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

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

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

RLT Collection Tea Ball Frosted Clear Beads!

Mint Medley by The Persimmon Tree Tea Company

About This Tea:

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

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

RLT Collection AIDS Awareness Tea Ball!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 29, 2012

Look For The Right Way To Be Treated, Not Mr. Right!

Life is too freaking short to spend it waiting on Mr. Right! At 50 I don't want to spend the rest of my life by myself. NO I'm not looking for a husband. I doubt if I'll travel that path ever again, but good Lawdddd it would be great to have a man to rub my feet.

We spend our time looking for the right Mr. Right, but there is no such thing. Every woman wants a fairy tale but that person is in our dreams, not in our reality. Everyone comes to a relationship with something. EVERYONE! I come with HIV, Herpes, and a lot of crazy, thanks to my crazy childhood. But I also come smart, loving, kind, cute, purposeful and a whole lot of other good stuff.

The thing is, you have to decide what is acceptable to you. No I'm not talking about settling for something less than you deserve. The focus should be, a man who understands and appreciates your value. Someone that sees you in the wonderful image that God created you and respects that to the utmost. Someone who adds value to your life. We will come back to that in a minute.

This is the deal, people come to a relationship with a whole lot of history and that history has shaped them into who they are, from the very first day of birth.

Take me, I was in my mother's womb sucking an umbilical cord laced in heroin. That right there determined some of my journey and I didn't even have a say so. I talk about that in my new book, The Politics of Respectability, how our journey shapes who we are. It affects how we live our life,  understand our faith and the lenses from which we even read the Bible. But it also shapes our outlook on relationships.

So when you meet a person you have no real idea of what's on the inside, not until they begin to show you. That stuff on the inside ain't always cute, but it ain't always a reason to over look a man either. What it shouldn't do is leave you crazy or make you feel less than.

For the last 10 years my shop has been really closed.... That is between my legs.. Well I had that crazy bipolar fool I talked about in the Love Triangle Blog. Then  a few years later, I had the one who I believed to be the love of my life, but he came with soooo much, that it started to out shine the love and the life we were trying to build. It hurt more than it felt good and I had to let go and that was over two years ago.

But for the most part, I have come to a good place. I needed to close down shop as I was working on my own self-esteem. I had to learn my true value before I could have an expectation of a man. If you don't see yourself as God intended you to be, neither will he. The laws of attraction is real. I was looking for someone to love me, when I didn't even love myself.

Yeah, I thought my pussy was queen and if I could lay it on him, he would love me forever. But I discovered that my vagina only had the power of each fuck and after the fuck was over, I became an ordinary black woman lacking the most important ingredient to my wholeness, self-love. I stepped back, and through therapy I started to understand my demons. And once I understood them I could make that journey to eliminate their power over me. That took a lot of work and it left me lonely many a nights, but I learned to spend time with myself, to appreciate me. Have you ever explored your own body, the way you want a man to? Do you know the joys of your own self before you let someone else have them?

So I learned to love me, all of me and in that understanding I  began to open myself up to the world, to men. I come back to dating with the understanding of who I am and who's I am. But I'm not looking for some make believe ass man that don't exist. I've said it before, the movie Pretty Woman got y'all believing unrealistic shit. For Real!!

This is what I'm saying, you want someone in your life that respects you and appreciates your value. We meet someone and think he's the best thing since sliced bread and then we start to see little patches of mold and that ain't always a bad thing, but sometimes it is.

You have to ask yourself, does he make you feel worst than? I'm not talking about when he's rubbing all on your body. Good sex does not equate to a good relationship. Some of the best sex of my life were with men who in the end treated me like shit. The wet between your legs only last for a short time, but the tears on your heart can last a life time.

This is my litmus test, how he makes me feel when we ain't fucking!! How I felt when I discovered that what he said was a balled face lie!! BTW I hate liars! They keep you living in a false reality, theirs and then it becomes yours and there's nothing great about living a lie.

Yes, so ask yourself, does he make you laugh more than he makes you cry? Are you more stressed out than at peace? Like for Real, do you spend more time waiting on him to call, looking at his Twitter and Facebook page, than the time spent with him? This is a fact, listen carefully, IF A MAN WANTS TO BE WITH YOU, HE WILL MAKE THE TIME! 

Is sex always on his terms? Do you go along to get along, more often than not?  Did I say make you smile more than frown? Does he celebrate who you are and what you do or is it all about him?

Are you to afraid to talk about condom use or HIV testing for fear that he will trip? Well if he is tripping on what's important to you, then he does not value what you value and the questions becomes, why would you give yourself to someone who does not value what you value? Has he ever hit you or pushed you in anyway. A man has NO right to ever touch you in a way that hurts!

These are the real questions you have to ask yourself in a relationship? Whether it's heterosexual or same sex. I didn't forget yall, it's just that I'm a heterosexual woman and I speak out of my experiences. So the same goes for same sex relationships. If they take away more than they add, then thats ground for re-examination.

You have to stop looking for Mr. Right and  start looking for the right way to be treated! You are never going to find that prefect person. Everyone comes to a relationship with something, including you. Often times that something is what has helped to shape them and that very thing is a part of their charm.

Don't ask a person to change for you, if they don't already treat you the way you should be treated then you are off to a bad start. We are blinded by what is, for what we want it to be.

What should rule your relationship is mutual respect, admiration, celebration and love. I'm concerned with how he treats me from day one, not how I hope he will treat me. Proof is always in the Pudding. Action speaks a lot louder than words.

But at the end of the day, you can't expect a man to know your value, if you don't know your value.  When you don't know your value, you will accept anything and he will give you anything.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Facing The Ugly....

It occurred to me yesterday that I've given more energy to people talking shit about me on my blog over and above people lifting me up. I will e-mail Markeeda some dumb shit someone says about me in a heartbeat, but I can't remember not one time I've e-mailed her a positive thing.

Now let me be honest, for a moment I had stopped looking at my blog comments, my friend Peter suggested that I take a week off. He said, "Every time someone comes to your blog and tell you, "You ain't shit, it's just like your mama has been reincarnated." And he's right, to an extent, there are some women who has the spirit of my mama in this world; and my mother bless her soul is dead and gone, there is no need to keep that spirit around me. Then I got this comment the other day and it got me to thinking that been I've been throwing the baby out with the bath water.

"I am 58 years old and and while I was reading your blog, I had my 'Aha moment'.  I had an epiphany, an awakening, a heavy weight lifted.  Let me tell you something about yourself.  You are a burden-buster.  You are Jesus-like and comforting to the broken spirit.  You are helping to heal the broken-hearted.  Now, that is inspired by God, because Satan don't care how hard we hurt, he ain't backin' off.  
Use your holy gifts as inspired by Jehovah!!!I would like to thank you for opening my eyes about something and and now I don't have to carry that s _ _ t to my grave."

This was a wonderful comment. It's why I do what I do!!! So what's the problem in me? Why have I allowed people with small minds run my life and my blog? It's a fact, everything ain't for everybody. I can't  really explain why people who say they hate my life so much keep coming to my blog, other than misery loves company, or God keeps leading them back until they get their Aha Moment.

But this blog isn't about them, it's about me. I understand on one level that people will always have opinions of you, based on how they see life and that doesn't really bother me. What has bothered me is the hate people throw out of  their mouths and often time in the name of Christianity, when Jesus was all about love. I understand that I can't do a thing about that. I can only do something about me.

ABOUT ME! I've come to realize that you can't run from mean spirited people. They are everywhere; at your job, in the grocery line and even in your home. You cannot avoid them, but you can determine their importance in your life.  You can't always control how much of your physical space they take up, but your spirit and your mind belongs to you. Stop letting people take up space in your head and heart and they ain't paying rent.

You can't avoid them. First off, you won't even know the energy people bring to the table if you avoid everyone. You have to interact to know. You cannot live in a bubble.  You can't be afraid to live because you may miss out on the wonderful that will come your way. That's what I had been doing with my blog comments, missing the wonderful trying to avoid the horrible.  Last week I did a whole lot of reflecting, no provocative sex and dating blogs, just forward thinking about my life.

Fifty is doing something to me. I feel like I've been reborn again. I'm living out loud more than I ever have and I'm loving it. This Aha Moment hit me like a ton of bricks; don't throw out the good with the bad. The bad will help you be a better person too. There is a lesson in EVERYTHING!

Actually what it's done for me, all the nasty ass comments that is, it makes me more tolerant of others. They say in AA that judgments kill and they do, so now I take a second and look at everything before I draw a conclusion and sometimes I say, you just don't know. That's the truth,  you never know what someone's journey might be and how it affects them from what they wear to how that think and act.  I'm not trying to break someone's spirit, not on purpose. I see that enough on my blog.

So you can't avoid the ugly and if you face it head on, something good may actually come out of it. The ugly has a useful place in our lives, it helps us to be better people. It should show us, what we don't want to be, or do. Take them for what they add, and leave the rest right where you found it. That's what I mean about control "it" in your space.  You can't internalize it, nor should you! You know the truth about you and you can't let someone waltz into your life and try to get you straight on what you already know. But don't run from it, take it for what it is and not a tad more.  When you run from it you might miss a lesson in it or you just miss that thing that you should have stumbled upon. It's like every time I go for my morning walk, I see a new flower blooming, but if I had never taken the walk, I would have missed it. Something wonderful is always around the corner. Life is taking the good with the bad and doing the most out of them both.

Posted on my Facebook Page this week!

"Wow! I just been sitting here for the last 4hrs watching and listening to your story I have been cry not just for your situation but just you are a phenomenal woman I'm happy for you being able to still be around to tell your story and I love your attitude lol!!! If you ever come to Detroit, MI I would love to meet you in person you are a hero to so many Thank You!"

Keeping it Fresh! RLT Collection!

Onyx with Brass Center!
I'm always trying to keep RLT Collection fresh and exciting! It's long over due, but I've just added 11 new designs to the Unisex/Mens Collection! These bracelets are truly Unisex. I have some female customers who don't like all that girly, girly stuff and at the same time I have some men who want to sport my bracelets, but want more masculine stones. I have a lot of Black Onyx because it is a big seller, but I tried to design with a lot of variety.
Onyx with Coral and Pewter Center!

I'm always on the look for gemstones that will work in the Unisex Collection. This White Coral is simply perfect for the summer.
White Coral and Brass!

 I also added a new Imani Bracelet to this Collection!  Take a Peek!! Click Here for Unisex Bracelets!

Onyx and Onyx Cross!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Just Go Get Tested! Stop Playing!

I wanted to do a deep and profound  blog today, but  I ain't got it in me. Simply stated, GO GET Tested!! Stop Playing! To not know your HIV Status in 2012 is just mad crazy! You fucking ain't you?  Ok, Ok, making love, having sex, getting your groove on, whatever you want to call it, you're doing it ain't you? So why you grown enough to speed your legs, but not grown enough to open your mouth to get an HIV test? Like For Real! I' trying to understand your point of view.

I've heard it all, like I'm scared. If you are that scared of knowing then you really do need to know. It probably says that you have been in a position or two that left some level of doubt. It could be something as simple as, you had sex with someone you regret for some reason or the other. Or maybe, you learned they weren't all that they claimed to be at the front of the relationship, they were at the back end. I don't know your deep down reason for being scared, but I know it speaks to the fact that you really do need to know. Get tested and reduce your fears. If you are positive, well early treatment can give you a long life. However, most if you are negative then that weight is lifted and you can go on with your life making sure you stay that way. It's just that simple.

Now some people have said to me, I"'m not in that kind of relationship. I'm monogamous. My partner will never be outside of our relationship." Well at the end of the day you don't know what the hell your partner is capable of. What you know is what they tell you and what you see. And you better hope that what they tell you is true. At the end of the day, if the penis is not in your pocket you have NO idea what it's doing.

Besides that, you don't know what your partner comes to the table with. To live in a world this arrogant and or naive is  dangerous. If you don't know your partner's HIV status then you don't know the most important thing you need to know about you or them.

Go Get Tested And Stop Playing!! Take your partner with you and if they don't love themselves enough to go with you, then they don't love themselves enough to be with you....

To Locate a Testing Site Click Here!

It's Here!! The Politics of Respectability

I'm sooooo excited!!! The paperback edition of my 2nd book, The Politics of Respectability is at the printer's!!! POW! I'm taking Pre-Orders!!!

 I can't believe that I've actually done it, but I did!! I've published my second book. My memoir is next 2013!

The Kindle version has been available for a little under a month and the feedback has been great! The paperback is ready for purchase.  The first shipment of books should arrive in the next 5-7 days and all pre-orders will be shipped out right away. Pre-orders will help me cover the up-front printing costs.

This is one review on my book...

"This book is a must read!!! I completed it in just two days. This is an accurate account of attempting to learn about and find your way as a black woman. Rae gives it to you straight with no chaser, as she gives details on abuse, relationships and the ugly side of sexual relationships that have gone bad. Rae's story gives insight into the secrets of the black family that causes our children to grow up looking and searching for the love they never received at home. She shows how a person's childhood has a direct impact on their future. Rae's accounts of her perseverance through all her life struggles will be a blessing to everyone who reads the book." More Reviews  Also, if you have already read The Politics of Respectability please give a review on Amazon Kindle!

A Facebook Post About The Book!

"I purchased your book when it first came out on Amazon. Because I have a busy days w/ two teenagers @ home, I wasn't able to finish it until now. Let me just say it was an amazing book, that held my attention every time I picked it up. Can't wait for your next one. You are an amazing woman. Keep doing what God has called you to do!!!...Be Blessed!!!"

About The Book!

This book is my story. It unpacks the core of who I am and what I do. I don’t know how to be anything else. I am my ministry and my ministry is wrapped around my journey.

My experiences have shaped me for better or worse and they inform my day-to-dayness. My journey landed me into Delta and it landed me out of Delta. This book traces my journey and my collision course with, “The Politics of Respectability, from my mother to men.

The need to be seen as respectable ruled my life and left me battered as a girl physically, emotionally and sexually abused and then as a woman living with HIV in secret for 7 years.

Ways to Purchase The Book

NOWMy Website Click Here For The Paperback! Autographed Copies! 

Also in about 10 days you will be able to purchase  the book at:

 Create Space Website an (Amazon  Affiliate For Self-Publishing)  

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Colors of Flowers!

Pictures I've Taken On My Morning Walks!
I typically begin designing a new collection for RLT Collection months in advance. I'm usually inspired by one strand of gemstones I spot while perusing. I never know how it's going to shape up, and then I sit at my design board and magic happens. I love love love designing a full collection! It's like being re-born all over again. 
I get fresh flowers, honestly, whenever my budget can handle it. However, in the summer months I have the good old Farmer's Market where the prices are great and I get a few new bunches for my home every Saturday, unless I'm on the road or something. I never would have thought that my love for flowers would have inspired my latest collection, but it did! Here you go! The Colors of Flowers! Summer 2012 RLT Collection! Click Here For Full Collection!

Ghana Glam!
Keeping with my motto, A Bracelet For Every Woman, I have something for every woman. Every, personality and every price range. I also incorporated some of my signatures designs into the collection. Yes there are Imani bracelets, featuring crosses and of course, there are RLT Signature designs, featuring the 3 center stones in the front of a bracelet. The number three is so significant in so many cultures, and it also represents the RLT in my name.
Imani Bracelet
 I also designed some bracelets with beads imported  from Brazil; the Fun and Funky Brazilian Resin Bracelets and also wonderful beads from Ghana that adds an ethic twist to the collection. 
There is something for everyone, but for sure you will find the different colors of flowers!! I tried my best to keep the prices as low as I could. I understand that the economy is bad and I wanted to give you a chance to pick up a bracelet or two from the The Colors of Flowers! Summer 2012 Collection. 

Bone and Angelic Crystal! I wear almost every day!
In The Summer Collection you will also find Agates, Jade, Pearls, Mother of Pearls, Amethyst, Bone Bling and No Bling, but for sure, there is a bracelet for every woman in The Colors of Flowers! Summer 2012 Collection!

RLT Signature! Amethyst and Freshwater Pearls!

I hope that you will check out my Summer Collection and spread the word. Honestly, my bracelets help to keep me afloat, especially in the summer months when speaking is farrrrrrr and in between. Some days I be on my last dime, #ForReal and then I get a bracelet sale...  I am grateful for every customer! Thank you!!!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Define Your Damn Self!

This morning I woke up to a Tweet that said #FollowFreedom @Raelt because she is a strong woman. This Tweet came from Ann, one of my followers, a middle aged white woman who has been very supportive of my work on Twitter. The first thing that struck me when I saw the tweet was, "She ain't never lied."

You have to be a strong woman when someone comes to your blog and straight up calls you a whore and they can't name one man you've fucked, other than the ones I've told them. And damn, how many women you know would be honest enough to admit half of the stuff that I have on this blog and in my speaking engagements, just so it can help someone get to their Aha Moment. I don't have to open my life up, but I do. I do because this is my gift and I know that, just like I know a great handbag, and Lawd do I know a great handbag!   

My transparencies have set me free! It has made me a better person, for me.  So go ahead and call me names. You don't define me. I define ME! And today I want you to know that I am, Smart, Compassionate, Brilliant, Educated, Fabulous, Well-dressed, Well-Read, Creative, Exciting, Strong just like Ann said, Loving, Lovable, Kind-Hearted, Beautiful, Pretty, Covered, Blessed, Gifted, Anointed, And Yes SAVED, ummm, did I say Intelligent? A Child of God created in God's image and likeness, just like you! 

So go ahead and label me, but your labels don't define me. I define me!  I'm a BADDD Bitch and a Smart Ass Whore! Now, what are you working with?

Can you define you as well as you define me? Or are you living a lie? Are you too focused on my fucks, my language, my methodology, my Diva to look within your own self?

There's an African Proverb that says, "He Who Conceals His Disease cannot expect to be cured." I'm so glad that I have , named my shit, and I do it every day so that I can continue to grow and live in peace and happiness.

Look at this picture, do you see that I am smiling with my eyes? That's freedom to love me and life because I've been able to face myself. In the facing, there is understanding of self! I'm happy to say, I know who I am and who's I am!!

Go ahead, I give you permission to stop being mad at me for my freedom and start working on your own freedom.

Go within! Introspection is a good thing. If you can't name it publicly, it's ok to write it on a piece of paper. But do it!! Now, the key is to be perfectly honest with yourself. And once you are honest with yourself, it does not matter what people say about you, because you are at a place to Define Your Damn Self!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Expert Your Damn Self!

In just two days I would have lived one full month in my 50th year of life. I am so liking 50! It's as if I've been reborn. No, not as a different person, the same person with a better understanding of life; MY LIFE!

 I have discovered some stuff about myself. Self discovery at any age is always good, but I think the older you get, the more you should be comfortable in your skin. I've been trying to make sense out of life for a very long time and actually I've been trying to make sense out of me. Not because I don't know me, but because sometimes life and people make me doubt me.

Which is another thing I've discovered at 50, I don't want to spend the rest of my life trying to figure out people's issues in a way that it helps to explain their issue with me. There is so much more to life than to be stuck in bullshit, mine or anybodies else. Spending more energy on trying to get people to like you, rather than liking yourself is wasted time. Self-approval must come first, and if you are mad crazy about what other people think, then you are not comfortable in your own skin. When you like you, you will draw the people in your life that will value, the value in you. If your time is spent people pleasing, then you don't like you as much as you like other people liking you. 

My Diva Yesterday Wearing Summer RLT Collection Bracelets!
I don't know how much longer I have to live, shoot I thought that I would be dead by now. But I'm not and I'm not wasting one more moment on hogwash. It took me a long time to learn to like myself and then love myself; years of tears, prayer, and therapy but I've arrived! I have drawn that conclusion. I like me and I'm comfortable with me and it's showing in everything that I do, from how I dress, to what comes out of my mouth, to my work, whether it is life-coaching, designing bracelets or challenging stigma around HIV, I'm good!

Yes, self discovering is a wonderful thing. Sometimes we let life and people keep us hanging in the balance trying to make sense of it all; afraid if we name it someone will criticize us. That's deep, we be scared to name who we are for fear that someone will say shame on you! But then what's the point of knowing who you are if you can't name it?

You can't grow if you don't understand your starting point. Don't let others define for you, what you can define for yourself. You are smart enough to know you. There ain't shit a person can tell you about yourself that you don't already know. You must speak truth to power!  If you don't name it, you cannot grow. Acceptance is half of the ball game.

Truth be told, at the end of the day, another person's spin on your life, may be bogged down with their shit and they may be defining you based on their own madness. Your madness is what counts and is enough!

I know I'm speaking some truths right here... Don't miss it. There have been times in my life where I've done some shit and said, "Girl, now you know that shit was wrong for you and everybody involved." Often times we go into situations with best intentions, and sometimes, shit happens and we try to figure out how we even got there, but that's life. Figure it out and move on. Grow from it! And no you don't have to explain it to anybody else. See, when you do that, you are asking for approval in a sort of way. BIG MISTAKE!  People will never understand your journey the way you understand your journey. Don't spend one moment trying to make them say, it's ok. That approval will have to come from within. You are the most important person to you, you have to be the one that is ok.

You are living in your skin. Your experiences are yours, take ownership for you and be ok with that.  You don't have to kick your ass, the lesson learned was enough and you certainly don't need someone else kicking your ass.

Then there have been other times, when I've said, "I don't like how this feels." No one had to tell me to stop, my honest introspective said it for me.  Everyone wants to be your expert, expert your damn self! True growth will only come from introspective.

Lynn, Me and Michelle!
Why work on you if you can't validate you? I had a Sista Girl Lunch yesterday with relationship expert and author Michelle Mckinney Hammond and finance Guru Lynn Richards and we talked about being authentic. Michelle said, "When you have been set free, you are free indeed."  She also said, "Religious Folk are so bound up." Give yourself permission to set your self free.

Be your own expert! Know that you know, that you know. But to know, you have to look within and be honest and then live in your truths! Don't let people shame you for you.  The longer you stay bogged down in shame, the longer it will take you to be a better you.

Summer RLT Collection
As I move in this universe in this next half century, I'm moving with more confidence and self assured then ever before! That I know for sure.

I also know that I'm on an awesome journey right now. With this self-assurance I've come to an openness in life that I have never had before. Something is changing in me. I can't name it but I can feel it. But the starting point was accepting me for me.  And I'm ok being ok with the fact that the me I'm ok with, won't be ok with everyone else. I can't live my life for everybody else, I live for me and the purpose that is within me.

PS... Don't Forget RLT Reads has a new book.  In My Father's House by E. Lynn Harris. The book discussion will be held on July 19th, so START reading. Also if you are a big FAN of E. Lynn Harris's books  there is a wonderful contest with Cuisine Noir Magazine connected to this book... Don't sleep on it! Click here For Details. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Reflection: Self Care is Self Love!

I've been threatening to take better care of myself for months, but something always seems to get in the way. Yep, one project or another always seems to be more important than me. I work and work until I crash.

I keep a breakneck schedule almost never coming up to smell the roses, literally or figuratively. And that only adds layers of stress to me both physically and emotionally. STRESS is a KILLER People!!

I never ever listen to my body! In spite of the fact that Markeeda and Luke screams it from the top of their lungs. I understand that, but no matter how I plan time for myself it never seems to work out, I break the plan within a week. For real. It is a sad reflection on my self-care.

Then I went on vacation and there I realized how much I needed time to renew, not just yearly, but daily. I came back to Chicago rested and committed to get more balance in my life and then after a week that commitment went to hell in a hand basket. I started to think about the fact that there are no speaking engagements on the books, and everything changed. Work became my best friend yet again. It became my God and I dropped the goddess in me like a hot potato.

Me and Sophie In the Ocean in Turks and Caicos
Within a week I was back to my old workaholic self, but my body started to feel the stress right away and right away and I was singing that same old song about how I needed to find BALANCE!

Then last week I had a welcomed interruption, well not at first but sort of. My good friend Peter called out of the blue and said he was driving to Chicago to lay his eyes on me. He was tired of seeing me through Facebook. I was happy to see him, but the visit came at a bad time... Ummm I HAVE WORK TO DO!

Entertain, ha and I told him, "You can come BOO, but I have WORK to do! Well Peter brought the spirit of renewal with him and it became contagious. Every time I started to work, he would start a new and profound topic that distracted me from my work and forced me to sit on the sofa with him and relax. It became infectious. So we spent most of the time curled up on the sofa with a cup of tea, hashing out life.

One View on My Morning Walk!
During that same time, I had another friend to drop by and Peter thought that he had a wonderful spirit.  After he left Peter convinced me to go walking with my friend, who has been pleading with me for two years. OK, so I agreed mostly to shut Peter up, but OMG it was exactly what I needed.

My visit with Peter helped me tremendously and I figured out part of my problem. I work against myself not with myself. My body was in sync with the schedule we kept in Turks. The mornings are a gift from God to my body and my spirit. I am my best at the top of the day. The only reason my  days became a drag was that I extend myself way into the night when it's not necessary and that affected the next day. In Turks I gave myself permission to chill and to go to sleep. With Peter hanging out I gave myself permission to stop and enjoy the moments.

I'm coming to terms with it all; the need to renew and how that directly impacts your mind, body and spirit. There will always be a next project and something that needs to get done, but there will only be one of you. There is no need to destroy you in the process of getting it done.

Living with AIDS is hard enough. It works against the body and the spirit and there is no need in helping it to kick my ass. I'm clearer than ever! Self-Care is Self-Love! I no longer have any guilt when I stop my morning project to take my morning walk. The walk is just as important as the work. They both serve to add value to my life.

This has been a breakthrough for me of sorts. The combined trip to Turks and then Peter's visit helped me to see the path that I must take to be a better me for me. Then, actually taking the time, I mean TAKING it proved its own point. I had been playing lip service to rest, but once I really allowed myself to rest guilt free, I could see more clearly. My body was happy and grateful and my spirit was thankful.

Another Morning View...
It does not matter if you have a high paced job or work at McDonalds, whether you're a student or a mother, you must create some time to take care of you for you. At the end of the day, your worth to others and most importantly to yourself will only grow if you are able to be the best you can be. If you spend every moment of your day, until you lay your head down being busy, you are doing yourself a disservice.

As I am working to be the best I can be for me in this next half century of my life, I challenge you to start now! Join me in self-renewal and self-care. Step away from the crazy of the day! Step away from the crazy of the people, even step away from your goals for at least an hour every day. Take a walk, read a book, flip through some magazines, listen to some music. I downloaded Sting's Symphonicities, I had forgotten that I like soft rock.

See this as an investment in your feature. No one will love you like you. Don't devalue your life like people devalue their things. Invest in yourself! Continue to let the value of who you are grow. Happy Monday!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

RLT Reads Book Club! We Are Back With A Bang!!

E. Lynn Harris
I know some of you have been saying what the heck ever happened to RLT Reads Book Club? Well life got in the way. For Real!! But We Are BACK!!! And We Are Back With A BANG!!!

OMG! I'm so excited about this latest book, no I haven't read the book, I'm reading it for the first time with you. I'm excited because I love this author. He was a wonderful spirit and great writer who brought his characters to life. I have read well over half of his books.

E. Lynn Harris was a giant of a man. He really was! He lit up every room he entered. I'm happy to have met and worked with him before his death. He was just as down to earth and authentic as anyone could possibily be. A Black Gay man, who worked hard on himself, to love himself and then he shared that love with the rest of us through his writings. He was determined to get the story out. He sold his first book out of the back seat of his car. For Real! Now that is determination.

He made the issue of the "Down Low" i.e.  black men who have sex with men and relationships with women an important topic in the African-American community. He did it because he believed that it was time that WE ALL took ownership and our culpability, gay and straight. Invisible Life and Just As I am were ground breaking works that helped to give black gay men in the closet voice and society as a whole a better understanding of the way.

E. Lynn lived this closet life for years, but when he got his Aha Moment, everyone knew it! He told me once, "I couldn't face myself anymore. Nor could I face black women. I had to change my life." He was passionate about the topic and he kept it alive through his literary works. 

Chef Wilbert Jones
E. Lynn's death was a shock to everyone, but he lives through his books. As we approach the 3rd anniversary of his death, RLT Reads is joining Chef and cookbook author Wilbert Jones to celebrate his memory in a very special way.

So this is the deal. Wilbert was a very close friend of E. Lynn Harris and I'm happy to also call Wilbert my friend.  He has teamed up with Cuisine Noir Magazine and the Publisher, St. Martin Press to keep E. Lynn's Literary works alive.

RLT Reads is happy to join in this tribute. E. Lynn's last book, In My Father's House is what we will begin reading ASAP! As usual, I will host an on-line discussion of the book, on Thursday July 19, 2012, at 7:00 CST, 8:00 P.M. EST.

On Friday, July 20th at noon, Me and one lucky person will join Wilbert and eight guests (friends and colleagues of E. Lynn's) in his Gold Coast Neighborhood for a book discussion of In My Father's House. Cuisine Noir Magazine will photograph and publish the afternoon. How cool is that?

Wilbert is an incredible host, I've had the pleasure to dine in his home. This lay out for Cuisine Noir is on how to host a book club discussion in your home. This is so exciting!

So how do you get picked? Great Question! Write a 250 max word essay of What  E. Lynn Harris Literary Works Mean to You. Wilbert will read your essay and decide the lucky person. E-mail your essay to me no later than June 30th at midnight rae@raelewisthornton.com The essay will also be featured on the Diva Living With AIDS Blog along with your picture, the day we announce the winner. 

Ummm and you know you should be following me... :) 

 Again, the selected winner will be invited to attend the book luncheon at the home of Chef and cookbook author Wilbert Jones (who was a friend of E. Lynn's), in Chicago's Gold Coast Neighborhood. 

NOTE: The selected winner must provide his/her own transportation and accommodations, if traveling from out of town... 

The Amazon Link to the paperback book HERE

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Crafting Our History: Part Two

On Monday I wrote a blog about how we recount our history. I used a few examples based on my own history and did so without any quantifiable statements, to do so would have defeated the purpose of the blog; that people tell their story in a way to meet other people's approval rather than in the hard cold truth, there by distorting history and leaving no space to either heal from the past or learn from the past. (Part One Read Here)

For the most part, I expected to receive the criticism that I received. I didn't expect people to just outright attack me, but it is what it is. Overit.com  One woman even unfollowed me on Twitter because I dared to admit that I had a relationship with a man married to another woman. While she "like" my work for the most part, my admission was over the top and she was outraged that I would admit such a thing and said it made her think about own marriage and created some kind of fear in her. I guess that fear is what made her lash out at me. Looking at my truths made her think about her own and who wants to think about truth? So instead I was attacked....

My friend Peter was here visiting me for a few days, he is a pastor in the Methodist Church and he said to me, "Baby they are reading your blog between your legs and not from your head," and that struck me as another truth that made me say, "Damnnnnn." The other observation he made, was that my most vocal critics are Black Christian Women, and he ventured to say, that most of them are single. That observation gave both of us something to think about, especially because he pastors.

I wanted to talk about remembering our history from our heart also, but before I go there I want to explore Monday's blog topic some more. No, today's blog is NOT a quantifying blog either. I will not explain my relationship with my former lover so that you can like me or feel differently about me. If that one admission changes everything then so be it. It is my truth and I live in truth, if my truth is too much for you then very well.  If I should ever talk more about that relationship one day, it will because I was led there by a greater force than you and that there are other lessons learned that I need you to get.

At the end of the day,  some of you proved the very point that I was trying to make. I'm sure there were others who felt the same way as my Twitter follower, but didn't voice it to me.  I found it interesting that only one person said to me anything about the example that I used recounting a part of one my childhood history of molestation, where I said that, "I wiped semen off my 9 year old vagina and didn't understand what it was." No one voiced their concern over that example but did over the married man and that was also telling, especially for the ones who came to my blog  and made comments in the name of Christianity.  So what is it about a person(s) that devalue molestation over and above their concern for adultery? I'm not going to try to answer that question either in today's blog, but I will come back another day.

 I'm a story teller and it occurred to me even more so after Monday's blog that in the past I have in many ways told my story in such a way that would make it easier for people to like me or find me appealing in some way. Yes, like Markeeda says, I tell everything, but it's the how that I'm tackling today. I've always had the need to say that I never had a one night stand nor had sex on the first date; yep quantifiable statements. About two years ago, I wrote blog about how I came to a place in therapy where I had to face the fact that I had dated men that I loved, but also some that I wanted to love me.  (It was pulled from the blog for my new book.)

While I had been able to make that admission, there was still a part of me that was spinning in such a way for you to still like me. Just recently it occurred to me that I hadn't really moved beyond the fuck as I thought I had; that in someway, I was still trying to convince you that I wasn't a hoe. In that blog last week, Moving Beyond the Fuck, I said that I don't intend to quantify that any more either. I had sex, I started having sex when I was 13 and it is what it is.

What does it matter if I contracted HIV on one fuck, two fucks or three? Does the number of fucks determine if you will have any compassion for me? And if so why? Especially if you live by the agape love we claim our Christian faith to be rooted in? Or are we playing Christianly? But I'll move on because today's blog isn't to beat up on Christians either, it's to ask the simple question; Why is it important for people to craft their history in a pretty package to meet the approval of others? 

I will not give you answers today, but I have many questions for you to ponder. You must come to your own answer.... I don't live inside of you and I would never be so bold as to try to tell you about yourself. 

I am asking you to ponder on these;

1) What do we miss if we live in a world of half truths?

2) Do we ever live whole or do we compartmentalize our life for the rest of our life? There's a saying, if we don't know our history we are bound to repeat it. Buddhists believe that in reincarnation we re-live that thing over and over again until we understand it, but how can you understand what you never face?

3) What does that mean for a history that is distorted?  Who learns?  Do we not cheat society? Cheat ourselves?

4) If we can't speak the truth then how do we grow?

5) What lessons do we learn if any, if we are not honest about our journey?

6) What power do we surrender when we fail to be honest?

7) Is the love of others more important than the love of self?

8) And if we cannot be honest in this space how can we be whole in this space?

9) Are we doomed to live in silence for the rest of our lives in order to live in community? And does not the community live whole because I live whole? Martin Luther King, Jr. believed that society was connected as one and when there was an injustice of one it affected the whole. In this way, does not growth of one effect the growth of others? Why are we afraid to rise above community for the betterment of both community and ourselves.  King writes in the Letter From The Birmingham Jail, "Jesus Christ was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment." When are you willing to rise above your environment for love, truth and goodness?

10) Why is Respectability and decorum more important than the truth?

11) Why do we strive to be the second best of someone else, rather than the best of who we are?

12) And even if we are not willing to face own truths, why do we object to others speaking their truths?

13) And why is it more important to cast judgment on someone else's journey, rather than look at our own journey?  What need is there in you to tell someone else how horrible of a person they are?

An author Hillary McFarland and friend of Peter's sent him this message to him Facebook to give to me, "For Your friend Ms. Thornton, It is a grave disservice to the heart, soul, body and spirit of a woman when she is given the subtle message that the truth of her own pain is not as important as the reputation of the ones who inflict it." "Quivering Daughters"

I will ask again, what truths in your life are you denying so that you can meet the approval of others and live in community, rather than live whole

As for me, I would prefer to live whole on a Island with nature, rather than live in community broken. 

Why don't we peel the layers off our souls and look in... and then be honest with what you see. Growth will only come through honest introspective of one's self...
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