December 24, 2015
It's always a bittersweet time of year with its mash up of war and politics, terrorism -- the new virus that threatens our lives ever changing its madness. Holiday shopping and memories of those here, those lost and new life being born. So we celebrate. Life comes first.
I AM happy.
I've broken through the other side of my depression.
My own resiliency shocks me. I seem to power up no matter what. My faith in something greater seems to grow despite my hardships. My optimism has brought me many gifts this year.
I AM cured of my long-standing HCV virus after 40 years!
My immune health is strong.
I AM healthy and strong.
The divinely inspired long-time AIDS Activist Sheryl Lee Ralph honored me, along with others, with a DIVAS Award!
I AM a DIVA!
To top off my year, I was included in the POZ 100 issue as one of the long-term survivors. As if that wasn't enough, I was featured on the cover of Hep Magazine. That was the first time the magazine's cover story was about HIV/HCV. I was filled up and fueled up on World AIDS Day to walk with my friends another year, candles in hand down Santa Monica Blvd in West Hollywood.
But now at 61, survival seems a thing of the past. My new chapter this year is to THRIVE.
I AM thriving.
Funny, that's the name of the newsletter at my mom's assisted care. They should know! Most of the residents are in their late 80s and early 90s and they are thriving! It's obvious they have survived life on life's terms. Everyone has their story filled with highs and lows, but most will tell you how good life is especially as they journey into the golden days and years.
With all the holiday nostalgia, I am reminded of Dec. 8, 1990, when my father passed. The first day of Chanukah was just a few days later. I remember wrapping gifts while tears streamed down my face and onto the gift-wrap as my family and I prepared to light the menorah.
I AM grieving.
The Chanukah lights kept the many miracles in front of my eyes to this day. The candlelight reminds me of the blessings of the past miracles and lights the future.
I AM a miracle.
Though my life is not what it used to be. Who's is? What I dreamed it would be so long ago, a family of my own. I forget that in 1987 with a death sentence; all I wanted was to stay alive and healthy until they found something. I had abundance while that was manifesting everyday. From working at Harvard as a counselor to public speaking and performing my own one-woman show, "Life is a Beach," which was a dream come true.
Someone said to me, "Think of HIV as your gift."
I thought, "Some gift!"
But I practiced that idea. At first I didn't feel it but it caught up with me. Suddenly, I caught myself saying out loud one day, "HIV has given me many gifts."
It's true, years later, HIV became my gift, my golden egg. While I thought that was the craziest idea to affirm as I struggled to find hope in the hopeless age of AIDS, I found a purposeful rich life of work and service, my husband, later on my boyfriend J, a beautiful home and friends with good health throughout those 30 years.
I AM blessed.
There has been so much loss yet so much love.
I AM love.
God's light surrounds my broken heart for healing.
I AM healed.
I hold my memories in the palm of my hand and with a kiss, blow them into the universe with a wave and a smile.
I AM not my past.
I move forward thanking each day as I collect my once broken dreams like seashells on the beach.
I AM whole.
My bucket is full of stardust and abundance.
I AM stardust.
I AM abundance.
This time, nothing stands in my way.
I AM steadfast.
I AM living my dreams.
I AM a heart full of gratitude.
I AM grateful.
I wish everyone a very happy, healthy, holiday season.
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Sherri Beachfront Lewis was diagnosed HIV positive in 1987 after a routine blood test for her marriage license. She was one of the first women to be diagnosed with HIV in the United States and still be alive and well. In the past 20-plus years, Sherri has worked with and coordinated numerous HIV/AIDS research and advocacy efforts. She's been a columnist for Arts & Understanding Magazine, a national HIV/AIDS publication, highlighting the stories of women living with HIV/AIDS. She has graced the cover of POZ Magazine and been featured in the Washington Post. Sherri has performed with Sheryl Lee Ralph and Patti La Belle at DIVAS Simply Singing, and with Broadway CARES/Equity Fights AIDS in her hometown of New York City.
Sherri recently reclaimed her entertainer's identity as Sherri Beachfront, an 80s pop diva, as the host of Straight Girl in a Queer World -- a series of 60 podcasts for Here! Networks in which she interviewed a wide range of fascinating guests between 2007 and 2008. Download and listen to Sherri's podcasts!
Become friends with "Straight Girl in a Queer World" on Facebook!
Speaking engagements: Sherri Beachfront Lewis is available to speak to groups. Contact Sherri about speaking at your organization or event!
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Interviews With Sherri:
Former Pop Star Sherri Lewis Talks About Living With HIV (October 2009)
This Month in HIV: Tips and Tricks for Coping With HIV/AIDS (November/
Washington Post Profiles HIV/AIDS Advocate, Singer Sherri Lewis (December 23, 2008)
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