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, November 30, 2011

World AIDS Day Schedule!

Tomorrow December 1st is World AIDS Day and I am on the road. I've been writing for features for other media outlets all day... Sorry I haven't gotten to you! But I had to go with the flow.

This is the time when people who don't traditionally do something on HIV want to. You get me everyday, this day is a day when the issue of HIV and my work is exposed to even more people. I will post all the links on Twitter and Facebook as they are posted on each site!!

I'm speaking tonight Dec 30th at the University of Idaho.

I'm getting up at 3:00am Idaho time to head to the airport.

I will be on the Tom Joyner Morning Show at 7:15am CST With Roland Martin.

Then I get on a plane and travel 6 long hours to Chicago. I will keep you updated on Twitter in between flights...

Me and the Commissioner at my United in HIV Tweet-Up

At 4:30 P.M. CST  I will be on a live stream Twitter chat with the Commissioner of Public Health for the City of Chicago.  Please check out  my Facebook and Twitter for the details...

Then I am going to bed....

I hope that you do something meaningful for World AIDS Day... Even if it is just hugging someone you know with HIV or giving a call and re-commit your time and support...

Much Love!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How Do We Remain Sane In A Mad World!

How does one remain sane when the world around them seems to be going mad? That's what I asked myself this morning as the TSA woman rubbed her hands up my legs to the top of my vagina. Yes, I said my Vagina! Then she went back down my leg and up to my VAGINA yet again and when she reached the top, it was as if she said, "Tag, I got you," And back down my leg again. Each time she came up, I could actually feel her hand right there, un huh, right there.

 By the third time I was insane. She had already patted my ass three times, as well as, my breasts. And Lawd, my crazy self don't know how to follow rules without some adjustments, so I was explaining the entire time how I felt this was a violation of my Constitutional Rights and one day the Supreme Court was going to wake up and do their job. I know the supervisor was tired of me, yes I said supervisor, cause if it had to be done, if someone had to rub their hands up my legs to my VAGINA, then the boss had better get her ass over here and explain it to me.

 But anyway, by the time she started searching me, she was already tired of my crazy Libertarian ass. See, the other TSA worker had just kept me standing, looking stupid with my shoes off and when I asked her what I was waiting for, she got smart.

Now y'all know at 6:00 am in the morning is not the time to get smart with me. Well, no time really but this time I was trying to be patient but she just kept me waiting. And when I asked her when she planned on searching me, she said, "When I get ready." All hell naw, I asked for the supervisor immediately; And when she arrived I explained where the other TSA worker went wrong.

 But then this supervisor had to get another supervisor when I explained I had no intention of walking to this private room to be searched without my shoes on the nasty floor. I mean come on? How much humiliation must one stand for in a day? And I hate to throw AIDS in the pot, but I had to say it. Well, technically I have a disability, not because I say so, but because the Americans With Disability Act says so. I know I don't look or act like it, but I do #ForReal and I told the supervisor like this, "Baby I got AIDS, and with this compromised immune system of mine, I have NO intention of exposing myself to the crap on this nasty ass floor. " Well, she called the other supervisor over and it took him all of 10 seconds to tell me to get my shoes.

This is what the body scan shows
 Yep! The man was no fool! But the female supervisor was stuck with me and the body search. See the body scanner said it couldn't detect something on little old me and this caused the search. I stood there with dignity as the supervisor explained how she was gonna pat my ass, breast and groin... I ain't got no groin I wanted to say, I got a VAGINA!

 Lawd how does one stay sane when the world seems to have gone mad? I was so discombobulated when she was done, I went straight to the Starbucks line for some tea, and I could have used some vodka in my tea and I don't even drink. Then I stopped and got a bag of chocolate covered peanuts and almonds because one was not going to be enough for me to recover from this madness.

As soon as I got to the gate I called my BFF to explain and tell her how humiliated I was and yes I tweeted this madness.

 But now sitting on the plane, I wonder how the supervisor felt as she had to rub her hands up my legs to my VAGINA; Not one, but three times; On top of that, listen to my mouth. Lawd Lawd,  did she think I was as crazy as I believe these rules to be?

But I ask a larger question, how does one accept a job that requires them to assault and insult another person? And yes she was good and brain washed, especially the young sista who stood and watched. I know people gotta live. I get it and someone has got to do it. If not her, then who? I get it. But how does one stay sane in this madness? Yes, I get 9/11 too, I do. But I heard it said in a more dramatic way, "Do I deserve to live when I become the monster I'm trying to fight?" 

And my question is simple, has the Patriot Act become the very same monster it's trying to kill? At the very core of our Constitution is Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. In this modern age, do these laws violate the very essence, the spirit of who we say we are?

 And with that said, does it deserve to live? And if it does not die, how much does it erode our system? And then, what distinguishes us from the three headed monster we are trying to fight?

 Now I could name a whole lot of other things that make us look more like the monster, but I'm not going to have that philosophical fight, today my fight is with the TSA worker patting me down like she was taking me to jail, where there are NO rights. In the meantime, until America regains itself, how do we remain sane in a mad world?

 As for me,  I  will continue to stand for what is true and right and do it with grace and dignity!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gratitude Sunday!

Gratitude Sunday! Today is our very first Gratitude Sunday.  Remember on Monday I asked you to participate with me in Gratitude Sundays. (Read Last Weeks Blog Here) All  you were supposed to do is buy a new journal and send me a picture of it, tweet, facebook or e-mail it to me, which ever way makes you happy.  I asked for a new journal to start fresh, leaving yesterday's baggage with yesterday. Get a notebook if you can't afford a fancy journal.  A picture of your journal will go into our Gratitude Album on my Facebook Fan Page.

Now each night, at the close of your day, you are to get a cup of  soothing tea and reflect on your day.  Take this time to shed off the hectic day.  In the midst of all of your "busyness" there was something to be thankful for; Some small thing, no matter how simple it may seem. 

Sometimes we get so caught up in the day that it takes a life and spirit of its own and it dictates what you do, or don't do, and even how we respond to people both good and bad. 

What you do at work,  or at school, what someone said to you or did to you, what didn't happen the way you wanted it to, and what you didn't do; It all takes a life of its own and sometimes it shapes your day.

 I know that to be true in my own life. When I was working on the Trunk Show  for RLT Collection I was so focused. Each night when my BFF Luke would call he would get brushed off. 

 All these things take on a life and they become the end all of your day, which can carry over into your next day. So I want to help you to change this, make the ending of your day that which is good. For even in bad there is some good.  My life of pain has evolved into a life of ministry with wisdom beyond my years.

So reflect on your day, and jot down the good.  And as you are reflecting, if your mind goes back to a week, or a month or whenever  you get that Aha moment of gratitude that's OK too. Sometimes it takes time to see the goodness in a situation.  Now by Saturday no later than 6PM of each week send me one thing from your journal that you would like to share with all of us. It's your decision what you send and please indicate to me if I should use your name.  

This is my new journal and five things I'm grateful for, just to get us started... But all I need from you is one thing you really want to share with the rest of us.

1. Reflecting, I'm grateful that  Luke didn't stop calling even though I didn't give him any of me during that entire time of the RLT Collection Trunk Show.

 2. I'm grateful for the Trunk Show experience because I'm working on getting more balance in my own life. Sunday's are Sabbath days for me now. 

3. I'm grateful for my first Black Friday experience thanks to Markeeda my other BFF, who insisted that we go.  We learn so much from new experiences and I got some cute ankle boots.

4. I'm grateful to be a part of the Chevy/Buick  marketing program to test drive their cars. Having the Buick LaCrosse this week was an absolute blessing, especially on Black Friday. #RLTRides

5.  I'm grateful for all RLT Collection customers on Black Friday because it replenished my funds. 

 I'm most thankful for my job & living life too the fullest .
Next Week I hope that you will tell us what you are grateful for. Until then, Love the skin you're in...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thankgiving! Black Friday Too!

Just dropping in to say Happy Thanksgiving from me and Sophie! I pray that your day has been good. I'm so thankful for all of you who come to my blog, follow me on Twitter and Like my Facebook Fan Page...  And of course all who purchase my bracelets. Your support means the world to me. I cannot do it Alone!

And YES! I'm giving a little extra!  BLACK FRIDAY!!  RLT Collection will be 20% off from 12 midnight until 5 A.M. The coupon code for this special Sale is Sophie http://www.rltcollection.com

After 5 am the collection will go back to 15% off until mid December!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tea With Rae: Pure Happiness!

I simply love peppermint tea; And honesty I have a favorite already, Mint Medley, it's a perfect blend of peppermint and spearmint tea. I wasn't sure if another peppermint tea would meet the cut.

So when Tea Gschwender sent me a sample of  Pure Happiness it took me forever to brew it up. *Confession* Now don't get me wrong, I also love Tea Gschwender, it was the first loose tea that I purchased on my own. So I had no real reason to doubt the quality of this tea, I was just wondering if the blend would meet the cut.

So I finally gave it a try and boy was I surprised. I discovered that you can really do a lot with peppermint. Pure Happiness is a wonderful blend of Lemon balm leaves, applemint, peppermint leaves, marigold blossoms, blue mallow blossoms, cornflowers and English daisies.

As I am on this tea journey, I'm learning so much about teas. Blended teas can give you so many options. Its like when I mix my lip sticks and come out with something brand new and exciting. What I love most about this tea is the refreshing taste. While I can taste the peppermint, I understand that the combination in the blend is what makes it great.

Yes, this tea is a winner! It's a mild minty flavor that gives you a blissful boost. It's an herbal tea, which means no caffeine. As you approach the winter months with colds, the flu and scratchy throats, peppermint tea is a soothing remedy.  Both of these teas can be purchased on line, just click on the tea name to get to the website link. Happy Cuppa!

Post Script: Don't forget your fablous Tea Balls  to brew your loose tea; Designed by yours truly. They are 15% off, as is the entire RLT Collection. The Coupon Code at check out is blackfriday2011 http://www.rltcollection.com

Arm Candy For Little Girls!

I remember when I was a little girl I loved pretty things. My eyes would light up with color and glitter. But I didn't grow up in the kind of house where I could play dress up, but I sure imagined those pretty things for myself.

With this thought in mind I sat down in one evening and created some wonderful bracelet designs for little girls.

I think they are just too cute! And the second best thing is that I tried to keep the price as low as I could. I understand that times are hard out here; But I wanted the little Diva in your life to have some arm candy too.
And YES, I use the same quality gemstones and beads to make the little girls bracelet that I do to make the adult bracelets. The bracelets will be sized for your little Diva. They are priced and sized specifically for Little Girls ONLY... 

Wood Beads and Multi-Color Fireball Center
Take a look at the full collection HERE. And yes they are also 15% off. The Coupon Code at check out is  blackfriday2011  I'm keeping them on sale until mid-December!   The Website is for RLT Collection is http://www.rltcollection.com You can see all of my designs here.

Carved Bone and Ceramic Center

Freshwater Pearls

Sterling Silver Cross and Mother of Pearls Gemstones

Rainbow Wood Beads Set!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Reflection: With Gratitude...

I woke up to this mess! Ugh, my toilet was running over and I grabbed all the towels I could. The water was an inch deep and it was a total mess; What a way to start the beginning of the week. Ugh!!!

 It's funny though, right before I got up, I was in bed cuddling with Sophie, Tweeting and talking to my girlfriend Markeeda all at the same time; And all seemed right with the world.  But in a matter of minutes, I was facing chaos. While stepping in ice cold water I was thinking, "What in the world?"

It's interesting how one thing can change everything. This morning it was the toilet running over, last week it was the reality that my chance to get out of this financial crisis I'm in had slipped right out the window and it caused me to have a complete and total melt down.

But just like that instant changes everything for the bad, it can also change things for the good. And while you are deep in the bad, underneath there is always good. I mean, while you are facing some stuff that throws you for a loop no matter how big or small, simultaneously, there is always good; Something to be grateful for even while in the chaos.

And no I'm not talking about the obvious, like living. Personally, while living is a good thing, I hate when people throw that one in my face. I could be sick as shit, and while it's true, telling me that I could be dead don't take away the pain I'm feeling at that moment and it sure doesn't change a damn thing about my crisis nor make be feel all giddy inside.

Instead, I'm talking about the things we take for granted, some big and some small.  For example, It's no secret that I have no biological family and spend many holidays at home alone. Last Thanksgiving my BFF Luke came to Chicago and spent it with me. This year my other BFF Markeeda is coming to hang out with me.  See, it's little stuff like that we take for granted.

Then honestly, one of the comments in last weeks Monday Reflection humbled my tail and made me think about gratitude in a way I had never before. One of my Twitter followers talked about being homeless, but never giving up, even though she had to send her child to live in another place.

Now I've never  been one to measure people's pain. Don't get  me wrong. One person's mountain is another person's valley. You never know what people can withstand or not. Like getting my ass kicked by my mother and raped by the men in my family helped to shape this super women, over achiever  person that I am. While for others, it sent them straight to drug use. Don't mean that this kind of abuse didn't hurt all of us, just means we coped differently.

But for me, that one comment knocked my tail straight down to the gut and made me stop and think about gratitude differently.  Yes, I'm in debt and can't seem to crawl out from under it to save my life. But I have a home. A place that I can call my own.

And while every bill I have under the sun in past due, my rent is paid. And speaking of the sun, I can feel it on my face;That's a blessing too.  And yes my cell phone was disconnected today *sigh* and it drained my bank account to get it turned back on, but Thank God I had that.  Can't get stuck on what you don't have, instead be grateful for what you do.

No, I'm not suggesting denial either. We must face our issues head on, but also understand they aren't everything that's going on it our life, even if it seems like it at that moment in time.

Like this, I have Sophie, who wakes every morning and goes to bed everyday giving mommie kisses.

And yes I had to give my car up  two years ago because I could no longer afford it, but at least this week I will be test driving a Buick LaCrosse and blogging about it. So Markeeda and I won't have to push cart the Thanksgiving groceries home.

(You can follow me and this LaCrosse on Twitter with the hash tag #RLTDrives) I'm soooo excited to be off the bus!

See, there is a lot to be grateful for. I'm even grateful for all of you who religiously read my blog and share it with others. By doing so, you will make me one day marketable for sponsors. So please keep coming back. But I recognize that there are some blogs that don't see the volume in 2 years that I get in a month. And I can go on and on about the things I can be grateful for that I never really think about daily. The small things that are over looked.

Oprah had a great idea once, a Gratitude Journal. So how bout we all give it a try. Get a NEW Journal. Make it pretty, #AlwaysaDiva and at the close of each day,  get a cup of tea and take some time to reflect on the day. Use this as a time of peacefulness. A moment to reflect on that which is good in your life.

 1. Write those things in your Journal!   It doesn't have to be in detail, it could just be short sentences. I say that, because everyone isn't big on journalling, Im not; But I'm going to give it a try.

2. Send me pictures of your journal.  You can E-mail, Tweet or Facebook a picture of your journal for me to share. Tell me briefly why you chose this particular one. I will also make a Facebook album of our journals. How cute is that!

 I will be picking one up today and Tweeting and Facebook it to you..

3. Send me some of your journal entry's. I will make Sunday Gratitude Day on my Blog and share with my readers what you are most grateful for.  

Now I don't need your entire journal, just pick something weekly what you would like to share with me and others. And let me know if I should use your name or notThey should be e-mailed to me no later than 8pm on Saturday evenings. 

You can e-mail your entries to me at rae@raelewisthornton.com  You can e-mail, Tweet or Facebook a picture of your journal to me. I will be picking one up today and tweeting and Facebook it to you.. I start Gratitude  Sunday this week!

I'm excited. We start today!!  So go pick yourself up a journal. Hey if you can't afford one, a notebook will do just fine. The first entries will be on this Sunday!

PostScript: Black Friday has begun! All RLT Collection is 15% off.  Even my beautiful Tea Balls are on sale. The coupon code at checkout is Blackfriday2011 http://www.rltcollection.com Happy Shopping. My collection will make a wonderful gift!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Small Pleasures: The Chicago Festival of Lights!

I love Chicago! There is never a shortage of things for people to do from shopping, to good eating, to festivals. The summer is a blast; There are always free concerts and festivals. But once the cold comes around, outdoor events are hard to come by. Many winter days I sit in my Gold Coast apartment and people watch, and other times, I simply winter watch. But one of my all time favorite winter events is the Chicago Lights Festival.  This year was the 20th anniversary of the festival, which is sponsored by Harris Bank.

Now I have to be honest, I love this festival but this Diva doesn't do crowds, so I have found myself the perfect view, the wonderful four-star restaurant Spiaggia on the Mag Mile.

No, I don't have dinner. Remember, I'm a Diva on a budget. I sit in the bar area and have an appetizer, tea and dessert, while watching the festival from their Oak Street view; Which is where the parade begins.

So yesterday at dusk, I shut my 6 day work week down and made my way to the Mag Mile. This is my fourth year attending and it is always wonderful! Sitting in Spiaggia and watching the parade is one of my small pleasures. Living with AIDS, on the one hand, and giving so much of myself to the public on the other hand, I need these moments that belong to me. 

The parade was wonderful! The Disney characters are always a delight. My favorite was Daffy and Donald, although Mickey and Minnie were the grand marshals. It seems though, Kermit got the largest applause. The service at Spiaggia's is superb and the food is unbelievable. I had a risotto appetizer that I paired with a wonderful French Reserve Rooibos tea. For dessert I had a chocolate lovers delight, a warm flour-less cake in a dark chocolate sauce.

You talking about heaven, yes it was. For the foodie and tea lover that I am, it couldn't  have been a better night. The only thing that made me want to be in the crowd was the Garret Popcorn float passing by with their wonderful popcorn.

It was a wonderful evening.  If you  live in the Chicago area and have never attended the festival, put it on your calendar for next year. If you have kids, bundle them up and make your way to the Mag Mile next year, it's a must!

And let's not forget, Spiagga. If you ever have the occasion for a wonderful meal, you will not be disappointed. But ummm, bring $$$$ it's pricey and fit for a Diva; And men, I believe a jacket is a must! Oh, let me not forget, Spiaggia also have a Cafe and it's open for lunch and half the price as the restaurant. I've eaten there a few times and it's just as great!

 The bottom line, everyone needs something to make them smile. The Chicago Festival of Lights and Spiaggia is one of my small pleasures!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sometimes I Wanta HOLLER!

Everyone has a purpose this I know to be true. I laid it out in Monday's Reflection. But Sometimes I just wanta HOLLER!! I wanta Holler at the world, Don't You SEE what I SEE?  The goodness in my work and purpose? Then I wanta HOLLER at myself, Black Woman have you lost your freaking mind getting yourself out here on limb and now you have to man up or sit the hell down. And then yes I even wanta HOLLER at the Lord; Why is this shit so hard? And don't act like you all prim and proper. Sometimes the Lord drives you just as crazy as that man you once thought you loved.

Like For Real!  Why does everything seem to be hard? I mean EVERYTHING! God told Jeremiah, that He had planned Jeremiah's life while he was still in his mother's womb. That's some heavy shit. For Real! Yeah I said it!  Heavy to think that God has planned your life while yet in your mother's womb. But  sometimes you want to ask, "Did you plan the hard stuff too?" Think about it, just about everybody in the Bible that God Planned, also had a rough time getting there.

So one of my readers asked in the comment section on Monday, "How do you keep going when the present doesn't." It's a hard, but yet simple answer, you just do. Now I know some of you are saying she's on some bull, look at her fame and look at mine. "Just do," Is easy for her to say. But honestly, I'm being for real. Last night I sat at my counter and cried; And had a why me party. WHY DOES EVERYTHING HAVE TO BE HARD?

But looking back, it was HARD from the very beginning. Let me back track from Monday's Blog,  I quit that well paying job and at first things were great!  I was all smiling; Look at God blessing me out of my obedience. That's what I said.  I became one of the hottest speakers on AIDS in Chicago high schools. Other Activists would come up to me and ask, "How did you get them to let you speak, I've been trying to get in that school for the last 3 years?"

 I was on fire! I could see God moving! Yes, I could! Then within 6 months I met Susan Taylor, the editor and chief of Essence Magazine and she asked me to be on the cover. Magazine preparation is months ahead of time, so I took the photo shoot in June for the December issue. That summer, I spent resting up for what I thought would be my fall speaking season, but September came and no one called. NO ONE called.

That fall my ex-husband lost his job and money was tight. December came and I hadn't had a speaking engagement since last May before the summer school break. Essence hit the news stands and I became the most talked about Black Woman in my community.

And that December, I couldn't afford to pay my rent. Yep, I was being talked about nation wide. Essence sold so many magazines that December, it became one of their highest December sellers and I could NOT pay my rent! The housing assistant program  for people with AIDS paid our rent and I got a thank you letter from Essence with a picture in a frame.

Press is FREE. Every magazine article, newspaper article and every TV interview is FREE. You do them so that the issue can get more visibility.  So for me, paid gigs seem to come in cycles that I've never quite understood. And that's how it is and has been for me since the very beginning. I think it has something to do with you, God, and the world all as actors in your life.

God has a plan, but so does man and sometimes we get in God's way and He has to take a longer route to get us to that destination. And then sometimes, man jumps all in God's business and then God must first undo the mess or reroute you in order to get you back on track. Freewill is deep. And While God Plans, so does man and they sometimes collide. Of course God is the best planer, but man makes things  messy. The economy for example, has affected me these days. And of course the fact that AIDS is no longer a sexy topic. I could go on with different examples, I hope you get the point.

But then God never said it would be easy. This name it and claim  Prosperity in Christianity is theologically unsound and flawed. Everyone in the Bible from Genesis to Jesus had it hard. And God had expectations of everyone from Abraham to Paul.  The Prayer of Jabez is often quoted as a guide for prosperity (1Chorn 4:9)  But we fail to see that the overall importance of this Biblical text is to show the lineage of Judah  and God as an actor in this lineage.

Secondly, there are no easy rides, even Jabez was born in sorrow and pain. Lastly, the prayer is more about being in relationship with God, than remembering and reciting a prayer. God wants you to pray your prayer. But they have set us up to believe, if we pray Jabez's prayer that God will bless us just like Jabez, when in fact God's blessing for Jabez was his, as is yours, is for you. The territory that God blessed Jabez with wasn't just about land, but about his lineage.

Ok, what am I saying, don't get it twisted. Life is hard and even carrying out God's purpose for your life will have challenges. When I worked for Rev. Jesse Jackson presidential campaigns, reporters would ask him, "Do you think a Black Man Can Win?" Rev. Jackson's answer was simple. "If I don't run I'm guaranteed to lose. POW!! You have to step out there on faith and do the work. Sitting at home debating to do it, will get you nothing.

The bottom line,  life requires of us to do something. Nothing is free, nothing. And God's call on your life is just that. God does not say, if you do my will you will get a certain reward. That's your shit. God calls you to do the work. Paul did it, as a man depending on others for his livelihood, with a physical illness that debilitated him at times.

Paul never stopped, not even in prison. His most profound and important theological writings were in  prison. Martin Luther King, Jr., most prolific writing, Letter From A Birmingham Jail was while in prison. Jesus' most profound lessons were while on the cross dying. His last words have been the most preached of all He did or said.

I hope this helps. God knows, it's helped me today. I'm crying as I  come to a close. I've struggle so much financially these last 4 years. The last 3 have been the worst.  But even though speaking engagements dried up, I continued to do the work. Through Social Media I have touched thousands. The e-mails, the tweets and facebook messages I get tell me so.

I didn't stop doing the work because people stopped inviting me to speak, I just found a new way to do it. It has not paid me one dime, but I continue to plug away.  I know bloggers who have advertisers on their blog and the content is like Huh?

But I can't get stuck hating their blessing, I just gotta keep doing the work; Blessing people through my blog because it's another way that God allows me to minister.  And honestly is free, the only thing it costs me is time. I got that right?

But sometimes, my spirit takes a hit. As my fall speaking season closes I have taken a hard hit. I had the possibility of five speaking engagements for World AIDS Day week and only one came through. All looked great and in the end, something fell through on their end with funding.  So yesterday when the University of Alabama cancelled just two weeks away, I thought I was going to lose it.  I needed it to get out of this hole, shoot I really needed all five to get out of this hole. I've invested EVERY extra dime I had in my new bracelet collection. The trunk show was great, I mean I was able to prove to myself, if no one else that I'm capable of producing a full line of bracelets. But it rained at the same time, so while friends came to support me, I was short on sales.

I keep asking will it ever get easy? I work 10-12 hours a day, just about everyday of the week.  For Real! Tweeting, writing my blogs, which takes time, making bracelets, taking pictures of the bracelets and then putting them on the website. I mean I'm the poster child for - one woman show over achiever.

 I work so freaking hard, but it seems like I can't get out of this hole I'm in financially. In these last 3 years I've sold over half of my clothes, hand bags, shoes, jewelry. I downsized my life, For Real!

 I've thought of every idea that I can to make my brand the best. And I think I've done a great job, so why won't people invest in my brand?

Lord, I say what more does a sista have to do? I mean Magic is a millionaire already and pharmaceutical companies continue to give him contracts.  Great for him, but I think I have the same value.  I know my bracelets are fab, but what will it take to become a success.

 But in the end, every wonderful e-mail I get that say's I've touched them; I've prepared them in someway for something, is worth the hard work.

When someone tweets me a picture of them wearing one of my bracelets at that moment, I'm grateful for the people who do, rather than focus on the people who don't wear them. Thank you!!

When one of my Followers on Twitter makes their profile picture of me and them, I'm so honored that they are saying in a very public way, my work matters. And with these things in mind. I just do! I keep doing the work. 

So to my wonderful Andrea who asked, How Do You Keep Going When the Present Doesn't, I say, you Just Do. That is all God asks of us. Moses walked in circles for 40 years, but it all had a purpose. I cannot promise that you will become a millionaire. I don't know why some do and some don't. But I can say that if you just continue to do, lives will be touched. And in the end, your reward she be in knowing that you helped somebody; That you were a drum major for life.

So my prayer today is that God will help me and you to get to that place of contentment like the Apostle Paul, He says, "I've learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want, I can do all things through Him who gives me strength." (Phil 4:12-13. And with that Strength, Paul continued to do the work. Just Do!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Black Friday: RLT Collection!

Forget the hassle, the pushing, the looking for a place to park. With RLT Collection you can shop in the comfort of your home. Yep! RLT Collection is joining the Black Friday discount that merchants give nationwide. All RLT Collection Bracelets, Tea Balls and HIV/AIDS Awareness Book Marks are 15% off. Even the New Diva AIDS Awareness Bracelet is 15% off.

There are over 300 bracelet designs from the combined RLT Collection. Holiday 2011, Fall/Winter 2011, Cruise 2012, Pearls, Imani, Little Diva and Unisex. There are bracelets for everyone!  And the good news RLT Collection sale starts TODAY November 17th and goes until December 1st World AIDS Day! 

I'm wearing Fall/Winter 2011
I hope that you drop in on RLT Collection. My bracelets are wonderful and they make great gifts. The Coupon Code at Check Out is BlackFriday2011  http://www.rltcollection.com

Post Script: I will be shipping within 48 hours of each placed order! I hope that you will help RLT Collection grow and at the same time help me to achieve my goal to make RLT Collection a house hold name. Happy Shopping! Thank you for your support!! #IcannotdoitAlone

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