How to Give a Killer Speech or Presentation

So much advice exists out there, and here I am just piling on more… However, I do have some experience in this field. I am an inspirational speaker and extreme encourager who has given hundreds of speeches and presentations. Over the years I’ve learned some really important key factors and also built some of my own opinions on things that do or don’t work. So, I thought I would share some of my findings… Just remember that like most things found on the web, this is my personal opinion and you should obviously create your own based on your findings.

Probably the number one question I get asked is, “How do you speak to an audience without fear and nervous tension?” The short answer is, I don’t. HA! How do you like them apples?? Honestly, I’m not sure I will ever be completely rid of the butterflies. I mean come on, this is simply a human reaction (stemming from flight, fright, or freeze) that we cannot control. That said, there are several things you can do (or not do) to alleviate your pain. Some of these will sound ridiculously obvious to many, but hopefully I can share enough of my own ideas to help anyone.

Before I list my thoughts on soothing speech jitters, let’s dispel a few ideas I think aren’t as good as some people say they are:

1. Imagine your audience is in their underwear. Really? Um… I dunno about you, but this just doesn’t work for me. I mean come on… Do I really wanna be thinking about that?? I have enough trouble concentrating on my task at hand, without throwing in: the old guy with the walker and wondering if he’s wearing a diaper… Or, getting stuck on that hot lady in red…

2. Never look people in their eyes. Stare at foreheads or something else. This might work for some, but I’m sincerely trying to connect with my audience. My speeches and presentations are from the heart and it just doesn’t feel right trying to locate a mole on someone’s head, or worse getting caught (accidentally) staring at the lady in red’s breasts.

3. Use lots of bullet points so you can remember where you are and what you’re talking about. Ahhhh… No. Bullet points are boring as shit. See my section below about preparation and practice, know your talk like the back of your hand, and skip the twenty lines of code on each slide. I don’t have a cute line about the lady in red for this one, but for some reason I can’t get her out of my head…

Now let’s talk about real world things we can (and probably should) do to eliminate or at least lessen stage fright… First and foremost, if you want to skip the upset stomach, sweaty palms, and nervous stuttering, do this one thing:

  • Make sure your speech doesn’t suck!!!

That may sound silly, but it’s true. If you’re already nervous about your content then you will automatically be nervous while presenting it! The easiest way to do this is to prepare. And then, prepare. Finally, after all that, make sure you prepare. You need to carefully and meticulously research your speaking points and ensure that the material is actually going to be important to your intended audience! Skipping this stage is sure to keep you up late at night and make you horribly nervous at speech time.

  • Along with the three prepares, you must also do three (or more) practices. There is no simple algorithm that tells you precisely how much time to spend practicing, but I can tell you that the better you know your material, the better you will feel when you walk onto that stage. Think about this, would you be more nervous going on stage and trying to simply say, “A, B, C” or reciting a page of Shakespeare’s King Lear from memory? I dunno about you, but I’ll take “A, B, C” any day!!! The reason is simple. My odds are infinitely higher that I will screw up chanting ancient tomes. That said, by practicing and knowing your material you will calm yourself.
  • Use photos or graphics instead of words… If at all possible, don’t put words in your presentation slides. If I have any words, they are short one-liners that give an overall look at this section of my talk. Instead I find inspirational (and cool) photos that relate to the subject. The audience doesn’t want to read through boring line after line… They wanna see a beautiful sunset or picturesque ocean wave. Just make sure that whatever you put there will keep you focused on the part you’re discussing. For instance, when I get to a part where I’m telling a scary story from one of my mountaineering expeditions, I have a photo of a crevasse, or mountain peak, or guy freezing his arse off. This way you won’t distract yourself, or (more importantly) the audience.

Side note: If you aren’t relying on bullet points or run-on sentences in your slide deck, then you will be much better prepared when the laptop, projector, or something else fails. Part of the “be prepared” and practice session is that if a wrench gets thrown into your talk (it happens to the best of us), you will be ready to roll despite the hurdles. In turn, this makes you even more comfortable when speech time comes!

  • Be properly fueled up and hydrated. I can’t express this one enough… You must have a balanced level of nutrients and water in your body. If you aren’t hydrated you will feel it on stage. Along these lines, don’t go out partying late the night before a speech… Getting drunk, hung over, and tired before a speech is a big no-no. If you enjoy libations, feel free to do that AFTER your speech! This can be an exhilarating way to celebrate with some of your audience.
  • Fitness goes hand-in-hand with nutrition. I find that doing some physical activity before a speech (make sure you have time for a shower and clean-up… Don’t just run right on stage after a five mile run, ding-dong!) really ramps me up and energizes me. Don’t over do it, but get some exercise in and empower yourself!
  • Take a potty break a short while before your sprint onto stage. Regardless of how often you pee, you will feel like you need to go to the bathroom leading up to your speech. Make sure you get a bathroom trip in before going on stage. Feel comfortable knowing that the sensation is all in your mind, and move past it.
  • Remember the rule of tens… Actually, I’m not sure if there is a rule of tens… hehe… But, I call it that. People tend to get bored after about ten minutes. So, prepare your speech so that you are switching slides at least once every ten minutes. Change your subject or storyline at least once every ten minutes. If one of my stories or subjects goes over the ten minute line, I like to throw in something scary right at the ten-minute mark and emphasize it with extreme arm flailing and loud vocals. Whatever you do, keep the crowd engrossed by giving them a change of pace.
  • If you’re funny, then start with a joke… If you aren’t, then skip it. This is another of the obvious ones, but must be discussed. I’m a goofball, and love laughing at myself. It’s actually a bit of a tension breaker for me (not just the audience) to get up and start with a chuckle. Often I will pick on myself or one of my silly faults. That said, if you aren’t a naturally funny person, you might want to forgo the awkward joke. There is no written rule about using or omitting a joke as an introduction… But I can tell you that your nerves will only get worse if you tell a dry joke and no one laughs. food for thought!
  • Lastly, and perhaps most important… Believe in yourself, believe in your message, and believe in your audience. Remember, these guys and gals signed up to hear what you have to say. You owe it to them, to relay your message with a positive impact and inspirational spin. Now get out there, and nail it!

BTW – did you notice I used bullet points to point out my ideas?? Remember: BPs are okay in an article, not okay in a speech.

Disclaimer: The lady in red is a fictitious character and is simply a product of the author’s lewd imagination. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely in my dreams…

What do you do to spice up your talks and ease your worries?

I hope this post was not only helpful, but also inspirational in some form or fashion.

Cheers,
Vaughn

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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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    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

    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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    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

    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

    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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    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 »

    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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    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

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    V is for Victory

    I’m gonna start this article with a disclaimer… I do have a sharp tongue. I often give people the wrong impression. As my friend, Katty, says, “There’s a fine line between being proud of what you’ve done with your life and rubbing your accomplishments in the face of someone else that doesn’t have your motivation.” Obviously some people don’t have the same motivation as me… That does not make them a bad person. Sometimes when I try to “help” folks by talking about my personal accomplishments and what I’ve been able to do (or can do) and combine it with my sharp, blunt tongue, it can (and does) hurt feelings.

    If you do not have a thick skin, I will probably offend you with this article. I apologize in advance… But, if you don’t want scary answers then stop asking scary questions!!!

    I sincerely love all of you! For different reasons I have found joy in my relationships with everyone I know. Life is a playground… You’re gonna scrape your knee sometimes. We dust ourselves off and get back in the game. That’s a given. But, when you fall on the monkey bars and land on your nuts… That’s what separates the boys from men.

     

    Without further ado… Here comes the rant!

    It’s hard for my friends to understand this, because for the most part, they are overachievers as well. But… I believe that most people are lazy. And, not in a good way.

    When I first started this article I really just wanted to talk about body language. Have you ever noticed that when someone runs across the finish line of any race they raise their arms into the air creating a “V” as they complete the race? This is especially true of someone who wins the race. And, referees do the “V” to signal a touchdown. The weird thing is that pretty much every person from all different backgrounds does this famous “V” when they are victorious. It is a natural reaction to throw your arms in the air when you win! Rocky (and other boxers) did it with every win and every success!

    I recently asked myself, Self… Why can’t you simply raise your arms for victory before you do something and then be better at it? The answer I got back was strange (mostly because I was talking to myself)… I can. That’s right folks… I believe in the power of body language. We all know it is important for communicating our feelings with others, but many of us didn’t know it works for ourselves too. Try it. Put a huge smile on your face, hold your head high, and throw your hands into the air. You will feel like a million bucks. And, your chances to succeed will increase exponentially.

    Now let’s segue into the second half… Simply throwing your arms in the air is not enough. You MUST dig deep and stay motivated to accomplish great things!

    Dead Horse… Kick… Yada… I was born with hemophilia. I spent my entire childhood being told by doctors, parents, adults, siblings and friends what I COULD NOT do. I was rarely told what I could do. At nineteen I was told by the family doctor that I would be dead within the next couple of years. Did I give up? Nope. Did I die? Nope. Have I been held back by my disorders, viruses, diseases, and injuries? Say it with me… Nope!

    After my HIV diagnosis, I spiraled into a stint with drugs and suffering. Shortly after that bad faze in life, I was gripped by reality and turned my life around. I went from making $9 per hour to running an entire systems department. Within five years of this, I had quadrupled my salary. QUADRUPLED, people.

    Two years later I started a computer consulting company with two close friends. Within a year we had twelve employees and were pulling in $2,000,000 in annual revenue.

    Since then, I have had two children even though I’ve been told countless times that it isn’t even possible.

    From a fitness and healthy perspective, I am sick and tired of hearing people bitch and moan at me about my LUCKY metabolism. Funny thing about my luck (to paraphrase Harold Hamm), “The harder I work, the luckier I get!” Most people see my slim, muscular build and assume this is a metabolism thing. Has anyone seen my father? Metabolism is not one of our gifts. I workout HARD and OFTEN.

    I play hard – Ask any of my mountain biking buddies. Ask any of my paintball buddies. Ask any of my motorcycle friends. Ask any of my climbing bros. Ask anyone who off-roads with me.

    I workout hard – Hello? Come join me at my gym (it’s called The Vomitorium) for the beating of your life… If you dare, punks!

    I work hard – I haven’t gotten where I am in the business world by sitting on my thumbs.

    I study hard – I have literally read thousands of books about manifold subjects. Ask my dirtbag friends what I did when we started climbing… I am a self taught computer programmer. I am a certified personal trainer who adamantly studies exercise and the human body. I am certified and taught motorcycle classes to beginner and advanced riders.

    Did you know that I post an article on this blog every other day? Do you think that is easy? Do you think that’s air you’re breathing? HA!

    Am I rough around the edges? Hell yes. Am I a straight shooter, who will tell you how it is? Yep. Most people around me appreciate my bluntness… Those who don’t rarely last.

    Do I know the secret to life? Nope. But I know what it ain’t… Lazy.

    Enough tooting my own horn for now… There will be plenty of time and other posts for that.

    (:

    Am I vain? If being proud of my accomplishments in life is vain, then yes I am. Merriam Websters defines vain as: having or showing undue or excessive pride in one’s appearance or achievements. I do show pride in my appearance and achievements… Is it excessive or undue?? I say, nay.

    Do I have to be vain and have an enormous ego to accomplish great things? Absolutely not.

    I guess my point is that it takes some confidence and motivation to really push yourself past the envelope. In life, people will try to bring you down. People will try to tell you what you can’t do. People will doubt your prowess. Prove them wrong!

    Do you have some accomplishments that you battled to get? Do tell…

    I challenge you all… Step it up a notch! You can start by motivating yourself, and by starting tough tasks with your arms raised into a “V” for victory!!!

    I will leave you with this:

    Tony Manero: You know what I wanna do?
    Jackie: What?
    Tony Manero: Strut.

    *struts*

    Posted with an edge and some love,
    V

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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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    Is Exercise a Waste of Time?

    I have heard people from time-to-time say things like, “Workout, eat healthy, and die anyway.” Or they might ask, “Don’t you think that working out is a waste of time you could better utilize?” I have thought long and hard about these kind of naysayers. I’ve drawn my own conclusion that I decided to share.

    Last year I exercised for 155.5 hours. This year I anticipate meeting or beating that number. So… Was that time that I could have better used for something else? The answer isn’t a simple yes or no. You see, by working out (properly) you do things to your body. For instance, I sleep deeper when I’m training and I do not need as much sleep. I might save 30-60 minutes per night in sleep. With sleep alone I’ve already made that time up that I lost during my workouts. Also, working out (PROPERLY) improves your immune system and makes you less likely to get sick. I probably knocked off a week or two of sick days from my year. That could amount to ~336 hours of being sick and unable to do most things.

    Here’s the kicker… Studies have shown that healthy people who eat right and exercise regularly add 7.2 year to their life expectancy. That may not sound like much, but when calculated, it becomes: 62,899 hours!!! That’s right folks… By working out, staying at a healthy weight, and eating healthy you add an average of 62,899 hours to your life!!!

    Time to do a few calculations (my favorite part of life)… If I workout an average of 175 hours per year for 50 years, it will cost me 8,750 hours. Let’s see what this gives us, shall we?

    8,750 (50 years of workout hours)
    -9.125 (50 years of gained sleep)
    -16,800 (50 years of gained sick days)
    -62,899 (adding 7.2 years to your life)
    ===========
    80,074 hours added to your life

     

    That computes to 9.2 years! In actuality, you are adding nearly ten years to your life when you stay fit and healthy!!!

    The next time someone asks you if you’re wasting your time with exercise, tell them that you are actually adding ten years to your life!!!

    In addition there are so many benefits that come from exercise that I can’t list them all. But, I’m gonna try:

    1. Lengthens your lifespan by ten freaking years;
    2. Promotes better sleep habits (as I mentioned above);
    3. Gives you more productive hours each year;
    4. Improves your sex life (believe me);
    5. Increases your stamina;
    6. Improves your mood (decreases and prevents depression);
    7. Boosts HDL’s (lowers your cholesterol);
    8. Decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases;
    9. Helps prevent Type-Two diabetes, stroke, metabolic syndrome, some forms of cancer, and arthritis;
    10. Increases your balance and agility (which can prevent falls and accidents);
    11. Boosts your energy levels;
    12. Increases your strength;
    13. Induces a euphoria and/or natural high (thanks to my friend Laurie for pointing this one out);
    14. Makes you look better and healthier, leading to confidence (self-esteem);
    15. Reverses stress;
    16. Improves learning by increasing growth factor chemicals in the brain;
    17. Decreases memory loss.

     

    The list goes on-and-on-and-on… Do you have a favorite number above? Or, do you know of another benefit you dig? If so, please comment with your favorite benefit and say a little something about it.

    There really isn’t any reason for us to make a laundry list of great benefits… Living longer and having great sex should be more than enough incentive to get anyone wanting to do physical activity. The other great effects are merely icing on the cake!

    Join me, my friends! Let’s exercise!!!

    Sent with love,
    Rip

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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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    Kotowaza AKA Japanese Proverb

    As you all know, I refer to kaizen on a regular basis. Kaizen is a Japanese word that means daily improvement. I strive on a daily basis to improve myself. Today, I’d like to introduce you to another Japanese word… Kotowaza. Essentially, kotowaza translates to “proverb.” I am fascinated with Japanese philosophy and one of the main things I gain from the Japanese is their inspirational proverbs. To me, the proverb is a powerful message that I can relate to my life and use it to inspire me. I am constantly finding myself motivated by neat proverbs (Japanese or any others). A few posts ago I put up some of my favorite passages and quotes.

    One of my all time favorite kotowaza is: chiri mo tsumoreba yama to naru. This translates to “even specks of dust become mountains” (or, “even dust if piled, can become a mountain”). It is not merely my favorite because it has the word, yama (mountain) in it. I love this one, because it seems to be the ageless proverb. In English, we have a similar one, “many a little makes a mickle.” To me, it means that regardless of your current state, you can rise, like the Phoenix, from the ashes and make something more of yourself. I experienced this precise thing many moons ago, when I was 19 years old and my doctor gave me a death sentence. I rose from the ashes and turned a speck of dust into a mountain. That said, perhaps I should be more fond of kishi kaisei; which literally means “wake from death and return to life.”

    If you think about it by wearing someone else’s shoes, you can also see that “chiri mo tsumoreba yama to naru” is important as you meet people. Everyone that you meet (regardless of status, or stature) has the potential of becoming a mountain. It’s vital to remember this as you greet folks for the first time. Think about the possibility of meeting someone at the very bottom of the ladder in a large corporation. You might look down on them, and think they will amount to nothing. However, it’s entirely possible that this person will be running the same company in twenty years. And, also possible is the fact that they might remember that you looked down on them. Look down on NO ONE, and you will avoid this situation. Think: Golden Rule.

    Here are some of my other kotowaza favorites:

    saru mo ki kara ochiru — even monkeys fall from trees
    deru kugi wa utareru — the protruding nail will be hammered down
    ropu no kireta tozansha mitai — like a mountaineer who’s rope has broken
    ashita yama wa itsumo soko de aru — the mountain will always be there tomorrow
    nana korobi ya oki — fall down seven times, get up eight
    hitsuyou wa hatsumei no haha — necessity is the mother of invention
    kane wa tenka no mawarimono — no problems because money always goes around
    ichi nichi, ichi zen — every day, do one good (do a good turn daily)
    Here’s a fun/funny one (yet true): ninjabashiri o suru toki, kutsuhimo ga yurundeiru to hisan na koto o maneku — when running ninja-style, having loose shoe strings invites misery.

    Ganbatte kudasai is another cool Japanese saying that I use often. It can translate to many meanings, but they are all related. My favorite (simple) translation of ganbatte kudasai is, “keep your chin up.” That is just a sweet thing to say to a person who is striving to improve themselves and stumbling over the pitfalls of life. In other words, any one of us!

    Do you have any favorite proverbs (English, Japanese, or any other nationality)?

    I hope you enjoyed this!

    Dewa mata,
    Vaan san

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    Inspirational Passages and Quotes

    Quotes and passages can be incredibly uplifting and inspirational. I like to read inspirational quotes every day. I start my day by reading the following quotes… They instill my spirit with motivation and lift me to a higher level. Check ’em out, and let me know what you think!

    “Come not between the dragon and his wrath.”
    -William Shakespeare / King Lear, act I, scene 1

    “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”
    -James Dean

    “Adventure is worthwhile in itself.”
    -Amelia Earhart

    “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”
    -Albert Einstein

    “Decide whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, stop worrying.”
    -Amelia Earhart

    “Remember: Life is short, break the rules”
    -James Dean

    “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.”
    -William Shakespeare / Measure by Measure, act I, scene 4

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

    “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
    -Benjamin Franklin

    “Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world right in the eye.”
    -Helen Keller

    “Excellence sucks!”
    -Tony Robbins

    “There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.”
    -Benjamin Franklin

    “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”
    -Eleanor Roosevelt

    “Temet Nosce. It means, know thyself.”
    -the Oracle

    “Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.”
    -Helen Keller

    “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”
    -George Eliot

    “Life’s tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.”
    -Benjamin Franklin

    “Nobody can be successful unless he loves his work.”
    -David Sarnoff

    “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.”
    -Yoda

    “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
    -Gandalf the Grey

    “Never interrupt someone doing something you said couldn’t be done.”
    -Amelia Earhart

    “Let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.”
    -Albus Dumbledor (care of J. K. Rowling)

    I would be remiss if I didn’t include some of my own personal quotes… Enjoy!

    “Dum spiro somnium”
    -Vaughn Ripley

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

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

    “Chivalry is not just a fancy word with a neat meaning… It’s a way of life.”
    -Vaughn Ripley

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

    Do you have a favorite quote or passage? Please share and chime-in!

    Hoping this inspired or motivated you!

    -Vaughn

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    Gears for Good 2013

    I’m riding (for the third year in a row) 156 miles (from Paw Paw to Washington, D.C.) over three days (September 27-29, 2013). Funds that are raised (last year we raised over $38,000) from this ride are directed to the Helping Hands program to assist families in the bleeding disorder community who are going through financial difficulty. It not only helps these families, but we also raise awareness and build a growing, strong community of friends! Gears for Good is an AWESOME cause!!!

    please donate (no amount is too small) to help support me and hemophiliacs like me by going to this page and clicking “Donate.” www.razoo.com/story/Vaughn-Ripley

    I wrote an article for the Hemophilia Federation of America (HFA) in their quarterly Dateline magazine. You can find my article on page 10 of this issue: hemophiliafed.org/dateline/HFA_Dateline_2013_Q2_Summer. Please checkout my article and let me know what you think!

    In this article I give the Top ten reasons why you might want to join us on the Gears for Good Ride… Here they are:

    Top Ten Reasons to Join Us

    10. Meditative effect and fresh air (instead of being cooped-up in a stinky gym)

    9. Strength and aerobic improvement (plus it builds stamina)

    8. Boost your overall mood and self esteem

    7. Longevity

    6. Burns calories (and most importantly – fat!)

    5. Improves coordination and balance

    4. Low impact exercise

    3. Strengthen joints (knees, ankles, and hips)

    2. Raising money and awareness for an amazing cause

    1. Meet and hang out with some incredible people who are living with a bleeding disorder just like you

    Checkout this COo.oOL HFA video from last year to see a brief clip about our ride, our camaraderie, and our community!

    If you can’t join us, you can at least be there in spirit… And, your donation is going to an incredibly good cause!

    As I said before, please donate (no amount is too small) to help support me and hemophiliacs like me by going to this page and clicking “Donate.” www.razoo.com/story/Vaughn-Ripley

    If you prefer to donate manually (not online) you can write a check to the Hemophilia Federation of America. Please write “donation in support of Vaughn Ripley” in the memo and mail the check to:

    Hemophilia Federation of America
    210 7th SE
    Suite 200B
    Washington, DC 20003

    I will continue to ride this event every year (until I can no longer ride) in support of my blood brothers. Please help me to help others!!

    Let me know what you think in the comments.

    Love you all,
    Rip

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    Inspirational Business Cards

    I am always working on ways to inspire myself and others. I believe that one of the keys to my longevity is my strong positive mental attitude. For most of my adult life, when someone asked me, “How are you doing?” I would immediately shoot back, “Awesome!” This shocks many, and usually creates a smile. Almost everyone is at least partially motivated by my spirit.

    After twenty (or so) years of doing this, I decided that awesome was a cliché and over used. So, I decided to start changing my “feeling” of the day and started trying new exceptional words. I quickly realized that I fell back on awesome more than finding or saying new words, because it was so ingrained in my mind. I really wanted to inspire people on a daily basis and thought that changing my word routinely would help to stir some additional emotions.

    I put some heavy thinking into this and came up with what I think (IMHO) is a creative solution. I bought some business card printer paper, broke out my dictionary and thesaurus, and came up with all of my favorite feelings. After compiling about thirty “feelings,” I put one and its associated dictionary definition on an individual business card. I keep this stack of feelings on my dresser. Each day I open my wallet, pull out yesterday’s feeling, and insert today’s feeling.

    The important part to mention is my mantra, incantation, or meditational (is that even a word??) moment in which I hold the card and read it. I read it carefully and examine the word. I ask myself what does this word really mean. I go over the definition and ensure that I know exactly what it means. I verbally repeat the feeling to myself as I slide the card ceremoniously into my wallet. I make sure that it is in the front of my wallet and viewable every time I open it.

    I want to impress upon those doubters out there… I know that you can’t simply read the word “wonderful” and then feel that way. I am not a fan of positive thinking without meat behind it. Instead, I focus on the word and ask myself what feeling “wonderful” would be like. I envision myself having a “wonderful” day. I imagine going through the day and experiencing “wonderful” things. In this way, I create a base. Then when people approach me throughout the day and ask their cliché, “How’s it going?” I spend half a second remembering that I’m wonderful, I crack a partial smile, look them directly in the eyes, and say, “I feel wonderful.”

    To put this business card thingy into perspective (and help explain what the heck I’m talking about), I’ll show you a couple of examples of my inspirational business cards.

    Flipping open my wallet… How do you know which one it is? you ask. It’s the one that says, “Bad Mother Fucker” on it. I digress, as usual… Inside my wallet, the first thing I see is:

    Tremendous
    [trih-men-duh s] –adjective
    1. extraordinarily great in size, amount, or intensity.
    2. extraordinary in excellence.

    Now doesn’t that sound bad-assed? I mean if out of the blue someone responded to your, “How’s it going?” question with a quick, “Tremendous!” Wouldn’t that instill a little something? Wouldn’t that make you smile? Wouldn’t it inspire or motivate you even a little bit? It’s baby steps folks… I’m not talking about earth shattering, life changing, slam dunks. I’m talking about little things you can do to make yourself and those around you stronger and better people.

    If you had asked me to open my wallet yesterday, the card was:
    Intrepid
    [in-trep-id] –adjective
    resolutely fearless; dauntless.

    Finally, I know that tomorrow’s card will be:
    Impelled
    [im-peld] –adjective
    1. to drive or urge forward; press on; incite or constrain to action.
    2. to drive or cause to move onward; propel; impart motion to.

    I think you get the point. The bottom line is that I wanted to get past the humdrumness (I’m sure that ain’t a word!) of simply saying “Awesome!” every time that someone asked me how I was.

    FWIW – Here are more of my daily inspirational cards that I have created:
    Amazing, Astounding, Audacious, Awesome, Chivalrous, Courageous, Excellent, Exceptional, Extraordinary, Fabulous, Fantastic, Fearless, Grand, Great, Heroic, Incomparable, Incredible, Inspired, Magnificent, Marvelous, Motivated, Out of This World! (there is no definition on this card… the title says it all), Outstanding, Phenomenal, Plucky, Prodigious, Ready to Rock and Roll! (also no definition on this card), Sensational, Splendid, Stupendous, Sublime, Super, Superb, Terrific, Valiant, and Wonderful.

    What do you do on a daily basis to ensure that you’ll have an uplifted day?

    Dig life and everything it brings!

    -Vaughn

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    What are You Grateful For

    I know that this topic has been covered by most inspirational authors and in hundreds (maybe thousands) of books and magazine articles. Alas, I have my own take on it, and I wanted to share my belief about one of the strongest subjects I know about… Gratitude.

    As you may know, I have thousands of things to be grateful for. All of us do. But, we rarely take the time during the day to think about those things, let alone focus and be thankful for them. About four years ago I discovered a way that I could make sure that I concentrate on the things most important to me on a daily basis. This powerful tool is actually just a simple rock. That’s right… I carefully selected a nice small stone from beside a creek and use it as my reminder of the things I should be thankful for. I call this tool my gratitude stone.

    Gratitude Stone
    There’s not really anything special about my gratitude stone. I did want it to be fairly smooth, so it doesn’t snag on my pants pocket. It was also important to have it be small, to avoid huge bulges in my pants (I have enough of those already – HA!). This stone also happens to be one of the things that I am grateful for.

    You might be asking yourself how I use the stone… Well, let me enlighten you to my usage.

    First off, I put the stone on my dresser at night with my wallet and Chap Stick. This way I remember to bring it with me every day. When I finish getting dressed in the morning, I pick up the rock and start my daily ritual. Before slipping it into my pocket, I spend about two minutes holding it, rubbing it, and thinking about the things I am grateful for. Some things (e.g. wife, kids, work, friends, and so on) come quickly and easily to me, so I focus on them first. After thinking about each of those things, I dig deeper into my imagination and try to come up with five more things that I might not have thought of without prying a little. And, I do more than simply say, I am grateful for yada… After choosing the topic to be thankful for, I then take it one step further and ask, “Why am I thankful for yada?”

    This morning ritual is not the only time I thank the universe for the things I am so fortunate to have in my life. The reason I have the stone in my pocket is so that I will feel it throughout the day. Anytime I reach into my pocket to pull out keys, Chap Stick, or money I also find that wonderful trinket. Once I touch it, I spend a moment and rub it. During that time I quickly pop through my list of things I’m thankful for. It’s only for a moment, but I do this a dozen or more times each day. Then, at the end of my day, while I’m emptying my pockets, I do it again. So I probably spend ten to fifteen minutes (at a minimum) of every day focusing solely on the things that matter most to me.

    Since you guys are all probably wondering what I think about when I rub my stone, I thought I would list out some of the things:

    • My wife
    • My kids
    • My brothers and sisters
    • My moms and dads (yes, that is plural… HA!)
    • My longevity and ability to outlive everyone’s expectations
    • Work (yep… I love it, and am grateful for it)
    • My hobbies and fun stuff
    • My home (shelter)
    • Food on my dining room table (and in the fridge)

    After I finish with the easy list, I move on to the tougher to think of things like:

    • My five senses (fortunately I have all five at my disposal)
    • My arms and legs (not everyone is as lucky as me)
    • The sun (and the moon)
    • Computers
    • The snow
    • Four seasons
    • Social networks
    • My gift of writing
    • Internet access
    • Life coaches and mentors
    • Challenges (yes sir… Very grateful for these, because they help me grow!)

    You get the picture. And, hopefully I have helped you realize that there are lots of wonderful things for you to be thankful for too.

    Do you believe in gratitude? Please comment and let us know what you are thankful for. And, tell us if you use something like a gratitude stone to remind you of them.

    Hopefully this was a post to remember… And, maybe even be grateful for.

    I’m more grateful for you readers than you can imagine!

    -Vaughn

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