Mother’s Day 2014

This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day. And, it is a time to be grateful for all that your mother has done for you. Make sure that you not only let her know how much you appreciate everything she’s done for you, but also show it by showering her with love.

Trinity, Xander, and I are going to bring my soul mate and their mother a special breakfast in bed. The kids are soooo excited, and already planning all kinds of fun stuff. This is a great opportunity for daddy to bond and have fun with the kids as well.

Today I wanted to take a different approach and hit on a special group of moms. I’d like to dedicate this post to hemophiliac moms. All mothers have a very tough job and they determine the outcome of a child’s beliefs and character. I consider this job one of the most important in the world (and toughest!) That said, there is another breed of moms that take it to a whole new level. Mothers who have children with disabilities are on on a whole new plane. These moms not only have everyday normal things to deal with, but they also do regular trips to the doctors, specialists, hospitals, counselors, and treatment centers (among other places). They do everything that all mothers do, plus have a plate of troubling times that most of us would run screaming from.

These moms are a special breed. And, today’s special breed is close to my heart, because my mom is one of them. And, my wife is one of them. I can never properly convey the amount of gratitude and appreciation that I have for these AMAZING women! If you are the mother of a child (or children) with a bleeding disorder than I salute you. You, my friend, are a rare individual who is doing more for the planet and human race than I can fathom.

Thirty years ago, the hemophilia population started dying off… I’m talking about 90% or more getting HIV from tainted blood products… Nearly 100% getting hepatitis C… This was beyond devastating to the community as a whole. Think about it for a moment… Almost the entire hemophilia population died over the twenty years that happened immediately after this disastrous event. As a matter-of-fact, all of my hemophiliac friends that I knew died. ALL OF THEM!

If you consider this for a moment, you will realize the depth of this tragedy. You might also realize the moms out there who lost their babies… Lost them by the thousands!!! I am crying simply typing this… Imagine (for a moment) their pain. These women have been through more than anyone deserves to endure. They have done so, and continue to do so. They are heroes. The real-deal hero!

Another point that comes to mind when I think about moms and what is known as the Hemocaust… Many of the community-run organizations were mostly managed and maintained by adult hemophiliac men. Almost all of these men died. Think on that. Literally, in a short period, we not only lost our brothers and sisters… We also almost lost the entire community, because no one was there to run the organizations. This is nearly unimaginable to me, yet it was happening around the country.

I often think of euphemisms for this occurrence. The one that really comes to mind is passing the torch. Well, I was talking about this with my buddy, Jack, the other day and it hit me… This was not simply passing the torch. It happened too fast and too devastatingly to let anyone pass anything. In an instant people started dropping like flies. No… What really happened was this. Thousands of men died. Thousands of men literally DROPPED their torches without the time or energy to pass them on. During that time, the community and future generations needed someone to act. Someone did act. The moms acted. The moms stepped up, despite their pain and anguish. Selflessly, they wiped away their tears and they picked up the torches from the ground. In some case the torches had gone completely out and needed to be re-lit. Regardless, a generation of moms… A generation of women stronger than most can imagine… A generation of loving and kind souls… Came together and rebuilt a community that nearly died.

I can tell you that I fell away from the community more than a quarter of a century ago. Heck, I assumed I was dying. But, to my amazement, when I came back four years ago, I found a thriving community… A community of strong people who were dedicated and focused. A community that had fixed itself with band-aids and duct tape through the nineties and into 2000. A community that was not only still standing, but standing tall, strong, and proud.

Damn! I mean… Damn! I am in awe of what transpired. And, I am eternally grateful to all of the people who came together to save us. Most of all, I am grateful to the moms.

I believe I speak for everyone, when I say:

Have a very special Mother’s Day, moms!!!

With love,
Vaughn

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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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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

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

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Compounding Interest

There is an urban legend that says that Albert Einstein said, “Compounding interest is the most powerful force in the universe.” (or something along those lines). Regardless of whether he really talked about the power of compounding interest, the statement is still very viable and profound. The truth is, that with an understanding of compounding interest, you can reveal an immense power that can double your money in a short period of time. First…

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.

Let’s start by talking about a simple formula to find out how long it will take your money to double when using compounding interest. This formula is called, The Rule of 72. This is the formula:

72 / interest amount

In other words, if you get a 10% annual interest on your money, you would calculate how long it would take to double like this: 72/10 = 7.2

So, your initial investment would double after 7.2 years.

Now here is the magical part of this… When we say 7.2 years, that is assuming that you did a one time investment and let it sit for 7+ years. If instead you re-invested the same amount each year, your money would obviously double the second year. But, there is much more value that comes from this. If you add to this money each year (as you should) than your savings go up astronomically!

Let’s assume you decide to invest $50 per month to a savings account. After a year, you would have saved $600 (not including interest). If you stopped adding money after the first year and relied on the 10% compounding interest, it would take just over seven years to double your money. However, the better way to save is by continuing to add to your funds on a monthly basis and reap the rewards of your investment plus the interest.

Let’s take a look at our two examples:

One-Time Investment of $600
$600.00
$660.00
$726.00
$798.60
$878.46
$966.31
$1,062.94
$1,169.23
$1,286.15
$1,414.77

Continued Investment of $600 Annual
$600.00
$1,260.00
$1,986.00
$2,784.60
$3,663.06
$4,629.37
$5,692.31
$6,861.54
$8,147.69
$9,562.46

As you see, in the one-time investment chart, we saved just over $1,400 over a ten year period. However, if we continue investing each year, our savings jumps to nearly $10,000 over the same ten years. That is the magic of re-investing in conjunction with compounding interest. For a real eye opener, let’s look at these two styles of investments after a forty year period:

A one-time investment over forty years of $600 gives us: $24,687.12

That is a very nice chunk of change for simply investing $600 and re-investing the annual interest (compounding interest).

Ready for the shocker? If we add $600 each year over those same forty years, it gives us: $265,555.67

I dunno know about you, but I prefer the quarter million dollars. This can simply be achieved by saving $50 per month and re-investing the interest. Think about this for a moment. You could simply quit something (like smoking or drinking) and this would save you approximately $5 per day. That is $152 per month or $1825 per year. Not only would you be saving, but you’d also be making a healthy alternative choice by quitting something detrimental to your health!

If we saved $1825 per year over those same forty years and received 10% annual interest, our savings account would be: $807,731.73

How do you like them apples?

The moral of this post, is that you need to start saving today. Even if it is a paltry $50 per month, you can see how important this is!

Look for my next post, which helps us decide how to invest our savings…

Good luck, and keep me posted on your thoughts and ideas!

-Vaughn

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Was Steve Jobs a Hero or a Shithead?

Is that the question?? Before you guys attack me for such a blatantly ugly question, allow myself to explain … myself. Steve Jobs was fond of calling people heroes or shitheads. Walter Isaacson points out numerous “hero” and/or “shithead” occasions in his biography, “Steve Jobs.” Jobs rarely found a middle ground. As a matter-of-fact, it seems like people were black and white to Jobs. Most of us mere mortals see people in shades of grey. Jobs had a knack and perhaps even a gift of calling it exactly the way he saw it. His brutal honesty would often make people feel like kings or tear them down into shreds of flesh.

I grew up knowing about Steve Jobs because my dad « Continue »

Vow to Be a Better Parent

Father’s Day was a special treat this year. My children are getting older and finally grasping what these holidays mean. I got lots of love and some wonderful homemade cards among other things. Despite all of these creative gifts and tons of love, I believe that the greatest gift I received was an eye-opening experience about parenting.

My epiphany came sometime during the morning of Father’s Day. My wife, Kristine, shared an article with me. The article was about a man (a bad father) who essentially had mentally broken his child. The article was a bit overzealous, but I got the gist of it and it really sunk in. After reading it, I did a little Google research and found more articles and thought provoking tidbits. As I delved in deeper, I uncovered some inner feelings that I had about myself and my family.

My dad raised me with a strict and stern outlook. He was swift with his hand and mouth. However, he never struck me out of anger. He would always send me to my room to wait for my punishment while he (presumably) calmed himself down. When the spanking time came, Dad was always sad and determined at the same time. He would explain to me why I was being punished and the ways that I could improve. Dad loved me with all of his heart, and he sincerely was doing the best that he could to raise me into a respectable adult. I happen to think he did a fantastic job with the tools he was given.

Looking back, I can learn from some of my dad’s mistakes. I can also learn from the things he did correctly. I can use the generations before me to figure out what worked and what didn’t. It struck me as sudden as a shock from an electrical outlet. I hold in my hands and mind (and always have) the power to improve based on what I’ve experienced.

This latest bit of information hit home and I sat pondering… I philosophized for literally thirty or forty minutes. It was deep thought. And, it was emotional. In the moments that followed my thought provoking inner look, I realized that I want to improve. Strike that… I NEED to improve.

I know that I’m not here to be my children’s friend.

I know that it’s my parental duty to create responsible and caring adults out of my children.

I know that my young children rely on me to guide them and help them.

However, all of those things don’t mean that I can’t still be my child’s friend. That I can’t be loving and nurturing at the same time that I’m strict and firm. Deciding then and there, I vowed to be a better Dad to my kids. I vowed to listen more to them. I vowed to touch and hold them more. I vowed to try and empathize with their needs, wants, and feelings. I vowed to love.

Love is the key. It means everything to me. With love, I can accomplish anything. And, with love I can help teach my children how to be all that they can be.

It has always been my goal to do the best as a parent. To teach and lift my children. To inspire and motivate them. Now, my eyes are opened to a deeper feeling. A longing of improving my abilities and doing even better and even more.

Today I vow to be a better parent. Will you take that vow with me? Together let’s turn the world on its ear and show that it is possible to raise understanding, smart, and responsible adults by using our brains and our hearts. Let’s learn from our past… Let’s learn from our parents… Let’s learn from our friends… And, let’s learn from each other. Join me on a quest to make a better world, one child at a time!

I hope this touched some of you, and maybe even inspired you to vow to be a better parent.

Typed (and conceived) with love,
Vaughn

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Twenty Seven Years of Survival

Fasten your seat belts, folks. This article may have a “me-me-me” bend to it. And, that’s because it does. Most of my articles are focused on “us” (you and me). But, this one is my celebration of life. More specifically… A celebration of MY life.

Yay me!

Don’t say I didn’t warn ya…

This post is about My Surviving Anniversary – On January 3, 1987 I was diagnosed as being HIV+. Somewhere between mid 1985 and late 1987, I was transfused with a bad batch of blood. To quote Huey Lewis, “Sometimes, bad is bad.”

Officially, I have been diagnosed with HIV for 27 years. Unofficially, we don’t know when I got it, because I’m a mild hemophiliac and don’t have to get factor VIII or cryoprecipitate (clotting factor) on a regular basis. I have a letter from my doctor, which arrived days after Rock Hudson’s death, dated October 9, 1985, stating that I tested HTLV-III negative. The old test they used couldn’t detect the virus unless it had been in your body for more than three months… This means that I was infected somewhere between (circa) July, 1985 and October, 1987.

Semantics aside, suffice it to say that it’s been more than 27 and fewer than 30 years. Regardless, I have lived more than a quarter of a century past where my doctor predicted. Hoo-Rah!

Circa 1989 I got shingles and then a pneumonia. My CD4 levels were brutally low and when they dipped below 200 I was considered to have ARC (AIDS-related complex). Later, doctors said that if your levels dropped below 200 you had “full-blown” AIDS. I think they did this for medical insurance reasons, yada. Again I was told that my life would end in a very short time. By now, I was used to being told, “You ain’t got much time left, kid.”

Well… I didn’t die. Now I’m one of the longest surviving HIV+ people on the planet. Don’t get me wrong, there are others who have survived and lived as long as me (or even longer). However, when you think about the numbers… More than 25,000,000 have died and only a handful have survived this long… You get the picture.

My wife, Kristine, and I found out about a new and “safe” way for us to have children in circa 2002. It is called ICSI (you can read more about this in my in vitro article) in vitro fertilization. We made several attempts before finally being successful and having our little girl in early 2005. This was a milestone of epic proporations, because we always assumed we’d never have children.

Back in 2007 I celebrated my 40th birthday. The theme was, Forty Years of Life and Twenty Years of Survival. Kristine and I invited 105 of my closest friends and we rented out two adjoining hotel ballrooms. We hired a live band ( The Reagan Years are a 80’s throwback cover band, and they are AWESOME!) We had a catered dinner. And, we had an open bar. This was my knockdown, drag-out, bash! And, it was quite the celebration!

Then in 2010 I published my memoirs, Survivor: One Man’s Battle with HIV, Hemophilia, and Hepatitis C. This book details my battle and struggle to thrive.

I feel pretty good, considering I was told I had fewer than two years to live when I was 19 years old… My plan is to live another 30 years. I figure 77 years old is a cool number, so that’s the one I’m going with. However, if death comes knocking on my door sooner, it better have an army with it, because I’m a warrior. Death does not scare me. Not in the least. However, I won’t simply lie down. Count on that!

(:

In the meantime, I have some lofty goals. Here are a few of them (in no particular order):

  • Travel to Italy, Japan, Alaska, Hawaii, Fiji, and Australia with my family;
  • Compete in 100 triathlons;
  • Publish a dozen or more books;
  • Finish a full Ironman distance triathlon;
  • Travel the world inspiring diverse people;
  • Make a difference in the hemophilia community;
  • Teach my children wrong from right;
  • Figure out my spirituality and what I believe in;
  • Climb Mount Rainier (and maybe a few others);
  • Love my darling wife until my dying day.
  •  
    Thank you for all of the support, friendship, and downright caring that each and every one of you gives me. Hopefully this “me-me-me” article was fun for you guys too. Now let’s get back to the “us” articles!

    Love you all,
    Vaughn Foster Ripley

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    Christmas 2013

     

    Merry Christmas!!!

     

    Take a Hot Bath

    Nothing feels better to me after a sick workout than to take a nice long soak in a hot bath. You guys know that I’m a huge fan of taking a Scottish Shower ( Cold Shower ). The benefits of the cold shower are awesome! Now let’s discuss the opposite… Taking a hot bath. I’m not talking any old bath, I’m talking about a steaming hot, barely able to stand it, hot, HOT bath.

    Disclaimer: Don’t get in a bath that is too hot… Don’t drown… Don’t stick electronic appliances in the bath tub with you… This article is PURELY MY OPINION and might not work for everyone… yada, yada, yada.

    One other disclaimer (of sorts)… If you are a hemophiliac and experiencing a bleed, I do not recommend soaking in a hot tub. Heat is not a good mixture with bleeding episodes. Always evaluate yourself before doing something like this.

     

    First things first… I like to shower before I get in the tub. Just a quick soap and shampoo to clean up. I do this because I’m only using the bath for relaxation and not cleaning. I prefer to soak in clean water.

    Before starting the tub, I light a scented candle or incense. This calming smell adds to the ambiance of the super soak! I also dim or turn off the lights to allow for a darkened room for my meditation; which we’ll discuss a little while down the post.

    I have a nice sound system in my master bathroom. I usually just put on a medium volume classic rock radio station. However, I also love soothing classical or meditation (type) music on a CD or iPod. Regardless of what you choose, make sure it’s something you can relax to.

    While the hot water is drawing, I pour in some Epsom salts. I find that this helps to soothe and calm me. Also, the salts do make my aching (from working out) muscles feel better.

    Next, I rub a mask onto my face. I know that some people like to create their own concoction out of bananas, oatmeal, and so on… But, I simply prefer to buy a mask for ease of use. I spread it on liberally avoiding my eyes.

    Once the tub is up some, I climb in ad chill out. Remember to use caution when climbing into a hot tub. Do the touch test first. My baths are normally so hot that I sort of need to ease into it, letting my body adapt in increments.

    The last step is to enjoy the relaxing scent, sound, and heat… I normally get into a bit of a trance and eventually (when my body is ready) I enter a meditation. This meditation is normally a simple state of mind. I free my thoughts and sink into this state for the remainder of my bath.

    Remember not to stay in the tub for too long. And, make sure that you rinse the mask before climbing out. Perhaps most important, blow out the candle!

    I find that it’s really nice to do this procedure just before bed. I can climb into bed and fall quickly asleep with a clear mind and sensational tingling on my skin.

    Do you ever take baths? If so, what’s your ritual?

    Enjoy!

    -Vaughn

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    Wednesdays with Jerry

    Walking has been proven to be beneficial to our health. Yet, many of us skip it thinking that it’s either worthless, boring, or mostly a waste of time. The truth is that you can really do some good for your body and joints by walking one or more times per week. And, you can even do some walking on your rest days.

    Recently my buddy, Jerry, said that he’d like to start walking on Wednesday mornings. At the same time, I had been complaining that I don’t get enough Jerry time. It only took me about three seconds to have the light bulb go off. I nodded my head and asked, “I’d like to walk too… Do you mind if I join you on Wednesday mornings?” Jerry liked the idea and we agreed to meet at 5 a.m. for our weekly Wednesday morning walk.

    These days it is tough to find time for many things, and chatting with your neighbor is one of them. Well, when Jerry and I do talk we get all kinds of cool (and hair-brained) ideas. We literally could discuss anything for hours non-stop. However, it is rare that we find the time. Now that we’ve agreed to walk on Wednesdays, we actually get a little bit of time to do just that.

    Obviously you can walk by your lonesome, but why not add a friend to the mix and add to the enjoyment! Also, a friend will help keep you on point. Think about how many times you’ve decided to do something fitness related only to quit a few months, weeks, or even days later. When you have a friend there to support you, it makes it much easier to get up early and follow through. You kind of keep each other in check.

    Jerry and I talk about anything and everything… Nothing is taboo, and it is fun that way. Mostly we discuss business ideas or something related to entrepreneur adventures, but we also tackle health, fitness, life, families, and so on. Shucks, if we want, we might even talk politics or religion! Regardless, the point is we are communicating, enjoying each other’s company, doing something worthwhile for our health, and adding some zing in the wee hours during the middle of the week. What’s not to love about this?

    Now that I have my Wednesday morning walk buddy, my hump day has improved. I feel invigorated and ready to take on the world after a zest filled walk and chatter with my friend.

    One final thing… Let’s pretend for a moment that I wanted to walk more than once per week, and Jerry only wants once. Nothing is stopping me from inviting another friend on Saturdays (or some other day). Then I can get twice the walking, twice the conversations, and twice the camaraderie in a single week. Cool!

    Do you like to walk? If so, do you dig walking with a friend or two?

    I hope this segue was helpful,
    Rip

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    Male Bonding Making a Rubber Band Loom Spider-Man

    If you look, you will often find opportunities to bond with your children. The key here is that you must pay attention and be observant. Recently my children have gotten into this rubber band loom bracelet building craze. Normally, I barely notice passing fads like this… However, this time my son made me a beautiful bracelet and meticulously sized it for me. When he handed it over to me you would think he thought he was giving me a million dollars. His eyes were gleaming up at me, and he carefully handed it with two hands with a partial (proud) smile on his face. This stood out to me, and I knew at that moment just how important this “fad” was.

    The other day on Pinterest (yes, I go there sometimes) I spotted a Spider-Man rubber band action figure diagram on my friend’s (Nikki) page. It looked cute, and I immediately realized the value… My son is a HUGE superhero fan, and Spider-Man is one of his favorites. I printed out the diagram and left it laying around for him to find. My plan worked… When he saw it, he was absolutely enamored and practically begged to build the character.

    *hook line and sinker*

    I offered to work with him and make it the next morning. His eyes brightened, he beamed a smile, and hugged me with a big “Thank you, Daddy.” This melted my heart. My heart was melted even further when he woke me early the next morning and asked if were still going to make Spider-Man. I said, “yes” and he ran off. Coming back with the paper, he said, “I slept with it under my pillow.” Holy crap, my heart was in my throat! I live for (and love) this stuff!

    After brewing some coffee and making him wait a few minutes, we broke out the loom and started working. It was so fun learning about this fancy-dancy rubber band loom (this was my first time) and how cool it actually was. My son (Xander is five years old) was more than happy to explain how it worked and he diligently hunted for different accessories as we prepared.

    The whole time we were working, Xander and I chatted and I could see him bouncing off the walls with energy and excitement as the project neared completion. His smile grew by the minute and he kept exclaiming how cool it was. This was an incredibly heartwarming experience for both us!

    I highly recommend bonding time with your children, and this is a perfect example of something silly and fun that you can do that will remain as a fond memory for years to come.

    This article was not meant to be an instructional one. I merely wanted to reference using the loom for the Spider-Man rubber band action figure thingy creation. Rather, this post is about bonding with your child (in my case, bonding with my son). However, I know that some might find this article purely by searching for “Spider-Man rubber band loom” and it wouldn’t be fair to at least point you in the right direction. So, I thought I would also share the YouTube videos (there are two of them) that I used to make the trinket. Here’s the videos that I followed along with to make this masterpiece:

    PART ONE

    PART TWO

    If you plan to build the Spider-Man rubber band figure, I can give you a few pointers and tips to make your experience a tad easier…

  • This is what I would consider an intermediate level thing to build and will take some time (it took me about ninety minutes to complete).
  • Rubber bands do break from time-to-time… It is not the end of the world. I used a broken rubber band as another bonding/training tool, explaining to Xander that it’s no big deal. We worked carefully together to replace the broken band and moved on.
  • The video was very well planned and covers everything. But, you need to watch closely at a few key points (at least I did) to really catch on to what he’s doing.
  • Remember that you’re bonding with your child and let them do some of the work. I had Xander searching through his rubber bands to pull out a bunch of the deep red and blue ones. I also asked his advice a few times and had him do some of the actual work. We had a blast!
  • Be patient and methodical.
  • Cherish this time!
  •  

    After we finished, Xander made a long string of white rubber bands (sort of like a bracelet that didn’t connect the ends). He held it up grinning and said, Here’s his web.
    Spider-Man rubber band web

    How do you bond with your kids? And, have your kids gotten into the rubber bands?

    I hope you enjoyed this story,
    Vaughn

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    Love Your Family as if You Will Die Today

    One of my favorite quotes is from James Dean. I love the quote so much that it hangs (with a photo of him) in my den. You can see it and other cool quotes in a previous article (here).

    “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”
    — James Dean (2/8/31 – 9/30/55)

     

    This quote holds so much power, and it’s sort of ironic that it came from a man who died at the very young age of twenty-four. A man who lived his life to the fullest and died young. We should all be so lucky!

    In some ways I feel that I’ve been blessed by having to live with HIV. I know some of you are going, “What??” Well, allow me to explain. When I was nineteen, my family doctor told me that I had fewer than two years to live. As a teenager, that put some things into perspective! Immediately I realized all that I had and all that I would lose. Since that day, I have spent every moment realizing it could be my last. For that reason, I honestly think it is cool that I became infected and was faced with this reality.

    That said, I would certainly much rather not be HIV+ and lead a more “normal” life… However, I consider myself lucky none-the-less. I sincerely mean that… I consider myself lucky!

    Where am I going with this? You ask. Well let me tell you.

    You guys have an opportunity here… Use me! I mean it. Live through my eyes for a moment. Simply imagine that you were told by your doctor that you had less than a month to live. Sincerely think this and focus on it for a moment. How would that make you feel? After the momentary freakout, wouldn’t you start to assess your life? Wouldn’t you look at how you could tie up your loose ends? Of course you would! You know what else you would do?? You would spend time with those most important to you. You would honor them with love and shower them with hugs and kisses. You would treat them the way they aught (and deserve) to be treated. You would tell them how important they are to you. You would share with them. You would cry with them. You would live those last few weeks by giving them praise and words of encouragement. As your final days crept up, you would tell them over-and-over again how much you love them.

    Guess what…

    You don’t have to be dying to do any of those things.

    Cherish your family!

    Love Your Family As If You Will Die Today

    For tomorrow you may be gone…

    Posted with love,
    Vaughn

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    Believe in Your Dreams and Believe in Yourself

    Rome was not built in a day. Like the Romans, you are creating something that will take incredible amounts of time and effort. You are working on yourself. Making you a smarter, stronger, wiser, healthier, more loving, believing, hard working, patient, and understanding person takes time. You absolutely can improve yourself in a day. You absolutely cannot create your ultimate desired outcome for yourself in a day.

    As I’ve said in plenty of previous posts, kaizen is a Japanese philosophy that essentially means small, daily improvements. It is a way of life, not a quick fix. If you want to be all that you can be… If you want to maximize your life, than you must plan and follow through over decades! Baby steps is the simple answer to creating the best you.

    My favorite analogy to improving yourself is, oddly enough, like learning to drive a car with a manual transmission. I’m a stick-shift fan.

    Soon, this analogy won’t be relevant, because it seems that the manual transmission is becoming extinct. For now, I will stick (no pun intended) with my story…

    Assuming you know how to drive a stick… These days, it is basically second nature for you to shift gears. We can easily drink coffee, listen to the radio, think about work, think about family, hold a conversation with the passenger(s), and simply switch from first to second gear without any hesitation or actual thought.

    However, it was not always so easy. As a matter of fact, if you’re honest with yourself, it was downright tough as nails to drive a stick-shift car when you first started out. Close your eyes for a moment and gradually slip back in time to your very first day in the driver’s seat of a vehicle with a manual transmission. During that very first experience, you were learning and you couldn’t do any of things we listed above. Not only could you not do them, you had to concentrate and focus completely on switching gears and switching gears alone.

    Nervously, you gripped the wheel and struggled along. When it was time to change from first to second, you adjusted your hands shakily on the steering wheel so that the right hand was off the wheel and had access to the shifter. From there, you eased your foot off the gas while slowly pressing the clutch in with the other foot. Once that tedious part was done, you gripped the shift knob as sweat started to form on your forehead. Pulling the lever with just enough force, you popped the transmission out of first gear and into neutral momentarily. Finally, you kept pressure on the shifter, sliding it carefully into second gear. As if all of that wasn’t enough, now you had to time smoothly pulling the clutch back out while applying gas incrementally.

    Do you remember that first time? Getting your stick-shift cherry popped?? Wasn’t it kind of like that?

    Even after that first time, we still had to practice this carefully for hours, days, weeks, or even months before we perfected it enough to feel comfortable. Small gains and improvements were made over time before we could finally switch gears without thinking about it. Over time muscle memory took over and we were finally able to do it without a second thought. These days, you don’t even think about the entire process and can juggle in a bunch of additional tasks. Heck I wrote this blog article while driving a stick-shift, eating an Egg McMuffin, and singing along with the tunes jamming out of my stereo… Ok, I made that part up, and I would never condone blogging while driving… But, you get my point!

    Improving ourselves is done much in the same way. When we first dabble into an improvement, it often feels foreign and impossible to accomplish. However, with determination and drive you quickly get past that feeling and over time you create a desired result that feels like second nature today.

    Remember to carefully choose your improvements. Then, draw out goals along the way to achieve your dreams. The last piece of the puzzle is to not only stay focused on your dreams, but to dig deep inside yourself and find the willpower to follow through!

    Nothing is impossible to a person who believes in their dreams and believes in themselves.

    Dream it! Write it! Plan it! Do it!
    (I’ll let you in on a little secret… It can be anything… The sky is the limit)

    Your daily dose of inspiration was brought to you by,
    Mr. V

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    Shower Her with Love

    Forget cards, flowers, and chocolates… Well, don’t forget them, but don’t rely only on them. What she really wants is sincerity and love! Love offered freely and without strings attached. I’m talking about love given regardless of what you get in return. I’ll let you in on a little secret: You must give unconditional love to get it.

    Kristine and I have been married for 19 years and been together for 26. Over those years I’ve given her countless cards, flowers, and chocolates. But, the one thing that stands out to her more than anything is a simple thing I said to her about 22 years ago… One day when she was feeling a ittle down, she shared with me something along the lines of not being good enough. Without a second’s delay, I responded, “Look around you… Look at all of my stuff. I surround myself with only the best of the best. My stereo, guitar, TV, and other things are all the very finest you can buy. Do you think you are any different?”

    That may not sound like much to you, but it’s precisely what I’m talking about. It was sincere and said honestly with love. I meant it. And, she knew I meant it. Therefore, it has stuck with her all of these years. To this day she still reminds me of how special that conversation made her feel.

    I’m not telling you to skip the flowers, but I am suggesting that there are others things you can give, do, and say that will be much more memorable. One of the most important things that I’ve discovered is listening. I mean real listening… Not sitting there while she’s talking. I’m talking about, turn the TV off, set your phone down, step away from the laptop kind of listening. Look her in the eyes and nod at appropriate times. Then, when she’s done talking, compute what she said and reply with an honest assessment and appreciation with what you heard.

    This ain’t rocket science, folks. Many would have you believe that relationships are incredibly tough and nearly impossible to build and keep strong. The truth is, they are much simpler than we pretend. Level with your soul mate, treat her with honor and dignity, and listen to her. This is the valuable key to staying in a healthy relationship.

    There are people out there that will tell you that a man is weak for doting on his wife. This is ridiculous and any man who deserves a good woman in his life knows that it’s untrue. The truth is that it is our responsibility to love and care for our wives and our families. A real man can be strong and compassionate at the same time.

    Tell me what you do to shower your spouse with love. Tell me what you’ve tried… What works, and what doesn’t?

    I hope this article was beneficial.

    Heartfelt feelings sent your way,
    Vaughn

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    Sugared Water

    Many moons ago, Apple Computer wanted John Sculley to join them as CEO and apply his marketing skills to the personal computer market. Sculley was not sure that he wanted to join Apple and Steve Jobs sealed the deal when he made his legendary pitch to John, “Do you want to sell sugared water for the rest of your life? Or, do you want to come with me and change the world?”

    This quote has stuck with me through the years and it is always a powerful reminder for me: I think that 99.9% of what we humans do to earn a living is selling sugared water. Think deep and hard about what you are doing in your job. Does it embody your high level of standards? Does it fill your heart with gladness? Does it inspire you to be even more? If so, then congratulations! If you are doing your dream job and making the world a better place, it is my belief that you are among 0.1% of the population of this small blue dot we affectionately call “Earth.”

    If on the other hand, you are like most of us and unsure of what you are doing to make the world better, than maybe you should ask yourself the Steve Jobs’ question… And, if you do ask that question, you might get a sinking feeling in your stomach that says, “You are not doing everything in your power to accomplish great things.”

    Supposing you do get that tummy ache, I suggest that instead of pouting and feeling sorry for yourself, you decide to make a change! Think about it… We are all capable of controlling our destiny. You! And, you alone can determine what path you take each day. Sure there are outside influences that will try to knock you off your path. But I believe that you can either let those influences alter your course, or you can stand up to them and say, “No.”

    Together we are capable of anything. I mean that. You and I can make the world a better place. I choose to believe this, and I choose to do something about it. I’m doing it right now in fact. My blog is one of the ways that I strive to inspire my friends, family, and complete strangers who follow my shenanigans. This is one of my many ideas to make the world a better place. Come join me!!!

    For what it’s worth… When Steve asked John that question, he thought about it and then accepted the job. Powerful words with an even more powerful meaning!

    So tell me, Do you want to sell sugared water for the rest of your life? Or, do you want to come with me and change the world?

    All the best,
    Vaughn “the world changer” Ripley

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    Life Balance

    Balancing the different pieces of your life is a surefire way to improve and become successful. I strive to improve aspects of my life and therefore build a better balance. This goes back to a few previous articles I’ve written about kaizen, and constantly working to improve yourself on a daily basis.

    One popular method of working on your balance is called a “circle of life” or a “wheel of life.” Usually these circles will consist of eight (or so) slices of your life. These slices are categories from your life; which can be used for improvement. They are often some form or fashion of these: family, friends, spirituality, finances, self esteem, fitness, nutrition, stress mastery, hobbies, relationships, life purpose, and so on.

    Each person’s categories (regardless of whether they are six, eight, ten, or some other arbitrary number) are different. I chose the eight most significant parts of my life: spirituality, family, finances, health, work, friends, hobbies, and community.

    In the circle of life, my selections would look something like this:

    Once you have your pie designed, sliced, and labeled, then you rate each category on a scale of one to ten, with ten being absolute perfection (level ten is practically impossible to achieve, but a great goal area to keep improving toward). Using this scale, you dissect each slice by drawing a line representative of this rating. This new line will literally shrink each piece of pie, based on how good you are doing in that aspect of your life. I currently rate my pieces like this: family=7, finances=4, hobbies=8, health=8, work=7, friends=6, community=6, and spirituality=3.

    Drawn and filled out, my “circle of life” would look something like this:

    As you can easily see, this is not close to being a perfectly round circle. Many of the motivational speakers ask you to visualize this completed circle of life as a wheel on your car. Now imagine trying to drive along with a wheel that is shaped like this. As you can see, you would have a bumpy ride to say the least! This “bumpy ride” translates to your life… Without balance, your life will be a crazy and bumpy ride.

    To simplify this drawing, I created a scale (that was derived from my own ideas mixed with those of countless self-improvement coaches, family, and friends) that I follow with the most important aspects of my life. I rate each of these eight parts individually with a number from one to ten, where one is horrible, and ten is the absolute best. I add all of my category ratings together and then divide by the number of categories to give me a balance “average.” I call this my life balance value.

    If we go back to my previous numbers, it would look like this:
    family=7 + finances=4 + hobbies=8 + health=8 + work=7 + friends=6 + community=6 + spirituality=3

    These all add together to equal 49.

    From there, I divide by the number of categories; which in my case is eight.

    49/8 = 6.125

    I round down and find that my life balance average is 6. So, my overall “life balance value” is only a six. I consider an average of eight to be an exceptional life and that is where my goal is set. So, I need to work on each thing to get them to create an average of eight. It is my belief that each of these pieces should be at least equal to six (above average) in order to achieve true success. And, my overall score should be eight in order to lead an exceptional life.

    Now that I have that life balance value, I use Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s cycle of improvement to work on each of these areas (categories). Simply put, his cycle is: Plan, Do, Check, and Act. In this way, I can continually improve any part of my life by simply repeating this cycle in a never-ending pattern. You can read more about Deming and kaizen in my previous article: healthywealthytribe.com/kaizen

    I am working on it, but it is a tough thing to improve one’s quality of life.

    What is your life balance value?

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