his head and says, “You should get one.”

     
    HA!

    In my defense, it is winter, and I really don’t keep up with my body hair trimming in the “off” season. However, I am a fan of staying well groomed and trimmed (hair-wise).

    First-things-first… Some of you might be asking, Why the heck does any man shave or trim their body hair? Well, the simple answer is, I shave my face and get my hair cut to appear presentable. I even trim my eyebrows, nose hairs, and ear hair just to look good for the rest of you! Sooooo… Why can’t I also shorten my arm pit hair to improve my good looks?

    To me, it makes perfect sense to clean up my body by trimming and shaving in appropriate places. And, if you lift and have some muscle mass and definition, shaving and/or trimming will do wonders for your striations!

    I called this article Manscaping, and it mostly applies to men… However, it obviously is true for women too. The main reason I don’t say “girls” is because you ladies pretty much have the hair shaving thing figured out and do it without thinking about it. The problem for men is mostly: Is it best to stay a hairy grizzly bear, a less hairy trimmed caveman, a very trimmed fella, or a porpoise.

    One of the problems or issues that men might face with this subject are: Am I putting my masculinity in question by shaving my body hair? I personally don’t think so. I think it is perfectly acceptable to trim some areas, shave some areas, and leave others untouched. It is also my opinion that it is a cleaner and healthier look to have some hair clean-up. Of course, this is my own personal opinion, and everyone is entitled to their opinion.

    Now that I’ve spent myself making excuses, let’s talk about what my preferred manscaping session and tools are.

    Tools of the Trade

  • Norelco (Philips) Bodygroom;
  • Wahl beard trimmer;
  • Standard (facial) razor;
  • Shaving cream (this is for the standard razor).
  •  
    My Norelco Bodygroom has blade guards to allow trimming, as opposed to shaving. However, I simply prefer to use a Wahl with easily adjustable guard for the trimming. Mostly I use my standard razor for shaving my face and neck.

    When doing a body grooming session I like to shave my back, upper arms (biceps and triceps), shoulders, and thighs with the body groomer. Next, I switch to the Wahl beard trimmer and shorten the hair on my chest, abdominal area, arm pits, forearms, and calves. I also trim my private parts (no giggling). There is a saying, “shaving your parts will give you an extra (optical) inch.” I’m not sure if this is true or not, but I do like being cleaned up and trim down there.

    I normally will shave and trim my body about every two weeks during spring, summer, and fall.

    That said, Do you manscape? If you do manscape… What do you do? If you don’t manscape… What’s your opinion of it?

    Finally, I’d love to hear from the ladies about your thoughts… Do you dig a man who cleans up by trimming and shaving?

    I believe that’s enough personal revelations for today!

    See ya next time,
    Rip (no… I did not get this nickname from manscaping… Thank goodness!)

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    How to Invest

    Let’s become financial wizards together! Now that we know how to get ourselves out of debt ( healthywealthytribe.com/get-out-of-debt ) and how extremely important compounding interest is ( healthywealthytribe.com/compounding-interest )… Let’s discuss what to do with our money once we are more financially fit and ready to start saving and investing.

    WARNING: I am not a financial advisor. I do not have a finance background. I’m just a guy who desires to be financially free and I’m working hard on becoming a financial wizard. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend taking my advice with a grain of salt… Do your own research and use my articles more for helping you to better yourself. I accept no responsibility for anyone who tries this and loses money. Obviously, your money and your circumstances are individual. YOU are responsible for your own finances and the outcome of trying things.

    With that out of the way… Let’s discuss your paycheck and what to do with it! In the future I will have an article discussing budget creation, but for today we’ll chat about savings. I have done a lot of my own personal investigating on this subject. This is a compilation of what I’ve gathered from a plethora of sources and resources. It is my personal opinion of how to successfully save for the future.

    The most important part of this message is that you must pull the savings out of your paycheck before you see it. Ask your payroll division to withdraw 10% (pretax) of your gross pay and deposit it into a different account. This way you never even get a chance to see the cash before it is invested.

    Before we talk about how to invest, let’s talk about two other investments you should be making… I believe that you should put 10% (or at least what your company matches) into a 401K plan. This is free money, so you must take advantage of it. I also think that you should give 10% back to the community. This can be in the form of religious tithing or charity. Regardless of what it is, I think it is our duty and responsibility to giveback to the community that give so much to us.

    Now let’s talk about what you do with your 10% savings…

    Like the piggy-banks in my article picture, you will break your savings into three different types of savings: Safe, Risk, and Wish. Here’s a breakdown of what each is:

    SAFE
    This one is simple and straight forward. You look for a low interest form of saving that is secure and guaranteed. This type of account is money market, CD, or other account. The idea is that it will grow at a very small rate, yet be a safe place for your money.

    Any interest that is earned on this account gets re-invested back into itself.

    RISK
    This is the fun one… Think stock market or real estate. This account will be considerably more risky, but it is also a growth account that has the potential to grow at a phenomenal rate.

    Because this account is riskier, we will re-invest the interest earned in all three piggy-banks equally. i.e. Put 1/3 of the annual interest earned into Safe, Risk, and Wish. In this way, we get to keep some of the massive growth even if you have a bad year or two in the stock market.

    WISH
    This account gets money deposited only from the 1/3 interest earned by Risk. This is essentially an account that you will use to treat yourself to something nice. Sometimes you will wait a few years and get something big (think motorcycle, screened-in deck, swimming pool, or something else extravagant). Other times you will spend it immediately on small items like clothes, shoes, jewelry, paintball gun, or something similar.

    Essentially, this account is used to celebrate you being so good with your savings. It is important that you celebrate every now and then and get something for all of your hard work!

    Now let’s talk about how much of your savings goes to the Safe fund and how much goes to the Risk fund… This is totally up to you, but I have a simple formula based on three quick questions:

    1. How old are you?
    2. Do you worry about (or fear) losing money in risky investments like the stock market?
    3. Does risk (in general) worry you?

    Baseline your “Safe” deposit amount by using your age. Round this number up to the nearest decade (e.g. If you are 24, you would round to 30). Next, add 10 points for each of the next two questions that you answered “yes” to.

    For Example: I am 46 years old, and answered “no” to both questions, so my value is 50.

    Once you have your number, think of it as a percentage… Deposit the percentage into the Safe category and put the remainder into Risk. My calculated percentage was 50%. That means I will deposit 50% of my savings into Safe and 50% into Risk.

    Remember, initially we won’t deposit anything into the Wish piggy-bank… That one only gets money as you get interest income back from the Risk category.

    That’s it in a nutshell.

    The most important part of this whole thing is that every year you wait to save is an immense amount of money lost from your savings. Think about how compounding interest worked… The longer your money is earning interest the greater the gain. Start today!

    I hope this was helpful! Please chime in with your experience and ideas!!!

    See ya,
    Vaughn

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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