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, April 11, 2011

Monday Reflection: Make the Damn Pie Already!

So many of us are waiting on the pie to fall right out of the sky into our living room and change our lives. Yep, I know this because millions play the lotto every year.

Now don't get me wrong, ain't nothing wrong with free money. But I know for sure that I'll probably never win. Why? Well, I don't play the lotto.

But the lotto is not my topic today, it's just my validation for my pie in the sky theory. We want our lives to be changed but we only want to do minimum work. Sadly, one dollar for a million dollars is about all we are willing to invest in our dream. But in the real world, if you only invest one dollar in your dream, you are going to yield a dollar's worth of dream. The Bible says, "What a person sows, that shall they also reap," and it's true.

God has planted so much good stuff in your spirit and many of us are just waiting on it to happen. And while we are waiting, we are complaining that it hasn't happened, but have done nothing to help make it happen.

Some of you have gifts and talents beyond belief. Others have had a vision - dream that thing God has planted in your spirit that you cant shake. What ever you want to call it, you've had it for years but yet you're just sitting around talking about that thang and waiting on it to happen.

But, umm, God woke me up at 5:30 this morning to write this blog and tell you that talk is cheap. All these sayings: God helps those, who helps themselves; You take one step, He will take two, are true to the tenth power. What I know for sure is this, nothing will happen if you do nothing. In the era of Gold Card Christianity, name it and claim it, we have become misguided. 

Lets go back to the pie that you've been waiting on to drop out of the sky. I have no idea how to bake a pie but I know that God has provided me with all the resources I need to make it happen. At the top of the pyramid, God has given me desire. In my heart is a yearning for this pie; I believe the pie is the dessert I should be having. Why? Because it stays in my spirit longer than any cake has ever stayed. And I know it's right because the pie will add value to my life and the life of others.

I pause here because some of you have desires for things that destroy the mind, body and spirit of not just your life, but those who interact with you. That is not of God. All things from God are good and perfect; that is how you will know if your yearning comes from God.

So I set out to bake my pie instead of complaining about not having it. God provides all the resources you need. There are literally hundreds of pie recipes that I can choose from. Then all the ingredients are found in hundreds of stores across this country. Today, you can even have Pea Pod deliver the ingredients to you. 

Ok... Ok... I hear you, you don't have the money. Well how about buying one ingredient a month. Start with the least expensive and the nonperishable items, most of those last for a couple of years. And then when you have almost everything you need to whip that pie up, buy the perishable ingredients.

Well, and then there's practice. I remember the first time I made a chocolate cake, umm I didn't even wait to eat it. I could have given up after I tasted that rubber, but instead, I kept trying different recipes until I got it right, and now I make one heck of a chocolate cake.

It's not Paula Deen's but it's mine. I can't get stuck on the fact that Paula's chocolate cake looks prettier than mine. If I let my jealousy lead, it may blind me and I wont be able to see the goodness in my own cake. Oprah said in her Master Class, "When you spend time looking behind at the other people in the race, it slows you down." Now that was truth to the tenth power.

Paula and her two son!
And by the way, one of the reasons I love Paula Deen so much is because when she found herself divorced with two small children and one skill, cooking, she sold bag lunches with no shame and for many years she was known as the bag lady in Savannah.

You have to start somewhere. You can't let fear of failure and what people might say interfere with your dreams. She took chances that women in her era didn't take. Now her brand has grown. Yes, God has blessed her, but she put in the work. She spent hours laboring in her first restaurant. She was turned down by banks, but she kept it moving. She did what she had to to make it happen. Her success is because of hard work. Things will fall into place if you are moving in the right direction. Success comes when opportunity meets preparation.

Oprah said, "Intention is everything." This is true, nothing will happen if you do nothing. I started taking care of myself when I was 17, October of my senior year of high school. Homeless, I have never been unemployed longer than a week. In the old days, if I lost a job one day, I was looking the next day. I remember once I put on 3 inch heels, a suit and makeup and walked Water Tower Place mall and completed applications at all the retail stores in one day. And on my last stop at the end of the day, tired, hungry and hurting feet, I was hired at Paul Harris clothing store.

You have got to be willing to put in the work. This current slant of "Favor" on religion has made us believe that success will happen because we say it will happen. This is not how the real world works nor is it how God works. Even when Jesus fed the 5000, He had a starting point. First, He sent the disciples among the people to gather all the food they could find. They worked!!! When they returned with the two fish and five loaves of bread, Jesus then divided that which He had to feed the people.

Me in May Issue of Woman's Day
Stop complaining about how hard your freaking life is. It's hard for everyone. I work 10-12 hour days with AIDS to make it happen over here. Speaking, blogging, tweeting, tweet-ups, Facebooking, interviews, radio, tv, cable, whatever comes my way.

I do it when I'm on IV medication and when I'm not. I did that photo shoot for Woman's Day magazine (May issue) with pneumonia. I had NO idea that I would lead the article. What if I had canceled. They would have used a small PR picture of me and that would have been it.

My gift is telling my story and I tell it as often as I can, to help enrich the lives of others. And I use every vehicle I can to make it happen.

Brooke from BET Harlem Heights Wearing RLT Collection
You have got to put in the time. You have got to invest in yourself if you want to grow. I've been speaking lately, and once bills are paid, instead of shopping I have reinvested my money into my bracelet line, RLT Collection.

I love designing bracelets, but this is not a hobby. Before I die, I want to be known as a bracelet designer. I want women and men to want to wear my bracelets. If I don't have product, then I cannot grow.

I spend hours at the bead board working through my designs. Then, I actually make the bracelets and take my own pictures, then I put them on the website which is very time consuming. And everything ain't gonna go your way all the time. Case in point, when I first started RLT Collection two and a half years ago, a good friend, who is a photographer, took all my pictures. But recently he said he couldn't do any more free pictures. I didn't have money to pay him so I'm taking pictures. I do what I must to grow.

You have got to be willing to take chances. I will say it again: fear of failure and what people will say should have no room in your space. But for sure, if you do nothing, nothing will happen. I still have friends who have NEVER purchased a bracelet from me. And my profit return has been slow. But I'm plugging away at it and in recent months I can see some small growth.

When Oprah began she started with no audience in the studio on a cold Chicago day with a bad Gerri Curl. When she went into syndication she decided not to get a paycheck from ABC but to own her name. Some people would have never done it. NEVER! No paycheck, are you kidding? That was risk taking at it's best. She said, "I decided to bet on myself. In the end, it was the best bet I ever made!"

Talk is cheap. You have to do the work and put in the time! Success is Opportunity Meeting Preparation! You gotta have all the ingredients before you can bake the pie. Get off your darn sofa and do what you must to make the damn pie already! God's got your back... But you must move forward first. God can't bless nothing that ain't happening.

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