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

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

This Is What Sexual Abuse Looks Like: Eddie Long and R. Kelly!

Sunday, I went on one of my famous Twitter rants and my bottom line is this, men keep your dick in your pants, if the person is not the age of sexual consent. Stop using your power to take what you ethically and morally have no right to take! I went on to say to my followers, "If you have a problem with my raw tweets on Sunday, Whatever! *Shrugs* because I'm still mad that Pastors have not spoken up about Eddie Long using the Bible to groom those boys to fuck him." Yep I said it! Basically this needs to be a Sunday morning discussion. 

What prompted this rant was a news report of another powerful person accused of having a sexual encounter with a teenage girl. Now the details are sketchy, but in a nutshell; Congressman Wu of California is accused of having a "Sexual Encounter" with a girl who graduated from high school last year and does have a voter registration card. So she is at least 18 maybe even 19 years old and he is 56. There is apparently a recorded phone conversation with this girl after the,"Sexual Encounter" and what she is describing appears to be rape, reports say.  Neither she nor her family has commented on the case.  The Congressman says, it was, "Consensual." But why does a 56 year old think it's ok to have sex with a 18-19 and apparently he is a friend of the family. *Blank Stare* With friends like that, who needs enemies.

There are some underlying issues for me when it comes to sexual abuse and rape; Age, consent, misuse of power and boundaries, as with many of these cases. This stands true whether its Congressman Wu, Eddie Long and yes I'm going their, even R. Kelly.

 As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and in the aftermath of years of therapy, I understand the core of this issue. I also understand how it alters a persons life. The sad thing is, some survivors never even understand the damage, they just go through life living without boundaries, thinking what is abnormal is normal behavior. That was me for years, going through life doing more damage to myself, because of the damage done early in life. While other survivors numb their pain with drugs, alcohol and other forms of destructive behavior. Either way, make no mistake, there is damage to the victim.

Let me try to unpack one of my childhood rapes. For me, this experience is somewhat reminiscent of both the Eddie Long and R. Kelly cases which I will be dealing with in this blog post.

I grew up unloved and unwanted and was told often that nobody wanted me. So when my Step-Brother started showing me attention, boy was I happy. It was our ,"Special Relationship." I was 10 years old and he was around 18-19. We started out watching TV together; Just us, me, my big brother, penny candy and popcorn. With someone to love me, my young mind thought that I had struck goal. One day while watching TV he put a blanket over us to keep the boogie man away while we watched scary movies.

He started molesting me slowly and over time earning my trust and locking me into the sickness. At first, a hand on my thigh that eventually made it's way to my clit; And I don't care who touches the clit, unless they are beating you up side your head, it feels good. So I had no reason to be alarmed. And in time, he progressed from rubbing my clit over my panties to moving my panties to the side. It was our "Special Relationship" and I loved him. And I cherished the time spent with my big brother showering me love. 

Then one day he met me at home on my lunch break. I was the only child that came home because I was given the task of feeding a boarder my mother took in that was old and immobile.  Too much responsibility for a child of my age, but thats another blog post. That day my big brother met me at home for lunch- boy could you imagine my excitement. So I hurried and fed Mr. Tom and made my way up those stairs.

 But this was different. The TV wasn't on and he was in the other room. When I called out, he told me to come to where he was. I did as instructed. When I walked into the room he was laying on the let out sofa under the covers. I could see his chest, which I had never seen before and I was confused. Why were we taking a nap in the middle of the day? I didn't understand so I asked, "We not gonna watch tv?" "No, we gonna lay down," he said all chipper, "Take your clothes off. Don't you want to lay down with me?"  I did. I mean I liked being close to him but this made me nervous.

 I was scared.  Not of him, he had never hurt me before, but scared of getting caught with my clothes off in bed with him; Scared of falling to sleep and not getting back from lunch on time. But I didn't want to disappoint him. I didn't want him to stop loving me.  So I did as he asked. I had no idea that day my life would change forever.

 At first it was like normal, like what he did to me on the sofa watching TV and I relaxed. But after a while, it changed. He crawled his large body on top of my undeveloped little self and he hurt me, as I lay stiff and confused. I didn't cry because I didn't want him to be mad. His approval meant the world to me and I was not about to mess it up. And when he was done, he crawled off me, got up and looked down at me and said, "You know if you tell, we will both get in trouble." And I knew he was telling the truth, so I got up and dressed in silence and went back to school and I held onto that secret for dear life.  I was locked into that secret as tight as you could get and it took another 19 years for me to tell.

 My young mind didn't know how to process all of this.  I knew that this was sex and sex was "being fast." I knew if I told, my mother would beat me because she had always told me she would beat my ass as dead as I got to die for being fast.

And I didn't understand that your big brother wasn't supposed to touch you so with the knowledge, I kept my secret. Looking back, I was correct, my mother would have seen it as sex rather than rape. I remember at 13 when I told that her new husband was grabbing my breast, she said, "Go sit your fast ass down somewhere. I'm not gonna let you fuck up my shit." And that was the end of that topic and I lived in terror unto I left home at 17.

 But back then, at 10 years old, equally as important, I didn't want my big brother to stop loving me. He was the only person in my house showing me any attention. I had to take the good with the bad. And so it became a normal thing for me to come home from lunch, take my clothes off and be raped by my big brother.

Each day at lunch time, I went back to school and sat in class with blood and semen on my 10 year old vagina. I didn't even know to clean my body.  I was a grown woman, before I even understood that I was not having sex, but had been raped over and over again.

And at 10, sex became a normal way of life for me. I remember it like yesterday, sitting in my therapist's office, I said it as a matter of fact, "I've always been this sexual being. I've been having sex since I was six years old." My therapist said so calmly, "Rae how does a six year old have sex with a grown man? How does a six year old even have sex?" It hit me like a ton of bricks. I cried for two weeks.

All my life, I was about 27 at the time, I believed that I had been having sex, when all along I had been raped. My boundaries had been blurred at a very young age.  What was abnormal became a normal way of life. It took years of therapy to first understand how abnormal my childhood was and understand the impact it had on me as a young woman.  By the time I was 10 I had already been taught how to have sex. My brother was only one person in a line of family members that raped me, it began at age 6. And sadly, I had been taught that sex was love. By the time I was 18, I believed if I could suck a man's dick and make him cry, he would love me forever. And for years, the older I got, the older my partners got.   

Now, can you image  a 13 year old girl idolizing R. Kelly being excited that he chose her to hang out with him, to in the end be sexually abused, taped and urinated on. I wonder what she felt when she walked out of that room. I know what its like to walk away from abuse and not really understand that you were abused. But yet you still have this lump in your throat and a feeling in you're belly that this isn't right.  

How do you reconcile it all?  And then when you are finally being vindicated all people can say is your "fast ass" wanted to get with him. Even if that was true, I wonder what "getting" with him in her young mind meant. I bet after he pissed on her,  she knew her dream had become her worst nightmare. Only someone sick wants another person to piss on them.

But what do you do with that; The Degradation, the shame of it all? I wonder what he said to her about what he had done to explain it all away, to make it right. I wonder if he allowed her to wash her body before she clothed and made her way home? And does the need to have some attention, no matter how destructive it is to you, make you go back? I know grown women that stay in fucked up relationships with men because they don't want to be alone.

How does a 13 year old process it all, especially with someone famous?  Who do you tell? How do you tell? What do you say, maybe this >> Yes I had some fairy tale dream about R Kelly, so I was willing to have sex with him, but I didn't know that fairy tales are lies. I didn't know I would get violated. I didn't understand that a man triple my age had no real use for me, but how would I know this? I mean he did marry Aaliyah she was only 15. Why not me? 

 You never really know, what went through that girls head. But what I know for sure, is that at 13 she was still a child and in  our culture there is a moral obligation that an adult has when it comes to a child.

Oprah said it best to her father about his brother's repeated molestation of her when she was 13.  Her father wanted to know details, he said to Oprah, " I understand, he raped you well  explain to me what he did. Did he beat you? Did he throw you down, what?"

And Oprah said.. "It does not matter what he did. What matters is that I was the child and he was the adult, if I was walking through the house naked it was his responsibility to say go put some clothes on." And for Oprah it became a way of life. Leading to early sexual activity that led to a pregnancy and miscarriage at 13 and years of shame to follow.

And don't tell me that girls at 13 in other counties are married with children. It does not make it right.  Patriarchy and the devaluation of girls needs to be rooted out in every country, And by the way, I live in the Western world, where there are boundaries and laws. Someone tweeted me last week and said that  the family of the R. Kelly rape victims knew. Then they were as sick as R. Kelly. Who offers up a child's body, with maybe the hope of some kind of financial gain.  And I might as well say it, Aaliyah's family was out of order. There is no amount of money that will make me agree to my 15 year old daughter marrying a man. I don't care who he was. 

We spend so much time focusing on predators on the streets and in the Catholic Church, that we over look that same behavior in our homes and our own churches.  We turn a blind eye and blame the victim. How soon we forget who is an adult and who is the child when it is convenient. Most often if a girl is in an older mans face at church, a woman tell her to go sit her "fast tail" down somewhere. But what we should be trying to figure out, is why she is so comfortable in a grown man's face? And who taught her this abnormal behavior?

 There is a power relationship between child and adult. There is even more of a power relationship when the person comes with fame such as Congressman Wu, Kelly and Long. While rape is wrong on any level, there is something  really sick about the abuse and misuse of power relationships.

 Let's look at Eddie Long's predatory behavior for example, he hand picked young boys to mentor. They were typically ages 12-13, fatherless, single mothers in his church. He spent time with them, lavished them with gifts and a certain life style. Then he took the Bible and coached them on how to love him. Using the Word of God he taught these boys what "their special father-son relationship" should be. And then when they turned 17, of legal sexual consent in Georgia, which dissolves criminal liability, Long then began having  sex with them.

Can you image the turmoil in these young guys. Sucking Long's dick in his office on Sunday morning and then going out to worship to hear him preach. Then the mental chaos around their sexuality; Am I gay or not?  It could have been something like this;  I'm not gay because the Bishop couldn't possibly be gay. He speaks publicly against homosexuals.  But then how do you reconcile his homosexual acts with his ideological views. Imagine the confusion, Long had taught the whole church that homosexuality is a sin, but privately used the same Bible to explain their relationship.  What do you say and who do you tell?

 How does a son tell his mother who trusted her pastor  enough to give him guardianship of her son that he has been moved into a house to have easy access. Who can you trust when others in authority are implicit. Long moved the young man into another parishioner's house and apparently paid some of the the bills and spent nights there.  And what adult agrees to this? *Blank Stare*

The brain washing that took place over the 5-6 years. And then we must address the issue of love. It had to be a constant in their heads. If I ask him to stop or if I say no, will he stop loving me.

These were fatherless boys who looked to Long as a father. As their pastor and mentor he assumed that role, he had no RIGHT to cross that boundary. He was a grown ass man and it was wrong on so many levels. Long exhibited, Clergy Abuse, Predatory and Pedophilia behavior.

Then imagine how these boys felt when they learned there were other boys. For years they had been made to believe that they were "Special." Then they discover that it had all been a lie. The hurt and betrayal. The self-loathing that must have taken place with these boys.  How could I have been such a fool... Why didn't I see it for what it was? 

And  then when you are finally being vindicated, people reduce it all to being gay and being financially cut off. I understand what it's like to be violated in the name of love, power and admiration.

Both Long and Kelly used their power of celebrity and pastor to overstep boundaries and possible Congressman Wu as the dusk settle. My step brother and Oprah's Uncle use their power  as an authoritative family member to overstep their boundaries. Rape hurts on so many levels. This type of molestation carries long and deep wounds. We spend years trying to understand it.

My question is when are we going to accept our culpability in this as a community?  When are we going to validate victims and give them voice.

When are we going to stop blaming the victim? When are we going to create space in this world to have a real discussion. When are we going to start protecting our children from the predators that live in our homes and pastor our churches.

 And YES! I'm mad as hell that Black Clergy and Leaders have been silent. It  sends a strong message to victims, there is no room for you at the Inn.....

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Reflection: Living With Addiction...

When I heard about Amy Winehouse's death the first thing that crossed my mind, is that you die how you live. It's a sad but true reality and it's not just about drug and alcohol addiction but anything that has a hold on you, and that thing dictates your life.

I understand addiction. My mother and father were heroin addicts and my step-grandmother who raised me, was an alcoholic. My father died a violent death when I was about three years old and my mother used for half of her life.  She was clean for over 20 years, to start using again. When I went to see her on her death bed, I almost fainted when the doctor told me that she was on Methadone; And all this time I thought she was clean.

But during those years of being clean, she never got help for the thing that started her addiction. She was a tormented soul and using again was inevitable.

And my step-grandmother didn't stop drinking until the  alcohol started to burn the cancerous tumor in her mouth.  And she was the mean ass in death that she had been my entire life. It didn't matter that I was the only one caring for her, Mama would cuss me out in the hospital room like I was a bitch on the street.

What I learned half way through my life is that addiction is a sickness that affects everyone that comes in contact with it. This was further confirmed after living with an addict, the love of my life. I began to understand this sickness in a way that I never had. The chaos it created daily, wondering if when he walked out of that door would he make it to his intended destination, or to that corner of the world where he used.

That sent me to Alnon. I knew I was out of my league. I instinctively knew that  if I didn't get help for myself, that his addiction would kill me as sure as I got to die.

STOP! I can't believe I told all that... Little nervous here....  Go on and gossip.. But don't bring that shit to my face... Just Sayin!!!  It's interesting, when I first started this post it was about putting your demons in check. But God seems to be leading me in another direction. So this post is for everyone who loves someone who has an addiction. Just some insights that I hope are helpful...

 How they choose to live, does not have to dictate how you live. You cannot allow their addiction to control your life.  Addiction is a very dark place and it enjoys company. They have to ultimately do the hard work that is required to not only get clean, but stay clean.

I often wondered about my mother and what would make her use for over half her life. And while I understood  some of the root of my lover's addiction, my compassion and love for them both could not interfere with my love of self.  It's deep, we spend so much time trying to make them happy, they become our addiction and it affects everything we do, from the people we see to the things we do or don't do.

 What I have learned is that no matter how much you love them or alter your life for them, they are who they are. And a word of caution, even an addict that is clean, but not seeking some kind of professional help is still guided by addictive behavior. While you are relieved that they are clean, they still tend to be the narcissist, self-serving person they were while using.

Addiction is an illness that needs professional help and until they get the help that sickness will continue to manifest, just in different ways.  And everyone who comes in contact with addiction needs help, whether it's your brother, lover, sister, aunt. Don't be confused, the drunk aunt at the dinner table affects everyone.

The sad thing is, while you may try to control the environment, and sometimes that person, the only one you actually have control over is yourself.  And if the truth be told, there is a sickness spending your life trying to control someone else's life. How they hell you gonna control something that they have no control over? You become sick trying to make them well.

Another word of caution for the high, mighty and opinionated. Addiction is not something you can simply rule away. Addicts need help, but they have to want help. Part of the problem with getting clean and staying clean is facing the demons that drove their addiction. And then on top of that, having to face all the damage that has been done during the addiction journey. That's a lot of baggage for one person to have to address in addiction.

I hope you get the point... I may not have an addiction to drugs, but I have lived an unhealthy life as a result of addiction from my childhood. I know how hard it is to live whole and healthy. I was man crazy, clothes crazy and just plain old fucking crazy. I didn't know what was normal and what was not. It took years of therapy, to get to this place I'm at today and there are still days I struggle to do the right thing. Then I fell in love with an addict and my world stopped as I tried to stop his addiction. I thank God that He had a plan when my plan crumbled before my eyes. Addiction should not be taking lightly, not for the addict or the ones who love the addict. In the end you will both die how you lived.

I understand why they say One Day At A Time, because truly, thats all you have is this day. Tackle tomorrow when it gets here. Sadly for Amy Whinehouse her tomorrow was death. What I'm suggesting, is to not let their death become yours, either, physically, emotionally or spiritually. Get the help that you need even if they are not at the place to get the help they need

Amy is in a better place..  There are no more demons... May she rest in peace...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Waking To Sadness...

I woke this morning to an overwhelming sadness, as if a cloud of darkness was hanging over my bed, infecting every part of my being. As I laid there, I started to ask the most ridiculous questions of God. Like how long? What's up with that ? And on and on... Then I started to think about the Apostle Paul and his throne and then I started to fight back the tears.

But it hit me, what I really needed to fight back was this cloud of darkness that was infecting my very being. I knew I needed to do something, or I wouldn't get out of this bed today. I knew I needed to do something because everyone  that encountered me today would be affected by my infection and it wouldn't be pretty. You see, I understand the saying, hurt people hurt. Sometimes they do it intentionally  and other times unintentionally, but they do it nonetheless.

I knew I had to fight this sadness because I'm better than and stronger than the cloth that it is cut from. I knew that I couldn't let it's substandard nature rule my life on this day. So I crawled out of bed and showered. Water is one of God's wonderful creations. There's something wonderful about water threshing down your body. It say's I'm alive. I'm alive in spite of.  I'm alive when I should/could have been dead. I'm alive!  And this isn't just about AIDS. There are thousands of people who don't wake in the morning. Who will never feel water again.

Water hitting your body is like God speaking to you, saying, "Can't you feel this blessing of life?" And in that moment, I began to thank God for my life rather then ask how come. There is victory in praise. Praise defeats the devil at his core. You see the devil only comes to seek and destroy, his intent  is to render questions, not praise. So when you praise, you fight him at his core. And let me say this. You don't have to scream and holler to praise. Just an acknowledgment in your spirit that you are because God is... is enough.

After my shower, I had some Captain Crunch. I chose that cereal, because it makes you work. Your jaw muscles have to  really participate. And then there's the crunch, and each time I crunch, I am reminded that I am alive with all of my senses and how precious a gift life truly is.

Now don't get me wrong. None of this really took my sadness away or the things that are  causing my sadness. But it did give me perspective. Enough perspective to fight for my spirit in the depth of my pain.

For the last 5 months I've woken each morning and have gone to bed each night with some sort of physical pain that has required a strong pain medication. Physical Pain will drive you mad... While the doctors are trying to get a handle on the  AIDS related infections that are causing my physical pain. I must continue to get a handle on the emotional pain or it will kill me quicker than the physical pain.

I must continue to get a handle on the emotional pain or it will kill my spirit and a dead spirt is a dead life. It would be a shame to stay alive physically living with AIDS... defeating the odds to die spiritually.

So today I fight for my spirit with what I have, praise, a shower and Captain Crunch.  What am I saying? That thing that you are struggling with may take time to defeat so in the meantime, use what God has put in front of you to fight back. Stop looking for the miracle to fall out of the sky when it's all around you. 

Oh Yes... Tea is next on my agenda.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

God Requires Us to Love Them- Not Live for Them!

In the last two days I've been talking to friends about people in their life who've made jacked up decisions that affect both you and them.  And what's equally jacked up; they typically go on with their life just as content with there messy shit leaving you stuck with the lingering odor.

It's a sad reality that people have the right to make bad decisions about their life that affects you negatively. And it's a mess when they make bad decisions they had no right to make and it affects you and others.

Like one of my good friends called me about family funeral drama. Yep, I don't know a family that hasn't had funeral drama. As he was telling me, all I could do was shake my head. Like how can two brothers, who know their brother has taken a turn for the worst, not inform the dying brothers adult children that he is dying? *Blank Stare*

I'll tell you why, cause their greedy ass was to busy trying to change the insurance policy before the brother died to do the right thing.  But as God is my witness, there is no amount of money on this planet that would not let me inform my nieces and nephews  that their father is dying. Who does that?

Ummm, but then you take another situation, totally different. My girlfriend basically raised her sister and did a damn good job might I add. But now at 18, a freaking alien or something has erased everything she was taught by her big sister and it seems she has lost her freaking mind.

Now that she is  ummm "acting" grown *shrugs* She is making some jacked-up decisions. Like how do you not get your ass out of bed to attend a workshop that is required for you to get $8000 dollars of your tuition. *Blank Stare* There ain't NOTHING on this planet that would make me stay up so late and not get my ass out of bed to handle my business. #For Real. 

At that age I was on my own, grown (and gettin some good stuff might I add)  but on my own not because I wanted to be like her, but because I had no choice. But you better believe if someone was giving me $8,000 for tuition, I would have been the first person in that freakin line. In fact, because the man that I was dating  truly loved me and was looking out for my best interest, he would have put my ass out of that bed.

Now, you take a situation that I was in. A friend, told me that no one had ever given him a chance. No one had believed in him enough to go out on a limb. Well, I heard him loud and clear and I used all of my contacts to get him enrolled in a school that would accept all of his credit hours.

And with only 32 hours to complete a bachelors degree, he walked away from school midway through the first semester; Leaving embarrassment written all over my face.

Now, he had that right. I can't begrudge a person's right to make decisions about their life. Just like my girlfriend, she has no right to deny her sister the right to make decisions for her life no matter how crazy or sad it makes her. It may not feel good and you can still smell the stench a mile away, but it is their right.

Even my friend's brother who died. He had diabetes and just refused to take care of himself. And with most diabetics, if you don't do the right the thing, it will take you out of here. The same is with AIDS. Someone told me just a few days ago that a friend of theirs was dying. She apparently stop taking her medication and now AIDS is taking her out of here and she has two pre-teen children.

What do you do with this? When people you love make these jacked-up decisions about their life?  Well, what I'm gonna say is gonna sound cold, but it is the truth. You do nothing about them! You can love people, but you can't live for them! God has given each of us free will to do as we please.

But you can do everything for you. Yep! You can take that free will and wrap your ass right around it, the same way they did. There are consequences for every choice you make in life. When people make decisions for themselves, you have to honor their right, and they have to live with their consequences.

But then it  should mean that the boundaries change.  Don't get me wrong, a change of boundaries does not mean  that you shouldn't love them anymore, just means that now you have protect yourself in a way that they have proven to be either unwilling, or unable to do so. When people make selfish decisions, you can't do a damn thing about it. #FACT

 In all of these selfish acts I highlighted there is sadness. Children, didn't get to say good bye to their father, One person has died and another seems to be on their way. There will be yet again orphans to AIDS; These children will be going from pillar to post, because already the family is not stepping up to the plate.

One person has missed an opportunity to change their life and circumstance and another has made her life harder before she has even cracked open one book. You can see them crashing, and out of our love, our impulse is to save them, but you cannot save those who don't want to be saved.

Each of us must live our own life and use our free will wisely.  We can Love them, but we cannot Live for them. God has given us only one life--ours. To overstep that boundary is trying to play God and when we assume a roll that was not intended for us, we create more problems for ourselves than that friend or family member ever did.

Go in peace knowing that God has only required of us to Love them... NOT Live for them!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fashion/Beatuty Tuesday: Fall Fashion Trends 2011

Everyone knows, knows, knows I'm the handbag queen; And I tend to be a bit of a handbag snob. Now don't get me wrong. I don't have to have a designer name attached to my handbag, but I  do require quality; And if the truth be told, you pay for quality.

While sick and shut in I had nothing better to do but look at the fall 2011 fashion tends on my iPad. And I have to tell you, I like what I see. First out of the gate is a deep rich color  that will go with every skin tone and is a perfect alternative to black. Am I trading in my favorite color, NO but I will be adding the rich burgundy /bordeaux to my wardrobe this fall. As I looked at the trends, I found myself in handbag heaven. There were so many I wanted, I had to take a chill pill. For Real!

I love Prada, however, it has been out of my price range for a while. In these hard times, the last few years, I  had to sale all of my Prada handbags with the exception of two, that I knew I needed to hold onto. It was two bags, that I could never replace, especially at the price that I actually paid for them. That's why it's important to develop relationships with sales people at the high end stores. They will call you when something great is on sale. Any who, I sold all my other Prada handbags because I prefer to have a roof over my head, than to be homeless with a designer handbag. For Real For Real

When I saw the Prada Saffiano Lux Top Handle (top)and Lux Tote  (bottom) I was in love. Now this handbag is a staple in Prada's line. They claim it is the most durable leather you can buy. And let me tell you, the fall colors are singing my song.  The bag at the top is $1990 and the bag at the bottom is $1560
Of course I wanted the larger bag with the zippers and the center pocket. It has a cleaner structure then the bag below, and it is larger; And my motto, the larger the better. And it makes a STATMENT! But I knew that I couldn't afford to have the larger bag, especially because I had already decided on the Lux Tote in another color to match a Hermes bracelet on my want list. Now don't be confused, Prada makes a statement any size and shape. But there is statement and then there is STATEMENT.

Let me tell you, when I left Prada, I had to talk to myself all day long.  I knew in my right mind, there was no why in hell I could justify buying two Prada handbags in the same year, having just started to get back on my feet.  So I reminded myself that the world would  not end if I don't own this Prada handbag in burgundy.  But in honesty to myself, I should stick to the original plan, the handbag  to match my bracelet. By the way, that other color is also a trend and I will tell you all about it in the weeks to come as I continue to highlight my picks for fall fashion 2011. 

Now,  I had come to my senses, but what was I gonna do about the fall trend of burgundy /bordeaux? I was firm, I needed to be practical. Practical being living within my means. But the Fashion Diva that I am wanted to add this wonderful color. Especially since I wear a lot of black, it pairs beautifully. 

I was sad about it LOL... But For Real. Then one of my favorite American designers made me one happy Diva. You can always count on Tory Burch to render quality and cute at a more moderate price. 

The Robinson Tote is also a staple  in Tory Burch Handbag line like Prada's Saffiano,  she just also updated the colors for the fall. Now this handbag is wonderful! It has structure like the Prada Top Handle bag. Even though it's a tad shorter than Saffiano Top Handle, its lager than Prada's Tote. The bottom line, you get the look but only at faction of the cost. The Robinson handbag is $550.00. And might I add that both Prada and Tory Burch have these bags in grey which is also tending for the fall.

Now, I'm going to suggest to you that you invest in a good quality handbag at some point in your life. It will last you for years and will always make a fashion statement.  Let me say this... 

When I purchased my first Louis Vuitton, I was 20 years old. I saved a little out of each pay check until I had enough money to get a bag. I didn't try to but the largest, I got what was age appropriate and affordable for a 20 year old.. 

However, if you can't afford a bag this season don't stress, just get you a beautiful scarf with this rich color of burgundy /bordeaux and tie it on the handle of your carmel and or black handbag and you will still be trending for fall 2011.

Guest Blogger:ChiTown Fashionista:Captures My Style On A Budget!

Simply put, Rae Lewis Thornton is a diva! Those who know and love her understand that although she must constantly battle illness and fatigue, she will never leave the house looking any less than a diva. And her style plays a large role in why she is always perceived as such.

 Rae's style is the epitome of my favorite trend...the "non-trend". Rae has mastered the ability to select timeless items that transcend trends but never looks outdated. Classic style is hard to grasp and requires a little bit of psychic ability. You have to have a keen eye for selecting pieces that have longevity and will work well with multiple items in your wardrobe for seasons to come. Rae is also a fan of layering jewelry; whether it's multi-strand pearl necklaces or a wrist full of RLT Collection bracelets. That is her signature and it is what allows her to add character to her wardrobe.

If and when you see Rae, you can guarantee she will be draped in some Chanel, Burberry, Van Cleef & Arpels and/or Tory Burch (Rae's newest favorite). That being said, classic style does not necessarily have to be made up of only high-end designers. Stores like Ann Taylor, Calvin Klein, L.K. Bennett and even your local boutique carry low to mid priced items that will help you achieve the same goal. If you're looking to achieve Rae's timeless look, quality is key. Here are some great items - at a variety of price points - that will start you down the right path.  
Natalia Necklace - L.K. Bennett ($70)
Lee Angel Tangled Pearl Necklace - Neiman Marcus ($180) 

Cap Sleeve Half Peplum Dress - Calvin Klein ($99)
Natasha Dress - Tory Burch ($350) 

Jardin Clover Bracelet - Bluefly ($93)
Van Cleef & Arpels Vintage Alhambra Bracelet - Betteridge (price upon request) 

Gold Coast Maryanne - Kate Spade ($445)
Marc Jacobs Quilted Saffron Astor Bag - Saks ($1495)
Miss KG Lychee Ballet Flat - ASOS ($78)
Bruton Shoe - L.K. Bennett ($320) 
And there you have it. Classic pieces for every budget. Now, get to shopping, my aspiring divas!

Nikia Jefferson is a fashion blogger. Her blog is www.chitownfashionista.com She can also be found on Twitter @shoelovadotcom

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday Reflection: Never Surrender To The Madness

I've been so freaking sick that it has interfered with everything from literally washing my ass to walking down the street to  working. And if I say it, you know it's gotta be true because I'm miss independent, aint gonna let nothing stop my ass in this life time or the next. But I have to admit, I was thrown a curve ball that knocked me flat on my ass these last 7 weeks or so.

And when you are laid out you can't see the forest, shit you can't even see the trees. But you can feel the cold, moist ground sucking the life out of you. And as you lay there, you know instinctively that if you continue to lay in this dirt that a part of you will surly die, not physically, but emotionally and spiritually. And I tell you, a dead spirit in my opinion is worst than death.  Death is final, but living with a broken spirit is an endless bottomless pit. Like being in hell and looking up to heaven, wanting to be there, but it's not available to you.

But there is a double edge sword. You must also face the hard core reality that it is what it is. You cannot get around the hard core reality of your situation. Be it health or some other traumatic thing happening in your life. Trauma is trauma: And what I've learned over the years is that everyone's trauma is equally important to them. And in the course of life, there are things that happen to each of us that just fucks us up. Like when my last boyfriend walked out of that door. I had never loved a man the way that I loved him and yet in the past, I was the bounce back queen from broken relationships. But when I looked up and realized that I hadn't washed my ass in over a week, I knew that I was in trouble.

But knowing you are in trouble and being able to do something about it is a different thing. Yet at the same time, acknowledging that you are in trouble is the first step to recovery; Be it a broken relationship or your health. The African Proverb, "He who conceals his disease cannot expect to be cured,"is one powerful declaration. Yep, it is your first step. So that Sunday morning I woke and could smell my stinky ass, I knew this Diva was in trouble and I mumbled, "Oh God, help me, I'm in trouble." You see the first 9 days I had been praying for his return. Stuck!!  But once I prayed for me, somewhere I found the strength to crawl out of that bed and into the shower. And in the shower I began to really talk to God.

I do some of my best thinking in the shower. I knew that the relationship was extremely unhealthy and it was sucking the life out of me. But I wanted it, I wanted it more than life, and even more than God. In fact, he became my God. My every word, my every thought, and my every action was toward him. And I've heard it said,  "The one you think and talk the most about is your God."

In that shower that Sunday morning 9 days after he left, I accepted that I was a mess, and that acceptance helped me to accept the blessing in his depurate.  I was able to be honest about the relationship rather than stuck in the love that I felt for this man. I honestly, believed that God did for me what I was unable to do for myself.

As wonderful as my guy was in so many ways, he still would have sucked the life out of me before I let him go. But even after acceptance, it still took time to work through the withdrawals of his presence everyday, all day. The loneliness the sieges you in the middle of the night , will make you lose your freaking mind. But I knew, that I had to let him go to regain me.

But with your health, it's not that simple. You see with a relationship you can control you, but with your health you are at the mercy of the sickness. Like a man, you know the sickness it's sucking the life out of you, but its departure is a tad more complicated then just walking out the door, deleting him from your Facebook, no calls or emails. And I know that torture's in and of itself, right? Right! But you have none of those options when it comes to your health.

So in these weeks, I had almost surrendered a part of me that I claim to never give up.  And when I was almost there I was knocked out of my own madness by one or more things.  Like a simple cup of tea paired with a wonderful cupcake from More, stimulated my taste buds.

Sophie insisting that she be walked even though standing was an issue for me. I pushed my way through not wanting to disappoint my baby girl. This guilt I have, that she not be punished because of my health. But once out, something magical happened, no my health didn't change, but the sun beamed down on me and reminded me that God is always there. Can't always feel Him, but He is there sometimes sitting behind the clouds and other times shinning bright.

And then the text messages, phone calls, Facebook posts, Tweets  and visits from friends that were a constant reminder that in spite of how I felt, I was still alive; And there is something about the reminder of life that makes you want to live. For me it makes me want to do my part in this journey. So while the doctors try to but me back together again, I contribute to my emotional and spiritual wellness as best as I can.

It's the little things that I did, to keep me in tact. At the top  of the pyramid is reminding myself that God has never left me.  Always remember where you have come from and how far God has brought you. It's then that your faith becomes stronger and your confidence in God's plan for your life  is solid. Your history with God should never be forgotten; It is the cornerstone of your life.

But also for me, I try to my capacity to do the things that make me happy. So I can't window shop physically, but the iPad is a wonderful thing for window shopping and its even better when you have someone you can email your choices to and get feed back Yep.. Yep...  And one day, instead of going straight to the doctor for more test, I took my time and walked the 4 blocks  from my house to Hermes to try on bracelets. Didn't have money to buy, but it cost nothing to try.

This past week I even went to a Bloggers Conference. And had brunch with my girlfriends. They were both reminders that I was alive. The conference, put me in thinking mode about how to grow my work as a blogger. And the brunch stimulated my senses and provided me with fellowship and laughter.

 I can go on an on about the little things I do to find peace of mind in this chaos.  But I hope you get the point. Adjust and readjust that which you can do. Never surrender to the madness.  There is no man,  no health condition or any situation under the planet that is worth your peace of mind. NONE!! The situation is what it is and for some situations change may not come or they may come at a slower pace than we hoped. In the meantime you have to find the things to keep you together. That's exactly what I'm doing. And don't sweat the small stuff. It took me all morning to write this blog post..  But I did it.

Post Script: Health Update -- There has been some improvement with my health, but I am not out of the red zone yet. Well, I'm leaving the red zone and making it to the yellow. I  am however, trying to get back to a work schedule. I may not be able to keep up my full load everyday, but I cannot surrender my entire work over to my health. Enough is enough...  So instead of waiting on full recovery, I'm doing  a little each day; What I can, to the best of my ability. One day at a time and honestly it's one minute at a time.

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