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

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

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

RLT Collection Tea Ball Frosted Clear Beads!

Mint Medley by The Persimmon Tree Tea Company

About This Tea:

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

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

RLT Collection AIDS Awareness Tea Ball!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Reflection: Use What You Got and Watch God!

Many of you know that I have been struggling with my critics and the idea that my approach to my work is not "appropriate." No matter what my blog is about for that day, I get people who post comments that have nothing to do with that post, but rather a comment that says that I need to get it together and be more "appropriate" for a Christian because my approach is not reflective of "Jesus."

On the other side of the coin, I've been struggling with the very very high volume to my blog monthly and the fact that I have not been able to find sponsors for this awesome work, while the fluff fluff blogs got all kind of ads on their blogs and the male gay sites have all kinds of HIV medication advertisements on them, when it's clear to me, that when people go to a dating site they are thinking about sex, not about how to live healthy.

While I know in my spirit that I am doing what God has called me to do, it still touches a cord. Still, I've been faithful and will continue to be faithful to my work. I believe that I made myself clear last week, critics get a life other than mine!!

Then, on yesterday I was just talking to Trey on his visit over about the blog issue and in the end we both concluded, that I  am doing God's work and that's the most important thing, just keep tweeting and blogging, God will bless me in God's time.

But lets be honest, its hard when you are trying to keep the lights on. Ummmm, now don't get me wrong, I do have food, but just like the Children of Israel in the Wilderness, we want to store all the manna we can, rather than trust God day to day. This day to day living is scary as hell. For Real!!!

 I am no different from  many of you, I moan and moan. I even moan about my bracelet business, RLT Collection. Yep, and then God reminds me in His own way to get it together. In my devotional time this morning, I opened the devotion that I should have read on yesterday, but didn't. I'm thinking now that I needed to have that conversation with Trey yesterday before I read it, just to allow it to marinate in my spirit. He and I concluded that we are who we are, and it's a natural just like our skin. We can't be nothing other than what we are. Anyhoo, I read this devotional from my church and it spoke VOLUMES to my spirit, so I'm sharing it with you unaltered at the bottom of this blog post.

Let me say this, don't get stuck with the way things should be done. Your gifts and talents belong to you for God to use for His glory and the goodness of others. Don't get stuck on why other people's projects are growing at a faster rate then yours. Don't get stuck on what your critics have to say. The Bible say's, God calls and God equips. And as sure as I will be 50 years old in 23 more days, the Bible says' God will make room for your gifts. " The doors and heart you are suppose to get through, you will.

I so needed this reminder this morning, David didn't try to be a fancy fighter, he used the tools that he was most familiar with, 5 stones and a sling shot. I'm sure those looking on started to mumble amongst themselves, "This boy most be mad." It was unconventional, actually it was unheard of, but God can use ANYTHING. In this text we never see where David had a ounce of fear or doubt. David, knew what he knew and  that was enough for him and in the end, God used what he knew.

We have to be willing to walk in our gifts and talents with assurance that God will use them. We put limits on God when we say it can only be done in one particular way. I serve a God that turned water into wine and raised the dead to life. Just continue to do what you know. Your gifts are yours and God will use you whether, Baker Man or Garbage Man. The Bible says, God will make room for your gift. Yep, this devotional was exactly what I need, it blessed me in so many ways.

Yep I have to get over myself. I keep whinning about my bracelet business. I say, "Some people get all of the breaks. When is it going to happen to me?"  The quality of my gemstones are far superior to much of what I see out there and I believe so are a lot of my designs.  I moan and moan. Get over it Rae, no the Basketball wives are not wearing my bracelets on TV, But yet, I get a new customer every single week. See, God will make room for your gifts and use what you got.

I think I came to a come to meeting with Jesus understanding this morning!! I'm done with compassions. It makes me no better than my critics that compare my work to the other Christians and or ministers. 

I'm done with complaining. I will continue to do the WORK and however God blesses me, I will accept it graciously. I think we cheat God when we complain about what we don't have, rather than celebrate what we do.

In the end, I think I will appreciate my accomplishments more, by getting it the old fashion way, hard work and determination. In the days of reality TV everybody wants everything quick and in a hurry.

But in the real world, growth takes a lot of hard work and time. So I re-invest over and over again in my bracelet line. I'm always at my bead board coming up with new designs to make the Collection the best.  I will continue to reinvest and keep it fresh. Yep, build RLT Collection, one bracelet at a time and one customer at a time. But be assured, before I die, RLT Collection will be a household name.

Yep, I will continue to speak, blog and tweet and at the end of the day, the testimonies I get via email ands tweets about how one of my tweets, my blog or hearing me speak touched a life, it's worth more then any amount of money.

At the end of the day, all you can do is use the gifts and talents you have. Don't be something you are not. When you are something you are not, then you are living a lie and God wants us to live as He intended for us to be. Your journey is your own, don't make it someone else's

Today, I'm even more convicted and dedicated in all that I do.  I GET IT!! My gifts are my own, whether it's speaking, tweeting, blogging or designing a bracelet.

And the Bible tells me,  if I continue to use what I have it is just enough for God to work with. Stop boxing God into what you think is right and the best way. Be like David, use what you got and watch God do the rest.

Today's Reading: 1 Samuel 16-17; Psalm 48

Text for this reflection: 1 Samuel 17:38-40

Then Saul dressed David in his own gear, putting a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David strapped his sword on over the armor, but he couldn't walk around well because he'd never tried it before. "I can't walk in this," David told Saul, "because I've never tried it before." So he took them off. He then grabbed his staff and chose five smooth stones from the streambed. He put them in the pocket of his shepherd's bag and with sling in hand went out to the Philistine.
(Common English Bible)

With good reason, the David and Goliath story is so well known that it has become a cultural trope. Who can resist the underdog--a boy who was able to defeat a foe most considered invincible? We cherish these types of stories because they defy all the odds. We want to know how such things could happen when our own experiences tell us otherwise.

David prevailed because God was on his side, of course, but this small excerpt shows David's success was due to more than just God's favor. David was successful because he stayed true to who he was. Rather than accept the armor and disguise himself behind someone else's idea of power, David boldly trusts his background as a shepherd to be enough.

The eighteenth-century rabbi Zusya once remarked, "In the world to come, God will not ask me why I was not more like Moses. God will ask me why I was not more like Zusya." We have each been uniquely gifted by God, but sometimes those gifts are disguised beneath the armor the world prescribes for us. Perhaps we should take a cue from David and let our true selves show--we just may find that who we are is exactly what is needed.

God, I give you thanks for creating me uniquely. Help me to resist the temptation to be something other than who you created me to be--to instead know that my gifts are exactly what is needed to make a difference in this world. Amen.

Written by Matthew J. Helms, Pastoral Resident

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Day 29! Count Down To 50! Ain't Shit Pretty About AIDS!

I love this picture. It appeared on the cover of the Washington Post in 1996.  When I first started speaking I was hell on wheels. I talked more shit and was rough around the edges, honestly, I was even more than I am now. If you could imagine LOL... After two hours of being raw, honest, and transparent to this group of young people in a summer program in Washington, DC, this 13 year girl couldn't stop crying. She said no one had ever validated her decision to remain a virgin and that it was hard because ALL of her girlfriends were having sex; But after hearing me lay it out on the line, she knows that it's O.K. We had no idea the photographer had captured this special moment between us. 
Day 29 as I count down to 50! I wanted you to see the IV process that I must do twice a day! Ummm I get a tad emotional on this video *shrugs* I don't take a thing back...

PS... I know you are waiting on Part Two.. Dating The Right Revered... I've been moving slow, but It will be tomorrow blog.... I will start working on it today while at my doctors appointment.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Day 30! Count Down To 50! Better Not BItter!

As I count down to 50 years of life... I'm trying every day to be Better Not Bitter!  This IV medication is kicking my tail, but I'm pressing my way. I refuse to allow this round to steal my joy! My life is a miracle and I am not confused on that one bit....

Here's Today's Video!  Day 30!!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday Reflection: Being The Best You!

Being honest with yourself is hard. Especially on those things that are not cute. Those things that seem to nag and tap away at you and leave an ounce of insecurity. If we are honest about it, we all have something. Maybe it stems from childhood or maybe it's something that developed over the years, but we all have that one thing and some of us have more, that just eats away at us and when people start touching on it in some kind of way, we get defensive, we shut down, we cuss and we hide. Your personality type typically determines how you react.

Yep, I'm a living witness. For as strong and self assured that I am, I have them too. A biggie is that Hoe thing. You know, "She must be hoe because she has HIV and herpes," and my type A personality gets people right straight with that shit. "Aint nobody giving away no pussy over here," I say boldly.

Yep, I say, "I was doing it in the name of love," when in honesty, it doesn't matter how you doing it, you are still giving that person a part of you that you can never get back.

Some how I've comes to terms with it over the years. I'm solid more or less. Maybe because I've shared so much of my dating and sex life with the public, it has had some kind of liberating affect on me. As it stands now, I'll share just about anything and not think twice. So when people go there, I  more or less use it as an educating opportunity for me.

Yep, we all have them, those things that will get us hot mad if a person even goes there, even get near there. Now that the sex thing seems to have less of an impact on me these days, the God thing certainly takes center stage; And I get HOT MAD!

Yep, that God thing. If someone questions my faith or even come close to it, I get them right straight, with my hands on my hips. Now, I understand that my ministry is unorthodox, but God can use anything and I wish everybody could see through my lenses or read some of the heart warming e-mails I get about how my tweets, my speaking engagement and my blog has touched them, changed them, made them better and I'm using their words.

 But people don't see those and they tend to judge  by their own history and journey. Yep people say to me all the time, You call yourself a Christian the way you cuss; You call what you do ministry, you don't act like no minster; You call yourself a Christian and you were fornicating, thats how you got HIV.

And truth be told,  I'm still kinda sort of fornicating, but not in these days with a broke down vagina and a commitment to only be with men who value me and not just what's between my legs.

I haven't had sex in almost two years now and the last guy I was with, I thought for sure, I would be his wife, but ummm, he didn't see himself as God intended and with that fact, I had to move on with my life.

Yep, some of you will even have contention with what I just said. I call yall the Super-Saved Christians always putting lifestyle in front of salvation. But I'm not defending my faith today, I'm talking about a larger issue. Moving past your issues, to be the best person for you and each person you encounter. Ok, I'm being honest here and some of you still may have an issue with what I'm saying, *shrugs* I'm making the first BIG step of releasing it and maybe you should too.

Let me tell you how I got here:

About a week ago, Sophia, a writer who follows me on twitter Retweeted my, Cant Take Back The Sex blog post. As a result, I received this tweet from another woman and it said:

This article is powerful. As a health professional I agree. As a Christian woman--I am saddened. Bless you Rae

Now it seems like she was saying something nice to me, but Ima be honest, I didn't understand the Christian thing, like why had she singled that out? So I tweeted her for clarification:

I would like to understand what you mean, "as a Christian woman," because I'm one too.

Then I followed up:

In fact, I'm a minister with a Master of Divinity Degree.

The lady didn't respond, but her daughter did. SHOCKED! The woman Sophia who originally tweeted my blog was the daughter of the woman who had tweeted me. Never know who the heck you tweeting. Yep, just as I was sort of getting claifiation to defend my honor, she was sort of getting clarification to defend her mother.

Sophia Tweeted:

Hey Rae you are addressing my mom there. She was simply saying that she as a Christian woman was sad this happened two you.

Her Second Tweet:

Here we go giving our credentials. #SistersHeal good grief-always ready to POUNCE no one is questioning your faith sister.

Now I have to also admit  Twitter can get you some kinda mad at a person. In 140 characters a tweet can be misinterpreted quickly. So I backed away from it, basically because I like Sophia and ummmm this was someone's mother, someone's grandmother, so basically I said, blame it on Twitter not my heart and honestly I didn't take ownership to my POUNCE.

In reality it was a combo of both. I mean this is someone's grandmother, she's not Twitter savvy like some of us so what she tweeted in kindness, I interpreted in judgment.

On the flip side, Sophia was letting me know, back off, this is my mother, and at the same time trying to balance what she said with her work around sisterhood. Now, I wasn't totally happy with her tweet either, I played it over in my head what her mother had tweeted and it still kinda had me ruffled up and her thing about my credentials *shrugs* but I backed off and we kept right on tweeting each other.

Then yesterday, I read an article that Sophia Nelson wrote for Essence.com and Get Lifted Sisters: It's Time To Let The Healing Begin and I had the BIGGEST Aha Moment. It's worth the read, there is great advice from some phenomenal women. Click Here To Read

While I already knew many of the things in this particular article, in fact I use these ideas with my Life Coaching clients, there seemed to be a disconnect in my own life around this particular issue of my faith and my work.

Reading Sophia's article made me face the realization that I had not faced the realization that I have insecurities about how other people see my work. I'm provocative and unorthodox and that has left me at the scrutiny, judgment and even wrath of others and that has left me in defensive mode.

I have threatened to write a many a blogs defending my work. I even have one written in response to someone's comment on my blog months ago, but I didn't post it for fear of even more judgment.

I've been harboring all these bad feelings and that is not good for my health. Yep, holding onto how I feel about people telling me that I am "ungodly" and that my work does not represent the best that Christ has to offer.

So today I'm taking the first step at healing. Some time today, I will post my one blog that I wrote months ago but never published, about my faith and my work and I'm done. I am releasing this to God.

I want nothing to interfere with how we should  truly treat one another. I want to be able to approach this and every topic in a conversation rather than confrontation.  Now, that does not mean I will change my methodology, provocative is what I am. But I want to change what's at my core driving the ugly. I want to have a clear heart about all things in my life. I'm trying to be the best me that I can be as I move into this next decade.

I understand that when you are the best you, then that's what you give to others!!!

Post Script: I ordered Sophia Nelson book today... Can't wait to read it. Yes, I will give you a review... Black Woman Redefined: Dispelling Myths and Discovering Fulfillment in the Age of Michelle Obama... Click Amazon Here To Order

Friday, April 20, 2012

Dating The Right Reverend...

Last night one of the young ladies I follow on Twitter was tweeting about her relationship. She said, "I'm tired of crying." And y'all know I jumped right in. Yep! I tweeted, "Fuck a man who can't love and treat you the way you should be... If he can't see the value then he don't deserve you!! " Yep, Yep, I told her straight up, "When someone shows you who they are believe them, don't explain it away, don't make excuses." Believe it!

I had much to say. I have declared WAR on all these unhealthy relationships. Staying stuck with someone who does not value you or treat you with all the goodness you deserve, we all deserve. If no one has ever told you, then here you go, Waiting for a man to call, Waiting on man to do right by you-when he continues to do wrong, Waiting on a man to come around, is all unhealthy and you should want more for yourself, God does. But we stay stuck in the madness  for fear of being alone, but as long as you are stuck, you will never get the person you deserve.

 Now, I don't know any of the details of this baby girl's relationship but from her tweets, I know she is hurting and it's time to make a change.  I also know for sure, that change must come from within. You cannot expect people to do for you what you are not willing to do for yourself; And staying in a relationship that sucks the life out of you is giving that person permission to treat you this way. At the end of the day, NO woman should waste her pretty on a man. I know, I know, Lawd, Lawd that is easier said than done. We all want to have someone, I've been there more times than I would like to admit. For Real. Like the time I was dating the Right Reverend.  

Good Lawd, the Right Reverend was all of that and a bag of chips with a Mystic, well at least in the beginning. I met the Right Reverend at a training conference for political organizers. Our eyes met a few times across that room, but he was cool as a cucumber. He didn't approach me that morning and y'all know I didn't go there. I'm too much of a lady to chase a man under any circumstance.

But  it was the late 80's and I was young, fine and well put together and the Right Reverend had to be blind not see what I saw. Oh y'all, I was also newly diagnosed with HIV. Yep, Yep, he could see all the goodness on the outside, but not the danger lurking on the inside.

Sure enough, the Right Reverend made his way  to me and introduced himself before the day way over. You talking about charm and charisma he had it all. OMG! I liked everything about this Brotha. Our courtship started right then and there and it was a whirlwind.

We were instantly glued to each other's side and as the sun went down and night was sweeping the horizon we made it to his hotel room. STOP! You're right, I had no business in this man's hotel room I had just met him,  and ummm, I did have the little detail of HIV lurking, but his charm was all consuming and I didn't have the will power to stop myself back then.

And honestly, I liked the attention, I mean I hadn't really been in a relationship since I was diagnosed with HIV and My God this man was pushing all the right buttons.  And understand this era of the 80's people just didn't have those kind of apprehensions, we just went with the flow in the justification of getting to know each other a little better.

Seconds, turned into minutes and minutes into hours, yes Lawd, we were a match made in heaven, same passion for justice and the same passion for Jesus. But ummm Jesus had nothing to do with what was happening in that room. That was just straight up free will. With that first kiss I knew the Right Reverend was working with something. Yep, yep, but I knew that it didn't matter what he was working with I had to slow this shit down. My panties were straight up wet, but HIV was dancing right along in all my juices flowing inside my drawers.

Now don't be confused, there was as much stimulation intellectually as there were with his lips. A man that can carry a conversation with me is a straight up turn-on. That shit is sexy as all get out.

Now let's be clear,  NO he never touched between my legs. I decided when I was in my teens, that a man couldn't put his hand between my legs if I wasn't for sure prepared to give him my innermost self.

So I knew I had to shut this down. I just knew I had to, before I regretted this for the rest of my life. I pulled myself away from the Right Revered and sat in the chair at the desk. I said, "We gotta talk. Before we go any further, I need to tell you something." I could feel the butterflies jumping in my tummy. I was scared out of my wits. Scared of rejection.

All I could think about was the other Right  Reverend that I was dating when I first discovered that I was HIV infected . He left my house within 10 minutes of disclosure and never looked back. That shit hurt more than my mama's worst beating. I mean, if he didn't want to be with me, maybe he could have shown me some Christian compassion. Ummm I'll table him until next week :)

Anyhoo, I had already been rejected by a minister and I wasn't sure if I was ready for it. I had been accustomed to getting the men that I wanted, but now I had this new thing standing in the way.  I didn't think, any hairdo, any amount education, any amount of intellect or any outfit could help make me appealing in the face of HIV.

This was the one thing I couldn't out maneuver could not get rid of or change this fact; This thing, HIV that had the worst kind of stigma and lack of understanding. Even the medical community was still trying to understand it. HIV was one scary ass motha back in the 80's. For Real. Mothers and fathers were letting their children die alone and nurses and doctors were refusing to touch people with AIDS. It was an ugly sight to see and even uglier to have to deal with head on.

So I pulled myself away from the intimacy and did what I had to do. I've never been one for small talk or bullshit, so I just told him straight up. "I have HIV." Then I exhaled. Whatever came after that, it would have to be OK. I had to understand that he wasn't rejecting me per say, but rejecting HIV in his life.

Just like a person has the right to date or not to date someone without a dime, or bad credit or another chronic illness, so does a person have that right to decide if they want to deal with HIV up close and personal. I instinctively understood that early on, but it still didn't take the sting out of the possibilities of rejection.

But the Right Reverend proved to be the man of God I thought he was. He looked me straight in the face and said, "OK." We talked and cuddled all night and in the morning there were promises to pursue this long distance relationship.

When I left that conference and headed back to DC I thought I had struck gold. For Real. The  Right Reverend was all of that and then some.  We spent hours on the phone each night. He sent flowers and cards, and wonderful letters. Good Lawd, and it didn't bother him one bit that I had HIV.  I was officially in my first relationship after being diagnosed with HIV.

Finally, within a month he came to DC for that first visit. OMG did we have fun and  yep, we both had condoms on hand, ummmm in every room in my house. Yep, we were well on our way.

Then it was my turn to visit him and he showed me off in every corner of his small town.  If he was hiding something you couldn't tell by the way he was sporting me around town.  Then I noticed that he didn't really answer the telephone and he started getting calls late at night.

I asked him on that 2nd night, Baby, why don't you answer the phone. His answer was smooth, "Because this is your time" I talk and see those people here everyday." And it worked. OMG, did it work, cause we turned right back to the loving. But it kept nagging at me, especially the call that came at 6 am.

Yep it kept nagging away at me.  So on that 3rd morning, while he was in the shower, I answered the phone and it was a woman asking for the Right Reverend. You know my smart ass, couldn't wait to let her know, whatever you think you got, I'm in town so step the fuck back. I did it smoothly, Sweetie, he's in the shower right now, I would be glad to take a message.

To Be continued tomorrow....

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Day 35! Count Down To 50! New Attitude!

Today is Day 35 and I'm Counting Down To 50!  It was just one of those days. I did no real work. Not anything I was supposed to do. I did my morning devotional and after that I got connected to my IV medication. I spent two hours on twitter tweeting pictures of my RLT Collection customers wearing my bracelets. LOL... Don't judge me.

Anyhoo, I went to my jewelers and played in the fine stuff and then came home.  I love jewelry and it don't cost a darn thing to try it on.

Yes, the IV medication has started to kick my ass; diarrhea and nausea are number one. Yet, I'm hanging. God has got my spirit and so far, so good. This is what I'm saying, I am not gonna allow this it get the best of me this time around.

Well, I'm sure I will have some bad days, but I'm gonna try like hell to keep the best of me. I was so looking forward to this birthday count down and then this, my health decided to act a fool. But guess what? Nothing else has changed, As sure as I'm alive, I'm counting down and on May 22 I will be 50 years old. This means that I would have lived 29 years with HIV and 20 years with AIDS. This means I've lived over half my life with a disease that should have taken me out of here a good 16-17 years ago.

And while I would like something different for myself during this count down, this is all I got. It is what it is. With this in mind, I'm changing how I think about it all. With God guiding me each day, I mean really guiding me, I got this.

Yes, it is true, the longer that I am on this medication the sicker I am and the less I'll be able to do. Right now the infection is so bad, I just don't see myself getting off quicker than 20 days or more. Even with this understanding, what I know for sure:  God has got this and I'm staying as close to God as I can and with that single act of closeness to God, I got a new attitude!

Post Script: I want to share my devotional scripture for today;

Though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kind of trials. These have come so that your faith- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire- may proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor, I Peter 1:6-7

Today's Video! Day 35! Count Down To 50! New Attitude!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Day 36! Count Down To 50! Pressing My Way!

Today is Day 36 as I Count Down to 50! I started my IV meds and I've already start to feel the side-effects... Basically I feel like shit, but I'm pressing my way...

Here's Today's Video!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Day 37! Count Down To 50! Bloody But Unbowed!

Day 47! Count Down To 50!  Bloody But Unbowed.... I'm not feeling well enough for a written blog, but I wanted to do something.

Today's Video!

Post Script! Don't Forget RLT Collection is having a great sale and there are ton's of new bracelets on the site too.

For The Love of Black Collection!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Reflection: Back To The Basics!

On Saturday I was searching for something to make me feel better, something to take me away from it all. If I had some extra money I probably would have gone shopping in spite of the fact that my body is to broken too be out and about shopping; I know I don't need a darn thing and in the end, I know it's gonna make me feel worse feeding my old behavior. Yep, just cause you know better, don't always mean you to better.

Ummmm, can I be honest? My spirit was broken and I wanted a quick fix. I crawled myself out of bed and walked to the bead shop. I thought there should be at least one thing that I can buy that will make me smile.  Ha, there was nothing new since two days ago, so with no purchase and a sad face, I walked to the yogurt shop.

 I tasted 3 flavors  that I already knew, searching for that perfect thing. I finally decided on a peach swirl and yes I got a ton of toppings, thinking the joy must be in the toppings.

With yogurt in tote I made it half way down the block before I turned back to get a lid and a bag. It had become clear after a few spoonfuls; whatever I was looking for was not to be found in my yogurt cup.

I made my way to Walgreens to get the dish washing liquid that was badly needed to rescue my sink from dirty dishes. While in Walgreens, I walked up and down the candy aisle. I picked up, put back and picked up candy that I knew I didn't need over and over again.

With full hands and arms I made my way to the aisle with the chips. I was so intent on finding that right thing to ease whatever this feeling I had, I almost forgot the original purpose, dish washing liquid.

By the time I made it to the, "Do it yourself check-out counter," that I hate, my tummy started to talk to me and I could feel that poop was getting ready to come.  My Irritable Bowel Syndrome was acting up, but no wonder, stress is a major cause for some. I became nervous and anxious trying to check out  that I got confused. "Lawd, please don't let this happen," was all I could think. I had on wide legs pants with no panties; Yep because they hurt too much to wear these days, so all I could think about was poop coming down the legs of my pants onto that floor.

I started to talk to myself and to the check-out counter, yes I said the counter, about why it was not cooperating with me. Yep, I was in real panic mode. Thank God the young clerk came over to rescue me. "What's the problem," I asked, "I'm trying to enter my rewards number." The young man said, "We don't have," and before he could finish,  I said,  "Damn it!  I'm Crazy, this is Walgreens not CVS!" By that time I could feel the poop starting to seep. I was desperate!

"Baby I'm about to use the bathroom on myself," I said to the clerk, "Do you have a public washroom?" He gave me directions and just I sat on the toilet, it came. A deep exhale, "Thank God," I mumbled.

I was really disoriented, couldn't figure out what the hell was going on with me. I walked home and crawled straight into my bed.

A nap was all I needed for clarity! Yep, when I woke my right mind was kicking in. I looked at all those things I purchased and shook my head at $17.00 worth of  junk, with money I really didn't have to spend.

A deep sigh, in my head. I  bought all that junk to give me a feel good away from my health madness and I didn't even get a chance to see if it would work because another health issue took center stage. *SMDH*

Ha, wasn't that a lesson?!? When I layed down that Saturday night I decided that I needed to spend some time getting ME back together; finding myself because I was clearly lost.  I needed to get me back before I start this journey today; Picc line placed this afternoon and I start IV meds tomorrow.

When I woke on Sunday I turned to my music and looking though the list I decided to play a hymn that I had download but never played. I had been tweeting with Jennifer Holliday, so she was in my spirit. I clicked, her version of It is Well With My Soul and good LAWD, it gave me life!

It reminded me of the Apostle Paul who declared, no matter what season, I've learned to be content. Rich or poor, hungry or fed. Paul, who had a health issue that God refused to heal. Paul, who did some of his most profound writings while in prison.

He was content with a thorn in his flesh, he was content in prison, it didn't matter what season he faced, he understood God's love for him was greater than anything he faced and he never stopped the work that God had place before him Phil 4:2-10.

I played Jennifer over and over and over again. Shoot, Ima be honest, I played it for at least 8 hours yesterday. And each time I heard her voice,  and Lawd that testimony she gives in this song, it all renewed my spirit and gave me the answers that I so needed. I started hitting the devil 3 times in my head, just like Jennifer, one for the Father, One for the Son and one for the Holy Spirit.

I took the day away from Social Media, no tweeting, just the tweet that said, "It is well with my soul." But by then, I had played that song at least 10 times.

While I allowed Jennifer and this song minister to me, I did some work. I have life coach clients, so I had to prepare myself for their phone sessions and I had other pressing things I needed to do before the hospital today.

After I finished with my clients last night. I turned right back to Jennifer and then added some of my other favorites to the playlist and as the music ministered to me, it became clearer and clearer.

Sometimes we get so caught up in life that we forget the basics. We look in so many places for those things to help ease our pain, to make us forget. Yep, shopping, food, drugs, drinking, sex all those things that in the end make you even emptier then when you first began. Turning to those things, you now have to face the shame and guilt in the over indulging, and be clear, that just adds insult to injury and takes you further than where you wanted to be.

As I got ready for bed Sunday night, it occurred to me that I've been so busy being sick and trying to keep it altogether that I have neglected a vital part of my survivor.

My fellowship with God. So I'm getting back to the basics! The best time in one's life is time spent with God! There is no greater love or relationship you can have.

Now don't miss what I'm saying. Yes, I love the Lord, my faith is solid and I have an awesome ministry as unorthodox as it is. I also know that there is nothing that can separate me from the love of God.

But I had to think about it. When was the last time that I sat still in the presence of God? When was the last time I read a meditation or even opened my Bible to read the word of God to keep me grounded?

Yes, I open the Bible to minister to others, but not so much lately for myself. Yes, I know that God renders an Aha moment each time I read His Word.  Yep, Yep,  there is new revelation every time I open the good book. So what the heck have I been doing? *blank stare* Or should I say, why haven't I been doing what I know for works for sure?!?

I've been so busy trying to prove to AIDS that it can't take all of me, I've neglected the most important part of me. I've been so busy trying to bless the people of God that I've missed my blessing. Just like you come to my blog for renewal and insight, I go to God. I hope you do to. I hope that my blog is a blessing to you, but I hope that your relationship with God is also a blessing to you and that I am second on your list.

Yes, I know where my help comes from but somehow I've lost sight. Yes, God has been watching over me, but I have not sat down with God in a while. I've been passing God up, busy fighting AIDS and doing the work of God.  This morning's mediation made it ever clearer,  Paul says in Philippians 4:4

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with Thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God will guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus Christ

How Powerful is that? Now don't be confused. Paul does not say that your petition will be granted, but he does say, you will have peace in your situation.

So I'm going back to the basics!  Not one blog will be written in the morning, nor one tweet, until I've had some time with God; Time for fellowship and renewal.

La Masion! Best Chocolate On The Planet!
Allowing Jennifer Holliday to minster to me in song gave me more peace then the best chocolate on the planet could have.

You don't need a lot, sometimes it's a Bible verse, a simple song in a quite space, and you don't need any fancy words just tell God what's on your heart and open up the word of God and read a few verses and ask God to give you understanding.

Now, remember, I'm not saying that whatever you're facing will disappear. Sometimes it what it is. Some things cannot be altered. Sometimes, time, space and circumstance dictate what it is. But I am saying that time with God will give you both peace about your situation and strength to endure.

Like the song says:
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say

It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Get back to the basics just like me! Put God on your to do list each day. You can't buy, sex, drink, drug or eat to get the peace that comes from God.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Miracle of Life... Counting Down To 50!

The Very Public Me!
I'm counting down to 50 and I'm allowing you to see a side of me that I have never allowed. I have always wanted people to see me at my best; But God laid in my spirit to show you my day to day.

I'm doing this because I want you to really understand my journey. Really understand the miracle of my life. People are always talking about God "curing" me but even with AIDS, I'm a walking miracle, a living miracle.

I want you to see the miracle in my ability to keep pressing no matter what I face day to day. See God do what we all thought was the impossible; Live beyond the days of expectation.

In many ways these videos are allowing you to see God moving in my life daily.

We expect a miracle to be this big pie dropping out of the sky, but if we would just stop and take account, you will see the miracles God are performing, and has performed in our lives.

Yes, God has and is blessing me, but I'm doing everything I need to do to live. I take my medications no matter how they make me feel because they are a part of my miracle. Don't be confused, there are people with AIDS that have drug failure.

The miracle of my life is both me and God as actors. I do what I'm supposed to do. I use the free will that God has given me to be the best I can be, no matter what I'm facing. So the combination of my will and desire to live and God moving in my life  and having purpose for my life is why I'm still here. But make no mistake this is not an easy journey.

Here are today's Videos!  Day 39!! Never Surrender!

I didn't post the last two days of Video on the blog so here you go!  
Also,  I got the You Tube Bug and more will be coming... please Subscribe to my You Tube Channel!  Click Here!

Day 40! Gettin To That Place of OK... 

Day 41! Happy To Be Alive No Matter What!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Day 42! Count Down To 50! I Wasn't Built To Break!

Today is Day 42 as I count down to 50!  I was hoping that I wouldn't get sick during this period, but it is what it is... I have AIDS and AIDS has no compassion.... Thank God I wasn't Built to Break!

Here's Todays Video! 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Herpes... Again... Overit.com!! Day 43! Count Down To 50!

I was hoping and even praying that I would get through this 50 day count down to my 50th birthday without being sick; without herpes. But I guess that prayer didn't get answered because I'm only on day 43 and I have 3 herpes lesions right there on my clit. Yep, Yep and it hurts like hell, if this is what hell feels like.

I keep telling you that AIDS has no compassion. It don't give a fuck about your life and yet some of you are still out there having unprotected sex like all you have to do is pop a pill if you become infected. For you new comers to my blog, I have an on-going issue with herpes you can read Finally Letting Go of The Shame HERE.

In a nutshell, I have drug resistant herpes. I was infected with herpes before HIV and in those early years I almost never had a herpes outbreak. But for some reason, in the last 4 years herpes has wreaked havoc on my life. The short of it, the doctors think that there is a part of my immune system that was so damaged from my early days of AIDS that now I just can't fight herpes off. They consider this an AIDS related infection because if I didn't have AIDS, I wouldn't have such aggressive herpes. While AIDS and herpes are two separate illnesses, one has made the other one worst. And by the way, if you have herpes, it's easier to become infected with HIV.

For me, NOTHING but an IV form of anti-viral medication has worked against my herpes. I've tried everything under the sun and the moon . Trying to come up with an answer, I've had more biopsies and cultures on my vulva that I care to remember. In the end, nothing works but  Foscarnet and Cidofovir  IV medications.  I just finished 49 days of the medication back in February, 2 times a day 2 hours each and the side-effects are not cute.

One Week Of IV Med's!
I knew I was headed in that direction, but praying that it wasn't so. About 3 weeks ago I started to have nerve pain again in my back and legs and had to start taking medication to help the pain, yet again.

In a nutshell, I have peripheral neuropathy that  comes and goes. We also think it is caused by herpes attacking my nervous system.  There's no real way to nail all the causes down, but we understand the core problem. It feels like someone is sticking pins and needles in my back, feet and legs.

Any who, here I am again. The doctor is trying to figure out what course of action for me to take this time around. She is trying to get me in a drug study that is an oral form of one of the IV medications. Lord knows I don't want to go back on IV medication so if they let me in the study I'll do it. This is big for me because I have never been in a drug study in all the years of my infection, but when you are at the end of the road like I am, you don't have a lot of choices. I don't want to seem ungrateful, cause I truly am grateful that there is something else to try, but I'm not excited about this one bit.

I will keep you updated but I am not happy. I'm trying not to allow this to affect my overall attitude as I continue to count down to 50. I feel kinda all messed up. I'm happy to be alive but I wish it was under different circumstance.

 Like why couldn't my health stay good just until my birthday was over. WHY? But in the real world there are sometimes no answers to the why.

I keep trying to get it through to you, that there are choices you make that will alter your life forever and the best you can do it try to keep it all together, as you fight for your life. I'm going to do whatever I must to keep me happy doing this period. But honestly, this new outbreak and the possibility of a drug study has knocked the freaking joy out of me. Pray for my health and my spirit.... Maybe prayer and a few days to digest it all I will regain my spunk. I hate AIDS.... For Real! For Real!

I hope that you get it! Some things cannot be undone! If not for the Love and Grace of God and my will to live, I think I would lose my freaking mind with this never ending disease that zaps everything from you that it can; And now it's working on my birthday joy and the miracle of my life.  Overit.com

RLT Collection Update!

I'm very proud of RLT Collection. In the last three years I've worked hard to build my bracelet line. My designs have gotten better and better and I'm proud! No, I haven't gotten that BIG break, the Basketball Wives aren't wearing my collection, but I thank God for every single customer that I have.

Your purchases help to keep food on the table in these days where speaking engagements are far and few in between and that allows me to continue to do the work that I do using Social Media. The lives that are being touched through my blog and tweeting shows that God can use anything. Equally important, I'm just honored that you would sport my bracelets. Thank you!

Freshwater Pearls and Turquoise
I give RLT Collection all that I  have; Energy, Love, Creativity and the absolute BEST Gemstones that I can find. I try to keep as close to my motto as possible, A Bracelet For Every Woman; Every price range and every personality. 

There's a lot going on with RLT Collection and I wanted to keep you up to date. I'm in the process of updating, For The Love of Black Collection and the Unisex Collection. I'm taking pictures now and they should be on the website this week.

Mother's Day is around the corner and I have a ton of new bracelets. The Yellow Collection is simply fab!  Click Here For Yellow Baby! And Don't Forget Orange Delight Here!

Now don't sleep on the SALE bracelets. The Entire Cruise and Fall Collections have been marked down 50-65% off. Also the Holiday Collection is on sale. Check out this 3 Stack Set Mother of Pearls Bracelets that Kim Coles is wearing, they are on sale too. Click Here For Holiday SALE and there are more Mother of Pearl Bracelets! Perfect For a Mother!

Check Out The Cruise Collection Here! My friend Shanna is wearing this Fab 14 mm Agate Bracelet with pave' fireball center!

Remember the wonderful Black Agates in the Fall Collection? Well, there are still some left and they are marked down up to 65% off. Remember the way my collections go, when they are sold out there are no more! Click Here For Fall Collection!

Lastly, but not least! The new Diva AIDS Awareness Bracelet! This Bracelet celebrates my life and work, $50 one dollar for each year of my life. When you wear this bracelet it's a bold statement and it challenges stigma around HIV/AIDS. It is made with 7-9 mm Freshwater Pearls and the Ribbon is Sterling Silver and red pave crystals. I am taking pre-orders to help cover the cost up front.  Click Here For AIDS Awareness Bracelet. 

Clicky Web Analytics