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

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.




Monday, July 21, 2014

I Love Growing! Rae and Tiara Jewelry!

I'm proud to announce a new business venture, Rae and Tiara Jewelry. About three months ago Tiara and I were on- line looking at Statement Necklaces.  Just off the cuff I said, "We should be selling these necklaces all this money going into  looking fab! Tiara knew a way and that Sunday within minutes we had launched  Rae and Tiara.

I think this is real cool Tiara and I going into business together. I've mentioned Tiara to you on other occasions, but to refresh your memory. Tiara and I met over a year ago when I spoke at her college. She has been helping me mange the Social Media for RLT Collection and from there a friendship was forged; part girlfriend, experts say to live longer you should have a friend half your age. She keeps me young in so many ways, but our relationship is also auntie/niece and I keep her grounded. Her family has adopted me and the rest has been history.

Rae and Tiara is a line of Fashion Jewelry. While our focus is on statement necklaces we do intend to add earrings and bracelets to the line. Each price of jewelry is hand picked by both me and Tiara. Our styles are very similar in so many ways but extreme in others. For sure we both love fashion and believe that accessories will make or break your outfit.

We will feature necklaces that will range the span of age and style. Like with my handcrafted bracelet line RLT Collection, we intend to have something for every woman! On any given day you will catch Tiara and I wearing our jewelry line. We are only selling what we would wear ourselves. 

 We will have one of a kin  pieces, but mostly our pieces will range from 3-10 of one particular design. Making our fashion line affordable was important to both of us so our price range goes from $15.00-$75.00.  We wanted both college students and working women to afford our line. We launched the line a few months ago and until now you could only purchase through our Instagram account @RaeandTiara, which is how young people shop. Today we make our line available on RLT Collection's website. All the necklaces are up and ready for purchase, but I am still adding the detail descriptions. 

We are always adding new additions to the line!! Check us out HERE. And follow our Instagram account HERE!

I LOVE growing!






 
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