Meet Author/Lifestyle Expert Al Louis Ripskis
Al Louis Ripskis

Ripskis didn't write Cutting Loose and Unlock the Life You Want as some detached scribe or armchair academic. He experienced and actually lived most of the events and lives he writes about — from crewing on boats to joining the Trappists, from working in a commune to eventually getting kicked out of a Zen monastery.

     When one corporate employee he recently interviewed told him "I wake up in cold sweat with this recurring nightmare: I get downsized from my career and then trudge from one near-minimum wage job to another until I die,” Ripskis knew exactly what this employee and millions of others like him are dreading. Ripskis had elected to experience for himself what it is like to work for $7.25 an hour at Staples.

     Ripskis' own dream lifestyle — portrayed in Chapter 15, "From Bureaucrat to Whistleblower" — evolved from an idealistic government reformer, turned crusading Washington investigative reporter, to globe-trotting writer and researcher documenting people trading in the rat race for their dreams.

    For thirteen years he did exposés on sexual harassment, about thousands of children dying from lead-base paint poisoning due to government nonfeasance and hundreds of government boondoggles that received national media coverage and sparked Congressional hearings and investigations. He has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and other major newspapers and magazines. Ralph Nader wrote a syndicated column about him.

     In 1985 Ripskis designed a comprehensive Lifestyle Research Questionnaire, which became the backbone of a 18-year, international research project and the foundation for Cutting Loose and Unlock the Life You Want. He surveyed and interviewed over two thousand people and helped them change their habits such as overeating, smoking, alcohol abuse, transform their relationships, learn to manage better their finances and conquer depression.

    Others he interviewed went further. During his numerous lifestyle research trips through the U. S. and abroad Ripskis discovered how increasing numbers of people reclaimed their autonomy in this age of uncertainty engendered by terrorism, perpetual downsizings, takebacks, divorces and mid-life crises. How they broke out of their unsatisfying lives and downsize-proofed themselves by abandoning the rat race and went for their dreams. He documents how they discovered, designed and implemented those dreams.

    Ripskis' Web column is at Ask the Lifestyle Expert. As a SCORE counselor, in partnership with U.S. Small Business Administration, he helps convert people's entrepreneurial dreams into comprehensive business plans and viable enterprises. He works with people and companies operating within 20th Century mind-set and framework to transition into the full opportunities of the 21st Century global economy.

    Ripskis is the Coordinator of the Verist Writers Network. See Who Are the Verist? as well as the Realities of the Writing Life.

     Ripskis studied Redecision Therapy with its founder, the late Robert Goulding. Although Ripskis’ expertise is lifestyles and he does not practice psychotherapy, he, as an investigative reporter, dug deeply into the field, with its 450 different therapies, and came up with some astounding findings. See Chapter 25, “The Essence of Psychotherapy.” He incorporated these discoveries in his books and applies them in his consulting and counseling. Also he has been a Hotline Crisis Counselor since 1985.

    Ripskis experienced what his readers are going through as a former smoker who lost weight and has kept it at 22 BMI; overcame depression without anti-depressant drugs; and as a “recovering chocoholic,” openly shares with his readers his own lifestyle changes and foibles — making him eminently credible and easy to identify with. “His writing style is a straightforward, personalized way of putting things that are to the point, fun, and easy to read,” as one person observed.

Jackson T. Hawkins
Jack Hawkins is an attorney and editor, residing in Rockville, Maryland.

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