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, June 14, 2010

Monday Reflection: Friendship and Love...

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about love and friendship and where people fit into our lives. It seems to me that we fall in and out of love and in and out of friendship at the drop of the hat. And I wonder if the quickness of our dissolution means that what you had was just a resemblance of friendship and love rather than real friendship or real love. Or maybe, as the saying goes, “People are in our lives for a reason and a season.”

I remember when I first went public with my HIV status, I had been living in secret for almost seven years and many friends were shocked that I had weathered the storm by myself for so long. There was a commitment from many in my political world that they would stick by me no matter what, but very few did. With the exception of  Dr. Keith Jennings, he never wavered a day. He works abroad mostly and he never fails me. To this day, I get international calls from him in some faraway place. Sometimes he’ll purchase his ticket back to the US on a Chicago route so he can, “See for himself,” as he put it, that I'm "doing ok.”  When he's out of the country, without me ever asking, he’d have his brother drop a check in the mail, just to help me keep things afloat. I’d ask, “What’s this for?” He’d respond, “Just a little something to help you out until your speaking gigs pick up.”

Barry Saunders was like that also, right up to the very last day he lost his battle with lung cancer. He would fly to Chicago just to spend the day with me. He had my back and best interest, good, bad or indifferent. If it made me happy, he would come along for the ride and be there to celebrate the victory at the end of the race or nurture me back to health at the end of the crash. He was a hell of a friend, For Real... And for the record, years later, I still miss him so much. Sometimes I find myself saying, “I’ve got to tell Barry this.” And then I remember he’s watching over me. No need to tell him what he already knows. What’s interesting, year after year, season after season, Keith's and Barry’s friendships never altered one bit. They never disappeared!

I believe that God filled my void of Barry with Luther. I don’t know why but my friendships with men tend to be pressure free and long lasting. That is until I met Alicia, she is the most non-judgmental, easy going female friend I have ever had up close in my life. She is constant like the stars in the sky. Sometimes she burns bright and sometimes her light is dim, but it is always there and always unconditional. And like with Barry she is always there for the ride...

This much I know for sure. At the height of my popularity, I had more friends than I can count. I remember during that time I had a birthday party and my home was overflowing. Over time I came to the conclusion that some were in my life, riding the coattails of my fame. What an odd thing to latch on to at that time, a woman dying of AIDS. In this same way, I think some were hanging tough so that I wouldn't have to die alone. That was admirable, but I didn’t die. But their purpose in my life died.

And yes there are those who  have dropped out of my life because of their life circumstance and then at just the right time, they drop back in. Sometimes it's a day in a year and other times it may be for years. In those times, I’ve learned to meet people where they are at rather than where I want them to be. I value what they do and don’t get stuck or foster resentment on what they don’t do. Yes, we want people to love and support us like we love and support them. But I’ve come to learn over the years that some people just don’t know how to. Your situation does not change who they are.

Then there’s love. I don’t have much to say except, I’ve never understood how a person can just stop loving a person. I hear it all the time, "Yeah, I used to love him." But maybe your love is just a strong like. A preference or a pleasure that can change on a whim.   Or maybe there were conditions on how you felt, and once those conditions were no longer met, then you no longer felt that way. Maybe you confused caring with loving... There may be many explanations people give for no longer loving a person.

But what I know for sure, in my own life, to be in love with someone touches the inner most part of the self. It becomes a part of you just like the beat of your heart. Maybe you will never fully understand that falling out of love is impossible until you have actually fallen in love. When you fall in love it is without conditions. Unconditional love is constant; it knows no time, distance or circumstance. Sometimes we get in the way of God’s plan for our life, and what should have been gets frozen in time. But with true love it can be thawed in an instant...

Recently, my girlfriend Josephine told me that her parents went their separate ways after she was born because of circumstance and now after 50 years of separation, they are finally getting married. Case in point... Now that is love... I’m not sure where I’m going with all of this. But other than making my Tweet-Up around HIV/AIDS a success, love and friendship have been the two most pressing things on my mind and heart. I just wanted to share some of my thoughts. When I really think about it all, I'm grateful to have lived long enough to have had these profound experiences of love and friendship. I know that all of these things have made my life complete.

Post Script: Do I have friends that were not mentioned in this blog, of course I do... As with all my blogs, I write where my heart and spirit leads me. This just happens to be where I am at this place in time...
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