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

Monday, March 8, 2010

Welcome to a Diva Living With AIDS Blog

Welcome to my blog, Diva Living With AIDS. As the first African-American woman with AIDS to tell my story on the cover of a national publication, I have spent the last sixteen years sharing my life, style, hopes, dreams and disappointments across the United States and even abroad. I never wanted to be a public person. I simply wanted to help bring about change.

As a young woman, I designed a wonderful plan for my life and by the time I was 23, I was half way there. As a national political organizer, with eyes on the White House, I served as the National Youth Director for Rev. Jesse L. Jackson's 1984 and 1988 Presidential Campaigns. I sat in strategy meetings with great minds such as, Alexis Herman, Secretary of Labor and Dorothy Height, the founder of the National Council of Negro Women. My plan was shaping up and I knew that this steady course would, sooner or later, guarantee me a position on a presidential campaign that was promised to win. And if I were smart enough and driven enough, which I was, this direction would guarantee me a position as, White House Staff.

During this same period as an up and coming political operative in Washington, HIV was also emerging on the scene. This mysterious virus literally scared the mess out of people. So much so, that once people discovered HIV was blood born, the number of blood donations dropped drastically. When I heard the nonsense, I thought it was crazy! People actually believed that they could contract HIV, if they donated blood. In my attempt to combat the madness I organized a blood drive in the winter of 1986. The previous year, they had just patented the HIV antibody test and all donated blood was now being tested for HIV.

A few months after the blood drive, I received a letter from the American Red Cross. I assumed it was a thank you and laid it on my counter. Later that evening, I nonchalantly opened the later telling me that something was wrong with the blood that I had donated. The next morning I went to the Red Cross and they told me I was HIV positive. I didn't know on that day, but my whole world changed right before my eyes. I was so naive that day, I completed a 12-hour workday. The years following my diagnosis, I peacefully coexisted with HIV. It didn't bother me and I didn't bother it. I wasn’t sick so I stayed my course. My plan was looking more successful each day. Little did I know, it was inevitable, I would make a clinical transition to AIDS.

AIDS disrupted my world and shattered my dreams into a million little pieces, but God picked up those pieces and reshaped the direction of my life. After living in shame and secret with HIV for almost seven years, I couldn't continue to carry a weight so heavy. I let go! I started to tell my friends and political family that I had AIDS. It felt like tons of bricks had been lifted off my shoulders. I got a new walk and a new talk. Things were looking up, but AIDS was unkind and it started to ravage my body and spirit. I went from 3 pills a day to 23 pills. I went from a size 12 to a size 6 in six months. I started to have back-to-back yeast infections and 21-day menstrual cycles. I became clinically depressed, and cried all day, every day. Things were looking gloomy, but God’s plan never fails. Within a year I started speaking locally about my life living with AIDS and six months after that, Susan Taylor asked me to grace the cover of Essence Magazine in a cover story Facing AIDS.

That Essence article placed me on a course of no return and pushed me into the national arena, as one of the most visible African-American AIDS activist in the United States. I was never much of a public speaker, but I had lots to say. I earned the reputation of being raw, candid, forthright and honest. The fact that I met none of the stereotypes of people living with HIV was appealing to both the masses and the media. I used that fact to affectively to challenge stereotypes and myths surrounding HIV/AIDS.

AIDS has been the catalyst that opened doors and drew people to me. This Blog is an extension of who I am and what I stand for. It is just another vehicle to give voice to my ministry.

A Diva Living With AIDS blog will be true to the essence of my work and life as a woman. I will educate and inform through my eyes and life. Like in the past, I will address a gamut of issues including: HIV/AIDS, childhood sexual abuse, dating, overall health, politics, and of course beauty, Diva style. I am not limiting myself to one genre; the sky is the limit. I made a promise sixteen years ago that I would be a voice for the voiceless, face for the faceless, bring hope to the hopeless and tear down barriers and stand with DIGNITY, as a Woman living with AIDS. This Blog is another way for me to keep this promise. I am not a professional writer, just a Diva Living with AIDS and having her say.

So SUBSCRIBE, leave comments, and enjoy.
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