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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Imani.... A Wonderful Way To End The Year!

The last bracelet to be introduced to RLT Collection for the year of 2011 is an Imani Bracelet! How appropriate for Imani to shine on this last day of the New Year... It's  truly our faith that has kept us in the bounds of God's Grace! The Bible says, Without Faith You Cannot Please God."

No, faith isn't about what you wear, but about how you live your life and what you know to be true in your heart even if you don't know how it will all work out. But yet deep down inside, you know that you know, it will work out for your good. Faith is about knowing in your heart what you cannot see.

While the cross is and outward symbol of what Christian's believe, it's also a reminder of what we believe in our heart. I think my Imani Collection is a way to be fashionable with our faith.

If you have never visited my Imani Collection on the website you should. I have a very diverse collection. Staying close to my motto, A Bracelet For Every Woman, I have a large variety of  Imani designs in a wide price range. There are even some on sale right now!! My Imani Bracelets are perfect for stacking!

This Imani Bracelet is a wonderful blend of black and blue. Everyone knows that black is my favorite color, but I decided to mix it up this time. This bracelet is designed with a gold tone cross with deep blue Swarovski Crystals imbedded in the cross.

The cross is paired with 4 mm  beautiful faceted onyx gemstones that pop, no matter which way you turn the bracelet. Of course this bracelet is made on stretch and easy to stack with other bracelets. Since I've designed it, I wear it everyday! Shop Imani Collection Here!

Friday, December 30, 2011

RLT Reads Book Club Up-Date!

The current RLT Reads Book Club pick, Only Twice I've Wished For Heaven, by Dawn Turner Trice, is a wonderful read that I discovered well over 12 years ago!!

In 1975 Tempestt Saville and her family are chosen by a lottery to "move on up" to Lakeland: one square mile of rich, black soil carved out of a Chicago ghetto, cradling, sparking apartment towers and emerald laws, where the elite of black professionals live in privilege, secure behind a ten-foot-tall ivy-covered, wrought-iron fence. This generation of blacks, only once removed from salt pork, fatback and biscuits, now dines on caviar and escargot.

Whatever lies outside the fence--whatever the world tells black people they can't do or be--doesn't apply to the residents of Lakeland.  But what is shut out of those gates is another matter entirely: 35th Street where the lure of loud music, housing projects, and row upon row of battered brownstones and dilapidated stores provides eleven year old Temmy with a more intriguing landscape. Here the saved and the sinners are both so "done-up" you can't tell one from another: Alfred Mayes, the only street preacher and self-admitted connoisseur of, "Young fine thangs" (From the Book Jacket)

Please join RLT Reads as we dive into the newest book club pick. The author, Dawn Turner Trice has agreed to sit in on our on line book club discussion. We are still waiting to confirm a date. Please START reading, the date will be early February 2012. The book can be purchased at Amazon HERE.

If you are already a member of RLT Reads and have not been getting e-mails from us, please re-send your email address to rltreads@raelewisthornton.com. We also welcome new comers... Get connected with RLT Reads Book Club  rltreads@raelewisthornton.com

Guest Blogger Luke Burke! My Best Friend! Part Two

It had been about a year since Rae spoke at my University. I was now a college grad, living and working in New York City. Rae had such an impact on my life that I vowed to keep in touch with her. Rae however did not know I made this vow with myself.

I gave Rae a call on a random hot summer night in my studio apartment. I had no air condition and no furniture. I was young and trying to make it. The call probably lasted about five minutes. Rae answered the phone and I explained to her who I was. She acted like she remembered me but in her voice I felt she had no clue who I was. I told her I lived in NYC now and that next time she was in the city to let me know so we could grab dinner. She was very polite and agreed and we hung up the phone. I was so happy just to hear her voice. I was on total groupie status at that time 

A year later, true to my personal pact with myself – I gave Rae another call. I just wanted to see how she was doing and hear her voice. I expected this call to be just as awkward as the last call but I didn’t care. I wanted to check on her. Rae answered the phone with a sense of urgency, I felt so stupid for bothering her. I began to tell her who I was and to my surprise this time I felt she really remembered who I was. I didn’t know if this was good or bad so I just went with it. At the end of the day I just wanted to get to know Rae and yes I wanted to be her friend. I attempted to engage Rae and start conversation and it worked! Before I knew it we were on the phone for over an hour. The rest I guess you can say is history. Rae and I now talk on the phone everyday…often multiple times a day.

Rae’s transparency is something I had never seen before in another human being. I am from the south and in the south people say what they think you want to hear. Rae is from Chicago and speaks the truth ALWAYS! She is not afraid to tell you exactly what she thinks. With Rae you can expect her to be honest at ALL times. She often says “You can’t sugar coat shit” and that she doesn’t do “half truths”. For me, growing up in a place where people were so judgmental on everything from race to sexuality Rae was a breath of fresh air. I saw in Rae a fearless individual that was both confident and strong. I admired these personality traits that Rae possess and still do.

Throughout our friendship Rae has taught me many things. I think of her as both a friend and mentor. I’ve learned so many life lessons from her. Her knowledge and wisdom on everything from politics to worldly subjects proves her extensive education and life experiences. We can talk for hours and not even realize it. We are the type of friends who can call each other in the middle of the night just to get thoughts our of our head. I’ve never had such unconditional love in friendship. Rae is beyond a friend to me - I consider her family. (To be continued)

Since Rae and I became friends we have shared many great experiences together. Despite our age difference (We are 18 years apart) we hang out like we were separated at birth. We both have an affinity for the finer things in life (although I think Rae is way worse than I am in this area!). We have come to the conclusion that sometimes we are each others Kryptonite. Neither one of us really know how to say “no” when it comes to treating ourselves (or each other).

One time when I was in Chicago on a business trip I invited Rae to my hotel to have dinner. I was staying at the TRUMP and she HAD to see how beautiful this place was – it was right up her alley! She met me at the hotel and we made our way to the restaurant on the top floor. We gasped at the view of Chicago from the floor to ceiling windows surrounding the room.

We were seated promptly and felt right at home. Great service, great views, and hanging out as besties. Rae and I decided to splurge and opted for the Chefs 10-course tasting menu. Each course was the size of a small saucer but we were blown away by the exceptional taste of each dish and how full we became after about the fifth tasting. We laughed and shared stories in between eating. Rae doesn’t drink (I do) so out of respect for her I never order a drink when I am with her. It’s amazing to me how I feel as if I’m high on life when we spend time together. Who needs a drink when I got Rae!? You can imagine my high deflated by the time the bill came. We are no good together when it comes to budgets but we have no regrets – it was worth it and a memory we both cherish.

There have been times when Rae and I do the exact opposite of lavish dinners at five star restaurants and we still have a great time. Last Thanksgiving Rae and I spent almost the whole weekend in her apartment on Chicago’s Gold Coast eating home cooked meals made by yours truly (Rae, not me). She cooks like she expects to eat…with perfection. Rae is an AMAZING cook! We spent lazy days in our pajamas on the couch arguing over what to watch on TV (we have VERY different taste) and drinking tea. We eventually compromised and I have come to love Law and Order and she grew to love Real Housewives. For Rae and I, spending time together is always fun. It doesn’t matter where we are.

As much as Rae and I like nice things she has shown me that she is humble enough to not be attached to them. When speaking engagements became sparse and few Rae downsized and moved out of her beautiful three bedroom condo to a small studio on the Gold Coast. She sold jewelry, furs, purses, and designer suits just to make ends meet.

Yet, even during this low time of a financial crisis as we walked past a young man begging for a meal on the street, Rae stopped to help. Living in New York I am accustomed to seeing people beg and I was naturally inclined to ignore him and continue about our business. Rae however took the young man in the nearest restaurant and bought him a meal. I was upset with Rae for doing this. “How do you know he is really broke Rae? You don’t even have a lot of money yourself?” I asked. Rae looked me straight in the eye and told me “I know what it’s like to be hungry. Just because that young man looked like he wasn’t homeless doesn’t mean he isn’t struggling. If he is asking for help who are we to question him?” she said.

I had a revelation at that moment. It dawned on me Rae was speaking truth. Here we were driving around in Rae’s Jaguar, yet she was selling personal items to survive. On the outside Rae looks like the picture of health. She is beautiful. Sharp from head to toe and no matter how she feels each day she still pushes herself to get out of bed and face the day like the DIVA she is.

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 Her compassion for others is admirable on many levels. Even when her speaking engagements were few and far between she still strives to educate. Her ministry never stops and she practices what she preaches. Rae doesn’t get paid to tweet on twitter, post on facebook, or recount her daily struggles on her blog.

She exposes personal and painful aspects of her life in hopes that her transparency will allow others to make better decisions. It hurts her to hear of new diagnosis of HIV because in 2011 people know to use a condom. At the time of her infection AIDS was not supposed to happen to a straight woman -- but it did.

Earlier this year, I attended a meeting at work that was catered by a well known soul food restaurant. I made a plate of Salmon topped with lump crab meat, macaroni and cheese, and collard greens. I even put a slice of pecan pie in my takeout box for dessert. I couldn’t wait to get home and eat the food while catching up on some of my favorite shows on TIVO.

As I got off the train I heard a mans voice ask for help. He was hungry and needed food. I tried to ignore him because I really wanted to eat this meal. I took a few more steps and heard him cry out for food once again. I stopped in my tracks and thought of Rae. I thought about how at a time when she had no money she was willing to spend the little she had to help someone in need and I knew what I had to do. I turned around and gave the man my food.

Thank You Rae for making me a better person.

Part One Click Here! 

Guest Blogger Luke Burke- My Best Friend!

I remember sitting on my bedroom floor staring at the cover of the December 1994 issue of Essence Magazine. The beautiful woman on the cover was staring at me and it was hard for me to understand how she could have this disease called AIDS. I was 14 years old and I had a hard time comprehending what the disease was all about. I just knew it was bad and you didn’t want it. I stared back at the magazine into the eyes of Rae Lewis-Thornton as if staring at the her would answer some of my questions. Although her article taught me more about AIDS than I previously knew I still had a lot of questions. I was intrigued by her.

Four years later as a senior in High School I would meet Rae in person. I was the President of my hometowns teen chapter of Jack and Jill and it was common for me to be asked to introduce speakers in that rold. So on the way to the speaking engagement I wrote Rae’s bio on note cards and practiced her introduction out loud in the car. I didn’t put two and two together that Rae Lewis-Thornton was THE Rae Lewis-Thornton on the cover of Essence Magazine that I was so intrigued with at 14 until we arrived and I heard her speak.

I tell Rae all the time that hearing her speak about her life and living with AIDS changed MY life. I was not yet sexually active and thanks to Rae I wouldn’t be for MANY years later. To be completely honest, she scared the shit out of me! But most importantly she taught me to ALWAYS protect myself – and I have.

Her candidness and transparency was effective. She was young, successful, beautiful and ended up with AIDS. Taking birth control only protected her from getting pregnant….not from getting AIDS. It made me realize that ANYONE could contract HIV and that AIDS doesn’t care who you are, what you have accomplished, or what you look like.

On the way home my mother, sister, and I couldn’t stop talking about how inspiring Rae’s spirit was. I couldn’t wait to get home and look for the Essence magazine I safely stored with all my Janet Jackson magazines I kept in a chest for safe keeping (I am a huge Janet fan). After some digging I found the Essence magazine. I found myself sitting on my bedroom floor staring at Rae’s just as I did four years prior. I reflected on her speech and I had so many questions… still. I began asking God why did AIDS have to hurt such a beautiful spirit. I prayed for her and I asked God to protect her. I felt a special connection to Rae so I prayed for God to bring her back in my life. And he did…

I remember sitting in my college infirmary with a bad cold. My throat was killing me and I had a number of symptoms that mirrored the flu. I remember seeing a few people in the waiting room who alluded to being “embarrassed” to be seen there. I was very naive and had no idea what they were talking about. Was it a bad thing to be sick? I quickly realized what they meant when I saw the doctor.

Every question he asked me was alluding to the fact that I may have contracted an STD. I was offended because I knew all I had was a cold and expected him to give me something to get me well and that would be the end of it. Lucky for me I was correct that I only had a cold but I realized a lot of my classmates may not be so lucky.

I started looking around the room and noticed pamphlets and posters with STD statistics all around the room. I looked at the doctor just a blunt as he had looked at me when he accused me of all sorts of sexual acts. I asked him “Do a lot of people on campus come here with STD’s? “ The doctor looked at me just as naive as I must have sounded and informed me our campus had a major STD problem. I was shocked. I guess I shouldn’t have been because we all know what happens on every college campus across the country but I realized how fortunate I was at that moment. I heard Rae speak and many of my peers hadn’t. I knew the importance of safe sex at ALL times. Many of my friends may not. My mind started to race. I knew of classmates who had become pregnant so of course people were having unprotected sex. Something needed to be done so I began to brainstorm.

I began reaching out to as many people as possible who could assist in bringing Rae to campus. I spoke to members of my fraternity and the ladies on campus of Rae’ sorority. I contacted the women’s center, the health center, and the speech and communications departments. Money was donated and professors agreed to offer extra credit to students who attended Rae’s speech – We were all set!

I reached out to Rae through her website and her schedule was free for the date we chose but we were set with an obstacle...Rae was in the hospital. I spoke to Rae each day leading up to the chosen date and she assured me she would do her best to get out of the hospital so she could meet the speaking engagement – and she did. I have learned over the years of knowing Rae that unless she is physically not capable of meeting an obligation she pushes through no matter what. She says it best that her “word is (her) bond”. When I picked up Rae at the airport I realized just how sick she was….

When I picked up Rae at the airport I realized just how sick she was. She had just been released from the hospital a day prior and was being pushed from her gate in a wheel chair. This was a stark image from the woman on the cover of Essence or the woman I met as a senior in high school, standing boldly sharing her heart and soul with a room full of strangers.

Even after reading about her sickness in the magazine at 14, and hearing her speak about her daily struggles at 18 I was yet once again very naive. I had been speaking to Rae frequently on the phone with the planning of the speaking engagement while she lay in a hospital I still didn’t get that she was “sick”. Rae exemplifies strength at all times so to see her “weak” was a reality check for me. A pretty face, St. John suits, Loubiton pumps, and a diva-tude definitely make AIDS look weak. But when Rae was being pushed in that wheel chair it was a clear reminder that she truly is living with hell of a disease.

In the car on the way to the airport Rae and I had small talk. We instantly connected. She was funny and down to earth. I was so thankful to have some personal time with her. I began to reflect on my prayers and realized God had actually her back in my life just as I had asked. I was excited to know my peers at my University would be blessed by her ministry just as I had been. Rae was very weak so I took her straight to the hotel so she could take a nap before she spoke later that evening.

When I went to pick her up she looked like a million bucks. I specifically remember her fish net stockings and Chanel handbag. Rae’s attention to detail with accessories is something I have picked up in my own wardrobe as I have matured.

Rae may have looked like a million bucks but she quietly informed me before we walked into the auditorium that she was still very sick but she was pushing through so that the students would get her at the best she could effort. I admired her tenacity to give 100% despite her circumstance.

True to her word, she stood in four inch heels throughout the entire speaking engagement until she couldn’t take it anymore. At the time Rae was experiencing severe nerve pain and when she got to the question and answer portion of her speech she asked for a stool. I was amazed she was able to make everyone in the room laugh, cry, and think all the while she was in unbearable pain.

In the car, after she spoke she asked to be taken back to the hotel. She wanted to order room service, take her medicine and go to bed. Her energy had changed drastically from the woman who stood before an auditorium at full capacity of attentive students. That strong woman who commanded the room now spoke so softly I could barely hear her as she sat next to me.

She lay her head gently on the window. My fraternity and her sorority had arranged to take her to dinner and I informed her everyone was waiting for her at the restaurant. I could see in her eyes that she really didn’t feel up to it but she agreed as she didn’t want to let anyone down. I felt horrible but saw her resilience take center stage once again. Throughout our friendship I would see this level of commitment and strength surface in all areas of her life…(To be continued)

Part Two! Click Here! 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hospital Drama!

Terror came across my face as I looked down and saw the warm blood oozing from the insertion area of my picc line. I have never seen a picc line really bleed other than the first day it is placed in my arm and never that much blood.

I jumped from the bed, holding my arm to catch the blood, but as I grabbed the phone blood made it's way to the floor, drop, drop, followed my every move. I heard my nurse's voice come over the phone, "Kee Kee, this is Rae Lewis-Thornton. Blood is coming out of my picc line. He didn't pause, "Go to the ER right now!" And that was the end of the conversation.

I grabbed the cloth napkin from he counter and wrapped my arm as I made my way back to the bedroom to change clothes. Blood was seeping through the bright yellow napkin and I tried to keep calm as best as I could, but I was scared.

I grabbed my coat and made my way to the ER.  I could feel the warm blooding running down my arm into the lining of my mink coat. "This is crazy I mumbled," to myself.  I pulled my arm out of the one side of the coat and instantly I was a hot freaking mess walking down the street. One arm in my mink coat, the other side hanging with a bright yellow napkin saturated in blood tied around my arm with blood running down my arm.

This wasn't the kind of scene you saw often in my neighborhood and I wanted no reason to not be picked up by a taxi, so I swung the other end of my coat back over my bloody arm.

I explained to the taxi cab driver I needed to get to the hospital ASAP. He took the outer Lake Shore drive to avoid Christmas shoppers and in a matter of 4 minutes I was walking into ER.  I went to the counter and I knew I needed to be calm. I swung my coat from around my shoulder so that the nurse could see. "My picc line is bleeding like crazy," I said. As my blood began to drip on the floor, I added, "I also have HIV."

Blood was dripping on the counter as the nurse looked up and looked back down to the key board rather calm and unbothered by my freaking mess. I spotted a big pad behind him and I asked the security guard could I have it. He said, "The nurse has to give it to you." Huh? "WHAT THE HELL!" I thought. "I'm bleeding all over the place and you cannot give me a pad?"

Until that moment I had been so calm.  I said to him,"I have HIV and I really don't want my blood all over the place." And at that moment I resented having to give this information in the lobby of the hospital ER to the security guard no less. I resented the security guard and the freaking nurse who thought my bloody ass arm was no big deal. But mostly, I resented HIV. How dare it embarrass me, right now at this time and place.

I reached to the side of me and grabbed a ton of Kleenex and pressed them against my bleeding arm and after I did that the nurse, handed me the pad to press against my arm.

When I was sent to the next station to sign the hospital papers my hands were so bloody I didn't even want to take her ink pin. Yes, I know you CANNOT transmit HIV in that way, but I tend to be protective of my blood and the people who come into contact with it for any reason. So I squirted some hand sanitizer in my hand and wiped the blood off before grabbing her pen.

After that they rushed me right along.  Of course I repeated it two more times before I was taken to the back. Once to the EKG Nurse as she connected be to the machine. My chest was hurting like hell, so they wanted to make sure my heart was ok. As she connected me and blood dripped into the pad, I explained to her, "I have HIV, so be careful of my blood."

I hated every moment of it. EVERY single moment of it! Having to say I have HIV in the half open area. Crazy right?! Right! Here I am one of the must public people on the planet with my HIV status still caught up in the shame of it all. My mind racing, when I should be focused on my health; Why the hell is blood coming out of my arm like someone cut me open? Instead thinking, "What do these people think of me?"

 There is no other illness on this planet in modern times that carries this kind of shame and stigma. The weight of it all is more than a notion; More than anyone should have to deal with.

Yet I know I have to fight though the shame, if only for the benefit of my health. I cannot lie, give half truths or misleading information because my health is on the front line. They need to know everything. This is especially true when you have an undiagnosed health issue. So I press forward. Do what I must for my sake.

Finally, the triage nurse calmed my nerves; She taped my arm and it both slowed the bleeding and contained the blood. Once in the back, another type of fear comes over me, one for my life.

In an instant the shame that I felt seemed silly, compared to a possible blot clot. The first round of tests said that I had a blood clot, and they ordered me a bed. I went straight to Twitter and asked for prayers. Crazy, I could tell over 5000 people exactly what the doctors were saying, but I was nervous about telling a few about my HIV status.  Maybe it's that my Twitter followers already know and there are no judgements. OR maybe, I was talking about blood clots and not HIV/AIDS per se, or maybe both.

 Whatever the case, I did and people started praying and encouraging me to hang in there. I understand at my core that prayer and kind words can go a long way. Seven hours later and with additional tests they sent me home. No blood clot after all. They never were able to explain why I started bleeding. The speculation was that there could have been some trauma to the area when the line was originally placed. Maybe a blood vessel was somehow damaged.

That seems crazy to me, since I started bleeding two days after the line was placed. Any who, I left the hospital beat up, but at least I was going home and it seemed that I was out of danger. In the end I know each time I say that I have HIV, it helps to break the shackles and challenges the shame that has tainted the ability for an infected person to get proper health care and to live with dignity.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Appreciating The Right Now! Part Two!

There is something to be said about appreciating the right now, from smelling the roses to watching the snowflakes fall from the sky. Yes, I know I wrote a blog yesterday about just that, but did you really hear me? You know often times when I write it's something that God has put in my spirit to give to you; But what I give to you is also for me. I work hard at practicing what I preach, I do. I must also admit practicing is sometimes hard.

I struggled all day yesterday, I just didn't feel good. It took me all day to write that one blog, Appreciating The Right Now. For Real, it didn't get posted until like 4:15 or something. Yes, I felt accomplished that I had written it given how I was feeling, but you know the overachiever in me was not happy that I didn't at least get another Holiday Gift Suggestion out.

As time ticked, It took everything I had to get off my sofa with Sophie and pull myself together for this Social Media Event, Cadillac Rock I always say that I don't want AIDS to take away all the goodness from my life, so I Pulled my Diva together and made my way.

I understood that my pain level was at a 10, put staying home wasn't going to change my pain level. While on the one level, you must appreciate the goodness in the right now, on the other, you can't get stuck in the pain of the right now, especially those things you cannot change.

Let me tell you, I'm so glad I pressed my way. Yep! I'm equally as glad that I didn't allow my today-this day, affect my yesterday. The fact that I'm on my way to the hospital this morning to get a minor medical procedure would have stopped some people from going to the event missing the blessing of the right now.

The fact is this, getting this picc line today was not going to change, so why allow it to affect what was happening yesterday? We get so caught up anticipating the pain, that it takes on a life of it's on.  There was no medical reason that I couldn't go, the only thing that would have stopped me was the sickness in my mind that  holds you hostage and steals your joy. The Bible says, "As a man thinketh so is he." You must fight the demon in your head.

There is so much life past your pain, but first you must create space in your life for them both. If the pain is here to stay, you must not let it have all of you.

Dwana, One of the Organizers of Social Rev Up!
This event was a blast!  You know many times bloggers get invited out by brands or to events sponsored by brands to hear about their products and it's the same ole bore.

The thing that I liked about the Social Rev Up-Cadillac Rock Event was the sharing of information. Connie didn't just talk about GM, she gave bloggers some sound advice to help us grow our blog. Also, I met so  many new bloggers, had some great food, tons of laughs while learning all about GM advanced technology.

I didn't know the popularity of the Escalade. It's the truck to the stars. Who knew? Yes, I'm slow, I barely know the stars. I'm glad my BFF Luke keeps me somewhat informed. Everyone was making their way to the Escalade, after hearing all the facts, but I went straight to the Cadillac SRX. OMG this is one beautiful vehicle. What can I say other than, I know why my grandmother only drove a Cadillac.  I can see her now, dressed to the nine's on Sunday morning on her way to church, sliding into her Caddie.

The thing is, while the body is undeniably fabulous, the technology is much more advanced than in my grandmother days. GM has come a long way. They are making vehicle's to compete in the 21st century. Not bad for a company that met its grave, dug itself out with zeal and are fighting for their life with that best of the best. Yeah Baby! Cadillac Rocks!!

Any who, I had sooooo much fun at Social Rev Up second event! There is something to be said for appreciating the right now. All that laugher, tweeting, good fun and food did wonders for my spirit. I even made this video... Got my words all jumbled up... but it was fun making it...  I'm happy this morning as I make my way to the hospital.

Appreciating The Right Now Moment's Part One...

Post Script: Please Keep Me in Your Prayers As I Begin This Round of IV Medication! #IcannotdoitAlone

Monday, December 19, 2011

Appreciating The Right Now Moments!

Have you ever had a period in time when you actually didn't know what you were feeling? I mean, on the one level the circumstance says you should be sad, but on the other, you want to beat the darkness so you try to fight it with a chipper you.

I'm neither of those right now. I guess I'm sort of numb having to face another round of IV medication.

You heard me right! Tomorrow I go to the hospital to get the picc line in my arm and on Wednesday I start IV medication yet again to treat  herpes that is resistant to oral medication.  This is round 13 in three years. You can read the back ground on this HERE.

In the scheme of it all, after the last 8 months of what seemed like hell on earth battling herpes, this 3 month reprieve was a God sent; Considering, over the summer I only had 1-2 weeks before I was back on IV. It seemed we couldn't stop this virus for nothing. But now, I've had a 3 month break and I'm truly grateful.

 I've decided to not allow "it" to consume all of my emotions one way or the other all of the time.  It is what it is and I cannot change a thing. I've been down this road many times and I cannot allow how I feel today effect my tomorrow. Today I'm neutral. I will accept it for what it is and face tomorrow when it comes. Often times we get so ahead of ourselves that we miss out on the right now.

Many times we allow what's to come affect the right now and miss the opportunity of the moment. We anticipate the pain, the hardship, the stress that a situation will bring and that anticipation allows no space for an unexpected other; And it also takes away from whatever goodness you might have at that moment.

If you are so caught up in the pain that will happen, you miss the joy and the peace that is happening in the moment. So I will not get ahead of myself. Yes, I have a lot of experience with this IV treatment and it is hard, very hard. Two times a day for two hours of aggressive medication with a host of crazy side effects, diarrhea, nausea and fatigue is no joke.

But at this moment, I'm sitting in my living room with Sophie, enjoying my Christmas Tree.  I'm learning to appreciate the right now moments in my life.

As you go into this Holiday week. Stop worrying about what didn't happen: Who you won't see,  What you won't get  or give, What family member you miss because of death, and enjoy the right now of your life. I know it will be hard for some of us, but I will be right there with you, reminding myself every step of the way that there is goodness in the moments of the right now, tomorrow will unfold on tomorrow, so don't let the anticipation of tomorrow consume the goodness of today.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Last Minute Shopping!

I have the answer to your last minute shopping. In the comfort of your home or office, you can shop RLT Collection! I have well over 300 bracelets to choose from. I have worked tirelessly creating the best designs with the highest quality gemstones. SHOP HERE! http://www.rltcolleciton.com

In addition to the ladies bracelets, there are  bracelets for men and little girls. An RLT Collection purchase is a two-fold, win, win. It's one concrete way to support my work. RLT Collection helps to keep me a float and they also make wonderful gifts, this way we both win. The entire collection is 15% off until Christmas. The coupon code is Xmas2011 SHOP HERE!

RLT Collection also has AIDS Awareness Bookmarks, and for the tea lovers, fancy hand beaded Tea Balls to strain tea.  Until December 24th, all orders placed before 3:00 P. M. CST will be shipped out the same day. All other orders will be shipped the following day. There are 3 ways to ship with RLT Collection.. UPS Ground, Two Day Air and US Priority mail. However if you want over night just email me and I will make it happen. SHOP HERE!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Thanksgiving Adventure!

The week of  Thanksgiving I had two wonderful things happen, my BFF Markeeda came for Thanksgiving for the first time and I had the opportunity to test drive a Buick La Crosse for the entire week.

They both were a hoot. The Buick afforded me the chance to do some things with Markeeda that I wouldn't have been able to, like shopping Black Friday. Now this was  my first time shopping Black Friday and it was a hoot. Shopping at 3 A.M. is surreal.

While spending time with Markeeda is always wonderful, I wasn't sure what to expect from the La Crosse since for the most  part, I've been a foreign Luxury car driver. It's no secret that I gave up my Jaguar, now two years ago, so the chance to just even have a car I saw as a blessing.

I must admit, from the moment they pulled up with the car I was bright eye. At first glance I was impressed with the sleek body of this car. It was fit for a Diva! Black on black was perfect, especially since black is my favorite color.  Sophie loved it too might I add!

Ok, so I'm not going to pretend that I know all these fancy things about cars cause I don't. I'm your stereotypical woman when it comes to that. But I gotta tell you I like this car! It reminded me of my Jaguar. The ride was smooth like a luxury car, but it had pick up when need be. It handled well in the rain, It didn't skid not one time.  That was a blessing because my BMW would skid in a second.

Oh and I loved the XM radio and so did Markeeda, she just lit up when she saw it. We used the GPS on Black Friday to get us to Kohl's and it was very easy to program. Yes, I went to Kohl's and fell in love with the Vera Wang Collection. Well, honestly, that's the only department I visited while there.

The features that I loved the most on this La Crosse were the side view mirrors adjusting on their own when I was parking, the radar telling me  I'm too close to another car when I'm parking and OMG that feature in the side view mirror telling me how close other cars are to me was the bomb.com. For me that blind spot is the worst thing about driving. Switching lanes in a blind spot is not cute.

I tweeted a lot about the car, you can follow my tweets on the hash tag #RLTDrives. I was delighted to learn that Buick even has a Customer Care Service on Twitter. Tweet them anytime and ask anything. I had a couple of people who said to me, that they love the car, but could not see paying the money for an American Car. They got a blank stare from outer space on that one.

So you think this car is the kind of quality you want in a car, but you prefer to help foreign economies rather than our own? Nothing wrong with helping foreign economies don't get me wrong, but gee.

 I don't understand the logic. You asked American car companies to do better, they meet your request but yet you can't see supporting them? That seems to be fools logic to me.

Any who, I simply loved this Buick La Crosse! I only saw one area of improvement that was needed, the trunk was smaller than I liked. Other than that, this car is a winner! But don't take my word. If you are shopping for a car, check it out.

I know one thing, it certainty helped to make my Thanksgiving weekend an adventure and in style might I add!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

RLT Reads: A Good Read!

There is nothing like a good read. Book Lovers know this to be true! The only thing that matches the actual read is getting together with a group to discuss what you read.

Last Night RLT Reads Book Club held it's on-line discussion of Wench and it was wonderful! It's exciting hearing what others have to say about the same book that you have read. For me, it always stimulates me to expand my thinking on a particular topic.

The only thing that was missing were some of our old members. I know it's been a long time but my health is a lot better now and I really want us to grow and move full speed ahead.

Our next book is a favorite of mine that has been on the list since day one. Only Twice I've Wished For Heaven by Dawn Turner Trice. The story is set in 1975 in Chicago. I place it on my list of top  books that I have ever read.

The most exciting thing is that the author has agreed to sit in on our on-line discussion. I'm giving you a tad more time to read Only Twice I've Wished For Heaven because of the holiday's and  many of you will have to purchase it.  So expect a mid January discussion date. I'm still waiting to confirm with the author.  You can buy the book Here. I promise it will be worth every cent and worth the time to read.  I hope that you will join us. #IcannotdoitAlone If you would like to join, please email me at rltreads@raelewisthornton.com If you are already a member and have not been receiving e-mails, sorry something went wrong so please re-send me your e-mail address.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday Reflection: Moving Toward 2012: Silence Your Worst Critic!

Can you imagine the Angel of the Lord coming to you and predicting your future? Like #ForReal Telling you this thing is going to happen beyond anything you could have ever thought for yourself. I know I've said it often, if God had told me that my life would be what it is today, I would have told God to go sit down somewhere with that craziness. For Real! This is especially true when I made a transition to AIDS and there was no hope for a future.

 Live past the 3 years most people with AIDS died? Nope, I couldn't see that for my future. Covers of magazines, an Emmy Award and a ministry that enriches lives? Nope, I wouldn't have thought it! "Why would God use me?" Is what I would have asked.

 Come on, you can be honest, if an Angel sat in your living room you probably would have thought you were going mad. Well, so did Zechariah when the Angel visited him about the birth of his baby boy John the Baptist.

 Can you imagine? Here Zechariah is old as dirt and the Angel tells him that he and his wife Elizabeth are going to have a child. Now at 90 years plus, Zechariah knew his penis was dead. I mean he's been looking at it for 90 plus years and he should know if his penis works better than anyone right? And even if there was Viagra, which there wasn't, what about his wife Elizabeth?

Come on, let's be for real, she couldn't have a baby when she was a young sweet thang in those child bearing years. And now she hasn't had a period in over 30 years, how the hell is a baby going to happen?

 Zechariah asked the Angel of the Lord, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along years." But I'm sorry to say that Zechariah was his own worst enemy. God had sent a gift and he just put his big foot right into his mouth, just like many of us do.

Yep! Sometimes we are our own worst enemy. We speak negativity into a situation before it can even blossom. We doubt our abilities before we have even given them the chance. Sometimes we just need to shut it down and that's just what God did to Zechariah, he silenced him.

Yep during the time of Elizabeth's pregnancy Zechariah couldn't talk. The Angel said, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God... I have been sent to tell you this good news. And now you will not be able to speak until the day it happens because you did not believe wife my words." Luke 1:18-20

Now to be authentic to the story, there was at least one time that God gave Zechariah  his voice, and you know, it was simply to say something positive and then he silenced him yet again until the birth and naming of John. Luke 1:67-75. It reminds me of the saying, "If you can't say something nice, then say nothing at all." But don't you know this saying can also apply to your own life?

 Sometimes we are our worst critic and we do more emotional damage to ourselves than necessary . We internalize the negativity. Yep! We start thinking and before we know it, we've mumbled it to ourselves and even mumbled it to someone else, things like this: I couldn't possibly do that... There's, no way I can make that work... That's not enough money... That's not how it's typically done... I'm not good enough, even in relationships, How can you love someone like me, I don't deserve you, I'm not capable and so on.

 We kill in our spirit all the reasons why that good thing that God has or wants to bless us with can happen.

 The Bible says, "As a man thinketh so is he...  And it also says, "Life and death is in the power of the tongue." Practice speaking goodness into your life... Start believing you can do that thing... Start thinking you're worthy... Don't be afraid of the gifts and talents that God has given you and you have taken the time to develop over the years.

Without Chance There is No Opportunity!  Rev. Jesse Jackson taught me a valuable lesson during his bids for the president. He would always say, "If you don't run, you are guaranteed to lose." There is so much truth in this statement and I remember this in every venture I go into. You must be willing to take a chance. You cannot allow the past to hinder your future.

In order to take that chance you must silence your internal critic that says no! Most often it runs on autopilot because you lean on it like a crutch. Shut Sybil's Ass Down!!!

You see, your inner critic speaks from your past and selectively calls on those things that went wrong.  From A to Z...  Your inner critics thinks it's keeping you safe from future failures so you don't trip up.

In reality what it's doing is treating you worst off than if you had pursued that thing. It's like this, instead of actually keeping you safe, your inner critic makes you feel even more miserable and it stifles your growth by paralyzing you in fear and negativity. You cannot determine your future by your past. That's a set up waiting to happen.

Tomorrow is always another day with fresh possibilities!

This is what I want you to practice as a way to help silence your inner critic.  When the inner critic says no you can't do that... Remember what happened the last time?

I want you to actually sit down and write out what happened the last time. Then I want you to make a list , one with the good and the one with the bad from this particular experience and I promise you that there will be a good in what you thought or actually was a bad.

There is always something you learn from every situation that will help you in the next situation.  It does not even matter if there was only one good thing, or one lesson, every lesson is valuable.  It's about how I can use yesterday's experience to help further tomorrow, rather than not have a tomorrow. God wants you to soar, and there is nothing from your past that says you can't.

Allow your inner voice to speak life into your future! Once and for all, put Sybil to rest as you move into 2012! Silence Your Worst Critic, YOU! 

Post Script: Please visit the other post in this series
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