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, June 20, 2011

Monday Reflection: What Kind of Care Giver Are You?

2 days out the hospital 2008
I have AIDS and there is no denying this fact. It doesn't matter how good I look, how wonderful I sound, or what schedule I push myself to maintain I have AIDS.

And while I put up a good front at normalcy, there is nothing normal about my life. The fact that I try to maintain, "Normal," isn't even normal. And over the years I have learned that people seem to focus on the wrong thing when it comes to my health. Like fresh out of the hospital people tend to focus on how "good" I look rather then what I may need to help me recover.

And I've often wondered if that is a form of denial for themselves to help them deal with the fact that I'm so terribly ill or is it their excuse to half ass on their support for me.

I've been giving a lot of thought to this because lately I've been pretty sick and this week in particular was designed by the devil straight from hell.  Over the years, I have had soooooo many people say that it didn't matter what I needed, that they would be their but in the end to find myself alone or doing it myself.

I've had people jump on my celebrity band wagon at its height and disappear at its low point. I've had people who started out with me and faded along the way because dealing with my health is exhausting. Just too fuckin much; so they just stopped calling and stopped doing. Over the years I've learned to accept their broken promises and keep it moving.

 Having a chronic illness is lonely. I can't even explain what its like to be in the hospital receiving IV medication on Tuesday by myself. I'm grateful for my Twitter family because they keep me laughing  and my mind preoccupied as best as they can and it helps to get me through that long day.  But then I have to come home and crawl in this damn bed and at that point it's just me and Sophie. And the trauma that my body is going through is nonnegotiable, I can't avoid it, I must endure it. Enduring the physical is a  hard hit to one emotionally.

And God forbid that I have to pull myself together  and be "normal" while my body is still traumatized.  Like the last two weeks. Week before last, I got on a plane and went to San Francisco to speak for the 100 Black Men and turned right back around to come home for a personal event that was important to me.

But then last week, after 6 hours of trauma, I had to make myself be "normal" again. Dress and then get to my Tweet-Up for National HIV Testing Day and that took every freaking thing I had in both my body and spirit. But I did it, because that's what I've trained myself to do. But just because I do it, doesn't mean that my body isn't going through the same trauma as if I were crawl in bed. And actually it's going through a tad more, because I've focused myself to do, when I should be resting. Any who, I wonder what people actually think about their role in care giving and what it really means for me to be sick. Like where do you fit in? And where do I fit in?

Care giving is hard!  I did it. My mother had cancer for 3 years and I took care of her and myself. It requires sacrifice. Unconditional love is even harder! Yep, I did that too, because my mother was the mean ass woman sick and dying that she was living. But what I did was in spite of her and because of me...Because of who I am and what My God excepts of me.

I've learned over the years, that people take caregiving lightly. They say, if you need something call, but proud people typically never pick up the phone and call.  Which frees them up of actually doing anything. And when people tell us, do we really hear them?  Like for example, when I say, I can barley hold my body up, I wonder what that means to people?  I wonder if they wonder how I'm eating or even making it to the bathroom for that matter? Or what effort it must have taken for me to get dressed, given the fact that holding my body up is an issue.

But let's take it a step further, if I can barely hold my body up, then cooking is not an option.  Even if I put it in the microwave, then do dishes ever get cleaned? I just wonder if you have ever just showed up on the door step of your family member, friend with AIDS  or another chronic illness with a meal in tote or a mop to clean for them. Or do you bring them a meal, look at their dirty dishes in the sink and keep it moving. I wonder do you know more about my life with HIV/AIDS than your family members or good friend? I just wonder...  Do you take them to the doctors and drop them off or have you actually stayed with them.  By the way staying says, I love you and I'm not ashamed of you.

Because you give in one area of their life, is it ok to be insensitive in another area of their life? The thing is, their health effects ALL areas of their life.

The person who is ill role will never change;That is to get better. Whether you show up or not their life will move steady and typically we adjust. I've learned to do what I must because I have no other  choice especially with no family. But for sure my life is NOT normal no matter how it might appear. And while I try hard normalcy, I fall short and that in and of itself is a crude reminder that AIDS dictates much of my life. 

Fighting an illness day in and out takes a tool both physically and emotionally on top of what they have to endure with the original illness. The side-effects along from the medication are a nightmare. I know they are for me. The expectation of normalcy is not fair. Nothing is normal for them.. Nothing... Yep I'm going on record my life is a bitch. I fight hard to keep it together but this shit is hard. It's even harder trying to go it alone.

I just want you to think about how you really care give to that person you love. Have you dismissed what that have told you about their health because they look good? Is it denial because to consider the real health issues is to much? Do you care give out of convenience? Don't ask them what they need and then don't show up  or show up with an unfair expectation of them, that hurts more then going it along.

 Or is  how that "appear" it an easy way out?  She's cool. I saw her on Twitter She's at an event so on and on.  Have you really taken time to think about the value you can truly add to someone's life based on the real information they have given you about their health?

And when you actually do give, is it predicated on their ability to give back?  Their capacity is limited no matter how it appears.  I will say it again, their life is not normal. And why do you have any expectation of that person other than for them to get better? Be better..

Have you really thought about what role you can play even if it's in a small way? I use to say to the church folk and I say it again, people need more than prayer. Jesus preached to the hungry souls of the 5000, but He also fed their hungry belly's.

Post Script: I am still very ill.. I will blog as much as I can, but I will have guest this week as well. What Kind of Care Giver Are You?

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