I don't quite remember when I fell in love with tea but I do remember the most special moments of me drinking tea. I was eighteen years old and I went to live with my biological mother for four months. I had just met her months earlier and it was awkward for both of us. She and her ex-husband lived a very quiet life in Boulder, Colorado. He was a professor at one of the universities and she was a housewife. After years of drug addiction and being in and out of jail, she deserved the break. I was homeless so she and her husband agreed to let me come live with them. Each evening my mother and I would find a spot in the living room with a cup of tea and a book.

Now, years later, I'm a self proclaimed tea expert. I start each day with a wonderful English Breakfast tea to get me going. As the day progresses, who knows what wonderful tea I will crown queen. But for sure, I have at least three cups of tea a day. And yes, when I can, I have tea everyday at about 3:00 P. M. I love to invite my friends over for tea and cupcakes and so far everyone thinks it’s a delightful experience. I am always in search of the best blend of tea. Yes, I’m a tea snob, I prefer loose tea but I do like some bags also. I have learned not to judge a book by it’s cover. Some bags can be quite nice. And yes again, any Diva knows, what you drink your tea out of is very important.

Tea for me is a way of life. It's wellness for the mind body and spirit. Here, I will explore every expect of tea possible, with a high concentration on wellness. I will review the best teas, the best places to have tea, the best ways to brew tea, the best tea accessories, what tea goes best with what foods, and the list goes on and on. I plan to share my passion for tea with you. And I've been told, nothing I do is ever boring so be prepared to go on this tea journey with me.





RLT Collection Tea Ball Frosted Clear Beads!

Mint Medley by The Persimmon Tree Tea Company

About This Tea:

Until recently I had never drank Peppermint Tea made with loose leaves. And Honestly, I will probably never go back. The freshness of loose Peppermint Tea cannot be denied. When I open the can of Mint Medley, From The Persimmon Tree Tea Company, I feel as if I stepped into a garden of peppermint leaves. It is a perfect blend of organic peppermint and spearmint leaves grown in the US.

Mint Medley has become a favorite and I find myself reaching for this tea tin almost everyday. It is great for on-going nausea. The health benefits and endless. It relieves muscle aches, headaches, migraines, stress. And now that it feels like someone is sitting on my chest and I have a mean cough, I'm sure it will help to relieve some of this congestion in my chest. Mint Medley has been in my tea cup more than any tea as of late. It has really helped with my winter cough, congestion related to this bout of pneumonia. You can read my full review on The Persimmon Tree Tea Company Mint Teas.


RLT Collection AIDS Awareness Tea Ball!




Welcome to my world of books! As an pre-teen books changed my world. I fell in love with the writers of the Harlem Renaissance period and the more I read the more I wanted to read. The fiction of this period was powerful and empowering all at the same time. It spoke to my own degradation and gave me hope for a better tomorrow. It gave me purpose for my own life and the courage to fight the good fight and never surrender.

I love to read! Inside a book I escape into someone else's life. There is something wonderful about turning to the next page of a wonderful story. Something intoxicating about the smell of the book and the story it brings to life. Reading brings me joy, and these days with my health in the balance, I find solace in my books.

I spent hours in my bedroom sequestered with the door closed reading the classics from the Harlem Renaissance, Hughes, Larsen, Hurston, Wright and Baldwin. Books became my escape and my salvation. The fiction of this period was powerful and empowering all at the same time. It gave me purpose for my own life and the courage to fight the good fight and never surrender.

Reading is the one thing that the pain of my life could never take away from me. It was the thing that helped to make it better. And even today, living with AIDS, books continue to be the safest place for me. It’s the one thing that belongs to me that AIDS cannot take away from me.The RLTReads book club will be books that I choose. It’s me sharing a part of me with you that has nothing to do with AIDS. It’s actually in spite of AIDS.

The RLTReads book club will be books that I choose. It’s me sharing a part of me with you that has nothing to do with AIDS. It’s actually in spite of AIDS. I have read hundreds of books from many different genres and I will pick the best of my reads over the years. I warn you, it will not be exclusively white or black, male or female, fiction or non fiction, it will be all of them.

I’m so excited and I’m grateful to everyone who wants to be a part of this venture. We already have 110 Book Club Members. You can email me @ RLTReads@raelewisthornton.com. The Twitter hashtag is #RLTReads. We can make this book club as wonderful as we want to make it. Who says that Oprah has to have the only ownership to a wonderful book club?

This Month We are Reading In My Fathers House by E Lynn Harris


Read along and join our discussion July 19th at 7 pm CST







For more Tea with Rae "Vlogs" Click here to visit her youtube channel

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fashion Loves Art!

Last week I done something that I have never done before. Yep, I got up extra early, with no make-up on my face, not even lipstick and with a  scarf on my head no less, to wait in line to get a handbag. Now you all know that I love fashion and I especially love handbags. I think a girl can never have to many handbags and thats for real. But I have never been a crazy woman standing in line to buy anything.

Well, let me give you the tea, as the young people say; that means the scoop. LOL. The British store H and M collaborated with American artist and sculptor Jeff Koons to create a handbag displaying Jeff Koons art.  I love Jeff Koons work.

He is most known for his large, eye catching sculptures of ballon animals. In November 2013 one of his ballon poodles sold for a $58.4 million dollars at Christie's Auction House, making it the  most expensive piece of art sold by a living artist. I love the ballon sculptures, I also love some of his other work, like the sculpture of Michael Jackson with his monkey, Bubbles.
Ballon Art

While I love his poodle ballon art, I adore his sculpture of the apricot poodle. It  captures the very essence of every poodle and thats just some of his work. His ability to capture images on a large scale is remarkable. Now,  I bet you think that the only reason I like Jeff Koons is because of  has poodle art and my love for poodles. I would be lying if I tell you that getting this handbag was not in some way a tribute to my dear Sophie. It was actually a cathartic moment, but it was not my only reason.


It's not to well known, but I collect art. I started collecting right after I made a transition to AIDS twenty-one years ago. I had just moved into my own apartment, prior to that I shared a house with a couple of people and I wanted to create my own space; a place of peace, comfort and solitude. Over the last 21 years I have acquired original pantings, sculptures and pottery. My art is my safe place and provides a peaceful energy in my home. Art gives me life, as I fight for my life.

I remember when I went to South Africa with Sheryl Lee Ralph, the other woman in the delegation went power shopping and I went to art galleries hunting for work by South African artist. I don't know if I could live without art in my life. It's difficult to explain what art means to me. It speaks its own language and if chosen wisely it will speak to your soul.

For me, wanting the Jeff Koons handbag was both my love of poodles and my love of art. When I arrived to H and M, I was shock to find only two people in line, me and a woman named Elizabeth.  She, like me have a love for art and she actually works in the art arena. I was happy and sad all at the same time that the line was so short. It spoke volumes to me about the modern day appreciation for art and artist, verses fashion designers. In recent history, when stores like H and M have collaborated with big name clothing designers like Lavin the lines were around the corner. People actually camped out and H and M were sold out by mid-day. I think if the handbag was a big name designer, rather than an big name artist, it would not have mattered what was on front of the bag, it would have been in high demand.
Well, I tip my scarf off to H and M for going a different route this time around! Jeff Koons was a great choice and this Diva approves! By the way, I don't know if they are sold out nation wide, but I know that the H and M Chicago, Michigan Ave store still have some bags. The bag is made of leather and it actually has some depth, making it a great cross shoulder handbag. The bag goes for $49 bucks, not bad for a leather handbag that will one day be a collectors item. The only thing better than one of these bags for me would have been to have it signed by Jeff Koons; but then I would never carry it. LOL. By the way, there is already a signed bag on Ebay for $500. I guess someone understands the value of art and the artist.

Jeff Koons and his Ballon Poodle

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Blogging For Social Change!

Today I'm headed to the BlogHer 2014 conference in San Jose, California. I'm so honored to have been asked for the second time in a row to speak at this prestigious bloggers conference. Last year I was the closing keynote speaker for the Healthminder Day. This year I was asked to be a Path Leader for Pathfinder. Pathfinder day is an all day intensive, the day before the conference officially opens on Friday.

Bloggers who attend Pathfinder day are interested in taking there blogging to the next level. This is an intensive day with five different paths of learning. The paths are, media company, change agent, businesses owner, published author and visual artist.

BlogHer has partnered me with Dannielle Owens-Reid co-founder of Everyone is Gay an award -winning LGBTQ youth organization to co-lead the path as Change Agent. Our goal is to help bloggers refine and focus their blogging for social change.  Dannielle and I have planned an awesome day for our Pathfinders; from understanding the importance of ones story, to monetizing ones blog and blogging for  purpose even if the money never comes.




I am excited about Pathfinder day and helping bloggers but I'm also excited about the other workshops and sharing  and comparing  notes with other bloggers for 3 days. This year I am planning to attend quite a few workshops myself. With over a million views to my blog, not counting all the people who read my blog through one of the 4 syndications, I am ready to take Diva Living With AIDS to the next level in every way possible.

Blogging has changed the way that I educate around HIV/AIDS. I took a leap of faith and people listened to my heart in every single stoke of the key board.  I understand that no one has to come to Diva Living With AIDS, but you do. I'm taking your support with a  heart of gratitude  and I'm using it as a force of light to make this blog even better than it's best. Expect to see me blogging more often than not.

Over all, I am extra excited about BlogHer 2014 and all that it brings. I'm especially excited to hear the keynote speakers Kerry Washington and Arianna Huffington, the founder of Huffington Post and other heavy hitters.

In the backdrop of all the health problems I've had of late and the death of Sophie, getting away will be a time of renewal and recommitment. Of course I will share the most important and interesting with you in the days to follow... Wish me safe travels.






Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tackling Grief...

Grief is a monster! I'm learning that it also sticks to you like Gorilla glue. Honestly, these last three weeks dealing with the lost of Sophie has been new territory for me. I've never felt this level of sorrow for anything even when I lost my first two dogs. When Imani died I was sad and I cried a lot, but it didn't effect my bottom line. She had lived 12 years and while I was very sad, I was not overwhelmed. I had also done everything possible for her lung disease and was at peace with that fact. Of course I still had Nambi, who was Imani's baby and she was my constant companion. I had Nambi for 16 years. She and Sophie overlapped for almost four years. When I put Nambi down, I felt like she had lived a long and good life. I blogged about Nambi when I first started. You can read it here.

Imani and Nambi
When I put Nambi down there was Sophie, who was full of life and demanding.  She was not having it; not too many sad moments in my house. Sophie even knew the difference from when I was actually sick, verses those days filled with depression. On those days, she insisted that we get out of bed. Her mission in life seemed to make sure that I lived in my life. She accomplished her mission. There was never a dull moment in my house with Sophie.

Sophie Demanding Attention!

Maybe that's why losing her has taken me for a loop. She was the life of the party each and every day. I'm sure loosing her unexpectedly and at a mid age has also impacted my grief level. The average  Poodle lives 12-15 years. Maybe my grief is also impacted by the fact this is the first time that I have been without a dog in 21 years.

What I know for sure is that my grief is all consuming. Even with the lost of my mothers, both of them, I didn't feel this kind of sadness. I remember my friend, recording artist, Teresa Griffin telling me that she cried more over  the death of  her little Pomeranian Poppy, then her father and she loved her father dearly.

I know some people want me to move on, but its not so simple. While there's no easy way to deal with grief, I'm learning to tackle it head on.

For sure avoiding it or pretending that you are not hurting will only send you into a deeper depression. Right now my depression is what my doctor calls "situational depression," but if I don't deal with it in a healthy manner, it could become long term.

It's no secret that I have dealt with depression living with HIV/AIDS. However prior to Sophie, I was doing well. In fact, a few months ago my doctor and I decided for me to take a  break from anti-depressants, to give my body a break. For sure less drugs are always better. But that first week I lost Sophie, I  was popping valium just to sleep. I knew that had to stop, so I switched to an antidepressant that would help me sleep with the advice of my doctor

I'm also an emotional eater and the last two weeks I have eaten more comfort food then I had in the last 6 months. The end result has been weight gain, but I had to decide which battle I could fight effectivity, so I'm going with the flow.

 It was way to much pressure forcing myself to eat "clean" and deal with the grief at the same time. I took the pressure off before it sent me into self- loathing and a deeper depression. I'm finding that with the pressure off, I tend to have a tad more balance. I'm living in the now. I don't punish myself if I don't have the balance, I just start with each new meal or snack and accept that which is. In time, I'm sure that healthy choices will become my norm again. The thing about me is that I never seem to let one thing control my life forever. I tend to regain control in time. Going with the flow is the theme of the hour, even with activities.  If I feel like it, I do it, if I don't, then I don't. Nothing is forced. I wait until my heart is in it before I do it. Added pressure leads to added depression. I want to get through this, not stay in it, so I'm using the methods that work best for me. There is no one way to tackle grief I think we all have to do what feels right.

Working out is also helping my mood swings. I find that the days  I do Crossfit, I tend to be less sad. I know working out does increase your serotonin. After the BlogHer Conference this week, I'm hoping to get back to five days a week.

One of the most cathartic things I've done is to turn Sophie's Instagram account into a memorial page. I go there and post  pictures and while there is an element of sadness to it, it also reminds me how special she was and how much joy she brought to my life and that always makes me smile. Equally importantly, it keeps me grounded, looking at her pictures and remembering in this way, reminds me that it is for sure better to have had her, then to not have had her at all.  It also reminds me that she was such a happy dog and to have her suffer would have been worst than her death for both of us.

I'm not sure how long it's going to take me to get to a better place and I'm not putting pressure on nor am I allowing others to put pressure on me.  If someone is tired of me talking about her then don't talk to me. Tried of me posting about her and my feeling about losing her on Social Media then unfollow me. Don't make me hide my emotions because you don't understand, care, or its depressing. Wonder how I feel to be the one experiencing the lost.

It is what it is. I miss Sophie terribly so and I'm giving myself the time. This grief that I'm feeling will go away in time. I will always miss her but the hurt I'm sure will soften in time. For sure, I'm not totally stuck anymore. I can see improvement from that first week I put her down when I didn't even wash my body or a dish. Three weeks in, I am back to work, blogging, working on RLT Collection trying to get my site up to date and preparing for BlogHer 2014, I think that is progress. The one thing that I don't intend to do is fill my life up with activity as a well to avoid the pain. I'm allowing my grief to go through a natural process on it's own terms so that I can emerge a better person to have experience this lost. They say what does not kill you, makes you stronger.




 
Clicky Web Analytics