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, August 1, 2012

Purpose Over Pride...

I'm so excited that I haven't been able to sleep for the last few nights! I'm headed to the largest and most powerful Blogger's Conference in the country, Blog Her.  I missed the International AIDS Conference because I couldn't afford it. Registration was $975.00, not including travel and hotel. I was sitting around last week all sad, then I thought about missing BlogHer12 too and gloom set in.  I had to shake that sadness and made a decision right then, if there was anyway I could work it out I had to go to Blog Her. I had to make it happen. Well, the Bible says we have not because we ask not and sometimes you have to let your pride go and I did just that. You can miss your blessing holding onto unnecessary pride.

I learned that a couple of years ago, when my speaking engagements went from 5-7 a month to 5-7 a year and I lost my book deal with Hyperion Publishing.  I had to face reality. I downsized my life #ForReal I went from a 3 bedroom apartment to a studio and buckled in for the long haul. The economy hit me hard, people just weren't bringing speakers like in the past. Not only was everyone's money funny, but AIDS is not the sexiest topic it had been in the past. But, downsizing my life didn't do anything for my Purpose. I was sitting in my studio apartment looking at the walls.

I had to face the fact that God called me to do a work no matter what the conditions. I got a push from my bestie Luke, to take my message and brand to Social Media. I also started thinking about blogging, but I was nervous about it and got a push or two. I have to give credit where it's due.  I got a push from another Blogger, who was following me on Twitter, who has since become my friend, Dwana. And Honestly, Luvvie from the Red Pump Project pushed me even further and put up my blog site in a day and then I got great advice from beauty blogger, Afrobella and as the saying goes, the rest has been history.

I wasn't traveling all over the country anymore, but I was still doing the work. I start my day on Twitter and Facebook and then write my blog. It was a ready made audience to take my message of self-love, self-worth and prevention; while challenging stigma and shame around HIV/AIDS with my candor, transparency and honesty.

 In Just two years, I have grown by leaps and bounds, with most of the growth this last year. This blog gets about 30,000 visits a month. People are reading it too. The amount of time a person stays on my blog is 4-5 minutes which is major for a blog.  My YouTube has over 120,000 views, I have over 7,000 followers on Twitter and my combined Facebook pages have 11,000 followers.

I'm the only person in the country hosting Tweet-Up's with an HIV/AIDS theme. I made the cover of the Chicago Tribune and BET News did a story on how I use Social Media for HIV/AIDS education. It's been a world wind these last two years. Who knew? I sure didn't but the point was that I was open to the possibilities. Open to taking my message to Social Media, whether I got paid or not.

I don't have any sponsors or any big names behind me. I do it all on my own, not because of me, but because of what I have been called to do. We get so stuck on the right time and conditions. When in reality the time is ripe the day God plants that seed in you to do the work. We just have to be willing to do the work, in spite of the conditions. Conditions are just for show anyway. It's a great thing when you can brag, but your gifts are not for bragging, they are for using.

So I have no shame! Most days, I'm sitting at home in my PJ's Tweeting and Blogging and using my gifts to help enrich the lives of others. My purpose is far greater than my pride will ever be. There is an internal peace that I have knowing that I'm gifted and God wants to use my gifts. With no sponsors, my brand has grown beyond what my eyes could even see.

So I'm headed to Blog Her! I didn't have the money, but I asked. I put it out there in the universe and my Twitter/Blog Followers have made it happen; My Besties Markeeda and Luke chipped in too. I'm blessed to have two good friends who believe in me and sow into my work.

I'm not going to Blog Her to party, in fact, I've not been invited to the best parties nor am I going for the wonderful swag bags and giveaways. I'm going so that I can grow and when I grow, you grow. Yes, I'm hoping to find the right sponsors, thats the perfect fit, but if I don't I'm cool. I know for a fact that I will absorb all that I can, so I can continue to grow my brand.

 I'm not even ashamed to say that I wouldn't be going if on my own.  Things are tight and I will be pinching pennies to make my spending money stretch. I'm just proud that I moved beyond pride and put my desire to go to Blog Her in the universe and within one day, I was able to register and purchase a plane ticket! THANK YOU!

 I'm telling you, your gifts are larger than what you think is the right time to use them. Your purpose should be larger than your pride. I dare you to step out there and watch God blow your mind. You may not become famous, or you just might. You may not make a fortune or you just might. But for sure, if you don't you will miss the opportunity to bless others with what you have been gifted with. That for me is what life is about, PURPOSE.

 If I never get another feature in a magazine or TV; If my bank account stays at a monthly average of $200.00, it's all good. I will continue to do what God has called me to do. I will continue to grow and be the best me, so that I can share my best with you.
 I will be Tweeting and Blogging while at Blog Her. You can follow my HashTag #GrowingRLT  The general Hash Tag for Blog Her is #Blogher12  There is lots of good stuff there, especially for those of you who are trying to grow your blog.

Please keep me in your prayers. Long, continuous days are tough on my health so I need all the good energy you can send my way. And Lawddd y'all know I'm gonna miss my baby girl Sophie. She has already started looking sad...  She will be Tweeting while Mommie is on the road working :) You can follow Sophie on Twitter Here

Post Script: If you want to support me, you can buy a bracelet from my Collection. There are new markdowns, plus an extra 10% off the entire sale. The coupon code is Diva, Click Here! You can buy an autographed copy of my book, The Politics of Respectability, Click Here! Or you can just donate to my blog on the donate button...  #IcannotdoitAlone

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