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 15, 2012

Sophie's Mommie

I always wanted children, well not quite children, a child, a little girl but AIDS took that away from me. It was a hard decision to not have children but I made it. Having such a rocky entrance into this world and an even rockier childhood I had some very clear ideas about how children should be brought into this world. My bottom line; bring children in the world when your circumstance permit. I wasn't really opposed to being a single parent, but if I was struggling to put food on the table, well then my circumstance didn't permit. I've been a one woman show since I was a senior in high school, when I got put out for being 15 minutes late for curfew, 12:15. Mama said, "Go back where you just came from bitch," and I've been putting bread on my table ever since.

So children, single and struggling I didn't think was a bright idea and then when I had a husband, HIV treatment and care wasn't what it is today. There was more of a risk of infecting a child back in the early days; a whopping 30% and that was 30 too many. Now things have changed and it's about a 2% chance that the child will be infected if a woman takes a very specific anti-retroviral treatment in the first trimester. This is why HIV testing for pregnant women is so critical.

So my not having children is a clear and definite effect of having contracted HIV. It's a lost a mourn years ago and filled in other ways. Many don't know but I took in a teenager I met when I first started speaking and helped to raise her with her grandmother. She was a hand full but now grown up, married and raising a child of her own. There were a host of other young ladies met while speaking who were in and out of my house and living with me at periods of time and they are in and out of my life too all grown up and doing their thing.

I'm grateful that my home could be a safe place, it clearly takes a village. But truly my dogs have really filled a void.

Imani in her prime
First was Imani, my first born was loving, attentive but she was playful. So she divided her time between me and her rubber duckie's and balls. Then Imani had a baby Nambi who was often called little Rae. Diva dog for sure. She didn't play, she didn't sit on the floor and she couldn't be bothered with most people other than me and, Toi the young lady I helped to raise.

I had Imani for 12 years and she so taught me how to live outside of myself. She had some kind of lung disease and there would be nights when she and I would sit on the toilet with a hot shower running so she could get the steam. Lawd, watching her die almost killed me. After I put her under I cried for days, weeks and months. There would be days I would be getting ready for a speaking engagement and tears would just start to flow.

Nambi a year before she died.
But I still had Nambi, little Rae as my close friends called her and she was my shadow. If I went there in the house, so did she. She never left my side, NEVER. She was Imani's baby from her one and only litter and she was my constant companion.  Imani played and Nambi layed on the pillow over me.

But when she was 12 years old, like her mother Imani her health started to take a turn. I drove down to the University of Illinois State of the art animal hospital so they could fix my baby girl up, like I had done with her mother, but they told me her time was near and that I should put her under.

I cried all the way home, me her and Sophie. I had gotten Sophie two weeks prior. It had taken me a whopping 3 years to get a new baby after Imani's death.

Sophie at 2 months
We were a sight to see, me tears flowing the entire 2 1/2 ride back home, Sophie full of life and Nambi looking up at me like mommie. "Why did you bring this hyper ass child into our lives in my old age. I can't take it can I please die in peace?"

I got back to Chicago and nursed my baby. I had put one baby to sleep and I didn't think I could do it again. I knew it would kill me too, I just couldn't. It was madness in my bed. Me, Nambi and Sophie. Sophie is bigger than Nambi and she would lay across Nambi and look into her face like, "When we gonna play?" And Nambi would growl through her sickness, "If you don't get off me bitch you better."

I didn't go anywhere for about two weeks. I just couldn't leave my baby and I couldn't put her to sleep. I just couldn't and then slowly she started to bounce back. She was my little miracle. You can read more on her here. It was the second Blog post I ever wrote.

She lived another four years. I had her for 16 years. The vet thinks bringing the puppy into her life made the difference. And it gave me more time. Time to let her go and time for Sophie to steal my heart.

For sure this is Sophie's world and I'm just her mom. Since Nambi's death a tad over two years it's just me and her. She is for sure the queen of this castle. She just waited Nambi out; but for sure she had been waiting to be an only child.

Lawddd this girl since day one has been a handful. When she was 6 months she knocked down my 8 foot Christmas Tree with ALL my $100 ornaments I had been collecting for over 10 years. There's never a dull moment with Sophie NEVER!

Sophie and her friend Jack
She's the happiest baby in the world. She is a little socialite. I call her walks the Sophie Lewis-Thornton Social Hour. She speaks to every person and every dog no matter how big or small.

She has this way of making me LIVE!. Taking me out of myself, out of my shit, my chaos, my mind and my illness. Some days when I'm in this bed stuck in the darkness, she insists that we get up out of this bed and go to the living room and sit on the sofa and look out the picture window.

She has this way; this wonderful way of taking me out of the darkness of this disease.

So it's 7:00 am and I'm up with her. I've been up since 4:00 am. She woke me up, something is wrong. She's whining and clinging and breathing heavy and restless. Most likely it's a belly ache, I pray. But I will only be able to know for sure as the day goes on. But for sure, I'm not thinking about my shit, my nerve pain, my finances, or all the work that needs to be done in the next week before the tweet-up. At this moment, all I can only think about is being Sophie's Mommie..     BTW.. You can follow Sophie on Twitter Here...

Me and Sophie in the Ocean in Turks and Caicos

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