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, January 2, 2012

Monday Reflection: Be The Best You Can Be In 2012! I am!

There were moments this year when I thought I wouldn't make it. No, not physically, but emotionally. The physical wasn't going to kill me, but it made my life a living hell. It was the emotional that I thought was going to take me out of here. The Bible says as a person thinketh so shall he/she be; And my thinking had a hold on me because the physical was doing the most.

Herpes ran havoc on my entire body, from my vagina to my nervous system and I had to be stronger than anything herpes could do to my body. In those moments of despair you wonder how long will it take for things to change for the better;If you will be able to handle just one more day of the misery.

At brief moments in time I just wanted to stop. At those moments when I thought I couldn't take anymore, the little girl who fought for her life as a child, would whisper to my spirit, "You've come too far baby girl," and that reminder was just enough to push me to fight just one more day.

Each new day became a day filled with possibilities and I latched onto it like gorilla glue and held on for dear life. I had to remember my history with God. The one that brought me through physical, sexual and emotional abuse as a child and sustained me 28 years with HIV and 19 years with AIDS.

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For me, I had to reprogram my way of thinking to see the new days as a blessing, rather than a day filled with pain. And now just two months free of herpes those days seems like years gone by. It's interesting how resilient we are, more than we thought we could ever be.

Now, as I move into the new year I'm excited with whats before me! Not one day, but 365 days, 12 months, 52 weeks, 8,760 hours and 525,600 minutes filled with possibilities.

 I'm excited about 2012! I will be 50 years old this year. That's a milestone I thought that I would never see. AIDS hasn't taken me out of here and I'm not going to squander one gift or moment of my life. I'm moving full speed ahead and using AIDS and all my pain and misery in life as fuel to do something greater than myself.

Yes, I plan to continue blogging, don't worry this Diva has more to say. I promise to continue to be authentic and cutting edge, but I also promise to grow. More blogs each week. My site is being redesigned more reader friendly. And I PROMISE to get to your emails sooner.

This year had me by the balls and that part of my work was an epic fail. You will always be able to find me on Twitter @raelt telling it like it is! Facebook will always have updates and I plan to continue to be a voice for people living with HIV/AIDS.

I know what it's like to live in shame and secret I did it for seven years, so I will continue to do my part every chance I get. Just like the emotional baggage of this disease will kill you, so will the secret. So I will continue to be a voice. I hope that my voice will be a beacon of light until you can find your voice.

What I'm most excited about this year is my new venture. I am taking all of my seminary and life training and opening RLT Life Coaching!

My gift is to help people get past their pain and live a healthy balanced life. For the last 19 years I've done just that through my speaking and press interviews, tv, radio and print; And in recent times my blog. Now I am expanding that work by giving people a opportunity to have my expertise, one on one through life coaching.

The areas of Life Coaching I'm offering are in 1) Confidence, which translates into self-esteem, self-worth and self-love;  At one's core self-worth guides everything you do for yourself and to others. I will work with clients to achieve the self-love that will radiate to all areas of one's life creating a happier you.

2) Balance in all areas of ones life. To pay your bills on time but not take your medication on time is lacking balance and vice-versa. I hope to help people get to that perfect Feng Shui; Channeling their energies of life to find the perfect balance of health, good fortune and positive living.

3) And lastly, every area of Relationships from dating to divorce. It does not matter what type of relationship, whether mother and daughter, friends, dating or marriage they should have balance and value.

My practice is not exclusive to people living with HIV, but I certainly hope that many will take advantage of my expertise. I've lived well and balance in the 29 years I've been infected with HIV.

As we live, we should grow. Having HIV/AIDS should not change our desire to both know better and do better; It should make us hungry for living in our life, not just being alive.

It is such a blessing to wake each morning but to wake with a chronic illness is a major gift. I remember the days when my t-cell was 8 and I was staring death in the face. I appreciate life on life terms and I'm living in it with everything I have.

As I go into 2012, I'm more committed and determined to touch lives and do all the goodness that I possibly can. I challenge you to live your best life in 2012; And if at this moment you can find nothing of your own to celebrate and live for, celebrate my 50 years of life with me and bask in my joy! And I will celebrate your life, another 525,600 minutes in God's earthly plan!

Note: This was originally written for thebody.com 2012 Series.
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