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, May 26, 2011

I Was Worshiping The Wrong God!

One of God's Commandments is, "Thy Shall Have No Other God Before Me." It's a powerful commandment and for a long period in my life I was out of sync. For Real. No, I didn't do it deliberately, I was so messed up in my thinking, I didn't even realize it.

You see it started a long time ago when I was a little girl. Mama, cussed and fussed and beat and I never really felt loved. But when I was in about the 5th grade, Mama started bringing me bags of clothes home on payday Fridays. I could always expect a new outfit, sometimes even 2 or 3. In 7th grade when my friends were wearing jeans and t-shirts to school, I was wearing pantsuits with long maxi coats. (It was the 70's might I add.) That's why I'm not a big fan of jeans today; they were not a big part of my childhood.

No matter how much I asked, Mama always came through. I realized that this was the one way I could have my way with Mama. So I asked and asked and she gave and gave. I remember when leather maxi coats were popular. I was a freshman in high school, Mama came through. I was the only one in my group with one and I was some kinda proud.

It was a very unhealthy relationship. Like she took me shopping for my 8th grade graduation and got me everything I asked for, but she didn't come to see me walk across that stage. So I began to equate clothes with love. I measured my mothers love by the amount of clothes I had in my closet. And I carried that sickness into adulthood.

The more money I made, the more things I bought. I had been wearing St. John since way before it was the craze, but by the time it was the SHIT I had more St. John Knits than any one person who is not independently wealthy should have. I mean I had every kinda St. John you could imagine. In my heyday, if my memory serves me, I had well over 80 SJK jackets, not even counting slacks, skirts and camisoles. Then, of course, I had to have shoes and handbags to match everything. I mean it was sick.

For Real! Some people buy to dress up the outside to hide the hurt and ugly on the inside. But no matter how cute you are on the outside, it will take more than clothes to change the ugly on the inside.

But for me, I thought the sharper I dressed the more people would love me. Shoot, maybe there was a part of me that believed the clothes would love me too. The clothes became my validation and I began to love them more than myself. Clothes became my God.

But then I started to notice that once I was home away from the limelights there was an emptiness, a void. And nothing in my closest could fill that hole in my heart. So the lonelier I was, the more I shopped. I would stay out of the empty house, shopping. I shopped not just for me but I shopped for all the people in my life, thinking they would love me forever because I was the best gift giver on the planet. And the sickness grew like a cancerous tumor.

8 years old St. John Jacket I wore 3 weeks ago
Then I started working with a new therapist about 7 years ago. And he made me face my reality. Clothes couldn't love me back, nor would it make not one damn somebody love me. It was a hard journey. Knowing better and doing better are two totally different things. I remember the day he told me to find one handbag from my closet that I would be willing to part with. I grabbed the smallest Gucci I could find. It was hard!!

OMG! It was hard. But then life began to make it simple. The bottom dropped out of my finances. Speaking engagements dried up, I lost my book deal with Hyperion, and there were days I found myself with no food in my refrigerator.

So out of just plain old necessity I started selling my fancy clothes, handbags, shoes and jewelry. Before I moved from my fancy 3 bedroom apartment I had turned my house into a store. I eventually sold all of my furniture and moved into a studio. When it was close to the move date I gave over 50 garbage bags of clothes away.

St. John Sale My House!
It needed to be done and I thought that downsizing had solved my financial problem. But it hadn't, my finances went from bad to worse and I found myself for almost the last 3 years living, umm I really don't know how I lived other than the grace of God.

But I can tell you, what I thought about my clothes meant nothing in the face of homelessness. So I sold and sold and sold some more. When my laptop died last summer I sold 3 Chanel handbags for $500 each to get my Mac Book. These handbags were $1500-$2000 each. But it had to be done! The first half of this year I was at an all time record low. I hadn't been this broke since I was 17 and first put out on my own.

But now, things are sort of picking up. My speaking engagements are starting to book more and my bracelet business is doing good. If I get a couple sales a week that helps to keep food on the table. But even as things start to turn around for me, I will never return to that place of yesteryear.

Now I'm at a place where I'm even letting more and more go. Right now there are three garbage bags of clothes waiting to go to Dress for Success in my hall. And a young woman I've been sowing onto since she was 10 left my house today with about 12 pairs of new shoes, Gucci, and on and on, and 2 garbage bags of clothes. And thanks be to God, she wrote me a check. She says there is no place on the planet, other than my closet, where she can get what she got for the price of two pairs of shoes in that bag. She sees this as one way of helping me because I've been giving her clothes since she was 10. And it is. Some people just take and take and never give back.

Wearing 7 year old SJK a month ago
What I know for sure is that I will never return to that place when my value was misplaced. No, I will never stop looking Fab... Nor will my taste in clothes change, that's just a part of who I am. But I will never return to that place.

Nothing comes into my space without something going out. If I see some new earrings I want, I find something in my jewelry box that I never wear and I trade them in or sell them first.

And you know what? In the end, I discovered that I look just as fab in the old St. John Knits in my closet as I do with all the new St. John I just had to have years ago. And all that gift giving, well it stopped because I couldn't keep it up and in the end, I learned who was true and who was just hanging around for a wonderful gift.

But I believe the most important thing in this journey was learning to love myself. And loving me put me in a place to receive real love in my life. People who will love me whether I'm naked or clothed. When you know what love is, you can receive love and give love.

And Mama, I realize now, this was all she knew how to do. It was her brand of love and it was all I knew... And I thought because I knew it, it was right. But it was faulty thinking. Thank God I learned what love is in my lifetime. And now that I've evicted clothes from my heart, it all belongs to God.

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