[dropcap]R[/dropcap]ecently, I had the opportunity to watch a Netflix movie with Helen Hunt called Ride. Ride was based on a young man’s journey to live the best life he could live because he didn’t want to “live to work” but “work to live.” The challenge of his journey to live life was overcoming the burdens of his mother who lived her life through him, trying to overcome the one mistake that has haunted her throughout the years and that mistake (spoiler!) was leaving the room and her other son accidently dies. In the process of her overburdensome agendas and the harsh words of an overly expressive son, the two found themselves separated but forced to the ocean to surf the California waves.
For my readers, here are a few words of encouragement. As we are challenged by the circumstances of life, whether good or bad, we must learn to not lose focus but learn to ride the tides of this game we play called “life.” One thing that I’ve learned is that not all tides are fun tides to surf. Yes, there are some waves that come to a surfer that makes them scream “Yeah” while throwing both hands up in the air because of the liberty they found while surfing through nature and successfully riding the waves. However, we must always consider those tides that we do not envision. Those are the currents that have knocked many surfers off of their boards. Some are able to return to standing back on their boards while there are others who simply couldn’t recover from the blow received by the wave that they attempted to ride.
This is true in life. We must learn to follow our hearts but we must remain steadfast on fulfilling our dreams no matter what obstacle that has been thrown our way. Always have that one friend or supporter in your corner like this young man’s father in Ride who will say to you, “I just want for you to be happy.”
Seriously, we all have hard times but we have to learn to find the good out of all the bad, because there is always some good in the midst of the bad. You just have to keep searching for that treasure and cherish it when you find it.
Being HIV-positive has its own set of problems. We are prejudged by others who think that they have HIV-positive people all figured out and some of those living with the virus are even ridiculed by the members of their own household. I met a young man who recently survived the worst stage of AIDS and the words he said that his mother spoke to him were words that no mother should say to her child. In response, he said “I didn’t try to get AIDS; I just thought that he loved me.” I don’t believe that he should have had to find comfort from a complete stranger; he should have been able to find comfort from the ones dearest to his heart. Nevertheless, my Pastor and I gave him words of encouragement and an ear that was willing to listen and right there in the hospital, with his approval, we prayed for him and I told him my story. At that moment, I realized that we as individuals living with HIV/AIDS, no matter how we acquired the disease, must become a family that is ready to uplift one another at any given moment.
Through SAAVED INC., I wrote a curriculum for HIV-positive women who are ready to move beyond their HIV diagnosis. This program is called “Phenomenal Woman.” The Phenomenal Woman Program is a mentorship program that is based on the triune being. I am glad to say that this program has been funded by Janssen and we are taking enrollments for October 2015.
As women living with HIV we are looked down upon but, no matter how bad the situation, we must learn to stick together and become supporters of one another. I hate to say that I’ve met many HIV-positive women who at some point in their lives have lost themselves and have forgotten how valuable they are. I know, because I almost allowed HIV to define me until I looked at myself in the mirror and I reminded myself that “I was phenomenal before HIV and I am Phenomenal with HIV.” I believe that it is my job to help other women to rediscover the phenomenal woman that is locked within and, once they have rediscovered her, they must learn to ride the tides of life and live. Live phenomenally and then you would have lived your best life!
Tyeshia Alston is a native of Dallas, Texas, and an HIV/AIDS activist, who “will go anywhere where people will listen.” She has done everything from travel to D.C. to speak with legislators about better healthcare access and how the disease has impacted communities to serving on panels for NMAC and other organizations and bringing her message to talk shows. In 2005 at the age of twenty-five, Alston was diagnosed with HIV and she has been on a mission since 2006 to educate people (especially our youth) about HIV/AIDS. Visit www.saaved.org to learn more about her community-based work. Also, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to email Ms. Alston at [email protected].