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, March 11, 2013

Monday Reflection: Three Years In Social Media...

I've been called a whore, a hypocrite, a fraud, a bitch, interesting though I've never been called a liar.

Yep, as I review my 3 year anniversary to my blog and my use of Social Media to educate and fight stigma around HIV/AIDS people have said the darnedest things to me. I've been told that I was going to hell. I was told that if I'm a Christian then they wouldn't want to be one. I've been told that I definitely had a gift, but ummm I was definitely squandering it... hummm... Really? God been talking to you about me?

Yep, I've even been told if people really knew who I were, then they wouldn't fuck with me. People have told me that they have lost, "respect for me." I've been kicked out of my sorority. I've been told that I was selfish and self-centered and ummmm I was even told that my, "Pussy was a death trap." I've been lied to and lied on.

I've been unfollowed by people, cursed out directly, sub-tweeted by cowards. Threaten to be sued if I tell publicly, the mean shit that was said to me privately through DM..... umm BTW it don't work like that. You can't tell someone privately that they are a horrible person, then turn around in the same breath and tell them that you will sue if they tell *blank stare*

Yep, blogging and being active in Social Media has been a whirlwind these last 3 years. But at the end of the day I thank God for it. The good, the bad and the ugly. Well I've told you some of the ugly, but it ain't all been bad.

I've met some wonderful people. Reconnected with people along my journey. Expanded my message's reach by leaps and bounds.

I've Grown my bracelet business RLT Collection. I've learned that I am a writer, actually a great story teller. I didn't know that I had it in me. I even wrote a book, The Politics of Respectability. And this has given me the courage for start working on the re-write for my memoir. It's coming this year!  I've expanded my brand to, Tea With Rae, RLT Reads and RLT Inspires.

My blog is now syndicated on thebody.com the largest on line HIV/AIDS resource in the country and Poz Magazine, the oldest HIV/AIDS magazine in the country, as well as Black Doctors.org. I''ve received CBS Most Valuable Blogger Award in Health and Wellness and The BlackWeBlog Award in Health and Wellness and the British Academy Golden Twit Award in public service.

The Diva Living With AIDS Blog is just short 200,000 views from a million views! My Twitter went from 250 followers to 8,000. My Facebook personal page went from 1,500 to 5,000 and my fan page that I started the same time as the blog is over 7,000 fans. My You Tube went from around 2,000 views this summer to over 160,000. I've seen growth beyond anything I could have ever imaged when I wrote that first blog post on March 8, 2010.

But most importantly, I've made people think about their lives and how they are living it! And that at the end of the day means everything. I've encouraged and given voice to other people living with HIV/AIDS. I've bonded with other women who have been raped and sexually abused by brothers, uncles, mama's boyfriend and even daddy and giving them hope for healing.

I've helped people living with other sexually transmitted diseases, Herpes, HPV, Gonorrhea and Syphilis, stand tall. Thank you for trusting me with your stories. Based on emails, tweets and private messages that I have received, my use of Social Media has been a blessing! Women and even some men are rethinking their dating and sex lives and that alone is worth the bad and the ugly that I continue to get through Social Media.

Making yourself open to public scrutiny is more than a notion. It's left me somedays in outrage and other days in tears but with a clear understanding of my gifts and my call, my purpose, I press forward.

I told my friend Keith years ago, "Dr. Negro," as I call him, "Get over yourself, they talked about Jesus. Who are you, not to be talked about?" He and I laugh about that all the time. He says when times get tough, he is reminded of that one point.

Not only did they talk about Jesus, they challenged His ministry over and over again. Pastor preached about that on Sunday. How the leaders challenged the fact that Jesus dared to heal someone on the Sabbath, breaking law and custom. They betrayed Him, beat Him and eventually crucified Him. So who am I in the scheme of things? I get it, I'm just a peon in the scheme of this life. But I also understand that my life is not my own. God has kept me here for a purpose and I press toward that mark everyday of my life.

I'm not a perfect person or a perfect servant, but as long as I keep trying, nothing else really matters. My therapist and I were talking about my need to always fight back, "prove" that I'm right. At the end of the day, I know my truths and I'm the one that have to live with myself. Let people believe what they want. I remind myself every day, you are not responsible for people living in a lie. Let them work through their own shit, discover their own truths.

WOW!!! I got it!!! So with this understanding I through up a white flag and kept right on steppin. What people think of me good and bad will not change who I am. It took me a long time to like myself and then to start living like I like myself. I can't let others derail me nor the work that God has called me to do.

When I launched this blog I said this.....

Diva Living With AIDS blog will be true to the essence of my work and life as a woman. I will educate and inform through my eyes and life. Like in the past, I will address a gamut of issues including: HIV/AIDS, childhood sexual abuse, dating, overall health, politics, and of course beauty, Diva style. I am not limiting myself to one genre; the sky is the limit. I made a promise sixteen years ago that I would be a voice for the voiceless, face for the faceless, bring hope to the hopeless and tear down barriers and stand with DIGNITY, as a Woman living with AIDS. This Blog is another way for me to keep this promise. I am not a professional writer, just a Diva Living with AIDS and having her say........

I've stayed true to this and will continue to do so, until God says it's over. I thank each of you for your support. Like for real... For real if it had not been for you, I would be blogging to myself. 
Your support means everything

Thank you for sticking with me  and my misspelled words. I'm looking for a new editor now. Thank you for sticking with me when my health derail my productivity and blog post were far, few and in between. Thank you for defending me and protecting me from the madness that I get in my blog comments. Thank you for sharing my blog with others... Thank you... thank you.... thank you for coming back over and over again... #IcannotdoitAlone

Post Script: My health is gettin better each day... And I'm gettin back to work, this means I will be blogging regularly...  Thank you for your prayers...

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