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

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

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

RLT Collection Tea Ball Frosted Clear Beads!

Mint Medley by The Persimmon Tree Tea Company

About This Tea:

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

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

RLT Collection AIDS Awareness Tea Ball!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Reflection: Herpes, AIDS and Shame...

Dealing with health issues is one thing, having to deal with it wrapped in shame is an entire other thing. That's what I do everyday with this Drug Resistant Herpes. Yep, herpes has made my life a living hell for almost the last 4 years, but especially the last 6 months. Dealing with the IV medication treatments has been hard, but having to face the fact that a sexually transmitted disease is the root cause of this rigorous treatment has taken an emotional toll.

While people are supportive, you still wonder what they are thinking about you having this aggressive herpes and HIV. I can almost image it, she got herpes and AIDS, damn who was she screwing?

And Lord knows I wonder if a man will ever want to really date me. It's one thing that I have AIDS, but I also have this scary ass herpes and to make it worst, I had to  go and tell it all to the world. Even if he accepts your illness, does he want the world to know he is dating a woman with HIV and Herpes? That's a lot of collateral damage. Let's be honest, you can't help but wonder. It's been a long journey for me and you can read about the history of my herpes infection Here to get you up to date.

Anyway, I'm on overload and it's a wonder that I have not lost my mind or just balled up in a corner somewhere and stayed. I'm tired as hell to say the least, but I can't undo what's been done. It is what it is and I have to face it head on.

So here I go again, yep, this week I will start IV medication to treat herpes yet again. In the last 6 months I have been on a medication called cidofovir. It's once a week for 6 hours at the hospital.  The side effects are extreme fatigue, nausea, diarrhea and kidney failure. I also had to take another medication to protect my kidneys, and it has its own side-effect. And it has been a super bitch. Without failure, after 4 to 6 weeks of treatment, the herpes came back within two weeks like clock work. I have spent my entire summer dealing with this and I'm exhausted!

But  i guess there is no point in being tired, just gotta man up, because yep after two weeks off cidofovir, herpes is right back smack on my vulva and clit *sigh*

So this week I start again, but I'm going back to the original IV medication  that I took to treat my herpes, Foscarnet. We are trying this one again because it seems to work better, meaning the herpes would come back every 4-6 months rather than 2-3 weeks. The only reason I switched was because there was a national shortage of Foscarnet and there was NONE in the US. This reads like a saga doesn't it? But it's all true.

So I will get a pic line in my arm this week and set up a make shift hospital in my house and the way we go; 3 hours a day 2 times a day; Yes 6 hours a day, everyday until I heal.  And yes, the side effects are basically the same, except that I will have them everyday, rather than 3 days a week. For sure I wish that it was different, but it's not.

Because my immune system is impaired due to HIV, the doctors believe that there is a part of my immune system that just won't fight off herpes. The herpes has become resistant to all oral medications and creams, you name it, because of long term use over the years, for about 19 years.

But it is not just genital herpes, the doctor believes that herpes also attacked my nervous system this summer, which caused the nerve pain that I experience in my hands and feet. There are some days when it hurts to walk and I can barley use my hands. For sure it has all been a challenge both physically and emotionally.

But the shame of it all still seems to have a hold on me. When I have to tell someone that I'm on IV medication and then the cause, in my heart I wonder; I wonder about the judgments. I can see the discomfort in their body language and I hear it in their voice as I explain why.

And to have doctor after doctor look at my vagina, cut my vagina for a bioscopy and culture my vagina to determine the level of ressistance to medications. I remember the two times that I was hospitalized for herpes,  it was all so overwhelming when I had to spread my legs for the team of 10-15 doctors to look. It has all become so much for me.

But at the end of the day, none of this can be undone. Yes, I have these sexually transmitted diseases that have changed my life for the rest of my life. But I must somehow find the strength to go on.

I must somehow forgive myself for the choices I made about my body. I must embrace the goodness that lies within me and not let the bad consume all of me. I must find the strength to continue to live with dignity in such an undignified illness.

 Even with dating, I have to believe that there will be someone who will want to be in an honest relationship. Don't be confused, men still want to have sex with me, they just don't want anybody to know that they are with me and I'm NOT having that.

 I will admit, it is a lot to deal with daily. But at the beginning of each day, all I can do is put on my Christian Louboutin, and stand tall.

Friday, August 26, 2011

How Big God Is... How Small We Are...

All week long I have been feeling like shit physically, which left me depressed and in the crappiest mood. So much so, it seemed every time I tried to write a blog I couldn't. I didn't even write a Monday Reflection because I really couldn't find any joy or lessons in my life other than I am alive.

 Now don't get it confused, I understand that being alive is a blessing and actually its half the ball game. But when you keep getting hit you almost want to say, are you up there God? Did you forget about me? Is this some freaking test and if so when do you plan to end it all? I was starting to feel a bit like Job. Let's see how much Rae Rae can take. Don't kill her, but make her feel it.

 I thought that I was gonna lose my mind this week, between the nerve pain in my hands and feet, to the point where walking actually hurts and at points throughout the day using my hands is difficult, even holding Sophie's chain makes my hand tingle and go numb, to a kick ass sinus infection, to this freaking Herpes infection that seems to have set up right smack back on my clit yet again, only three weeks off IV medication.

Yep I said it, ain't no point in being ashamed it's way too late for that. Having drug resistant herpes combined with an impaired immune system is no joke; It's worst than having roaches. Every time you think they gone and you start to relax, you see that nasty pest running across your kitchen floor. And don't act like you never lived in a place with roaches, but you better be glad you don't have herpes. #ForReal So this week I couldn't muster up enough of nothing and was feeling a tad abandoned.

Then a funny thing happen in the course of living this week, God reminded me how big He is and how small we are.  When I woke on Monday I felt like Job, tired and wounded with a lot of questions why? And when I woke on this Friday morning, God gave me the message of Job. And in an instant a peace came over me.  God is funny, even how He operates.

I was e-mailing a friend and I mentioned how sad it was that the Martian Luther King Memorial dedication was canceled and all that money and hopes were lost. I said, Mother Nature can come hard sometimes and then it hit me. What God told Job, "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? I will question you and you will declare to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth. Tell me if you have understanding. Who determined it's measurements--surly you know?"  (Gen 38:2-3)

And after four chapters  of God's wonder, God forces Job to speak. Anyone who argues with God must respond." (Gen 402b) WOW, God told Job, "Gird up your loins like a man."  Yep, God told Job, you coming at Me, you better come with all you got. And even If you hit me with everything you got, I'm still bigger than you.

God told Job to man up and in the end, that's exactly what he did, Job says, "I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted." (Gen 42:1-2)

I get it! No need to ask God did He forget me; His memory is longer and wider than measurements themselves. No need to ask  God why; Even if He were to explain, I wouldn't understand the plan. God's plans are far greater than anything we can ever conjure up in our head. Like Mother Nature  all we can do is go along for the ride. Embrace the changing seasons with grace and understanding that God's wonders never cease. There is hope in God's wonders, for it reminds me that He never fails or falter, just keep on holding on and see what the end is going to be.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ice Tea Sleep The Summer Away? For Real!

It's been hotter than a cat on a hot tin roof this summer and most people have been sipping on ice tea and lemonade to quench their thirst.

 I on the other hand have been sick and spent a good deal of my summer recovering in my air conditioned apartment sipping on hot tea. I'm sad to say there has been no ice tea in my tea cup this summer. I was even asked by one of my tea partners Boston Tea Company, do I even drink ice tea? I do but I can never seem to get it right when I make it at home. 

My intent this summer was to play Einstein and experiment with different recipes using loose teas and blog about my discoveries; But that never happened. My health took center stage and some days my hand hurt to bad from the periphery neuropathy to even pour water from my tea kettle; Sadly my tea ideas slept the summer away.

So now Labor Day is approaching, Indian Summer is around the corner, leaves will turn beautiful shades and most of us we will savor the last of warmth that Mother nature has to give.  But soon enough, we will be turning to hot beverages to keep us warm, soothe our itching throats and relax us for the chilly evening, curled in a book or watching our favorite tv shows. Ice tea will be traded in for warmth and I will be right there with lots of wonderful tea selections.

 Starting in September I will be back with regular Tea With Rae Blogs; And I have lots of new suggestions for you. But just to refresh your memory in the past 8 months since I launched the Tea With Rae Project and we began this journey together we have 13 partners and more on the horizon.

 And what's so cool, every single one of them have teas that I love. The thing is, the tea world is huge and I want you to have as much exposure as possible to the best teas the world has to offer.

 See ya in September with my first tea review!

CONTEST:  If you can guess the two teas I drink most mornings you will win a Beautiful Tea Bracelet from me... You can check out my Tea Bracelets Here... They are also 30% off with my bracelets. The coupon code at check out is Celebrate

The FIRST person to name the two teas that I drink in the morning in the comment section wins...  You have to name both of them... Don't have to name the tea company, but you have to name the type of tea I drink most morning.. I typically alternate. Only one try per person!

 Here is a list of Tea With Rae Partners that you can follow on Twitter and Facebook.. Im following them all!

 Boston Tea Company; Teavana; The Republic of Tea; ESP Emporium; California Tea House; The Persimmon Tea Tree  Company; Sweet Simplicitea; London Tea Room; The Necessi Teas; Naive Tea; Tea Gschwender; Libre Tea; Two Leaves and a Bud; Yeh Collection; The Peninsula Hotel-Chicago

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Happy Birthday RLT Collection!

It's my birthday! Yep, Three years ago I launched my RLT Collection, a line of bracelets that I design and hand make myself. It was a brave endeavor but I figured that I had nothing to lose.

I watched all those Oprah shows where young white girls had an idea and ran with it and before you knew it, they were an over night success. I remember when I made the decision, I had a lot of nay sayers, Yep! In those early days, "Friends" would say to me, "You really think people will buy them?" Or "I thought it was just a hobby." Some of those people still haven't purchased a bracelet. One such person said to me one day, "Well you know I don't wear bracelets."  I just shrugged it off.
Brooke From Harlem Heights Wearing RLT Bracelets 

Markeeda Wearing  RLT Bracelets
But three years later RLT Collection is still here and growing. No, it hasn't made me rich; And in those first two years the collection was just hanging in there with very little profit. But I never gave up. I continued to invest in the collection with little return. I continued to shop for better and more beautiful gemstones and spent hours working on designs.  And it is starting to pay off;  My bracelets are more beautiful than ever and people are wearing my bracelets proudly.

I try to live by my motto, A Bracelet For Every Woman! I have them in every price range to fit every personality.  And my Unisex Collection is growing so men can sport my bracelets too. It is my goal to have my bracelets become a household name. In the last 20 years, I never had a goal that didn't have something to do with HIV/AIDS in some way. RLT Collection is another way that I am making history.

Paul Wearing RLT Bracelets
It feels so awesome to have this gift designing bracelets and sharing it with others. I never thought that I would one day be a business woman, but I am! And I'm all giddy, even as I write this blog

I take pride in my collection!! And I'm going to continue to invest all that I have to make RLT Collection the best it can be.  Thank you for supporting me!! Your support has helped to make RLT Collection what it is today!

In honor of my 3rd year anniversary I'm having a SALE! It starts today August 21st and ends September 13th. 30% off on all bracelets!! The coupon code at checkout is Celebrate.  My prayer is that I have many more wonderful years! And that RLT Collection will become a household name, at least in your home.

teamRae Diva II AIDS Awareness Bracelet
Post Script: There is a New teamRae Diva AIDS Awareness Bracelet. I had to discontinue the old one because the red rhinestone bead is no longer available. The new one has a simple angelic crystal dangle in the back... Also, please email me, or Tweet me photo's of you wearing RLT Collection for the photo album.

Happy Shopping!! Click Here!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

We Never Know A Person's Head, Heart Or Capacity...

A couple of nights ago Russell Armstrong, the husband of Taylor, from Real Housewives of Beverly Hills committed suicide. That was incredibly sad. You never know what someone else is going through.

I must admit this is the one and only reality show that I'm an avid viewer. And from the tweets each night the show airs, Russell seems to be the husband that was most disliked by the public of all the husbands. People thought that he was way too controlling of his wife Taylor, there were even rumors of physical abuse, but nothing confirmed. Honestly, he was also the most introverted of all the husbands, and that made him appear a bit aloof. But, honestly, some people also thought that Taylor was a piece of work. They both took a lot of public flack.

It's interesting, we look at someone's life from the outside and we make assumptions about them as if they are hard core facts. And quite often those assumptions determined how we treat them.  And from the outside looking in, we even make judgements about people's journeys and that also dictates how we respond to them. And I know for my own self most of these assumptions and or judgments are based upon ones value system. How we see life becomes our baseline for how we view and treat others.

When I first started speaking people would come up to me to share bits of their life and they would often start by saying, "My situation isn't as bad as yours, but." Then they would go on and tell me what they were dealing with and I could see the pain in their face as their story unfold.  And it hit me, that pain is pain. What might be one person's cake walk may be another person's mountain.

You never know what's in a person's heart or head. Nor one's capacity to deal with issues that they face. My biological mother attempted suicide in the most horrible way and survived it. I thank God that she never tried again, but she never really recovered emotionally. And no matter how hard I tried, I could never wrap my head around the blood splatters that I saw in her apartment. What would make a person do that to herself? I had only known my mother for five years but by then and from my estimation, I believed that a person could handle anything. I mean at 23, I had already been to hell and back and never really wanted to do anything but live.

But older and wiser, I understand, that a person's pain is a person's pain and it is most unfair for me to measure my pain against theirs. I even dislike when people try to encourage me, by comparing my life to other people with HIV. Don't tell me I'm lucky or fortunate when I have been hurting for months and can barley walk from a neurological issue triggered by AIDS. Tell me to hold on or that you will keep me in your prayers. But don't compare my pain based on your assumptions about my life. If truth be told, if I'm at an emotional low point you really have NO idea what could send me over the edge.

We all struggle in life and have struggles with life. I get that. Some people can breeze though some shit like it don't even stick, while others can't get pass the smell.  We have to be sensitive to people's journeys.

There is no one way for a person to deal with tragedy and hardship. Yesterday morning I had a complete and total breakdown, but as the day progressed, I reclaimed that part of me that holds me together. Some people need more time, some people need help, some people never get there. I understand, We Never Know A Person's Head Or Heart or ones Capacity. 

As you journey through this life, be sensitive to other people's journey. 

Post Script: May Russell Armstrong rest in peace and my Taylor and their daughter find peace.. Amen..

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Reflection: Embracing The Newness!

I say often that Monday's are filled with fresh possibilities, for it starts the beginning of the week. And I believe that there is a newness for each of us to uncover. Last week is gone and will never come again, that's an absolute fact. To stay stuck in last week is to squander the gift of newness that God has placed before you.

Now I know some of you are saying, she just don't understand. Last week is over, but the stuff of last week is still real in my life. I do understand, #For Real. But I also understand that some of this is of your own doing. You have allowed the issues of the former week to infiltrate your newness and now it has become infected. Some of that stuff really was resolved.

The problem is that it wasn't the outcome you had hoped for so you stay stuck hoping that the situation will change.  If that man walked out of your life, let his ass go. He probably did for you what you were unable to do for yourself. Be grateful that he is allowing you to get on with your life rather than stay and kill every ounce of your spirit.

And if  on the other side, God gave you a second, where you could think with a clear mind, and you walked away from the chaos with some of your dignity in tact, then why are you doubting God? There is nothing like a clear mind, it cleanses your soul. Why would you want to infiltrate yesterday's ugly with today's pretty?  The same thing can apply to that job you lost. Some changes aren't always a bad change. 

God always has a plan. The problem is we live in a right now society and we want quick solutions to what we perceive as a problem. We go from one relationship to another because we don't want to spend time with ourselves.  We take the easy and most comfortable way but that way in the end does more damage to the sprit. 

We see a lost of a job as a disaster, when actually it may be a blessing. When was the last time you actually had to re-write your resume and in doing so, celebrate your accomplishments? Shoot, you may discover that you had been selling yourself cheap. I'm just saying, some of this stuff we hang on to should have been let go a long time ago.

Nothing can grow in dead soil, but be cling to dry dirt like fertile soil. And in doing so, we create more misery for ourselves. That is not the place that God wants us to be. The Bible says, that He came that we might have life more abundantly. So why do we deny ourselves the joy stuck in pain. 

Photo by @ChicagoCabbie
Now I do understand on the flip side, some of this stuff has no other place to go, it's stuck to us like Gorilla Glue. Like having HIV or Lupus, is what it is. Some issues just never get resolved. Even the void of a lost one can linger and weigh you down. I understand this clearly, it's the life I live daily.

But I also understand, while I can't change the situation, I can change how I see it; even week to week. God gives us fresh eyes and a clear mind to use for our goodness. While I accept the bad with grace and dignity, I seek the good for God's glory. Each time I smile against the odds I say, "My body my be hurting, but my heart is happy." Only God can do such a thing, create diabolical opposites in one body.

There is light even between the darkness. Look at this cloud above us; Its God wonderful creation. And while there is darkness all around us, there is a light that will never leave us. So each new week, I assess the former week; I throw out that which has no place in the gift of newness that God has placed before me. I dare not squander this precious gift of life or an ounce of the newness that He graciously gives to me. Life is Better than Death Any day.. Any way... 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Doing It My Way This Time Around!

People often ask, when am I going to write my memoir? And for the longest I wasn't sure if I wanted to tell the whole story. I mean once you put it out there, you cant take it back. And I got a whole lot of stuff in my closet.

And honestly, I believed if I was going to do it, then I needed a book deal.  I'm always thinking big and I just didn't want to do it on my own. And then a few years ago I was swept up in a world wind. A friend in the literary world made some inquiries on my behalf and in a matter of weeks I had one of the best literary agents in New York City. Hot dog, I knew this was the time. My friend also got me a writer and I never questioned her credentials. She had been the former editor and chief of one the largest magazines in the country. That was a BIG freaking mistake. I learned just because you can run a company of writers, don't mean you can actually write yourself.

But the three of us started this venture together.  My writer didn't know how to write a book proposal and my agent had to coach her on the particulars. That was the first sign that things were going down hill before they even began. But he thought that maybe she would rise to the occasion once we actually started writing the book.  John sent the proposal out, and within a week I had four meetings with  top publishing houses in the country. I was so excited! But then it started to crumble after the day of meetings.

One publishing house wanted a sample chapter, which is not uncommon. But Lord, Lord, my writer couldn't produce.  The first sample had to be re-written and the final product was rejected. Another publishing house also asked for a sample chapter, but John knew that it was futile, my writer just couldn't deliver. The heifer couldn't write and that was the bottom line!

We  did get an offer from one publishing house and John was hot. It felt that my book was six figure worthy, but it had been sabotaged by the writers inability to deliver. I took the book deal with Hyperion Publishing House, which, is still on the A list, but gee it sure hurt to lose the other publishing houses.

Then the drama escalated, my writer quit when I accepted the deal with Hyperion because it wasn't enough money. WHAT? You lose us three top publishing houses, then you turn around and quit. It was a mess. Then she wanted to be paid. I had to get a lawyer to get her off my back. I always say, be careful what you ask for, you just may get it. I was so set on having a "real" book deal that I accepted her credentials on face value and that was the beginning and the end of my book deal.

But the drama continued; I had to find another writer, so I went searching. And just when I thought I was going to sign someone, she changed her mind, she felt it wasn't enough time. But the fact was, time was ticking and I was going crazy. I found a local writer, who couldn't write either. I mean her sample chapter was decent, but she couldn't connect the dots chapter to chapter.

After  one month of interviews and three horrible chapters I knew it was a wash. She agreed to walk away, but she kept the $9,500 advance, after she had agreed to give a portion of it back. That's what I get for trusting her to do the job before it's done. Never again!  This book deal started to become a saga. It took on a life of its own and it was draining all of me right down to the core.

Four months before the book was due, I stopped my life and started writing my own damn memoir. I did nothing, I mean NOTHING but write this book. I cried and prayed my way through all the pain and drama of my life; Reliving it on paper was all consuming. I had a few readers helping me work through the grammar, cause yall, I cant spell a lick. But in the end I did it!  I finished the manuscript three days early.

But then the next level of drama began. My editor at Hyperion was a trip for real.  She and I fought over the revisions. That's tricky, ultimately it's my story, but the publishing house can walk away anytime they want if they feel you aren't giving them what they want. My editor told me things like, "I want it to read like a novel. Never leave the story." The problem was, you cant reflect if you never leave the story. But then she would tell me to "Reflect,"and when I did, she would turn around and she tell me to take it out. It was frustrating. Then it really became crazy. She told me one day to, "Embellish, Embellish, Embellish." She said, "For lack of a better explanation I want it to read like James Frey, just don't lie."

WTH? I mean it was already a tell all book. I told on myself and everybody else. What more did she want? There was so much  dick and pussy in the book, I couldn't image what more she wanted. And Yall know I came with it.

So after giving one year and four months of my life to making this book happen, Hyperion walked away from the book deal. I was devastated and embarrassed. Everyone on the planet knew I had book coming out. How could I face the shame of it all? And I really  was demoralized. Basically,  She said the book was to poorly written to move forward. HUH?  I think that's what revision's are for. WOW... I walked away from the book deal shattered. I can't write. WOW... I can't write rung in my head for months. That was one reason I was hesitant to start this blog. I had accepted someone's opinion of myself against everything knew was true because she was an "expert".

And so I've been sitting on my memoir for almost three years now. Praying and hoping that I get new writer to revise it so that we can try to sell it again. My agent has been clear, books that have been dropped by a publishing house have a taint to it. It's not impossible to resell, but it is hard.

So after sitting with my Soror Lynn Richardson yesterday, for an interview for Russell Simmions Global Grind, I was inspired to move forward. Yesterday's discussion with Lynn combined with all the support that I have gotten from my blog and all the continued request for the full story, I'm going to do it!  I wonder how many people can be blessed by my story, and here I am, sitting on it out of some grand ass idea of a book deal. I don't think God can be pleased with me is this one.  Jesus was born in a manger not the Ritz Carlton.  I have never been more clear. My life and all that I do is ministry and I should never forget it, no matter how it get to the people, just as long as it does.  I was lost, but now I am found!!

To hell with publishing houses and peoples opinion of my ability to write. I will begin revising my memoir;  It's my story and I can tell it anyway I want. I'm doing it my way this time around. So what I don't have a big publishing house, but I do plan to published my story. I've been waiting for almost three years on someone else to do for me way I can do for myself.

If people want to know the the full story they will buy the book no matter who publishes it. So I'm starting out on this venture. I have no idea how I will even pull the money together to self-publish, but the Bible say, if you take one step, he will take two.

My goal is to have my memoir Unprotected by World AIDS Day December 1, 2011, as we commemorate the 30th anniversary of AIDS. I'm excited! I hope that you are to! Keep me in your prayers. I'm going to move forward even in spite of my health.

If you are interested in purchasing my memoir  Unprotected please send me your email address to this link here rae@raelewisthornton.com

I'm doing it my way this time around!!!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday Reflection: Living With AIDS In My Own Voice!

Each day I sit at my computer trying to give you what I think God has given to me to give to you and it flows like a river. But then some days I sit at my computer with nothing to say and from
no where it hits me. There are even times when I start writing about one thing and it ends up being another. I never try to force it, I just write what God has put on my heart.

Today is one of those days when I stared at the computer for a few hours. It seems that each direction I go, I got lost. About two hours ago, I said to myself. I'm going to post my interview with veteran political reporter and former editor and chief of Emerge Magazine, George Curry, and be done with it; That seemed like an easy way out.  But then I never take the easy path do I?

 But is seemed no matter how hard I tried to give you some inspiration by pen or should I say keyboard, the interview with George continues to come flat center stage to my mind..

So today, maybe I say it  in a different way. Maybe there is something that you need to hear in my voice #ForReal

This was a five hour interview for the best of what I had to say. Gerorge shaped  the two part interview to give a full understanding of what my life is like living with AIDS... I hope that it is helpful in some way.. I hope that it even helps you to understand my life in someway...

Living With AIDS Part One!

Living With AIDS Part Two!

Friday, August 5, 2011


I get so much love and support from my Facebook and Twitter Family. You are the most praying bunch I know and that's a good thing. Grandmama use to sing a song... I'm so glad they prayed.. I'm so glad they prayed.. I'm so glad they prayed for me. Yes, prayer changes things and I'm grateful for all the support that you show me, but sometimes I wonder, really wonder about you all.

I wonder what's going on in your own life. I wonder if you are praying for me in one breath and turning around making decisions for your life that could put you right in the situation that you're praying for me.

I wonder if somewhere in the back of your mind there is a disconnect from my life to yours. You like me, you admire me, some of you even think I'm awesome how I continue to persevere but yet you have not internalized my message in a way that you have changed your own behavior.

I just wonder, how many of you are living this lie.  I call it a lie, because to support me and my work and to pray for me constantly and yet you have not applied my message to your own life, you are living a lie. How do you truly support something that you don't use? i.e.... You support my work, but not use my message for your own life.

When I was working in politics a long time ago,  I learned to never ask someone to write a check for a political candidate that I was not willing to write myself. It speaks volumes for that which you believe in. That's why I try to the best of my human ability to live the life that I preach. Conviction validates Conviction; And Iron sharpens Iron. You make my life and message stronger by applying it to your own life.

I remember once I met a young girl in the clinic. She was 18 and 8 months pregnant with HIV. She had only known for two weeks that she was infected. In the course of our conversation, she said, "I know who you are. I heard you speak Ms. Thornton when I was a freshman in high school." Then she added, "You were so good! You were the bomb!" I stood frozen, speechless as she added, "I admire you so much. "At that moment if felt like she had stabbed me in the heart. I don't care if you like me or  think that I am a good speaker. What I care most is to NEVER meet you in the AIDS clinic.

So  Im going on record today... I'm challenging all of my supporters to live the message that you support in me. Sit yourself down and assess the thing that is blocking you from living this message. Is there something about your life that you think is different from my life, so therefore you will never live my life?

Well, if so, then you are living in arrogance. Arrangonce that says, there is something about my love, lover and life that exempts me from HIV and even Herpes, when in fact the only thing that truly exempts you is protecting yourself. Remember my message, you don't know half of what you think you know about your partner, and I pray that what you think you know is true.

Think about it.  Is your inability to follow my message a fear of being alone or rejected? Well, remember the message, you are more important then any man or woman can ever me. Self Love comes first and when you start to love yourself, than someone worthy will then love you. The fact is, if your partner don't respect your choice to use a condom, then he/she is not respecting the choices you make about your body and your life. And I think if they don't respect you, then they are not worthy of you. Why give this precious part of you to someone who doesn't respect the fullness of who you are?

I'm saying today that I love and appreciate ALL of your support. Every Tweet, Every Email, Every Facebook,  Every Bracelet sale and Every Donation you make to my blog. When I'm at my lowest it lifts me in ways I cannot even begin to explain. Your Tweets sometimes remind me that God has gifted me, and I have an obligation to keep going. In recent months a bracelet sale and your donation to the blog  goes straight to a bill and keeps me afloat. I thank you all for it all!!

But what I want most from you is to live my message... Live this message that you support and under grid everyday in so many ways. More than anything, I'm asking you to live it! Conviction is everything.. Believing it is one thing... Living it is Everything...

A Bracelet For Every Woman!

Amethyst Gemstones and Sterling Silver
I love crosses! By far they are my favorite pendant. No matter the ensemble you can always find a cross to compliment what you are wearing. The straight lines seemed to create balance no matter how fancy the design or complicated the texture of the cross.

 I collected crosses for many years and after I downsized my life, I sold 90% of the collection. It was a sad moment for me. Out of all the things I parted with, my crosses were the most difficult.

 So a few months back I introduced the Imani Bracelets to RLT Collection. Designing bracelets with crosses is a way for me indulge in one of my favorite past times, shopping for crosses. The combination of searching for crosses and pairing them with gemstones to design the perfect bracelet is a delight!
Jade, Fresh Water Pearls and Angelic Crystal

Now many Christians wear the cross as a symbol of our faith, while others wear the cross simply for fashion, and I'm not mad either way. I have always believed there is a thin line between the sacred and the secular.

Beautiful Agate Cross Paired with Wooden Beads

Consistent with my motto,
A Bracelet for Every Woman, I created a wide range of designs and price ranges. I have searched high and low for the best crosses I can find. Even bead shop owners are keeping their eyes out for me. The cross below was brought back from Paris and I paired it with beautiful White Coral gemstones. 

I hope you stop by my website click HERE and check out the Imani Collection. The Stackable Collection is also beautiful and soon to come are more pearls and special designs bracelets.

Fab Carnelian Cross and Agate Gemstones

Jade Cross and Mother of Pearls Gemstones

Swarovski Crystal/Sterling Cross and Freshwater Pearls
Onyx Cross and Lava Beads

Ok.... Enough Pictures.. Go to the website and check the entire collection out...  www.RLTCollection.com

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