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

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sometimes I Wanta HOLLER!

Everyone has a purpose this I know to be true. I laid it out in Monday's Reflection. But Sometimes I just wanta HOLLER!! I wanta Holler at the world, Don't You SEE what I SEE?  The goodness in my work and purpose? Then I wanta HOLLER at myself, Black Woman have you lost your freaking mind getting yourself out here on limb and now you have to man up or sit the hell down. And then yes I even wanta HOLLER at the Lord; Why is this shit so hard? And don't act like you all prim and proper. Sometimes the Lord drives you just as crazy as that man you once thought you loved.

Like For Real!  Why does everything seem to be hard? I mean EVERYTHING! God told Jeremiah, that He had planned Jeremiah's life while he was still in his mother's womb. That's some heavy shit. For Real! Yeah I said it!  Heavy to think that God has planned your life while yet in your mother's womb. But  sometimes you want to ask, "Did you plan the hard stuff too?" Think about it, just about everybody in the Bible that God Planned, also had a rough time getting there.

So one of my readers asked in the comment section on Monday, "How do you keep going when the present doesn't." It's a hard, but yet simple answer, you just do. Now I know some of you are saying she's on some bull, look at her fame and look at mine. "Just do," Is easy for her to say. But honestly, I'm being for real. Last night I sat at my counter and cried; And had a why me party. WHY DOES EVERYTHING HAVE TO BE HARD?

But looking back, it was HARD from the very beginning. Let me back track from Monday's Blog,  I quit that well paying job and at first things were great!  I was all smiling; Look at God blessing me out of my obedience. That's what I said.  I became one of the hottest speakers on AIDS in Chicago high schools. Other Activists would come up to me and ask, "How did you get them to let you speak, I've been trying to get in that school for the last 3 years?"

 I was on fire! I could see God moving! Yes, I could! Then within 6 months I met Susan Taylor, the editor and chief of Essence Magazine and she asked me to be on the cover. Magazine preparation is months ahead of time, so I took the photo shoot in June for the December issue. That summer, I spent resting up for what I thought would be my fall speaking season, but September came and no one called. NO ONE called.

That fall my ex-husband lost his job and money was tight. December came and I hadn't had a speaking engagement since last May before the summer school break. Essence hit the news stands and I became the most talked about Black Woman in my community.

And that December, I couldn't afford to pay my rent. Yep, I was being talked about nation wide. Essence sold so many magazines that December, it became one of their highest December sellers and I could NOT pay my rent! The housing assistant program  for people with AIDS paid our rent and I got a thank you letter from Essence with a picture in a frame.

Press is FREE. Every magazine article, newspaper article and every TV interview is FREE. You do them so that the issue can get more visibility.  So for me, paid gigs seem to come in cycles that I've never quite understood. And that's how it is and has been for me since the very beginning. I think it has something to do with you, God, and the world all as actors in your life.

God has a plan, but so does man and sometimes we get in God's way and He has to take a longer route to get us to that destination. And then sometimes, man jumps all in God's business and then God must first undo the mess or reroute you in order to get you back on track. Freewill is deep. And While God Plans, so does man and they sometimes collide. Of course God is the best planer, but man makes things  messy. The economy for example, has affected me these days. And of course the fact that AIDS is no longer a sexy topic. I could go on with different examples, I hope you get the point.

But then God never said it would be easy. This name it and claim  Prosperity in Christianity is theologically unsound and flawed. Everyone in the Bible from Genesis to Jesus had it hard. And God had expectations of everyone from Abraham to Paul.  The Prayer of Jabez is often quoted as a guide for prosperity (1Chorn 4:9)  But we fail to see that the overall importance of this Biblical text is to show the lineage of Judah  and God as an actor in this lineage.

Secondly, there are no easy rides, even Jabez was born in sorrow and pain. Lastly, the prayer is more about being in relationship with God, than remembering and reciting a prayer. God wants you to pray your prayer. But they have set us up to believe, if we pray Jabez's prayer that God will bless us just like Jabez, when in fact God's blessing for Jabez was his, as is yours, is for you. The territory that God blessed Jabez with wasn't just about land, but about his lineage.

Ok, what am I saying, don't get it twisted. Life is hard and even carrying out God's purpose for your life will have challenges. When I worked for Rev. Jesse Jackson presidential campaigns, reporters would ask him, "Do you think a Black Man Can Win?" Rev. Jackson's answer was simple. "If I don't run I'm guaranteed to lose. POW!! You have to step out there on faith and do the work. Sitting at home debating to do it, will get you nothing.

The bottom line,  life requires of us to do something. Nothing is free, nothing. And God's call on your life is just that. God does not say, if you do my will you will get a certain reward. That's your shit. God calls you to do the work. Paul did it, as a man depending on others for his livelihood, with a physical illness that debilitated him at times.

Paul never stopped, not even in prison. His most profound and important theological writings were in  prison. Martin Luther King, Jr., most prolific writing, Letter From A Birmingham Jail was while in prison. Jesus' most profound lessons were while on the cross dying. His last words have been the most preached of all He did or said.

I hope this helps. God knows, it's helped me today. I'm crying as I  come to a close. I've struggle so much financially these last 4 years. The last 3 have been the worst.  But even though speaking engagements dried up, I continued to do the work. Through Social Media I have touched thousands. The e-mails, the tweets and facebook messages I get tell me so.

I didn't stop doing the work because people stopped inviting me to speak, I just found a new way to do it. It has not paid me one dime, but I continue to plug away.  I know bloggers who have advertisers on their blog and the content is like Huh?

But I can't get stuck hating their blessing, I just gotta keep doing the work; Blessing people through my blog because it's another way that God allows me to minister.  And honestly is free, the only thing it costs me is time. I got that right?

But sometimes, my spirit takes a hit. As my fall speaking season closes I have taken a hard hit. I had the possibility of five speaking engagements for World AIDS Day week and only one came through. All looked great and in the end, something fell through on their end with funding.  So yesterday when the University of Alabama cancelled just two weeks away, I thought I was going to lose it.  I needed it to get out of this hole, shoot I really needed all five to get out of this hole. I've invested EVERY extra dime I had in my new bracelet collection. The trunk show was great, I mean I was able to prove to myself, if no one else that I'm capable of producing a full line of bracelets. But it rained at the same time, so while friends came to support me, I was short on sales.

I keep asking will it ever get easy? I work 10-12 hours a day, just about everyday of the week.  For Real! Tweeting, writing my blogs, which takes time, making bracelets, taking pictures of the bracelets and then putting them on the website. I mean I'm the poster child for - one woman show over achiever.

 I work so freaking hard, but it seems like I can't get out of this hole I'm in financially. In these last 3 years I've sold over half of my clothes, hand bags, shoes, jewelry. I downsized my life, For Real!

 I've thought of every idea that I can to make my brand the best. And I think I've done a great job, so why won't people invest in my brand?

Lord, I say what more does a sista have to do? I mean Magic is a millionaire already and pharmaceutical companies continue to give him contracts.  Great for him, but I think I have the same value.  I know my bracelets are fab, but what will it take to become a success.

 But in the end, every wonderful e-mail I get that say's I've touched them; I've prepared them in someway for something, is worth the hard work.

When someone tweets me a picture of them wearing one of my bracelets at that moment, I'm grateful for the people who do, rather than focus on the people who don't wear them. Thank you!!

When one of my Followers on Twitter makes their profile picture of me and them, I'm so honored that they are saying in a very public way, my work matters. And with these things in mind. I just do! I keep doing the work. 

So to my wonderful Andrea who asked, How Do You Keep Going When the Present Doesn't, I say, you Just Do. That is all God asks of us. Moses walked in circles for 40 years, but it all had a purpose. I cannot promise that you will become a millionaire. I don't know why some do and some don't. But I can say that if you just continue to do, lives will be touched. And in the end, your reward she be in knowing that you helped somebody; That you were a drum major for life.

So my prayer today is that God will help me and you to get to that place of contentment like the Apostle Paul, He says, "I've learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want, I can do all things through Him who gives me strength." (Phil 4:12-13. And with that Strength, Paul continued to do the work. Just Do!

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