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, January 14, 2013

Facing Truths! Reflecting on Delta Sigma Theta at 100 and Me!

I'm not sure why people are so bothered by the truth, other people's truths that is. What's so wrong about the truth? Martin Luther King said, "The day we see truth and cease to speak is the day we begin to die." While he was for sure speaking about racial injustice, I believe that this quote applies to every untruth that we face.

I spent half of my life bound up in secrets! Secrets of sexual, physical and emotional abuse. Secrets of having contracted HIV at age 20 and oh so many secrets of self-abuse. The African Proverb, "He who conceals his disease cannot expect to be cured," is so true. I'm telling you, the secrets that I was living with had started to kill off a vital part of me, my spirit, and when the spirit dies, the body is sure to follow. For without one's spirit, there is nothing to live for.

Yet, it is undeniably true that the truth is hard for people. Maybe they don't want to hear your truth because then they are forced to deal with their own truths. Or at least to think about them. Maybe they don't want to hear the truth, because the lie unspoken is easier than the truth spoken softly. In the past, this was true for me as well. But one day, it was as if God sat in my living room for a daughter to Father chat and said to me, "Enough is Enough!"

My truths have become a gift from God that I embrace fully and unapologetically. But I have to be honest, sometimes I wonder if my truths will make me have one less friend, less Twitter followers, less people who purchase my bracelet designs RLT Collection, and the list goes on and on. This has been especially true as a business woman. As of lately, my bracelet collection helps keep food on my table. So sometimes my human self begins to wonder if the truth is too much, but then God sagely speaks to my spirit and reminds me that I am to walk boldly in my gifts and He will make a way out of what my appears to be no way.

With this said, I debated long and hard about this blog post and I had even decided last night that I wouldn't do it, but it crept back into my spirit long before I opened my eyes this morning. If things were different between me and Delta I would be reflecting, so why stop my truths today because it will make people uncomfortable?  So I'm pressin forward in my truths.

 Yesterday Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. celebrated 100 years as an organization. As one of the largest  and oldest African-American sororities, it is truly a milestone. Yet for me, it was bittersweet. While I tried to be happy for Delta, I really did, I couldn't fake the funk.

Yep, yesterday was hard for me to say the least. Hard because I never thought that I wouldn't be in Washington, D. C. this pass weekend with the thousands of Delta women there to celebrate years of sisterhood and service. On one level, it was like being a child looking into a old fashion candy store and knowing in your heart that your parents don't have the money to buy even a nickel's worth of candy.

The day I was inducted into Delta!
The mixed emotions that wells up deep inside of you, of wanting something so bad, but knowing that you can't have it. Yep, it was a sad day, but I had to face the truth that I am no longer a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. After 12 years of being called Soror by thousands of women, that ceased to be no more as of May 1, 2012.

I'm not going into the details again. Ima save you and me from that drama. Either purchase my book, The Politics of Respectability and read the entire epic of how my life clashed with Black Women and Respectability from my mother to Delta Click Here, or watch the now infamous video where I discuss the drama  of the particular events that landed me out of Delta, Click Here

Yet on another level, I couldn't help but to think about another truth; the truth of contradictions I felt about the Sisterhood over these last 10 months. While I think that no one can EVER take away the 100 years of service to the black community that Delta has done, it is true that for me at lest, the Sisterhood took a back sit to the sister. Which at its core is suppose to be the Essence of Delta.

Cythina McIntyre Butler at the podium. Bishop Vashti McKenzie seated on the far right
I looked at this picture someone tweeted of the current National President, Cynthia McIntyre Butler looking proud and distinguish and wondered if in these months had she thought at all about our phone conversations. The one on February 16, 2011 about the day's events, i. e.  my conversation with Rose McKinney, the executive director of the national headquarters of Delta and my subsequent tweets,  as a result of the conversation with Rose.

I will never forget it as long as I live. Cythina, ended  the phone conversation, with a simple answer to my simple question, "Soror, I asked, Am I being put out of Delta over this?" I felt like a child being chastised by Motherhen in that conversation and I needed clarity. I heard a soft chuckle come through the phone. Always the Southern Bell and Human Resource Guru, "No Soror, no one is putting you out of Delta." She continued, "I just ask that you don't discuss the incident publicly or tweet about it. I just need time to smooth things over." I said yes and I was a woman of my word.

Yesterday, I wondered how Cythina felt 14 months later, after having absolutely no contact with me in the months after that first phone call on February 16. How she felt making that call to tell me that the Executive Committee had voted to rescind my honorary membership. I know how I felt, betrayed.

I wondered as I saw all the wonderful pictures on Instagram, who from the Executive Committee called me Soror for 12 years and then voted me out of the Sisterhood over my tweets without any conversation with me about the incident. Both of these thoughts sent me into a crisis and made me explain to myself, my love for this Sisterhood both on May 1st and on yesterday.

I wondered in the pictures of sea of red, if any of my sisters who use to call me Soror and stopped on May 1st were there?

If any were there that use to follow me on Twitter but stopped on May 1st.

 I wondered who from Twitter that continues to follow me, because to unfollow me would be in bad taste, but they still don't speak to me any more because they don't want to be looked at with a side eye from other Soror's, yep I wondered if any of them were in this sea of red.

I wondered if the Soror who I thought was my personal friend, who not only unfollowed me on Twitter, then blocked me so that I wouldn't see her talk about me because I quote, "I made Delta look bad in that video, " was there being the good Delta that she is and all.

I  wonder if any of the Sorors who use to check in with me from time to time to see how I was doing, but has since stopped. Not because they don't care about me, but it's such an uncomfortable mess that no one wants to honestly address; so it's easy to do nothing at all. Yep, I wondered if any of them were there.

Then I thought about all the Sorors who still tweet me, but didn't tweet me on yesterday. Because yesterday was Delta's Day and to show the sister thrown out of the Sisterhood some love on yesterday would caste a dark light on the Sisterhood. I asked myself, "How could I love something so much that hurt me so bad?"

On yesterday, I wondered what the founders of Delta Sigma Theta would have thought about me.

If they would have thought that I was an outspoken asses with zeal and determination or a liability with a big vulgar mouth.

I wondered because as the history of Delta is told, the 22 women on the campus of Howard University were originally members of Alpha Kappa Alpha  Sorority the first African American sorority in the United Sates.

Delta's history has it that these 22 women left Alpha Kappa Alpa because they felt that the problems of black people and women were much larger and deeper than just being a social club having teas. They wanted to bring about change for such a time as it was, 1913, the heart of disenfranchisement of both blacks and women.

Delta's history proudly boast that the first display of boldness of these women were  to march against the oppression of men with white woman in the Women's Suffrage march. That's a who lot of boldness. So I wonder what they would think of me and my way of doing things in the 21st century, where black woman are 72% of all new cases of HIV in the US among women and self- love takes a back sit to having love.

Me proudly taking a pic with Sorors the day I was inducted!
I thought about the collegiate chapter who reached out to me just this December to come speak at their college. In the email the President of this particular chapter expressed how much they admired me and would be honored if I would speak on their campus.

But they hadn't heard the news that my membership was rescinded. So in this very uncomfortable conversation, I had to rehash the day of May 1st. She told me she would get back with me one way or the other, but she never did.

I wondered about the leadership and what they think of me, truly think of me? I have had NO contact from Delta Sigma Theta's leadership since that call from Cythina on May 1, 2012. Not even an official letter announcing that I was voted out. I wondered if the National chaplain Bishop Vashti McKenzie, who's grandmother was a founding Member of Delta has prayed for my healing from this fallout. Someone asked me on Twitter a while back, had she reached out to me at all? No was all I could say and I let that ride.

Me and Sheryl Lee Ralph
I've only had contact from one other honorary member, Sheryl Lee Ralph, who was my friend before Delta and has remain my friend since May 1st. She is her own woman and I thank God for her wisdom and friendship in my life.

Yesterday was hard very hard, but there was a few flickers of light. I had one Soror to send me  a private message on Twitter and two on Facebook to tell me that no matter what has transpired within the organization they still honor me and my work.

And the brightest lights shinning was my Soror at church, she knows who she is, who showered me with love and kindness and of course the Soror that I met on Twitter who's love and show of Sisterhood has been unwavering from day one. Before the evening was over she tweeted to me, "I will ALWAYS love you Soror! I thought of you on THIS day. U have NOT been forgotten. Never forget that our bond is a LifeTime."

Yes, yesterday was hard for me. And don't be confuse; I accept the fact that I was voted out of Delta and accept the fact that MY tweets, MY Doing, MY Truth, And My Methodology didn't meet the standard of a Delta woman after 12 years.

I guess it's true that their are consequences for everything you do in life. So just like I'm a woman and stand by the fuck that landed me with HIV, I stand by the Tweets that landed me out of Delta.

However, just because you accept your culpability in the events of your life, doesn't take away the hurt that you feel as a result of them.

 Also be clear, I am, who I am, shaped by my journey which began when two heroin addicts hooked up to conceive me.  If I had to do either of them again, based on who I am, and what I know about me today, I'm sure if I had to do it over again, I would do the same thing in the same matter because I only know how to live in my truths.

I reckon some members of the Executive Committee feel justified in their self-righteousness. I reckon some members of Delta can sigh with relief that they don't have to call my vulgar self, sister anymore. I mean Cynthia did say, that some past national presidents, "Were livid, the vulgarity of it all."

While I guess there are others who just don't know what to do with me. I'm the pink elephant in room of red.

For sure, I have been thrown away as if I didn't ever exist, dead. So while I want to celebrate my joy for Delta's years of service, I am sucked in by the pain of what I once knew as Sisterhood..

I wonder what Past National President Lillian P. Benbow (1971-1975) would have said about my tweets? I wonder if she would have insists that the Executive Committee try to understand me or at least to give me voice in matters that affected me. I wonder if this quote hand true meaning for her? I wonder what prompted her to say it in the first beginning? I look at the truths in this quote and I see my life all day long... It speaks truth to power and it is the essences of Sisterhood;

When I look at you, I see myself. If my eyes are unable to see you as my sister, it is because my own vision is blurred. And if  that be is, then it is I who need you because I do not under-stand who you are, my sister, or because I need you to help me understand who I am...

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