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

Friday, August 31, 2012

Love Who Loves You Back!

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about dating and relationships. Maybe because ummmm I got this man macking hard to me. You know when you first meet a man that shit besssss some kinda good. Good Lawddddd, but how you start is not always how you finish. Those, first days, week and months we seem to be on cloud nine. That person seems to get the best of who we are and we gladly give it; and don't let the sex be good, you may lose your mind.

I know that to be true in my own life. I've been on that vicious cycle more times than I would like to admit; in and out of relationships that suck the fucking life out of me. It's interesting though, what seems to give you life at some point, turns around and suffocates the life out of you. How do you get to that point? Like, how can it be so good, then so bad? All of that seems to be a mystery to me. I can examine every relationship that I've been in and I would have a different answer to every success and every failure.

Love is not monolithic, and truth be told, nor is your life, they both take many paths. Other than chemistry, mutual RESPECT and mutual ADMIRATION, I don't really have the answer for the right ingredients to make a relationship work. Yes, respect and admiration is my starting point. If a man respects you, he will not be outside of your relationship and with admiration, you will always be the only woman in the room. Even when you are not physically in the room, your vibrant spirit will always shine bright in his heart and that will out weigh anything that should cross his path.

 I wish that I had a crystal ball that could tell me the outcome of a relationship, but I don't and with each new person, chance taking becomes king. But what you can determine up front, is how you want to be treated. If you go into a relationship understanding your worth, you will never let a person devalue you. Your values become Queen and that will guide your path no matter which way the road goes. 

Now let me be honest, in the past I have gone into some relationships understanding that I'm a bad bitch, but at some point my greatness took a back seat to the possibility of loneliness. No one wants to be alone and to top that off, no one wants to admit that it just didn't work. 

So we hang onto the madness, hoping and even praying that the goodness will come back. In the process the madness sucks the life out of you, and it feels nothing like his tongue when he was sucking life into you. For Real... For Real...  

How long do we stay in the madness trying to get back the goodness? What do you lose in the process that you can never regain? 

Staying at all cost is a dangerous thing to your spirit. Madness can chip away at the best of you. It can leave cracks that can never be repaired. It has taken me years to get to this understanding and more years to apply it to my life. Just because you know better, don't always mean that you do better. 

You must begin to ask yourself, what kind of life do you really want to have? Where is the epic center of your joy? Does it lie within you, or does it lie with how someone else makes you feel? And when are you honest with yourself that the madness is greater than the goodness?  

I don't have all the answers to these complex questions. Everyone has to live their life to the best of their ability. As for me, I understand that there isn't a dick on the planet that can make me feel better than I already feel about myself. The sparkle in my eyes shines bright and I'm not willing to sacrifice this wonder. 

I understand my value and I know that I cannot be with a person that does not see me as God intended for me to be. I was shaped in His wonderful image, and there is nothing or no one that can ever interfere with God's gift to me. Been there and done that and I don't like how it feels. I want to be in sync with the greatness that God has given me. 

My Bottom Line: Love Who Loves You Back!!! Stop chasing mothafuckers sucking the life out of you. Stop surrendering the best of you to have a part of him.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


We spend a whole lot of time waiting for shit to hit the fan. Yep, and in the interim, we miss so much of life. We inhale and hold our breath and wait. In the inhale, we forsake the living that is in front of us for the living that may affect us.

In honesty, I'm at fault too. I do it all the time. I do it more with my health than anything, waiting on what's next.  I'm starting to think that you steal the joy out of the right now waiting on the maybe so today, I'm Exhaling.... Join Me...

Today's Vlog: Exhale!

RLT Event Recap: The Winner Is....

My Tweet-Up, Book signing Saturday night was a blast! I'm always happy to hang out with the people I meet through Social Media. Honestly, I have met some good people through both of my Facebook pages, Twitter and my Blog.

We ate, laughed, people purchased my book and bracelets, and we tweeted HIV/AIDS information in the swanky Donna's Cafe, in Chicago's South Loop.

 I had some great swag bags and great food. Donna hooked us up and the dessert was courtesy of Patrick's Butter Cookies, Kilwins provided yummy fudge and Ramon DeLeon,  Dominos, Lava Cakes. If you have never had either, you don't know what you are missing, BTW, Patrick's (PGC Lunchroom Cookies are sold in Walgreens Chicago.

Patrick... And Follow him on Twitter. He finally made it @Cookie_Tycoon
 Honestly, the biggest fun was people trying to win the Grand Prize, the use of a GMC/Chevy vehicle for one week.

They were so cute taking pictures of the Terrain and Tweeting them, especially Vau've Jay and Valencia.
Vau'ue Valencia, Me and Jay
I also love  the fact that I work with some great brands, like GMC. They are a brand with an honest reciprocal relationship with Bloggers and their readers.  Read my Blog on GMC/Chevy HERE..
Markeeda  My BFF Looking Fab with Wilbert my walking buddy!
Maureen, The Owner of O'Brien's Sporting RLT Collection Summer 2012!
Chanel Sporting RLT Collection! 
Any who, I'm proud to announce that Valencia won the grand Prize. She is so geeked about her one week use of a GMC/Chevy vehicle. I wouldn't be surprised if she asked for the Terrain because everyone that saw it that night, fell in love with it. I know for me, in that one week, I concluded if I were going to purchase a vehicle the Terrain would be in the number three going.
Cee Cee Holding her raffle Prize from one of my biggest supports of the event  Eden's Fantasy
Ramel holding his raffle prize.. Earrings designed by Samantha owner/designer of Sound Chick Accessories
More Cupcakes made sure everyone walked away with a gift card for a free cupcake! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE More...
You missed a great event, but there will be more!
Valencia looking fab in the Terrain
Raffle Prize and Swag Bag Sponsors.. You can Follow them on Twitter. 

Post Script: You can purchase an autographed copy of my book Here... You can order through Amazon Create Space HERE. Also, RLT Collection is having an End of Season Sale... Great Markdowns plus an extra 10% off, Coupon Code at checkout is Diva Click Here

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Studying, Not Fuckin...

I remember my first semester at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. I thought that I was hot shit! For Real... For Real. By then I had been out of Mama's house for two years. You couldn't tell my ass a shit. I had already been in love, hurt beyond anything I could imagine and I thought I was seasoned.

No one could run a game on me, so I thought. My relationship right before college had lasted 2 years. For sure he was my first love, a bad boy, who was 10 years older than me. Lawd, did I love that man. For sure he started me on the path of bad boys. Good Lawd, there is nothing like a bad boy. They keep shit exciting, but lawd, lawd, when it's bad, it's bad. There is no in between with bad boys and I seem to never learn my lesson. I will pass the nice guy up in a heartbeat for that man that makes my toes curl.  *SMDH*

But my love affair with bad boys is a whole other topic. My first love was a bad boy who taught me the ropes and at 19 I thought that I was one bad ass! That first semester at SIU-C I thought that I was the shit. That first week I met a senior. He was 6'2, the color of dark chocolate with a deep sexy voice, good lawd, he was fine. Our eyes met in that orientation room and it was on.

That week before classes started, I spent every day with him. How lucky could a girl get, so I thought. He was so sweet to me. Each day we would hook-up, he would show me the campus and we would have dinner. Now, I ain't even gonna lie. This was the 80's and pregnancy was all I had to worry about, so I thought. So yes, we did that thang, sure did.

Now let me be honest again, the sex was ok. For sure he was not the man I had grown accustomed to in the last two years. A bad boy in bed he was not, but he would do. I wasn't at school to fuck anyway, I was there to learn. I had decided that I didn't need the lovin to be extra good, cause I just might not get any work done.  But I was still in that phase where I was lookin for someone to love me. Yep, he would do, so I thought. No one wants to be alone and I thought how lucky am I to have found someone that first week.

That first week before classes we were thicker than thieves. Then classes began and I didn't see him every day, but we sure talked at least once a day. Then that second week of school I saw him less and less and talked less. His excuse was always school. One day he said, "Come on baby, give me a break. I have so much work to do. I can't let anything interfere with graduating in January."

It sounded reasonable. It really did. So I got over myself and started to buckle down with my studies. By that fourth week of school, I saw baby boy less and less and less, but he made sure he tapped that thang once a week.  I had already decided that I was over the fuckin anyway, once a week was cool with me, but I did want a boyfriend. Someone I could grow with. Someone who in time would love me and we could then make a life together.

Here I was 19, looking for a lifelong partner, when I should have been trying to develop myself. Use education as a way to uplift me from my circumstance. Mama had put me out my senior year of high school and I've been putting bread on my table ever since. If ever anyone needed an education, I sure did.

Back then I should have been spending my energy on what my future would look like, about me, for me. But instead, I started studying less and worrying about him more and more.

Now let's be for real, there are only so many times that you can call a man and not get a call back without it starting to beat away at your self-worth.

But back in the day, I didn't know any better and I suffered through the no return calls. I had to learn, that there is no point in tracking him down. If he wants to be with you he will.  You will NEVER have to ask, "When am I going to see you?"  If he wants to be with you, there will be NO doubt! He will show up anyway he can.

I had to learn that. It was a rough and long lesson, but I got it!  I don't chase NO men. Bullshit ain't nothing, if you want me, you know where to find me. But back then, I was young and all I really knew was that I didn't want to be alone.

The time spent with him was less and less and less and less and less. But for sure, his non fucking ass made his way over to my dorm to get his once a week fuck and my stupid ass, spread my legs to hold on to a man I didn't even really have. It had become a nasty cycle and I couldn't see an end. I didn't like how it made me feel, but the feeling of being alone made me hold onto nothing.

Then one day it all came crumbling down. I saw him walking on campus holding hands with a girl. I was too embarrassed to confront him right then and there, but for sure we had that show down. He dismissed me with a simple explanation. "She's been my girlfriend for the last three years. Everyone knows we are together, I thought you knew too."

What the fuck could I say? Really, I had accepted whatever he had given. I had learned a hard lesson, that you can't blame someone for how you allow them to treat you.  Looking back, I'm sure that I should have been studying and not fucking. But the books got lost in the desire to be loved.  It took years to learn that self-love, should always be the first love and once you understand your self-worth you will never allow someone chip away at it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Reflection: The Pesky Details...

Lawwwwddd Lawd there's nothing like the newness of a relationship. When the flirting is exciting as shit and he makes every bit of you smile and I mean every bit.

It's an exciting thing when you can let your guards down with a man and can go from God to Sex in a conversation and not miss a beat. It's a good thing when you are mature enough to share your past and the hopes for your future without judgments.

But many people don't let their guards down and share the most important parts of their life or their desires, for fear of rejection. Lawdddd Lawd, who wants to jack up the flow of the newness with the pesky details of condoms, one's last HIV test and their STD history. Like, I bet you know what his favorite position is when he's doing that thang, but do you know how he feels about condoms?

I get asked all the time, how do I tell men that I have AIDS? And quite honestly, most men that approach me already know my status. I mean, I have been on the cover of five magazines and have an Emmy Award for news reports that I did on my life. I have done everyone's TV and radio show that's important to name; so my having AIDS is not hard to miss; but the fact that I have herpes sometimes gets lost in all the other information that's out there about me.

So I know what it's like to interrupt the flow of newness with the pesky details that no one wants to talk about. Those details that might cause judgments that leads to rejection. That's a hard one, for real... for real. But I think the lack of pesky details can in the end be far more costly if you don't fill in the blanks up front.

And I know it's hard. I promise I do. Take this exciting ass man I'm talking to right now. It's really really really new and lawdd he makes my body smile and he ain't even touched me yet.

He already knew that I have AIDS and knows a lot about HIV so we only needed to talk about a few minor details, which really made me happy. He is so cool about my HIV Status and shit he just wanted to know if I knew how to put a condom on with my mouth... LMAOOOO, no but you bet I will learn.

So the flow was great...All day! Then it hit me, the pesky details. I know he reads my blog so my first assumption was that maybe he had read "it" already. The pesky details of my having herpes. But honestly, living in the grey areas of an assumption is being dishonest and it's not honorable.

Week of IV Med's
So with baited breath, I told him that I had herpes. I took a deep breath in and waited to exhale.YESSSS I was nervous, because I like this man. SMDH that I like him a lot. And honestly my ex was nervous more about the herpes than the HIV, go figure. But those who have been following my herpes drama on the blog, know that those IV treatments I have to treat my strain of herpes is a motha... For real...

So I waited for his response. I didn't filll that moment of silence with chatter. I waited... Waited for him to tell me what was acceptable for him with the understanding that each of us have to make the best decisions for their life and body.  At the end of the day, I have to be a woman and accept it.

And honestly if they don't want that one thing to be a part of their life, then you need to move on to someone who wants you in your fullness, your flaws and your greatness.

I waited... but not long, being the man that he is, he didn't miss a beat. He likes me, my flaws and all. *giggles* So, now we are onto getting to know each other better and see where it will all lead. One day at a time.

I was thinking about this today because a lot of you are getting ready to start the school year. You will meet men that excite the fuck out of you.

But then there are the pesky details. The pesky details must not get lost in the excitement. In the 21st century you need more information than his favorite color or what position he likes to fuck. And while the Auntie in me would prefer that you focus on the books and not that man, I understand that is not always reality.

So with that understanding, I want you to deal with the pesky details because that's when you live your best life. That's when you put  you first and self-love first becomes a way of life. The pesky details is you at your best! My bottom line, if a man dosent bring out the best in you, then he dosent deserve you.

You can lose your dignity and self-worth in a relationship that does not allow your value to shine bright. And equally worst, you may be left fighting for your life, for the rest of your life... And there is no man worth your life.

I don't give a fuck how wet you are between your legs or how he makes you feel, if you have not had the honest conversations then you are living in half-truths and your relationship is a lie.

I know in my own life, I don't have time for bullshit. I'm way too old for that.; if he does not add value to my life then I will keep it moving in a heartbeat. If the pesky details can't be an honest part of the discussion then the rest is futile.

I want you to live your best life and any man that you meet, should want you to do so too. No matter how he makes you feel, I promise you that the best feelings are in the pesky details.

Good Luck this Semester! Study hard in those books and not on the dick *Auntie voice*

Post Script: This is the first in my Back To School Series...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Driving The Midwest! YESSS! The Grand Prize!

I remember when I was working heavy in politics back in the 80's you couldn't catch a progressive politician in a foreign car. Even Rev. Jesse L. Jackson drove a Buick. Well, that was the family car and what he rode in back and forth to PUSH and to the airport. Mrs. Jackson drove it mostly.

The Jackson's only had one car and Rev. Jackson would go get a new one every two years and it would always be the same Buick. We cracked up one year when he came home with a different color of the same car. Us young folks would laugh and laugh, thinking he was way old fashion.

Then in 1984, I went on the campaign trail during the Democratic primary and met many of the workers who actually built these cars. I listened to their stories as they told them to Jesse Jackson, then a presidential candidate. I started to understand why Rev. Jackson never diverted from American made cars. Buying one meant that we helped to feed our own. At my core, I understood the importance of Made in the USA, but something happened along my way.

Well, call it buppyism. By the time I was 32, I was driving a BMW, the ultimate in the statement car. And I rationalized it in spite of what I felt was right by saying, "Germans makes the best cars." When asked, I would mumble, "American technology needs to catch up with the rest of the world."

Grandmama had one just like this!
 I know we've all said it at one time or the other, so STOP lying. Then I watched in horror at the possibility that American made cars would be something of the past and then with a sigh of relief our government thought it was worth saving; not just because we have a rich history in the automotive industry, but we also save jobs for thousands of Americans.

Somewhere between one of my BMW's I started to take notice. My last car was a Jaguar the once British, now American made vehicle. But honestly, I never really paid serious attention to GMC/Chevy until recently.

Connie in the all black... BBSumitt
I first started paying attention when I met Connie Burke the Social Media Guru at GMC. I was hanging out at a Tweet-up with my good girlfriend/blogger Dwana.  It wasn't a vehicle I saw that day that got my attention, but a program that I thought was admirable called, Chevy Missions. I really started to pay attention. You know I'm a sucker for a good cause. In the months after, I would see Connie at other Social Media events and get a peek inside of the GMC/Chevy vehicles she had on hand. I was impressed. Then last year, Connie asked me if I would like to have a car for a week. It came right on time. That Buick LaCrosse was wonderful!!  You can read about my Thanksgiving ventures driving a Buick HERE.

So this time, I reached out to Connie. Living on Chicago's Gold Coast, I don't always need a car, but I this Tweet-Up requires one. Cause let me tell you, my first Tweet-up I did 90% of the running around picking up raffles and swag bags items on the bus, walking and taxi. I was not trying to do that this time around.

So I thought I would reach out to Connie. They have another program that I love and I thought this would be a chance to give them some PR. GMC Our Town, Our Heroes is a wonderful program. It allows people to nominate individuals from their community that are making a difference.  The winner gets a vehicle for a week and a $500.00 gift card. Here are the details....

Our Town, Our Heroes information:
  • Our Town, Our Heroes is an Illinois-based program seeking to recognize and reward local heroes making a difference in their community.
  • Each month, we feature nominated finalists and showcase them on DrivingtheMidwest.com for a two-week voting period.
  • The public chooses the winner by voting for the hero they think is the most inspiring.
  • The winning hero, and his or her nominator, wins a one-week loan of an all-new General Motors vehicle. The winning hero also receives a $500 gift card.
  • Nominations are easy – submit a photo and a short description on why your hero inspires you on DrivingtheMidwest.com

Markeeda's Car!
Now that's Cool!! If you know someone who is worthy, Nominate them HERE. I think it's a wonderful thing that GMC/Chevy are giving back to the communities that have helped to make them a house hold name over the years. I know that was true for my family. The only car my grandmother ever owned was a Cadillac and now my BFF Markeeda drives a Cadillac CTS. These types of programs by GMC/Chevy are America at our best; when we not only take notice of our community, but we give back.

You must checkout the Our Town, Our Heroes Program, I know there is someone that you know that is worth the recognition. There are so many unsung heroes, who do the work daily to help enrich the lives of others. I think it's great and GMC thinks so too.

I'm also honored that GMC/Chevy are partnering with me. Y'all know I am a tad provocative on Twitter and in this Blog, but my ministry is meeting people where they are at, right in their heart and gut. I'm always elated when a company does not mind attaching their brand to my work. At the core, there is still so much stigma around HIV/AIDS. When a brand supports my work, they are taking a stand against this stigma.

So let me tell you, I've been driving this wonderful Terrain Truck around all week, picking up the raffle prizes and all the goodies for the swag bags thanks to GMC. But guess what?  You could also win a chance to drive around a GMC/Chevy Vehicle. YESSSS! The grand prize raffle at my Book Signing, Meet/Tweet-Up is a one week free use of a vehicle. You MUST be 21 to enter with an Illinois Driver's license. You MUST be there at the time of the drawing to win!

I have rules to enter and GMC/Chevy have rules to enter

RLT Rules--- All The Links Are Live... You can just click them there.

1. Follow on Twitter @ThisisGMC

2. Follow on Twitter @DrivingMidwest

3. Follow on Twitter @ConnieBurke

3. Follow on Twitter @DonnasCafe

4. Like on Facebook Our Town-Our Heros

5. Like on Facebook Donna's Cafe

5. At The Event you must take pictures and or video of the Terrain that will be parked in front of Donna's Cafe and Tweet, Instgram  Facebook them. We want to know what you like best about the Terrinn AND what you think about them partnering with me/RLTEvent... I want some creativity Lovely's! The Hash Tags #GMCRLT #FightHIVStigma

You can ONLY enter after you have done all the above things the evening of the Tweet-Up and we will look...  Event Details HERE!

GMC/Chevy Rules

1. You Must Be Twenty-One Years of Age.

2. You must have a current Illinois Drivers License

3. You will win a one-week loan of a General Motors vehicle. Please know vehicles are subject to availably

4. You must book your loan within six weeks of the event date August 25, 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Who Stays.. Who Goes...

You know men come and go in our lives, they really really do. Not like in the olden days when a woman met a man and he was her history for most of her life, if not all of her life. That's a time since past. In my generation women looked for love over and above security and a name.

 Love became our savior. Looking for Mr. Right is our main goal in a relationship; but they seem to come and go and come and go. Some of you seasoned women know what I'm talking about. Do you ever stop to think where the heck was that man you thought you couldn't live without at some point in your life?

Let me make a quick detour from my original intent of today's blog.  Given what I know about relationships, I wonder why in each relationship we can't see beyond its success, maybe to its failure. We hope and pray for the best and we bank everything on that, our heart, our mind and our bodies. We give them everything with the hope that we will have everything in the end. But what we give on the front end, doesn't always compare to what we get on the back end.

It's amazing how resilient women are; we take that licking and keep right on ticking. We bounce back and bounce back and bounce back, but I wonder what part of us we lose when the ball goes down before it comes back up? I wonder do we get lost in the looking? Do we ever stop to consider the long term impact of what it does to our spirit?

And what do we do with their families? Until recently, I've never maintained a relationship with an ex's family. Even my ex-husband's family kept it moving. Sometimes I think about all those wonderful Christmas gifts I gave when I was married and rolling in the money from speaking. All the money I spent. Lawddd all the money I spent. I think about all the times I got my frail body up and cooked and took stepchildren shopping.  And when he and I were done, so were those relationships that came with him. Looking back, maybe those relationships had run its course.

On my side, it's been easy, because I don't really have a family and my step-grandmother who raised me never really was a part of my adult life; She did not participate. So there was no one on my side for my ex's to develop a relationship, but on the reverse, I have developed relationships with my ex-boyfriends family's that seem to go right out the door with the relationship. That is some more emotional baggage that we carry at the end of a relationship.

Then came my most recent Ex-guy. We just had so many layers to our relationship, that maintaining it was harder and hurtful than letting it go. So WE let it go, but his mother never let me go. She was honorable enough to say, I developed a relationship with this woman and whatever you all have to do for you do it, but I have to do what's best for me. Now that's a hell of a woman. Yes maintaining a relationship with me has made some people uncomfortable, but she has not missed a beat. Not even from day one when I was hurting beyond belief, she just kept holding on to me.

You know God will bring people in your life that are supposed to stay and God will remove people in your life that you can't remove yourself, but they need to go. Sometimes, we hold on to what should go  and let go what we should keep.  Holding on when we should let go causes us far more pain than if we had let them go. Letting go, is not always a bad thing.

I'm grateful that I'm mature enough  and seasoned enough to recognize who should stay and who should go. When you can recognize this, you live in harmony with God's plan for your life.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday Reflection: Use What You Got!

Lawdddd knows I've been in the blue. Not the bright pretty color that makes you smile but the grey blue that makes you frown; where the possibilities for something better is there but it's overshadowed by shades of grey.

For the last two weeks I've been fighting this demon with all that is within me. I really have. But, no matter which way I turn, I seem to be reminded that life is hard for me, really hard.

I've been taking care of myself since October of my senior year of high school. I came home 15 minutes late for my curfew and Mama told me to go back where I had just come from and she meant that shit.

Having to put food on the table since I was 17 has been no easy task, but I've done it! Like for real.. For real... But lately I seem to never get ahead; not just financially, but also physically. There always seem to be something bogging me down. Something... I feel like I just can't get a break; and some days it's all consuming and the consumption is not healthy emotionally and bad emotional health is not good for my physical health. Then I start to stress more that the stress will land me back on IV medication.

I've got to find a balance in my life. I often seek God for answers and it's funny how God speaks through the least expected at the least expected times.

Like yesterday I was restless, just restless. So I decided that I would bake some cookies. Baking is another place of solitude for me. So I marched into the kitchen to pull all the ingredients together to find nothing that I needed to make any kind of cookies.

This of course created an overwhelming sadness in me. I can't remember a time in my life since those early days when I went into my kitchen and didn't have what I needed to bake. I'm the stock up queen. But for the last 3 1/2 years it's been hard, really hard. There has been very little for extra, the necessity has been basically it. Now don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for what I got because there are some that don't have what I have;But I've not lived this bare in years.

In that moment of realization there became a sadness that swept over me. I started to look through my cabinets. I needed some cook therapy even more so at that moment. To no avail, I couldn't find a thing, so I got back in the bed. Then out of the clear blue, I remembered that I had some unpopped popcorn and went searching on the internet for something that I could make with it.

I found a simple recipe, butter, sugar, water and popcorn and I added some shaved chocolate and it made a delish toffee popcorn.

After I had finished making my toffee popcorn, God spoke to my spirit loud and clear, "My daughter, use what you've got and see me work a wonder."

We spend a lot of time lamenting the things we hope for, but don't have. What about what we do have? God never really leaves us without, no matter how empty it may seem.

I keep talking about this, maybe because I really need to GET it!

It's interesting that I get it when it comes to my work. God calls and God equips! I may not be tracking the country speaking for large speaker fees right now, but I have thousands at my reach, daily through twitter, this blog, Facebook and my YouTube. I do the work that I was called to do in this most modern way, through Social Media.

In spite of my critics, I keep it moving with a gangster shrug. I dare not squander this gift I have. All this knowledge and wisdom that God has blessed me with, I wouldn't dare sit on it just because I don't have an auditorium to deliver it in. To do so would be way too arrogant.  So honestly, the little I do have often goes to making my Social Media better, because this is where I work; where I touch lives, and educate. Sometimes I pay my internet and phone bill before going grocery shopping because I gotta have a place to do the work. Just last week alone, most of what little money I got went  to creating a new face for the website, people may admire the work that I do, but they want to be paid for their services.  BTW.. Thank you again... for every donation and every bracelet sale... I cannot even begin to tell you how much it means to me and it is often ALWAYS on time.

But I gotta get over myself when it comes to my personal life. Get over the fact that you may not always get what you want, but you do get what you need. I must stay steadfast and so must you. When you wake in the morning you are still a part of God's earthly plan, don't squander today because it's not the life you thought you would have on yesterday.

We ALL have to learn to use what we got in ALL areas of our life and watch God turn your little into much!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sophie's Mommie

I always wanted children, well not quite children, a child, a little girl but AIDS took that away from me. It was a hard decision to not have children but I made it. Having such a rocky entrance into this world and an even rockier childhood I had some very clear ideas about how children should be brought into this world. My bottom line; bring children in the world when your circumstance permit. I wasn't really opposed to being a single parent, but if I was struggling to put food on the table, well then my circumstance didn't permit. I've been a one woman show since I was a senior in high school, when I got put out for being 15 minutes late for curfew, 12:15. Mama said, "Go back where you just came from bitch," and I've been putting bread on my table ever since.

So children, single and struggling I didn't think was a bright idea and then when I had a husband, HIV treatment and care wasn't what it is today. There was more of a risk of infecting a child back in the early days; a whopping 30% and that was 30 too many. Now things have changed and it's about a 2% chance that the child will be infected if a woman takes a very specific anti-retroviral treatment in the first trimester. This is why HIV testing for pregnant women is so critical.

So my not having children is a clear and definite effect of having contracted HIV. It's a lost a mourn years ago and filled in other ways. Many don't know but I took in a teenager I met when I first started speaking and helped to raise her with her grandmother. She was a hand full but now grown up, married and raising a child of her own. There were a host of other young ladies met while speaking who were in and out of my house and living with me at periods of time and they are in and out of my life too all grown up and doing their thing.

I'm grateful that my home could be a safe place, it clearly takes a village. But truly my dogs have really filled a void.

Imani in her prime
First was Imani, my first born was loving, attentive but she was playful. So she divided her time between me and her rubber duckie's and balls. Then Imani had a baby Nambi who was often called little Rae. Diva dog for sure. She didn't play, she didn't sit on the floor and she couldn't be bothered with most people other than me and, Toi the young lady I helped to raise.

I had Imani for 12 years and she so taught me how to live outside of myself. She had some kind of lung disease and there would be nights when she and I would sit on the toilet with a hot shower running so she could get the steam. Lawd, watching her die almost killed me. After I put her under I cried for days, weeks and months. There would be days I would be getting ready for a speaking engagement and tears would just start to flow.

Nambi a year before she died.
But I still had Nambi, little Rae as my close friends called her and she was my shadow. If I went there in the house, so did she. She never left my side, NEVER. She was Imani's baby from her one and only litter and she was my constant companion.  Imani played and Nambi layed on the pillow over me.

But when she was 12 years old, like her mother Imani her health started to take a turn. I drove down to the University of Illinois State of the art animal hospital so they could fix my baby girl up, like I had done with her mother, but they told me her time was near and that I should put her under.

I cried all the way home, me her and Sophie. I had gotten Sophie two weeks prior. It had taken me a whopping 3 years to get a new baby after Imani's death.

Sophie at 2 months
We were a sight to see, me tears flowing the entire 2 1/2 ride back home, Sophie full of life and Nambi looking up at me like mommie. "Why did you bring this hyper ass child into our lives in my old age. I can't take it can I please die in peace?"

I got back to Chicago and nursed my baby. I had put one baby to sleep and I didn't think I could do it again. I knew it would kill me too, I just couldn't. It was madness in my bed. Me, Nambi and Sophie. Sophie is bigger than Nambi and she would lay across Nambi and look into her face like, "When we gonna play?" And Nambi would growl through her sickness, "If you don't get off me bitch you better."

I didn't go anywhere for about two weeks. I just couldn't leave my baby and I couldn't put her to sleep. I just couldn't and then slowly she started to bounce back. She was my little miracle. You can read more on her here. It was the second Blog post I ever wrote.

She lived another four years. I had her for 16 years. The vet thinks bringing the puppy into her life made the difference. And it gave me more time. Time to let her go and time for Sophie to steal my heart.

For sure this is Sophie's world and I'm just her mom. Since Nambi's death a tad over two years it's just me and her. She is for sure the queen of this castle. She just waited Nambi out; but for sure she had been waiting to be an only child.

Lawddd this girl since day one has been a handful. When she was 6 months she knocked down my 8 foot Christmas Tree with ALL my $100 ornaments I had been collecting for over 10 years. There's never a dull moment with Sophie NEVER!

Sophie and her friend Jack
She's the happiest baby in the world. She is a little socialite. I call her walks the Sophie Lewis-Thornton Social Hour. She speaks to every person and every dog no matter how big or small.

She has this way of making me LIVE!. Taking me out of myself, out of my shit, my chaos, my mind and my illness. Some days when I'm in this bed stuck in the darkness, she insists that we get up out of this bed and go to the living room and sit on the sofa and look out the picture window.

She has this way; this wonderful way of taking me out of the darkness of this disease.

So it's 7:00 am and I'm up with her. I've been up since 4:00 am. She woke me up, something is wrong. She's whining and clinging and breathing heavy and restless. Most likely it's a belly ache, I pray. But I will only be able to know for sure as the day goes on. But for sure, I'm not thinking about my shit, my nerve pain, my finances, or all the work that needs to be done in the next week before the tweet-up. At this moment, all I can only think about is being Sophie's Mommie..     BTW.. You can follow Sophie on Twitter Here...

Me and Sophie in the Ocean in Turks and Caicos

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