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

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

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

RLT Collection Tea Ball Frosted Clear Beads!

Mint Medley by The Persimmon Tree Tea Company

About This Tea:

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

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

RLT Collection AIDS Awareness Tea Ball!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Shaming Around HIV/AIDS is a MOTHERFUCKER!

I'm taking a break from work over the Holiday, but I felt in my spirit that I needed to address this before the year is out! The month of January on this blog will be about being your best you! So I needed to say this now because some shit I just don't want to take with me into 2013!

I am so bothered by the stigma and shaming around HIV/AIDS! It is an absolute MOTHERFUCKER! It is crazy that in 2013 someone can spread rumors and use the POSSIBILITY of someone having HIV/AIDS against them. It speaks loud and clear toward the attitudes that people have not only about this disease, but the people who have it. And I'm going on record, I will stomp that shit out every time it comes to me.

It came to me on yesterday A male friend who I have become friendly with, "talking," to, whatever you want to call it, told me that a family member of there's is spreading the rumor that he has HIV and that's the reason he wants to be with me.

Now this person is spreading this rumor to hurt both of us I'm sad to say. Now, I don't much really care because what I know for sure, whatsoever a person sows that shall they also reap. But I'm not so super saved that I can't see a situation or a person for what they are. A narcissistic, sociopath is just that and they spend most of their life trying as best as they can to wreck havoc over a persons life that they cannot control! That's a fact! I'm NOT CONTROLLABLE another FACT! 

So in this blog post, I'm not focused on that issue or that person. I'm just going to put her ass in a box and throw some Holy Oil her way and say a Prayer. When someone shows you who they are, you better believe that shit, or you deserve whatever they bring your way.

What I really want to unpack is this. Yes, on one level it's some wild, mean and crazy shit that a person would try to destroy another person by saying that they have AIDS, when in fact they do not. But it's an entirely other issue when a person can actually use that against someone. It says something about the person who is listening to the gossip. It speaks to small minds. The fact that HIV/ADS can be used against someone speaks to how people feel about HIV and the people who have it.

Now, If someone told me that a family member or someone I knew close to me had AIDS. First off, I would stop them in their messy shit right there! Especially if they bring it to me wrap around bullshit. Bullshit is what it is, and when you participate you stink up your life too.  For example, recently, I was talking to a mentee about this guy that was trying to,"talk" to her and as soon as she added the business of another woman in the equation, I STOPPED her. I said," I don't want to hear that shit, it's none of my business or yours."

Secondly, that's not your information to tell!  How dare you?

And how the fuck do you know? Have you seen an HIV test result? Have you been spying on them when and with whom they fuck? Are you assuming it because they like someone with HIV?

Or are you mad because the infected person don't want to fuck you? It's like the boy in high school that spreads the rumor that a girl is a whore, because she won't give them the time of day.

Thirdly, lets take it to the next level, I would say, so fuckin what? Why are you telling me this; so that WE can help them or is this information sharing to create messy shit? And why would you create messy shit for someone you claim that you love?

And why do YOU believe them? Because they are smart and nice? Well, all sociopaths are. Ted Bundy was a raising star in the Republican Party and was killing women for fun. That's what they do, live, excellent, high functioning lives, but try to control everything and everyone around them. Sometimes with gifts, other times with their mouth and quiet charm. Everything they do is about control, everything is about them, even when they are trying to say it's about you, every word out their mouth is for them. You can't see pass narcissistic, charm, but you can EXAMINE YOUR damn self!  

You need to check yourself! Why is this information juicy to me? What am I going to do with it and why?

The only conversation I MIGHT have  depending on how they bring it to me, is how are we going to help them? How are we going to support them and make life better for them? Not use it as a tool against them to keep shit going.

A person can only use HIV/AIDS against someone, if YOU feel a certain way about HIV and people with HIV. If you see HIV as ugly, rather than a health issue that needs support, then the information becomes  one of accusatory... Accusation....

The fact of the matter, accusatory and accusation mode is some uneducated, antiquated shit. We are 33 years into the AIDS pandemic. There have been so many medical advances around HIV/AIDS. There is so much knowledge, too much, for someone to still be operating in the ugly with HIV. Get the hell out of is a time capsule and advance your thinking with technology.

ME! See Fine!
A family member asked my friend would they actually have sex with me? And he said yes because he has EDUCATED himself on HIV/AIDS.

He knows that a latex condom used 100% of the time correctly prevents the spread of HIV.

Yes, because the chance is about 3% that an HIV infected person who takes their medication and who have a non-detectable viral load, (ALL of which I have) would infect that person, EVEN IF we DON'T use condoms.

Yes, because a non-infected person can actually take the newly approved Truvada and it would give even extra assurance of preventing a person from contracting HIV.

Me! See Fine!
Yes, because I'm an educated, beautiful, compassionate, loving, woman who loves God! Yes, because he does not live in the spirit of discrimination and judgment but God's love. 

Yes, because I have done more with my life these 30 years with HIV then some people without HIV.

Yes because I have 27 years of education, gifted, anointed, smart, with a wonderful spirit and fine ass shit.. Just look at my pictures if you are confused on that fact! With AIDS, I'm still a BAD BITCH! Don't be confused! Nor am I ashamed of who I am, what I have, or how I use my life to help others.

The shaming around HIV/AIDS is mad! The fact is, we are a few days from 2013, this is NOT 1994 when I first got married and people believed and gossiped that my ex-husband must have HIV because he married me. He did not have HIV and to assume that I should not be loved because I have HIV is some cold hearted shit or to assume that the only person who would want me is someone with HIV is some narrow minded shit.

NO make-up and still Fine!
SHAMING around HIV/AIDS is mad! This kind of narrow minded was also a fact,  interestingly, when I divorced my ex-husband 15 years ago. Women wanted to know why would I leave a man who was willing to marry me with AIDS, as to say, "You know you ain't gonna get anyone else."

Why?  Because his ass was cheating; because his ass had stop speaking and was spending MY money on women; because he wanted to push! My mama beat my ass ain't no man gonna do it! Simply stated, I am NEVER going to let HIV run my life to the extent that I make unhealthy choices for myself. AIDS had not killed me, I wasn't going to let my ex-husband kill me either. So I divorced him.

But don't be confused, finding a sexual partner has been the least of my problem. Men are willing to fuck me! I have even had men with girlfriends and wives want to fuck. Yep, finding someone to fuck me is the least of my problems. My problem is that single men don't want anyone to know they fucking me because of what YOU may think of them for wanting to be with me.  SHAMING around HIV/AIDS is mad! I actually honor my friend that sees me for  the wonderful woman that I am, and is NOT ashamed of me nor afraid of me because they live in an educated understanding of HIV/AIDS.

And be CLEAR I decided about 10 years ago, if you can't walk with me in the park in the delight, you can't have no pussy in the dark! So if their was some shame, he would not have gotten pass the second conversation with me.

 I LOVE me more than having a man in my life at any cost! Bullshit ain't nothing.

This stigma and shaming around HIV has got to STOP! The fact that someone can even use HIV/AIDS as fuel against someone 33 years into this pandemic shows how far we have got to go! How do we call ourselves Christians and listen to gossip and then repeat that shit like you know it to be true. And then bring that madness to the person like the person who told you got some inside scoop on who they fuck and when. Child PLEASEEEEE

And for those who actually do have family and friends living with HIV/AIDS, why are you talking to everyone else about it but the person living with it? People need to get it together!  STOP the SHAMING! 

This Isolation has got to STOP! 
Stigma and shaming around HIV/AIDS is mad business and it creates an environment that keep BLACK folks with 52% of the HIV cases in the US and we are 12% of the population. It puts us in a position where we 

1) Don't get tested because of how we treat people living with HIV. Who would want to know their HIV status in a world where someone can use it against them?

2) We don't disclose our HIV status when we do know and that isolation leads to depression which leads to even more unhealthy behavior and or not taking care of themselves.

3) Because we don't get tested, we infect others. 38% of all new cases are people infected by people who did not know that they had HIV.

4) We don't get treated until we have already developed AIDS because we never got tested. Which means you can't benefit from early treatment and care. Fact; The earlier you know the longer you live!

5) And those who do know they are infected don't take there medication regularly and seek medication treatment because they don't want people seeing them take their medication or going into an AIDS clinic for why YOU may think of them!

Stigma and Shaming around HIV/AIDS has got to STOP! We are killing each other with our fucking mouths!!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dejango Off The Chain! Movie Review!

Dejango Unchained was off the chain! OMG! It had good guys, villains, a damsel in distress, action and even some historical moments. I'm still trying to figure out the controversy around the movie. As an action movie, it was off the chain; a European and a slave teaming as Bounty Hunters, brilliant! There was NEVER a dual moment! As a historian, I loved the authenticity of the era.

1858 was the height of slavery, an Institution matured and perfected by time and practice. It was a way of life and the relationship of the slave and slave owner was complicated and complex at best. For sure this was great fiction story telling at its best with some intense and funny historical moments.

So how do I review this movie without giving away the full plot? Hummm, so in a nut shell Jamie Foxx is a slave, rescued to help a bounty hunter find three criminals that he can identify  (former slave overseers at his former plantation) When I tell you he was magnificent, I mean it. I fell in love with Jamie and started following him on a twitter and I follow almost no stars. LOL

For sure Jamie was a slave with the spirit of free man, as was he wife Bloomhilder, portrayed by Kerri Washington! She didn't have a lot of speaking parts, but every move she made was significant for her role as slave woman sold away from her man. This was a great historical truth! On many plantations marriage was not allowed and on those that were, the couples were separated at the drop of pin both as a way of punishment and other times because the owner needed quick cash.

STOP! Telling this story without giving away the plot of this action pack movie, with a new twist every minute is harrrdd. Ok, Leonardo DiCaprio portrayed Calvin Cotton a 3rd generation slave owner of one of the most powerful plantations in the country. The Cotton Planation is in the heart of the Delta, just outside of Greenville, Mississippi. The Delta by far had some of the most intrenched slavery of all the Southern states.

DiCaprio character was brilliant and so was his head slave Stephen portrayed by Samuel Jackson. By the way, their relationship was yet again another complex, hard to watch but historical truth. Don Johnson portrays yet again another cunning slave owner.

Last but not least, was the character Dr. Schultz, portrayed by German actor Christoph Waltz. His character was the most complicated to me and a living breathing dichotomy. It illustrates the complexity of moral/ethical issues. On the one level, Dr. Schultz has a sense of outrage around the degradation of slaves, but yet can shoot a wanted criminal without flinching for the bounty on their head.

Ok, so now that you have all of the main characters, here are some historical truths. Hot Boxes existed, blacks were called niggers, white people were not use to seeing a black man doing, "normal" things that whites did in the South like riding a horse, there were house slaves who had the best interest of the slave master, even at the expense of other slaves, not every white person supported slavery, most common among Europeans, who were themselves discriminated against, slave families were separated, there were brothels ran by slave owners, Mandigo fighting was apart of the Southern Culture, slaves did runaway over and over again, slaves were rented out to mine  companies for cheap labor, ummm the list goes on and on. The fact is, this was a action packed fiction movie, set in the backdrop of the height of slavery. I think it was a brilliant script.

Now some people are boycotting the movie because it says the word nigger I think 111 times.  Who counts? I'm not gonna debate the use of the term. Yes I use it, just like I use the word bitch. For me language is powerful, but for sure, context is everything. Someone tweeted one day that Dr. King would turn over in his grave with our use of the world.. Ummm so when he  (Dr. King) referred to Andrew Young as his, "Little Nigger," I wonder his context?

Well whether we like it or not, the use of the word nigger was actuate, historical writing. Blacks called each other nigger and for sure that's how whites referred to most blacks in common everyday conversation. A black person was not seen as human, well not like white people were human.  Calvin Cotton makes that point very well. White people of that era actually believed Cotton's analogy of submissive behavior. They needed to believe it, otherwise they had to address the hardcore moral and ethical dilemma of slavery.

My bottom line, this was a great movie! But if you can't stand blood you should pass because blood was the past time in this movie.. And yes Lawddd, I concluded that Jamie Foxx was sexy as all get out in this movie, he was the sexy, compassionate bad guy that was packing more than a gun, if you know what I mean!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Guide 2012! Dessert Teas to Compliment Your Holiday Dinner!

I know that cake looks good don't it? But you're thinking right about now, that you have eaten a ton and you don't really want to put on the extra pounds. Don't fret, have your desert in a Tea Cup!

Yep! There are some wonderful teas out there that will give you the same comfort as a piece of cake after you are done stuffing yourself with the meal course. Or you can forgo a large portion of desert and pair it with a delightful tea.

Here's my recommendations for desert teas to serve at your holiday dinner. At the top of my list is, Earl Grey! This is my favorite black tea hands down. Earl Grey is a British concept. They took a high quality black tea and added the flavor of bergamot oil. Now the French took it a step further and added lavender, which actually boost the bergamot flavor. Read my archive on Earl Grey Here! The Lavender Earl Grey I LOVE is from The London Tea Room. Try booth of these teas with a splash of cream or milk and it will boost the flavor even more. Black tea has caffeine so it will give you a boost.

Now if you want something that taste just like a dessert, at the top of my list is Teavana CoCoCarameal Sea Salt! I swear you will think this is cake or some decadent dessert. It's an herbal tea so there is no caffeine. It's made with sweet caramel, decadent chocolate, a hint of cream and a light sprinkling of sea salt. When I tell you this is delicious, I mean it. I checked today and they are having a sale on this particular tea.  Click Teavana

Next up, is also from Teavana and one of my favorite Oolong teas, Toasted Nut Brûlée.  This tea has less caffeine than a black tea because it has a different fermenting process. Click Here to watch my video about Tea groups from my archives.

Now I know you hear a lot about green tea and weight lost. But actually Oolong does a better job at boasting the Metabolism. This tea is made with roasted almonds, hazelnut, warm coconut, cinnamon and caramel. LOVE IT! Click Teavana

I would not dare forget chocolate! I tried this particular Talbott Tea for the first time a month ago at the World of Chocolate. I also met the owner Shane and he was a hoot. Chocolate Almond Allure is the perfect blend of black tea with chocolate (cacao nibs) and almonds to enhance the flavor, cause what chocolate without nuts. Click Here For Talbott Teas

So you don't want to drink your cake. You want a tea with the right amount of sweetness but with a edgy spice. I recommend Rooibos Vanilla Chai by the Premission Tree Company. This tea is the perfect blend of Masala Chai Spices, Red Rooibos and a hint of Vanilla. You don't like the the flavor of vanilla, no worries they have a regular Chai Rooibos. 

You should also follow them on Twitter because they are always tweeting special deals. Right now they have a 15% off coupon when you sign up for their emails. They also have great gift sets and oh yeah, their Mint Medley is my FAV peppermint tea.  Click Here for Persimmon Tree Tea

Now Sweet Simpllici Teas have a Chocolate Chip Chai!  Yes, Chi and Chocolate! But my favorite from Sweet Simpllici is their Berry Sleepy Herbal Tea. No it won't put you to sleep, but it sure will relax you from the madness that began early on Christmas morning. It's the perfect blend of hibiscus, roasted chicory root, boysenberries, lemon verbena leaf, cranberries, blackberry leaf and chamomile. Click Here For Sweet Simpllici 

Shut Up! See you can have dessert in a tea cup.
You just have to be willing to venture out. Now trying teas is trail and error. But you will never know, if you don't try. Do something different this year, introduce your guest to the wonder of tea. Yes!!! Tea With Rae is Back!! Weekly Reviews!!

You don't know how to brew loose tea, don't worry I've thought of everything. Watch my Video on how to brew Tea HERE!

Post Script: All of these are loose teas so you will need something to brew them with. First up for a simple cup of tea are tea balls. Now don't be confused, I'm recommending my hand made tea ball infuser Click Here

Buttttt okkkk... You can also use tea bags... They are great for the disposal of loose tea after infused. Yes I'm fancy, but honestly I use them too. Click Here. These are from Teavana, but any will do.

Also for the tea lover in your life this Teavana 12 Holiday Gift Set is perfect and it's on SALE! Click Here!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Stir Up Your Gifts!

If I can toot my own horn, I must say that I'm proud of me! I've done something's with my life. Like for real... For real I have never stopped living and growing no matter what has come my way. By the time I was 24 years old I had worked my second Presidential Campaign as a senior staff person.

Since I've been doing HIV/AIDS work, I have spoken to hundreds of audiences. I have an  Emmy Award, covers of magazines, 27 years of education. Like I have never stopped living! For sure, one of the things I'm most proud of outside of my work in HIV, is my bracelet business.

My first bracelet sale for the website was on August 23, 2009 just six months after I started designing. I decided to take a leap and launch a full line of bracelets because I could see that I had a gift that was waiting to shine. Rarely, are we willing to give it a go. We are always bound by what people may think of us; or God forbid, failure.

I had a lot of on lookers, hummm, actually friends who asked, "You are actually going to sale bracelets?" And follow up with, "Who's gonna buy them?" "We'll obviously not you," I thought and kept it moving. I knew that I knew, just like I knew that I was suppose to be speaking about my life. With that feeling in my gut, I kept pressing my way.

Now can I be honest? My early designs were not GREAT, but they had potential. I was still learning the trade of jewelry making. I only had one lesson from a friend Rendona and I took the ball rolling. Thanks Rae!

It was an idea that needed time and work. I had the eye! I just needed to grow my skill. I had something that I knew I could mature over time. I wasn't going to quit.

Be clear, from day one my vision was clear. I knew that I was NOT making jewelry on the side. I was designing collections of bracelets. And I have been quick to correct anyone. Just recently someone asked, "Oh you make jewelry as a hobby?" I responded, no I have a business; I design bracelets." Now, for me that was key. Ones vision is important. If you don't know where you are going, you have no idea where you will end up!

I'm glad that I was clear on my vision, because 3 years ago people turned their nose up at stretch bracelets and now everybody and their mama is making them and Neiman Marcus and Barney's are selling them. just not mine, YET! :) Shoot, let me tell you, I had a "girl friend" who could have used her clot for me to get me some good PR, but instead turned her nose up at me 3 years ago, who I bumped into a bead shop twice recently. SHUT UP!

BeJeweled Fall/Winter Collection 2012!
So everyone is "making" stretch bracelets and I'm Designing Bracelet Collections; on this point I've NEVER been confused. Every season I start with an idea and stretchhhh it to its limits. It may start with a color like red, of a concept like jewels and I spend hours upon hours making the concept a reality.

So each season there is something new and fresh on RLT Collection website! Now, I have two permanent collections, Pearls because they are my favorite gemstones and Black because it's my favorite color. However, while the theme stays the same, the designs do change. I just completed a new installment for The Love of Black Collection and they are wonderful. New Pearl bracelets are on my design board now.

I've been working on my Fall/Winter 2012 for months now. For sure my health has been a barrier these last few months, but I kept working on the Collections, on the days I felt well enough, until I saw completion. I must say, this is my BEST work. They just keep getting better and better. I have three Collections for Fall/Winter, Red Baby, The Wonder of Agates and BeJeweled. There is a lot of texture in my Fall/Winter Collections and that is innovative. I knew that I had to stretchhhhh the concept of stretch bracelets. :)

1962 Bracelet/ Original Concepts
I have the 1962 Bracelet. It functions like a stretch but it wears like a bangle; a combination of beads and wire. There will be a full permanent collection coming, but for now, I have a few in the three current Collections on the site. This is an original design idea, that I know EVERYone is going to copy. But I'm cool because I know that I birthed it!

I also have stretch bracelets with a chain combination. They wear like a chain bracelet with the functionally of a stretch bracelet, also an original design idea. I'm also introducing some simple necklace designs for each collection. You keep asking, but my focus will remain BRACELETS!

I'm proud of my latest work!! I tell people all the time, "I'm going to make RLT Collection a success," and many of them laugh me off in agreement. I just shrug them off and keep pouring everything into RLT Collection! I design them, I make them, and I ship them! I'm a one woman show waiting to grow bigger!

BeJeweled Fall/Winter Collection 2012!
I LOVE my customers! I'm simply honored that someone wears my designs! People can wear anything they want, and my bracelets don't have to be one of them. I so understand it!! THANK YOU!! Now, I haven't made any massive money, but after that first year and the half, I was no longer in the red. And some days, if it's not for a bracelet sale, I don't know how I would make it.

For sure, I reinvest and reinvest! I will buy gemstones and all the components to make bracelets and forgo a new outfit when I have extra money. I spend hours working through designs. I give RLT Collection all that it needs to grow. I'm not afraid of hard work. Nor am I afraid of success the old fashion way, HARD WORK!

I use to be taken a back by the fact that I know so many people and no one will give me a break. But then in the end, I would give someone other than God the credit. So I've been pluggin away and waiting until that door is suppose to open. We fail to remember that God's time is not always our time.

Sheryl Lee Ralph
My designs have gotten better and that's for sure. Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, who is a friend has been a testament to my growth. I remember I sent her some that first round, and she politely thanked me and that was that.

Then she and I did the Town Hall Meeting last year for Dionne Warwick and I had bracelets for her. Some people would have had an attitude because she wasn't wearing that first group. Well, she wore them, but they didn't hold up. LOL

But I didn't let that bother me and I gave her some new designs and low and behold when she walked into my house a month ago, she was wearing them. Sheryl said, "My Sister, I wear them all the time." She also got a sneak peak at the new collections before they went to the photographers and loved, loved loved them.

Side Bar: I also have a photographer now. Thank God I don't have to take pictures anymore. Jerolyn Wiggins, J Marshell Photography, who also took the photos for my book cover. I am so grateful!

Sheryl loved my Fall/Winter Collection so much, she showed the style team on a new television project she's working on for Nick At Nite and they loved them! She called 10 minutes before I went into the procedure to get the port removed and the next day, I crawled out of bed, pain, stitches and all and pulled together 27 designs and overnighted. They made the polite! Yey!!  I can't wait to see which ones from Fall Collection made it. Then Sheryl turned around and wore them for a new movie she is working on and they agreed to give me credits! POW!! I will keep you inform.

Red Baby Collection!
I am NOT afraid of HARD WORK! I am NOT afraid of chance taking! You have to believe in your gifts and develop them and God will open the door. Oprah says, "Luck is when preparation meets opportunity." I am not waiting on the pie to fall out of the sky! God has given each of us gifts. I'm not afraid to Stir Up The Gifts that God have planted inside of me.

In order to grow anything, you have to water it! Some plants even takes years of watering to grow; like the bamboo plant takes 7 years.

I learned as a baker, when you are making anything, you some times have to beat those ingredients over and over. I know the best pound cakes take time! If you don't beat the butter and sugar long enough before you add the other indigents you will have a heavy cake. And I know for me, I'll pass up the heavy pound cake every time. So when I make a pound cake, I stir and stir and stir. I'll even sit on a stool if need be, but I do what I must to render the best result.

For The Love of Black Collection!
I even understand with my bracelets making the television screen, it is just the beginning of what's to come. So I can't get weary if nothing extra comes of it. I'm honored that they were good enough to make the cut. But I also know that God is letting me take a peak into my feature.

I'm even more determine! I'll Keep Stirring! My message to you, As we approach 2013, Stir up the gifts that God has given you!

 Each day you live, it lives within you... Don't squander your gifts afraid of failure or of what people will say, or who will or will not support you...

God has a plan for every good work God had planted inside of you! Stir up Your Gift!

The Wonder of Agates Collection!

BeJeweled Collection!

The Wonder of Agates Collection!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Reflection: God Will Make Room For Your Gifts...

I spent 9 months in my mothers womb, sucking on an umbilical cord that was laced in heroine. I came into this world prematurely and broken, but God had already crafted a plan for my life the moment my daddy's sperm met my mothers egg. I was born to heroine addicts, and that was the only role they had in my existence; providing the vehicle for my life. For sure God shaped this journey for me out of the make-up of my existence.

People always want to know how I did this or that. How did I get on the cover of magazines, or on Oprah and Nightline? And I've never been confused, this is not of my doing, but God's! I was simply obedient to the call, purpose and mission for my life and God did the rest.

God knows the end from the beginning. God knew that I would make the choices that I made based on what I knew and understood about life. What people fail to realize is that we are all shaped by own social location; meaning, ones journey and all that it encompasses, from who our mother is, to the neighborhood we grow up in. It's interesting, research shows that adult children of alcoholic's tend to be either underachievers or overachievers, both shaped by living with an alcoholic. For sure that has been my case. I'm an overachiever to the extreme.

Even my understanding of sex and love was shaped out of an abusive family. Sexually violated before I really understood what sex was. It shaped me and made me the woman that I am, for the good, the bad and the indifferent. HIV/AIDS was my destination based on my understanding of life and how I use the free will that God blesses each of us with.

So here I am, honest, transparent and candid with no filter. I say in my book, The Politics of Respectably, that I am a stray dog with a designer bow on her head. For Real..

But what's so wonderful about God is that God can, will and does use everything and everybody. The Bible says, "The Rejected Stone became the Corner Stone." This is my testimony, that God saw in me what no one else could see. My step-grandmother, the one who raised me from age 6, the one that I called Mama and depended on for food, shelter and love told me and I quote her, "You ain't never gonna be shit," but God made her words a lie unto herself that she couldn't face, not even at death.

Everyone won't see your life through the same lenses as God. They can only see them through their understanding of life. That is why my membership as an Honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. was rescinded. They could only see me through the lenses of their understanding of womanhood. My tweets about how I felt I was being treated were deemed "vulgar" and that in and of itself made me no longer "acceptable" for their sisterhood. I find it interesting that they wanted the part of me that was on the cover of magazines as a renown AIDS Activist. One who could further their HIV/AIDS agenda when they were actively pursuing one. But I'm the same person, on the cover of magazines, with all the name recognition and work around HIV/AIDS that I was the day that I tweeted that I felt like Rose McKinney, the executive director of Delta was talking to me like a, "Bitch on the street," and if I had been another Honorary member like Ruby Dee, she would have had an entirely different tone.

Rev. Clay Evans
In my wholeness, you can not have one without the other. I found this dilemma also after I accepted my call to preach the Gospel. My father in ministry the Reverend Dr. Clay Evans got it. He didn't think twice that God had called me to ministry and he made sure that he licensed me and made himself clear to the entire church body! I was his daughter in ministry, the end!

I remember my interview with the Dean at McCormick Theological Seminary, she said to me, absolutely we would love to be the place that help you develop in ministry and they offered me a merit scholarship.

But by the time I graduated from seminary Rev. Evans had retired and my new Pastor at Fellowship M. B. Church wasn't sure about me. I can't speak for him, only what he said to me and how I interpreted it.

 Well, at first he said he would ordain me after I gradated from seminary. Then after 2 reschedules he told me that I wasn't ready. Other ministers had offered to ordain me from day one, but I had no reason to believe that my Pastor would not do what he said he would do. And honestly, out of my love and loyalty to Rev. Evans and Fellowship I stayed and tried to work it through. But after 4 years of what I deem bullshit, I left. I had it! I remember once, I was asked to speak at a church of one of my Pastor's friends and when he got word, he called me to discuss it and at the end of the conversation, he said, "Don't embarrass me up their." That spoke volumes and told me what he truly thought of my work. I shook it off. But over time, I couldn't allow myself to stay in a space that didn't see my value or worth.

So I left and went to Fourth Presbyterian Church. It was the perfect place for me to just sit still and wait on God to give me direction. No one knew me at this predominantly white church on the Gold Coast, so I knew that there would be no gossip about me leaving Fellowship. I was still trying to stay respectful.

After about two years at Fourth Church I knew I needed to be somewhere. God had called me to be a minister of the Gospel and I was sitting on the pew. Not a good look to God and a waste of ones gifts. But I had no idea how to begin this journey so I did noting. I was paralyzed. doubting myself and my call.  Where could I go and not get caught up in church politics? Especially because of the old boys club of ministers in the city of Chicago.  So I stayed stuck. While I continued to do my public ministry, I knew that  God wanted me to go higher. But just the thought of being demoralized again, just because I beat to a different drum  kept me on that Pew at Fourth.
Then about the fourth year, God said enough is a enough and God intervened. I love how God shows up and shows out.

One day I was headed to the post office to mail RLT Collection orders and when I turned the corner on Oak Street Pastor L Bernard Jakes was standing right there. We talked for almost 1:30 minutes, about everything. He had been seeing my Facebook post about my health, on and off IV med's. He had heard about Delta rescinding my membership, at the time, it was still a fresh wound and everyone was talking. He had heard that I wasn't at Fellowship anymore and we talked and talked and talked about it all. Standing on Oak Street he became my Pastor. He ministered to me right in front of Prada and I hadn't even joined West Point Missionary Baptist Church, had never stepped through the doors of West Point.

When I walked away I knew in my heart that Pastor. J was my Pastor and that I would be cleaved to him. It was God's perfect timing. A month later I found myself in crisis and reached out to him, a week later I joined West Point and started preparing for my Ordination Exam.

Yesterday, Rev. Dr. L Bernard Jakes ordained me as a minister in the Gospel. The ordination sermon was perched by, Rev. Dr. Reginald Wade Williams, the Pastor of First Baptist Church of University Park, IL. My GOD this man preached!

He preached to my spirit. It felt like he had peeked into my life and crafted that sermon just for me.

He said God calls you and your uniqueness to do a specific work. He went on to say that some people may not understand your call but don't give up, don't change, don't conform. When you conform to what people want you to be, they become your God! That thing hit me in the gut!

I have remain true to my gifts and the call on my life. God crafted this specific work, shaped out of my journey. It may not be how some see ministry, but like David, I cannot wear Saul's armour, I can only use my five stones and a sling shot to tackle the modern day Goliath's.

God can see in you what a man cannot see, what an organization cannot see  or even what your mother cannot see.

But be clear, for sure, God will not have you to operate blindly. In Gods time, you will have an organic understanding of your life and it's purpose.

The key to your success is obedience and perseverance. Keep pressing toward the mark of high calling that God has on your life. God will make room for your gifts. They may not be the doors you think you should go through, or the "popular," or even the ones you want to go through, but they will be the doors you are suppose to go through for the work that God has for you to do.

Often times we spend more time worrying  about what people think of us, rather than using our gifts for God's purpose. I have chosen to be obedient! I understand my gifts. My candor, transparency and honesty is a gift. My ability to use my life in a way that it enriches the life of others is a gift. My ability to meet people where they are at, not where I want them to be is a gift. My ability to unpack life's issues is a gift. I dare NOT squander my gifts to meet the approval of others.

God will reward you for walking boldly in your gifts. It has taken me 12 years since I was license as a minster, to the time I was ordained with all rights as a member of the clergy. I get it today. God's time is not our time. The best thing I did was to sit still. For sure my life was suppose to intersect with L. Bernard Jakes and the West Point Family. The day you join West Point, the entire congregation shouts out to you, "Welcome Home!" Now that was the truth to the tenth power.

Don't give up... Don't give in... Don't conform... Walk proudly in the gifts God has blessed you with and God will make room for your gifts.

Friday, December 7, 2012


I wanted to get caught up today with Blogging, but instead I'm taking the day away from Social Media altogether and   balancing my time between a large order of RLT Collection Spiritual AIDS Awareness Necklaces (125) that are due on Monday and my last review for my Ordination Exam.

Keep me in your prayers as I go before a council of 40 ministers tomorrow and defend my knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, My Faith, what and why I believe and the ordinances of the Baptist Church.

Ordination is on Sunday at 3:00 P. M. at West Point Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago... All are welcome... Let's pray that I pass my exam... They cutting it real close for us. I'm excited and nervous all at in one This is a lot of PRESSURE!!  But I must believe that the Holy Spirit, will be my guide, keeper and strength, teacher and motivator....

This I know, I can do all things through Christ who strengthen me...

This was a tough week. They did remove the mediport on Tuesday that's why I've been missing in action... I have been pushing through my physical pain to prepare for ordination and keep RLT Collection going...  Love Ya... Be Back Next Week Lovely's

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Face of AIDS!!

Today is World AIDS Day! As people remember those that are infected and affected by HIV, I wanted to share one of my most candid, one on one interviews. It's with veteran reporter, owner of Heart and Soul Magazine, George Curry... I was honored that he asked. This interview was almost 5 hours to developed this two part series...

Facing AIDS Part One

Facing AIDS Part Two

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