What a whirlwind these past months have been!!
I want to start by thanking The Well Project for helping me attend so many of these very important events, conferences and summits! I am forever grateful because you all always think of us women and girls instead of your own self!
Wonderful family reunion where I see all my fellow brothers and sisters in the fight! I had a blast and for the first time I was able to attend with my partner Li who is a board member of Arianna Center (an organization for the Trans community here in South Florida) Thank you Arianna and dear sister for making this possible. :)
I was so excited to introduce so many people that Li knew via my storytelling or social media! I loved being in The Well Project’s booth and taking pics and networking with thousands of people from all over the USA! These conferences are very draining, exciting and intense! You have daily and nightly events... It’s a little difficult for me. I suffer from fatigue and get dehydrated very easily. But I push myself always… It is part of who I am. I have been battling this virus for so many years and sometimes I just don't want to get up from bed, but I push and the adrenaline helps! Did I learn anything new? Not really… I am so involved in conferences and the latest news as far as HIV and AIDS nationally and internationally that I kind of enjoy the aspect of being together, talking, exchanging experiences, feeling connected! I have been around in this field for a long time. I do find some workshops about people very interesting… hearing their perspectives, etc. Heck I was a part of four panels at USCA and I was honored!! So I urge everyone to attend these conferences :)
Well! This is super important because PWN brought 250 plus together from all over the USA and islands! I will say that I was very tired still from USCA but my life is go go go… and then go some more… lol! I found it to be so spiritual... BUT I was also saddened by the division I saw and heard... We must appreciate these spaces for us women living with HIV and understand that many wish they were able to be a part of such a large group of women with the same human condition... and to see others talking about others... some of the youth feeling disrespected by the elders or more seasoned and vice versa was so sad to me that I got home and kind of took it out on my poor spouse! I pretty much said it has nothing to do with YOU but I just don't want to talk! I guess all the fighting and negativity broke me down to the point that I came home to cry and feeling angry!
One of the things that happened to me there was on the last day, one very nice elderly woman started talking to me and saying I was beautiful... I of course gave her a compliment back and we exchanged cards and we even took a selfie together!!! What happened next was the last straw. :( She proceeded saying that she IS TIRED OF GETTING THESE TRANSGENDER PEOPLE PUSHED ON HER! I was like “wow” inside. :( Very sad and in shock!!!! My partner and spouse of 10 freaking years is a Transman and I am a part of the LGBTQ community! I looked at her as she spoke and spoke and said… if she only knew who she was talking to! Doesn't she know I can expose her and where she works (which is an org in NYC for people living with HIV). All these thoughts went through my head… as I continued to listen to her… I thought to myself... “Let me see her with compassion and maybe try to make her understand with love?” I saw her more and more like my grandmother (RIP). I said to myself… “Most likely my grandmother would have said something like that because of ignorance and because of her beliefs!” She proceeded to even tell me she had a gay daughter. So I took it from there and said: “You know, as an African American woman, what you have been through and your ancestors, etc., love your daughter and even if your IMAM is telling you it’s wrong, God is LOVE! Trans people and ALL people deserve respect... even if you don't agree with it!” She nodded and then the shuttle came for her! I still have her card and I didn't expose her.
All in all I wish we had more interactive moments with one another. The workshops are good just like the ones in USCA. I was honored to be part of two workshops there as well. :) But I get more for myself personally from the one on one human contact. <3 I connected with all of my friends and met some new people. :) I recommend it for all! Of course with the extreme fatigue I have I managed to work out one day… lol... It was just a lot to do from the morning and in the evening. I just had to go and lay down all night some nights. I hate having HIV and AIDS sometimes! I get tired… I am a long term survivor and have pain every day of my life. I hope the next summit is less intense as far as so many workshops and sitting for so many hours… It hurts. But we must continue on and try to do the best we can do. I hope PWN Summit continues to grow and that it gets better and better for the good of us all. Unity always… divided we fall! I also want to thank all of those women that worked and worked to get PWN Summit together! I don’t know how you do it and I asked many of them individually, “Aren’t you tired?? How do you do it??” They were like… “Everything hurts and I don’t know how I do it.” Some answered “GOD!” and I related. Because I am always on the go and I don’t even know how! My feet were so swollen that I couldn't even see the bone in my ankle!!! Ughh… inflammation? aging? I don't know.
So with not recuperating from USCA and PWN, I found myself having to travel to Atlanta for the HUGE honor of being inducted by my peers to the Leading Women’s Society 20/20 from SisterLove.
Thank you Lepena Reid for the nomination! I got there so fatigued and tired but excited! I can tell you that I came with no urge to listen to any workshops… I just wanted to hang out with my sisters and meet new ones. :) I guess you can see my pattern… lol… I was so embraced, loved and accepted that my most important time there was not the award! It was the LOVE! THE SISTERHOOD! THE TEARS! THE ACCEPTANCE! Not hearing anyone talking bad about another was huge and even though I was tired I felt happy and at ease. I think fighting triggers all my traumas from childhood and teenage years so I left this place with so much PEACE! We chanted African songs! I got to learn from my elders and I love them so much! I feel so proud to be a part of them. They would hold my hand when I was crying just like my grandmothers used to do. They would kiss my face and hands! They just loved the heck out of me and I loved the heck out of them! It was spiritual and deep and I will never forget this experience!
So was I tired and fatigued??? YES! My friends would go party at night and I would stay in the room resting my body... it’s a lot on me! And I am not even counting the important Key Note that I had before all Latin American consulates! All my speaking engagements, interviews for newspapers and filming for a CBS special report on me called Survivors of South Florida! I am very excited about this! Adding all of this to my everyday life with my spouse, my workout routine and Triathlon that I am training for... it’s a lot! Dealing with my own personal health issues that we all go through and real life problems and I am not even done yet! NOT CLOSE! Thank you Tracey for working out with me and for being so humble! And to every single woman that was there.
So I am writing this October 25th and I sail to Aruba, Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic and Curacao on October 29th. I still feel tired and have not recovered from so much intensity and travel, so much emotions and motions... I am PMSing and feel very fatigued… but I hope that I can actually rest… even though I doubt it! Lol. It’s 300 of us that are living with HIV that are going on the cruise. I have been going since the 2003 off and on and I love being with all of my brothers and the few women that go. I can’t wait… but I must remember that I have to have self-care and not say YES to everything which is crucial! I learned a lot in the very interactive Leading Women’s Society workshops! I LEARNED SO MUCH! So I have to be more open.
Two years ago I went as a hostess and caught the flu and it was very hard on my body, so this year I chose to go with my wonderful sister and administrator of my international support group Nena as my roomie. :) YAYAYAY! I know she will take care of me! Just like my dear friend Robin Barkins did at PWN. She even walked me to my room sometimes when I was so tired! I LOVE YOU ROBIN!! THANK YOU FOR BEING THERE FOR ME! I remember Chile, lol! Omg, or when you told me "you ain’t no spring chicken anymore, Maria!!! Lol… or when I took your butt to eat healthy, lol.
We will see how it goes! I will be swimming with sharks, barracudas, sting rays, etc. etc.! I hope I can find a balance soon! I need to for my own personal life. :)
So I am up to here... Even though my agenda and travel are packed, I would just stay writing all day, and it’s late and I need to continue to pack, make dinner, check work emails, prepare for my webinar with The Well Project on Long-Term Survivors tomorrow, etc. etc.! I am very stressed out!
Wanted to let you all get a glimpse of my real LIFE! And my thoughts...
Much love and light as always.