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

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday Reflection: Weathering The Storm...

Well it seems that I have weathered the storm yet again. The herpes has gone into hibernation. I'm off the IV medication and the picc line came out of my arm on Saturday.  Of course I say hibernation because the herpes virus never really leaves the body and I have no idea when it will rear it's ugly head yet again.

After  being on IV foscarnet for 49 days, 2 hours a day, 2 times a day, I welcome any break.  It seems that this is what my life with AIDS has become. My doctor and I were talking about it last Wednesday, that is, for people like me, who have lived with HIV/AIDS for so long; We just don't have any real idea as to what this should look like. It's like, as I live, I am a walking experiment. By the way, I've been infected for 29 years and I've had AIDS for 20. I have known my HIV status for 26 years.

The other thing, we just don't know what the long term impact on the body is for people like me who took the first generation HIV medications, Nucleosides. They were so very toxic, but they were all we had. And I took them all, AZT, 3TC, D4T, DDC, DDI, Zert. I took them as mono therapy and then as a combo therapy, including  Ziagen, Epivir,Viread in that same category. Of course as time went on they started treating us with combo's of other classes of HIV medications.  I've also taken, Norvir, Emtriva, Viramune, Sustiva, Crixivan, Kaletra, Prezista, Viracept, Fuzeon and Isentress.

Yep I've taken 19 of the HIV medications in some form or the other, not to forget the host of medications I took in those early days to prevent AIDS related Opportunistic Infections, like chronic Yeast, PCP (Pneumocystis Pneumonia), Wasting  Syndrome, MAC and  Herpes. At one point I was on 33 pills a day. I mean I took  a lot. I took 4 different types of medications  just to try and prevent PCP. They were, Bacterium, Dapsone, Atovaquone, Pentamidine aerosol and eventually Pentamidine intravenously because I still got PCP 3 times. By the way, PCP is the number one infection that kills people with AIDS.

Yep, I would say, I've weathered the storm, over and over and over again. My T-Cell count was as low as 8 at one time. We have no idea what the long term impact of that has had on me either. I mean, for ones immune system to be at the bottom of the road. What permanent damage that's been done is an unanswered question.

Yep I'm a walking experiment. This is one reason why we think I can't fight  off herpes no matter what we try, (other than IV foscarent) damage was done that cannot be reversed and while HIV medications give me a boost now, they can't undo what's been done.

But now that treatment has advanced so much and my T-cell count is 586 and Viral Load non-detectable, I still seem  to be stuck in this place I've always been, fighting to keep my head above water. Now don't get me wrong, I love my freaking life! I love living! As long as I got breath in my body, I'm gonna fight this bitch AIDS; And while I know there is sun behind the rain, the storm is a bitch to pass through. I never understood those weather people who chase storms. Who in their right mind would give up calm for chaos?

But I've learned to take it all in stride. This round of IV med's kicked my ass; Straight-up, with no chasers. No matter how hard I tried to keep it all together, there were days, when I thought I couldn't take not another day. But in the end, I somehow found a way to make it through that moment when the storm seems to be worst, waiting it out until is slowed down to a drizzle.

I've learned waiting it out is key. It does not matter hard dark and hopeless it may seem in that moment, there is always a tomorrow and if you just hold on long enough, the sun will break through the clouds.

So here I am again, done with IV and trying to play catch up on all the things that were so very much neglected from my blog to cleaning my house.  Yes, I'm still struggling with some other health issues that have added some drama, but this I know for sure... If I weathered the last storm, and I did, I can weather them all.  So I press my way each and every day, knowing that God created the rain and the sun and everything God created is good... Without a doubt, I know that each storm will pass over to make room for the sun.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

For The Love Of Self!

I was thinking about all the men I loved, the ones I thought I loved and the ones I wanted to love me. Now don't get me wrong, looking back I can count the number that I TRULY loved on one hand. But when you are in a relationship and the sex and attention is good, it sure feels like love.

I've had lovers that could make my body sing at a high pitch, and that's a fact! But in time, after the sex was over, they made me feel unsure and out of control and crazy; But back then, I hung on to the ugly like gorilla glue.

I'm just being honest here; Only when you are honest with yourself can you truly be a better you. Yep, I thought sex was love and the better the sex the more I thought I loved him. You couldn't tell me nothing! Not a damn thing! That man was the best thing since sliced bread, but then the bread molded and I was left with some stanky shit.

Often times I would hold onto the madness with dear life because everyone wants to be loved and no one wants to be alone. Yep, I was caught up in the madness and killing a part of me that could never be regained.

I remember when I first came to the realization that in my life time, I actually had sex with a man with the hope that he would love me. I said to my therapist in a session one day, "I've only had sex with men I loved." He looked me straight in the face and said, "That's not true." Of course I gave him that indigent look, like who the hell do you think you are coming to me like that. But he stood his ground, he said, "Yes, you had sex with men you loved, but you also had sex with men you wanted to love you. That day began my journey to healing a wound that had been left open and untreated for years.

With this acceptance, I began to heal and the healing led to a better me. It led to a self-love that was missing from my life. One that said, my self-worth is more important than the company of a man. One that said a man under any old circumstance was not worth my dignity.

Now don't be confused I love the company of a man, most women do if we're honest; And honestly, making changes in my life was hard. It was hard walking away from situations that left me lonely. But these situations didn't reflect the woman that God created me to be. I really wanted to do better, not just know better. Now don't be confused, me having HIV don't mean shit to men. I've had married men, men in and out of relationships that just wanted to fuck. Sexual partners coming out of my ears if I wanted them. But over time I came to understand there was no glory in the fact that a man wanted to fuck me even with AIDS.

So this journey of healing made me a better woman, one that I really liked. One that I could look in the face and smile. Now, ummm, I fell off the wagon a time here or there, but I always picked myself back up and started all over again; working on the woman God created me to be.

I've said it over and over again, no one will love you like you. When you start with self-love, you will choose dating situations that add value to your life rather than take away. You don't really need a person for sex, that is a fact, but you do need one for intimacy.  I can light a thousands candles in my house and it will never render the type of intimacy you will have with a person.

But I will not sell my soul for intimacy. I will fuck my own self until the day I die, rather than fuck someone who does not honor the woman that God has made me to be. I will be lonely by my damn self rather than be in an unhealthy relationship. Each of us must decide what is best for us. I choose self love. What I know For Sure... Self-Love Is The Best Love!

Post Script: There is no sex worth your life.. Love yourself tonight, more than you love them... Use a condom...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Whitney: A Retrospective! 1963-2012

Yes, I am a Whitney Houston Groupie! I've never  really been a groupie, but she's the exception to the rule. I guess  I was never into celebrities because at an early age I was hanging out with some of the most powerful African-Americans in politics. As a result, I always measured people on their own merits. Not because they were famous, but by their contribution to the world and how to some extent they handled their life; But I honestly fell in LOVE with Whitney from day one.

But truly, she has made me proud! Without a doubt Whitney's voice was a gift from God that she shared with the world. Being only a year older than her, I watched her blossom as the Queen of Pop.  She was the first bioafied female African-American cross-over artist.

I remember those early days were tough on her. She received a lot of criticism for not being, "Black enough." I even remember her being booed at the Soul Train Awards. I didn't understand what was wrong with black folks. I mean did every black female artist have to fit into the category of  and B or Gospel music? I didn't let their madness deter me. I was giddy that this young black woman had "crossed over." In time people seemed to join the band wagon. Who could deny her voice? She became the "golden girl."

When she appeared opposite Kevin Costner,  an A list actor in The Body Guard, I knew she was Queen. Even so, there were critics. I mean, this was a black woman starting as the love interest a white man. Some black folks wanted to know why he couldn't be black and some white folks wanted to know who the heck did she think she was? But she kept right on pushing. Not only was the movie a hit, but the sound track as well.

There was no stopping Whitney! None! Two more movies, Waiting To Exhale and The Preachers Wife made it clear that she was indeed an actress too. She seemed to be on top of the world and everyone wanted her personal life to parallel with her career/There were early rumors that she and one of her good friends were lovers and to dispel these rumors we started to see her  more and more with men on her shoulders in public.

But most people were shocked when they saw Bobby Brown tagging along. I think many thought this golden girl was going through a rebellion period and eventually she would get Bobby out of her system. Ha, she married him. Then I think people starting praying that this marriage would end soon. Many felt she had no business with this bad boy, whose career had died long before their marriage.  But Whitney fought back. It was them against the world!  Whitney was out to prove that this was a marriage meant to be. That combined with her belief in marriage, she was determined to make it work.

At first her career continued to climb and Bobby seemed to make a mess of it all. People just couldn't understand why should stuck it out. In time we started to see her wither away before our eyes. There were rumors of drug use, then abuse, then addiction and everyone blamed Bobby. Who knows but the two of them and God if he was the one that started her down this path. What was clear to me, no matter how she got there, it wasn't as simple as people wanted to make it. Addiction is a real issue that requires a lot of work and based on everything I know about addiction, Bobby was only part of the problem.

My heart went out to her. I will never forget that Diane Sawyer interview. Most people were laughing at her quote, Crack is Whack," but I was stuck with something else she said, "Just continue to pray for me." That's exactly what I did! I prayed for her often. I understood that she was in a fight for her life. Addiction is cunning and relentless and I knew she would need all the prayer she could get. Each time I saw a picture of her looking less than what God created her to be, I was saddened and would pray harder.

I Look To You!!

I never gave up on Whitney! I believed that she would find her inner strength and conquer her demon.  I didn't rightly care if she ever sang again, I just wanted her to be O. K., at peace.

But I gotta be honest. No one was happier than me when she made her come back. I have never in my life purchased an album the first day of its release until, I look To You! That album was wonderful!

Yeah, people had shit to say. "She's lost it," I heard a lot. And I wondered why people couldn't just be proud that she had kicked addiction long enough to pull herself together and be the Diva we knew her to be. I couldn't understand it. Nonetheless, I was proud! She looked better than ever! I loved the album and I thought I Didn't Know My Own Strength was powerful! It spoke to my circumstance but also to hers. It seemed like she was back, but addiction is cunning and I continued to pray.

As I reflect on Whitney, she was one hell of a woman! She was a fighter for sure. In those early days she stood proud against the nay sayers! Her talent was God given and she never quit singing.  She was a fighter for sure.

She fought for her marriage until she started to drown with the ship, and like a warrior, she fought for her life and climbed out of that ship with her last breath and made it to dry land.  She was a fighter for sure! She fought addiction in the public and that was no easy task in the face of Social Media.

 People were cruel, but she kept pressing her way. Her comeback was a comeback for sure. Even in the face of addiction, once she was back, she was back and never stopped fighting She finished filming the remake of the movie Sparkle, just a year out of rehab. She was one hell of a woman. She never stopped fighting to be the woman God intended for her to be! I will forever be one of her biggest fans! Rest In Peace Whitney... I Will ALWAYS Love you!!
Let's Keep Bobbi Christina in our prayers. Addiction runs in families and with a mother and a father with a history, we need to surround her in prayer.
Post Script: She has won 415 Awards, 2 Emmys, 6 Grammys, 22 American Music Awards, 30 Billboard Awards, 300,000,000 Albums Sold

 Whitney was the first black woman to appear on the cover of Seventeen... She was 16  or 17 years old..

My favorite Whitney Houston Song is, Tell Me No! It's been my ring tone for years...  She lived this!

I have always loved this A T and T commercial.. No matter where I was or what I was doing in the house when it came on, I stopped and watched... For Real...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Valentine At RLT Collection!

Happy Valentine From RLT Collection! Yes! If you've had your eye on that one bracelet, well the entire collection is 15% off, including sale items.

And Yes, there are tons of new markdowns, in the Fall, Imani and Unisex Collections. Take a Peek...

The sale ends Feb 14th. The Coupon Code at checkout is Love2012.

African Turquoise and Onyx!

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