World AIDS Day 2014

Today is World AIDS Day. Look for folks wearing a red ribbon! Speaking of which… Do you know where the red ribbon for AIDS awareness comes from? Way back in good ole 1991, a creative group (made up of photographers, painters, film makers, and costume designers) of twelve people gathered to discuss a new project; a New York arts organization that raises awareness for HIV. After a short brainstorming session, they came up with an idea that later became one of the most recognized symbols of the time – the red ribbon. It is worn to signify awareness and support for people living with HIV and AIDS.

Since the red ribbon was popularized for AIDS awareness, literally dozens of other colors have appeared, including: pink for breast cancer, yellow for deployed U.S. military forces, white for lung cancer, and so on and so forth. Technically, the yellow ribbon came out more than a century ago and has appeared in several songs and poems. But, the official ribbon stipulation started with the red AIDS ribbon.

Please take 90 (or more) seconds out of your day today to reflect and remember the millions and millions of people affected and infected by this horrible virus, disease, and/or syndrome.

As usual, I like to put things into perspective… So, let’s tackle some numbers first. Did you know?

  • It’s estimated that around 40 million people are currently living with HIV/AIDS.
  • Almost 40 million people have died of AIDS worldwide.
  • Each year, around 2 million people die due to HIV/AIDS, and another 2.5+ million are newly infected.
  • Although HIV/AIDS affects all regions of the world, almost 97% of those living with it reside in low to middle-income countries (mostly in sub-Saharan Africa).
  • There are more than 16 million orphans due to losing their parents from AIDS!
  • Last, but not least, around 10,000 of those who lost their lives in this horrendous battle were hemophiliacs.
  •  

    I have been living with HIV for around 30 years. Over the years I have asked myself countless times, Why did I survive and others like me didn’t? I believe that I was spared because I am a strong and comfortable speaker. Seriously! I truly believe that I am still here to be an advocate and activist. It is my duty to stand tall and let the world know what is going on. And, potentially to help inspire those living with and dealing with HIV/AIDS. My message is a simple one… “This is not a death sentence, and you can thrive despite having it!”

    You guys might remember a post from last year called, Dum Spiro Somnium. That is my life motto and it essentially means, While I breathe, I dream. In other words, as long as I breathe I will continue to believe in my dream of a world without AIDS. Join my dream, and together we can defeat AIDS!

    My Dream is a World Without AIDS

    If you want to read my story and the journey that I have struggled through, pick up my book Survivor.

    It is our duty to NEVER FORGET and strive to beat this horrific disease!

    As part of my advocacy and message spreading, I started blogging around six years ago. Back on February 13, 2009, I created HIV Longevity, and tried to send inspirational and thought provoking messages, posts, and articles. Since then, I have posted more than 200 articles. Many of these blog articles have been based around HIV, AIDS, and dealing with the horrible problems associated with them. More recently I hibernated the HIV Longevity blog and switched to the Healthy Wealthy Tribe. Primarily I did this because I wanted to reach a broader audience and talk about things outside of HIV and AIDS.

    Since 1 in 100 people are HIV+, almost all of us are affected by this terrible virus. How are you affected by HIV/AIDS?

    This message of hope was sent with love, from my still beating heart (despite the odds).

    Signed,
    the survivor, the advocate, and the inspirational dreamer.

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    A Son’s Eulogy for Julien Kim Ripley

    My dad, Julien Kim Ripley, died on December 4th, 2011 at 1:12 a.m. Two years ago, today. Not a single day goes by that I do not think about him. In tribute, I decided to re-post a eulogy that I wrote for him more than a year ago and posted on my HIV Longevity blog.

    Julien Kim Ripley (January 12, 1945 – December 4, 2011)

    580_k_dad_di

    Often when you see a headstone in a graveyard, it has the person’s name and then their birth and death dates separated by a dash. To me, that seems to say that the person’s life merely flashed by—a sprint—and not worthy of talking about. Well, Dad grabbed life by the horns and inspired others around him. His life was not just a dash. Quite the contrary… Dad spent every moment of his life improving himself and others around him. He had a vast thirst for knowledge and continued building it until his dying day.

    Dad taught me so much about life. He introduced me to music and showed me how to play the guitar and piano. He brought me into his office and helped me learn to use computers before most people even knew what they were. He instilled in me values, a sense of worth, honor, and courage. He took commitment to family and work very seriously. Dad was the hardest working person that I have ever known. He was also frank and insisted upon candid talking. Often he was brutally honest, and not everyone appreciated that, but you always knew that you would hear precisely what he was thinking. Dad was sincere and fair with his words. Rarely would he judge someone else. And, he would encourage me to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

    My favorite “Dad story” was also one of his favorites, even though it deeply embarrassed him. We’ve both told and laughed about this one a thousand times, so bear with me if you already know it… I used to work with Dad at his land surveying company, Rodgers and Associates. And, I would often use his desk and computer. One day I was typing away at his desk when he came in and I had to give up the seat. What neither of us knew was that I had spilled a few Milk Duds out of my pocket and into his chair. Well… Dad sat in them and didn’t notice. He sat there for an hour or so working diligently. Finally, a client came in to meet with him and when he stood to greet the man, Dad found he was peeling himself out of his chair. His rosy cheeks and demeanor must have given away the fact that something was wrong, but Dad simply smiled and shook the guest’s hand. Walking down the hall and to the Men’s room with his brown-stained Khaki’s must have been one of the most embarrassing things ever to happen to him. As furious as he was over this incident, Dad told me about it later that afternoon and he laughed at himself instead of scolding me. That was simply the kind of man that he was.

    I used to see Dad occasionally reading the obituaries. When I asked why, he said, “I read them every day just to make sure I’m not in them.” He continued with, “That way I know I’m still alive.” As I read his obituary earlier this year, I imagined him looking over my shoulder and saying, “Oh shit…”

    Since Dad’s passing, I’ve been fortunate enough to hear from tons of folks who knew him, even friends from back in the 60’s who have nothing but fond memories. He touched so many lives and inspired so many people. Most of what I’ve heard was how honorable Dad was and how he made their lives better and stronger. All were thankful for meeting and knowing him. Mostly I’ve heard how Dad’s work ethic and principled beliefs rubbed off on them in a positive manner. That is the Dad that I knew and remembered. I’m proud to say, “That was my Dad!”

    As I sat with my Dad and listened to his “death rattle” breathing, I knew that he would not be with us much longer. And, I was right, because he died that night. I’m honestly not sure what made me travel down to my parent’s house that weekend, but I’m glad I did, because I was able to be with him in his last days. Odd as it may sound, I honestly believe that Dad was relieved to see me. Almost as if he succumbed to death with comfort, knowing that I was there. Hard to explain it, but it was a completion of sorts.

    Dad carried a fire in his heart. A strong fire that could be felt by everyone around him. I miss him every day of my life, but I still feel that fire, inside of me… I think that is because he passed it to me through his lessons and examples. Hopefully I make him proud as I work daily to strengthen and stoke that fire, in the hopes that one day my fire will be as large as his was.

    Dad was also a humble man. He never tooted his own horn, even though he had plenty of reasons to. He would never have approved of me writing my thoughts and memories for all to read… But, this is a healing process for me, and this is who I am. Fortunately, I know that the man I have become is directly in response to the way he raised and fathered me. So, despite his wishes to stay humble and quiet, I am standing on top of the highest place I know (the Internet) and shouting his praises!

    I miss my father so much! I will always miss him! And—yes—Dad’s life was much more than just a dash!

    Posted with love by a son who misses and feels you every day.

    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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    World AIDS Day 2013

    Today is World AIDS Day. Please take 90 (or more) seconds out of your day today to reflect and remember the millions and millions of people affected and infected by this horrible virus, disease, and/or syndrome.

    I like to put things into perspective… So, let’s tackle some numbers first. Did you know?

  • That as of 2008, there are 33.4 million people currently living with HIV/AIDS.
  • More than 25 million people have died of AIDS worldwide.
  • Each year, around 2 million people die due to HIV/AIDS, and another 2.5+ million are newly infected.
  • Although HIV/AIDS affects all regions of the world, almost 97% of those living with it reside in low to middle-income countries (mostly in sub-Saharan Africa).
  • There are more than 16,000,000 orphans due to losing their parents from AIDS!
  • Last, but not least, around 10,000 of those who lost their lives in this horrendous battle were hemophiliacs and are my blood brothers.
  •  

    I have been living with HIV for 28+ years. Over the years I have asked myself more than a thousand times, Why did I survive and others like me didn’t? Now that I’ve survived for nearly three decades, I think I can finally (and honestly) answer that question. I think I was spared because I am a strong and comfortable speaker. Seriously! I truly believe that I am still here to be an advocate and activist. It is my duty to stand tall and let the world know what is going on. And, potentially to help inspire those living with and dealing with HIV/AIDS. My message is a simple one… “This is not a death sentence, and you can thrive despite having it!”

    You guys might remember a post from a few months back called, Dum Spiro Somnium. That is my life motto and it essentially means, While I breathe, I dream. In other words, as long as I breathe I will continue to believe in my dream of a world without AIDS. Join my dream, and together we can defeat AIDS!

    My Dream is a World Without AIDS

    If you want to read my story and the journey that I have struggled through, pick up my book Survivor.

    It is our duty to NEVER FORGET and strive to beat this horrific disease!

    As part of my advocacy and message spreading, I started blogging nearly five years ago. Back on February 13, 2009, I created HIV Longevity, and tried to send inspirational and thought provoking messages, posts, and articles. Since then, I have posted nearly 200 articles. Many of these blog articles have been based around HIV, AIDS, and dealing with the horrible problems associated with them. More recently I hibernated the HIV Longevity blog and switched to the Healthy Wealthy Tribe. Primarily I did this because I wanted to reach a broader audience and talk about things outside of HIV and AIDS.

    Since 1 in 100 people are HIV+, almost all of us are affected by this terrible virus. How are you affected by HIV/AIDS?

    This message of hope was sent with love, from my still beating heart (despite the odds).

    Signed,
    the survivor, the advocate, and the inspirational dreamer

    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.

    You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.

    PEP Talk from the Grave

    My dad taught me countless things. On a daily basis I relate more than a dozen things that I do that came directly from his teachings. He helped me to mold the base of loyalty and creativity that became the grown up me. Among the manifold things he guided me on, he impressed three things into me more than anything else. Those three things were preparation, elbow-grease, and persistence. I do not remember him ever teaching me to combine these powerful tools, but I clearly remember individual lessons based around each one. The ironic thing about life is that after Dad left this life, I came to the epiphany that he had inadvertently taught me the secret to success in life. You see, my father recently died. I had the fortune and good luck of being down in South Carolina visiting him and my step-mom on the day he finally succumbed to lung cancer. Very early in the morning on Sunday, December 4, 2011, my dad passed. I know it sounds final and maybe even morbid, but I believe that it is not the end of my dad. Julien Kim Ripley lives on, through me. And, he will live on through my children as well. Over the past year and a half, I have spent time each day thinking about Dad’s teachings and the amazing things he shared with me. A few months ago I was designing an inspirational speech for Sodexo, and I listed the three most important elements Dad taught me. I suddenly realized (literally in an instant) that the three things worked in conjunction with each other. Beyond that, I also found that if setup and performed correctly, these three things would solve ANYTHING! On top of that, I almost jumped out of my skin, when I found that those three things formed the acronym and word, PEP. How fracking cool is that??

    Today’s blog article is going to briefly breakdown each ingredient and then mix them together to create a recipe for ultimate success.

    Preparation

    Be Prepared
    —Boy Scout Motto

    Dad instilled a sense of planning in me from a very young age. Dad was a land surveyor and engineer, so planning was practically ingrained in him. For Dad, preparation was almost OCD. He planned, mapped, or drew out everything (regardless of how small the task). I can remember the countless hours he and Mom spent mapping out our trip across America. I also remember many pre-planning session before going out on our boat. His fascination for maps and route-planning has rubbed off on me. Along with mapping and general planning, Dad got me and my brothers to join the Boy Scouts. While there, I learned more about preparation and planning than most anything else in my life. There are tons of books on proper planning and preparation. Even better, the web is chock-full of advice and information. Seek and ye shall receive!

    Elbow-Grease

    “There’s plain few problems can’t be solved with a little sweat and hard work.”
    —Preacher from the Pale Rider

    When I was eleven years old, my dad asked me to move some chopped wood from our large wood pile to the easy access pile by our side door. I remember moaning and slumping as I dragged my feet toward the log pile. I acted as if Dad had put some terrible burden on my shoulders and it showed in my demeanor. I kicked the ground with each step and when I finally stood before the enormous stack of wood, I almost cried. Picking up a single log and carrying it like it weighed 50 pounds, I sauntered back to our house. I dropped the log and was turning to go back for another single log load. As I turned, I caught my Dad’s eyes. Dad was working on another project. He always worked so hard. I mean HARD. Most of us have no concept of what “hard” really is… Well, if you saw my dad in action, then you would understand what I’m saying. He worked incessantly, with a purpose, and HARD. Dad glared at me momentarily and then he called me over. Even though he was always busy, Dad had time to lecture and teach me. He stooped his sinuous 6 foot 2 inch body down to my level, smoothed the angry look on his face, and then firmly said, “Vaughn, you work harder at getting out of work than doing the actual work.” I honestly didn’t fully grasp the meaning of such a profound statement when I was eleven, but I get it now. And, I’ve gotten it for years. As a matter of fact, it is often my mantra to help boost me in giving an extra push during hard work. My dad and Clint Eastwood were a lot alike, and I can easily see Dad saying the above quote instead of Clint.

    Persistence

    “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
    —Calvin Coolidge

    Out of the three, this one is often the toughest to stick with (no pun intended). Almost any project, goal, or outcome that is worth completing will have a trouble spot (sometimes several) that seems impassable. It is times like that when you must batten down the hatches, lean into the battle, and move forward despite your internal objections.

    One my favorite sayings that Dad used on me was, “You gotta keep trying until you get it right.” I know that it is popular these days to say, “There is no try” (usually conveyed in a shoddy Yoda impersonation). But, that is not altogether true. I think that most people mean try as a solution, not as steps along the way. What I mean (and what my dad meant) is that you must try, try, and try again before completing some things. When Yoda said “There is no try” he was talking about the final outcome … Like, “I tried, but failed.” In that meaning, there really is no try, there is only do or do not. But, we do try along our path to success and understanding that will take you leaps and bounds ahead of the curve.

    Bottom line: Being persistent is the difference between making something magnificent and failing to make anything.

    Each of those above ideas by itself is mighty powerful. But, when combined, they form one of the best known combinations to plan, do, and follow through. I guarantee that you WILL NOT fail, if you properly execute each of these in conjunction with each other. The next time you have a desired result, utilize PEP. Start by sitting down, hashing it out carefully, and outlining a defined plan of how to achieve it. In other words, Prepare! Once the preparation has been completed and you have clear milestones and an action plan, get down to it. I like to call this part Elbow-grease… Get some! As you are diligently working on completing your project, dig deep and find leverage and other tools to keep you going… Be Persistent! I know that some of you are saying, ”That can’t possibly be all there is to it.” But I can confidently tell you from experience, that it truly is all there is to it!!!

    “The most effective way to do it, is to do it.”
    —Amelia Earhart

    Dad may be dead, but his advice and ideals live on through me—and now—through You!

    Shared with love,
    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.

    You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.