I don't quite remember when I fell in love with tea but I do remember the most special moments of me drinking tea. I was eighteen years old and I went to live with my biological mother for four months. I had just met her months earlier and it was awkward for both of us. She and her ex-husband lived a very quiet life in Boulder, Colorado. He was a professor at one of the universities and she was a housewife. After years of drug addiction and being in and out of jail, she deserved the break. I was homeless so she and her husband agreed to let me come live with them. Each evening my mother and I would find a spot in the living room with a cup of tea and a book.

Now, years later, I'm a self proclaimed tea expert. I start each day with a wonderful English Breakfast tea to get me going. As the day progresses, who knows what wonderful tea I will crown queen. But for sure, I have at least three cups of tea a day. And yes, when I can, I have tea everyday at about 3:00 P. M. I love to invite my friends over for tea and cupcakes and so far everyone thinks it’s a delightful experience. I am always in search of the best blend of tea. Yes, I’m a tea snob, I prefer loose tea but I do like some bags also. I have learned not to judge a book by it’s cover. Some bags can be quite nice. And yes again, any Diva knows, what you drink your tea out of is very important.

Tea for me is a way of life. It's wellness for the mind body and spirit. Here, I will explore every expect of tea possible, with a high concentration on wellness. I will review the best teas, the best places to have tea, the best ways to brew tea, the best tea accessories, what tea goes best with what foods, and the list goes on and on. I plan to share my passion for tea with you. And I've been told, nothing I do is ever boring so be prepared to go on this tea journey with me.

RLT Collection Tea Ball Frosted Clear Beads!

Mint Medley by The Persimmon Tree Tea Company

About This Tea:

Until recently I had never drank Peppermint Tea made with loose leaves. And Honestly, I will probably never go back. The freshness of loose Peppermint Tea cannot be denied. When I open the can of Mint Medley, From The Persimmon Tree Tea Company, I feel as if I stepped into a garden of peppermint leaves. It is a perfect blend of organic peppermint and spearmint leaves grown in the US.

Mint Medley has become a favorite and I find myself reaching for this tea tin almost everyday. It is great for on-going nausea. The health benefits and endless. It relieves muscle aches, headaches, migraines, stress. And now that it feels like someone is sitting on my chest and I have a mean cough, I'm sure it will help to relieve some of this congestion in my chest. Mint Medley has been in my tea cup more than any tea as of late. It has really helped with my winter cough, congestion related to this bout of pneumonia. You can read my full review on The Persimmon Tree Tea Company Mint Teas.

RLT Collection AIDS Awareness Tea Ball!

Welcome to my world of books! As an pre-teen books changed my world. I fell in love with the writers of the Harlem Renaissance period and the more I read the more I wanted to read. The fiction of this period was powerful and empowering all at the same time. It spoke to my own degradation and gave me hope for a better tomorrow. It gave me purpose for my own life and the courage to fight the good fight and never surrender.

I love to read! Inside a book I escape into someone else's life. There is something wonderful about turning to the next page of a wonderful story. Something intoxicating about the smell of the book and the story it brings to life. Reading brings me joy, and these days with my health in the balance, I find solace in my books.

I spent hours in my bedroom sequestered with the door closed reading the classics from the Harlem Renaissance, Hughes, Larsen, Hurston, Wright and Baldwin. Books became my escape and my salvation. The fiction of this period was powerful and empowering all at the same time. It gave me purpose for my own life and the courage to fight the good fight and never surrender.

Reading is the one thing that the pain of my life could never take away from me. It was the thing that helped to make it better. And even today, living with AIDS, books continue to be the safest place for me. It’s the one thing that belongs to me that AIDS cannot take away from me.The RLTReads book club will be books that I choose. It’s me sharing a part of me with you that has nothing to do with AIDS. It’s actually in spite of AIDS.

The RLTReads book club will be books that I choose. It’s me sharing a part of me with you that has nothing to do with AIDS. It’s actually in spite of AIDS. I have read hundreds of books from many different genres and I will pick the best of my reads over the years. I warn you, it will not be exclusively white or black, male or female, fiction or non fiction, it will be all of them.

I’m so excited and I’m grateful to everyone who wants to be a part of this venture. We already have 110 Book Club Members. You can email me @ RLTReads@raelewisthornton.com. The Twitter hashtag is #RLTReads. We can make this book club as wonderful as we want to make it. Who says that Oprah has to have the only ownership to a wonderful book club?

This Month We are Reading In My Fathers House by E Lynn Harris

Read along and join our discussion July 19th at 7 pm CST

For more Tea with Rae "Vlogs" Click here to visit her youtube channel

Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday Reflection: Progress Not Perfection!!

Last Monday was a day filled with emotional and physical fatigue and I declared that I was going to do something about it. Remember I said, “So instead of me giving into my Blue Monday, I evaluated what got me to this place and what I can do differently to change it.” It was definitely a lofty declaration on my part.

We do it often, don’t we? Say how we are going to change things in our lives, like lose weight, stop being a doormat, start school, balance our time, keep ourselves safe from HIV by using a condom, pick the man who will value and love you for you. The list goes on and on, but at the end of the day, I wonder how many times we make these resolutions to ourselves and don’t follow through. And equally as important, what does that do to our self esteem? Declaring, but never doing. Starting, but never finishing. I know for me, when this happens, I don’t like myself very much and that cannot be a good thing. Self love should not be compromised by anything, not even you. So I ask myself, “Why do I keep doing the same thing that will render the same result every single time?” The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. Are we living on the boundaries of insanity?

I've done it over and over. I’ve even done it on this blog. Yep, you heard it. My two biggest declarations, lose weight and balance my time. Yes, we go into these resolutions with the best of intentions, but somewhere along the way we become paralyzed, stuck in our routines that derail our progress. Some of us are even afraid of failure but as the saying goes, fear is false evidence appearing real. It is what we have made ourselves to believe it may be, rather than what it is.

Another barrier to success is fear of failure. What if I can’t do it, and closely connected is, what will people think? But you will never know until you try. Defeatism is another barrier to our success. We conclude, I might as well stay fat, because there is no expectation of me fat... It is who I am. We find comfort in the fact that people will accept us in what ever state we are in. That, for many of us, is a safe place. In our twisted thinking we see it as better then people saying, “It’s taking her forever to finish school or to lose weight.” But one pound is better then no pound and one class is three credits toward a degree. For Real...

I learned from my mentor Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, that if you don’t run you are guaranteed to lose, if you do run you might lose. Yes, he lost the presidential nomination in 1988, but 8 million votes gave him enough delegates and power to be a voice at the Democratic convention. That voice changed the one man one vote rule, and that paved the way for President Obama to win the Democratic nomination. For Real... Without that rule change twenty years ago he would not have won the nomination. So what am I saying? I’m saying we have to start somewhere.

No, we won’t climb a mountain overnight, but I would prefer to be on my way up then stuck at the bottom. Baby steps are certainly better than no steps at all. Progress should be your aim, don’t get stuck on the concept of perfection, that is what God is... We on the other hand are simply human. Do your best and you will render the best outcome. Do nothing and you will render nothing...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Fashion/Beauty Friday: I Am Woman!!!

I'm going to make a big confession. I always thought that my look was fabulous. But after seeing Sex and the City II, I think I'm boring as hell! For Real! Yes, my look is classic and I'm often well put together but this movie made me want to burn every piece of St. John Knit I own.

I'm also going to admit that I'm not a Sex and the City enthusiast, that is, until now. I didn't see the series or the first movie. Yes, I heard the talk among women and fashion enthusiasts about how fabulous all the women were, but I didn't believe the hype. In fact, I thought that most other women seemed to be worshipping these four characters in the series. But not me!  I was not participating!

But I was certainly curious so when follow blogger Nikia Jefferson invited me as her guest to the Chicago premiere screening supporting the Red Pump Project I jumped at it.

The screening was a blast! Most women were fabulously dressed like Blogger/Red Pump Rocker, Brittany. Without a doubt, these Sex and the City enthusiasts seemed to be in sync with the women on the screen. I had on all black. Shaking My Head. *SMH* Boring.

The clothes in the movie were to die for. They were vibrant and beautiful and they had a personality of their own. They mixed colors that I would never have done in a thousand years and it worked. They unapologetically mixed causal with dressy giving an edgy look. Who knew that you could  make a t-shirt look so fabulous!

Yes, these clothes brought life to the screen. They were daring, bold and exciting. These clothes made me re-think my entire look. I had already learned at the More Reinvention Convention a few weeks ago that women over 40 should add color to their wardrobe to make them look fresh. So here I go. I have nothing to lose.

Most important, while these fashions were cutting edge they did not demoralize women. In fact they made me feel like a woman who wanted to be and do my best everyday. They made me proud to call myself WOMAN!  The karaoke song they sung in the movie was not only appropriate but it spoke volumes to women! I am Woman!

I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin' arms across the land
But I'm still an embryo
With a long long way to go
Until I make my brother understand
Oh yes I am wise
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to I can face anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman
Oh, I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong

Post Script: Yes, I loved the movie. I have no idea what the critics are talking about. I was very much entertained. I Laughed Out Loud (LOL) the entire movie. And there were many positive/feminist messages for a woman to take home. I have never seen a woman pull out a condom in a movie until now.  My only advice, don't take your guy, it is clearly a chick flick. And YES! I do plan to back track.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Hardest Part of AIDS....

I sat in the back of the taxi yesterday as the tears flowed from my eyes. “Pull it together girly,” I kept telling myself. But no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t. “Here I go again. Here I go again,” I mumbled through my tears. I had just left the hospital having a PICC line placed in my arm and no matter how often I’ve had it, I never seem to adjust. For me it is the signal of the grueling task ahead of me: intravenous (IV) medication for however long it takes. The last time, just 3 months ago was for 23 days.

It’s the world of AIDS that is hidden by my fancy clothes, my hard hitting message and my overachiever attitude. But no matter how hidden the pain of it all may be, for me it’s the hardest part of having AIDS. Yes, I Facebook and Tweet about being on an IV, but I sometimes even wonder if people really understand. This time, when I discovered that I was going back on the medication, I decided that I wasn't going to talk about it publicly. Not that I was ashamed or anything, but I’ve been working on a social media project and pitching it to sponsors. I didn’t want them to stumble upon a tweet and think that I was too sick to deliver. Then I thought about it. I am sick whether I’m on IV medication or not. I have AIDS! And I also have an awesome ministry wrapped around this horrible disease. For me, there is not one without the other. If I'm going to get sponsorship and support, they can’t have the glamourous AIDS Activist without the AIDS.

So today I will begin blogging about the Hardest Part of AIDS for me and chronicle my journey on this IV medication. It began this morning when the home health nurse asked, “And why are you on this medication?” I explained that I have an infection that was resistant to oral medication, so this is my last resort. “I see,” she said. “And why is this infection so resistant?” She asked slowly. “I have AIDS,” I said matter-of-factly. And then it came, the look that said, “How did a nice girl like you, living on the Gold Coast, end up with AIDS?”

I bet no one ever had that thought about someone with diabetes or cancer or lupus or heart disease. Exactly! But nevertheless, we are so quick to compare HIV/AIDS to any other illness. Implied in that comparison is this: Having AIDS is no harder than any other illness, so what’s the big deal? But if we are honest about it, HIV is not just like any other virus and AIDS is not any old other disease. They both carry a social stigma that weighs down heavy on ones heart and spirit. It’s enough to have to deal with the daily routine of managing ones health but to be weighted down with the stigma of it all is all too overwhelming.

So this morning I gave the nurse no room for discussion about my life. There was no defense against her silent moral judgments that spoke loud and clear through her mannerisms. Today was not the day!! When I awoke, I was so fatigued that I didn't want to brush my teeth, and that was after 11 hours of sleep. I had a very sore arm from the PICC line placement and my skin around the bandage felt like I had second degree burns. I knew what was ahead of me, a two hour IV drip this morning and another two hour drip tonight. It would also be the beginning of side effects like nausea, diarrhea and more fatigue. I decided to save what energy I had for me.

Today I choose NOT to defend the incredible Black woman that I am. As the nurse was walking out of my door, with her eyes wandering around my apartment, she said, “Your art is beautiful” “Thank you, I've been collecting for about 20 years now," I said to her. She paused expectantly. I knew that she wanted more, but today was not the day...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday Reflection: Blue Monday

I woke up this morning feeling just like this picture and I wanted to pull the covers right back over my body and stay in the freaking bed. Have you ever felt like that? And if so, do you ever think about what got you to this point and how you can change it? Well, as I was laying in bed, I started thinking about what's got to change in my life to change what and how I'm feeling today. So that next Monday can be a little different from today.

I will admit, some of what I'm feeling is just plain old fatigue. I've been working on a project, #RLTevent  (twitter hashtag) for the last few weeks and have not allowed myself any rest.  I've been an overachiever at my best. That's my thought. For Real... I can stop saying that I'm going to balance my time and just do it. Working 10-12 hours a day is not good for anyone and especially not a person with a damaged immune system. As with anything, all you can do is your best. And, you don't have to kill yourself in the process.

Another part of what I'm feeling today is my illness. AIDS always seems to live up to it's promise. It's a hell of a disease that attacks when you least expect it.  I know what you are going to say. And I agree. Yes, I am blessed to have lived so long with this disease. But let me tell you, longevity has not made the living with it any easier, not one day! I think it's the being helpless that's the worst.  Most times I can't do a damn thing about what's happening. I have to go with the flow. Get the medical help that I need and keep it moving. It is what it is...

Yes, we can treat you, but you really don't want to end up with this Bitch of a disease. Keep yourself Protected!!

OK, the other part of my Blue Monday is the fact that I'm still struggling with some "issues" that I can't seem to shake no matter how hard I try. They say that time will heal all wounds. But that's not always true. In fact, time can sometimes be your worst enemy. Sometimes it's so deep that we are in way over our heads.  And without the proper help sadness turns into depression. If a particular thing lingers in your heart and spirit to long, it becomes like a sore that festers and runs. Can't change the situation, but you can change how you feel about it... So I'm gonna work on making that change today and get the help that I need to get to a better place in my heart and spirit.

Yes, the beginning of the week is always a good time to take an assessment. Where am I? How did I get here? Do I like it or not? And what do I need to change what I don't like? So, instead of me giving into my Blue Monday, I evaluated what got me to this place and what I can do differently to change it. What are you gonna do today to change what you don't like?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Then God Plans....

Today is my birthday! I never thought that I would live to see 48. But I should have known because I was a miracle from the very beginning. For Real... I was born to heroin addicts. I weighed 3 pounds and stayed in an incubator for a month. Yes, I was a drug baby before we even knew what drug babies were. And I survived it...

Then I was infected with HIV 27 years ago when I was 20 years old, and diagnosed at 23. When I made a transition to AIDS 18 years ago, I was 30 years old and the life expectancy was three years. Yes, I was certain that I would not see 48.

But as the saying goes, "Man plans, then God plans..." God has truly been the better planner. I am grateful and even more humbled that God's plan for my life was greater and bigger than anything I could have ever imagined. When I think about God's favor on my life... I am overwhelmed... So today, I plan to do NO work! Have no profound conversations... Not talk about my Blog, or my Social Media Campaign, or Speaking, or AIDS, or Broken Promises...
I just want to spend the day relishing in the miracle of my life.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Afrobella Weighs in on Make-up Artist Roxanna Floyd

I always wanted to ask beauty/natural hair guru Afrobella to be a guest blogger on my Diva Living with AIDS Blog, but I didn't want to infringe upon our friendship and make her feel obligated. Then it happened quite organically. We were talking the other day and she mentioned the passing of Roxanna Floyd. I stopped in my tracks. OMG! She was the make artist that did my face for the cover of Essence magazine. Well, I asked Bella to dig into her archives and share with my readers the life and work of celebrity make-up artist Roxanna Floyd who quietly paved the way for many to come and had well over 60 covers to her credit.  So here it is:

The world of celebrity makeup artists suffered a tremendous loss in February – the legendary Roxanna Floyd passed away at her home in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. To many, her name may be unknown. But to fans of black celebrity makeup, Roxanna Floyd was a legend. Her first celebrity client was Yoko Ono. After Ono started recommending her to friends, Floyd’s career went into hyperdrive. Her first cover for Essence magazine featured Halle Berry, and Roxanna went on to beautify faces for 60 more Essence magazine cover stars. 
Roxanna forged close working relationships with some of the most celebrated contemporary icons of black beauty, including Angela Bassett, Whitney Houston, Queen Latifah, and Halle Berry. In the wake of her passing, some amazing tributes have appeared online. 

Roxanna Floyd was the Creative Beauty Director for venerable cosmetics brand Fashion Fair. Brand Manager Basheerah Enahora offered the following quote: 
 "We are truly overwhelmed by the unfortunate news of Roxanna Floyd’s untimely passing. Not only was Roxanna our creative beauty director, she was a friend…a sister…she was Fashion Fair® Cosmetics family. She possessed a wonderful gift of creating, accentuating and transforming beauty. Her innovation, creativity and flair will be missed – but her legacy and spirit will continue to live.”
Makeup artist Sam Fine rhapsodized about Roxanna in a touching tribute for Essence magazine: 
 “The makeup industry seems vast, but actually it's quite small. There are very few artists that reach a level where you recognize their name, identify their work at a glance, or rattle off celebrity clients that they've beautified. Roxanna Floyd was one of those artists. However, her artistry is not what I'll remember most. I'll always remember Roxanna as an artist who paved the way for many "artists of color" to reach new heights by setting a standard of excellence with her work on numerous magazine covers, music videos and celebrity clients. In an industry that isn't always welcoming to artists of color, Roxanna became a beacon of light, showing us how brightly our lights could shine.” 

Harriet Cole, Editor in Chief of Ebony Magazine, shared her personal recollections as a friend of Roxanna’s: “She was a genius with a set of makeup brushes. And she appreciated brown skin so much that she learned how to blend colors perfectly to ensure that a woman of any and every skin tone would be flawless before the camera. Roxanna was a perfectionist. Anyone who knew her will tell you that she was the queen of the eyebrow. She spent as much time as it took to sculpt a brow, so much so that you felt like even if you didn’t have anything but foundation and a brow, you were ready for anything!” 

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Roxanna at an Oprah related event in Miami some years back. Even though I was but a young writer and a fan – I’d barely just started my blog, Afrobella -- she took the time to be gracious and friendly to me. I spent more than an hour watching her at her craft – making women look beautiful. She was like a hummingbird – flitting from side to side, deftly blending with her makeup brushes, absolutely in command of the moment. It was extremely inspiring. Rest in peace, Roxanna. Your legend will live on, and your work will forever be admired.

Post Script: I am honored to have been a face among Whitney Houston and Queen Latifah.  Roxanna's creative genius in my Essence photo shoot set the standard for me. I know you remember the glamorous, sensual look she gave me on the cover of Essence.

Here are more photo's from the 12 hour photo shoot with Roxanna and the Essence Beauty team.... The picture of me in the white dress has never been seen publicly. The picture in the black dress is the one that they wanted to use on the inside but because it was "see through," it didn't fly 15 years ago. They settled on the one in the silver dress... As you can see, Roxanna was able to create totally different looks for me in each one... She was gifted... For Real...
Thanks Afrobella for sharing your insights on Roxanna....

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Are You Kidding Me? More Questions: HIV, Sex and Dating

Here we go again. Remember the friend of a friend who felt that I was not being forthright about my dating life before I discovered that I was HIV positive? Remember she says, “My point is there are still major gaps in what she chooses to disclose and reflect on.” I told her to bring on the questions and I’d answer them as best as I can. While I felt some of the questions were none of her business. I also felt as if I had to do this. I choose to make my life public and I see this as a teaching moment. Some of the questions have already been addressed publicly, but she has never heard me speak and I realize that there may be some more of my readers in her shoes.  So here ya go... More questions...

She doesn't talk about her partner at the time:
There are many reasons that I have not talked publicly about the person I believe to have infected me with HIV. For one, I guarded his privacy and in some ways mine. (I talk about the reasons in my book.) But most important, I just wasn't emotionally at a place where I wanted to share many of the details. However, when I was writing my memoir for Hyperion Publishers, I had to face this head on. As part of the book deal, I had to explore the intimate details of my relationship with him, which I did. Thoroughly! I left no stone unturned! For Real...

How long were they together?
We were together for four months. I moved out of town for a job. And that job required a lot of travel and the distance ended the relationship.

What kind of relationship did they have?
I’m not sure the root of this question. Like, was it a one night stand?  Is that what’s really being asked? NEVER!!! It was not casual in my eyes. He was the only person that I was seeing at the time. In my memoir I talk about this pretty extensively.

How did they meet? 
Ahhh... We met at this private party that was very chic and upscale. And he was a freaking catch!! For Real.... So I thought and so did every other woman in the room.

What type of man was he, was he using drugs, gay, bisexual, etc.?
I also wondered why this answer is important. What does it really matter at the end of the day. He still infected me and who he was will not change that fact. But hey, I’m a trouper, let's go there.

First: He was one of the most handsomest African-American men I have ever known.
Second: He was a millionaire.
Third: He was very accomplished.
Fourth: He was one of the sharpest dressers I have ever known.
Fifth: He was brilliant. OMG! He could talk to you about any subject, any time and any place. That's one of the things I loved most about him. We would talk for hours and hours.

Drugs: I had never seen him use drugs.

Gay/Bisexual: I had never seen him with another man nor has his reputation in all these years suggested that he was anything other than heterosexual. If you want to know how he became infected? I have no idea....

At the end of the day, it does not matter for either of us. AIDS took his life and, unless I get hit by a truck, it will do the same to me. All I can do now is accept that I made a choice to have sex and that has left me fighting for my life, for the rest of my life. Like with most women infected through heterosexual contact, what we thought we knew is often derailed by our HIV status. The only thing that will keep a woman safe from HIV is either no sex or sex with a condom. It does not really matter to me who or what he was because it can never change the fact that he infected me and I had a choice.

By the way, 30% of all newly diagnosed cases of HIV are people infected by people who didn't know their HIV status. Getting tested will go a long way in HIV prevention. For Real... For Real...

Post Script: Yes, I have a Healthy Vagina! Part Three is coming next week. I promise. I was on the road speaking and didn't have the time to sit down and really give it all that it required.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I will be 48 years old this coming Saturday. Yep, I’m no longer a spring chicken! But I've known this for a while now. In fact, a few years back I started thinking about what I needed to do for myself differently as a woman over 40. I mean, I’ve lived so long with HIV, I didn't want to end up unhealthy and aged far beyond my years from something that had nothing to do with HIV/AIDS. That would be a trip, don’t you think? To beat AIDS, then turn around and look like I was hit by a Mack truck because I didn't take care of myself. For Real...

In my search, I stumbled upon a magazine for the over 40, mature woman, More Magazine. I became an instant fan! It seemed to speak to me in ways that other fashion magazines didn't. It always features a woman on the cover over 40. How refreshing! And it has articles that resonate with my maturing lifestyle. But while they focus on women over 40, I believe that More has value for women all ages.

Well, thanks to beauty/natural hair guru Afrobella, yesterday I attended the More Reinvention Conference as a guest of Eucerin Skin Care. (More to come on skin care.) I had a blast! The speakers were funny, informative, passionate and approachable! They made me take an honest assessment of my life, skin, fashion, body, spirit and even the work that I do around HIV/AIDS. The whole nine yards.

I gained a wealth of knowledge and today I’m giving me MORE! I'm making a commitment to being the best me that I can be. God has truly blessed me. Now I'm committing myself to doing the most with the blessing of my life.

I have already begun taking my work to the next level. I've taken my HIV/AIDS prevention message to the web with an awesome social media campaign and I have no intention of stopping anytime soon. I was inspired by Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker's commitment to Breast Cancer. I will remain on the front lines of HIV/AIDS until I die.

Stylist Mary Alice Stephenson told us to stop wearing so much black, which I wear 75% of the time. Lighter colors make you look fresh. Got it! My weakest link has been rest, diet and exercise. I've been bitching about my weight forever, enough is enough! I heard Pamela Peeke loud and clear. Learn to plan and stay focused. She gave me a personal tip to help me conquer my HIV/AIDS fat redistribution, "Vitamin I," i.e., intervals and switching up my work out. Women who eat well glow. Sleep your way to success with at least 7 hours. And let's not forget Eucerin, my host. I took a pledge to treat my skin like the rest of my health. And I'm committed to #skinfirst.

For a woman turning 48 in six days, More Reinvention was just what I needed. I have lived far longer than any doctor could have predicted. I'm going to do the most with my blessing of life... What are you going to do with your blessing?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Are You Kidding Me? HIV, Sex and Dating

Are you freaking kidding me was my first response, then anger, then an overwhelming sadness. That’s what I felt when I read the list of questions that had been sent to one of my close friends from one of her friends about my dating life. It is the same exact feeling I had when I was attacked on the blog a month ago. Or when the young man at a private school asked me 15 years ago, did I think God was punishing me because I had premarital sex. I don’t know who this person is and I want it kept that way. For Real... For Real...

But she apparently has been reading my blog because of my girlfriend since I launched it. Thank you!! My girlfriend had said to me that this person felt that I was not addressing the things that I should on my blog. My first response was gee it’s only nine weeks old. I do have AIDS and need to balance my life and health with the blog. Can’t talk about everything in nine weeks. And like with most bloggers I write where the spirit leads. But that was cool too. It seemed to me that some of the questions she asked were very old school AIDS judgmental. But at the core, I felt like she was telling me that because I had not directly answered these questions in my blog posts that I was being superficial or hiding something. Whether she meant it or not, it’s what I felt.

Now anyone who has ever read an article on me, heard me speak or listened to an interview knows that this isn't the case. In fact, I get tons of criticism about being so freaking candid and transparent. But she states: “my point is there are still major gaps in what she chooses to disclose and reflect on.” I don’t know a whole lot of people who have ever been as open and honest about their life as me. I wonder sometimes do I tell to much? I have given so much of myself to the public that maybe I have no expectations for privacy. Is there a private place or space for me, or did I give that up the day I appeared on the cover of Essence and the countless other magazines.

But anyway I got over myself and asked my girlfriend to have her friend send a list of things she wanted to know. I see it as a teaching moment. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not mad, well not anymore. If I'm truly honest, I just didn’t see the point in it all. But I’m a trooper and I want people to learn as much as they can about HIV/AIDS. So over the next month I will answer all of her questions. It fits perfectly with the current series I’m doing on sex, dating and HIV.  If she keeps reading, which I hope she does, she may not always like my answer. But it’s what I have to say.

Many of the things she wanted to know, I have already addressed in some way publicly but she has never heard me speak and there may be others out there who read my blog that have some of the same questions so I will do what I can. That’s only fair. But, some of the questions are reserved for the book deal. Those reserved for the book deal will be just that (which by the way, is a tell ALL book). For Real...

 I learned a long time ago to face my critics head on. I take all of my hits standing and I never fall down. At the end of the day, after you’ve done all you can... You Just Stand!! I choose to do it wearing lipstick, St. John, Christian Louboutins and eyelash extensions. And I have no apologies for it... It is what it is...

First question: “She doesn't talk about her partner at the time.” (This category had a ton of subquestions that I will address individually.) “How did she determine who it was that infected her?”

ANSWER:  I donated blood in the winter of 1986. In 1987, the Red Cross diagnosed me with HIV. When I first discovered my HIV status, I was in a relationship with a guy. We had been using condoms so I know he didn't infect me or I him. I have also said this in Essence magazine and actually in an earlier blog. Side note: This was still very early in the HIV/AIDS ependemic, so I had actually started using condoms early. The problem was, I was already infected.

After I learned my HIV status, I called ex-boyfriends, but no one admitted that they had infected me. For a long time, I use to call once a year to see who was living or dead. Eventually, I did have a partner die from HIV. His name is reserved for the book deal. Since his death, I have had no other partners to my knowledge die from AIDS. So that’s how I determined who infected me. More answers will come. That's a promise...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Fashion/Beauty Friday: Best $8.00 Tee Shirt Ever!

I am going to make a huge confession. I think that I was lost in Divaland somewhere. For Real... Yes, I've always known that the price of the item didn't matter. What really matters is what you do with what you've got. But honestly, I didn't really practice this concept very much. When I look back on it, I must have been out of my freaking mind. On average, I spent $45.00 on a simple tee shirt.
Then I became friends with Alicia. You remember her, she's the one that made me want to get eyelash extensions. Well, she influenced me yet again. One day I got a box in the mail from her with some Old Navy tees. Honestly, I wasn't expecting much from them, but I am a very gracious gift receiver. It's the thought that counts, right? I should've known better because Alicia is a Diva through and through. But, I had never purchased one thing from Old Navy. In the past, I never made it past the front door. I would stop, look, scan with my eyes and turn right around. You see, I rarely wear blue jeans.  For Real...

I must admit, Old Navy's tee-shirts are the freaking bomb! They have colors galore, crew and v-necks, sizes x-small to 3x. And most importantly, they wear well. I'm hooked!

The regular price of this tee is $12.50, however, Old Navy is always having a sale. I have never paid full price, I've paid $8.00 and sometimes I catch them at $5.00.

I have them in every color you can imagine...

Love this Tee....

Post Script: Now Alicia and I have this Diva Love thang going on. We almost never go to Old Navy without hooking each other up. That's friendship at its best... Luv ya Girly!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Fashion/Beauty Friday: Viva Glam V Makeover

I never ever leave the house without lipstick on my lips. That's Diva Rule #2. I love lip color and I never get locked into one. I have two lip colors for everyday that gives me a nude, neutral look. I have lip color for the fall, lip color for winter and lip color for the summer. I have lip color for TV and different colors for magazine photo shoots and particular ensembles. I love lip color! It completes you, giving a more polished look. Whenever I'm feeling low, I make my way to a makeup counter and try on lipstick until a smile comes to my face. If you experiment, I guarantee that you will find one to make you smile.  
So when my virtual intern Kianta told me that she didn't wear lipstick, I was horrified. I e-mailed her right back, "We have got to find you some lip color girly." The plan was on. When I came to speak at FAMU I was going to take her to MAC make-up and supervise a makeover. But when I arrived in Tallahassee, I discovered that Kianta was too overwhelmed with the details for the event I was speaking at so she found me a replacement. Yall know I don't like surprises!!

When I met  Soror Bridgett Simmons, I had mixed emotions. I was happy to help this coed reach her Diva Glam look, but nervous because she has really bad acne. She explained to me that her acne used to be worse, but like most young girls her age, she started taking birth control pills to help get it under control.  
Bridgett also explained that she only wore make-up for special occasions because she was afraid to clog her already oily pours. MAC make-up artist Ashley Green was confident that she could give us want we wanted and the challenge was on.  She began with MAC Prep + Prime to prevent clogging and give her foundation staying power. Like most makeup artists, she began with the eyes. They start with the eyes to ensure that the foundation is clean and smooth with no residual from the eye makeup. She mixed two colors on the entire lid to achieve this neutral look for Bridgett's complexion. 

After Ashley shaped the brows, which always finishes the eyes, she applied medium coverage foundation on Bridgett to even out her skin tone and give her face a flawless look. We could see the improvement right away. To finish the look she applied blush to the cheek bones. Without a doubt blush highlights and shapes your face. She then applied mascara to her lids. On a side note, MAC also has a Prep + Prime for the lashes. It actually extends the length of your lashes. I highly recommend it. 
Ashley assured me that any woman could achieve this look in a matter of ten minutes. Bridgett was looking great but now we had come to the moment of truth. I knew what lip color I wanted to use on Bridgett, but I didn't want to influence the makeup artist on the decision. She is the expert! I just have a good eye for color. 
But Ashley and I were definitely on the same page, she whipped out Viva Glam V and a smile came to my  face. I love this lip color and wear it for my everyday look. It is a perfect neutral, non chalky color that can be worn by many different skin complexions. Even better, ALL Viva Glam V proceeds go to help HIV/AIDS causes. This lip color is a winner all the way around!!

Ashley chose to use the  Viva Glam V gloss to give Bridgett a fresh, young look. Without a doubt Bridgett had achieved a Diva Glam look. She was so happy that she continued to smile the entire evening. Of course on a college student's budget, I thought it was only fitting to treat Bridgett to her first tube of Viva Glam V

I had a blast supervising this Diva Glam makeover for Bridgett.  Everyone were such great sports.  But I know what you all are saying, Bridgett had Ashley who is clearly a great makeup artist to help her achieve this look. But she assured me, the more you apply your makeup in the morning, the easier it will get. What she did for Bridgett, can also be your 10 minute face everyday. Makeup does enhance your God-given beauty. For Real... For Real...

 Lipstick is a must... I'm just saying... Diva Rule #2!!

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