5 Immediate Steps I'm Taking After HealtheVoices17

So, I'm finally back from #HealtheVoices17 and after a full day of rest, I am still at a lost for words on how to summarize or describe my experience there. There were tears, inside jokes, tons of laughs, and a lot that I learned that will enhance the impact I have in my social media advocacy.

One thing is for certain in the goal I set for my attendance at HealtheVoices this year. I did not want to be the same person leaving that I was coming in. Coming in, I was stressed from family issues, burned out from advocacy/policy work, and feeling overall depleted so I was running on autopilot. The first day activities with the #PurposefulConnections HIV Summit knocked all of that out the gate as soon as Rhonda Waters of Johnson & Johnson's HPI (Human Performance Institute) had us re-evaluate our values and get to the core of why we do advocacy in the first place. So, walking out of the conference on our last day Sunday, I was definitely felt back to a empowered place of authenticity. I felt more rooted in my passion.

I just want to share with you five things I have immediately implemented or an in the process of adding to my advocacy toolkit.

1. Add a medical disclaimer to your posts or website.  I spoke with Benjamin Di'Costa, a fellow HIV advocate and among many other wise social media tips he gave, I realized this one was such a simple one and I had overlooked it. It protects advocates, while we are patient experts, we are not always medical professionals and are only speaking from our lived and learned experiences. There are a lot of examples throughout the internet that can be tailored to fit the needs of any advocate. I have now placed this disclaimer throughout my website because what I may advise may not always be what I know for each individual person that reads my content. I want us both to benefit from this relationship and for no harm to come to either of us. 

2. Making videos is easier than one thinks. When I attended a session on creating impactful video for advocacy last year, Josh Robbins had amazing tips on scripting, lighting, audio and apps to use that were super inexpensive. Cameras intimidate me eventhough I know that using video is effective, so I didn't fully implement his tips or take them seriously for my work at the time. This year, he gave great tips on the same issues, but hearing it again as well as other attendees experience using what works for them, I have now found that I can afford and accomplish bite size videos that will help me in HIV advocacy. Lilly Stairs even posted in our HealtheVoices Facebook page, this great app in iOS called Clips that does closed captioning so followers that are hearing impaired can access content. It's FREE! It's EASY! It's FUN! I'm starting out with that one and hope it takes me to another level.

3. Legislative advocacy is critical. In a session by Type 1 diabetes health advocate Christel Aprigliano and Public Affairs Council expert member Nick DeSarno, a wealth of information was shared on how to effectively speak with your congress members, their staff and if they refuse to host public forums, there are effective ways to "out" them that will help bring the importance of your cause to light. One thing I think is effective is to attend their campaign events, town forums or party specific fundraisers and ask for a photo opportunity with them. Be sure to wear a shirt that speaks to your cause in a bold statement, then post said photo to social media with whatever policy oriented hashtags or messaging is best suited for the position you want them to consider for your cause. I'd even go the extra mile and send them a copy of the photo as a thank you card. Being reslilent in policy work is the key. Decisions in legislation are not made overnight, building relationships is key - and never, ever give up.

4. Protecting your followers is just as important as protecting yourself. This was probably most impactful for how I view my social media presence. I never have a problem stating how naive I can be and this was one of those times my ignorance was evident. My method of defeating HIV stigma is to put it all out there and dare anyone to say anthing, not taking into account that some things I post may be triggering for others. It is my responsibility to be considerate to that. I'm grateful to Kirsten Schultz and Dr. John Grohol for sharing tips on how to handle that during our Privacy in the Public Eye panel.  For example, if you are posting an image of your lab work experience on Facebook, the appropriate way would look like this:

There are many variations of what words can be put in place of "trigger warning" such as specifically what is mentioned, i.e. "may contain an image of blood", "warning: do not read if needles make you uncomfortable", etc. When you place a specific amount of space in a Facebook post, it automatically hides it from the viewer with a "See More" prompt which I used to find annoying, but now see how it's purpose is incredibly beneficial to protecting my audience. 

5. Not being a 501c3 does not limit my advocacy work. Thanks to Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the Community Foundation of New Jersey and online patient advocates everywhere - we can now apply for a charitable grant that engages, informs and empowers patients in our community as well as combatting stigma and isolation. The grant sizes will range from $1,000 - $5,000 and will be held to a project completion in September 2018. This was amazing news as I (like many others) are full of ideas, but don't have access to funding and feel limited in my advocacy reach. There are certain restrictions and qualifications with this grant that you can read about here. I am incredibly grateful to the staff of Janssen and The Community Foundation of New Jersey for providing this opportunity to so many amazing advocates that are truly further empowered to change the world. 

This is a short list of things I have learned and put into practice in the past two days after HealtheVoices17. With the network of friends I've established, I know that there will be more and so far I feel more deeply rooted in the work around me, thank you just isn't enough.



12 Women + 12 Months = PWN Policy Fellows

I think this accurately expresses the excitement, honor and joy I felt when I received an email from Arneta Rogers, (pronounced ARR-nee-tuh) Positive Women's Network - USA Policy & Advocacy Manager. I distinctly remember I was having a pretty fabulous day as Florida HIV Justice Coalition celebrated their HIV modernization bill SB 625 had just passed the Criminal Justice committee with a unanimous vote. I was back in my hotel room with my daughter who was with me on Spring Break and decided to check my email before the end of the day. Disregard the 3,380 unread emails - a lot of them are list serv chain responses.

This cannot be my life. There were 40 amazing, talented and dedicated applicants. Out of them, I was chosen to be among twelve great women that are ready to do the work and take names later.

The process to apply really happened for me at the last minute. PWN kept announcing it and then someoine mentioned in an email non-related to this that they hadn't seen an application come in from me yet. I was stunned and kind of laughed it off. I was scared to make the time committment because SERO is my priority and while I knew that these two opportunities would go hand in hand, I didn't want to stretch myself too thin. Then another PWNer mentioned to me in passing that she thought I should apply. She said, "Don't think about it, just do it." So, that's exactly what I did.

I told myself, if this is meant for me, then it will be. This year whenever I have been nervous or apprehensive about taking a leap of faith, I look up at my vision board to remind myself how confident and inspired I was when I made it. The entire right side of my vision board has phrases like, "Leading woman", "StrongHer", "She's the Boss", "Build Your Dream", "Nothing For Us Without Us", "I am Enough" and images of Michelle Obama, Janelle Monae and I even put a image of myself standing among them because I stand on the shoulders of greatness. Looking at that board told me that I could accomplish something great with this fellowship. I don't know what that is yet, but I know I will be prepared to try.

I hit send on the application and didn't give it another thought.

Until I received an email asking me to prepare for a video interview.

A what, now?

My luck, this would be me...

However, I knew and was comfortable with my interviewers Arneta and Cammie. They asked me questions that made me dig deeper to my WHY I wanted to be a part of the fellowship, what my plans were for my future with the training I'd be given and other questions that helped me own my truth about how little I knew about policy work, but how much I knew this fellowship would not just help me but my community. I plan to bring all the knowledge I gain to others.

After the interview, again I put it out of my head beacuse I didn't want to stress too much about it, but inside I really was on pins and needles to know who was selected.

And then, that beautiful day came when I got the email and I screamed with joy and felt all warm inside. The next question was...who else is going to be in this inaugural team? I'm looking forward to working with the amazing 12, getting to know those that I haven't met before and work with those who's reputation I've admired from afar. I can't believe I'm a PWN Policy Fellow. You can meet the others here.

We are also assigned a coach and by coach, I mean Rock Stars of policy and advocacy work. Suraj Madoori, Kathie M. Hiers, Jessica Terlikowski, and my coach, Kimberly Miller are all people I want to be like when I grow up. With their expertise, committment and resources each participant in this fellowship will be equipped to do just that.

While I was assigned to focus on the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid, everything somehow overlaps and we will be cross-trained in a lot of topics. What are some other issues I want to work on? 

  • For my state: 
    • the modernization of our outdaed HIV statutes (long-term goal)
    • Medicaid & the Affordable Care Act (FL was one of the southern states that did not expand Medicaid)
  • For my personal passion:
    • Women's reproductive justice, comprehensive sex education in all schools
    • Economic equity among women living with HIV
We will spend the next year on webinar trainings every other week, including supplemental trainings in between. We will participate in the PWN Policy Workgroup that meets once a month to discuss local and fedeal policy issues; have reading and writing assignments from the webinar trainings; scheduled conference calls with our coaches and we will have a face to face meeting and training mid-way through in Washington D.C. Oh and the super kicker that I'm excited about is that we get to take the one issue we are passionate about and find an organization through our coach to work with that organization in bringing about effective policy change. Talk about being the hands and feet to the work! Woooo!

Lastly, not only do I get to work with some of the fierecest women in the field, but we get to be coached by influential change makers. I am so honored that they will be investing time in us for a year among their busy schedules. 2017 has me feeling like Beyonce. Seriously.

www.kamaria.org | #embracehealing | #giveinspiration | #livevictorious | #empoweredlegacies

AIDS Watch - How Did I Get Here? Part 2

So, I've filled you in what AIDS Watch is all about, but in case you forgot, it's the premier gathering of advocates and people living with HIV from all over the nation for a high impact policy traninng on key issues impacting people living with HIV and arming them with resources to have dialogue with their elected congress people on what they should do about it. But then, it's so much more than that! It's what an empowered legacy looks like! It's what never giving up and using the collective power of voice to create change looks like. It's presented by the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation and AIDS United and this year featured more than 650 people from 34 states, DC and Puerto Rico to continue sharing their truth and enact their power in their communities.

Let me tell you, being around that many amazing, passionate and determined people is something you can get high off of. It's an energy that pulses through you stronger than espresso. It's a sense of community that is as valuable as family. It's a collective heartbeat of solidarity to create change, speak truth, honor life, act up and fight back!

I am still trying to figure out how I got here, even though I've reflected in a brief timeline before, I am still in shock that this is the work I get to put my voice to. Policy work. Woah.

If you had said to me three years ago that I'd be involved as a leader in my community to work on modernizing Florida's HIV Specific laws, I'd look at you in complete shock. 

But here I am. Doing the work, learning the stuff, making the sausage, herding the cats, speaking the language...you get it. And now attending a major policy issue based conference...amazing. As a scholarship recipient, I knew I was going to take full advantage of this opportunity and honor the space I was in even if I couldn't believe I was in it.The guidelines to apply for a scholarship to AIDS Watch were pretty straightforward, the application process simple and the requirements to follow through, fair. 

Day 1 - So, I arrived in DC and immediately met up with a advocate newbie Lindsay, in baggage claim. This girl...I have to tell her story for you to understand why she rocks my world. I met her at the PWN Speak UP Summit last September. She was brand new to everything and had only come across this particular conference because she Googled "Upcoming AIDS Conferences". In the beginning of our session, we went over disclaimers of disclosure. Pictures would be taken to document the event and if you didn't want to be in these pictures, you'd put a green sticker on your name badge. She immediately asked for one. I don't blame her, she had no idea what to expect. Then we kicked into our session with different breakouts led by women living with HIV. We talked about dating and disclosure, we talked about criminalization, we talked about being a voice when you're scared and what leadership looks like for young women living with HIV. We shared, we cried and evidently we inspired. By the time we got to our first break at lunch, Lindsay walked up to me with her green sticker in hand and then walked off to sign the photo release paper. She was done hiding and I was in full on "proud momma" mode. I don't even know if I directly had anything to do with that moment but the fact that she included me has bonded us. So, it was a joy and blessing to start off this conference with her (which she later jokingly handed me another photo release sticker, it's our thing now)

Next, my co-worker and brilliant friend Tami Haught came through baggage claim excited to embrace the cool 45 degree weather that this Arizona born, Floridian resident was not happy about. 

I know that's rain, but there's a theme I'm trying to stick with, Carry on.
We then grab a taxi to our host hotel, only to realize that because our group of 600 (take that Sparta!), we have to wait for our rooms. So, we turned the lobby into one big family reunion! It was the who's who of HIV advocacy and brilliance. Lindsay kept saying she was sitting with the "cool kids". When you realize that ALL of us are the cool kids, where else would you be? I connected with some first timers from Tennessee, re-connected with people I knew by name but not in person, caught up with people that inspire me and make me want to push harder and then our rooms were ready. We were each assigned a roommate as part of our scholarship recipient requirements. When I checked into my hotel room, my roommate hadn't arrived. Lindsay was staying at a hostel so she hung out with me until she had to check in later that night. Tami vanished into thin air so she could crash in her room since she hadn't slept in a few days. 

We then headed to the United States People Living with HIV Caucus reception to kick off our few days together. We recognized some of the AIDS Watch Leadership Award Recipients, and suprised my awesome boss, the creator and mastermind behind The SERO Project and POZ Magazine (and so many other accomplishments), Sean Strub. The USPLHIV Caucus worked behind the scenes to honor Sean with the "Persistent Advocate Award" and recognized him for not just pushing through years and years of hard work but for bringing countless others into the fold as well. We closed the night with Naina Khana, Executive DirectHER of Positive Women's Network and her amazing energy to rally a crowd. When she leads this chant, I literally am ready to break out and run (and I run for no man) to victory!

Lindsay and I then realize we have hit our wall in hunger and are desperate for food beyond the reception's hors d'oeuvres spread. Not wanting to walk too far and just wanting to sit and relax, we head to the Hilton Garden Inn across the street for great service, delicious food (crab cake on point) and relaxing environment. Afterward we go back to my room, Lindsay grabbed her things and got an uber to her hotel and I settled in for the night. 

But then...my roommate came!! A young New York native with an AIDS Service Organization fellowship, she was a doll! We chatted and I brought her up to speed so she knew she didn't miss anything major and the rest is a blur because tired hit me hard and an early day was ahead of me.

Day 2 - This was the day where we would examine the purpose of AIDS Watch which included an overview of our policy briefs on The Affordable Care Act (including Ryan White Programs & Other Health Reforms), Housing, Quality Sexual Health Education, HIV Criminalization and Funding for the Federal Response to the HIV Epidemic. With these issues protected and funded, we truly can reach the goal of an AIDS Free generation. Our morning consisted of various speakers highlighting the importance of this, the poitical landscape we are in now (and have faced in the past), as well as what our Hill visits and state team orientations would look like. Of course, experienced another war cry by Naina Khana, then broke for lunch and meetings with our state delegations.

For me, this is when things got crazy and real at the same time. Because of the size of our group of advocates, the set up required an overflow room with a monitor connected to where the main stage was. Tables were designated with variousd states on them but many people didn't know that until lunch. We ended up with at least ten Floridians, our Hill guide Isaiah Wilson from the National Black Justice Coalition, his co-worker Trinice McNally and our AIDS United Hill guide Matt Lasier. Isaiah was amazing at getting us motivated and prepared to speak with our members of Congress and their staff and he made the experience so much fun. We connected because there are some initiatives NBJC have planned for in Florida and HIV criminalization in the future. After we discussed who was going to work on what topic of policy we then broke out for our hosted meetings and networking sessions.

Well, not before PWN had to shake things up with a group photo, which always include chanting and singing of some form. "ALL WOMEN, ALL RIGHTS!"

We are a force to be reckoned with. Try us. More about that in another blog!

As an employee of The SERO Project, I had the honor to be in the HIV criminalization session and discuss the sucess and challenges Florida was experiencing as well as any advice to new advocates wanting to tackle HIV criminal law modernization in their state. Our room was packed with people crowding the door, sitting on the floor and taking everything in. Other advocates spoke on their experiences as well from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and South Carolina. 


From there since the schedule was packed with so much information and I was beginning to feel overstimulated, I chose to step away from our sessions, review the packets we had been given and focus on some self-care so I could be present the next day. I have to say, it's taken some years of me crashing and burning to realize how important it is to do this. If it's printed on an agenda for me to do, I don't normally take it as a suggestion, but look at it as a requirement, ultimately stressing myself out. I mean, who wants to miss sessions on the Souther HIV/AIDS Strategy Initiative when you're from the South (that session overlapped with mine), or Black Advocacy Networking when you're a person of color? OR how to build an AIDS Watch at home when your state is currently working with legislators to modernize your laws? There was something there for everyone, but no way to do it all. AIDS United has been intentioinal to re-create as much as possible on their website to direct those that couldn't attend to the resources provided at each session. So, winner, winner; chicken dinner!

The day was then closed out by a cluster of events including The Positive Leadership Award Reception where Bre Campbell, Daniel Driffin, Dr. Carrie Foote, Sen. Christopher Coons, Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen were honored by the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation and AIDS United. There was also a viewing of MTV's SHUGA Down South with a panel of the actors and film team fostering dicussion. Lastly, an impromptu gathering/reception for the Prevention Access Campaign's U=U messaging that embraces that "the scientific evidence is clear. Someone who's HIV is undetectable does not pose an infection risk to their sexual partners." It was so wonderfu to gather and celebrate one another in a space of excellent acheivement.

But then hunger ensued and I found Lindsay once again about to chew her arm off. So we tagged along with a crew of hungry advocating misfits to Firefly and had a spread of chicken mole tacos, fried bbq clams, and burgers.

This is the part of the night I call, eat, laugh, crash repeat. Another early and long day was ahead.

Day 3 - Here's my immediate reaction to my experience captured by The Positive Women's Network and highlighted on AIDS United's blog. Woah. 

A First Time Peek from the Hill at AIDS Watch 2017

Just to highlight some surrounding information:

  • We had a morning group photo and rally, until the rain came. Unlike some outreach events I have worked in the past, the rain means nothing! March on soldier!
  • Capitol Hill is literally a hill. I did not realize this until of course I was half way up. Thank God for comfortable shoes.
  • In meetings with members of Congress on days like this (these meetings were pre-scheduled), there may be last minute changes and people may hi-jack your thirty minutes to spend 20 minutes talking about their state issues. Rude, but I get it. Get in where you fit in.
  • There is a buzzer/clock in some Congress members offices that goes off when they have to go to the floor to vote. Watching this on TV when the tally of who votes Yes or No shows on the screen, I always wondered why the room was empty or had a small group of legislators milling around, how they were determining when someone voted. I now know. They literally run over the House or Senate floor, vote and leave. I witnessed this in my last scheduled meeting with Rep. Darren Soto. His staff was so friendly and funny while I waited.
This experience could not have been made possible and fabulous without the following agencies and organizations. 

AIDS Foundation of Chicago | AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin | AIDS United | amFAR | Bristol-Myers Squibb | The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation | Gay Men's Health Crisis (GHMC) | Human Rights Campaign Foundation | Janssen/Johnson & Johnson | Legacy Community Health | Merck | NAPO Pharmaceuticals | National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) | National Black Justice Coalition | National Minority AIDS Coalition | NC AIDS Action Network | Planned Parenthood | Treatment Expansion Access Project  | US PLHIV Caucus

And lastly, but definitely not least. For those of you wondering why in the world I have a Mean Girls theme throughout the images in this blog post...

The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation has a team of ambassadors all committed to the mission of providing grants to domestic and international organizations that service efforts for treating people living with HIV and AIDS. While they support marginalized communities, they are also breaking ground with support to innovative HIV education and advocacy programs including efforts on HIV criminalization.

I tell you this because as I sat in the overflow room of Day 1 listening to various presenters acknowledge the work that has been done and the work still ahead of us, a team of ambassadors was recognized in the room. This time includes Elizabeth Taylor's grandchildren and great-grandchildren (who I greatly look forward to meeting in person one day) as well as Chandi Moore (xoxo), "Trans-Diva" and bestie to Caitlyn Jenner on I am Cait and Daniel Franzese, best known for his amazing smile and giving fans of Mean Girls one-liners to live by.

While we walked the Hill to meet legislators, we stuck to our schedule not knowing if other advocates from other topics or states would tag along with us. So imagine my joy and suprise when I walked into the office of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's and see Daniel chilling in the lobby. The. Nicest. Guy. Ever. I asked him how his comedy show went the night before as one of the advocates I had dinner with was invited to go but didn't know if she could make it because it was late. I then confessed to him that it was 13 year old daughter that convinced me to watc Mean Girls and it was one of her favorite movies (mind you, she was 1 when it debuted). He then handed me a "House of Glen Coco" sticker which made my insides happy, but I kept it professional. Ok I fangirled a little, and then lovely Lindsay (not Lohan) took this pic of us:

I did later on get caught up in my nervousness of being around him as an ambassador and Rep. Wasserman Schultz's staffer (who is awesome and super attentive) because we were going to tag team the discussion of HIV Criminalization. When I mentioned it to her staffer Kaitlyn, she told me that they had just signed on as co-sponsors to the federal bill that Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen & Rep. Barbara Lee introduced on March 26th called the REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act (H.R 1739). 

REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act (Repeal Exisisting Policies that Encourage and Allow Legal HIV Discrimination): This bill is no cost legislation that would ask the Attorney General, Secretary of Health & Human Services, and the Secretary of Defense to work with state stakeholders to review laws, policies, and cases that impose criminal liability on people living with HIV; develop a set of best practices for the treatment of HIV in criminal and civil committment cases; issue guidance to states based on those best practices and finally monitor whether/how states change policies consistent with that guidance. 

When Kaitlyn told me Rep. Wasserman Schultz was already on board, I gushed "That makes my job easy (as I handed her my card), thank you very much" and then yielded the floor to the next topic for the next advocate. Daniel and I high-fived and then it dawned on me that he might of have more to say in that moment as he is the ambassador for not only the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation but for Lambda Legal too! I later saw him having a brief moment with Kaitlyn and felt relieved that he seized the opportunity, but continued to kick myself for being so nervous I overlooked him. I'm sure he didn't give it a second thought, at least I hope he didn't. It was just so awesome to stand there with him representing the same issue. 

So, that sums it up as one of my favorite HIV advocacy moments ever - AIDS Watch 2017. I look forward to attending next year and seeing what progess has been made, especially in the days of resistance.

Have you ever attended AIDS Watch? Did you even make it to the end of this blog? It is one of my longest posts ever (I apologize). If you made it this far, which celebrity would you love to change the world with? Could you maintain professionalism or would you fan-out the entire time?

www.kamaria.org | #embracehealing | #giveinspiration | #livevictorious | #empoweredlegacies

HAWMC: Day 1 - Getting to Know Me & HIV

This is my 3rd year attempt to do this Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge and see it all the way through the month of November. Third time is a charm, right? I have a lists of prompts, I can do this. I will do this.

Each day, WEGO Health, an awesome empowerment network of over 100,000 health activists, posts a prompt and health activists around the world reflect, write and post their experiences with their health in response to these posts. If you've read this far, I thank you. You'll be reading a lot about HIV for the next 30 days. Let's start, shall we?

I don't write as often as I'd like...I put a lot of pressure on myself to do so and then end up doing nothing. I make up for that in HIV advocacy and being present at events, doing the work. Always in the back of my mind thinking of other amazing bloggers like award winning blogger and social media guru, Mark S. King of "My Fabulous Disease, Joshua Middleton of "Pozitive Hope", or my sisters at Positive Women's Network and I wonder how they do it all. But then, I realize when I do take the time to write, to sit still and put my spider web of thoughts to print...I have a lot to say. I am driven to write when I see an injustice and want to make a call to action, i.e. my most recent blog post on HIV Is Not A Crime. Since then, I've been chosen by The Sero Project to take the lead on Florida efforts to reform our laws! So, time for writing comes scarcely but I am going to try! I am also driven to write (but not always publish) when I have a moment of catharsis. I will hopefully get to speak on the beauty of those moments later when I had to remember to breathe in the midst of chaos!

I love the guided soothing method and ease of this. Try it, it makes a difference. Download the app!

I'd like other Health Activists to know and be encouraged by their own efforts of being a voice - whether they are the only voice in their field of health expertise or if they are in a large sea of powerful voices...YOU ARE ENOUGH. I want other Health Activists to know that it's ok to not be ok. I want other Health Activists to know that it is also ok to build your network of support outside of your field of expertise. I have learned a lot about health advocacy and grace from my friends living with psoriasis, cancer (of various kinds), IBD, Crohn's, and Scleroderma to name a few. Powerful, selfless, fierce individuals that have helped me recognize the beauty in knowing I am doing all I can to be healthy, I am the expert because I live HIV daily and...I AM ENOUGH.

Specifically about my condition as with many I have mentioned...there is a silent suffering that happens. Especially if you are in the public eye. I don't "look" sick. I'm overweight and people don't typically associate HIV/AIDS with curves. It's ridiculous because it ties into the self-stigma that eats away at us mentally. A small part of me (it gets smaller everyday unlike my waistline) is terrified to lose weight because I don't want to fit a stereotype of being ill. I'm literally shaking my head at myself for even typing that. But that is my reality. I'm working on it. There are days in the midst of this that I feel like utter crap. I have learned to not even say when I'm not feeling well because I either get a "You look fine", a "Me Too" story that is no where near connected to what I'm feeling, or I get grilled about my CD4 count, why my feet are swollen or "You're just stressed". Not complaining, because I'm used to it now. I have just learned who I can and cannot talk to openly about my wellness.

So, there you have it. A very jagged first entry into this writing challenge, but I'm learning to stop being so polished all the time. I'm learning to be more authentic with myself and it will help my intentions become more authentic and effective.

Remembering I AM ENOUGH, I thank you for reading this and hope if you related to any part of it, you know you're not alone but it does get better. Feel free to comment, email me, share, find me on Facebook or write your own post! Thanks again - have a powerful and productively blessed day!


www.kamaria.org | #embracehealing | #giveinspiration | #livevictorious | #empoweredlegacies