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, 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

STOP PLAYING! Get Tested For HIV!

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. 












Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Living with Intent!


Now that I'm well into my 50's  there seems to be no turning back. I'm doing what I should have done in my 30's and for sure when I started to see my 40's that is, live with intent.  Well, I sort of lived with very limited intent for 20 years plus, that is, to tell my story to as many people as possible before I died. It was a lofty goal that I did very well. I mean I have spoken at literally hundreds of venues from colleges, churches, high schools and conferences. The only thing is that this goal was single focused and connected to death. Then, I didn't die. Limbo!

As crazy as this may sound, not dying honestly, left me scrambling day to day. I've done everything I had to do to get to the next day, but I rarely thought about the bigger picture and how next month or year was connected to today. As I move into the future, I know it's time for a paradigm shift. I not only need, but I want a new life construct to get me through the rest of my life. One that enriches both me and the lives of others. 

 I use to say that I was living in the midst of dying and that was my truth. For sure, as AIDS was eating away at my body, I was doing that thang. I got up every morning dressed up and participated in life, but expecting death. 

Now my vision for myself is to live until I do die. That means that I'm living life with intent that encompasses the fullness of life. This means I ask myself, "Why am I doing this?" with every single thing. From the food I put in my mouth, to buying a handbag, to every blog I write. I ask these questions, what's my intent? Does it enrich my life or the lives of others? Does it feel right? Or do I have to convince myself? By the way, when you have to convince yourself or have someone else amen your corner, it's probably an action from the head and not the soul.  

I ask myself even with each purchase, Why this handbag, today? Is it to fill some void or make me forget? Is is to show off? Why do I have that need?  Is this purchase drama free?  Drama free meaning, will it leave me broke and unable to pay the rest of my bills? Will I like how I feel tomorrow if I do this today? Why do I want this thing in my life today? 


I search my soul for clarity because the mind can convince you to do some dumb shit. Y'all know I'm telling the truth. This is how it goes,  you say to yourself; if I don't get the handbag today, it may be gone when I come back. If I use some of my bill money for this, I will make it up when I get paid next week. And the list goes on and on. 

That even goes for a man, me included. Been there, done that thang that hurt my soul and rationalized it away. I'm not even going to entertain the justification list for a man, that's a blog for another day because the list is to long.  At the end of the day we just let our mind run all over our soul. The soul always knows what to do! ALWAYS!  And it always has your best interest. 


Oprah says that she ask the intent question with everything she does. She wants to be at peace going into a situation and coming out of a situation. That is the goal for me.  I want a clear and positive focus. I want to make the best moves for my soul. Lawd, yep, I'm planning for my 60's  and 70"s in my 50's. It is NEVER to late to change course. For me, this means that I have grown by leap and bounds. I'm proud of me.

I just finished reading Kris Jenner's autobiography. And I know some of you are not Kardashian fans. I've heard the mean things people say and while y'all talking shit about them, they have not missed one beat. Their brand keeps growing and growing. I'm curious to how people live their lives and build their brand, so I picked up her memoir, Kris Jenner And All Things Kardashian.  It was a pretty good book. For sure she has worked her ass off.

 After leaving her husband Robert Kardashian, for a younger guy who was a piece of shit, and then realizing it after the fact ( see the mind can make you think a good fuck is love), she found herself with no money of her own. 


When Kris met Bruce Jenner she was in the middle of a divorce with four kids and Bruce didn't even have a business card and was living pay check to pay check. She got debilitate about their life and helped to put him back on the map.  During that time, it was about putting food on the table. I know what that feels like. What am I going to do to simply get from day to day? Food on the table was her primary motivation. 

 It wasn't until Kris was hitting 50 and the show was in it's first season that she started living with intent for the future of her family, rather than hand to mouth.  She listened to her soul. Her gut told her it felt right and with everything she did, she asked the hard questions. What's next? How do we continue to be better and do better? How do I turn 15 minutes of fame into 30 and 30 into an hour? What does it mean to live our life on stage and how does it help all of us, her family and the universe. 

You must ask yourself the hard questions and be ready for the answers, your truths. You must also be prepared to do the hard work. You can't make sugar out of shit, but you certainly can make candy out of sugar and the last time I checked sugar was less than $3 bucks for a five pound bag; But first you got to buy that bag of sugar. Every action has a reaction.

You must be willing to buy into your own dream. No one is going to hand it to you on a silver platter. You must invest in yourself to reap any benefits. Every time I think about a new handbag, I remind myself of the tea line I'm working on. I ask myself, which is more important, Tea With Rae or slinging a new handbag?

No one owes you a damn thing. You reap what you sow. If you sow handbags, five years from now you will have a lot of old bags taking up space, if you invest in your feature, you will reap the benefits, with handbags you dreamed of.

 Kris said "Passion can be as powerful as preparation" Oprah put it this way, "Luck is when preparation meets opportunity." Kris had a vision and made a plan. She had a check list and every time a door opened she wasn't afraid to go through it.  Kris and Kim meet every six mouths to plan their next step. No matter what you think about Kim, she is one hard working woman, nor is she afraid of failure.  There is no lost in trying nor is their lost in preparation, something good going in, always means something good coming out. When are you going to STOP talking about that dream and put it into action?

Vision is everything. Your gut, your soul, whatever you want to call it is never wrong. The problem is the limitations we place on ourselves. My limitations were rooted in the life expectancy of a person living with AIDS. Back then it was three years. I was blinded by death and then I lived.

 Oprah said she had a vision that she would be teaching thousands of people and it was very different from her talk show. Her vision finally came true, but first after years of the Oprah Show she had to be willing to walk away from one thing to embrace another. Fear lays in your head, not in your soul. 

As I move forward with my life. I will pause and ask you, how are you preparing to live your best life? Intent is deliberate and deliberate means action. 


 
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