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, August 29, 2011

Monday Reflection: Herpes, AIDS and Shame...

Dealing with health issues is one thing, having to deal with it wrapped in shame is an entire other thing. That's what I do everyday with this Drug Resistant Herpes. Yep, herpes has made my life a living hell for almost the last 4 years, but especially the last 6 months. Dealing with the IV medication treatments has been hard, but having to face the fact that a sexually transmitted disease is the root cause of this rigorous treatment has taken an emotional toll.

While people are supportive, you still wonder what they are thinking about you having this aggressive herpes and HIV. I can almost image it, she got herpes and AIDS, damn who was she screwing?

And Lord knows I wonder if a man will ever want to really date me. It's one thing that I have AIDS, but I also have this scary ass herpes and to make it worst, I had to  go and tell it all to the world. Even if he accepts your illness, does he want the world to know he is dating a woman with HIV and Herpes? That's a lot of collateral damage. Let's be honest, you can't help but wonder. It's been a long journey for me and you can read about the history of my herpes infection Here to get you up to date.

Anyway, I'm on overload and it's a wonder that I have not lost my mind or just balled up in a corner somewhere and stayed. I'm tired as hell to say the least, but I can't undo what's been done. It is what it is and I have to face it head on.

So here I go again, yep, this week I will start IV medication to treat herpes yet again. In the last 6 months I have been on a medication called cidofovir. It's once a week for 6 hours at the hospital.  The side effects are extreme fatigue, nausea, diarrhea and kidney failure. I also had to take another medication to protect my kidneys, and it has its own side-effect. And it has been a super bitch. Without failure, after 4 to 6 weeks of treatment, the herpes came back within two weeks like clock work. I have spent my entire summer dealing with this and I'm exhausted!

But  i guess there is no point in being tired, just gotta man up, because yep after two weeks off cidofovir, herpes is right back smack on my vulva and clit *sigh*

So this week I start again, but I'm going back to the original IV medication  that I took to treat my herpes, Foscarnet. We are trying this one again because it seems to work better, meaning the herpes would come back every 4-6 months rather than 2-3 weeks. The only reason I switched was because there was a national shortage of Foscarnet and there was NONE in the US. This reads like a saga doesn't it? But it's all true.

So I will get a pic line in my arm this week and set up a make shift hospital in my house and the way we go; 3 hours a day 2 times a day; Yes 6 hours a day, everyday until I heal.  And yes, the side effects are basically the same, except that I will have them everyday, rather than 3 days a week. For sure I wish that it was different, but it's not.

Because my immune system is impaired due to HIV, the doctors believe that there is a part of my immune system that just won't fight off herpes. The herpes has become resistant to all oral medications and creams, you name it, because of long term use over the years, for about 19 years.

But it is not just genital herpes, the doctor believes that herpes also attacked my nervous system this summer, which caused the nerve pain that I experience in my hands and feet. There are some days when it hurts to walk and I can barley use my hands. For sure it has all been a challenge both physically and emotionally.

But the shame of it all still seems to have a hold on me. When I have to tell someone that I'm on IV medication and then the cause, in my heart I wonder; I wonder about the judgments. I can see the discomfort in their body language and I hear it in their voice as I explain why.

And to have doctor after doctor look at my vagina, cut my vagina for a bioscopy and culture my vagina to determine the level of ressistance to medications. I remember the two times that I was hospitalized for herpes,  it was all so overwhelming when I had to spread my legs for the team of 10-15 doctors to look. It has all become so much for me.

But at the end of the day, none of this can be undone. Yes, I have these sexually transmitted diseases that have changed my life for the rest of my life. But I must somehow find the strength to go on.

I must somehow forgive myself for the choices I made about my body. I must embrace the goodness that lies within me and not let the bad consume all of me. I must find the strength to continue to live with dignity in such an undignified illness.

 Even with dating, I have to believe that there will be someone who will want to be in an honest relationship. Don't be confused, men still want to have sex with me, they just don't want anybody to know that they are with me and I'm NOT having that.

 I will admit, it is a lot to deal with daily. But at the beginning of each day, all I can do is put on my Christian Louboutin, and stand tall.

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