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

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Facing Shame...

Yesterday I was sitting on the bench waiting on the train and a young lady sat next to me. She had a 4 year old daughter and a 2 month old son in tote. From the moment she sat down it became awkward for me. When I looked into her face I saw what appeared to be two black eyes. My heart started to ache and I became ashamed; Ashamed for me and for her. My shame was rooted in her shame. To see a young girl facing this level of hurt made me ashamed and for once in my life I was at a lost, paralyzed by shame.

I wanted to know everything and I mean everything, how, why, what the hell? I wanted to take this young girl who I believed was between 19-23 and save her from the madness.

But instead, I let shame paralyze me. I was just lost. I wanted to say something to her, but what? I didn't want her to think I was judging her, I just wanted to know, so I could help her find a way out of whoever it was that thought it was ok to do this level of damage to a young girl.

 As I sat there I was trying to figure out how to get started. How could I develop a relationship with this young woman in such a public place in such a short time? I didn't know what to do and I was ashamed that I was taking no action. Her little girl kept looking up at me as mom mostly kept her head turned the other way.

So I started a conversation with her little girl.  I got the basics, age, name and yes she goes to school and promised me that she would go to college. Like at 4 she knows what that is. But like most young people her age, she was willing to please.

Mom would occasionally look at us and when I looked back, she would quickly turn her head. Each time I saw that eye, my heart just ached. I knew she wanted some distance because she grabbed her baby girl's hand and made her way to the front of the train car as the doors opened.

The young man standing next to me when I got off the bench and approached the train said to me, " If she was my daughter I would catch a case." I asked, "Those are black eyes aren't they?"  He said yes, and we both sighed heavily and got on the train.

Now I don't know if some man hit her or the circumstance that caused her to have two black eyes, but none of it really matters. There is no judgment, just sadness.

I wanted to do something. Something bold, but instead, I just walked to the door by the end of train car where she was sitting and I pressed my card into her hand. "Call me if you think I can ever do anything for you," I said.

She looked at me, looked at the card and said thank you. I said, "That's me on the card," so the face of the Essence cover  on my card could connect with the face looking back at her on the train. I said, "Go to my blog and my e-mail address is there too, feel free to e-mail me," and I left.

Now I really don't know the circumstances, I made a lot of assumptions in my head. I don't know if it's domestic violence or not, but I wanted her to know that she is not alone. That we both must overcome the shame so we can act.  I know many people who would  have looked at that young woman and just shook their head and kept it moving, saying, "I don't want to get involved."  But we can't expect change if we are not willing to be an agent for change. It's the right thing to do, the Christian thing to do and the village thing to do. It takes all of us to raise a village. At some point we have got to stop complaining and offer help, one girl at a time. 

I don't know if she will e-mail me. I don't know if she will come to my blog, but if she does I hope she finds hope here. I hope that she is not horrified even my this blog post, I left her little girls name out on purpose. I hope and pray that she will understand as I laid my head down last night that I felt an uneasiness in my spirit. I couldn't shake it... I just can't!

God led me to write this blog, not just for her but for all of our young girls.

She is one of many, but we must start somewhere. Now, I understand that you can't save people who don't want to be saved. But some people don't understand there is a difference. Don't know there is a different way to live; And there are some who just see no way out.

I remember growing up, my mama was a working drunk. She went to work every day and just like she went to work she started her day with Christian Brothers.

I always believed in my heart that I was better than what mama said I was, but it wasn't until we moved to the suburbs that I saw that there was a world other than my mother's.

With my new examples I set out to be better than what mama said I would be. That move opened doors for me that I would have never gotten in the city. And we only moved to Evanston because mama was a maid at the Evanston Inn and she wanted to be closer to her job and oh yeah, a man.

Growing up I felt that hitting was not normal, a right way to treat the people you love. Mama beat my ass when the sun shinned and beat my ass when the sun didn't shine. It didn't matter why she beat me or what she beat me with, mama and her brand of love hurt me to my very core.

There were days when I didn't know which hurt worst, her hits with the thing in her hand at the time or the words that came out of her mouth. But I knew in my heart this was not right; This was not the way it should be. I knew hitting was not right!!! So when I got hit the first time by a man, I knew at my core it wasn't love. It took me a minute to leave his ass, but that one slap was one too many and eventually I left before he got that second chance.

Same with my ex-husband; A push here or there. A tussle every now and then, but when he dug the car keys into my hand in an attempt to get the keys and he drew blood, I knew it was time. By the end of the week he was escorted out by two sheriffs and four police officers.

 I felt shame as I stood in domestic violence court trying to explain to the judge why I needed an order of protection, from my husband no less.

But I knew in my heart that AIDS hadn't killed me, Kenny wasn't going to kill me either. So I swallowed my pride and fought for my life.

So here I am, still thinking about this young girl and wondering if she knows there is something better for her. No, life won't be easy, but at least she won't have to feel the shame  and hurt she felt today facing a stranger.

Yep, we look at situations and we talk about them, but rarely do we extend ourselves. We are always talking about what it means to be a Christian but when faced with the chance we turn the other check.

We are always talking about our young black girls, but what do we do to really help enrich their lives? Do we exert any energy to lift them up or rather spend our time tearing them down with our words? It's easier fighting bully's that we don't know, who kill our boys, like in the case of Trayvon Martin, but we are slow to act with the violence in our own homes, in our community.

Now be clear, we have got to take a stand for Trayvon, but at the same time, we cannot have a double standard on justice. No matter how shameful it may seem to deal with violence in our own back yard. Violence is violence, whether its mother, father, husband, boyfriend, the kids down the street or a stranger like Zimmerman, shooting an innocent child.  The bottom line, in all these cases, change will only come about if we become an agent for change.

I don't know if the young lady will reach out and I'm not sure what I will do if she does, but I know I will do my best to help her be her best.

I'm gonna pray about this. I have so much to give to young girls. I need to see about developing some kind of program even if it's a once a year start.

We have got to be a part of the change. We have got to be a part of the solution. Someone has got to care enough to help make changes for the best. To help get our young people to a place where they can see themselves as God intended them to be.

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