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, February 9, 2011

The Soul of a Leader: The Wisdom of Deepak Chopra

Last night, after listening to Deepak Chopra speak at the Soul of Leadership lecture, I was in deep thought all night about my journey, my purpose, and my pain. I asked him point blank if he had any advice for me. He said, "Keep telling your story. Keep inspiring."

His advice was simple: Keep doing you. I needed to hear that because sometimes we get lost along the way. The journey itself begins to take a toll and you start to wonder if God has left you in the wilderness all alone.

You keep doing the work but you start to wonder if you are singing an old song off key, just like karaoke, with no meaningful purpose. I have felt this way, especially during this period where speaking engagements are at an all time low and it seems like the Black media have locked me out of the press. (With the exception of Ebony/Jet which has been consistent over the years)

I talk to my best friend Luke, who works in media, about it all the time. He thinks that on one level, some of it is age discrimination. I will be 49 in May, and when "young" was in my title, I was in demand, demand, demand. And on another level, today's culture is always looking for the next best thing, looking for the next Rae Lewis-Thornton instead of utilizing all of my wisdom and knowledge of Rae Lewis-Thornton. And yet on another level, utilizing me means they will have to face the hard facts and deal with substance rather than fluff. And I'm not sure if we really want to deal with the hard reality of this disease in our community and have a honest discussion on how to change the fact that we are 13% of the population and 46% of the HIV cases in this country.

Come on, think about all that I have to offer. I was infected at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the United States and I have lived the span of this disease up close and personal. And let me honest, I'm one of the most articulate and knowledgeable, not just woman, but persons in the United States living with HIV and AIDS for almost the entire span of this disease. Why wouldn't I be utilized? Why would Essence put me on the cover of their magazine as the first black woman to tell her story, and it was one of the highest selling December issues ever, but they have never invited me to speak at the Essence Summer Music Festival or honored my work with an Essence Award? And as far as that's concerned the NAACP can be put right there in the same category. The combined years of my political activism with my AIDS activism would surely put me in the running for an Image Award. I mean, I have an Emmy Award in "Outstanding Feature Series in Hard News" for my first-person series on living with AIDS, but no major African-American organization has recognized my work.

And since I'm calling roll, honestly, even my sorority has dropped the ball. I remember when I was inducted into Delta Sigma Theta as a honorary member on my "lifetime achievement to help improve the human condition" ten years ago, I was the best thing since sliced bread and HIV/AIDS was one of our major service issues. Now, when Black women are 72% of all new cases of women infected with HIV, and AIDS is the leading cause of death for Black women between the ages of 25 and 44, it is not even on the table! And when I ask, I'm told, "Well, we did that." It's discouraging!

And I will not let traditional AIDS organizations off the hook either. I have only been invited to speak at one national AIDS conference ever in the 17 years I have been speaking. I believe that's because I'm so damn candid. I don't pull punches about the disparities in this country with HIV/AIDS among African-Americans and the lack of resources for us to draw upon. I challenge them to address the difference in culture issues that should not be overlooked in prevention work within the Black community. The United States Conference on AIDS is in Chicago this year and I have not been asked to participate in any way. Yes, all of this, combined with the fact I have $70 in the bank makes me wonder about my purpose.

But then Deepak's words were clear, "Keep telling your story." And for sure I have never stopped. Even when the speaking engagements dried up I took my message to social media, and in just a year's time, I have done some groundbreaking work utilizing these awesome tools of Facebook, Twitter and blogging. Deepak also confirmed the power of social media as a tool. In fact, I was able to see Deepak because I won the ticket on Twitter. Deepak states, "The entangled mind is influenced by social media." And when I get a tweet from someone who was inspired to go get tested, or to use a condom, or to keep pressing on because of my tweets, then I know that I have done what I am supposed to do.

I shared all of this so you could really see what's going on in my life. There's no point in hiding in the truth. I do the work because I know that this is my purpose in life and even when traditional methods seem no longer available, I press on. Deepak said that "A leader is an agent of change by definition." So today I am even more renewed in my work. I will continue to be an agent of change even if it's one tweet at a time.

On personal growth, Deepak suggests to us all that while human beings are self-aware, we can also self-regulate, that we have to see the future with intent. If I am going to continue to make headway in this work, I must stop and take some time for self-growth. Sometimes I stay so tangled in the busyness and the panic of how I'm going to pay my bills, I can't see the road ahead of me. That has got to change if I want to maximize my potential. As my starting point, I will dive into Deepak's latest book, The Soul of Leadership. The next thing I'm going to do is add meditation into my life. It is a requirement in all of his leadership classes. Meditation will help me get my mind away from the busyness. Now I gotta be honest, I need help in that area because I can barely sit still to pee. So I will be in search of guidance, #ForReal.

I am so glad that I braved the cold on public transportation to hear Deepak Chopra. His wisdom has been sealed in my heart. The Power of Social Media!

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