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, June 10, 2010

Taking Risk...

I have taken a lot of risks in my life, for real. Risk with my heart: If I love you, will you love me back? Risks on men, you know: Will he be the man that he promised he would be? Yep, I’ve taken some risks in my lifetime. I’ve taken risks on simple things like haircuts, fingernail polish, outfits, restaurants; the list goes on and on.

In my professional world, I took a huge risk telling my story on the cover of Essence magazine. It’s one thing to tell your friends and family that you have HIV. It’s an entirely different thing when you announce it to the world. And everybody has an opinion about what you should have done or should be doing about your life.

Each time I stand before an audience and tell my story or interview with a reporter, I take a risk. Will people reject who I am or what I have to say? But I’ve never been fazed by it. I have always been a risk taker. I took a real risk launching my blog. Will people like it? Will they come back? Can I really generate a large readership? And let’s not forget my bracelet collection. Each time I launch a new collection I run the risk of it being a failure. One man’s treasure is another man’s trash. I’ve done it all and I’ve never been afraid of doing it. Just like Whitney Houston's song, “Tell me no and I’ll show you I can.” That’s been me!

But over the years there is something that I have never done: I have never hosted an event of my own. NEVER! Yes, I have spoken at many events. I have allowed people to use my name and my brand to promote their work around HIV. At some point, I felt that I was being taken advantage of. You know, people would ask me to speak at a fundraiser for an AIDS organization but never offer to raise money for me to speak at a school or to keep things afloat. I’m a one woman show with no big name pharmaceutical backing my work. And that’s real... It’s hard out here for a pimp. For real…

I have a friend who saw my interview on the Garrard McClendon show recently ask, “Didn’t they pay you?” Huh? I froze. In what world did I ever get paid for an interview? TV, radio, magazines and newspaper articles are done for free. I got a big fat thank you letter for being on the cover of Essence magazine. That is all. Yes, I get paid for most speaking engagements, but speaking engagements are few and far between these days. HIV is not the sexy topic it used to be. Sadly people have moved on at a time when HIV has only increased in the United States. There are 30,000 new cases annually and over half of those are African-Americans. I do what I do in spite of the compensation. In fact, I shall never forget, the month that I was on the cover of Essence magazine I could not afford to pay my rent. Honestly. But I have always believed that God will make a way if I am obedient to this call on my life.

Anyway, in spite of the fact that I struggle with keeping it all afloat, I still didn't want to step out there on my own. I’m not sure what paralyzed me. Every time a friend mentioned that I should have an event, I shot it down. Maybe I thought people would see me differently, in a negative way, if I sponsored an event on my own. Maybe I was a afraid of people saying, “Who does she think she is?” I don’t know what had me so stuck. But I was stuck. That is until now. I’m not even sure what got me to this place, but I’m there and proud of it.

On July 15th at Encore Liquid Lounge, I’m hosting my very first event, An Evening With Rae: Meet, Greet & Tweet: A Social Media Event for A Socially Conscious Cause. Yes I’m a little nervous, but I cannot allow my fear of failure to stop my potential growth. I almost allowed my health to stop me. In the middle of planning this event I developed an AIDS related infection that needs to be treated with intravenous medication. I’ve been here before and it’s a rough regiment that in the past has shut me down. So I considered long and hard dropping the idea. I concluded that I couldn’t continue to allow this treatment to altar my life in any way. So I continued to press forward even on an IV drip, twice a day for two hours.

My event is free with a suggested donation so I was depending on sponsors. But even after I got no after no, I continued to press forward. Then finally a gold mine! Hotel Allegro offered to host my Tweet-Up at their beautiful Encore Liquid Lounge. I knew that I had hit the jackpot. I didn't have any big dollars but I had a place to host my event and that‘s half the ball game. I am so grateful that they thought my work around HIV/AIDS was worth the risk.

I am very proud of this event. While Tweet-Ups and Facebook Meet-Ups are very popular, I’ve decided to add a meaningful theme behind the concept. Yes, let’s get together, hang out and socialize, but let’s do it for a cause. And what better cause than HIV/AIDS prevention and education.

Starting today I will be tweeting my fingers off talking about the need to take personal responsibility for your life and body. Challenging people to keep themselves #Protected. We will convene on July 15th at Encore Liquid Lounge where the #RLTEvent will be in full swing. There will be hors d’oeuvres provided by #EncoreAllegro, cash bar, swag bags, great raffle prizes and twitter fun. NO! This event is not just for tweeters. I would like very much for my Facebook supporters to come hang out with me for the night. I promise to hang until the last person walks out of the door. Come join me as I officially launch my Diva Living With AIDS blog and the Protected Project™.

I am hopeful that you will come out and support my work around HIV/AIDS. See you at #RLTEvent #EncoreAllegro, the first of many. I already have a date in mind for the second round... I’m on a roll now and there is no turning back. #ForReal #ForReal
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