Purpose Over Pride ...
By Rae Lewis-Thornton
August 1, 2012
This piece originally appeared in Rae's blog, Diva Living With AIDS.
I'm so excited that I haven't been able to sleep for the last few nights! I'm headed to the largest and most powerful Blogger's Conference in the country, Blog Her. I missed the International AIDS Conference because I couldn't afford it. Registration was $975.00, not including travel and hotel. I was sitting around last week all sad, then I thought about missing BlogHer12 too and gloom set in. I had to shake that sadness and made a decision right then, if there was anyway I could work it out I had to go to Blog Her. I had to make it happen. Well, the Bible says we have not because we ask not and sometimes you have to let your pride go and I did just that. You can miss your blessing holding onto unnecessary pride.
I learned that a couple of years ago, when my speaking engagements went from 5-7 a month to 5-7 a year and I lost my book deal with Hyperion Publishing. I had to face reality. I downsized my life #ForReal I went from a 3 bedroom apartment to a studio and buckled in for the long haul. The economy hit me hard, people just weren't bringing speakers like in the past. Not only was everyone's money funny, but AIDS is not the sexiest topic it had been in the past. But, downsizing my life didn't do anything for my Purpose. I was sitting in my studio apartment looking at the walls.
I had to face the fact that God called me to do a work no matter what the conditions. I got a push from my bestie Luke, to take my message and brand to Social Media. I also started thinking about blogging, but I was nervous about it and got a push or two. I have to give credit where it's due. I got a push from another Blogger, who was following me on Twitter, who has since become my friend, Dwana. And Honestly, Luvvie from the Red Pump Project pushed me even further and put up my blog site in a day and then I got great advice from beauty blogger, Afrobella and as the saying goes, the rest has been history.
I wasn't traveling all over the country anymore, but I was still doing the work. I start my day on Twitter and Facebook and then write my blog. It was a ready made audience to take my message of self-love, self-worth and prevention; while challenging stigma and shame around HIV/AIDS with my candor, transparency and honesty.
In Just two years, I have grown by leaps and bounds, with most of the growth this last year. This blog gets about 30,000 visits a month. People are reading it too. The amount of time a person stays on my blog is 4-5 minutes which is major for a blog. My YouTube has over 120,000 views, I have over 7,000 followers on Twitter and my combined Facebook pages have 11,000 followers.
I'm the only person in the country hosting Tweet-Up's with an HIV/AIDS theme. I made the cover of the Chicago Tribune and BET News did a story on how I use Social Media for HIV/AIDS education. It's been a world wind these last two years. Who knew? I sure didn't but the point was that I was open to the possibilities. Open to taking my message to Social Media, whether I got paid or not.
I don't have any sponsors or any big names behind me. I do it all on my own, not because of me, but because of what I have been called to do. We get so stuck on the right time and conditions. When in reality the time is ripe the day God plants that seed in you to do the work. We just have to be willing to do the work, in spite of the conditions. Conditions are just for show anyway. It's a great thing when you can brag, but your gifts are not for bragging, they are for using.
So I have no shame! Most days, I'm sitting at home in my PJ's Tweeting and Blogging and using my gifts to help enrich the lives of others. My purpose is far greater than my pride will ever be. There is an internal peace that I have knowing that I'm gifted and God wants to use my gifts. With no sponsors, my brand has grown beyond what my eyes could even see.
So I'm headed to Blog Her! I didn't have the money, but I asked. I put it out there in the universe and my Twitter/Blog Followers have made it happen; My Besties Markeeda and Luke chipped in too. I'm blessed to have two good friends who believe in me and sow into my work.
I'm not going to Blog Her to party, in fact, I've not been invited to the best parties nor am I going for the wonderful swag bags and giveaways. I'm going so that I can grow and when I grow, you grow. Yes, I'm hoping to find the right sponsors, thats the perfect fit, but if I don't I'm cool. I know for a fact that I will absorb all that I can, so I can continue to grow my brand.
I'm not even ashamed to say that I wouldn't be going if on my own. Things are tight and I will be pinching pennies to make my spending money stretch. I'm just proud that I moved beyond pride and put my desire to go to Blog Her in the universe and within one day, I was able to register and purchase a plane ticket! THANK YOU!
I'm telling you, your gifts are larger than what you think is the right time to use them. Your purpose should be larger than your pride. I dare you to step out there and watch God blow your mind. You may not become famous, or you just might. You may not make a fortune or you just might. But for sure, if you don't you will miss the opportunity to bless others with what you have been gifted with. That for me is what life is about, PURPOSE.
If I never get another feature in a magazine or TV; If my bank account stays at a monthly average of $200.00, it's all good. I will continue to do what God has called me to do. I will continue to grow and be the best me, so that I can share my best with you. I will be Tweeting and Blogging while at Blog Her. You can follow my HashTag #GrowingRLT The general Hash Tag for Blog Her is #Blogher12 There is lots of good stuff there, especially for those of you who are trying to grow your blog.
Please keep me in your prayers. Long, continuous days are tough on my health so I need all the good energy you can send my way. And Lawddd y'all know I'm gonna miss my baby girl Sophie. She has already started looking sad... She will be Tweeting while Mommie is on the road working :) You can follow Sophie on Twitter Here
Post Script: If you want to support me, you can buy a bracelet from my Collection. There are new markdowns, plus an extra 10% off the entire sale. The coupon code is Diva, Click Here! You can buy an autographed copy of my book, The Politics of Respectability, Click Here! Or you can just donate to my blog on the donate button... #IcannotdoitAlone.
Rae Lewis-Thornton Speaks
Rae Lewis-Thornton is an Emmy Award-winning AIDS activist who rose to national acclaim when she told her story of living with AIDS in a cover story for Essence Magazine. She has lived with HIV for 27 years and AIDS for 19. Rae travels the country speaking and challenging stereotypes and myths about HIV/AIDS. She has a Master of Divinity degree and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Church History. Rae has been featured on Nightline, Dateline NBC, BET and The Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as in countless magazines and newspapers, including Emerge, Glamour, O, the Oprah Winfrey Magazine, Jet, Ebony, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, to name a few. She earned the coveted Emmy Award for a first-person series on living With AIDS for Chicago's CBS News.
Rae is an active user of social media -- read "Long-Term HIV Survivor Discovers the Power of Twitter," an article on TheBody.com about Rae's social media activities.
Speaking engagements: Inquire about booking Rae to speak at your organization or event!
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