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, November 11, 2010

Resilience Sealed With God...

I’m never really sure how much I can take. Lately, each time I say I can’t take not another thing, another thing happens. And then I discover that I’m resilient beyond my own understanding. That’s how I know that the resilience I have is sealed in a covenant with God. I might not understand how I do it, but I understand why. As Grandmamma would say, “Ain't nobody but God.” If I had to do this thang myself, this Tuesday they would have had to lock me up on the sixth floor ward of somebody's hospital, and that’s for real.

These last three months have felt like old school AIDS. The thing that makes this disease one bad ass motherfucker, and the wildest thing about it all is that none of this should be happening. Honestly. My viral load is non-detectable and my t-cell count is relaxing in the high 400‘s. So why is my immune system acting like my t-cell is 8? That’s the thing that makes this disease complicated. Nothing is as simple as it seems. It is also the thing that challenges the very core of who you are.

Y’all know the details. I’ve been blogging about it and it reads like a scene out of reality TV. It started with food poisoning, nausea, food sensitivity, diarrhea and rapid weight lost. My body was so toxic I couldn't tolerate my HIV medications. I had to take a drug holiday and risk drug resistance to my HIV medication to get better. Then after the month long holiday, it didn't solve the problem. I then had to have an endoscopy and four stomach biopsies. From that they discovered that I had a bacteria infection in my stomach. In the mean time, I got another AIDS related infection that required me to take IV medication, but there was a national shortage of the medication that I needed so they had to put me on an alternative anti-viral medication that causes renal failure. In fact, that particular medication is so old school, my doctor hasn't even prescribed it in over ten years.

So this journey of treatment began four weeks ago. The IV medication was a five hour treatment once a week. The day of the treatment I also had to take 8 pills of another medication to protect my kidneys. Together they worked almost like chemo. The day of and the day after the treatment I was so weak that I could barely hold my body up. And then as the week went on I got better, but by the time I got better it was time to have another IV infusion of the anti-viral medication. Then two weeks into the treatment of this infection, I started treatment for the bacteria infection. It was five medications at 11 pills a day, on top of my 15 HIV pills a day. I had reached a whooping twelve different medications, 31 pills a day and on Tuesdays 39 pills a day and a five hour IV infusion. I was on overload to say the least. This is the stuff old school AIDS was made out of. Back to back infections combined with treatment and more treatment. It is a burden to bear but you stuck it out because the alternative could mean death. So I drew on what I knew, I recalled my strength from within and I did it with as much grace as I possibility could. 

I was sick everyday, all day: weakness, diarrhea, nausea. It never seemed to get better but from somewhere I was able to keep it together. I didn’t play superwoman this time. I afforded my body the rest that I needed to get better. I tweeted, that was the most of my work. Keeping HIV/AIDS in the face of those who need to know the most. I knew that there would be an end. My history with this disease speaks volumes. If I can just hold on there will be light at the end of this tunnel. So that’s exactly what I did. I held on as tight as I could. Drawing on my resilience that is sealed in a covenant with God.

Then on this Tuesday it all seemed to crumble before my very eyes. On Monday I started to have this horrible itchy feeling in my vagina. Yes, I’m going there. I assumed that I had a yeast infection, which is not uncommon for women when taking a heavy antibiotic load like the one I was taking. But by the next morning it became a different animal, a beast.

My vagina became incredibly swollen to the point where my clitoris had transformed into something I couldn't recognize. My vulva and the inside of my vagina was blood red and I had cuts and abrasions up and down my vulva. So while receiving my IV infusion, I went to see the gynecologist. I was so red and swollen that she had to use the smallest speculum possible to examine me. She looked, another doctor looked, they consulted with the chief of infectious diseases and with my infectious diseases doctor and they had no idea how I had gotten to that place. NONE!

The only thing they were clear on was that this was an acute centralized reaction to one of my medications. They had no idea why the reaction targeted my vagina, or which medication caused it. They speculated that it was either the IV medication, the antibiotic or the medicine I was taking to protect my kidneys. *sigh* But they did know that with a steroid cream and Benadryl,  it will get better over time. I just had to suffer through the right now pain. But honestly, the right now pain is no joke.

After my exam I went back to the infusion room and cried for 45 minutes. I came home and cried for another 45 minutes. Well honestly, I cried most of the night. I just couldn't seem to pull it together. I felt broken and abandoned, but I held on. Then morning came. And morning has a way of giving you a fresh perspective to an old problem. You become real clear that life is better than death. Even life wrapped in pain is better than no life at all. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll take life, everything else is extra. In the end, all I can do is take life with as much grace as I can and have faith for the extra. And history has proven to me that in my moments of despair, I have to draw on my resilience that is sealed in a covenant with God.

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