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 28, 2013

Monday Reflection: What To Do When The Miracle Feels Like A Lie!

"I just want to wake up in the morning and feel ok," I said with tears in my eyes.
"I know, I know," my doctor said
"It's just, I want to feel better."
My doctor's big round eyes full of empathy and compassion looked straight at me as I complained
"I'm just tired," I said with tears in my eyes.
"You've had it really hard lately," Dr French interjected,
"Yes and I need a break," I put my hands to my face and rubbed them across my face and over my head, fighting back the tears.
"Like I don't understand," I lamented, looking at my doctors face hard. I was searching for answers.
"It's just," she began
It's just people rarely live this long after they have been as sick as you once were."
I sat with tears in my eyes as she explained
"As sick as you were years back, it's just rare that a person would live this long after being so sick." She paused
"That's not just with AIDS, but with any illness, heart disease, cancer." She took a deep breath
"People just don't live this long."
I sat in silence digesting what she was saying
"Damn I'm a miracle," I said to myself. "Man up black woman you're a miracle"
She continued,
"Your immune system was really low at one time."
"My T-Cell count was 8," I said confirming this fact.
She continued,
"It just the damage that was done, can't be reversed and we haven't really had as many people live this long after being so sick with HIV, we just don't know." she concluded.
And with this finality there wasn't much else to be said.

I have one of the best infectious disease doctors I could ask for, so I know that I know that she is doing everything possible to keep me alive as did my doctor of 20 years prior to her. They are both women who care and advocate for the health of women with HIV. She and I had that conversation two weeks ago and it stuck in my spirit like Gorilla Glue.

She told me that I was a miracle and beyond that there's not much else to be done other than keep me alive. The quality of my life is not good. Not good one bit and that is just as much true, as is the miracle of my life.

I've lived with HIV for 30 years and AIDS for 21. But over 15 years ago I was so sick that I was on the AIDS timeline for death. It didn't seem like that to people because I was out there hitting the pavement doing what I could to educate and challenge stigma around HIV. Speaking engagements galore, TV interviews, I was going down having done what I could for the cause before it took me out of here.

Make no mistake, I was one sick black woman and my life was hanging in the balance. With that last bout of PCP my T-Cell count was 8 and the HIV medication available was like taking a placebo. They made you think you were getting better because taking them was better than not, but they were mediocre in there ability to change things at best and they made you so sick with side-effects that you couldn't think starlight.

Yes, I was on the timeline of a hard horrible AIDS death, But God had the last say and now I'm here trying to figure out what to do with the miracle of my life.

I'm a miracle for sure, but lately I don't feel like one. Lately, I feel like my world is falling apart and my health is hanging by a tread. The glass is half full and half empty. This is not just how I look at it; it's my reality. I'm a walking breathing dichotomy and my miracle is hanging in the balance.

By the time I made it home that day I had a resolved that it was time to think outside the box. I asked myself, "What am I going to do with this miracle?" Am I going to complain about it and sink deeper into the depression that I'm currently in, or am I going to make it work for me to the best of my ability?

Now be clear, for all practical purposes my HIV in under control. My T-Cell count is 555 and my viral load has been undetectable for the last 7 years. This a miracle in and of it's self. Prior to 7 years ago we couldn't keep my viral load below 5000 and it typically lingered around 15,000 and at it's height it was 397,000. That's what make my current state of health hard to digest. Hypocritically I should not be sick.

This aggressive drug resistant herpes should not be a fact. The neuropathy in my hands, feet, back and sometimes my head and face, should not be my constant, the fatigue, the waking up hurting every freaking day should not be my reality, but it is. My nerve pain is ugly, just fucking ugly and it has infected my spirit and made it ugly and clinical depression is sitting over my being like fog in the we hours of London.

On top of that, I'm having a lot of female related issues. The doctor is trying to work it out. It's important to dot the i's and get to the root because women with HIV have more gynecological issues then most. So we are trying to figure out if it's my endometriosis that I was diagnosed with about 8 years ago flaring up, or is it the on-set of menopausal issues or what. I had yet another endometriosis biopsy two weeks ago; and when she cut up in there I thought I saw blue, green and Jesus the pain was that bad.

Over all my pelvic pain is so bad it makes me want to cut it all out and sit it on the curve. And when I say cut it all out I mean that shit from my ovaries, to my vagina, which is always raw and red and feels like it's on fire. For real y'all, for real, for real.

These are the constants that I wake to every morning. Between the nerve pain and the pelvic pain and my vagina on fire, I don't want to get out of bed and my attitude will make me curse you to hell and back for real. I'm just being honest about my truths. I'm an emotional basket case right now and I'm not liking this. I don't want a damn thing to have more control over me than me; not a man, not a thing, and certainly not AIDS. But right about now, I'm having meltdowns over stupid shit. I need a change!  I can't even enjoy my miracle; it feels like a lie.

 I need a change for sure and that was very clear to me two weeks ago when I started this journey of back to back doctor appointments seeking solutions. I can pray all I want, but some things you have to do for yourself. God has given me wisdom and the know how to make my life the best it can be. The way things are going, I can't even enjoy my miracle and that is no way to live.

I help my life coaching clients to get unstuck. I push them to step outside the box so that they can be their best and I decided when I left my doctors office that day that I was going to take my own advice. If you keep complaining about your circumstance and do nothing to change it, then your complains are worthless chatter. Somethings God wants us to do for ourselves. The answers are before us, but complaining is easier. Change is scary, sacrifice is scary and change requires sacrifice. My Pastor preached about this yesterday. 2 Kings 7:3- The men with leprosy could have stayed by the road and remind hungry or they could start walking and see where it leads. If they had never moved, they would have never been blessed. Sometimes the blessing is waiting for us, but we stay stuck in our right now.

 If you want to move beyond that man, then unfriend his ass on Facebook and Twitter. If you want to lose weight then take your ass to the gym. If you want to go to school, then fill out the darn application. If you want a newer, better job then start looking. If you want some new friends, then stop spending time with the ones that are sucking the life out of you. If you have health issues that require a life style change, then start at the the beginning.

You have to choose! You can't say that you want a change and then do nothing to make that change. For sure life is a blessing in and of itself. For sure life is so worth the living. But the miracle of life becomes a waste if we don't use the many tools  that God has given us to live our best life. It's not enough to say you want better, you have to do something to get you to better.

You have to start somewhere and thats what I did the very next day. I had a consultation with a homeopathic doctor and chiropractor. Traditional medicine is keeping me alive, but the quality of my life is no life at all. My doctor said to me, "Well it can't hurt." then she added, Chiropractors know a lot more about pain then I do. NO, I'm NOT going to stop taking my HIV medication. I ani't stupid! Traditional treatment for HIV is a medical breakthrough and I will challenge anyone who says anything other.

So what am I doing? I'm seeking a better quality of life! I'm searching for solutions that might change my current circumstance and improve the quality of my life. I start with Dr. Rosen at the West Loop Chiropractor on next week. He is both a board certified Chiropractor and a Homeopathy doctor, who came on the recommendation of my good friend Dwana.  She's so happy right now and lawd she will shout if I should ever stop eating refined sugar. But I told her that there is no life at all if I can't have a cupcake :)

I've already begun a supplement on his recommendation that does not interfere with my HIV medication. So I will be blogging about this journey. Now Dr. Rosen believes that he can help me and I will give more details as I go, but he was clear this will take time. I'm willing to put the time in because that's better then doing nothing at all. Oh and he's into Social Media, so you know I love him already. He's on Twitter @WestLoopChiro He's in the process of putting together a comprehensive plan for me.

I'm working on a holistic approach to a better life. To live whole you have to consider all areas of your life; mental and emotional health included. I mentioned earlier that depression has become real for me. I start therapy again this week and we will be making an assessment on whether I need to alter my current anti-depressant. Yes, I take anti-depressants. HIV causes depression and that's a fact. Menopause also causes depression. I have two cards stacked against me and when you add my crazy ass life on top of the pile it's a mess.

I want to live my best life and I can be honest with myself. Denial will destroy you. I'm having meltdowns over stupid shit. All I want to do is read and I'm having a lot of sleepless nights. I can try to call it something other than depression, but I would be lying and y'all know that I don't lie.

Also, I will be dragging my tail out of the house on Wednesday's to Bible Study and church on Sundays.   Not only is the fellowship good for my spirit but Pastor Jakes message is always a source of encouragement to keep going. I need everything I can get right about now.

 I will be pulling together an regular exercise routine after I have two more test on today. Exercise is an overall health benefit whether you want to acknowledge it or not. It is great for your overall well being from metal health, to your physical health.  I'm going to also incorporate some message therapy to help reduce my stress and work on better eating habits because to much sugar for example, will zap the life out of you in the long run. NO, Im not giving up cupcakes, just not eating as many.

 My doctors are doing their part and I'm doing mine! Pastor L Bernard Jakes' sermon was on point yesterday, "I'm Not Dying Here!" Yes, we all have to die one day that's a fact, but there is also another fact, that you don't have to die in the current condition that you are in; and sometimes that condition will kill us quicker than the disease.

Pastor said, if you are always complaining about your circumstance and doing nothing to change it, then you are stuck in the quicksand of your own life! So I'm moving in the direction of better. I know that one session of therapy or three visits to Dr. Rosen is not going to have microwaveable results. Some of this stuff will take time. I'm willing to put in the time, because I want to be my best me.

You must declare to yourself, I'm not Dying Here! I'm not stopping Here! I'm not giving up Here! God has given you the power to jump start your own liberation and that's exactly what I'm doing and now, what about you?

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