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
Showing posts with label Sheryl Lee Ralph. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sheryl Lee Ralph. Show all posts

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fashion Loves Art!

Last week I done something that I have never done before. Yep, I got up extra early, with no make-up on my face, not even lipstick and with a  scarf on my head no less, to wait in line to get a handbag. Now you all know that I love fashion and I especially love handbags. I think a girl can never have to many handbags and thats for real. But I have never been a crazy woman standing in line to buy anything.

Well, let me give you the tea, as the young people say; that means the scoop. LOL. The British store H and M collaborated with American artist and sculptor Jeff Koons to create a handbag displaying Jeff Koons art.  I love Jeff Koons work.

He is most known for his large, eye catching sculptures of ballon animals. In November 2013 one of his ballon poodles sold for a $58.4 million dollars at Christie's Auction House, making it the  most expensive piece of art sold by a living artist. I love the ballon sculptures, I also love some of his other work, like the sculpture of Michael Jackson with his monkey, Bubbles.
Ballon Art

While I love his poodle ballon art, I adore his sculpture of the apricot poodle. It  captures the very essence of every poodle and thats just some of his work. His ability to capture images on a large scale is remarkable. Now,  I bet you think that the only reason I like Jeff Koons is because of  has poodle art and my love for poodles. I would be lying if I tell you that getting this handbag was not in some way a tribute to my dear Sophie. It was actually a cathartic moment, but it was not my only reason.

It's not to well known, but I collect art. I started collecting right after I made a transition to AIDS twenty-one years ago. I had just moved into my own apartment, prior to that I shared a house with a couple of people and I wanted to create my own space; a place of peace, comfort and solitude. Over the last 21 years I have acquired original pantings, sculptures and pottery. My art is my safe place and provides a peaceful energy in my home. Art gives me life, as I fight for my life.

I remember when I went to South Africa with Sheryl Lee Ralph, the other woman in the delegation went power shopping and I went to art galleries hunting for work by South African artist. I don't know if I could live without art in my life. It's difficult to explain what art means to me. It speaks its own language and if chosen wisely it will speak to your soul.

For me, wanting the Jeff Koons handbag was both my love of poodles and my love of art. When I arrived to H and M, I was shock to find only two people in line, me and a woman named Elizabeth.  She, like me have a love for art and she actually works in the art arena. I was happy and sad all at the same time that the line was so short. It spoke volumes to me about the modern day appreciation for art and artist, verses fashion designers. In recent history, when stores like H and M have collaborated with big name clothing designers like Lavin the lines were around the corner. People actually camped out and H and M were sold out by mid-day. I think if the handbag was a big name designer, rather than an big name artist, it would not have mattered what was on front of the bag, it would have been in high demand.
Well, I tip my scarf off to H and M for going a different route this time around! Jeff Koons was a great choice and this Diva approves! By the way, I don't know if they are sold out nation wide, but I know that the H and M Chicago, Michigan Ave store still have some bags. The bag is made of leather and it actually has some depth, making it a great cross shoulder handbag. The bag goes for $49 bucks, not bad for a leather handbag that will one day be a collectors item. The only thing better than one of these bags for me would have been to have it signed by Jeff Koons; but then I would never carry it. LOL. By the way, there is already a signed bag on Ebay for $500. I guess someone understands the value of art and the artist.

Jeff Koons and his Ballon Poodle

Friday, March 21, 2014

Ms. Chanel Part Two

 I pushed my Chanel handbag to the side and my toilet bath began. I tore off a good size piece of toilet paper and dipped it into the ice-cold toilet water. Then, I began to wash my body. I wiped off as much as I could from my behind, and then flushed the toilet paper. I pulled off another piece of toilet paper, dipped it in the ice-cold toilet water and repeated the procedure. Dip, wipe, flush, dip, over and over. After I’d gotten every single ounce of poop from one part of my body, I proceeded to the next until every trace was gone.

 As I sat on the toilet, wiping down the inside of my pants leg, I began to talk to God again. This time I asked, “Why? Why this? Why now?” I knew if I asked Him, sooner or later, He’d reveal his purpose. Maybe He wanted to remind me that a St. John suit is not my security blanket. Security is only in His arms and His love, no matter what the circumstances. Maybe it was to give me an incident, a situation that one day, at a future time I could use to inspire and encourage others. But this was not that day. After I finished cleaning myself, I dressed and washed my $150.00 LePerla panties in the toilet. I took some toilet paper, wrapped them neatly and placed them in the container next to the toilet.

I stepped out of that stall, walked to the sink and washed my hands. I took a long good look in the mirror, took a deep breath, reached into my Chanel and grabbed my make-up bag. I freshened my make-up. "Looking good," I thought. There were no outward signs of the assault that I had just gone through. I reached the bathroom door, turned the knob and walked out into the dining area.

With my head held high, I sashayed back to the table, still looking too cute in my black and white pinstriped St. John suit. My smile was sincere, because AIDS didn’t win. The diarrhea was a complete and vicious ambush. A total surprise, but it did not win. I’m not saying it didn’t hurt. It always hurts. But even though there were battle scars on my heart, and bruises on my ego, there was not one piece of poop on my St. John pantsuit or my beautiful black Chanel pumps. As I sat down in my booth and waited on my Five Nut Chocolate Brownie, a sense of joy swiped over me because I had not surrendered to the ugliness.

There have been many days in my life where I have had to hold my head high in the face of adversity. Yes, there were days that I was bloody, but over the years I learned to never bow. For me, it’s about how one maintains their dignity when their back is against the wall..... How you hold your head up, against the odds. Holding my head high was all I had that day. Beyond that, I couldn’t see any goodness in it. But God always has a way of using your pain for the goodness of others.

Post Script!

A year or so later, I told this story at a speaking engagement. That day, actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, also a speaker at the event, was inspired by my story. After the conference, she returned to Los Angeles and searched for other women who have been impacted by HIV/AIDS.

Sheryl placed these women’s voices center stage in a one woman show that she performs across the country. I am proud to be the anchor character, Ms. Chanel, in her one woman show, Sometimes I Cry, The Loves, Lives and Losses of Women Affected and Infected by HIV/AIDS.  Sheryl has literally touched the lives of thousands of people with her one woman show, while at the same time giving voice to women around the issue of HIV/AIDS.

Over these years Sheryl and I have forged a lasting friendship and partnership in our individual work around HIV/AIDS. I am proud to call her friend, and sister in this fight. Yes, this incident was a reminder that God always has a plan for our pain: God can turn your mess into a message. Our role is to stand tall in the midst of it all.  

I am also honored to be working on my own one woman show, The Politics of Respectability  based on my book. I'm honored  Sheryl Lee Ralph will produce me in this one woman show. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Happy Is, As Happy Does....

It hit me yesterday morning that I've made it past the 3 month mark that I haven't had a herpes outbreak! This is major, considering that almost like clock work, for the last 2 years, an outbreak has been my norm.

As many of you know, I've been very open with the fact that I have this aggressive, drug resistant herpes that requires me to go on this aggressive anti-viral medication that I get intravenously. It's been a pain in my ass, or should I say, right between my legs and that has made my life hell, at least during the IV treatments.

As I was sipping my morning tea, I tried to think about the bottom line in my life-style that could have brought this change about in my health. All I can think about is the fact that I'm happy and happy can go a long way in helping to boost your immune system.

They say that happy is as happy does and for sure I've been doing a lot of good stuff! At the top of the list is Mr. Handsome. While we are taking it one day at a time, we have connected beyond words in a short period of time. There have been some great moments and laughter with him.

For sure, he has added value to my life and for sure that goes a long way over and above a relationship that you are trying to make work. Those relationships that you are trying to make fit and feel right tend to be stressful. If it don't feel right, then it's not right. Sometimes when I see women in distress tweeting about a man, I butt in and remind her that she deserves more and a man who really likes you, will want you to have more. For sure Mr. Handsome is treating me like a woman who deserves the best and that goes a long way in reducing stress.

Now don't be confused, my happiness isn't just because there's a man in my life. I've been working on me and the results have made me feel good about myself. And feeling good about yourself, for sure, creates the happy feeling and that happy feeling does boost the immune system.

There is a mind-body connection that operates in each of us. The bible says, "As a man thinketh so is he." But it's also true, we are what we do.

For sure, I've been doing a lot of good stuff. I got my ass off the sofa and started working out back in October. I've lost 17 pounds. I changed my diet. I've been eating the Paleo diet and that even helped my Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).  If you recall, my IBS was so bad that I wasn't using the bathroom for 3-4 days at a time and the doctors had me on powerful laxatives daily, (READ ABOUT MY IBS HERE)

Diet and exercise has definitely helped my IBS, but it has also given me more energy. By the way, exercising 45 minutes a day will release endorphins equal to taking an antidepressants.  Exercise has a three tier benefit, makes you feel happy, makes you feel good about yourself and that makes you happy and contributes to your overall well-being. I no longer have that anxious feeling when I have to get dressed that there's nothing to fit in my closet and that makes me happy.

I've been working on a couple of exciting projects. One that I can't talk about right now. Just hold on, info will be forth-coming. I am also writing a one woman show. YES!! "The Politics of Respectability!" and I'm honored that my sista friend, actress Sheryl Lee Ralph will be producing the show.

Many of you know that Sheryl has a one woman show on the lives of woman with HIV, "Sometimes I Cry," I''m honored to have been the inspiration for her show and to be the anchor character, "Ms. Chanel." She and I thought that it was time that I took my own story to the stage. For sure, it will be one more way for me to minister to women. I'm so excited!

So I've really been burning the midnight oil between the two new projects I have going, as well as keeping the bracelet business afloat. I've been working hard on the 20 Collection. So far I have 8 bracelet designs on the website and early next week I'm sending my photographer the first of the necklace designs. I've really been humping over here.

Overachiever is in full gear!! With everything going on in my life right now, I don't have time to think about what ain't. The focus is on what is and what is, 'is' is always more positive than what 'ain't'.

A positive attitude goes a long way toward happy. For sure, I have the herpes virus and it can flare up at anytime. For sure I have AIDS and I can wake up in the morning and have a major issue with my health. But I'm not giving either of those any energy. I'm just operating in my happy place.

At the end of the day, happy goes a long way in your overall well-being. Happy is as happy does. Find your happy place and watch your life transform into something wonderful!

PS.... RLT Collection is having a sale all week... 20%off Coupon code at check out black history SHOP HERE!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Introducing The 20 Collection for RLT Collection!

2014 marks the 20th anniversary of my cover story in Essence magazine! I'm very proud of being a part of history. Together Essence and I gave black women a new face of what a person with AIDS looked like.

 When I look back, all I can do is think about the boldness that it took for me to tell my story in a national publication. Putting your life center stage for the world to scrutinized is a brave thing, to say the least. I'm still amazed of the impact that the Essence article had on African-American women. Twenty years later women reach out to me on Social Media to tell me how that article changed their life. Women even bring me the article in mint condition for an autograph as I travel.

Today in honor of and in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Essence article, I'm launching the 20 Collection. I am designing 20 AIDS Awareness bracelets and 20 AIDS Awareness necklaces for RLT Collection. The first of the bracelet designs are launched today in honor of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

Over the course of the next 10 months, I will add to the collection, thru World AIDS Day, Dec 1, 2014, which will mark the 20th anniversary of when that magazine actually hit the news stands. These designs are very limited in quaintly and once a design is gone there are no more. Today I'm launching 8 bracelet designs primarily designed with red Coral gemstones and a beautiful red faceted Czech glass.

Red Coral and Rhinestone and Sterling Awareness Charm! SHOP  HERE
Red Coral and Sterling Awareness Charm! SHOP HERE!
Red Coral and Sterling Awareness Charm! SHOP HERE
Red Coral and Sterling Awareness Charm! SHOP HERE!
The 23 Bracelet! SHOP HERE!
AIDS Awareness Charm! SHOP HERE!

Disc Glam! As Seen on Sheryl Lee Ralph! SHOP HERE!
Sheryl Lee Ralph wearing Disc Glam!

Vintage Glam! SHOP HERE!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

And Here Comes The Shit..

I didn't panic as the shit began to seep out of my behind in line at Walgreens. I mean, I am the queen of shitting on myself. Like for real, for real. In fact, I've shitted on myself so much over the years with AIDS and have told those stories so many times, that one of my most famous mishaps is the muse for the lead character in actress Sheryl Lee Ralph's one woman show, "Sometimes I Cry: The Lives of Women Infected and Affected by HIV!" Yep, "Ms. Chanel," that's me, shitted on myself in a restaurant, dressed to the nines, in St. John and Chanel, had a melt down, clean my butt with toilet paper and toilet water and waltz out of that bathroom like the Diva I am and finished my dinner.

Shitting on myself is no big deal, I've been there, done that! I thought that I was emotionally immune to a shitty behind and clothes. So as the poop seeped out of my butt in Walgreens last Sunday, I told myself, "You can do this girly!" So I gently laid the items that I was holding on the counter, whispered to the cashier, "I'll be right back," and I walked out of that Walgreens and headed across the street to Starbucks where I knew a bathroom would be guaranteed. "I got this," I whispered to myself again. But right in the middle of the street between Walgreens and Starbucks, my ass exploded and poop splashed out of my ass like a water hydrant on a hot summer day in the hood. I flexed my ass muscles inward but that was futile, the poop kept coming and coming and coming. I could feel it trickle down my thigh and I knew that the light tan shorts that I was wearing would not be my savior. 

I walked briskly into Starbucks as the poop kept coming and went straight to the ladies bathroom. The door was locked, I moaned, "You have got to be kidding." As panic crossed my face I reached for the handle on the men's room right next door. "Lord please let it be empty," I mumbled as poop and panic sucked the life out of me.

 "Thank God,"I cried as I pulled my shorts down and sat on the toilet. As poop flowed out of my behind like water in a faucet, I looked down at my shorts around my ankle full of shit and sighed deeply. 

"Bitch you can't have nothing easy, can you?" I asked myself. Like for real, I feel like I'm on a perpetual "Job Test," or something. Let's see how resilient she really is, that's what I think is someone's plan for me; yep how can "We," whoever we are, the devil, the universe, the Karma from my last life time, God, some crazy ass with a voodoo doll is putting me to the freakin test, to see how much I can really withstand.

YES, they are scheming against me, I can hear them now, "She thinks she's immune to shit, well, lets show her. She thinks she's a tough cookie, well what's she gonna do with this shit?" Yep, that seems to be my test. My doctor even said yesterday,"Like why can't you get something easy like strep throat." All we could both do was chuckle.

But there was no chuckle in me sitting on the toilet in Starbucks. This was not going to be an easy one. My shorts were so soil, I knew I could not leave the bathroom the way that I had came. I just didn't have it in me to put those shitty shorts back on and walk out that door. I sat defeated! After three days of taking laxatives  and shitting this was becoming all to much for me, just way to much. My ass had diaper rash and now shit was everywhere, my ass, the toilet sit, the floor and bathed in my tan shorts.

"I'm tired Lord ,"I mumbled, "tireddddddd." After the BlogHer conference I came home and hit the sack. I was beat to no end. The IV medication was still in my system when the conference started, so my struggles during the conference, I believed to be a residual from the IV medication. The pain in my side and back just wouldn't go away, but I had checked on my kidneys, which is the biggest danger while on cidofovir and they were fine, so I kept it moving.

But after 3 days in bed after the conference, I knew something else had to be wrong with me. By that Wednesday night, I crawled out  of bed and made my way to the ER. After fourteen hours, the doctor had the answer. My bowels were totally full. "Excuse me," I said. "Yes," the attending that had taken over my case said, "The exray shows that your bowels are totally full from one end, to the other." I looked at him long and hard, "He had got to be kidding me," I thought to myself, while trying to make sense of what he was saying. 

"But I've had bowel movements everyday." I said. "Well," he explained, "Sometimes, loose stool can escape constipation and slip out the side.  Hummmmm, for once in my life I was speechless. I sat puzzled. He continued to explain that he was prescribing Magnesium Citrate to help clean out my bowels.

 I arrived back home at 4:00 A. M. tired and beat down. The next morning I began the process of cleaning me out. I touched based with HIV doctor, who manages my primary care and she suggested an additional laxative and concurred with the ER doctor that it may take a couple of rounds. We knew what the problem was, but had no answers to why I had the problem. The first step was to clean out all those freakin toxins from my body. 

Thursday I spent the entire day in the bathroom and it was not pretty. Friday morning when I woke up, I was so red and raw I couldn't go another round. I needed a freaking break. I had small bowels movements throughout the day but I was not in any condition to drink another bottle of Magnesium Citrate. When I woke up Saturday morning my pain level hadn't decreased one bit and I pulled myself emotionally together for another day of laxatives. After breakfast, I drink that nasty bottle right on down and waited, and waited, and waited and waited and nothing came. My stomach was on fire, but still nothing came.

 After about 6 hours of waiting it was clear to me, that particular laxative was no longer working for me and I headed to Walgreens to pick up the other one my doctor recommended.

YES! I was standing in line with a laxative in my hand when the poop started to sip out of my behind. "Really Lord, like for real for real God,"I mumbled. I've been sitting at home all day and now the shit decides to come. Usually I'm able to laugh at the madness, but sitting on that toilet in starbucks, looking down at my shitty shorts 3 blocks from my house, I was numb.

"What the fuck am I going to do?" I asked myself over and over and over. I just sat, looking down at my shitty legs and shorts, unable to put together any kind of action plan. Super Woman had left the room.

To Be Continued... 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday Reflection:Just Enough Goodness To Keep Me Going

I woke up this morning to a Tweet that made my freaking day. I was lying in bed thanking God for another day and when I was done, I took an assessment of my body; Pelvic Pain-Yes, Neck Pain-Yes, Tingling in my Feet-Yes.

Yes... A deep sigh. I looked to see where Sophie was and smiled; she always makes me smile curled up somewhere in the bed getting her beauty rest. Lately that's how life has been and I take the bitter in stride and embrace the sweet.

No matter what I face I take it in stride. Either I do, or it will do me in. This I understand to be so true; you can't allow the heaviness of life to weigh you down. You have to do something while under the weight. Even if it's only wiggling your toes. That way you know that the weight doesn't have all of you.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the pain and the heartache, it feels like that's all that life is. When in fact life is all of it, the good, the great, the bad, the ugly and the fucked up. As I muddle through trying to find solutions to all my secondary health issues, I feel weighted down. But the fighter in me won't let anything or anybody have that much control over me, so I appreciate the good moments no matter how small or large they may be. Good is Good and I don't dare depreciate it's value.

So sista girl has been basking in the glory of goodness all morning. OMG! Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph wore my bracelets to the Oscars last night! When I saw her tweet  to me, I almost did a two-step, like for real... for real...

I feel like I won the freaking lottery!  I'm so honored and so surprised. I had NO idea that she was going to wear them. I love her combo. She is wearing a black Marc Bowers gown and added color with different tones of green agates from my fall and winter collections.

 Shoot, this is enough goodness to keep me going all week long. It reminded me that in the midst of my pain and doctor appointments, God still has a life for me to live. There are new bracelets to be designed, blogs to be written, more wonderful moments with Sophie and a new handbag waiting on me in my future. It reminded me to hold onto the goodness however and whenever it comes.

Over these last few years of downsizing my life, I have learned that you don't need as much as you thought you did. Most often we are over indulging in this society of more is better.

I love handbags!!! And I probably will never stop buying them. But after having to sell a ton of my designer handbags just to buy groceries, I've learned the hard way to never overlook the smallest of blessings and to never squander them in excess.

 When God blesses me with money to pay my bills, I don't take it and buy a handbag with some stupid ass rationalization. I don't miss place my blessing!  When you accept your blessing for what it is, then you honor God's gifts to you. I was reminded today, that God will always give you just enough to keep you going. All you have to do is recognize the gift when it strolls your way. Often times we begrudge the small things, waiting on the big things. But I wonder, if you can't handle the small, if God will bless you with the big. So today, I bask in the blessing of my bracelets being showcased in such a grand fashion. It was just enough goodness to keep me going...

Post Script: Sheryl is wearing the Candy Apple Agates up top with a fireball center and an enamel center in the middle of her stack. Click Here! The top bracelet she is wearing is this multicolor faceted Agate in the bottom picture. Click Here! And the last  multicolor bracelet is from the summer collection and is no longer available.  There are only a couple of each bracelet in the collection.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Stir Up Your Gifts!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Wonder of Agates Collection!

BeJeweled Collection!

The Wonder of Agates Collection!

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