Living in the Light and Darkness of Life
By Rae Lewis-Thornton
June 20, 2013
This piece originally appeared in Rae's blog, Diva Living With AIDS.
Two days ago I wanted to blog about living life to the fullest! Yep, I still have dreams at 51 having lived over half my life with HIV. Then, this morning when I woke, I wanted to blog about drowning. That is, feeling like you're drowning in the shit called life.
Then, as I laid in bed trying to face another day with another headache from one of my HIV medications, of which I've had for the last 3 days, I started thinking about how one can have so many emotions wrapped up into one being, one existence. But that's how life is, a lot of grey and the black and white tend to be that, two very different shades that renders two very different outlooks. Even when you wear all white or all black, they do different things and both speak volumes with just one look.
So how does one live with purpose and dreams when it feels like you're drowning in shit? I'll tell you how -- one day at a time and even sometimes by the hour and minute. Like yesterday, I was so overwhelmed; overwhelmed with the fact that my head won't stop hurting. Days like that make me hate HIV medication.
Overwhelmed with the fact I feel like I'm sleep deprived, but yet I've had at least 9-10 hours every night this week. Days like that I hate HIV.
Overwhelmed with the fact that I've invested everything I have into RLT Collection -- and I mean every penny -- even to the point of reducing my lifestyle luxuries, like I turned my cable off. Yep, I thought what's the point when I'm always reading anyway and I typically get all of my breaking news from Twitter newsfeeds so I turned it off last week. But for sure, I miss the luxury of turning on TNT and watching Law and Order whenever I want too.
I stopped my Sunday New York Times delivery and Lord knows I enjoy sitting in bed on Sunday before church sipping tea and reading the book reviews they send with the paper. I reduced my landline phone service, don't use it anyway. I stopped my water delivery, sad about that one and ummm the list goes on.
So I'm trying to build this business and sales have been very low in the last few months. The two have not been in sync: Investment and Sales. Now, I know that slumps happen, and I just have to weather this storm.
Overwhelmed is not the word for me right now, with literally no eggs in the refrigerator and the headache from hell.
Yet, I'm also overwhelmed by the good things that are happening in my life because the bad things confuse the good things and place you in some weird kind of limbo.
Like, I know I'm moving toward some kind of breakthrough with RLT Collection. In the last 16 months -- minus the last few -- I've grown by leaps and bonds. My Instagram account is growing daily, thank God for the help I have running it daily.
I'm in the process of designing some pieces for Quad Webb-Launceford, from Bravo's Married to Medicine. Today, I officially launch necklaces to my collections and I'm actually talking to a department store about a trunk show, which takes over a year, or more sometimes, to happen. So I know I'm on the verge of a breakthrough, my HARD work will pay off, but when you have nothing to pay the bills in the right now, the blessings of tomorrow seem so out of reach.
How do you stay sane long enough to receive your miracle, your blessing, your breakthrough? You remember that each day is a miracle, a breakthrough and a blessing. Most importantly, you keep living in your right now! It's not enough to be alive and to muddle through life. When we only do that, we squander the gift of life.
Honestly, I do little things to find solace in the mist of chaos. I read, for example. A good book takes my imagination and spirit to a new place. In the pages of a good book, I don't have to think about the headache that I currently feel. It doesn't cure me of my headache, but it cures me of the stress of the headache.
I take it one day at a time and like I said earlier, some days one hour. It's like this, one hour I read and then another hour I bead. Can't let all my hard work on RLT Collection go to hell with a headache. I may not be able to do detail work on my bracelets, like wire wrapping or knotting, but I can put beads on stretch and that gets that bracelet one step closer to being finished.
I don't surrender to the darkness! The key to my life has been finding the balance that is rooted in my hope for a better tomorrow, my faith that God has promised me better tomorrows, patience and understanding that God's tomorrow is not on my time frame and the absolute understanding that I live in this life because in the face of light and darkness, today is the guarantee of God's blessing on your life.
How do I know? Just do this simple thing right now. Put your hand in front of your mouth, now blow. You feel the hot air? Awwww that's a blessing from God! The two sides of life have a way of overwhelming us in our right nows, but as long as you remember that there is a blessing in all things, you can go on with what you are facing in the right now.
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.
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