Monday Reflection: Living in Your Life!
By Rae Lewis-Thornton
December 20, 2010
In life I have taken some chances. That's what living is all about. I've taken chances on men who promised me the world but in the end only left me empty in spirit. I've taken chances on beauty products that fall short of their promises to work magic. I took a chance in my early profession, moving to Washington, DC, to go work in the Jackson for President Campaign. I took a chance when I appeared on the cover of Essence Magazine as the first African-American to tell my story of living with AIDS at a time when the face of AIDS was still primarily white gay, male, and IV drug user.
Yep, I have taken some chances, all in an attempt to live this darn life that God has given me. Some chances have paid off, some have left me worse off than when I began. But no matter what my outcomes are, I never really regret taking a chance. I learned from Rev. Jesse L. Jackson that if you don't run you are guaranteed to lose; if you do run, you might lose.
So I step out on faith when I hear that little whisper in my ear, "Go ahead this is what I have for you to do." When I get that inner feeling, like God is speaking to me leading me in the direction I'm to go, I can't shake it until I do what is in my spirit. It was much like that when I quit my well paying job as a political organizer, with no speaking engagements set up, no brochure and no direction on how to go about getting a speaking engagement, when I came to the conclusion that God wanted me to speak about my life. I quit that darn job and I never looked back.
I can't explain it but it's a feeling that I know is right. It was like that when I launched my collection of bracelets. I had a lot of naysayers and people watching on the sidelines. Some of my friends still haven't purchased a bracelet from me. But it's all good. I'm grateful for those who have supported me and are willing to wear my creations. It was a lofty project and I'm proud of my collection. No, I haven't had the sales that I would love to have, but I get so much joy out of designing the bracelets. Rome wasn't built in a day. But if I never get another bracelet sale, it's all good too. But one thing is for sure, I won't ever stop designing, even if I have to wear them myself. There are 365 days in a year and that will give me enough days to wear my wonderful designs.
Don't you know that God has blessed us with gifts and talents? But many of us squander them, doubting ourselves, listening to others jacked up advice when they ain't doing shit themselves. Misery loves company! For Real... For Real... That's why you better watch the company you keep. You better watch who you share your dreams with, they can squash them and your spirit in minutes. Even with family, sometimes you have to set better boundaries. Sometimes God will even remove people and things from our lives so that we can flourish in our purpose. But we cry over that thing like it was the best tea from China when in fact even a better garden could be growing.
The worst of all, I think, is when we let the fear of failure paralyze us. God has a plan for all of our lives but some of us interfere with those plans. We get stuck in what we know for sure, it's a safe place. But staying in a safe place isn't living, it's just being alive. But I declare it's not enough to just be alive, you have to live in that thang called life. And when you don't live in it, you squander that precious gift of life that God has given you. You don't know who's life will be touched by your willingness to embrace your gifts and talents, no matter how big or small you may think they are. It's like the Christmas movie, "It's a Wonderful Life," George Bailey's willingness to live in his life, even when the odds were against him, touched so many others' lives.
I know I have an incredible gift to talk about my life in a way that it touches the lives of others. And I live in that everyday, every way possible, by speaking, blogging, and being on Twitter. But I'm also a very creative person. I'm actually grateful that God has blessed me with life long enough to see my creative gifts and talent flourish. It seems such a small thing, but just think, if AIDS had taken my life years ago I wouldn't be launching my line of Tea Bracelets for RLT Collection today. I know it may seem silly to some, but why not? Tea Balls with fabulous beaded tails. Yep, a bracelet for your tea ball, and some even have a dual function and can be worn as a bracelet too.
My new collection of Tea Bracelets is just one example of me living in the life that God has blessed me with. Combining my talent of beading with my love of tea and sharing it with others. I know that there are some out there who will see my Tea Bracelets as a wonderful idea. Some will even buy them. That will make me very happy!
But just like with the bracelet collection, there are 365 days in the year and I drink tea at least three times a day. At the very least, I will have a fabulous tea ball dangling out the side of my tea cup each time I drink a cup. Yep, either way, I'm living in this life that God has blessed me with!!! Are you?
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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March 5, 2014 - Aging with HIV, Part Two: A Blog Entry by Rae Lewis-Thornton
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