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

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Finding The Missing You!

I know... I know, I've been missing in action, but really it seems like I've been missing a part of me. Like my spirit just walked right out of my body and left a 160 pound shell. Yes, I said a 160 pound shell, but that's another topic altogether.

Let me be honest here, this herpes is giving me the freaking blues. For Real! I'm so sick of being on IV medication I can't think straight. No forget that, I can't even think. When I started this round 36 days ago I was optimistic. It had been three months since my last round and that break was a God sent. Then, when this infection appeared, the doctor and I thought we had caught the infection early and I would only be on IV for maybe 10-15 days; But before I could get the picc line in my arm, the infection got worst and the rest has been history.

The thing about this herpes is this. It's aggressive. Yes, I had herpes before I had HIV, but for the most part herpes was a non issue for about 13 years. Then I made a transition to AIDS and my compromised immune system couldn't fight it off. Now with years of taking oral medication to keep it under control, I have developed a resistance to all treatment except IV medication. The doctors have concluded that those early days of AIDS destroyed a part of my immune system that cannot fight herpes off. You can read about my herpes history here.

Any who,  I'm coming to the realization that this problem seems to be here to stay. There's nothing the doctors can do to prevent it, so I'm stuck with IV treatment.  And this realization sent me to a place of nothingness.  I've been missing me: My spirt, My mind, My dreams, My ministry, My hope,  and even My feelings. Like the best part of me just freaking left.

Accepting that life has changed without my permission and there is nothing I can do is a bitch. It's been over three years now. Hoping that this issue with herpes will just go away is wishful thinking in the face of my reality. It's been even harder to accept because my T-Cell count and Viral Load is very good. On the surface, this should not be happening, but it is. The reality is, I've lived with HIV for 29 years and AIDS for 20. That's almost all the entire epidemic, so truly the doctors have no idea what it should look like for someone like me. I'm living history and the doctors are making sense out of  what AIDS looks like as I live.

With all of this to consider, on top of the side-effects from the IV medication, extreme fatigue and nausea, on top of the side-effects of my regular HIV medications and let's not forget my financial issue, I can't seem to get ahead to save my life,  I found myself slipping into a depression. Before I realized it, the me that I know just up and left me. I couldn't write to save my life. My ability to think seemed to be gone and my desire to do anything withered to nothing.

So  here I am, trying to find me. Trying to reclaim that part of me that I can own, that I can control. I think acceptance is part of the ball game, the other part is saying it out loud. Moving beyond the shame, denial and secret of it all will help me get to a better place. I cannot change the fact that I contracted herpes in college or that I contracted HIV years later and now the combination  of the two has deeply affected my life in the most unexpected way.

The on and off  again IV  treatment seems to be a way of life for me now, just like taking my 15 pills a day.  This is what my AIDS looks like, even with a non detectable viral load. I get it! Now I'm taking baby steps to peacefully co-exist with it all. In part writing this blog today is a major step.

 Reclaiming parts of me that I can. So in this attempt to find me, I'm gonna blog everyday, even if I don't have anything deep and profound to say. Saying something is better than sitting on the sofa doing nothing.

Finding you in the face of trauma sometimes requires baby steps. The expectations for yourself should be that you do. Doing something will give you fuel to do more. Rome wasn't built in a day and working your way out of a dark place will not happen in a day. But to do nothing is allowing that trauma, that thing to control the parts of you that should be in your control.

Now, let me be clear, depression is also physical, just as it's emotional. So, there's no one thing that will help, but many. Yes, I'm on antidepressants, have been for a while now, but that's clearly not enough. So  in addition to the baby steps in life style changes, and medication, I'm hitting the treadmill, exercise will help.

There is also some benefit in white tea in helping depression, I'll drink more and I think I'll keep a journal. Not of what's in my head, for some that's good. Writing down what's in your head, helps you let it go. But I'm not in my head, it feels like there's nothing in my head. For Real! So I will instead keep a journal of my daily routine,  from the littlest things like washing my tail and putting on fresh PJ; Lately, there have been days where that didn't happen.

I'm going to journal my day just to have a better perceptive of me.  I will start with a list of goals for each day. Then I will journal at the end of the day. I will even keep track of what I wanted to do and why it didn't happen. What efforts I've made to reclaim me through out the day will give me clarity on how far I've come and how much farer I need to go. Depression has a way of taking time away from you, that time is your life.

I think if I can see some movement in my life it will no longer seem lost. Finding Your Lost Self Requires Work! I value me and believe that I'm worth the work. So here I go reclaiming that part of me that I lost to that dark place in AIDS.  I know that I know that I cannot let AIDS have all of me! I'm taking me back!

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