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, August 14, 2012

Living In The Impossible...

Since I made that transition to AIDS in 1992 it seems like I've lived in the impossible. I can't remember a day since the months going into my official AIDS diagnosis that I've felt "normal." Even today with a T-cell count of 618 and a non-detectable viral load I have so much going on with my health that I feel like absolute shit. I've learned that the absolutes with AIDS tend to be dark to grey and that's not the best life to live in, but it's all I got.

My bestie Luke said it best in the "Diva," Documentary on me, there is never a day when I wake in the morning and feel good like everyone else. I have bad days every day, it's just the manner of degrees. For sure I only tend to complain when the bad becomes really intrusive. You would think after 20 years I would be used to it; this is the way of my life. But how does one get used to a darkness that never seems to fade? I'm not sure that you do.

Sometimes I wonder how I seem to live in the impossible. How I glide through life in spite of the life that I have. Resilience must be a gift from God. If I was left to my own mind, my own self I would have quit a long time ago. But I know that I know that my life is not my own, it belongs to God and with this information I seem to have this fortitude, this will to live in spite of the life before me.

People tell me often that they couldn't live with this disease and I say, "You really don't know what you are capable of until you are in it." In the 5 years before I made that transition to AIDS I used to pray often, "God don't let me get AIDS." It was a simple prayer that went unanswered and yet I continue to keep my faith and love God with all of my heart. So here I am muddling through yet again and trying to keep my wits about me. Trying to live with dignity inside of the impossible.

No matter what I'm facing in the morning I try to live in this life. I started to have nerve pain again right before I went to Blog Her, yet I walked those aisles in the exhibit hall learning everything I could to help bring brands to my blog for your benefit and mine. I had 12 hour days and had it not been for Luke I would have eaten McDonald's every night because that's the budget I had. But it didn't matter; I was making the sacrifice to grow. Then with jacked up travel back and very little sleep I went straight to work. Sending out emails, setting up my Mulu Shop and on and on! Read about my Mulu Shop Click Here...

So last night I surrendered to the reality that my body is in pain overload and pain has a way of making you crazy. So I started taking my medication to help with the nerve pain and now I'm adjusting to those side-effects, slow, groggy, drowsy; both in movement and in my thinking. I added 800 mg of Ibuprofen for my endometriosis, which has nothing to do with HIV. The one issue that I have that is not about HIV, but about being a woman. The endometriosis pain feels like someone is inside of my vagina, pulling down my ovaries, no joke.

So my nerve pain Neuropathy is HIV related. HIV causes it on one level and then we think the extreme case is  because of herpes attacking my nervous system; which at the end of the day, is all an AIDS opportunistic infection (OI) .  Remember AIDS is having no immune system, and not having an immune system causes a host of AIDS related infections. The doctor also told me that my LDL cholesterol was extremely high (also HIV related, most likely a side-effect of one on my HIV medications) so I added yet another pill to my daily regime.

 Hypothetically, with a good T-Cell count one should not have any OI, but that's just not true. Magic Johnson said it best, "Everyone's HIV is different." It's true, how HIV will affect a person will vary. Think about me in terms of  a long-term survivor, At one point my T-Cell was 8 and my Viral load was 400,000, for sure long term damage was done. Just because they can slow HIV down, doesn't mean they can reverse what has been done.

My Neuropathy, is typically joined by a mad outbreak of genital herpes that requires me to go on IV medication. Remember, I contracted genital herpes in college before HIV, but it didn't become a serious health issue until I made a transition to AIDS.

 Thank God that hasn't happened, i.e., genital herpes. My last round of IV medication was 34 days and I thought that I was gonna lose my mind.

But I am having a herpes outbreak in the opening of my butt... Yes I said butt and yes it hurts like hell, but I'm grateful that Valtrex the oral medication does treat this strand for me.

 How did I get herpes in the ass? I know some of you wanta ask? And I've removed the herpes blogs from the website and put them in my new book, The Politics of Respectability. Well, ummm, most likely because of improper wiping when I go to the bathroom. Herpes is a touch disease. If you touch an open sore in one area and touch another area of your body you can infect yourself there too. But don't make me lie cause it could have happened from unprotected sex too. I'm not sure... Yes I just said unprotected sex, yes there. Live as long as I have you just might experience anything. For real for real. At least I can be honest *shrugs*

So on one level, I understand that I had a lot of free will and how I used my free will, left me living in the impossible... I tell people every day on twitter make the best choices for your life because some shit you can't take back. Living with HIV is more than popping a pill once a day. This is some real shit, physically and emotionally and you will be forced to deal with them. That's for real... for real.

I also Tweet, at the end of the day I pray that what you think you know about your partner is true, otherwise you are turning your free will over to someone that can't think at the moment beyond your vagina.

Living in the impossible is not joke and no real solution beyond depending on a higher source for the fortitude that is necessary to keep your wits about you when you seem to be falling around you.

I'm also glad that I have some good people in my life. This morning I woke up to a zero balance in my PayPal account, which is my RLT Collection bracelet sales account, not to even mention my bank account and I said to Markeeda "this is the first time in a long time I haven't had a dime in my PayPal" and low and behold, she transferred a dime and then said, "stop crying."

And that dime became symbolic to me. I will keep it in there forever! I understand that life ain't what I want it to be. I understand that HIV/AIDS altered my destiny, but just like Markeeda gave me that dime, God gave me an Ace in the hole, a new destiny. In my brokenness God deposited a dime into my life; Purpose for my pain! And as long as I have purpose for my brokenness, I can live in this brokenness, that seems impossible.

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