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

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Making of You!

I consider myself a cook! Yep! And anyone that has ever tasted any of my delights thinks so too. I had a friend once who told me that he would pay me to teach his wife how to make my macaroni and cheese. For  Real and my BFF Luke, tries his best to whip up my creation with the same exact ingredients, but each dish does its own thing no matter how hard you try. Even for me, with my mac and cheese it varies. There are some constant ingredients like macaroni, milk, eggs, butter, but what type of cheeses and any other ingredients like sour cream, whipping cream etc. depends on the life of my budget and or what I have in the refrigerator.

There is no exact science to cooking no matter how hard you try and I believe that making a wonderful dish is no different than the making of us. For Real... Yes, there are some ingredients that are a must for that dish to be named that particular dish. A cake for example, requires, flour, baking powder, baking soda, eggs, butter, milk no matter how you make it. But the flavor and how much of these ingredients varies from cake to cake; and no matter how much you beat the sugar and butter, the cake can still fall in the oven because of a accidental slam of the oven door.

 Just like with us, our making requires a sperm from a man and an egg from a woman, but in the end, we are shaped by our environment. Where we were born, what conditions we were born under, how we were raised, all of this goes into the making of you.

Sophie and Mommie in the Ocean
I say in my latest book, that I'm a stray dog with a bow on her head. No matter how much the bow may cost, or the designer of the bow, it can never change the fact that I'm a stray dog. In my mother's womb, I was sucking on an umbilical cord laced with heroin. People say to me, don't say that about yourself, but it's the truth. That fact can never be changed no matter what I do in my life to make my world pretty and acceptable to others. I'm a freaking stray dog.

Now, don't be confused there is nothing wrong with being a stray dog. In fact, a stray dog will make it a lot further in life than a pampered pooch like my Sophie and that's a fact.  You turn us both loose in this mean ass world and see who survives the longest.

So I wonder what makes people so uncomfortable with who you are? And why are we so determined to get everybody and even ourselves to be something that we are not? Why aren't we comfortable in our own skin? And why can't who you are  be enough for people to embrace you?  And why do we try so hard to please others rather then pleasing ourselves. Are we more in love with others loving and liking us, more than with liking and loving ourselves?

I used to try to make others like me, For Real. For Real...  Ok, so I  don't wear blue jeans, well maybe once a year and my ex-husband use to say to me, "You so bourgeois. You think you are better than everybody else." Boy was he all wrong. It's just that I'm more comfortable in slacks than I am in jeans. But to shut him the fuck up, I went out and bought some jeans and wore them during our marriage and you best believe when I packed his shit, I put the jeans in the bag with his clothes.

I did the same thing to win my mother's approval. I worked my ass off in those early years as a political organizer so Mama would be proud, but in the end, I learned that there was nothing I could do to win her approval. She was made from the cloth that she was made from and not one of my accomplishments would change how she viewed life and how the same lenses from which she viewed life is the same from which she viewed me. Can't fault them for who they are, even if who they are does not add value to your life. But what you can do, is create boundaries that have the best outcome for you, in spite of them. They used to tell us in Al-Anon, just because the addict is clean, doesn't change who they are. Addict behavior transcends the use of drugs and that's a fact. Yet we try to shape our lives for others, rather than shape our lives to be the best you.

Sporting My Island Tan
So at 50, I'm just being me. I'm learning to love and value me; the woman that has been shaped by years of abuse, self-abuse and years of perseverance in the face of adversity. I'm not bound by what you think I should be, nor of what you think of me. If you can't see the goodness in me for who I am, then you have on blinders. You have the problem, not me and I have enough shit to deal with than to take on your shit too.

Now that is easier said than done and it takes practice. People will try to steal your joy. Like a member of Delta Sigma Theta posted a comment yesterday on my You Tube Day 23 video, that I was a "spoiled, self-important, pseudo-celebrity who is not use to being treated like a regular person." She went on to say that I don't deserve any, "special treatment" of other "dues paying hard working, pledging member gets." I had to take a deep breath and think with a clear head. You have to know that you know, that you know, who you are, or people will get you caught up in their bullshit and life is too precious to be stuck in someone else's shit. For Real... For Real... After a few moment's I shrugged it off. How right and how wrong she was at the same time.

You see, If I wasn't a, "pseudo-celebrity," if I didn't have an Emmy award or had never been featured on Oprah or Nightline or had been on the cover of a magazine or as hard working in my life as a pledged, due-paying member, then I would have never been asked to be a honorary member, that's a fact. And yes I'm spoiled, gotta come clean on that one. And yes, I think I'm important and I hope that she thinks she's important too. But none of those things have anything to do with the fact that I was disrespected in a phone conversation. I certainly hope every dues paying, pledged, hard working member of any sorority thinks that they should be treated with respect and if not, stop that shit in its tracks.

I once told Mama,  that I had been fighting with her my entire life and that I didn't intend to fight any longer. AIDS was the hardest fight of my life and I didn't have the energy for both. She had two choices, stay in my life peacefully or get the hell out and then I hung up the telephone. I had that come to Jesus meeting about my mother and I had decided, that I was more important to me than suffering through her abuse. As a child I had no choice, but as an adult, I could decide if people could abuse me or not. I just had to decide which I liked the most, her in my life and liking me with abuse, or her out of my life, with no abuse. I chose an abuse free world.

It's interesting that the sum-total of who I am was shaped by who I am. It took a long time to learn to love me for me. Like the Dove  commercial says, I've learned to love skin that I'm in. Now this does not mean there isn't room for self-improvement, to be the best you for you. I mean, I try to make my pound cake better each time I bake it. But for sure, it's not so someone else will say they love it; it's so I can have the perfect slice of pound cake with the perfect cup of Earl Grey tea. Being better is to make me happy, not others.

Now, don't be confused, selfish I'm not. Sure I will share my pound cake, but if it does not make your pallet sing with joy, then you can leave it on the saucer and keep it moving. But you can't say, that I didn't share the best of me with you. It's just, who you are, wouldn't allow you to see my best as your best.  There's nothing wrong with that. What's wrong is when you tell me I can't bake because you don't like my recipe. At the end of the day, we have to learn to appreciate each other and ourselves for who we are. We should set the standard for our own life, not someone else. You should never deny the best of you; who you are is shaped by all of you and there's is nothing wrong with your journey. You should own it with pride. With Pride There Will Be Joy!

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