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, July 25, 2011

Monday Reflection: Living With Addiction...

When I heard about Amy Winehouse's death the first thing that crossed my mind, is that you die how you live. It's a sad but true reality and it's not just about drug and alcohol addiction but anything that has a hold on you, and that thing dictates your life.

I understand addiction. My mother and father were heroin addicts and my step-grandmother who raised me, was an alcoholic. My father died a violent death when I was about three years old and my mother used for half of her life.  She was clean for over 20 years, to start using again. When I went to see her on her death bed, I almost fainted when the doctor told me that she was on Methadone; And all this time I thought she was clean.

But during those years of being clean, she never got help for the thing that started her addiction. She was a tormented soul and using again was inevitable.

And my step-grandmother didn't stop drinking until the  alcohol started to burn the cancerous tumor in her mouth.  And she was the mean ass in death that she had been my entire life. It didn't matter that I was the only one caring for her, Mama would cuss me out in the hospital room like I was a bitch on the street.

What I learned half way through my life is that addiction is a sickness that affects everyone that comes in contact with it. This was further confirmed after living with an addict, the love of my life. I began to understand this sickness in a way that I never had. The chaos it created daily, wondering if when he walked out of that door would he make it to his intended destination, or to that corner of the world where he used.

That sent me to Alnon. I knew I was out of my league. I instinctively knew that  if I didn't get help for myself, that his addiction would kill me as sure as I got to die.

STOP! I can't believe I told all that... Little nervous here....  Go on and gossip.. But don't bring that shit to my face... Just Sayin!!!  It's interesting, when I first started this post it was about putting your demons in check. But God seems to be leading me in another direction. So this post is for everyone who loves someone who has an addiction. Just some insights that I hope are helpful...

 How they choose to live, does not have to dictate how you live. You cannot allow their addiction to control your life.  Addiction is a very dark place and it enjoys company. They have to ultimately do the hard work that is required to not only get clean, but stay clean.

I often wondered about my mother and what would make her use for over half her life. And while I understood  some of the root of my lover's addiction, my compassion and love for them both could not interfere with my love of self.  It's deep, we spend so much time trying to make them happy, they become our addiction and it affects everything we do, from the people we see to the things we do or don't do.

 What I have learned is that no matter how much you love them or alter your life for them, they are who they are. And a word of caution, even an addict that is clean, but not seeking some kind of professional help is still guided by addictive behavior. While you are relieved that they are clean, they still tend to be the narcissist, self-serving person they were while using.

Addiction is an illness that needs professional help and until they get the help that sickness will continue to manifest, just in different ways.  And everyone who comes in contact with addiction needs help, whether it's your brother, lover, sister, aunt. Don't be confused, the drunk aunt at the dinner table affects everyone.

The sad thing is, while you may try to control the environment, and sometimes that person, the only one you actually have control over is yourself.  And if the truth be told, there is a sickness spending your life trying to control someone else's life. How they hell you gonna control something that they have no control over? You become sick trying to make them well.

Another word of caution for the high, mighty and opinionated. Addiction is not something you can simply rule away. Addicts need help, but they have to want help. Part of the problem with getting clean and staying clean is facing the demons that drove their addiction. And then on top of that, having to face all the damage that has been done during the addiction journey. That's a lot of baggage for one person to have to address in addiction.

I hope you get the point... I may not have an addiction to drugs, but I have lived an unhealthy life as a result of addiction from my childhood. I know how hard it is to live whole and healthy. I was man crazy, clothes crazy and just plain old fucking crazy. I didn't know what was normal and what was not. It took years of therapy, to get to this place I'm at today and there are still days I struggle to do the right thing. Then I fell in love with an addict and my world stopped as I tried to stop his addiction. I thank God that He had a plan when my plan crumbled before my eyes. Addiction should not be taking lightly, not for the addict or the ones who love the addict. In the end you will both die how you lived.

I understand why they say One Day At A Time, because truly, thats all you have is this day. Tackle tomorrow when it gets here. Sadly for Amy Whinehouse her tomorrow was death. What I'm suggesting, is to not let their death become yours, either, physically, emotionally or spiritually. Get the help that you need even if they are not at the place to get the help they need

Amy is in a better place..  There are no more demons... May she rest in peace...

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