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

Thursday, July 29, 2010

AIDS: No Joking Matter

Two days after the #RLTEvent I was chatting in the hall with a guy in my building who I thought knew that I had AIDS, but he didn’t. When I mentioned it in passing he paused and slowly said, “Oh, I didn't know you had AIDS.” I took a deep breath waiting. I had no idea where he would go next. Then he said all lively, “But it don’t bother me none.” I exhaled, “What a relief,” I thought. I was way too tired to go there with him. But then he looked me dead in the face and added, “Just don’t spit in my eyes.”

My heart sank right to the floor of my hallway, I couldn't even get mad. I felt empathy for this very uneducated man. “Really, in this day in age, you still think a person can get HIV through saliva,” is what I wanted to say. But that would have been futile because I knew that he was being sincere and he believed himself to have demonstrated his acceptance of my HIV status. I just simply explained how his information was incorrect and he listened attentively. When I finished, he simply said, “WOW, I had no idea.” Grandmama used to say, “You can get more with sugar than with shit.” I believe that to have been the case here. But it didn't make me feel any better. And this feeling in the pit of my stomach only got worse.

About 30 minutes later, one of my best friends called and finished telling me what he was trying to tell me a few weeks prior but I was too busy working on #RTLEvent to pay attention. He had seen a tweet about Michael Jackson and since he loves Janet, he followed the trail, it being the one year anniversary of her brother’s death. The tweet led him to a blog that gave 10 reasons why you should love Michael Jackson. They were cute, no doubt, but on a closer read, scrolled across Michael's picture, there was something of a different sort, and his point of contention. Knowing the blogger, without even hearing it, I loosely defined her by saying, “Her blog is meant to be funny and full of satire.” But he failed to see the humor and when he told me, and neither did I. It said:

(Michael) Eats KFC fried chicken buckets with Magic Johnson and remains AIDS free.”

My mouth dropped open. I couldn’t believe it, but that is exactly what it said. I played it over and over in my head trying to understand it’s intent. But I failed to see the humor in it all. Even though I was outraged, saddened and even hurt, I was also paralyzed, unable to respond in any fashion. I have been holding this blog in the pit of my stomach for a couple of weeks. I didn't want to have to defend what I was feeling nor did I want to be attacked. I’ve never really backed down from a fight, but this was more then a fight, this was personal and it reached deep in my heart. I had to believe that no malice was intended.

But, it reminded me of when Ted Danson wore a minstrel face to roast Whoppie Goldberg at the Fliers Club. African-Americans didn’t see the humor in it one bit, even though they were dating. No matter how hard Whoopie defended his intent, the act in and of itself rendered a bitter taste. Although I had that same bitter taste about this, I held onto to it until I saw another tweet last night.

International AIDS Activist Hydeia Broadbent, a woman living with AIDS her entire life, tweeted:

Watch the jokes about HIV/AIDS you never know one of your friends might be living with and not telling anyone for fear of judgment!”  

She had struck a cord with me and given me my power back. Thank you, Hydeia.

Yes, I tried to make sense out of it all. I know that this blogger knows that you cannot get HIV from eating with someone. On one level, saying that it didn't happen was implying that it could happen. On the other, saying that it didn't happen could also say it couldn't happen. I get it. But I wonder how people will view this glass, half full or half empty. I would argue that it depends on the knowledge you already have. My neighbor would have said, “Boy, was he lucky.”

But, the implications are far greater than how one interprets it. The bottom line for me: There are some things that should not be laughed at and HIV/AIDS is one of them. I cannot see the goodness in such a statement wrapped in vulgarity as a positive. No matter how hard I tried. The shame of living with AIDS is still real in this country. Stereotypes and myths surrounding this disease are a reality. Discrimination is ForReal... And that’s no laughing matter and all the satire in the world will never change that fact. My neighbor is a case in point. He honestly didn't know what he didn’t know. And he was confident in what he thought he knew.

Discrimination has been real in my own life. It was only a few years back that I was denied a tattoo in an African-American owned tattoo parlor because of my HIV status. And the owner was just like my neighbor, he thought his discrimination of my rights was justified, rooted in what he thought he knew. Despite the standard protocol all tattoo parlors are required by law to follow. Then last week, I spoke at the Danny Clark Foundation and when I said that I had AIDS, a young man in the second row pulled his seat all the way back away from me. I was sad that he didn’t know he couldn't get HIV from me just by being close, but I also was sad for myself, that a person would reject me simply because of my HIV status. I wonder what would this young man have said had he read the comment about Magic.

This is the reality that people with AIDS live with everyday. Not only from strangers, but they live in fear of rejection from their own family members. I've even been to a funeral in recent times where a mother held on to the secret of her child's HIV status because of the shame and stigma of AIDS. Her child’s HIV/AIDS status was buried right along with the body.

And let's not forget Magic Johnson, no matter what people may think of him. He is living with HIV every single day, and that is no joking matter. I wonder about the isolation and rejection he must have felt after disclosing his HIV status. The discrimination was so pervasive that he was forced to retire because teammates and fellow NBAers didn't want to play on the same court with him. He watched his career go down the drain because of ignorance. This is Magic’s reality and all the money in the world will never change that fact. It is also my reality and the reality of many others living with this disease and I fail to see the humor in it all.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday Reflection:The Courage To Go On...

Yesterday was a beautiful day in Chicago. That I knew for sure as I sat on the patio at Corner Bakery eating my oatmeal, drinking English Breakfast tea and reading James Patterson’s book, Alex Cross’s Trail. By my standards it was a good day, yet I couldn't stop crying.

I’m not sure what sparked the tears. Maybe it was the book I was reading, a historical fiction painting the degradation of African-Americans in the beginning of the 20th century in Mississippi and the horror of lynching. Their hopelessness on one hand and their fight on the other. Whatever the case, the tears started to flow like the Mississippi River. The superwoman in me looked around to see if anyone had noticed. Then I shifted my seat on an angle and turned my body so that my back was to the other people enjoying the patio and their morning delights.

“Your life is a big fat mess,” I mumbled to myself. But that’s nothing new, it’s been a mess for as long as I've known it. Nothing has ever come easy for me. Not one damn thing! A childhood plagued by sexual, physical and emotional abuse, I became a grown-up as a child, trying to ensure my safety in a chaotic environment. I became my own bread winner at age 17, the October of my senior year of high school when Mama locked me out because I was 15 minutes late for my curfew.

Yes, it has been a mess, but, honestly, I’m used to whatever this life has rendered me. So I became mad at my tears for betraying me at my favorite breakfast spot. Every time I dried my eyes and thought I was moving on, they started to flow again. “This is not cute, girly,” I told myself. “Pull it together. Process whatever this is and move on.” Lately, it seems like life has become harder. “Lord, I need a break. For Real,” I mumbled to myself as the tears dropped onto the pages of my book.

AIDS has been a constant thorn in my side. I've been on and off IV medications for the last three years. And to top it off, lately, the side effects of my HIV medication have caused me to have constant headaches and uncontrollable diarrhea, yes, even in public. But that’s an old problem I should be used to,” I told myself. My finances, if that’s what I can call them are in shambles. The loss of my book deal sent me on a downward spiral that I have not been able to climb out of. Yes, I was feeling sorry for myself. I started to recognize the signs as I made the list of my sorry ass life in my head. No family, but yes I have friends. But what about the people who come in your life under the pretense of support, then use you, violate your trust and move on to the next best thing. I’ve had my share of those lately too. “It is what it is Rae,” I mumbled. “Lord, I need a break!” I whined, “Do you here me up there? I need a break!”

Somewhere in the long list of complaints, I remembered that my life is not my own. It belongs to God, all that I am and all that I have. God’s plan for my life is perfect, it just don’t feel like it sometimes. God’s got your back and that should be enough to give you the courage to go on. I thought about that long and hard. The courage to go on. It is more than a notion when your day to day is threatened and you can’t see God’s awesome plan for your life in it’s fullness when you have to decide on whether to pay a bill or buy groceries; when your body is failing you and people too.

Then I remembered another woman’s story I heard on my trip to South Africa with Sheryl Lee Ralph. In the last few years, at my weakest moments, I replay her story in my head and her courage gives me the courage to go on. This South African woman told the story of how she was grabbed on her way to worked and gang raped. That's how she contracted HIV. You could hear yourself breath as she explained, “These men watched me undress, by knife point, and then they made me hold my stockings so they could cut them to tie me up. And one by one they raped me. When one man had finished another man climbed on top of me. Another man walking by that morning tried to rescue me, but they cut him. And one by one, they started all over again. When the police finally came, they had to pull one man from on top of me. The police arrested the men.”

And you could hear a sigh of relief. Every woman in the room exhaled. And after a long pause she said, “After the police pulled the man off me, I got dressed, and then I went to work.” A silent sadness swiped the room and tears immediately flowed from every woman’s face, both African-American and South African alike. We instantly felt her pain. After another paused, she said, “If I had not gone to work, my family would not have eaten; my mothers, my father and my siblings.”

At that moment, my life was changed. I thought that I was one tough ass cookie but she clearly trumps anything I thought I could do. Gang raped and then go straight to work? I don't think so. What courage it took to tell her story. What courage it took to withstand gang rape and then not miss one beat in her life. Yes, sitting there remembering her courage gave me courage to go on and face whatever this is. God’s plan for my life is bigger than any that I could ever plan for myself. All I need to do is get out of my head, keep the faith, have the courage to go on and see how God's wonderful plan unfolds.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fashion Friday: Little Black Dress

It is no secret that black is my favorite color! No matter how hard I try to do something different I always come back to black. A few months ago, after seeing Sex and the City Two, I declared that I was a changed woman. But I have failed miserably at that change.

I was planning to wear something vibrant and very SATC2 for #RLTEvent, but it just didn't happen. After being on IV medication another 33 days going into the event my weight loss program went straight down the tube, my IV tube that is.

Being self conscious about the weight shift I experience at the top of my body because of HIV and the extra weight from being on the IV drip, vibrant colors were  simply out of the question. I didn't want to look like Spongebob at the top of my body. Yes, it is true that people wear darker colors to camouflage  undesirable weight, but for me, it is also true that I just love the color black.

When I originally went searching for something to wear for #RLTEvent, I was looking for a gray lace dress from Ann Taylor that I  had seen in Essence magazine in an article featuring celebrity make-up artist Tia Dantzler. I was hoping that they had it but I was not very optimistic about the fit. Typically, dresses do not fit my body shape and I end up wearing separates 99% of the time. Well, the gray dress hadn't come in and I noticed a little black dress. There was something about the simple elegance of it that caught my eye. I didn't think it would work because of my body shape but I tried it on anyway. And OMG!! To my surprise it fit me perfectly.

This was the most perfect fitting dress that I have purchased since my body fat shifted because of HIV over nine years ago. I love this dress!! It was not only a great fit, but a great buy at $98.00. Plus, the manager gave me an extra 30% off. It pays to be a regular at some stores.

The little black dress was made popular by first lady Jacqueline Kennedy and I first became a fan of it from watching Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast's at Tiffany's. In fact, the simple elegance of Audrey Hepburn has for the most part helped to define my style.

Every woman needs a basic black dress. It has withstood the test of time, from first lady to first lady. The dress I chose for #RLTEvent can go across seasons. You can simply slip a cardigan over it for the colder months. You can dress it down with kitten heels or up with stilettos. You can accessorize until the cows walk from Chicago to L.A. If you like, you can add color with your wrap, shoes, or handbag. It is the most perfect dress to own.

Look at the first ladies in the pictures below. The dress that First Lady Obama is wearing in the middle is fun and fit for the red carpet. The one she is wearing on the right is a modern twist to the one that First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy is wearing on the left. These two dresses are timeless. My suggestion is to go with one with simple lines. If you have more curves you may want to consider an a line dress. For those of us with no hips and behind, a straight dress may be your best bet. My overall suggestion is to try on black dresses until you find the perfect fit. When you discover it, you will know without a doubt.  Happy hunting!!

Post Script: A guest of Art Sims, who didn't know me prior to the event, said, "I simply admire your style. It is elegant and it seems effortless." Well, dressing to look fabulous is always an effort, but without a doubt it should come across as a way of life. When you try too hard people notice. I was happy that I didn't second guess myself. I wore what I knew for sure! So, I'm declaring that I've come to my senses!!!  Black is my favorite color and simple elegance is my style. Yes, I will add color from time to time to spice things up, but I'm not going to let peer pressure try to fix what was never broken. Talk to ya later... I'm headed to the gym. I am determined to get this extra 12-15 pounds off! #ForReal #I'mgettinmyDivaBack

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

An Amazing Night!! RLTEvent.....

I arrived at Encore Liquid Lounge for my very first RLTEvent at 2:30, but I still found myself running a tad late. Some volunteers showed up two hours late and set up took longer than expected. Still, at 5:30, we were trying to get the 350 swag bags stacked against the wall in the small lobby between the elevator of Hotel Allegro and the entrance to Encore. But from the outside looking in, things were running smoothly.

People had already started to arrive when I stepped into the back to make my Diva transformation at almost 6:00 p.m. Tacky, but it would have been even more tacky leaving my team empty handed with work still needing to be done. A leader never leaves a ship when it’s time to pedal hard. By the time my makeup was done and I stepped out into the front of Encore Liquid Lounge, close to 6:30 p.m., I couldn't believe my eyes.

The room was already buzzing. My first event ever was in full swing. It was magical! The first people I saw were my friends Emme, an incredible jewelry designer, and Millie, the owner of enBeadia, a bead shop, both sponsors of RLTEvent. As I made my way, I saw old friends, Twitter followers and Facebook friends. The tables were adorned with Hot Tamales candy that my girlfriend Cathleen donated, one of my my favorites, conversation cards with HIV/AIDS statistics ready to be Facebooked and Tweeted, and condoms to be picked up.

This was not just a social event, but clearly an HIV/AIDS Awareness Event. The swag bags were stuffed with goodies, a lot of good information on HIV/AIDS and tons of condoms. In one moment, I stopped and took it in. All of it! The AIDS Quilt hanging behind the bar, the balloons, the candy table, the cakes shaped like AIDS ribbons donated by Creative Cakes by KeeKee, the homemade cakes, the big carrot cake with RLT Event on it donated by my girlfriend Audrey, the raffle table with over 80 prizes, the Encore staff wearing bright red and the crowded room that at one point became so tight you could barely move. It was all so overwhelming.

It all seemed surreal. The fact that God would still have purpose for my life is amazing to me. That He would want to use a little girl from Englewood to do work such as this is also amazing to me. In the beginning I couldn’t believe where this work was taking me, new territory that I could have never imagined. Think about it, who could have imagined Facebook and Twitter ten years ago?

The fact that I was actually hosting an event at a bar/restaurant was pretty amazing in itself; I don’t even go to bars. I don’t even drink, never have. All this new territory, social media and social media events to challenge stigma and shame, to educate about HIV/AIDS is pretty amazing. For Real! I’m a speaker and for the most part, that’s the area to which I had relegated my HIV work. Speaking has been my life and work. Honestly, I went to social media kicking and screaming one at a time: My Space, Facebook, Twitter, and my best friend Luke doing the dragging. But now I am there and growing by leaps and bounds. I’m here, and by golly, it is clearly what I am suppose to be doing.

Social Media is the craze and I have it by the tail and I will not let go. I’m meeting people where they are at, educating around HIV/AIDS in ways people can understand. My Tweet-up/Meet up was the next step. And so many came out to help me make history. THANK YOU!!!! The first ever HIV/AIDS Tweet up and my very first event was quite a success. Together we did it! Participants, sponsors and volunteers! Yes, we had a packed house but we also packed Twitter and Facebook with HIV/AIDS education.

And let’s not forget that our Master of Ceremonies, Art “Chat Daddy” Sims, was an absolute delight and a trooper with handing out raffle prizes that seemed to go on and on... I think the evening was simply amazing: packed house, the food was delicious, cake galore, and the wonderful candy table. There were plenty of drinks and great conversation and let’s not forget the best part of it all: we challenged stigma and shame around HIV/AIDS with our presence. We used the most popular tools of modern technology to educate around HIV/AIDS. That is pretty amazing... Thank you for being a part of this amazing night!

Post Script: Yes, there were a few kinks, but don’t give up on me... #IcannotdoitAlone. Y’all know that I am an overachiever so I will be looking to make the next one even better. RLTEvent2 will be a World AIDS Day Event! I’m working on the date for the first week of December, I will let you know as soon as I do... Want to join #teamRae? E-mail my executive assistant Latoya at l.renae@raelewisthornton.com. The photos were taken by Errol Dunlap Photography. To view the full album click here. More will be posted on my Facebook page from Jason E. Jones Photography soon.

 The video is coming soon.....

Thursday, July 15, 2010

An evening with Rae Meet Greet & Tweet

Today Is The Day!!!

Good Morning!!!

Today is the day! And I'm way excited! Feeling way blessed and highly favored. Grateful that God continues to have purpose for my life... It's not what I would have chosen for myself, but I wouldn't trade anything for this journey.

From 6:00-9:00 p.m. at Encore Liquid Lounge, I will be hosting my very first HIV/AIDS Awareness Event and the first Tweet-Up/Meet-Up focusing on HIV/AIDS Awareness. I hope that you are a part of this history. See ya there! Yes, we will take walk in's.

For more information go to: http://rltevent.eventbrite.com. If you cannot make it you can still be a part of the conversation. At 6:00 p.m. you can go to my blog: http://www.raelewisthornton.com and there will be a live feed and chat box. Just sign in and join the fun... There will be a screen up at Encore, so we will see what you are saying... Join us... #IcannotdoitAlone....

The Hashtag for the evening is #RLTEvent
Twitter tag @Raelt @Encorelounge

Post Script: This is the dress I've chosen for the evening...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

One More Day!!!

I have one more day until my Social Media Event at Encore Liquid Lounge! I am so excited! I'm nervous too! #overachiever! I've told you all that this is the very first event that I have ever hosted. I hope that people will come out... #humble...

Remember, if you cannot attend, you can join us via my blog with a live feed. Details are in my last two blog post. I started the morning with Roland Martin on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. I'm on the Santita Jackson Show (WVON) at 10:30-11:30 and then I'm spending the day tying up loose ends. I have at least 12 more hours of work... *deep breath...*

And somewhere in there I've got to work on getting my #Diva together... Keep me in your prayers, as I embark on my first ever event and the first ever HIV/AIDS Tweet-Up/Meet-up. #feelingBlessed. I hope if you cannot make it, you will join us on the live feed. Just come to my blog. It will be up and running from 6-9 p.m. And by the way, you have until noon tomorrow to RSVP for the event. Yes, we will take walk-ins, but it would be nice to know that you are coming.

The Twitter hashtag for the evening is #RLTEvent. The Twitter tags are @raelt @encorelounge.

Thank you for all your support!!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday Reflection: Until The Day I Die...

In just four more days I am hosting my very first Event: An Evening With Rae: Meet, Greet and Tweet. I can't believe that it has taken me 17 years to host any kind of event around HIV/AIDS using my name. I was reluctant all these years because I didn't want people to think I was using HIV/AIDS to get rich, or to build a brand or an organization.

I wanted people to know that I don't do this work for any gain of my own, but because of the pain; the pain that me and so many others live and have lived with because of HIV/AIDS.

In 1996, at the height of my popularity, one of my closest friends, Tory Johnson, died from complications related to AIDS. He was so ashamed that he never disclosed his status. Tory died just as much from the stigma and shame associated with this disease as from the physical complications. By the time he entered treatment, it was to late. I promised him on his death bed that I would knock down the freaking walls of shame and stigma as long as God gave me breath in my body. I have kept my promise! Even when I'm sick and at my lowest, I hold my head up high and keep it moving. Even when speaking engagements are few and far between and I'm trying to figure out where my next meal is coming from, I understand that this is the call on my life. I feel like Jonah, caught up in the belly of the whale. God won't let me out. This is the purpose He has for my life. I'm resolved to that fact!

I always wanted my ministry to be the focal point and I never wanted people to question my integrity around my HIV work. So almost two months ago when Jenna loosely mentioned that I should have a Tweet-up, I immediately dismissed it. She told me there are a lot of people who admire me on Twitter and Facebook who would want to just hang out with me for the night. I reluctantly agreed, but still I was hesitant. I knew that it had to be much more then just "hanging with me," cause I don't even hang out.

Then God gave me a vision and in four days the fruit of this vision will come to light. Yes, this is an old-fashioned Tweet-Up/Meet-Up where people from Twitter and Facebook come together to hang out for an evening of mixing and mingling. But it will be so much more. First, everyone who comes to this event, will be taking a stand publicly against stigma and shame around HIV/AIDS. To support a social event that has HIV/AIDS Prevention and Awareness as a theme is a milestone. Second, while we are "hanging out," HIV/AIDS education will take center stage. I am asking my supporters to do the following:

1. Tweet HIV/AIDS statistics throughout the night.

2. Those on Twitter and Facebook, I'm asking that you feed your Twitter through your Facebook for the night so that those who follow you on Facebook but not on Twitter can still be an a part of the event.

3. I'm asking all those on Twitter to ask their followers to support the event by retweeting what you Tweet and retweet.

4. I'm asking all those who cannot make the event from both Facebook and Twitter to join in the conversation. Come to my blog and sign in to chat. You will be able to sign in through Facebook, Twitter or e-mail. But it must originate from my blog site. This will be a live feed from Encore Liquid Lounge of the night's event.

The hashtags for the evening are #RLTEvent and #EncoreAllegro.
Twitter handles are @raelt and @EncoreLounge.

Social Media is the craze. More people go to Facebook then to Google. Target quadrupled their sales of a tea through Facebook and Twitter in one month. The power of Social Media is loud and clear. I want for us to take HIV/AIDS Education and Prevention to cyberspace en masse on Thursday night.

I'm proud that Hotel Allegro came on board as my primary sponsor. They are providing their wonderful Encore Liquid Lounge for the evening. In fact, they have closed their doors for us. Their commitment to HIV/AIDS prevention and education has been long-standing and the proof is in the pudding! I am asking everyone to show Encore some love on Facebook and Twitter. Companies who boldly support HIV/AIDS work deserve our support.

There will be swag bags around HIV/AIDS with lots of great information. The first 100 people will get a premium swag bag too. Maybe next time, if I prove myself to companies with the success of this event, I will have premium swag bags for everyone. Yes, I am already planning my second one in my head, #overachiever.

The Master of Ceremonies will be none other than Art "Chat Daddy" Sims. There will be a candy table provided by Sienna Rose, you can register for my AIDS Walk team, there will be limited edition Diva AIDS Awareness bracelets for purchase and the fun of the evening will be the raffle prizes. Right now I have over 70 raffle prizes. Raffle tickets are $2.00 each or three for $5.00. You may win a pretty condom case or you may win a handbag valued at $250 or dinner for two at one of the Kimpton Restaurants. Also, Encore will be providing hors d'oeuvres. But don't expect them to feed you all night.  #For Real... And, I'm still working on dessert. Keep your fingers crossed. The event is free. Whether you are in attendance or not, you are free to make a donation to help support my work around HIV/AIDS prevention.

Hope to see you there... I'm hanging all night... Attire: whatever you want to wear. I think it will be from after work to jeans to chic... Me, well, y'all know how I roll... #DivaImage #DivaApproved.

PostScript: A special thanks to Encore and all of my sponsors!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Join Us Live: "An Evening with Rae" Thursday July 15th 6-9 pm

On July 15, 2010, at 6 p.m. Encore Liquid Lounge will host, "An Evening with Rae: Meet, Greet and Tweet: A Social Media Event for a Socially Conscious Cause. You can join me and my guests in the conversation about HIV/AIDS prevention via a live feed as we keep you updated from Encore on the highlights of the night! Set your reminder for the live feed today!

On the day of the event, just come to the Diva Living With AIDS Blog and join the conversation. You can do it through Twitter, Facebook or your E-mail. If you cannot physically attend the event, this will be a wonderful opportunity to show your support for Rae Lewis-Thornton (ME) and my work around HIV/AIDS Prevention. Your participation will speak volumes: Together we will challenge stigma and shame around HIV/AIDS. #icannotdoitAlone

Friday, July 9, 2010

Fashion Friday: The Color Red!

Red has always been a color of glamour and sensuality. It has been seen on the red carpet more than any other color. It is even the color of the "power suit" worn by many in the political and corporate world. It is a color that compliments any skin tone and definitely makes a fashion statement. Red is no doubt my favorite color! Well, honestly for me it is equal to black. A must have in every woman's wardrobe!  

In 1991, a decade into the AIDS epidemic, it became a powerful symbol in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Brought to life by a group of New York artists called Visual AIDS. The artists sought to create an image that would be seen simple yet bold. One that would make an impact wherever seen.

Red was chosen to symbolize blood and danger. The tails pointing down was chosen to symbolize life flowing away. It was first worn publicly by Jeremy Irons at the Tony Awards in 1991. It instantly became an international symbol for HIV/AIDS Awareness.

While the color red for AIDS Awareness has not gained the wide support the color  pink has for Breast Cancer Awareness, it is certainly a close second. In recent years Bono launched a campaign using the color red to help fund AIDS in Africa projects. His campaign seemed to have brought the color of red for HIV/AIDS Awareness to life.

When I reached out to the fashion world to support my Social Media Event many responded in the color red. I was elated that they sought to contribute to my event and at the same time highlight the color of HIV/AIDS Awareness.

Sound Chick Accessories created these funky one of a kind earrings made with feathers. These earrings are definitely for a woman who is comfortable making a statement literally head on.

Pretty Afrika created this one of a kind clutch handbag. The handbag is designed with red African cloth that has gold specks. I loved it so much that I requested a version of it for myself. She only makes one-of-a-kind items. The earrings are wonderful, the picture does not do them justice... Gotta come and see them up close.

Ave Maria Boutique donated this fabulous red patent leather handbag. I love it so much that I started counted my pennies to see if I could afford this handbag. It's valued at $250.

Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph donated her Diva AIDS Awareness t-shirt. Yes, "An Evening With Rae Meet, Greet and Tweet," will have some wonderful raffle prizes and the color Red will take center stage on July 15th at Encore Liquid Lounge. Even the wait staff will be wearing the color red. Me, well, I'm wearing ummm... Not sure yet....  But I will look cute, that's a promise, as we tweet a message of HIV Prevention and challenge stigma and shame against HIV/AIDS.

Post Script: Lululemon Athletica donated these wonderful tote bags with positive affirmations written on them for our premium Swag Bag gift given to the first 100 people to arrive. And actually, these are the bags that you get at Lululemon Athletica when you make a purchase there.

And let's not forget Monday's beauty blog, Milani Cosmetics also donated 100 bottles of Red To Tango Nail Lacquer for the premium Swag Bags.

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