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

Friday, December 31, 2010

My Last Say In 2010 From My Heart!

Today is the last day of the year and I'm so freaking excited that I'm up at 5:30 a.m. writing a freaking blog. But I couldn't shut my mind down to fall back to sleep so here I am giving you my last thoughts of the year. First, I want to say THANK YOU! Your support this year has been overwhelming. We are nine months into this blog project and by everyone's standards, it has been a whopping success. I could not have done it without you... It's true, #IcanntdoitAlone. I Heart You!!!

So now that I've given you your roses, let me give you a  reality check.  On Twitter I've created a hashtag #FuckinFriday. It's the day when people fuck without thinking. Now you combine #FuckinFriday with this being the last day of the year, I smell double trouble. Yes I know some of you have big plans for the night. Yes Lawd! And I know gettin that last lovin of the out-going year and new lovin for the next year is on the top of your list. STOP lying, if you can get you "some" tonight, you will.

I want to remind you that HIV is lurking in a whole lot of penises and vaginas. You can't see HIV cause it's on the inside of the good stuff between their legs. Yes it is! I been when you doing that thag it seems like the best thing in this freaking world. And, Oh Lawd, if your lover really knows what they're doing, you're think you are in heaven. STOP lying, this is real talk #ForReal #ForReal.

The thing is, you can't see HIV, that Bitch is invisible but it is lurking around seeking to devour and destroy. Yes, I've done the best I could with what I got, as with most people with HIV, but this is not the life I would have chosen for myself.  But, it's a fact... if I coulda, woulda, shoulda, don't mean a damn thing in the real world. This is the only life you got! If you fuck around and become infected with HIV, you will alter the course of your life forever!!!!!

And don't tell me you are in a monogamous relationship or that your man/woman lovessss you! That's some shit you have made yourself believe. If the penis ain't in your pocket, you have no idea what it's doing when it ain't with you.

To have sex without a condom and you are not married, you are a FUCKIN fool! And I believe that there is no man, women, pussy or dick worth your life. No one can fuck good enough that I would want to get HIV. Bullshit ain't nothing! So wrap it up tonight!

Be prepared, while you out shopping for that fabulous ensemble, pop into the drug store and buy some condoms. And ladies, if your man say they are to tight, well, Lifestyles sells super sizes. There is NO excuse. I'm pleading with you to bring the old year out how I would want to you, to want to live in the new year. Loving yourself enough to keep yourself safe. It's not enough to love and support me. You must love yourself enough to do right by yourself. I do what I do so you will never have to live this hard ass life.

If you have never used a condom with your partner, tell them, explain, you are bringing in the new year in how you want to live for the rest of the year. I promise you, If you give your partner a choice, NO sex or sex with a condom, they will say yes. And if they don't, then why are you fuckin someone who does not respect the choices you are making about your body. The fact is, 38% of all newly infected persons are infected by people who didn't know they were infected. The fact is, every 9 1/2 minutes a person becomes infected with HIV in the United States. Don't let that person be you tonight! Use a Fuckin CONDOM!!

See you right here, next year!!! Love you!!

RLT Up-Dates:
RLT Reads Book Club: Save the date! January 12, 2011 7pm cst, 8pm est,  will be the first discussion of our first book, What Looks Like Crazy On an Ordinary Day. I am in the process of setting up a chat room on the blog for the on-line discussion. I will announce the next book the same week. It will be a pick in honor of Black History Month. We will discuss it at the end of February.

Tea With Rae: Everyone who has entered this raffle to have High Tea with me so far is from out of town. I know there must be someone in Chicago who wants to have this experience. High Tea at the Peninsula one on one with me. But you cannot win if you do not enter... So stop putting it off before the deadline passes you by.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tea With Rae: The Perfect Ginger Blend Tea!

No matter what kind of stomach problem I was having, Grandmama would say, "Get you some ginger ale girl." I would just laugh. But honestly, there are some truths to this old wives tale that ginger ale is good for the digestive system. Since I've never been much of a soda drinker, I only drink it occasionally as a natural remedy to my digestive problems.

When my GI system first became out of whack, my girlfriend and fellow blogger Dwanna was on a mission to get me better. She went straight to Chinatown, no less, and got me some pure ginger tea to help settle my stomach. Yes it helped, but boy was it strong. It wasn't that I disliked the taste of ginger altogether, but it was clear to me that I needed a ginger tea blended with other flavors. Now, with a sick tummy for five months, (Yes! Five months of being nauseated everyday, all day, off and on diarrhea with misses to the bathroom and the feeling of bloating after I eat, no matter how large or small the meal.) I needed some relief. The doctors are working on it, but they have not solved the problem.

My OCD kicked in and I started my mission. I knew that pure ginger tea was not a taste I could acquire. I decided in the early days of taking HIV medication that only if they told me it will save my life would I eat, drink or take anything that didn't agree with my taste buds. Let me tell you, after taking first generation DDI for two years, you would agree with me.

So I tried teas from some of the popular tea companies that I frequent and, honestly, I found some that I liked, but didn't love. Then I started tweeting with ESP Emporium one of the largest on-line tea companies in the U.S. Reading my timeline, the owner of this company sent me a link to all his teas with ginger. I love Twitter!! It started a conversation that has led to a relationship and he wanted to be a part of my Tea With Rae Blogs.

This husband and wife duo gave me an exclusive on one of their new premium Oolong teas (the review is coming). And, they sent me enough tea to do my first tea video. #HappyDance. In addition to those teas, they were thoughtful enough to send me some ginger blends for my stomach. One I liked, but oh boy, one I loved!

That Ginger/Orange/Pepper blend gave me life. OMG! When I opened the bag to have that first smell, the mixture of orange, pepper and almond jumped straight up my nostrils. It was heavenly. The perfect mixture of nuts, fruit and spices. This is a Rooibos tea, which is a red tea grown primarily in a provence near Cape Town, South Africa. The Rooibos tea began conquering the world in the 1990's because of it's naturally sweet taste.

This particular tea is blended with almond pieces, pistachios, orange peel, coriander and pink peppercorns. You can definitely see the mixture of all the ingredients. The tea has a wonderful taste. The notes that I taste the most are almond, orange and nuts. Which is great for me because I can have the benefits of ginger without the taste of ginger. The ginger is an anti-nausea remedy and has helped to reduce the sick feeling in my stomach. When you drink ginger tea the digestive juices are secreted, which relax the muscles of the intestines and also reduces the acid in the stomach. It is often used as a natural remedy to reduce nausea for pregnant woman. There are also claims that ginger is an anti-inflammatory, and ladies it can help reduce menstrual cramps. Rooibos is an added plus because it is rich in antioxidants. It's not only enriched in vitamin C, but a host of minerals. Some say it even supercedes green tea in antioxidants.

I have had a cup of this tea every night since it arrived. Typically after dinner, which is perfect for me. It's caffeine-free which means I can even have a second cup and not worry that I will be up all night. But most important, it helps my digestive system. After I eat, my stomach is upset. I feel bloated and my nausea increases. This tea has definitely helped to calm my stomach. It is at the top of my tea list. In fact, I love it so much I ordered me some, because what was sent is almost gone.

As a testament to this tea the night before last when my girlfriend Alicia and her mother came over to visit, I let her mom smell seven different teas and she chose this one because of the fragrance. Primarily a coffee drinker, she asked if I could give her some to take home. And yall know I'm the hostess with the mostest. I sent her home with some ginger/orange/pepper Rooibos tea and this wonderful tea bracelet.

ESP Emporium is fast becoming one of my favorite tea companies, and for sure this ginger/orange/pepper has become a staple in my house. I highly recommend this tea!! #DivaApproved!

Note: I'm excited to announce that ESP has created a 10% discount for all of you who follow my blog. Your coupon code at check out is TeaWithRae. And if you'd like, you can follow them on Twitter. They always tweet great health benefits of tea and Steve will answer any questions you have about tea.

And don't forget to enter the raffle to have High Tea with me at the fab Peninsula Hotel. I'm so excited about meeting one of my many supporters and spending an afternoon in conversation, fancy tea and food.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fashion/Beauty Tuesday: Essie - Judith Ripka Diamond Dust Nail Lacquer

Last week I went to High Tea at the fabulous Peninsula Hotel. I had a wonderful time, great tea, great food and great conversation with my friend Lesa. I blogged about it in my "Tea With Rae," post. By far it was one of the best Teas I have experienced. I have to admit, the Peninsula goes the extra mile. On some select Fridays they have an informal fashion show. Lesa and I lucked out. The Judith Ripka and Luca Luca models floated around showing off fabulous jewelry and clothing, and handing out goodie bags to every single table.

The goodie bag had generous gift certificates from both Judith Ripka and Luca Luca. It also included a bottle of nail lacquer. I didn't think much of it at first, I just casually looked at the package. But to my surprise, it was a limited edition nail lacquer from Essie and Judith Ripka with genuine diamond dust. Yep, I said diamond dust! But how about this, the Essie Loves Diamonds polish is not only infused with genuine diamond dust but there are three bottles of this polish floating around the country with a 1kt diamond, emerald and sapphire. For Real!. It took everything I had not to dump the entire bottle of polish to see if I was a lucky winner. But I'll wait  until the polish is almost gone. Why waste diamond dust. And for me, the suspense is half the fun.

On the surface, this polish reminded me of Essie's traditional nude colors, but this is not your typical polish, remember it is infused with diamond dust. So yesterday I went to have a manicure with this fancy nail lacquer. I have to admit, it does have a glow about it that is not typical of Essie nudes. But there is no glitter or anything like that. It is a classic nude with a pop. And I have fallen in love!

My favorite nail color, Sugar Daddy has officially been dethroned by the Love Diamonds polish, "Put A Ripka Ring On It". First of all, the shine is unbelievable. But more than that, it is a perfect blend between Essie nude colors like Mademoiselle, which tends to be more sheer, and the chalky colors like Angel Food.

Over all, this polish is #DivaApproved. I'm going to stock up because it is a limited edition and who knows when they will run out. Just a warning, they are double the price of other Essie polishes, but I figure the more polish I buy the greater I increase my chance to win that 1kt diamond, emerald and sapphire at the bottom of one of these bottles!

Don't forget to check out Friday's Blog "Tea With Rae," and enter the raffle to have tea with me at the Peninsula Hotel. Also Tea With Rae Logo
 T-Shirts are available. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Monday Reflection: Accepting The Bad, For Your Good

As the year is coming to a end one can’t help but to reflect on the last 12 months. For me, it was one hell of a year. There’s some stuff I want to tell but I think the best place to spill my guts on that madness is a therapist's office. For Real!

Sometimes shit happens and you get caught up in trying to figure out how the hell you got there. And the recovery from it all is worse than the original fallout. Can I get a witness? From my mess though I've learned a few things. One, I’m stronger than I think. Two, no person or thing is worth compromising your values. And lastly, sometimes God does for us what we are unable to do for ourselves. For Real.

So don’t get stuck in the pain of it all falling apart. Sometimes what we want interferes with God’s plans for our lives. Grandmama used to say, "God takes care of fools and babies." Looking back, I’m coming into acceptance of this very fact and taking that fact into my new year. I’m remembering the good and acknowledging the bad as a way to move on. And I am moving on!

What’s the point in staying miserable another year? One should be able to grow from every darn experience we have. When you get stuck in the mess, it takes on a life of it’s own. I don’t know about you, but I got enough stuff going on in my life to hold on to baggage that can’t be unpacked. So I’m leaving the suitcase with all that shit right on the side of the road and moving on. You gotta know when to hold 'em, you gotta know when to fold 'em. For Real!

You also gotta come to an acceptance of the things you cannot change in your life. My love life, well I can change that. On the other hand, my health is another can of worms. And this has been one of the worst and complicated years I’ve had in a long time. My doctor even said so a couple of weeks ago. It’s complicated, more so then any man I've ever loved.

My t-cell and viral load is great. So on the surface I should be great, but I’m not. I've had to have IV medication to treat a recurrent infection four times this year. To make matters worse, this problem I’m having with my stomach seems to have a life of it’s own. First, it was some kind of viral thing/food poisoning. Then I had to have a drug holiday because my stomach was so sensitive I couldn't even smell food without getting sick and my HIV medication made it worse. At the end of the month long holiday, I still had to have an endoscopy and three stomach bioscopies. They discovered a bacterial infection that required me to take 16 pills a day on top of the 15 pills of  HIV medication I already take, for 14 days. By the time I finished it all, I was physically and emotionally exhausted, but my stomach was not that much better. Which is where I’m at now; at a stand still.

I have non-stop nausea, no appetite, and when I do eat, no matter how little, it feels like I've eaten 20 times more. I have on and off diarrhea that comes from nowhere. And to make matters worse, I don't always make it to the bathroom in time. The GI specialist is saying that my brain is not telling my stomach what to do, so my GI tract is not working properly. It's called Functional Bowel Syndrome. I had never heard of such a thing.  But it’s a fact that the stomach and mind are connected. My regular doctor says she’s not surprise. I’ve been under so much stress with my health that now I’ve become sick as a result of being sick. And if the truth be told, I'm sure all the other crap in my life, on top of my health has only added to my stomach issues. Stress is not good for anyone. It is especially not good for people with a weak immune system. And that's another good reason to leave the bag on the side of the road.

But back to my health, they started me on some medication, but basically, it is not that cut and dried. Over time, they say I will get better. So with that knowledge I’m accepting what I cannot change and trying to get to a place where I can function. Feeling sick all the time ain't cute, but it is what it is. As always, I will continue to work on my projects. I mean can’t change how I'm feeling. I have the best doctors on top of it. I’m doing what they have requested, the rest is up to time and God. No point in adding more stress to something I can't change. Plus, I never understood people who become so miserable because of their health, that they make everyone else around them miserable.

Yep, this has been one year full of difficultly. Let’s not even get on the fact that I have had almost no speaking engagements. I don’t get it. Speaking has dried up at a time when more African-Americans are even more impacted by HIV. In the larger picture, when I’m not speaking, money is not coming in and my financial stability is threatened more and more each day. I think this has been my worst year financially since I was 17 and homeless. But I’m accepting that too. Adjusting to whatever changes I gotta make. Not spending money I don't have. Move past the shame of telling a friend that I can’t afford to go to lunch or dinner. There should be no shame in the truth. I have also learned that you can make it on less than you ever thought you could.

Yep, I have had one tough year! Without a doubt, the bad tipped the scales, but it didn't kill me. I’m still standing!!! And more than standing, I’m living in my life, the good, the bad, and the ugly. As I go into 2011, I'm coming into acceptance about the things I cannot change. Making the necessary adjustments to make the best out of what stands before me. We all should do that! 
Next Monday, my Reflection will be on my new chapter. Taking the good from this past year and building on it. Accepting the bad for what it is. In the end, I will use it all for a better year ahead. No point in reflecting if you aren't gonna use it to #doBetter.

Don't forget to check out Friday's Blog "Tea With Rae," and enter the raffle to have tea with me at the Peninsula Hotel. Also Tea With Rae Logo T-Shirts are available.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Tea With Rae: High Tea at the Peninsula Hotel

Last Friday I had High Tea with my friend Lesa. I was so elated that she wanted to treat me to one of my favorite pleasures! And a pleasure it was! OMG! The Peninsula is a fabulous hotel with one of the best tea's I have experienced by far. There's so much to say; my mind is racing faster than I can type. First of all, the ambiance in this five-star hotel is heavenly. And having tea during the holiday season was extra. The 18 ft Christmas tree and the window decorations were simply fabulous! To top things off there was a string duo of cello and violin serenading us.

The service was absolutely wonderful! There is not one bad thing I can say about any of them. The manager was floating around the Tea Room. Our sever was incredibly nice and made sure our every need was met. Even the busboys made sure that our water glasses were always full and dirty plates didn't linger on our table. The service was on point! They took care of our every need, and at the same time they were smooth and unobtrusive. Lesa and I enjoyed each other's company for so long that by the time we left they were setting up for the evening Chocolate Bar they have each night in the same room.

They start you with a menu. I couldn't believe my eyes, there were well over twenty teas to choose from. I wanted to try every one of them, but instead I had a premium tea exclusive to the Peninsula, "Celebration." It was a black tea with citrus notes and Lesa had a ginger blend. We were both happy with our selections. 

They serve you your tea on some of the finest china in the world. I was in Diva heaven! The Wedgwood patten was simply beautiful. I was so impressed that I have looked at Wedgwood's website every day since tea last Friday. I've put it at the top of my wish list. But the tea pot I want cost $885 and the tea cup is $160. *sigh* Something to hope for, huh? Back to tea. Eric our server brought each of us our own pot of tea and our own set of fancy delights.

They give a great assortment of fancies that are balanced, from sweet to savory. There were sandwiches such as smoked salmon, asparagus roulade, sweets such as peppermint chocolate tart, Earl Grey meringue, and my favorite were the maple glazed scones. To accompany our fancies they served  butter, raspberry jam and the best lemon curd I have ever had. It doesn't seem like a lot of food on the stand, but once you have tasted everything, you are good and full.

The Peninsula has afternoon tea every day from 2:30-4:30, but Lesa and I lucked out. On select Friday's though out the year, they have an informal fashion show. There were two models, one from Judith Ripka and one from Luca Luca, modeling wonderful clothes and handing out a goodie bag from the shops. Judith Ripka gave a gift certificate for $500 and Luca Luca $200. And OMG! We were all given Essie nail lacquer from Judith Ripka with diamond dusk in it. I will let you know what I think on next week's beauty blog.

All and all, I had a great time! Lesa and I bonded over premium tea and wonderful fancies in a fabulous atmosphere! Without a doubt it is definitely a treat. High Tea makes for a great afternoon to bond with your girlfriends and treat your mother. But honestly anyone can enjoy afternoon tea at the Peninsula. Women were there with their young daughters and companies were there with employees. I even saw a couple or two having cozy afternoon tea. So don't cheat yourself out of the finer things in life. You only live once!

Raffle Prize: I am happy to announce that the Peninsula Hotel is offering a wonderful raffle prize; one of my readers will be able to have tea with me! To enter this Peninsula Raffle you must do the following things: 
1. become a fan of the Peninsula Hotel Facebook page; 
2. become a fan of my Facebook page; 
3. follow the Peninsula on Twitter;  
4. follow me on Twitter
5. make a comment on this Blog post; and
6. you also have to email me at Rae@raelewisthornton.com and briefly explain why you would like to have an afternoon of tea with me. If you don't have Facebook or Twitter pages you do not have to create one. You should do what you have but the comment on the post and email is a must! Good Luck!
Deadline to enter the raffle is Friday, January 7, 2011 due to the holiday season. I will announce the winner on January 8, 2011.

Sorry, none of my personal friends can either the raffle. This is an opportunity to allow someone who has been inspired by my life a chance to meet me. You and I, on the other hand, can have tea any time we want!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fashion/Beauty Tuesday: Classic Fab!

Last week I was invited to tea at the fabulous Peninsula Hotel by Lesa, one of my Twitter followers who was in town visiting her family. I knew I had to look fabulous but wasn't sure what to wear. At first I thought I might wear a St. John Knit, but my St. John Knits fit into two categories, business and after five. Well I knew that business attire was not appropriate and I don't do black tie in the afternoon for any reason. I wanted to look feminine but sometimes that's hard to do in a Chicago winter. After looking in my closet for what seemed like forever, I decided to go classic and let my accessories do the talking for me. You don't always have to glitter to look fabulous!

I chose a black wool jersey babydoll dress and my black Chanel boots and handbag. But the highlight of my ensemble, I believe, was my jewelry. Remember, accessories are the difference between being dressed and well dressed. A basic ensemble paired with the right accessories can make you look like a million dollars.

I simply love pearls!! By far they are my favorite gemstone so that was my starting point. I took a 100 inch strand of 6 mm white freshwater pearls and wrapped it four times around my neck. Then I took a 50 inch strand and wrapped it three times. I wanted to achieve that Chanel look of layered pearls. I think I accomplished that goal.

The Peninsula is a treat. It's a hotel of the rich and famous, so I decided to pair my pearls with the one designer jewelry that I own. I typically don't buy designer jewelry because you can get more bang for your buck buying jewelry that has no name attached. But I wanted to be a member of the Van Cleef Club. Van Cleef & Arpels has been worn by the rich and famous for over 100 years. When I got my advance for my book deal a few years back, I marched right down to Van Cleef on Chicago's Mag Mile and treated myself. The French designer Van Cleef is known for his wonderful diamond designs, however his Alhambra collection launched in the sixtes has also been big hit.

I love the Alhambra collection because it is classic beauty that can be dressed up or down. I thought that it was a perfect combination with my pearls. Around my neck is the black onyx and 18k gold Alhambra necklace that I paired with  matching earrings.

I also wore my Alhambra bracelets, actually I wear my bracelets everyday. I never understood why women save their good stuff for special occasions. You only live once and that special occasion may never come. Don't be a slave to that silly logic. If you treat yourself to buying the item, wear that thang as often as you can. I own two bracelets, a black onyx and a turquoise. They pair well with other bracelets for layering and also with a watch.

I had a great time, and I think I achieved my goal of Classic Fab! Remember, you don't always have to glitter to look fabulous, but no matter what you are wearing on the outside, beauty begins on the inside!

Note: The blog on my Tea experience at the Peninsula is coming this Friday with all the wonderful details!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday Reflection: Living In Your Life!

In life I have taken some chances. That's what living is all about. I've taken chances on men who promised me the world but in the end only left me empty in spirit. I’ve taken chances on beauty products that fall short of their promises to work magic. I took a chance in my early profession, moving to Washington, DC, to go work in the Jackson for President Campaign. I took a chance when I appeared on the cover of Essence Magazine as the first African-American to tell my story of living with AIDS at a time when the face of AIDS was still primarily white gay, male, and IV drug user.

Yep, I have taken some chances, all in an attempt to live this darn life that God has given me. Some chances have paid off, some have left me worse off than when I began. But no matter what my outcomes are, I never really regret taking a chance. I learned from Rev. Jesse L. Jackson that if you don’t run you are guaranteed to lose; if you do run, you might lose.

AIDS Awareness Tea Bracelet
So I step out on faith when I hear that little whisper in my ear, “Go ahead this is what I have for you to do.” 
When I get that inner feeling, like God is speaking to me leading me in the direction I'm to go, I can’t shake it until I do what is in my spirit. It was much like that when I quit my well paying job as a political organizer, with no speaking engagements set up, no brochure and no direction on how to go about getting a speaking engagement, when I came to the conclusion that God wanted me to speak about my life. I quit that darn job and I never looked back.

First RLT Collection
I can’t explain it but it’s a feeling that I know is right. It was like that when I launched my collection of bracelets. I had a lot of naysayers and people watching on the sidelines. Some of my friends still haven't purchased a bracelet from me. But it’s all good. I’m grateful for those who have supported me and are willing to wear my creations. It was a lofty project and I’m proud of my collection. No, I haven't had the sales that I would love to have, but I get so much joy out of designing the bracelets. Rome wasn't built in a day. But if I never get another bracelet sale, it’s all good too. But one thing is for sure, I won’t ever stop designing, even if I have to wear them myself. There are 365 days in a year and that will give me enough days to wear my wonderful designs.

Mother of Pearl Tea Bracelet and More Cupcake
Don't you know that God has blessed us with gifts and talents? But many of us squander them, doubting ourselves, listening to others jacked up advice when they ain't doing shit themselves. Misery loves company! For Real... For Real... That’s why you better watch the company you keep. You better watch who you share your dreams with, they can squash them and your spirit in minutes. Even with family, sometimes you have to set better boundaries. Sometimes God will even remove people and things from our lives so that we can flourish in our purpose. But we cry over that thing like it was the best tea from China when in fact even a better garden could be growing.

The worst of all, I think, is when we let the fear of failure paralyze us. God has a plan for all of our lives but some of us interfere with those plans. We get stuck in what we know for sure, it’s a safe place. But staying in a safe place isn't living, it’s just being alive. But I declare it’s not enough to just be alive, you have to live in that thang called life. And when you don’t live in it, you squander that precious gift of life that God has given you. You don’t know who’s life will be touched by your willingness to embrace your gifts and talents, no matter how big or small you may think they are. It's like the Christmas movie, "It's a Wonderful Life," George Bailey's willingness to live in his life, even when the odds were against him, touched so many others' lives.

Shell Pearl and Coral Tea Bracelet
I know I have an incredible gift to talk about my life in a way that it touches the lives of others. And I live in that everyday, every way possible, by speaking, blogging, and being on Twitter. But I’m also a very creative person. I’m actually grateful that God has blessed me with life long enough to see my creative gifts and talent flourish. It seems such a small thing, but just think, if AIDS had taken my life years ago I wouldn't be launching my line of Tea Bracelets for RLT Collection today. I know it may seem silly to some, but why not? Tea Balls with fabulous beaded tails. Yep, a bracelet for your tea ball, and some even have a dual function and can be worn as a bracelet too.

 My new collection of Tea Bracelets is just one example of me living in the life that God has blessed me with. Combining my talent of beading with my love of tea and sharing it with others. I know that there are some out there who will see my Tea Bracelets as a wonderful idea. Some will even buy them. That will make me very happy!

Onyx Tea Bracelet and More Velvet Cupcake
But just like with the bracelet collection, there are 365 days in the year and I drink tea at least three times a day. At the very least, I will have a fabulous tea ball dangling out the side of my tea cup each time I drink a cup. Yep, either way, I’m living in this life that God has blessed me with!!! Are you?

Tiger's Eye, Freshwater Pearls and Angelic Crystal Tea Bracelet
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