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

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Olde To Porn Tities...

My Porn Tities Before The Mediport!
I always thought that I had porn tities. Not the kind that are super big, but the ones that are round and shapely and lay just that certain way; easy on the eyes so to speak. Even as I've aged my breast have been the one body part I prized the most. Well, I do have pretty legs and feet, but my breast at 38 D whether covered or uncovered made a point. Then this past December  I had a medi-port place in my chest, right above my porn tities!

Somewhere the medical procedure went astray and before I left the hospital it became infected. Three days later when my home healthcare nurse took the bandage off, I was red, raw and scared up. Click Here to read about my mediport drama. You can also such Mediport on my blog for that saga.

After the First Mediport
The medi-port drama wouldn't go away to save my life. They took that port  out three weeks later then put another one in another three weeks later. Needless to say, I've been cut three times over my pretty porn tities, disrupting the flow of things.  Like my chest was the introduction to my beautiful porn tities; like for real, for real. Shoot, at 51 with AIDS a woman feels like she has got to have some physical attributes. And don't you dare tell me that I'm smart and pretty. My scared up chest was not something that I signed up for and it has been an emotional adjustment.

My Chest Now!
Now, I know this may seem like a small thing to some of you, it may even seem shadow, but I know that every woman thinks there is at least one part of her body, that is the best part, so stop judging. This is some real talk, when your body is altered because of your health, it leaves you feeling helpless and for some even hopeless.

Now in honesty, in the fullness of living with AIDS, I know that my porn tities disruption is a small thing. But for real, it has cause me some embarrassment of sorts. I took this picture on the right last week and all I could think about was the ugly scares on my chest. But then I started to think about my girlfriend Alicia who has porn tits for real for real. I mean for real! I mean, big and shapely and easy on the eyes for real for real. I mean, my 38 D cannot compare to her ummm 44D no matter how hard I wished. When I thought about her beautiful breast I felt shame for how I felt about my scares. 

Alicia Before her Surgery
In the last two months, I've watched her on Instagram, morn the lost of her beast, that is before they took her breast. Each time she posted a picture something inside of me hurt because she hurt. Each picture was like a celebration of what would be no more. Odle to real porn tities, I thought one night. 

Alicia is a  breast cancer survivor now two times. In 2009 I  watched her through surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. She never missed a beat,  for real y'all.  She never even left home without earrings or lipstick. She is my kind of Diva. Then a couple of months ago, she was diagnosed yet again. This time, they had to remove that same breast that they had cut tumors from almost four years earlier

They took her breast last week, and I've watched her new pictures on Instagram. With one breast removed she's still wearing lipstick and earrings with a smile that says I will not let you take my dignity Cancer! Follow Her on IG @Kushluvshouse13

Alicia  After Her Surgery 
While, I'm over here complaining about my scared up chest, I need to slap myself. I can't imagine the lost that she must be feeling. I wish I could change her destiny, but it is what it is.

Because of Alicia, I've been thinking a lot about breast cancer lately. How black women are often diagnosed late and that our survivor rate is less than that of white women. Go to the Black Women's Health Imperative for more information. Click Here

Self Breast Exam
I wonder why, like really, why is the survivor rate for black women with breast cancer worst than any other race?

 Some of it must be poverty, lack of access to health care and mammograms, but how much can we blame on health disparities? There are places that give free mammograms in every state. So then is it lack of information?  Or, at our base line, do Black Women think this is not our issue? Are their some cultural issues around modesty, especially for older black women? Is there an issue with the thought of someone you don't know looking and touching your breast, even in a medical setting?

Let me go a little deeper. These questions must be asked because a breast exam is free. Like I don't see the problem. We can give our own self a breast exam in the privacy of our home.

 I remember after Mrs. Jacqueline Jackson  the wife of Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., her sister to breast cancer, she kept a fake breast on the table. Every woman that entered her home, she made them touch it. People had thought she had gone mad. But I got it! She had lost her sister and only if  the cancer had been caught early, her sister would've  been sitting around that table with her.

Alicia After Her Surgery
Ok, so we won't touch our own breast in the privacy of our home, but we will let a man suck, bite, squeeze,  gnaw, grab and some even let man cum on their breast. I don't get it, but yet in the privacy of our home, we still can't touch our own breast.

Some of you will even have contempt for the pictures in this blog. I don't get it. We are so fucking self-righteous that we can't even take care of ourselves.

Maybe you think you are to young to get breast cancer. Well, I've known women in in their thirties.  Furthermore, you need to start giving yourself breast exams early so you can learn the shape of your breast, so if there is a shift, you will recognize it.

Breast Cancer is a woman's issue and we need to be addressing it in our organizations, in our homes and among our girlfriends. How old is your mother? Have you asked her when she had her last mammogram?

There is something for all of us to do. It's not enough to Pin A Sister with a pink ribbon. We need to touch our breast, and we need to make sure that the women in our life are touching their breast. You can Click Here to watch a video on how to do a self-breast exam.  Click Here for help locating a place for free mammograms. Chicago has a great program for free mammograms, Click Here for details.

Change starts with you. Unfortunately for Alicia, even though the cancer was discovered early, it came back, which is sometimes the case. Now, as I complain about the scars on my chest, I watch her deal with the lost of a breast. She will have reconstructed surgery in a few months, until then I watch and I pray. On Social Media, she tells her story, she challenges the stigma and shame around the lost of a breast, of course wearing lipstick, earring and  RLT Collection bracelets, but only God knows her real pain. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday Reflection: Gratitude-In Spite Of!

I heard the birds singing and I opened one eye to see if the sun was out. I could barely move from exhaustion from the BlogHer Conference and the nerve pain medication that I'm taking, which makes me groggy, but as I lay in bed this morning my heart was filled with gratitude. I could hear and see and in spite of my exhaustion and pain level, I could even move. I opened both eyes to check on my baby girl, and Sophie was buried in the pillows next to me sleeping like a wild child and probably happy to be home from the four night stay in the hotel this past week.

I checked my phone for the time, it was 5:30 A. M. and I crawled out of bed to use the bedroom. As I laid back down I remembered out the blue the time I woke up in a hotel room and I couldn't walk. I had to crawl to the bathroom and back to the bed. I was on the road planning to speak at the University of Illinois in Champaign and overnight, I developed Herpes Zoster (Shingles). The pain was so intense walking was near impossible. It was an event for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and I was determined to not leave my "Sorors" hanging. My doctor wanted me to come home immediately, but with a hard head and determination I stayed.

By that evening I had sores from the top of my butt to the bottom of my feet. My Godchild, Toi,  took the bus down to be with me and that night she had to help me get dress. That night I stood by the grace of God for almost two hours in 4 inch heels. Toi drove me back to Chicago, me laid out in the back seat of my car. When we arrived home in the middle of the night, I had to crawl up the two flights of stairs to get to my apartment and crawl back down that morning to go to the doctor. Recovery took over a month. I couldn't walk and morphine was the only thing that relieved my pain.

No matter how I look, or how active I seem to people, I understand clearly, with AIDS you can get hit from nowhere and it is what it is. Most days I get hit actually, it's just some days I get hit harder than others. Somedays I smile through it, other days I cuss through it.

Because this life of AIDS is unpredictable, I never take it for granted. Now don't be confused, there are days when I think I've had enough. Days when I want to cuss, fuss and rant through it and do, and a smile is foreign to my face. Days when I want to say enough is enough. 

Like these past three weeks on IV medication, I was so sick I couldn't  think straight and I had a funky attitude to go right along with how I was feeling. People don't understand the drama one is faced when a medication that is making you better in one area but it also makes you so sick in another. For sure, for me there is a hopelessness I feel. Its like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Especially when I have no control. It makes you lose perspective, the larger picture.

Yet at the end of the day, I understand that life is a blessing. I get it! I'm alive!  This is my life, my struggle, but yet I still have gratitude.

So this morning when I heard the birds signing, telling me that it was a new day, I was overwhelmed in my heart and my spirit. 

Today, I had perspective and with perspective, I could smile, smile because I could hear the birds singing, see my baby girl laying peacefully next to me. I could walk to the bathroom on my feet and despite all I've been through, I still have my right mind. I was filled with nothing but gratitude this morning in spite of my lie with AIDS.

Post Scrpit: I'm looking for a blog editor send your info to Rae@raelewisthonton.com

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Never Doubt Your Place in this Space!!

Last year this time I was trying to scarp up money to go to BlogHer. I knew it was an important conference in the life of a blogger. Thanks to some of my biggest supporters, friends I've met through twitter, off to the Big Apple I went. I met a lot of sponsors and a lot of bloggers.

I got a lot of stuff "freebies" from companies us wanted us to blog about their product. I got a lot of helpful hits on how to make my blog better. But when I left, I had not met one person in BlogHer's leadership nor had I secured one sponsor for my blog.

In the year following the conference  I came up with some Aha Moments. For sure my blog is a serious content blog. For sure it will remain first person. My blog is my journey, my life, my opinion, my laughable moments, my good, bad and ugly. My blog is about my life, when I shit on myself and when others shit on me. I'm ok with the path that I've taken because my gift is my life. Ironically, my life has also been my curse. It's been such a painful journey for me from birth to 51, but yet God has given me that extra; the stuff that makes me keep going when I wanta quit. 

I had resolved that I may never get a sponsor and I'm ok with that. I'm ok because my blog is not about making money, it's about enriching the life's of others. I share my life with the hope that someone will keep going, will do something different, something better about their lives.

So low and behold, I was knocked out of bed one morning when I received an email from BlogHer asking me to be the closing keynote speaker for their HealthMinder Day! Shut Up!! I mean someone else thinks that what I do is worth sharing. WOW! So tomorrow I will have what's called a keynote conversation. Interviewing me in front of hundred's of bloggers will be Jeannine Harvey the Social Media director of the powerful organization Onemoms. 

We will discuss my groundbreaking work in Social Media; How I've used Social Media to advance the issues of HIV/AIDS. We will talk about how I've built my brand though my authentic, candor and transparency. I'm honored to have been asked to talk about what I do and why I do it. I've said it over and over, I came to Social Media when my speaking engagements died up with the dead economy because God still had work for me to do. Social Media was a free forum  to continue to challenge stigma around HIV, educate and give hope.

I'm proud that I've been able to grow with the 21st century I've been criticized for my candor and transparency. I've even been criticized for my overall use of Social Media. Tomorrow is worth every negative conversation about me and my work. I'm honored that BlogHer, recognizing my ground breaking use of Social Media and I'm excited about giving other bloggers some insight  on how to grow their brand through the use of Social Media. I'm honred to be among the list of keynote speakers. U. S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Seblius is the opening speaker.

What I know for sure is this simple. If you follow the path that God has chosen for you... God will make room for your gifts. Never doubt your place in this space called the universe. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Just Keep On Keeping On!

This is my latest You Tube UpDate...  Just know that no matter what you are facing, keep on keeping on.. God will never forsake you...

Just a little up date on my life as I continue to muddle through this life...

Friday, July 12, 2013

Making Sense of Sisterhood: A Retospective on Delta Sigma Theta!

As Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. celebrates their centennial anniversary this week, I'm muddling through still trying to make sense of the meaning of Sisterhood.

I remember the day that I was inducted into Delta Sigma Theta, I walked that aisle with tears streaming down my face. Never in my wildest imagination did I think my dream of being a Delta would come true.

I always wanted to be a Delta. It's just that my first two years in college I was so busy in politics registering my classmates to vote, boycotting the university's foundation because of it's investments in apartheid South Africa, that I never got around to pledging. Then I quit school to hit the road to work on Rev. Jesse Jackson's presidential campaigns and by the time I went back to school I was 27 and then I made a transition to AIDS. When I made a transition to AIDS, I knew that I would never be a Delta. Back then, the life expectancy was 2-3 years at most for someone living with "full-blown" AIDS.

Even as my health was failing and I crisscrossed this country trying to educate, telling my story to as many as I could before I died, I still had Delta in my heart. College students would ask me if I pledged and I would respond, "No, but I'm a Delta Wanta Be." I would joke and say, "Ima have them engrave that on my tombstone, "Delta Wanna Be."

Then as I rose to fame in my HIV/AIDS activism, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority, Inc. was the first to call. It was an unofficial /official call to see if I wanted it. It was a done deal I was told, if I said yes. I took a deep breath and said, while I respect your organization, I cannot accept. I have always wanted to be a Delta and it wouldn't be fair to you for me to wear your letters. Delta didn't call for another 4 years, but they called.

The Day I was Inducted!
As the convention open's today, the thought that I am not walking down that aisle with other Honorary members is beyond my understanding. The rescinding of my Honorary Membership on May 1, 2012, 12 years after I was inducted, is still baffling to me.

 I've been to every convention since I was inducted but two. One I missed because it was around the same time I graduated from seminary, and the other I missed because I never got a return call from the national office. I had been struggling with my health and got a late start.

The 12 years that I was a member of Delta, I went to conventions and I hung with Soror's and gave my support to the sorority as best as I could. Often coming home so wiped out it would take over a week to re-group with my health.

While some will say get over it. I say, this is not your life and it's easier for you to dismiss my pain. Delta has always been in my heart. I had Soror's tell me that they had never seen Honorary members until me, stay the entire convention and hang out with Soror's. I attend even the collegiate events. That was me, I was all in!

Hanging with Soror's the day I was inducted
So today, I'm trying to make sense of the meaning of Sisterhood. I'm sure many Delta's want me to stop talking about this. I get it, who wants to face the reality of what the national executive committee has done.

Be clear, I'm never going to stop talking about this ever because I understand when we stop talking about something, we silence history. Just like pledges have to know who Honorary members are and their accomplishments, I will continue to tell my story of this sad and painful ending.

Me and other Honorary Members 
This blog is a year retrospective. For more details about my relationship with Delta Sigma Theta and the events that lead to my Honorary Membership being rescinded, you can view the video below or read this blog post Here!

For sure, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority has written me off like I NEVER existed! They have shut me out like I'm dead. It seems like I'm a memory that they would rather not have, like I was the worst thing that ever happened to Delta and maybe for some I am.

Understand, as an Honorary member I was held in high esteem. The collegiate's loved me because I showed them love. They had never had an Honorary member that was willing to come to the Delta House on campus to hang out or to go out to lunch/dinner with them, while speaking in the area. I gave love and I felt loved.

at convention 2008
I often talked about not having any family and Soror's would say, we are your family now; we got you Soror. In fact, I became such a popular Honorary member both in the sorority and outside the sorority that I was told often, that during sorority membership intake my name was one of the most mentioned of notable Delta's.

I was told by girls on college campuses that they had never considered pledging until they learned that I was a Delta and saw the high esteem with which I regarded my sorority.  Coping with this abandonment and lost has been hard for sure.

As I reflect today, I could have never imaged that my truth telling tweets on February 16, 2011, would have ended in my expulsion from Delta.

May 1, 2012, the day that I received the call from the national president, Cynthia Butler McIntrye I felt like life had been kicked out of me. I felt like a hollow shell and I wasn't quite sure how I was going to restore myself. The sorrow that I felt around Delta's decision was so fucking overwhelming and all consuming. 

Me and Soror's at FAMU
At the center of the debate was what kind of woman I am. Can you image what it feels like for other people to assign worth to you, especially women? For Delta to have told me that I was worth something and then change their mind over some tweets. Can you imagine what it felt like to have women in private chat rooms on Facebook of which I belonged, to talk about me like I was a freaking dog but who had been calling me Soror, Sister for years?

 Shit, if cursing defined me, then I was dome from the beginning. Delta should have just passed me up. I think I came out of my mother's womb cursing and if I didn't, I should have and first off  asked my mother, "What the fuck was on her mind shooting heroin with a baby growing inside her womb?

When I look at this picture that prompted the phone conversation with Rose McKinney, this picture of happy times, of me and other Honorary members my heart hurts.

These pictures were on my business website in a page dedicated to Delta. I wanted to show my Delta pride and did every chance I got. Who would have thought this would cause me to no longer be a Delta. To think I'm not hanging out with my partner in love Sheryl Lee Ralph this weekend. She was inducted into Delta as an Honorary member after me, but we had worked together around HIV years prior. We hung tight at convention and it was a special bond of our work in HIV and Sisterhood.

When Rose Mckinney informed me that "Delta reserves the right to publish all pictures in ceremony robes" then asked if I could I take them down. I said, "Absolutely Soror." That in my opinion should have been the end of the conversation.

Rose had a couple of opportunities to say, Ok Soror, I understand that you are on the road, will you take them down as soon as possible and let me know that they are down. 

That was all it really took to bring closure to that conversation. But she kept hollering at me, "They need to come down now." After I hung up on her, she continued to call me back to back to back... then she text me.  Delta has sent a message loud and clear, that it is O.K. to be treated any kind of way by the national headquarters, by women who call you Sister.

 I find it distressing that I was left powerless by an event that did not originate from me. What message does it send to undergraduates pledging, that they cannot tell of infractions? Does my expulsion send a message that you must hurt or vent in private?  I'm really trying to understand Sisterhood. And while some would say that my problem in understanding is because I didn't pledge, I will say to you, I went through the same induction ritual and my heart felt the same joy as yours the day you were inducted. 

I look at this picture of these three very accomplished African-American women and I can't do nothing but hurt. On the far left is Bishop Vashti McKenzie the national chaplain of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Her grandmother was also a founding member of Delta. She carries a rich legacy of the organization.

 She is also the first female Bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. As an Honorary member of Delta, I was in close quarters with Bishop McKenzine often at convention. She often showed concern about my health and extended herself to me as our chaplain and a woman of God. 

I look at her and I wonder why she never picked up the phone to offer me some pastoral care in the midst of my world collapsing. Was Delta more important to her than offering a woman you called Soror, Sister for 12 years, a fellow clergy and most importantly, a child of God in pain, some comfort? Not even a call to pray with me as I hurt.

My hurt was obvious. The pain was visible to anyone who saw it. 

Then I look to the far right. That's Rev. Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd. She became the national president of Delta Sigma Theta, the year that I was inducted into Delta.

When she was national president, her agenda for both terms was HIV/AIDS. This is probably the reason I was asked to be a member of Delta; so that the President's agenda could be furthered by use of me. As I explained in my book, The Politics of Respectability, it is a long standing practice of Delta Sigma Theta to bring in honorary members around their national agenda.

Inducting me was a big move. It gave the appearance that Delta was doing something about HIV/AIDS. Those four years of Rev. Boyd's term, Delta used me across this country. I spoke at International Day of Service year after year, chapter after chapter, sometimes two cities in one day, as well as, Founder's Day. I was a highly sought after speaker in Delta, doing what I do, raw, uncut, transparent, honest, candid and cursing like a sailor.

Bringing me into the Sisterhood was a win win for Rev. Gwendolyn Boyd, with her focus being HIV/AIDS, but now I think about her, I ask was it all for show? I mean, she has not reached out to me in anyway. I mean, did her concern for me as a black woman living with AIDS, her pride in my work cease when my membership in the organization ceased?

 I'm wondering is there any love afforded me now that I don't belong to your Sisterhood? Does, who I stand for or my contributions mean anything? I was called  Sister, Soror for 12 years, was it all a lie? Most importantly, I still have AIDS. I still do the work of HIV.  Does that mean anything? Is there any concern for the my work in HIV and my health in HIV?

Finally, the current seated national president in the far back, Cynthia Butler McIntrye. I'm still blown away by her approach to this matter. She is an expert in Human Resource, yet she dropped the ball on me.

The first conversation I had with Cynthia Butler McIntrye was the day, February 16, 2011, I made those tweets. We aired out the drama that passed between me and Rose McKinney, the director of the national office. Cynthia and I ended the conversation on what I thought was a conclusion to the matter.

In spite of the fact that I felt like I was being dealt with, I believed Cynthia to be fair. I was expecting the President of my sorority to call me back, maybe bring me and Rose together in someway to call and make-up, to equally apologize for her nasty ass attitude and approach to me and my nasty ass tweets, a respond to her nasty approach.

I must say this over and over again, the day that I talked to Cynthia, I wanted clarification, and the last thing I asked her in the conversation Feb 16, 2011 was, "Soror, am I being put out of Delta over this?"

Cynthia, replied, "No Soror, no one is putting you out of Delta over this. I'm going to ask that you don't talk about it publicly anymore. I just need time to smooth things over."  I kept my Word and that was the last conversation I had with her.

So this Human Resource expert, in 14 months didn't see fit to call me again to inform me that the matter was still being discussed. Is this how we treat women we call sister? Is this how we treat women we say we love. In 14 months, no one from the leadership thought to discuss this matter with me in anyway.

 Now a year and two months later, nothing has changed, no one in the leadership has called me. I still haven't received anything in writing. I'm so trying to understand Sisterhood. How can these same women stand for 12 years when I enter a room and then drop me like I'm a plague?

Maybe one could argue that they are mad that I went public. But I trusted my president and my sorority's leadership to do what was right by both me and Rose. I will say it again, I trusted Cythina, I removed the tweets, I accepted silence out of respect for her and I was a woman of my word.

This second time around, I could see no reason to be quiet. To save who's face? As it stood, my face was the one bloody and bowed. The damage was already done!

How, Delta has dealt with me leaves a painful bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that I have not heard from ANYONE in the leadership is painful and it makes me question Sisterhood at its core. In fairness, I have had countless Soror's reach out to me to offer words of encouragement and support. Maybe the leadership can learn something from the masses. And of course Sheryl Lee Ralph and I continue our friendship.

In retrospect, I can sit back a year later and be even clearer than I was on May 1, 2012, Delta invited me into their Sisterhood because of my service and commitment to HIV work that started long before that invitation.

In those 12 years of membership my methodology, nor did my personality, change. At the end of the day, Delta rescinding my membership was some small, petty shit. I don't know who lead the fight to get me out, but I hope they are happy.

 It's all good, at the end of the day, this kind of venom makes me question Sisterhood. A Sisterhood that can throw you away like trash over some tweets. A Sisterhood who does not give you voice, instead meet behind your back in the name of Sisterhood.  

I continue to go back to this quote in my book, from past national president Lillian P. Benbow-1971-1975

"When I look at you, I see myself. If my eyes are unable to see you my sister, it is because my own vision is blurred. And if that be so, then it is I who need you either because I do not understand who you are, my sister, or because I need you to help me understand who I am."

This quote rings true for accepting women for who they are, rather than who you want them to be. People, I believe are their best when they are able to shine in who God crafted them to be. I never want to be a better anybody, I just want to be my best me.

I address this issue in my book,  Just like David couldn't fight the giants in Sauls Armour, nor do I operate in the decorum of what others deemed "respectable." God gifted David with a sling shot and David was at his best when he operated in his gifts.

That's what I do everyday, I operate in my gifts crafted out of my journey. At the end of the day, that's all we should strive to be, one crafted out of our journey for the task, just for your design.  God told Jeremiah, "Before I made you in your mothers womb, I choose you. Before you were born I set you apart for a special work. "(Jeremiah 1:5)

 I may never be "respectable" by your standards, by Delta's standard and I'm good with that, because all I really need to please is God and me.

As I look back on that rainy day in May and the immediate weeks that followed, I thought my life had flatlined. This sisterhood had took the life out of me. Now, a year later, I can look back and say it didn't kill me. Duh!!!!

God's plan for my life didn't change because Delta changed their mind. So, I don't get invited to speak by any Delta chapters anymore, but God will make room for my gift. As has been obvious this year. I've even been told Delta's who are in authority at a couple of colleges I spoke at this year questioned the organizers about bringing me and were told by the organizers that my work transcended my issue with Delta. Thank God for that!

In this year, I was reminded yet again. What don't kill you, makes you just a little stronger? I was reminded yet again, that in every situation there is something to learn about yourself and others. I was reminded that the Lord instructed us to have no other Gods before us. I had placed Delta on a pedestal and it came tumbling down on my head and heart. Leaving the one and only God to put me back together again.

I have more perspective than I even had. This issue with Delta, made me soul search! I have become even more comfortable in my skin. My entrance into this world has defined me. I spent my first 6 months of life, sucking an umbilical cord laced in heroine. I was born a stray dog,  dressed myself up in designer clothes and  got 27 years of education, but at my very core, I'm still a stray dog. The goodness in this is that God can use a stray dog, even if Delta can't.

Post Script: My book The Politics of Respectability was written 22 days after Delta rescinded my membership. To have a better understanding of my full relationship with Delta, my work and my methodology you should read my book.

You can get an autographed copy of my book, The Politics of Respectability! Link Here! It is also on Amazon, paper back and Kindle HERE

Friday, July 5, 2013

Some Days I Want To Give The Fuck Up!

Some days I want to give the fuck up and that's some real talk right here. I've lived with HIV for 30 years and I've known my status for 27 of those years and this has been one fuckin hard ass journey and that's for real, for real. My pill load, the ups and down, the infections, the fatigue, the judgements, the doctors, the endless tests, the stigma, the side-effects from the medications, the trying to keep health insurance, trying to keep me alive, the growing old with a disease that's younger than me, all of this is enough to make you want to just stop!

On top of HIV/AIDS I've had to figure out my way in this world a lot sooner than I should have had too. As a child growing up, I had to try to out think Mama to protect myself from her, which no child on this planet should have to do.

Little Rae
At the same time, I learned all this self-destructive behavior that I thought was normal because the abnormal was normal.  Men who should have been protecting me, instead violated me and that was a way of life. I've literally been putting food on my table since October of my senior year of high school.

I was 15 minutes late for my curfew and Mama told be to go back where the fuck I had come from. For real! The next day I called home and she said, "Come get your shit bitch!" And that what that. She was mad that her husband was mad and he left. In my assessment, he was mad because I was old enough now to protect myself, since Mama had clearly failed to do so the 5 years that we had been a family unit.   

Then I  had to learn what normal was and apply it to a life that was abnormal. Don't you know it's easier to do what you know over what's right. My life has been a fuckin hard ass mess. But I never quit even when I wanted too. I got 27 years of education with honors, I've worked tirelessly my entire adult life to help the human race live and have a better life. I never quit in all the madness I've been faced with. 

Then I got Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. trying to tell me that I'm not good enough for them anymore after 12 years of service to them and a life time to the human race. Women are still gossiping about me, trying to explain to themselves and justify the rescinding of my honorary membership. Shit, they should give me a fuckin crown for the shit I have overcome and achieved in spite of. If I'm not an example of a strong black woman, whose fidelity is stronger than her pain, then I don't know who the fuck is. Oh, I forgot, I curse and I'm vulgar and that's an embarrassment  to Delta Sigma Theta. 

(If you want to get up to date on the Delta drama read my book, The Politics of Respectability, You can get it from Amazon  Click Here paper and kindle or you can order from my website for an autographed copy, Click Here)

So here I am at 51 years of age still trying to keep my head above water. As of late I've felt more overwhelmed and my crisis management skills have short circuited. I'm back on IV medication and this one is not a false alarm. For sure I'm having a herpes outbreak because the pain to my Clit is almost unbearable; yes I said Clit! When I feel that pain I wish to hell I had never opened my legs. But some shit can't be undone, you just have to face your culpability  in your pain and git and bare it. (You can search Herpes on my blog to get background on why I have to do IV medication.) The bottom line. I have drug resistant herpes that is complicated by AIDS and the only treatment that will make me better is IV medication. 

TUE Getting IV Medication
 I decided to do the IV medication at the clinic instead of at home because I didn't have it in me to deal with my mediport drama. And no they have not fixed the problem because two nurses tried to access it on Tuesday and couldn't.

So it seems that the only person that can access the port is the chief of (IV) Intervention Medicine at RUSH Presbyterian Hospital and he keeps telling me that there's nothing wrong with it. Sigh. Click Here for background on the Mediport

It's a once a week IV infusion, every Tuesday in the Chemo Clinic. I probably have at least two more rounds. This medicine is a bit more toxic than the one I have at home. I have to take medication to protect my kidneys while I'm on it. The side effects to both is a nightmare

So I started IV med on Tuesday. It's about an 8 hour day and a 5 hour infusion. I've spent the last 3 days sick as shit in bed and today is the first day of any work this week. Projects and commitments have gone the fuck out the window. I'm sad to say that Bracelet orders are packed and sitting at the door to be mailed and I'm depressed at shit. On top of that, business has been painfully slow and  I'm not sure how I'm keeping the lights on and the phone bill paid. It has been a day to day thing in the last few months and that's for real. 

And I tell you what, it feels like I've reach some kind of limit. I'm on over the fuck load. Most days I'm trying just as hard to figure out how to pay a bill equally as much, to not let depression take me the fuck out of here. I mean, I don't think it would be a cute look to let depression do what HIV/AIDS hasn't been able to do in 30 years. I'm just sayin...

So yes in all honesty, some days more of late, I feel like I want to give the fuck up. Then I start thinking about Sophie and she needs a Mommie. Then I start to think about the people who love me and the pain I would cause them. Then I think about God's plan for my life. The Bible says, "I formed you in your Mothers Womb." Really God? So you knew all along?

Sophie has been sticking to me like glue these last few days!
 Like when I think about it, I spent 6 months in my mothers womb sucking an umbilical cord laced in heroine and God keep me alive for this hard ass journey. Like are you kidding me God?

But at the end of each day, I get it! That God's master plan for this universe is for the goodness of God's people.  That means that God can take my nasty ass life and use it... Use it for someone other than me... Use it for the goodness of others. Use is for those who feel like they can go on because I do. 

 In my heart I have to believe that God's plan for my life is bigger than any one thing that I'm facing. So I don't quit even when I feel like I can't go on, I just do. I do because a selfless life is a life well lived. If God loved me enough to keep me here, then I have to love me enough to keep me here. So I muddle through these painful, difficult days, one day at a time. Now what's so amazing  to me is that God continues to show me the wonder of His/Her miracles. When the phone bill has been extended and the cut off date is fast approaching, even as close as a day before, from somewhere I get a small miracle. 

So I keep going because God's plan is bigger than my pain. I keep going because even small miracles come from God. We keep waiting on the pie in the sky, when God sometimes only gives fresh mana for the day.

In the end, all we can do is to keep moving. There is life in movement. For me, it's walking Sophie when I don't want to bath. It's reading a book, exercising my mind even if I don't want to move my body.

Sometimes it's moving from the bedroom to the living room with the big picture window so I can be reminded of God's wonder, the trees, the birds, the flowers, the sounds, the people, even living in a modest building amongst 4 million dollar houses make me smile. All these things remind me that I am alive. There is hope in being alive because I understand that life means that I'm still a part of God's earthly plan.  So I don't give the fuck up, I just keep going with the understanding that God's plan is bigger than my pain.

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