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, December 30, 2013

Spreading Ignorance With Authority *SMDH*

Last night, as I was busy taking care of my sick baby, I got a tweet that made me want to cuss. At the time, however, my baby girl was the focus. No sooner than I dismissed it from my mind, my girl Dwana, responded to the woman and set her straight in her kind, gentle way. The woman should count her blessings that the first response was from Dwana and not me.

This is what happened: Dwana tweeted about the GiveForward Life Fund she organized on my behalf. Then someone tweeted to me, and Dwana, that HIV/AIDS has practically been eradicated. My gut reaction was a curse deep within but I let the moment pass and this morning I tweeted in response to her misinformation and I didn't curse!

But, I wonder how many people share this woman's view. I wonder, how many people really think that HIV is no longer a big deal. I wonder how that affects behavior and if that is a factor in the continued new infections globally. People think either, they won't get it or if they do all they have to do is pop a pill.

Setting this thought aside for the moment, the thing that really left me puzzled about this woman's tweet is that her Twitter profile says that she is an advocate for Autism; her son is Autistic. This is a woman who deals with health challenges everyday. So why would she dismiss someone else's pain and write their illness off to simple pharmaceutical companies profit? I wondered what portions of the medical community benefits from her son's condition and how she would feel to be dismissed as simply a profit. I've never been one to dismiss someone else's journey. Pain is pain no matter how different the pain may be. Then I wondered did she even click on the link that Dwana tweeted about me and the GiveForward Fund or did she just casually tweet Dwana.

I wondered if she had read about me and my work if she would have had a different opinion ... or maybe she did read about me and still had the same narrow opinion.

Then I wondered who on her timeline agreed with her tweet. I've learned that like-minded people tend to follow each other on Twitter. As the saying goes, 'birds of a feather flock together'. I don't know this woman but I know that she is ignorant to the facts of HIV/AIDS. Maybe she spends so much time dealing with her son's health, she doesn't have time to read. But you would think that if a person really doesn't know what they are talking about they would keep their damn mouth closed.

I utterly dislike people who spread ignorance with authority. The fact of the matter is, every 10 minutes a person becomes infected with HIV in the United States. The fact is, CDC estimates 47, 500 new cases of HIV in the United Sates in 2010. The fact is, each person living with HIV has their own health struggles with this disease. While there are similarities, there are also extreme differences. For example, some people take one pill a day, others like me, take 15 pills a day. The fact is, 15, 500 people died in the United States from AIDS in 2010 and CDC estimates 635, 000 have died since the beginning of the pandemic. Worldwide there were 2.5 million new cases of HIV in 2011 with about 17 million deaths in 2011 and an estimated 34 million living world wide.

The fact is, in addition to the health issues that come with HIV, people living with HIV have to deal with the shame, isolation, stigma and discrimination; I will never forget being denied that tattoo 7 years ago because I have HIV. We have to deal with fear of rejection and yes, actual rejection - not just the fear of it, and we have to live with being dismissed by people like Ren Cook every day of our lives.

Finally, I think people living with any health condition deserve to be loved and validated rather than dismissed simply as a payday for pharmaceutical companies. I think the world would be a better place if we validated people's pain with the love of God and help to make life better for them, rather then dismiss or judge them. #justsayin

Post Script: There are 15 more hours to donate to my GiveForward Life Fund. The fund will end at 12:00 Midnight today. Again, I receive all the funds less 7% in 5 days. 5% goes to the GiveForward for operations and 2% goes to credit card fees. Again, thanks to everyone who has donated so far. I'm touched by your sacrifice - but your comments have made my life sacrifice even more meaningful. Thanks for sharing... Click Here to Donate!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

And What About Dating- Part Two

Often times the holidays seems to compound the loneliness and isolation of a single person living with HIV. I know for me this has been the case. No doubt dating with a sexually transmitted disease is hard: The having to disclose; having to explain the how I got to this place; The fear of judgement and rejection. The shame with acknowledging your choices and for some even your culpability in your infection; the self loathing that comes with why you chose to trust the very person that infected you, whether it is HIV or herpes.

Out if my own loneliness and isolation I've been thinking about dating a lot as of lately. People think being this famous woman with AIDS means that I'm not lonely, but at the end of the day I still come home to myself. I have no one to wind down my day, even if with just a phone call. I give so much to help enrich the lives of others but get very little to enrich my own life. This is my situation living with this disease. In my last blog about dating I talked about men willing to date me in private but not public and my decision to shut that down out of self respect and love for myself.

But where does that lead me and how do I meet that special someone? Even as an AIDS Activist I'm still faced with the same issues others with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases are living with. Disclosing your HIV status to a potential partner is scary. That is true no matter how long you have lived with HIV or how many times you have disclosed or even how public you are. To have that first conversation with someone that you are attracted to is hard and leaves knots in your stomach.

Just recently I told a man after our initial conversation that I had drug resistant herpes. Let me tell you, I didn't exhale until he said, "I read that in one of your blogs," and we went on to the next topic. I like this guy, so we will see where it leads. *giggles* To his testament he didn't drill me on how the hell I ended up with two sexually transmitted diseases. There were no judgments or backtracking on his part. But in those first 60 seconds my mind raced pass the conversation to my own fears. What will he think of me with both HIV and herpes? Will having two diseases be a deal breaker? Even that self-loathing became a part of my mental drama. As I was rambling on about my herpes I was thinking, "Girl how did you end up here?" But at the end of the day you can't change the course of history, all you can do is accept your journey for what it is and try to be your best you with what you got.

So dating is challenging for us all! Since that last blog on dating, I've had so many people reach out to me privately about their own drama around dating with HIV. One woman emailed and asked, "So what about those positive dating sites?

I got to tell you, I see them as an easy way to get pass that first level of fear; rejection. You don't have to have that initial conversation because the person reaching out to you already knows your baseline. Now I've got to be honest, a while back, like 7-8 years ago, I did a free trial weekend for one of those poplar dating sites that advertise on tv, but based on what I said to the guy, he Googled me and that was a deal breaker *shrugs* his loss, because I'm a wonderful woman.

Now recently, I signed up for PositiveSingles.Com.  I wanted to see what they are about for myself since I'm recommending them to you. Now, like I said, I actually met a guy recently and it's very early, not sure where it will lead, good places I hope - so I'm  not sure how long I'll stay on a dating site. I try to have integrity. Plus, I've always been a one man kinda woman.

But what I know for sure about the dating sites is that the person reaching out will at least know your base-line when they send that first email. I think a dating site like this could be a way to get the conversation going and sometimes all you need is an open door. So what the heck, you really have nothing to lose but time. For sure you should work within the parameters of the site and be honest. I mean no point lying on a site where everyone has a sexually transmitted disease. I think it's a level of freedom actually, everyone is at the same starting point.

Think about it this way, you know right off bat that you are not being rejected because of your status. With your status out of the way, you can now go forth and see if there is compatibility. Now let me be honest, everyone with HIV is not going to be a perfect match, sometimes you gotta work through the barrel to find that right apple.

At the end of the day I think that we should fight the isolation that comes with this disease. I also think that we should use all the great tools of modern technology to do so! Each of us deserve to be loved, and none of us deserve to have HIV.  By forcing yourself to live in isolation, you punish yourself and that is not what God wants of us! When we wake in the morning we are still a part of God's earthly plan, so I think we should live our best life while we have a life! 2014 is fast approaching why don't you step out of your comfort zone and see what is waiting on the other side of fear of rejection.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Accept The Gift of Life!!

HIV can be a lonely, isolating life. The holidays can be even lonelier. I know over the years, for me, this has been true. In recent years there have been Christmas days when I was sick and didn't really feel like socializing so I spent my day with my puppy. I have no living family and when I did, well mama was hell on wheels and sometimes I opted out of her chaos.

My therapist and I were talking a few weeks back about this family thing and while I have no biological family I do have family. People with whom I have history from years of connection like the  Rev. Jesse Jackson and Mrs. Jackson and family and others I bonded with over my political days. I even have new friends that I have connected with in a very strong way, like Tiara. Then there's my BFF Luke who came in town and spent the past week with me. We ate our way through Chicago LOL.

When you think about it, family are the people that seal their love in your heart whether they share a blood line with you or not. I know living with this disease we tend to wish for days when HIV wasn't a part of our life. I think though, that sometimes we need to embrace the goodness before us rather than spend our days wishing for what is not nor never will be. HIV is in our life and life as we once knew it has changed forever. I think that sometimes what's before us is a gift from God that we overlook, looking for how we want it to be.

It's taken me a long time to get to this place... The place of recognizing the unspoken gifts in our life starting with being alive when HIV could have taken your ass up out of here.

No, our life is not perfect, but there is no perfect life on this earthly planet, whether you have HIV or not. Coming to terms with this will bring you more peace that you can even imagine.

I don't know what your situation maybe, family, no family, but will you join me today in accepting the gift of life for your life?! We are still a part of God's plan and breath in our body is the greastest gift of all, espcially when you are facing a choinc illness like HIV. So embrace life with me today. Get out of the house and go somewhere. Isolation will kill your spirit and with a dead spirit there is no life. Merry Christmas!!!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tea With Rae! Holiday Teas and Hostess Gifts...

The holiday season has arrived and many of you will be receiving guests or making stops yourself. I thought that I would share the perfect teas for the season, from dessert teas to after dinner teas. You can serve them or you can pick them up for your hostess. Every great guest enters with something in their hand. While most people will bring an assortment of drinks, tea will be a great change of pace. Tea is a wonderful way to end a perfect dinner. I've chosen some of my favorites in black, green, herbal and Chai.

First on my list are After Dinner teas. At the top of my list is a seasonal tea that I look forward to every year. Joy Tea. This tea is absolutely divine. It's a perfect blend of black, oolong, jasmine and green tea.

While I didn't think that Tazo could improve on this tea blend, this year they added a hint of peach and all I can say is divine. This is a smooth tea that will compliment any dessert. It can only be purchased doing the holiday season at Starbucks. I typically pick up a few tins for the months after the holiday. This Tazo tea can be ordered online or you can drop into Starbucks and pick up a tin.

Earl Grey is my absolute favorite black tea. It's rich bergamot flavor add to black leaves gives black tea a welcomed pop.  While I tend to be a loose leaf person, my go to, is a tin of Tazo Earl Grey. Tazo bag teas are full leaf, thus rendering the same effect as loose left without the clean up. Earl Grey is perfect pairing with any dessert. This black tea will give you a caffeine boost after a heavy meal, but it has just enough flavor to give it a pop, but it won't overshadow your dessert.

This year Starbucks have a great selection of holiday mugs perfect for your hostess. I plan to pick up a couple for my tea cup collection. I love to drink my tea in as many different mugs as I drink in teas.

Also, at the top of my hostess gift list is  Mary J. Bilge Holiday CD. This is her first holiday CD and it is wonderful!! She has a variety of artists singing with her, including Barbara Streisand. I have listened to it often since  I picked it up a few weeks ago at Starbucks. Let's say, Mary J has certainly grown up.

Back to tea, sometimes after a large meal, you simply don't have room for dessert, but you want to have the taste of sweetness. My suggestion is a tea that taste just like a dessert.  My first recommendation is a new tea for me. Chocolate Chai by Adagio's Teas. I have never been big on Chai teas, but this tea is wonderful. This spicy chocolate tea is a blend of black tea, ginger root, cinnamon bark, cloves, cardamom, and coco nibs.

My all time favorite dessert tea is Coco Carmel Sea Salt by Teavana. This herbal tea taste just like its title. The first time I tried it, I couldn't decide if I felt like I was having a chocolate salt carmel cup cake from More Cupcakes or a sundae. I swear you will think this is cake or some decadent dessert. It's an herbal tea so there is no caffeine. It's made with sweet caramel, decadent chocolate, a hint of cream and a light sprinkling of sea salt. When I tell you this is delicious,  It's a WINNER!

You might have some guests that don't want chocolate, but still they want a tea with a rich flavor. My all time favorite oolong tea is also by Teavana, Spiced Mandarin Oolong. It's not as spicy as a chia tea but the rich flavors or orange, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and  pepper gives you an exotic flavor. Full Review Here.  A new seasonal tea at Teavana is Pumpkin Spiced Burlee Oolong. I sampled it a few weeks back and with the flavors of butterscotch carmel, toffee and vanilla I gave it a thumbs up. I plan to pick some up before they run out.

Now for sure you will have some guests that prefer green tea. Its half the caffeine of black and oolong teas and has the most health benefits. I know that since I've been on this health kick  these last few months. I've had more green tea than I have in my life-time. First up is Sakura Allure Green Tea. 

At the center is the Sakura flower grown in Japan and blended with pineapple, rose, hibiscus, cherry and mango. This is one of my favorite green desert teas. Full Review Here!

Last on my tea least, but certainly not least, are two new teas for me that I have yet to review. One of my girlfriends introduced me to Andrew's Own green teas. I love both the Organic Jasmine infused Green Tea and the Green Earl Grey. They can only be purchased at the Home Shopping Network.

For the tea lover, don't forget tea accessories. My handcrafted Tea Balls are a perfect gift! Shop Here!

Monday, December 9, 2013

And What About Dating?

A couple of  weeks ago my mentor asked me about my love life. I wasn't expecting the question but I gave an honest answer. It went something like this
“How's your love life?”
“I don't have a love life.”
"Do you want one?"
"Or are you done?"
"Well, I want a dating life but on my terms. I seem to find men who just want causal sex and I want someone to value me. I mean, sex for sex sake just ain't cutting it anymore for me, not at 51 years of age."
"I totally understand,"
"I mean, I am going around the country talking to young women about living whole. I'm just trying to practice what I preach."
"Do you want to get married again?”
“Well, now I think I may be done with marriage,” and we both laughed and continued to clean up the aftermath of Thanksgiving dinner. I've thought about that conversation a lot since Thanksgiving.

The fact of the matter I am still alive and would love some companionship. Call me idealistic but it would be great to listen to Mozart and read a book curled up under a man. I'm just not in the market for quick sex. For sure dating with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) is complicated but not impossible. Over the years, my dating life has taken so many different turns for sure. I remember those early days of HIV when I was living in secret and afraid of rejection. It was the hardest thing on the planet it seemed at the time. To disclose both of my STD's I thought was a hard bill of sale. To tell that I had herpes and HIV was harddddd and clothed with shame. You might be able to explain one mistake, but how do you explain two?

It was scary!! The thought of rejection was scary, but I knew that I couldn't live in isolation for the rest of my life. I also believed that I had a moral obligation to disclose. I just didn't see it as fair to take away a persons choice. At first I was so afraid to date and didn't for months after I was diagnosed with herpes. Then I met a guy that was all that and a bag of chips, so I finally disclosed and low and behold he had herpes also. Go figure! It was hard at first. Our sex life for sure had some road blocks. There were a couple of times when I was having an outbreak and he wasn't and vise-versa. Yet overtime it all seemed to workout. The only problem was, he was working it out with more than me and I don't share.

After him I learned to be more comfortable in my skin with the fact that I had herpes. Then came along HIV.  I had never been rejected even after herpes, "But who the heck would want me now?" I thought. You have to remember this was early in the AIDS Pandemic. HIV had only been around 6 years when I was diagnosed and the HIV antibody test was also new. The HIV antibody test was developed in 1985. I donated blood the winter of 1986 and learned that I was HIV positive the spring of 1987. Back then HIV was the STD of STD's. Who was going to date me? I was afraid beyond anything logical.

Then over time, I had to sink or swim. I couldn’t live in isolation for the rest of my life. I was a wonderful young woman who had a lot to offer. So I bit the bullet. After I became really comfortable with a man and was sure that I wanted to take it to the next level. I would disclose. I thought it important to disclose in a setting that was conducive to an honest discussion, like at the kitchen table with all my clothes on. I learned in those early days that people just wanted you to be honest with them.

I've come a long way since those early days. Married, divorced and dating yet again. My problem today dating with STD's isn't fear of rejection. It's finding a man who don't want to just “hit it and quit it,” as the young people say, but someone who wants to share a meal and listen to Mozart with me. Someone to cheer me on as I do this work around HIV/AIDS. Someone who isn’t ashamed to be dating “the woman with AIDS.”

I’ve learned over the years that it was so much easier for my dating life when my HIV status was a well kept secret. Then a man could date me without fear of judgment. People thought for sure that my ex-husband had HIV, which of course he didn’t. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with two people with a STD dating, in fact it may even be an easier conversation. Thier is even an online dating matching service called Positive Singles.

My problem is, I tend to attract men who are not infected, who want to be with me, but are afraid of the “public” me, so they cling to the private me. Anyone who knows me, knows that I declared those days over years ago. If you cant walk with me in the daylight, we can't hug in the dark. I’m just saying!!

So here I am again, thinking about dating and wondering what my future holds. I’m so comfortable in my skin. Thank God that all my therapy has made me a better woman for me. Now if a man comes along and sees my value and respects my worth, it’s a date.

Taking Back Control...

In the month prior to going on this last round of IV medication I was on top of the world. Overall, I was feeling BETTER. My Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS) seemed to be under control. I was having regular, everyday bowel movements.  I had more energy and was feeling great. I believe the combination of my new diet, working out and juicing was the sum total of my better days. I've been eating Paleo since the middle of October. Basically, meat, vegetables, fruits nuts and seeds. No dairy, legumes, gains or refine sugar . I was juicing everyday and working out everyday. I love CrossFit. It is the workout to get me off the sofa and the people of at River North Crossfit have been very supportive.

Then WHAM! I got another herpes infection. Man, oh man, you talk about being hit from nowhere. Yet, I was still determined to not let the IV medication stop my routine. Somehow, though, it seems that I lost my control with no return. That first week I made it to CrossFit one time. My body just was not cooperating. This round of IV mediation hit me harder than any others while on Cidofovir. I'm typically able to bounce back a few days after the infusion before I have to go back for the next one.

This round I was weak and nauseous the entire time.  I wanted to juice, but had no energy and my meals were 90% carryout. I could barely make a cup of tea, so cooking wasn't even an option. This lead to some depression and the depression led to emotional eating and this led me right back to a hard case of IBS.  Last week was the first full week off IV medication and I was sure that I would start to bounce back. I did make it to the gym 3 times but working out was hard and when I came home I was done for the day. This of course led to more emotional eating, mostly sugar. It hit me by the weeks end that I was really constipated, again. It had snuck up on me from out of nowhere. My back pain has been intense since last week and I just don't feel good.

I get it today, clearer than I ever have.  My body needs certain things in this stage of my journey. There has been so much early damage to my immune system that my body needs help to be its best, especially as I age with HIV/AIDS. Yes, the antiviral medication keeps HIV under control, but basically thats all it does. So it's up to me to do the rest.

This week I'm back on it. I will be at the gym everyday, even if it means I come home and crash. If I keep working out, overtime I will have more energy, just like before. Yes, it's disheartening on some level, that I seem to be right back where I was 3 months ago. That first month of doing CrossFit was hard and I wasn't able to do a whole lot afterwards. I know in time it will render the results I'm shooting for, so I have to start somewhere.

Yep, I'm taking back my control.  I Love myself enough to be good to myself. I only have one me and the choices I make today will impact my tomorrow. I wish I understood this when I was 20, before herpes, before HIV, but I can't beat myself up about what I didn't know. Instead I will take what I do know and use it to my advantage for my best life.

When I leave the gym, I'm stopping at the store to pick up items to get back to juicing everyday and I will be cooking, even if it's a light meal. I'm getting back to my chiropractor this week and trying some other alternative things like acupuncture and massage therapy at a new alternative clinic.

When I feel like I want to cling to food to comfort me, I will pop a grape in my month or have a slice of pineapple, rather than a cookie. Yes, there's sugar in fruit, but it's natural sugar and that's better than refined sugar any day. If I don't have the will-power to not eat emotionally right now, then I will eat the things that will do the least amount of damage to my body. Anyway, on the Paelo diet you can eat as much fruit as you want.

I've learned somethings about my body these last 3 months, it really does operate better under certain conditions. Every time I tried to have a big meal of pasta or some other unhealthy food, my nausea was compounded and my bloating was at full force. While I don't seem to be able to control herpes, I'm taking back the control I do have. I'm doing it today and I'm not giving it up again. My body is all I have and I want to be my best me for the rest of my life, even with HIV/AIDS.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

RLT Collection Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sale!

RLT Collection 2nd annual Black Friday/Cyber Monday $23.50 Sale is taking place yet again!

 Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sale begins midnight Thanksgiving Day through midnight Monday. Prime bracelets will be markdown throughout the website for $23.50, as well as, other markdowns throughout the site. Shop HERE

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Each Day Renders A Right Now!!

At the Chemo Clinc on Tuesday
Well, here I go again!! I started IV medication last Tuesday and this week makes round two. I know for sure that I least have one more round. What a way to spend Thanksgiving week! Things had been going great until now. Other than recovering from the liposuction, I really can't complain. BTW, the heeling from the liposuction is going well to! The swelling is going down daily. The doctor said it will take about 3-4 months to fully recover. I have more to say about this another blog coming soon. 

It's seems that this life style change I have under gone with my diet and exercise is rendering some great results. My Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS) was under control and I was feeling better overall. I wasn't blogging much, not sure why because I have lots to say,  but I was pressing my way in other ways.

Then BAM, here I go again. So my life is turned upside down again. I'm sick as shit from the side-effects of the IV medication. Nausea and fatigue is the order of the day. Yesterday, I was so sick the smell of food made me sicker. I'm to weak to work-out and cook and juicing went to hell in a hand basket. So this week I realized that my IBS is flaring up yet again. Yep, I'm constipated yet again. So for sure I know now that juicing and working out was actually the thing to get my bowels moving and was the thing that was making me feel better overall.

It's seems that this herpes continues to be the thorn in my flesh. It's been almost four months since my last round of IV medication and I was hopeful that it would be much longer before I had to travel this round again. You can search my blog for herpes to get more back ground. 

But basically I have drug resistant herpes. A very aggressive genial herpes that has been complicated by my impaired immune system. Herpes also attacks my nervous system causing nerve pain in my back and feet mostly. For the last 7 years, the only thing that will treat this form of herpes is two very aggressive anti-viral medications taken intravenously, cidofovir and foscarnet. I'm on cidofovir now. It's a once a week, all day infusion at the chemo infusion clinic and it wipes me out.

Yesterday I was so sick that I didn't want to do anything but be. It seems that this round is taking a toll on me. Typically, I'm able to bounce back and get back to some of my normal routine about 3 days after the infusion. Which is great, because I'm able to be human again before I have to go back for the next round.

 But this time I'm just not bouncing back and that has left me with a funky attitude. I hate having a funky attitude, but being all chipper is hard when you feel like crap. I don't know how those, happy go-lucky, praise the lord people do it. You know what I'm talking about. You ask, "How ya doing?" and they say, "blessed and highly favored!!!" in that cheerleader beat and the world is falling down around them. Me on the other hand, I be like, "How the fuck you think I'm doing,?" *hangs head* 

At the Chemo Clinc on Tuesday
I just don't have it in me to fake it, until I make it. There's something about faking it, that adds an extra burden. Not only do you have to figure out how to keep your head above water, but then you gotta find extra energy, keeping that cheerleader beat. It's easier for me to just sit still, accept that my capacity is limited and take the time to get better. In the end, I can give an honest answer about how I feel. And y'all  know that honesty is my only policy!!

I've done real well in seeking out alternative methods to be as healthy as I possibly can both physically and emtionally, and for sure I'm still searching. I'm thinking about adding medication to my routine and that my help me get through those dark moments a tad better. For now, I just listen to a little gospel music and cuddle with my baby girl, Sophie. 

Living with HIV/AIDS and all the complications that come with it, could be a full time job. It certainly is a life style of its own. But even so, each new day renders a right now. So instead of faking it, I'm embracing the right now and seeking avenues to make the right now better. There is healing in the honesty of your right now. There's an African Proveb that I love and take that with me in all things, in all areas of my life, "He who conceals his disease cannot expect to be cured." Embrace your right now in truth.

Monday, October 21, 2013


Gettin Ready For The Procedure!
I sat in a daze as I listened to Dr. A. and Dr. S examine my face. Dr. A. had called Dr. S. into the room to take a look at my face for both a professional, and a woman's, opinion. Dr. A's German accent came through soft spoken and authoritative at the same time, "I don't think she really needs anymore," he said to Dr. A. "Maybe a little here," Dr. S. pointed to right under my eye, "but she's fine without it,' she added.

They continued to talk to each other as I sat waiting for the bottom line. "I think if we could get rid of her chin, Dr. A said, while pulling back his own chin to illustrate, "I think she would be perfect." Dr. S. started examining me closer as Dr. A. started explaining to me what he and Dr. S. had just concluded.

My Chain A Week ago in The Gym!
Dr. A. had been giving me Sculptra injections since February and this was my last and final round. I didn't think that my HIV face, as I call it, would ever get any better. The shifts in my body fat have been my worst nightmare. The extra fat in my stomach, back and under my chin...and then the lost of fat in my legs, thighs, buttocks and checks has been the pits.com. Read Older Blog Post On Lipodstrophy HERE!

HIV Lipodstrophy transformed my body without my permission well over 12 years ago. The cupcakes, stress eating and lack of exercise only made the stomach and back worst. It's been the one thing that has caused on-going emotional baggage for me.

It has been the one thing that has made me feel unattractive with HIV. Having HIV never made me feel unworthy, but how HIV reshaped my body, for sure, made me feel ugly and caused me a lot of doubts.

I didn't think anything would ever be done, until my HIV doctor refereed me to Dr. A., who is a medical dermatologist that sees patients in the HIV clinic where I receive my care. My HIV doctor told me that Dr. A. was doing great things for people with HIV. I thought that I had nothing to lose, so I made an appointment.

When I saw him, he thought that I was a candidate for Sculptra. The drug Sculptra builds collegian in your face. Many women use this drug for vanity purposes, but the pharmaceutical company has been giving compassionate use to people with HIV Lipodstrophy. More on Lipodstrophy HERE!

The first time we applied for Sculptra, I was declined. You talking about being disappointed and sad, man oh man, but Dr. A. didn't give up, and they finally said yes.
So, on this last round of Sculptra, I sat and listened to the medical dermatologist examine my face closely. We could see a difference for sure in my face. I'm not as sunken as I was before I began the Sculptra injections.
Two rounds of Sculptra, but that chin.
The problem was, this darn chin of mine. As Dr. A, talked about wanting to get rid of my chin, Dr. S. said, "You know, I think we should check to see if she is a candidate." My face lit up, huh, what? LIPOSUCTION!!! I started praying right then and there, LOL, but for real y'all. 

Dr. A. whipped out a camera and took a picture of my chin as Dr. A. explained that there might be a slim possibility that they would be able to give me liposuction. You should have seen my inner light beam. Not in my wildest imagination, or dreams, did I think it would be possible.

My chin outlined for the Procedure
They took the picture and promised to get back with me on Tuesday. Four long days, and I couldn't wait for Tuesday, but as 4:00 P. M. turned into 5, and 5 into 6, and I hadn't heard from Dr. S., I started to lose hope. Then, as I settled into my bed about 9:30 on Tuesday night with a book and a cup of tea, I checked my e-mail, and POW!!! An e-mail from Dr. S. was waiting, "It's a GO!!"

The Fat they Removed From My Chin!
So on this past Thursday, I had LIPOSUCTION!!! They removed 20 cc's of fat from my chin. I was awake during the entire procedure. There was no pain during the procedure, but I could feel Dr. A. pushing the fat into the syringe and the pressure from the suction. Afterwards, I was swollen, but that has gone down a great deal. I was in pain over the weekend. There is still some mild pain and I'm still really sore, especially to the touch.  I'm sure time will make it all better. 
Right After!
WOW!! I'm still basking in this blessing. I have to wear this pressure gauze for two weeks and you better believe I'm following directions. If I don't wear this gauze I stand the chance of the skin under my chin sagging. This is a blessing that I do not intend on messing up. I never understood people that are given a breakthrough with their health and then turn around and mess it all up again. No, the gauze ain't cute, but neither is a sagging chin. There's no way, that will I trade a fat chin in for a sagging chin. People can stare all they want!!!
Headed Home!!
I go back for my follow up visit on Thursday. I have a stitch at the lower part of my chin where they inserted the needle. As it stands now, I think I'm done, but they want me totally healed before they decide. The bandage under my chin, I was able to remove on Sunday. The stitches will come out on Thursday!
As you can see in the picture on top, I'm a new me! This was taken Sunday after I removed the bandage. The picture below, is a side by side. Someone at the knit shop took the picture of me in the grey sweater two weeks ago.

All and all, this is pretty remarkable! I'm happy, happy, happy! I thank God for doctors who really want to treat the whole person. Thank you Dr. A. and Dr. S.!!!! I'm feeling really blessed right about now!!

Now that the chin is gone, watch me get rid of the body fat in the front and back upper parts of my body. I have already lost 13 pounds since I began my year long body transformation in September. CrossFit will do the job, but for sure it's not for the faint at heart!

I keep telling people with HIV to just keep on living! What may seem your worst nightmare today, may end up being a blessing in years to come. All you have to do is just KEEP ON LIVING!!!

SALE! RLT Collection Sale has been extended until October 31st! 15% off Coupon Code at check out Oct2013. SHOP The new AIDS Awareness/Tea Snob mugs have arrived!!! This is your chance to get them at 15% off!!



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

No Excuses!!

No Excuses!!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

My You Tube is GROWING! POW!

I've been off my You Tube Game!!! So today I took a look at my Channel and to my surprise, I have had 195,685 views.

Now this is remarkable given the fact that just last May, that is May 2012,  I only had about 3,000 views. I have grown is such a short period of time... Thank you so much for your support.

I  was overwhelmed to learn that I have 903 Subscribers, WOW... All I can say is that God is using me and I'm doing the work... So, as of this week, I will be back on my You Tube weekly with both words of wisdom and updates on my journey.

If you have not subscribed, I would love for you to become a part of the family Click HERE!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Tea With Rae: Three Green Greats!

It's been no secret that I'm partial to black tea, but lately it seems that I've been sipping on more green tea than black tea. Well, since I'm on this get fit and then stay healthy kick I've been trying to do the things to help me be the healthiest I can be. If you've been following my CrossFit post you know that I'm all in.

Green Tea is certainly one way to be healthy. There are so many benefits of green tea among them is weight lost. Let's review weight lost and green tea first, then I'll tell you bout another green tea winner. Green Tea comes from the same plant as black, oolong and white tea (Camellia sinensis). While all tea groups have some benefits what makes green tea special is a couple of things. One, it is not fermented before drying and steaming, which allows it to keep more of it''s antioxidants. Secondly, green tea is a rich source of polyphenol catechin.

Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is the most active form of catechin responsible for green tea's anti-inflammatory, and metabolic effects. While green tea is light in caffeine, it is there and that helps EGCG assist the metabolism and body fat accumulations.

In a nut shell, it stimulates the body to burn calories and decreases body fat, epically the waist line. Green tea also lowers cholesterol, which I'm putting to the test. My bad cholesterol is very hight right now. Green tea also fights, cancer and heart disease. It is the highest in anti-inflammatory properties. of the 4 tea groups. Studies have shown over and again that green tea is a factor in weight lost. However, you must drink at least 4 cups of green tea a day to benefit from the metabolic effects.

Now that we know why we should be drinking Green Tea. Lets talk about the new green teas from Adagio Teas I've been sipping lately. First up is Citron Green. I typically drink this tea as my second cup of the day. I will always be a strong black tea girl in the morning. I like this tea because, it's not fruity sweet. It has the right balance of lemon and lime that renders a fresh crisp taste. Citron Green is made with Green tea, orange peels, natural orange flavor, natural lemon flavor and Marigold Flowers.

Calypso is a new tea from Adagio and it's a wonderful journey to the Caribbean. Made with green tea, apple pieces, orange peels, dried coconut, marigold flowers, natural passionfruit flavor, natural peach flavor, natural coconut flavor, natural orange flavor and mango pieces it has all the flavor of the Caribbean. I'm not big on fruity teas, but this balance is perfection. 

Speaking of fruity teas, I fell in love with Adagio, Mango tea just last night. The manager gave me a sample when I was in the store yesterday and I fell in love.  I guess I do like some fruity teas after all. Its perfect for that after dinner dessert pick me up! Last night I wanted some dessert but fault the urge. This tea certainly filled the void. It's made with green tea, natural mango flavor, apple pieces, mango pieces and marigold flowers

Adagio Tea is a Chicago based company and I like popping into the State Street store in River North after I leave the gym. They have loose tea and bag tea. You can also take a cup to go, hot or cold. I like their teas because they are very fresh and reasonably priced. They will fix you up a cup of any of their teas to sample in the store, just ask. The bonus, they have wonderful tea accessories. They also have an online store check them out HERE! I highly recommend these three Green teas and I recommend Adagio Teas! Happy Cuppa!!!!

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