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, July 6, 2012

In Search of My Whole Self..

I remember the day I learned that I had HIV, the first thing I thought about was the guy that I was dating. I knew he wasn't infected with HIV because we had used condom's 100% of the time.  But Lawdddd ever present in my mind was the question of my worth. Would he still want me?

Let me be honest, I've said it over and again, my self-esteem was very low at 23 and my worth was between my legs.  As a girl I was taught that sex was love.  The men in my family started touching me when I was 6 years old.

Touching was what I knew how to do. By the time I was 19 years old I believed that if I sucked a man's dick until he plead for mercy, he would love me forever.  A relationship couldn't be deep if we didn't have sex. Like For Real, what was a relationship without doing that thang? I was all jacked up, and I didn't even understand that I was.

It didn't matter that I was picky and choosey and didn't have one night stands, because the men that I did date, sex was a major part of what we did. Whether it's in a relationship or a hook-up you are still giving a part of you to them. Stop kidding yourself; Sex is sex is sex is sex is sex!

 I say it in my latest book, The Politics of Respectability, that a fuck is a fuck is a fuck and the only difference is how we spin it to make ourselves feel good about what we are doing. This is more true for women than men. A woman and a man can have equal sexual partners and the woman is seen as a whore and the man as mack daddy with a tight game.  So we women spin sex in a way to make people think good of us, I talk about that in my blog, Crafting Our History,

But this blog isn't about that per se, it's really about my how I saw and now see my worth. Russell Simmons Global Grind tweeted the other day, "All that we are is the result of what we thought."

It's so true, sex was what I knew and was taught and it was everything to me in a relationship. Now, here I am 23 years with this infection that people saw as a modern day curse.  I didn't know how my boyfriend at the time would take this information. However, I found some comfort in the fact that he  was a minister in seminary at the time. I figured if he didn't want to date anymore, at least he would serve as support in some way. He was a minister in seminary, so I knew that I could count on him for support, so I thought.

I remember the night I told him as if it happened this morning.  The same evening  that I learned I had HIV, I waited with nervous energy for him. Within minutes of his arrival I told him. We stood in the middle of my living room. I didn't even give him time to sit down. I had to let it out.

We need to talk I said. He gave me the easy smile and I felt reassured already. "I donated blood and the Red Cross sent me this letter." I paused and that got his attention. He stopped in his tracks. "What's wrong baby?" He asked. "I have HIV." He froze. "What?" He asked. "I have HIV," I repeated." It started to sink in. "They told me I have HIV." I repeated, "They told me  that I have HIV." He stood there frozen almost as if in time. I was to afraid to say another word. He spoke up, "Are you for real?" "Yes," and I grabbed this piece of paper with the number to the National Institute of Health (NIH)  where they had referred me." I'm sure you're not infected because we used condoms," I added as I handed him the piece of paper.

He snatched the paper out of my hand, picked up his laundry that I had done that was sitting by the door. He paused for a second, looked me in the face and said, "You Bitch," and walked out my door. That was the last time I saw or spoke to him. The doctor at NIH confirmed that he was not infected.

I was left to deal with HIV on my own. It was a scary time for me. At the center of my agony was my dating life. Of course I was concerned with what people thought of me. This was the an ugly area in the history of AIDS in the United States. Cosmopolitan magazine had declared that women with, "Healthy Vaginas" couldn't get HIV. Did that make my vagina unhealthy from day one? How does one navigate life when everything you thought about yourself changes?

Then over time I learned that men still wanted to date me and yes have sex with me. This only severed to make me sicker. I thought that I was one bad BITCHHHH! I could get a man with HIV/AIDS and I knew women who couldn't get a man to save their life.

It was crazy, here I am this wonderful woman with so much to offer  not just a man, but the world and all I could think about was would he want what was between my legs. It was the ultimate validation.

As time went on, I began to feel lost... Like I was missing... Yes  that's it, I was missing. I had given so much value to one thing, I lost the rest of me. I started to not like the parts that were adjoined to me and that took me searching for something I could like, something I could be proud of.  Be clear, not what others were proud of. By many standards I had arrived; the covers of magazines, Emmy award, designer clothes the Oprah Show, it couldn't get any better.

But I felt lost and I started to not like myself. I didn't like the me when the camera lights were turned off and the St. John was in the closet. I remember after fucking one day I felt this emptiness. It was all in my spirit.

As me and that accomplished young thang were riding down on the elevator it hit me. I needed to find me. He sensed something and asked, "Is everything ok." "No," I said. He reached over and grabbed me and asked, "Is there anything I can do?" I looked up into that rich dark brown chocolate face of his and said, "No, but there's something I can do."

That day well over 10 years ago, was the beginning of my journey of self-actualization. It took years and a lot of hard work to get to this place where I'm at now. It even meant a lot of lonely nights. I understood that it wasn't enough to know better... I had to apply it to my life. At the center of the madness was the little girl who had been violated. The little girl who had been taught that sex was love by example. I had to cry for her, the little lost girl and the lost of her innocence in order to move beyond the woman that she had become to the women I was intended to be.

Today I understand my worth. I understand that my vagina is only a part of the whole and to place value above one is to diminish the other. I will never go back to that place, not for ANYONE! My wholeness is the cornerstone of my life.

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