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, April 14, 2010

Hello, My Name is Rae and I'm A Workaholic...

Some years back at the end of a meeting with my professor in pastoral care, Dr. Homer Ashby looked me straight in the face and asked, "So Rae, tell me why it’s so important to get an A?" Caught off guard, I sat speechless with this stupid look on my face. In the silence I started to squirm. I knew that my back was against the wall and there was no way out. I couldn't believe that he had put me on the spot. And he didn't seem phased by my discomfort. He sat with me in the silence and waited.

Sitting there I felt as if my way was being questioned and I resented it. I went through a platter of emotions. I even became mad at myself for requesting that darn meeting. But that too was a way of life. Those “A-’s” I had received were “not acceptable,” I told myself as I marched to his office. “I need an A!” He had struck a chord with me.  Call it over-achiever, workaholic, driven, type-A personality... whatever, but it is a way of life for me. It is my norm. I have this need to fill every waking moment with something. Whether it’s a thought, an act, or my words.

But that day in his small office, sitting in the silence, the tears started streaming down my face. The six year old little girl had taken center stage. I knew exactly what it was. I could hear Mama’s voice, "Bitch! You ain’t shit! You ain’t never gonna be shit!" That's what Mama told me from the time I could remember and since then, I had been working hard to prove Mama wrong. Enough was NEVER enough! The more I did, the more I needed to do!

As I write this blog, I find myself driven to the point of exhaustion. In the last 11 weeks I have gone non-stop. I not only designed the spring line for my bracelets, I designed a Diva AIDS Awareness Bracelet Line, had a photo shoot with models for the collection and then revamped the entire web-store. I launched a blog, established a partnership with BlackDoctor.org and became a contributing writer for SouthsNews.com. I revved up my social media campaign, created a fan page on Facebook and started tweeting like I have lost my mind. (Over 7,000 tweets in 8 weeks.)  I didn't stop to take a breath and I rarely stopped to sleep.  Even when I try, most nights I lay in bed thinking. My mind is working constantly. Even on the road I work before I speak, answering e-mails, checking on my Facebook and Tweeting along the way. I seem to never shut down.

 I will admit that I attribute some of my breakneck schedule to being self -employed and basically a one woman show. My new personal assistant, Jenna, told me the other day, "Umm Rae, I think “normal” people who are self-employed take breaks and don't work all day and night. We’re here to help. Whatever you need us to do.” I know she’s right. In the last few weeks I have been blessed with some very talented volunteers, Jenna included. I even picked up a bead apprentice, Renisha. #TeamRae is helping to make my life a little easier, I just have to be willing to delegate. And I must do it because I'm starting to feel the weight of it all and that could make me sick. Stress is not a good thing for anyone, it is especially not good for people with AIDS. On Twitter I laugh it off with a tag #workaholicsUnite, but this really is serious.

 Eddison, my host at Davidson College told me, “I think your hard work has made you what you are Ms. Lewis-Thornton.” He is correct. My drive has helped to shape my life’s accomplishments. It’s not enough to want to do it. You have to be willing to put in the hard work and make real sacrifices. I get all that. For Real. But the fact is, I wonder what it will take for me to balance my life.  I wonder what it will take for me to meet the approval of that little girl, still fighting for approval.

Yesterday, as I was trying to shut my mind down to take a nap before my speech at Davidson, I remembered a book I read in seminary about Sabbath. I started to think that maybe what’s going on is much deeper than meeting ones' approval. I wonder if somewhere I have a fear of rest. The author of the book states:

“We are terrified of the painful grief that is too hot to touch, sharp and piercing, so we keep moving faster and faster so we will not feel how sad we are, how much we have lost in this life: strength, youthfulness, playfulness, so many friends, lovers, dreams that did not come true. When we stop for a moment we can feel the burning, empty hole in our belly. So we keep moving, afraid the empty fire of loss will consume us.... while speed keeps us safe, it also keeps us malnourished.”(p.53)

Yes, there have many been many losses in my life. Not only from my childhood and HIV/AIDS, but of love, space and things. In spite of these losses, I have to find the strength to stop the madness. I agree with the author, “while speed keeps us safe, it also keeps us malnourished.” Trying to balance ministering on the road and my other projects has indeed left me malnourished. I am certain that this is not what God had in mind when he gave me this assignment. Even Jesus took breaks for renewal.

So, starting today, I’m giving myself permission to read a book, bake Paula Deen’s lemon curd pudding, go to the Friday noon-day concerts at my church, knit and take long walks on the lake front. Yes, I understand that when I stop moving I may be forced to face the very painful losses in my life. But in rest, I will also face the things that will keep me safe: “prayer, touch, kindness and fragrance.”(p.53) In this stillness, I am sure that God will renew my spirit.
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