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, February 14, 2019

Valentine Day: Self Love Radiates Out

It Valentine's Day and most people are thinking about what they are going to do, what they are going to get and give, how good the sex will be, or why am I alone on Valentine's Day?

We are all thinking red and I don't mean for AIDS Awareness, but for the symbol of our heart, including me.

It's been years since I've had an actual "date" on Valentine's Day. It's also been a while  since I've laid in a man's arms.

Not because I can't, but because I decided well over 15 years ago that a man who does not appreciate my worth is not worth my vagina.

I'm actually  O. K. with being alone on Valentine's Day. More so than being alone on nights after a long day when I've poured out my at a speaking engagement. After I have given my everything it would be nice to fall into someone's arms and let them take care of me- help to replenish what I've given out.

Now don't get me wrong, it would also be nice to have  a date- a great dinner- great conversation- laughter and a flirt or two across the table. Everyone wants to feel special, appreciated. But then again, we should feel those things for ourselves.  We should have a  baseline of self-love and respect. I know you here Oprah talk about it often but it's true, The Universe gives you back the energy that you give out.

For sure every person wants to feel special, but it shouldn't just be on one day- it should be 365 days a year.  If dinner- a date helps to fuel you, why not arrange date nights more often? Why wait? And why wait on another person. Treat your own self. That's what I do. I treat myself to fine chocolates, I get fresh flowers every week and sometimes I take myself out to dinner. Why expect others to do for you, what you are not willing to do for yourself. Expectation and Deliverance thereof should start with you and flow out to the Universe

 I've got to be honest, its been years since I viewed Valentine's Day from the lenses of the commercial world. I remember the days when I would run out and buy a man a gift no matter how young the relationship, even if things were bad between us. I did it because, well I don't rightly know. LOL Sometimes I would spend my last dime on a gift, and y'all know I got expensive taste. Crazy shit. Thank God I'm not that girl anymore.

Let me tell you in my *auntie voice* No gift at any cost is going to make a man love you. No  amount of sex tonight is going to make a man love you. You can suck his dick until your mouth shrivels and he still may never love you. Shoot a man don't even have to like you, to let you suck his dick.  If you accept him between your legs without standards throughout the year, why should you expect him to do anything different about you on that one day out of the year.

 We should set the standard for how a man treats us and it will easily flow to Valentines Day. Now don't get me wrong. If you just want to get your groove thang on--do it-use a condom- but don't have expectations for something that clearly is not. You can only have peace in your soul when you accept it for what it is. Acceptance is hard, I know, I know, I know. But when you accept it- you  operate in truth.  If you want more for your life then you must give yourself more.

You will never achieve the love you want it, if you continue to clutter your life, your spirit with dead weight.  It all begins with you. Self love starts from within and radiates outward.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Monday Reflection: Set Your Intention- Make Your Goals!

WOW! I honestly cannot believe that it has been two years since I've blogged. *Side Eye* I have no idea what happen in 2017. And guest what, I'm going to beat myself up about it. We are often to hard on ourselves, including me, for no danm good reason. Whatever you did or did not do, that will forever be a part of your past. Even if it happened today, say at 9:00 A. M. -well at 9:01 A. M. that shit was history. Time moved on and so should you.  Stop beating yourself up -it serves no good purpose. But it does destroy the spirit. Whatever lesson you learned, receive it and move the fuck on.

Well, in all of 2018 and so far all of 2019 I've been working on my memoir- Unprotected. I mean really working on my memoir- for real, for real. When I set out last year about this time, to finally get it done, that's exactly what I did.

So where the heck is it you may ask?- glad you asked- I'm still getting it done.  Not beating myself up about it either.

I set my intention well over 25 years ago and I'm reaffirming it every single day. That is- to continue to let God use me- my story to enrich the lives of others. Some of you may say, but you do that already, through speaking, through your use of social media.  You are so right! But I began to explore what was missing from the story and how I deliver it. This is especially true in the #Metoo era. God continued to make clear that the time was right for the fulness of my story. It was time to talk about molestation and it's impact on my life. How HIV fit into the equation.  How one overcomes rejection and abuse. How a child grows up to be told-You ain't never gonna be shit, to turn around and still get 27 years of education with honors.  God said, the story is much bigger than being the first Black woman to tell your story of Living With AIDS on the cover of- Essence.

The Goal then became the memoir- Unprotected, as another way to live God's purpose for my life.  

 Goals are about your future- a desired outcome. Intention is the thing that jumpstarts your goal. It comes from the place of presence. It's the authentic Core of you.

My memoir is the intersection of my life's  purpose and how I live it  each day- my intent each and every day is to be a vessel. I achieve that each and every day through my transparency- living from my soul.

 I reaffirmed my intention - Let God Use Me--and I followed through in every way. Every word that has been typed  is to meet that goal- So many days I became that little girl who survived the trauma. For me it was the only way to achieve the goal.

  Every single thing that I have done for the last 15 months has been about the book. First, you all sent me to Bali, for which I will be forever grateful.

I choose a boutique hotel near the Bali Sea, about an hour  or more away from tourist type stuff. I did that so that I  would have no distractions. My gut told me that being in an environment that was Zen filled was the medicine I needed to start this painful journey of writing this book and I was right.

 Sometimes you have to create a space so that your environment works for you, rather than against you.  I know everyone can't go to Bali but you can create an environment for the life you want to live. Your home for example should be a place where you can breathe. If you share your living space, then your bedroom, the bathroom, find a spot in your house that breaths life into you. I live alone and I don't invite many people into my space-it belongs to me-about me-for me. The world is crazy enough to let all that drama into your life, especially those things that you can control.

That 14 days in Bali gave me the jump start that I needed. I knew that writing this memoir would cause a lot of emotional trauma-- I was right-it has, but there was something about Bali that  said to me you got this. Maybe it was nature, the kindness of the people, especially the Balinese women, honoring God throughout the town every single day. The Australia friend, Tesa  I met who continues to cheer me on.  I just know I came back home ready to work.

The other thing about intention and goals is that you must be willing to follow through. You can create the best possible environment, but if you don't do the work, it will not get done. And every time you make an excuse you are feeding yourself bullshit- it will defeat and that will break you, your spirit and your confidence. There is something to this thing about the energy you put out into the Universe. When you set your intention your goals and you act accordingly the Universe creates more and more space for you to be successful. 

Take last week. For those of you who follow me on Social Media, you know that my fur baby Chloe Chanel had surgery. Thank you for supporting the Go Fund Me to help pay for the surgery. She is recovering just fine, but last week was nothing short of crazy. After the surgery, she wouldn't eat, drink or wee wee. I was going through fur baby Mommie drama. But at the same time I didn't surrender into the madness. I knew if I allowed it, it  would take over my life.  When drama comes, you can't create more drama by giving into the misery. Leave that shit right where it is. Yes, I had to take care of my baby, but I didn't have to make it another emotional issue for me. It is what it is---- Stop creating unnecessary crazy in your life. And by the way, when you create more drama, you remove yourself from the preset moment. Noting get accomplish.

I didn't want to be taken off track.  Once Chloe had her pain medication and was in my arms knocked out, I opened my computer and got to work.  I didn't begrudge the time I couldn't work on the book, or how much I could not got done, instead I just did it. The energy you give is what you get back. Why put the negative into the Universe.

I have one priority other than to take my medication, that's to finish this memoir- so no matter what else pops up in my life, I go back to this goal-this intention. It is as simple as that.

Anything you want for yourself can be accomplished.
Even self improvement.  Let's say your intention is to live a positive in all area of your life. The Goal would be, how you achieve it.

You are at the table where Gossip is happening- talking about people is not positive.

You can participate or you can speak up-- that has nothing to do with me, let's talk about something else. Not there yet, excuse yourself and go to the bathroom.  Go home early.  You cannot control what others do, but you can control what you do, that means even walking away from the people who are not going in the same direction as you.

The more effort you put into not gossiping, the more the Universe will cheer you on.

Staying focused is not always easy. Sometimes it's a change of environment- I leave the house and go places, like the lobby of a nice hotel, it's free. For some reason I work well at Panera, and can't so much in Starbucks. They both play music but I cannot concrete in Starbucks. At Panera, I get me some tea and a scone-- free refills on drinks and they never put you out, unless you're doing the nasty on top of their tables. #Imjustsayin

During this entire process  of writing my memoir my therapist and my psychiatrist have been on this book journey with me-holding my hand- reminding me that I am more than what happened to me. Let me tell you writing about molestation is not easy. You got to relive the story, so that you can tell it, and then you have to get your verbs right.

Some day's it has put me in bed with Chloe shut down, not adulting. But I talk it through in therapy and I go right back. If writing about my uncle molesting me is to much to handle today, it's my book, my rules. I go to another chapter until I can come back to it.

I hope you get the point. Set your intention - set your goal and let everything you do and say, lead you right back when you get off track. Stop making excuses because it only does more damage-it is a hit to your self-esteem. Resolve it- either the time is not right in your life to do whatever it is you want--- or resolve that there is no time like the present.... Set your intention---make goals to achieve it-create the environment to get it done... The Universe is your friend, what you give out will come right back at you.

And another thing, tell the negative committee in your head to shut the fuckup--- it will have you jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge.


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Usher-Herpes and Disclosure...

When I first heard about the lawsuit against Usher, I made no attempt to learn any of the details. I dismissed that shit weeks ago when I heard about the supposedly green discharge coming out of Usher's penis, (which is not a symptom of herpes) but was claimed in the first alleged law suit according to the tabloid outlets. I was suspect.

But really, personally, I respect Usher's right to privacy so I had decided to let it ride. Living with a STD is so very personal. But then after the press conference yesterday with the woman who is suing Usher because he could have infected her, but didn't, I thought that maybe I needed to weigh in.

Let me say right off the bat, according to a California law, it is against the law for a person with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) to have sex and not disclosure that information to their sexual partner prior to the sexual encounter. (And there lays the biggest problem for me; the criminalization of a medical condition.)

Whether the STD is Herpes or HIV, the law requires disclosure. Now, I'm not a lawyer but this is the legal bases for the law suit. What I don't know is if the sex had to happen in the state of California? I'm still trying to unpack this legal portion.

Background: Apparently,  the claim of court documents published by Radar Online and other tabloid sites indicated that Usher was allegedly diagnosed with herpes between 2009-2010. The articles claim that in 2012 Usher was allegedly sued by Maya Fox-Davis and settled the case for over a million dollars. This may be true, but honestly I'm still trying to find a legitimate source. None of the tabloid articles show the actual court documents. And might I add, that all the legitimate news sources are reporting based on the tabloid articles. So based on these tabloid reports that Usher has herpes, other alleged sexual partners of Ushers have come forward, two women and one man in a lawsuit handled by Lisa Bloom. While one of the persons in the suit is named "Jane Doe" and one "John Doe," one person Quantasia Sharpton, also named in the suit held a press conference with Lisa Bloom, the attorney of record.

Apparently, Quantasia tested NEGATIVE for herpes but is suing Usher for what he might have done. At her base line, is the issue of consent. She indicated, that she would have never had a one night stand with Usher had she known he had herpes and by not disclosing, he took away her choice. I hear you girl! I agree, you should have had the right to choose the terms of your one night stand.

At the end of the day though, I'm just thankful that she was not infected. This is especially true since she had a child after her alleged sexual encounter with Usher. It means her child was never exposed to Herpes. Mother to child transmission is one of the greatest risk for a woman with herpes. The way I see it, she just learned of Usher's alleged herpes status with the rest of us, so there's no long term emotional abuse. Quantasia is not infected, she had an alleged fun night with a celebrity, walked away from that alleged sexual encounter, started a family and kept it moving. I say, what you didn't know, didn't hurt you, go in peace. 

Making an example out of Usher for something he could have done, girl that's like calling the kettle black. I can think of a whole lot of lessons to be learned from this alleged sexual encounter that happened with two people who knew each other for less then two hours. But God forbid, I'm accused of slut shamming either of them, so I'll leave that one alone.

But I will say, if I  ummmm get invited to a fine ass celebrity's hotel room,  just pick one, yep him, you better believe I'm going to take, not one pack but two packs of condoms, just in case, us two consenting adults decide to do that thang. Cause shoot, I already got two STD's, and with my damaged immune system, I surly don't want anything else. At the end of the day, you never know who got what. I understand in 2017, that an STD's know no race, class, or gender. It's all equal in the game of unprotected sex. 

Now, on to the next point, but I should also add that at least one person in the law suit  against Usher has tested positive for herpes, but whether the person was infected by Usher is for a court to decide.

Bottom Line
 Lisa Bloom has filed this law suit to shame Usher into disclosing whether or not he actually has herpes and possibility broke the law by not disclosing his status to his partners prior to sex so she can pursue damages. This is ambulance chasing at its best. 

Be clear herpes is very common. The CDC reports that 1-6 persons have herpes in the United States. Furthermore, most have not been diagnosed.  Most cases are "subclinical" meaning there are not recurrent symptoms. So lets say, you have never been tested for herpes, but you have been exposed, at the end of the day, unless you test all of your sexual partners, you can't really claim one person. The way it could be narrowed down is with your very first outbreak which usually  appears within 4 days  after exposure but as long as 12 days. Mostly people go through life  with very little clinical manifestations of genital herpes and research shows that recurrent outbreaks lessen over time, unless you are immunocompromise like me.

I mean real talk here. I dated a guy that had a herpes legion on his penis, and I asked him what it was. He told me that it was some kind of skin thing that he get maybe once a year and by the time he thinks about going to the doctor, it's gone. We had the flight from hell, me trying to convince him that it was herpes. That's how many people in the real world deal with herpes.

With three plaintiffs on board, I see a big payday if it proves to be true. Which is my second big problem, for sure I think the methodology is tacky and I'm being nice? This type of strong arming tactics  is extremely problematic and makes it even harder for people living with a STD. The headlines, the memes, the jokes, the speculation all help to create an environment that strengthens stigma and shame. Who would ever want to disclose in this climate, especially a person of means.

I have so much to say as woman living with both HIV and Herpes. I know that I'm walking a thin line between what is legal, politically and ethically correct, but these are some truths that people with an incurable sexually transmitted disease live with everyday.

First of all, I do believe that a person should disclose  to their partner that they are living with a sexually transmitted disease. I believe it creates a foundation of trust from the beginning. It also says to the person, I respect your right to make a choice about your body and life.  Now, I know others,  even physicians who treat HIV, that believe the stigma is so thick it leaves people in isolation and therefore, disclosure should be secondary to getting to know a person. Especially now that a person living with HIV with an undetectable viral load cannot transmit HIV. I wonder how they feel about herpes. I'll do some checking and get back.

So while I think one should disclose early, I also understand the hinderance to disclosure, leaves one walking a tight rope. The  shame and the stigma already attached to STD's and then the personal damage done to a person after disclosure. Remember Charlie Sheen, he disclosed his HIV status and the woman took a picture of his medicine cabinet and blackmailed him. Remember the young girl I blogged about Cicely Boden who was murdered after she disclosed her HIV status. The fear is real. Even me, in my early days, I had to make real sure that a person wasn't going to take my information and use it against me. For sure I was diligent about condom use, but I was trotting a thin line. To tell a man I had herpes was one thing but to tell him I also had HIV, for sure made me hands down look like a whore. When in real life, shit happens and that effects our lives.

Disclosure is tricky, I mean, especially if you're just hookin up. I mean one night stands and hook-ups are trick, trick tricky when it comes to disclosure. Who wants to tell something so personal to someone who you have known for a few hours, or you are not that serious about?  But again, who's having sex like that in 2017? Yes, there was a tad of shaming in my last sentence I admit. Don't get me wrong. I'm not knocking you doing your thang! But for the love of yourself, if you are hookin up, then use a fucking Condom.  I admit, disclosure is one thing and condom use is another and they should both be taken seriously.

But when it comes to disclosure, what about those early days of a potential relationship? How soon do you tell? Before or after you learn that he leaves the toilet seat up. What happens when you tell and learn that his credit score is jacked up, or he's full of shit. When do you tell? Who do you trust with information that can damage your reputation in a matter of minutes? Even after I started disclosing to my partners, I didn't tell my mother until right before the Essence Magazine article was released for fear of being deemed a slut by a mother who never faced that her husband was a child molester.

This is the bottom line, neither of these STD's is a walk in the park. Why not get your groove on and love yourself at the same time. No one has the luxury of sex without a Condom. I was talking to an OBGYN doctor and she said that she makes her husband use a condom. After twenty years of seeing any and everything in her clinics, she's not taking a chance.

More To Come...

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