January 19, 2014
This piece originally appeared in Rae's blog, Diva Living With AIDS.
Sometimes, when you walk through the door, you find out that there's so much more inside you than you could have ever imagined. That's what happened on my most recent trip to Atlanta. My dear friend Keith asked if I would come and deliver both context and the prayer for HIV/AIDS and the homeless at the Martin Luther King Prayer Breakfast sponsored by the African-American Human Rights Foundation.
This was not a paid gig, I was simply coming to lend my support to a friend. I was hesitant to stay two nights because I never want to leave my doggie Sophie for too long. But I did because Keith has been one of my most loyal and closest friends from my political days. My other BFF Luke met me there and it was a two-day whirlwind.
Let me tell you, sometimes you have to be willing to take a chance. If I tried I wouldn't have been able to plan such an exciting and productive trip. Let me say right off the bat, meeting and spending time with Phaedra Parks from The Real Housewives of Atlanta was AMAZING! Many of you know that my BFF Luke worked on the current season of RHOA as an associate producer.
He asked me to send Phaedra some bracelets from RLT Collection, and she loved them! After that, Phadera expressed that she was impressed with my work around HIV/AIDS and looked forward to meeting me one day.
While in Atlanta, Luke reached out to her and while she and I were both on tight schedules we made it happen.
I sat in her fabulously decorated waiting area when Phaedra waltzed into her office with all the charm and grace of a true Southern Belle and looking fabulous. I wanted to steal that fur vest she was wearing and you know her black studded handbag was to die for. LOL.
"Finally we meet!" she exclaimed as we embraced! We settled in her private office and I felt like I had known Phaedra for years. In her stylish office that has a classic feel with a modern edge, we talked eye lashes, mink coats and the hard work that we both put into our projects. It felt good to be told that my work is important by such an accomplished woman. It's a wonderful thing when women life each other up. Luke sat beaming because he said he knew from the get go that Phaedra and I would hit it off.
I really respect Phaedra Parks. She is educated, smart, fabulous and driven. Many women would have stopped after a law degree and a law practice. Not to mention the fame that comes from Real Housewives of Atlanta, but nooooo Phaedra has kept right on going and growing. She just completed her studies in Mortuary Science and is currently preparing for her boards so she can practice as a mortician.
Wait!! She's preparing for her exams and on a tour for her new book Secrets of the Southern Belle and don't forget that she has a young child and a new baby. Now if that's not driven I don't know what is.
Watching reality TV we tend to get caught up in the drama and miss the person. Honestly, this is the first season that I have actually watched RHOA and I watched mainly because of Luke. I have gained an appreciation for the show as I watch this season. I see these women as hard working with real life ups and downs. A part of me thinks how brave are they to let people into their lives weekly. I know what its like to give people a glimpse of your life, I do it every day through blogging, speaking and Social Media, but to give millions a glimpse you have to have some major balls. Especially in this era of bullying that I see in Social Media.
Well, Phadera and I had a blast bonding and I look forward to getting to know her even better in the future. Her next Chicago visit we are planning to spend more time bonding, talking, shopping and painting the town Diva.
I have already started reading her book Secrets of the Southern Belle and that review will be coming as soon as I'm finished. And you know, seeing her fabulous style up close I have already come up with some fab bracelet designs for her, well at least in my head and I can't wait to get to my bead board and hash out my ideas for some exclusive bracelets for this true Southern Belle.
I will have to tell you about the rest of my trip to Atlanta on Monday because I'm dead tried, in bed resting and reading. Of course I'm reading Secrets of the Southern Belle and counting down to Real Housewives tonight. Hope you all are tuning in with me! If you have never watched the Real Housewives of Atlanta tune into Bravo an hour early so you can play catch up!
Read Rae's blog, Rae Lewis-Thornton Speaks.
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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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