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 18, 2011

Monday Reflection: Never Surrender To The Madness

I've been so freaking sick that it has interfered with everything from literally washing my ass to walking down the street to  working. And if I say it, you know it's gotta be true because I'm miss independent, aint gonna let nothing stop my ass in this life time or the next. But I have to admit, I was thrown a curve ball that knocked me flat on my ass these last 7 weeks or so.

And when you are laid out you can't see the forest, shit you can't even see the trees. But you can feel the cold, moist ground sucking the life out of you. And as you lay there, you know instinctively that if you continue to lay in this dirt that a part of you will surly die, not physically, but emotionally and spiritually. And I tell you, a dead spirit in my opinion is worst than death.  Death is final, but living with a broken spirit is an endless bottomless pit. Like being in hell and looking up to heaven, wanting to be there, but it's not available to you.

But there is a double edge sword. You must also face the hard core reality that it is what it is. You cannot get around the hard core reality of your situation. Be it health or some other traumatic thing happening in your life. Trauma is trauma: And what I've learned over the years is that everyone's trauma is equally important to them. And in the course of life, there are things that happen to each of us that just fucks us up. Like when my last boyfriend walked out of that door. I had never loved a man the way that I loved him and yet in the past, I was the bounce back queen from broken relationships. But when I looked up and realized that I hadn't washed my ass in over a week, I knew that I was in trouble.

But knowing you are in trouble and being able to do something about it is a different thing. Yet at the same time, acknowledging that you are in trouble is the first step to recovery; Be it a broken relationship or your health. The African Proverb, "He who conceals his disease cannot expect to be cured,"is one powerful declaration. Yep, it is your first step. So that Sunday morning I woke and could smell my stinky ass, I knew this Diva was in trouble and I mumbled, "Oh God, help me, I'm in trouble." You see the first 9 days I had been praying for his return. Stuck!!  But once I prayed for me, somewhere I found the strength to crawl out of that bed and into the shower. And in the shower I began to really talk to God.

I do some of my best thinking in the shower. I knew that the relationship was extremely unhealthy and it was sucking the life out of me. But I wanted it, I wanted it more than life, and even more than God. In fact, he became my God. My every word, my every thought, and my every action was toward him. And I've heard it said,  "The one you think and talk the most about is your God."

In that shower that Sunday morning 9 days after he left, I accepted that I was a mess, and that acceptance helped me to accept the blessing in his depurate.  I was able to be honest about the relationship rather than stuck in the love that I felt for this man. I honestly, believed that God did for me what I was unable to do for myself.

As wonderful as my guy was in so many ways, he still would have sucked the life out of me before I let him go. But even after acceptance, it still took time to work through the withdrawals of his presence everyday, all day. The loneliness the sieges you in the middle of the night , will make you lose your freaking mind. But I knew, that I had to let him go to regain me.

But with your health, it's not that simple. You see with a relationship you can control you, but with your health you are at the mercy of the sickness. Like a man, you know the sickness it's sucking the life out of you, but its departure is a tad more complicated then just walking out the door, deleting him from your Facebook, no calls or emails. And I know that torture's in and of itself, right? Right! But you have none of those options when it comes to your health.

So in these weeks, I had almost surrendered a part of me that I claim to never give up.  And when I was almost there I was knocked out of my own madness by one or more things.  Like a simple cup of tea paired with a wonderful cupcake from More, stimulated my taste buds.

Sophie insisting that she be walked even though standing was an issue for me. I pushed my way through not wanting to disappoint my baby girl. This guilt I have, that she not be punished because of my health. But once out, something magical happened, no my health didn't change, but the sun beamed down on me and reminded me that God is always there. Can't always feel Him, but He is there sometimes sitting behind the clouds and other times shinning bright.

And then the text messages, phone calls, Facebook posts, Tweets  and visits from friends that were a constant reminder that in spite of how I felt, I was still alive; And there is something about the reminder of life that makes you want to live. For me it makes me want to do my part in this journey. So while the doctors try to but me back together again, I contribute to my emotional and spiritual wellness as best as I can.

It's the little things that I did, to keep me in tact. At the top  of the pyramid is reminding myself that God has never left me.  Always remember where you have come from and how far God has brought you. It's then that your faith becomes stronger and your confidence in God's plan for your life  is solid. Your history with God should never be forgotten; It is the cornerstone of your life.

But also for me, I try to my capacity to do the things that make me happy. So I can't window shop physically, but the iPad is a wonderful thing for window shopping and its even better when you have someone you can email your choices to and get feed back Yep.. Yep...  And one day, instead of going straight to the doctor for more test, I took my time and walked the 4 blocks  from my house to Hermes to try on bracelets. Didn't have money to buy, but it cost nothing to try.

This past week I even went to a Bloggers Conference. And had brunch with my girlfriends. They were both reminders that I was alive. The conference, put me in thinking mode about how to grow my work as a blogger. And the brunch stimulated my senses and provided me with fellowship and laughter.

 I can go on an on about the little things I do to find peace of mind in this chaos.  But I hope you get the point. Adjust and readjust that which you can do. Never surrender to the madness.  There is no man,  no health condition or any situation under the planet that is worth your peace of mind. NONE!! The situation is what it is and for some situations change may not come or they may come at a slower pace than we hoped. In the meantime you have to find the things to keep you together. That's exactly what I'm doing. And don't sweat the small stuff. It took me all morning to write this blog post..  But I did it.

Post Script: Health Update -- There has been some improvement with my health, but I am not out of the red zone yet. Well, I'm leaving the red zone and making it to the yellow. I  am however, trying to get back to a work schedule. I may not be able to keep up my full load everyday, but I cannot surrender my entire work over to my health. Enough is enough...  So instead of waiting on full recovery, I'm doing  a little each day; What I can, to the best of my ability. One day at a time and honestly it's one minute at a time.

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