Thursday, August 18, 2011

The First...

As I dressed and prepared for the first book signing for my memoir, The Way I See It I was both excited and nervous. Excited because I was about to attend my own book signing, nervous because I didn’t know if I would run out of books or sell any books at all.
I had just got done an hour-long interview over the phone for an article for Heart and Soul Magazine and knew I had to hurry up.
Once Daryl and I arrived at the mall in Philly to do the book signing at the Horizon Book Store I was happy as we set up the table with all of my books. The table was placed close to the door so whoever entered the store would see “The Way I See It” by Lolisa Gibson before they saw any other books!
Soon as the table was set, Daryl who was dressed in his “The Way I See It” T-shirt grabbed the flyers we had made and went to pass them out to shoppers that were in the mall. We were both a little surprised that the mall was pretty empty for a Saturday but we couldn’t let it stop us!
Daryl and I both smiled as people started to come into the bookstore and stopped at the table to look at my book. Many of the readers looked shocked when I told them that my book was a true story about my life and that wrote and published the book myself.
I was happy and proud of myself as I signed my books and did interviews to promote the book. I knew that every book I sold would help educate people more about me and the importance of HIV/AIDS. With every flyer Daryl handed out people would always think back to us in the bookstore and the message behind the book.
Whenever I looked for Daryl, he was always posted up in the front of the store passing out flyers and trying to get people to look at and buy the book. I smiled when I saw him taking pictures of me autographing books. In the back of my mind I thought of how grateful I am to always have him by my side and support me whenever he can. He never complains, or objects to supporting me at whatever I do.

As I signed the last book for that day and took the last picture, I was glad that I had my first book signing an I knew it wouldn’t be my last!

Monday, July 4, 2011

My Biggest Fan

Since I was young, I always knew that my life experiences should have been recorded. I knew that if some of the challenges I faced were shared with others, they would indeed be inspired to continue living and follow any dream they may have had. I also knew that my story would have the power to change lives, even if it was just the lives of its main characters.
When I first set out to write a book about my life I was scared. I didn’t know how my family would react to the fact that I would be airing all of our laundry, even the dirty. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to publish the book or find the right people to help me transform my words into a book. I soon allowed my fears get the best of me and put the outline that I had and chapter one of my book to the side.
Three years later, after receiving an unaccountable amount emails and messages from different people across the world who have in some way seen and or heard my story. I found it surprising that so many people were reaching out to not only tell me how much my work has helped them but they were also now sharing their personal stories with me as well. I soon found myself giving advice that was to the best of my ability to complete strangers about decisions they could consider making to help better their life or a situation they may have been facing. I soon realized that me, the same person that did not always have someone to turn to for advice that was both honest and positive, advice that I really found tangible. I didn’t always have someone that I felt comfortable opening up to at all times about my every worry, someone that I felt wouldn’t judge me or later repeat what I told them to someone else. This may have been the reason I kept the fact that I was HIV positive a secret for the first three years after finding out my status.
I also realized that though ninety eight percent of these people were complete strangers, I must have in one way or another sent them the impression that they could indeed come to me and talk about what weighed the heaviest on their heart. I must have looked like I would be able to understand what they were going through and indirectly sent the message that any secret they shared would be safe with me.
Though some of them may have come during the 3am hour, I never once ignored or objected any of the messages that anyone sent me. I always made sure that I answered each and every message with a heart filled response.
It was during the response to a message that I was hit with the reality that people did look up to me, people trusted me, people believed in me. I knew that these same people would be the people that would support my book, even if no one else did. I knew they would be the people who could learn something from reading about my life. I knew that once my book became a book, I would again make a positive impact on the world. I then opened up my outline and turned that one chapter into a manuscript. Despite the fact that a person I considered to be a friend and at one time looked up to told me I didn’t need to write a book, I knew I still had to write. I soon got the needed support from others that were close to me that pushed me to continue to write. It’s funny how sometimes if one person is against you, you can easily forget about the hundreds that are for you.
A week after releasing my book, A book that I not only wrote but also edited and published alone. My memoir titled “The Way I See It”
I sit and analyze my life and success thus far I can say that I am proud of what I have achieved at the age of twenty-four years old. I smile when I think of how many people that I have not had the pleasure to yet meet who has purchased a copy of my book. I smile when I think about all of the messages that I still receive and now its not just people who need advice, some just need a person to talk to. I’m glad I can be that person. That same person I could not find when I needed it. I’m glad I didn’t let any negative advice hold me back because in the end, I had to be my biggest fan.

I truly thank everyone who has supported me in one way or another in getting to the level I am at today. It’s because of your support that I have no plans on stopping the work that I am doing any time soon.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Truly Spring

I was excited when I found out that I was going to Houston TX to speak at San Jacinto College. I knew that I would not only have the chance to leave the not so nice weather in NY and enjoy the warmness of Texas, I knew that I would be able to educate more students on the importance of HIV/AIDS.

The students at San Jacinto enjoyed the event and asked great questions. I left TX with a smile on my face because I knew, I had again made a difference!

A few of the helpful staff members and I

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

It NEVER Gets Old!!

Today Daryl and I were excited to have the chance to speak at Fort Hamilton High School in Brooklyn. When I first got the request I thought it to be a little much for us to be speaking for eight periods straight without taking any breaks in between but agreed to do it nonetheless because I know the importance of education. Once we got to the school and set a format where we both could speak during each period so that the students would be able to get both our points of view and save room for Q&A we knew that the event would go by easily. I know from speaking regularly that High School Students can be one of the most difficult groups to speak to because they like to talk and have side conversations. I hoped that these students wouldn’t be a group of talkative ones because I know that if you are talking then your not listening and I always feel that its important to listen if your being educated about anything that’s important.
Once the first group of students came in, we had a really great time speaking together and educating them from both points of view. This was Daryl's first time ever speaking in front of a lot of people and he really did well. I knew that he wouldn’t have a problem speaking because he has spoken on camera for interviews before and has been very well educated about HIV/AIDS for many years. By the end of the day, though we both were tired from speaking for eight periods, we knew that all the students as well as some of the staff at the high school now all had a much better idea of what HIV/AIDS was. We also knew that they were now equipped with the information they needed to know in order to protect them selves from becoming infected with HIV.
We both left the school today smiling because we know that if none of the 4,000 students we spoke to are HIV positive then they have no reason at all to become positive after today.
If we were called to a different school to do the same thing tomorrow, we would because to us educating... Oh It NEVER gets old!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Youngest Activist I Know!

Even though my son Daryl Jr. is only 18 months old, his dad and I love to involve him in as much HIV awareness as we can! It was fun when we took him with us when I spoke in Delaware at an event for woman and girls hosted by Teens In Prospective.

Daryl Jr. Loves to see me on the mic and makes it known each time that he can talk well by shouting out "MOMMY, MOMMY, MOMMY!" I love when he does it because he always sounds so cute and he also gives the crowd a up close and personal view of how beautiful and healthy of a boy he is. He is indeed the youngest activist I know & he's the BEST!

The above photo is Daryl Jr. and I playing with his toys before the event started!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Watch What YOU SAY!

I was more then stoked when I was told that CNN's Anderson Cooper would be doing a special show on HIV/AIDS and how it is in the world 30 years later. I smiled big when I read that photos had been sent to the show that had been taken for the greaterthanAIDS campaign and just might flash on the screen during the show! I mean just a picture is better then nothing, it is CNN!

When my family and I tuned into the show we set and listened to everything that was being spoken on and though I knew most of the information I was able to break down and explain what some of the things met for my younger brothers. I thought the content of the show was really good and I enjoyed listening.

Around the middle of the hour long talk show before a commerical break a video clip of NBA Hall of Famer, Kareem Abdul Jabbar popped on the screen and he spoke a little about when he found out that his friend Professional Tennis player Author Ashe (7/10/43 - 2/6/93) was HIV postive. He spoke on the positive way Mr. Ashe took his status. Thats good, right Lolisa you may ask.... The goal of the clip was good however the content in which Mr. Jabbar words were spoken was not. As I sit in the room with my two younger brothers who are both trying to learn as much as they can about the virus both their mother and sister has, I was taken back when I heard Mr. Jabbar say "...after he caught the AIDS Virus..." while speaking of his friend.

I kind of jumped out of my seat when he said that. I repeated the sentence to my brothers and asked them what was wrong with it...

"HIV is the the virus right, not AIDS." Responds the older brother of the two

I smiled not only beacuse he was right but because this is something that I think he learned just from being around me and always hearing me talking the lauguage.

When Kareem Abdul Jabbar said that his friend CAUGHT AIDS he was wrong in the fact that a person can not CATCH AIDS. AIDS is a stage of HIV. HIV being the virus. A person must become infected with HIV from another person who is HIV positive and depending on the person's immue sytsem and how the virus is attacting it, that person's HIV may or may not turn into AIDS.

I personally have nothing against Kareem Abdul Jabbar and I think it was great of him to share how someone he knew took a positive HIV status and did something positive about it. I do think that the content of his video clip should have been better reviewed before the show aired. I can only imagine how many people of all walks could have been watching the show and if they did hear that and didnt know the difference what they may have thought.

Its just really something to think about and its always important to WATCH what YOU SAY!!!

Needless to say, the above photo is one of the ones that was flashed during the show of me and my son Daryl Jr.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Laying IT Down...

When I first decided I wanted to share with the public my story of allowing HIV to live with me and the way that I live my life, I never really took time to think about the man that God would one day bless me with and how he would like having HIV as a guest in our home. Thinking bigger, my whole goal was to help educate the world about a virus who's only goal was to distroy. So when Daryl came into my life he had to know the full story.

Daryl being as wonderful as he is was okay with the HIV that lived with me in my home and he was also okay with the fact that I aimed to kill HIV by educating the world about it. Almost 3years and a beautiful son later, Daryl still stands by my side and helps in any way that he can to assist me in laying HIV down to rest. He enjoys everything just as much as I do when we go out and do differnt campaigns and other things to help spread the word.

This video was taken during the latest campaign that we were furtunate enough to take part in. The Catalyst Campaign sponsored by Gilead (a pharmaceutical company that makes one of the medications I currently take).