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, November 7, 2012

Overcoming Shame...

Having herpes is literary a pain between my legs that goes straight up to my heart and effects everything there is about me from my health to my self-esteem.

It leaves me helpless and hopeless. But most of all, the shame that I have is insurmountable. I think at the core is the insensitively that people have for those with sexually transmitted disease. I say it to myself, so I know others must say it, "It that heifer had kept her legs closed, she wouldn't have herpes; she wouldn't have AIDS."

Having to tell someone that I am sick and then take that deep breath as they wait to hear more, is a painful journey every single time I do it.

Having to explain to my Pastor today that I'm sick yet again was like being kicked straight in my freakin gut. Of course he's compassionate and a pretty progressive man, but I can't help to think what people may think of me, including him. I mean I am a minister and a member of the ministerial team at my new church.

Just at the base line, how do you support someone who has a very serious and chronic sexually transmitted disease?  How do you separate how they got there to how you can help them?

For that matter, how does anyone support me specifically? This thing is crazy for me; just plain old crazy. It's not "normal" herpes. It's herpes complicated by AIDS. On one level I ask, how does one leave their judgment at the door and on the other, once done, how do you continue to support such an ongoing chronic illness? I almost hate to say that I'm having another outbreak. It's like, "Here we go again." But this is my life and there is no place for me to hide. I have to endure, even if you choose not to. It is what it is.

Typically I don't give a damn what people think of me, but there's something about herpes that I haven't yet been able to conquer.

The fact is, I contracted herpes in college. The fact is, having AIDS has complicated my herpes. My impaired immune system has literary become a feeding ground for herpes. The fact is, I have to take an anti-viral medication intravenously to rid my body of herpes each time I have an outbreak.

The fact is, the anti-viral medication Foscarnet is aggressive and a very hard medication to take. My regimen is 2 hours a day, twice a day.

The side-effects are equally hard, diarrhea, nausea, fatigue that's so bad some days washing my tail is an effort and cooking a meal is out of the question, also Kidney damage and burning when I use the bathroom. It's exhausting physically and emotionally. Not to mention that I hurt like shit right between my legs. I don't want nothing to touch my vulva and I mean nothing.

The fact is, this is all medical related. There is no way around the fact that developing drug resistant herpes 5 years ago has effected my health greatly.

I've had so many picc lines in my left arm that it has created so much scaring, which has now caused a blockage going to my central vein from the left. Now, the doctor wants me to get a medi port permanently placed. It's either that or make my way to the right arm until thats been damaged like the left and then I would have no other choice.

This is all medical, clinical and there should be no shame in the fact that I am having a health crisis.

Yes, I said having. It's been a month since I had my last round of IV medication for 19 days. I was hoping, even praying that herpes wouldn't come back anytime soon. But the fact is, I had a really bad cold a week ago and that weaken my immune system even more and left me vulnerable, so now I've been developing a new herpes sore over night for the last two days, but I started to have the flu like symptoms caused by herpes on Sunday, just as I was ahead of the clod.

So I start IV medication as soon as I get the medi port straight, probably next week some time. In the meantime, I just have to endure the pain and the spread of the infection until we can begin to put it in check.

It's crazy that I have AIDS and I have no shame but yet herpes has some kind of hold on me. For people to know that I have this aggressive infection between my legs does something to my womanhood. It makes me feel dirty on some level.

But yet, the secret of why I was on IV medication was killing something inside of me, so after 3 long years, I told. I figured that I needed all the good emotional health I could get to deal with the IV medication, that I didn't need the burden of the secret.

So I told... I'm glad I told, but I seem to be stuck somewhere in the ugly of this disease. I'm not sure what it will take to get me to a better place; probably time.

There was a hope and a prayer that this nightmare would go the hell away. But today it seem to have been made permanent when the doctor suggested that I get the medi port.

It was a very sad moment for me. I'm in what appears to be a cycle that seems to dominate my life. AIDS is here to stay. My immune system took a serious hit in those early days, now this herpes infection wrecks havoc on my body and yes my spirit because of the environment created by AIDS. It's enough to have to contend with AIDS, but both of them together, feels like hell on earth some days.

There is nothing worst than feeling that burning tingle between my legs that says, "Im back!" Just like in some horror movie when the monster just keeps coming back, no matter how dead you think he is.

Not only do I have to contend with the emotional and the physical drama each time I have an outbreak, but while I'm on IV medication, all my projects lag behind herpes. The IV regime is so aggressive, I operate at sub-standard and that in and of itself creates something sad inside of me.

I'm so affected by this herpes, in so many different ways. I hate what it is doing to my life. I HATE it! I HATE that I have this shame associated with it too. I may not know how to get over this shame, but I know for sure, holding the secret fosters an even more unhealthy environment. So I will continue to talk about it until I can get to a better place.

What I do know for sure; naming it, is a road to healing....

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