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, September 7, 2021

  Unprotected: A Memoir is Rae Lewis Thornton’s captivating story of what happened to her as a child and how it helped to shape the trajectory of her life. Living in a continuous cycle of trauma- rejection, violence, and childhood sexual molestation, with no one to protect her, Rae’s abnormal environment becomes her normal existence. By the age of twenty-four, she is diagnosed with HIV.  

  Rae chronicles her journey from HIV to AIDS and situates her life in the dichotomy between the early days of the AIDS pandemic and as a major force and political organizer for notable giants in politics. Rae’s transparency and self-awareness are both shocking and heartfelt. Today, twenty-seven years after Essence and thirty-seven years living with HIV, Rae tells all —the trauma that shaped her life, and how she survived the odds and continued to soar with a broken wing.

Available December 2021!
at participating retailers

Book Information

ISBN 978-1-7378912-0-8

Bulk Book Distribution Ingram Spark
Booking: Info@unprotctedamemoir.com

The Making of Unprotected: A Memoir Book Cover

Rae Lewis-Thornton  is an Emmy Award winning AIDS Activist. She has been a Social Justice advocate for almost forty years. Rae received national acclaim for her story of living with HIV/AIDS in the Essence magazine December 1994 issue. The curator of the Smithsonian National Museum of African- American History and Culture has requested to catalogue Rae’s ground breaking magazine cover. 

As the face of HIV/AIDS, she had been featured in 
Glamour, O, The Oprah Magazine; Woman’s Day, Essence, Jet, Ebony, Emerge, Heart and SoulThe Washington Post, and The Chicago Tribune. 

Rae made appeared on television and streaming shows including, The Oprah Winfrey Show, NightlineDateline, BET, CNN, Vice News, HLN News, Huffington Post Live, and TV One.

She is a ordained minister; an award winning blogger; an author; and tea connoisseur, with a handmade knit and jewelry accessory line- RLT Collection. Rae received a Emmy Award for her television series, Living with AIDS, a first-person chronicle on WBBM, CBS in Chicago.

Rae earned a Master of Divinity Degree (M. Div) from McCormick Theological Seminary. She received a distinguished alumnae award from her alma mater Northeastern Illinois University and the Scroll of Merit Award, from the National Medical Association.

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Tuesday, June 4, 2019

A Journey Into Self!

Writing my memoir is an incredible journey filled with discovery of self. I'm sure for those of you who journal it would be similar if you picked up an old journal, say from fifteen years ago and re-read it. Well that's how writing my memoir has been for me.

Looking back, for most of my life, I understood that my childhood had been riddled with physical, emotional and sexual abuse. But it was always as if I was on the outside looking in.

Even the first version of this memoir that was under a book deal with a big time publishing house. I put a lot of information in that first manuscript, but I did not unpack not one story. Maybe I just needed to get it all out of me as a base line. Or maybe I was also protecting myself, from my own story. Let me tell you, walking head on into a deep black hole of abuse is no easy task. You have to have a lot of nerve and equal strength to examine every horrible thing, but at the same time not allow it to consume you. I believe that I could not have done this that first time around.

I know for sure that the first book was riddled with crazy and that is always a sign. My first ghost writer who was a former editor at a magazine that I was suppose to trust quit, leaving me high and dry because the advance wasn't enough money for her liking.

But truth be told, under pressure, she couldn't do the job. Before the book was sold, another major publishing house asked us for a sample chapter and rejected her efforts two times, like what the fuck is this? As a result, my literary agent said it lost us a six future book deal. He was royally pissed, especially since literary agents get their payment up front.

Then, my second writer, could deliver a sample chapter, but after about five chapters it was clear that she couldn't complete the task. It read like a six year old had written that bull shit. I fired her and she walked away with the ten thousand dollar advance that I had given her up front in good faith.

 My back was against the wall. I had to deliver this manuscript to the publishing house that actually signed me, so I wrote it myself. At the time, I did the best that I could with what I had. I knew that it needed revisions, but I also understood that my editor at the big time publishers would guide me through that process, that's why they get paid the big bucks. But she didn't make sense to me. I remember one time she told me, "I want it to read like a Jame Frey, embellish, embellish, embellish, just don't lie." WTF?

After weekly calls with her and submitting revisions on I think three chapters it wasn't even remotely enough for my big time editor.  She told my literally agent  that it was the worst written manuscript that she had ever read and that it was not her job to re-write and the publishing house walked.  I was crushed. The rejection, left me wounded. I internalized this like I internalized everything my mother told me about myself that wasn't true. It is crazy to think that I allowed  this woman to get in side my head. I had just finished my Master of Divinity degree at McCormick Theological Seminary on a Merit Scholarship and was working on my PhD on an academic scholarship at the Luther School of Theology. Of course I could write.

About six months later, my good friend, George Curry, who was the editor of Emerge Magazine, said so. But most importantly, after he read the manuscript, he said to me that this is one hell of a story that must be told. That publishing house he felt, made a mistake. He told be to do the re-write, and not worry about who validates me. But I was so paralyzed, no matter how many times I tried I bulked.
I could tell the stories of what happened, but I would never re-enter them. Maybe that was a tool of survival for me, just like when I was a child living it. I had learned to keep the pain at a distance. Today, I can honestly say that I have held little Rae's hand. I have cried with her  and nourished her as she told her truths.

Looking back, maybe God knew that the time was not right those twelve years ago. My subconscious said HELL TO THE FUCKING NAW!  It was not willing to allow me to give of myself, not in this way. I believe  that there are no mistakes. I wanted that book deal so bad for so many reasons but I was not ready to tell the story that needed to be told.

Even when God gives you an assignment, when the time is right, the Universe lines up with every move you make. Today I am writing my ass off, telling the story that needs to be told, in spite of the pain.

 I have a wonderful editor who is working her ass off with no money upfront. I have five readers on the team who are walking this painful journey with me. Not to forget my therapist and my psychiatrist who has helped me to unpack every painful thing that needed attention. They have listened to me read chapters with patience and compassion and helped me to unpack every horrible thing that happen to me.

As painful as it has been when I embarked on this book project a year and half ago, I was ready to do this. I was ready to walk in solidarity with that girl  little Rae, who was so deeply wounded by those who should have protected her. Over the years, people have asked often, if speaking was cathartic. My answer has been an unequivocally NO.

But writing this memoir has been a journey into myself. Looking into that black hole that was my life, has been one of the most important parts of my healing.

I know that I will walked away better for giving my  journey up to the universe for God to use. I hope and pray that those who read my memoir Unprotected will not only hold onto the hand of little Rae, but the little girl, the little boy that walked their own journey. Although, we may not be the same issues, we, hurt nonetheless.
What I know for sure, at some point in our life, we must release the pain, so that you can fully heal.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

My Legacy is My Work!

Today I turn 57 years old. Honest to God I had no idea that I would make it this far. I've been living with HIV for 36 years. When I transitioned to AIDS is was a death sentence and that is a fact. I try to explain to people that it was a lot of things that kept me here. At the top of the list is the God factor. But then there was an phenomenal doctor at the top of her game, treating women with HIV because she felt  it was the right thing to do. Dr. Mardge Cohen  fraught for me when I could not fight for myself, but equally important, I did everything she asked of me. I took all the medications that made me deathly ill until something came along that was better and more tolerated and less pills. Well, I'm on fifteen a day now, but that is better than 31. I am grateful to be alive.

As I complete my memoir Unprotected, I've been giving my legacy a lot of thought and some research. When I started speaking in Chicago High Schools, I had no idea that I would end up on the cover of Essence Magazine. Twenty-five years later my ground-breaking cover story has had an phenomenal impact in the history of the AIDS Pandemic.

One of the Founders of Essence Magazine- Edward Lewis, said in his memoir that was published in 2014 that my 1994 Cover Story was the number one December newsstand seller of all times. Now that blows my freaking mind.

Well I've been doing a deep dive on my legacy and I'm learning things that I have never knew about the reach of my work in the last twenty six years and I'm humbled.

Here are some of the books that feature my work as an AIDS Activist, My Journey Living With AIDS and the impact of the Essence Magazine Cover.

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