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

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Stop Blocking The Next Chapter of Your Life!

I took an unexpected vacation from blogging. No, it was not health related. My emotional and physical health is great. It's just that I've had so much work to do in other areas of my life, that blogging took a back sit. Be clear though, while on this blogging vacation, I realized that I LOVE blogging and I've missed it like I miss bread when I'm doing my Paleo diet, LOL but For Real. 

Yet, I also realize that you sometimes have to step back so that you can move forward. Sometimes you have to let go of somethings in order to grab onto that other thing hanging in the balance. If not, you risk it all tumbling down. You can only hold so much in your hands and that's an undisputed fact. And while it all may be important to you, there's nothing in the book of life that say's you cannot put it down and then come back to pick it up.

So I've  been plugging away and even at times simply muddling through with the edits on my memoir Unprotected. (Thanks for the pre-orders)  I'm still planning to release it December 1, 2015, so I suspect the next couple of months I'll be really super single focused. I'll try to get a blog or two in weekly. 

I'm in hump time and it needs to be finished. It's like one of those things you just have to do. It's like when you are at the end of a wonderful book and you're sleepy, but you can't put it down. I have that urgency in my spirit, I gotta finish! There is closure at the end of a good book no matter the outcome. You can sit back and say, "WOW, But, How-come," and to me that's the thing that makes a book good, it leaves you thinking. And the best part, once it's all done, you can pick up yet another good book. And the new book, gives you something new to think about

That's how I feel about my memoir, I need to finish this era of my life so that I can start writing the new book. Maya Angelou did just that. Most of her books where memoirs of different era's of her life. Now I'm not saying that I'm writing a new book, who knows what the future holds. I am saying metaphorically it's time to write this book, tell that story and move to the next phase of my life.

Even though I know all of this, I've still been paralyzed. I think that this paralysis is caused by the fullness of my story and the things that need closure. Like who infected me with HIV; Who molested me as a child; My dysfunctional relationship with my white biological mother and my black step grandmother, who raised me; How I dealt with homelessness at 17; My work on the Jesse Jackson presidential campaigns; How my childhood lead me to HIV; that marriage of mine; and of course how God undergirded my life, despite my life. 

The fact of the matter, finishing this memoir brings a certain kind of closure to parts of my life. I get that!!! Finishing this memoir will break the chains of my past and render it powerless over my future.

And just maybe I've been stuck on the edits because of the fear of my past being so public. And that in turn  is controlling my outcome, my future. Another fact, I've been so authentic and transparent up to this point, I know that I can't let this fear block the best of my gift, that is, being able to tell my story in a way it enriches the lives of others. I can't be chicken shit now that I done told you all the other stuff.

At the end of the day, we all have things that we are  holding onto that we should have let go a long time ago. Like that man you should have unfollowed on Facebook or that "sometimey" friend who's pictures you should have stopped liking on Instagram like yesterday. 

I don't know about you, but I don't want anything to hold me back from what's next. Whether it's physically or emotionally, I'm trying to be my best me. So I'm going  to bunker down these next two months and finish my memoir. 

I understand that you have to do what's necessary to break the chains of your past. Sometimes adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse write their abusers a letter and then burn it as a way of releasing the abuser hold over them. I know they tell people in recovery to remove themselves from people and places that facilitated their addiction. Maybe moving on means, accepting a marriage proposal from a wonderful man as a way to  let go of what went wrong in your last marriage. 

I don't know what you have to do in your own life to move forward whether you have unfollow, delete, write it out, burn it out, accept something new and wonderful even if you can't predict the outcome, but I do know, as long as you continue to hold onto the past, you are placing limitations on your future. And as sure as you are reading this blog, God has a next for you. But in the end, it's up to you to embrace it. The bible says that you cannot put new wine in old bottles. Stop blocking the next chapter of your life by holding onto what was.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

God Always Has A Next!

What I know for sure is that God always has a next! I have believed this since I was a little girl being told I was never gonna be shit. Even back then after every unjust beating, I continued to have hope for something better than my right now.

In time I learned, if I just kept holding on, there was something new for me. Now, it didn't always amount to the the things I wanted most, for the abuse to stop, but there was always something to make life worth living. Like the black theatre company, Thunder and the choir, Project Advancement Gospel Ensemble in high school. Those things were a joy to my soul and gave me a place to be other than my home.

Now, for sure it wasn't just about waiting on next, but putting myself in the right places at the right time. Sometimes we wait on next like it's going to fall in our lap, when in fact you may need to get off your ass and get to next. For example, I had to at least go to the information meetings about the theatre company and choir when I was in high school. I had to act on my own behalf.

I could have allowed the pain of my home stop me from living, but I choose to keep moving, keep searching for a better life. I believed that I was better than what my mother said I was and I went searching for better. The choir and theatre company gave me not only a respite from the chaos at my home, but a place that could nurture my self-esteem.

What I'm saying is this, it's about believing, but also about doing something in your right now. Why complain about something better, when you ain't doing nothing better?

I've carried that belief into my adulthood, no matter how bad it may seem in my right now, I  kept on pushing to see what God had next for me. At my lowest moments with AIDS, I kept this belief close to my heart. When my T-Cell Count was as low as 8, I was crisscrossing this country speaking and giving voice to the voiceless.

If I had allowed the hardship of my disease control my life, rather than continue on my life journey, I would have never met my BFF. I didn't know then that the sixteen year old who introduced me at the Jack and Jill Event in Knoxville, TN would turn out to become my ride and die years later. But what I know for sure, if I had stop living my life purpose because my t-cell count was 8 and stayed home and withered away,   I would have never crossed Luke's path. God sent me someone from an unlikely situation to have my back on this journey years later. You never know what is happening in your right now that will be a part of your next. This is way you have to keep pushing through the right now. 

It's like that with every single thing. You never know what tomorrow will bring. I understand that when you are going through, it seems like it's never going to end. For those who have been following my story you know my ordeal with herpes and IV medication. It started out once a year, then every six months and then for almost two years I had to go on IV medication every three months. I was at the end of the road emotionally. 

My doctor had exhausted every medical idea possible to control the herpes to no avail over a seven years period. But I just kept on pushing through occluded veins and failed pic lines and extreme side-effects. I never stop living, there were times I took my IV medication on the road with me when I had to speak. I didn't know what my future looked like, but as long as I woke up in the morning, I believed I was still a part of God's earthly plan.

I continued to let God use me through speaking, blogging and social media.  When I think about all the emails and private messages I have received from people who have been touched by my ministry. I understand, that living in the right now, isn't always about me, but about how God will use you. Even if it's simply to bring a smile to a stranger on the street with an hello. We all have a purpose. 

 Today, it's been an year since I've had herpes and needed to go on  IV medication. The saying is true, man plans, then God laughs. My doctor had even concluded that there was nothing to be done and now we are both looking like WOW.  I'm saying look at God.  Baby, just keep on living and watch God blow your mind. 

 I know life gets hard sometimes for us all. Your issue may or may not be HIV. But I'm a living witness if you just keep on believing and keep doing, no matter how futile it may seem, God will always have a next. It may not be the next thing you want, but it's the next thing that will bless you. Let me pause and say, don't turn your nose up you what God has next for you. Our blessings come in many shapes and forms, but what I know for sure, is that God always has a next! 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Can I be honest? I mean some real talk today?  Some of y'all been fuckin since the turn of the century (me included) and you have never been tested for HIV and that's where the difference ends. I know my status and knowing my status has saved my life. 

And some of you were tested two years ago and Lord some, five years ago and you're still depending on those results *blank stare*  but you never stopped having sex. And don't get defensive and tell me you ain't no hoe, well neither was I.

 Furthermore, I don't deal in labels. I won't let anyone shame me into hating my vagina!! The reality is this, most women have sex with the intent of some kind of long term relationship whether they admit it or not, whether it happens or not. When it doesn't work out, you move on to the next Mr. Right, and that cycle keeps going until you get married. Furthermore, it only takes one person, one time to infect you. So this idea that you have to be sexin on every street corner to become infected with HIV is not what happens in real life.

Remember what I always say, if the penis ain't in your pocket, you have no idea what's it's doing when it ain't with you. And don't get all Holy on me. We all know someone who is messing around with someone and one of them have another partner somewhere. You just don't think it will ever be you. Child please, we all have the possibility of everything, including a cheating partner. And the other reality is this, you have know idea what they did before they met you!

Furthermore, some of you know every part of your partners body, but you have NO idea of their HIV status and to make matters worst, you talk about everything in your relationship BUT HIV. Like HIV is the death sentence of your affair. Well, if the discussion of HIV kills the relationship, I promise you, it was dead already. If you can't talk about living healthy with a person that you are sharing your body with, then that's the wrong person. 

There are some realities about HIV that we should consider. Every 9.5 minutes a person becomes infected with HIV in the United States. The Center for Disease Control  (CDC) estimates about 40,000 new cases of HIV a year.

As a Black woman, the saddest news is this, most African-Americans learn of their HIV status after years of being infected and on the onset of AIDS. Which means, we do not benefit from early treatment and care. Still, more African-Americans bear the brunt of new infections of HIV in the U.S., especially men who have sex with men. 

And this tidbit has blown me away, according to CDC, young people between the ages 13-19 years represent a new group of infections.

A whooping 47% of high school students are reported to have had one sexual partner, and 37% of them did not use a condom. And more than half did not know their HIV status. I should pause and say, that when we look at new infections across the board, about 38% of newly infected people were infected by people who did to know that they were infected.

What am I saying, we are having sex, gay, straight, young and old. In fact, we are having more sex then we are getting tested for HIV. I want to make this simple for you. Get Tested!

This is what we know for sure! 
1) The earlier you know your HIV status, the longer you will live. Things have changed so much since I was diagnosed with HIV. Treatment is nothing short of remarkable. If you know your status and get into treatment early, you can have a long wonderful life.

2) Knowing your HIV Status will reduce this vicious cycle. There is a 68% reduction of new HIV infections among people living with HIV. Yep, contrary to all the news hype, most infected people do not intentionally infect others. And the best treatment news yet, if an HIV infected person is in treatment and their viral load is undetectable, its about a 1% chance of them infecting their partner! YES I said 1% See why HIV Testing is Important?

3) Also, if a pregnant woman learns of her HIV status in the first trimester, she can also reduce the risk of infecting her unborn child by 2%. Remarkable huh? Yep, we have come along way with treatment of HIV. See why HIV Testing is Important?

Ok, I think I made the case for getting tested for HIV. So what's the problem now? You scared? Scared of what? Taking control? Living your best life? Well, this is what you are telling me: That you are not prepared to live your best life. I say that because knowing your HIV puts things into perspective. It moves you to a better place in your journey. A healthy place. A place of living with intent. And you all know that I believe living with intent transforms.

It's this simple, if your HIV test comes out positive, you get into care, stay in care and you continue to follow your dreams with additional planning, rather than being blind sided one day by being rushed into the hospital with an AIDS related infection.  Why not stop disease progression as early as you can? Learning your status with treatment does just that.

OK, so you come out negative, well now you have a chance to think about what you should do differently to be your best you to never have to live the journey of HIV.

Testing is simple! Testing is Free! Testing is Confidential!
1)  It's 20 minutes, but give yourself an hour. 
2) You get there, a testing counselor will ask you some questions and explain the test.  
3) The testing counselor will swap your month
4) 20 minutes later you have your results! 

Let me end by saying, many of you admire me, my strength and perseverance. Let me tell you, if I had not learned of my HIV status as early as I did, I would be dead right now, especially since treatment was not as good as it is today. 

What I want from you, more than being proud of me, is to be proud of yourself. Proud that you made a deliberate decision to learn your HIV status. For sure it will be one of the best best health decisions you can make.

Take your partner with you!!  And honestly if he/she won't get tested, then you should rethink the sex. Take your teenage children, sisters, brothers and cousins with you. Whether they are having sex or not, after that 20 minutes you will give them more to think about about in action then you ever would from talking.

You can be tested at Walgreens in the next three days for free. Also, any Department of Public Health or HIV clinic. To find a place for testing Click Here, just put in your zip code to get a site. As we approach National HIV Testing Day, June 27th, it is the right thing to do for your health. Knowing your HIV status  is living hold and healthy. 

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