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, September 9, 2013

Monday Reflection: More Than Silver And Gold

A couple of weeks ago one of the HIV Peer Educator's at my HIV Clinic spotted me in the lobby waiting to see the doctor. She approached me with a BIG smile and just began talking, pointing to her chest went straight to the point,
 "I never take it off."  
"Really?" I questioned.
"Yep, I wear it to bed. 
"I take a shower in it."
"It's always right here."
"Its special to me,"  she said pointing to her chest.
 I was sitting there like I had lost my best friend, drowning in all the madness of my new health issues, then suddenly, I lit up like a Christmas tree.
"Awwww," I started beaming. 
"When I first got it," she continued.
"My mother said its spiritual, so I should keep it close," talking about the AIDS Awareness necklace from my collection. 

I have been designing  bracelets on and off for a women's HIV study since I started my collection four years ago. I'm also in this study and have never missed an appointment in over 15 years. I participate in this long term study looking at how HIV progresses in women because we have to understand how to care for women with HIV. For sure, there are differences in disease progression of men and women.

 I was honored when they agreed to give my bracelets to the women in the study as a Christmas gift one year. Well, last year, the director Kathleen, asked, "What about a necklace?" and in an hour I had designed this spiritual AIDS Awareness Necklace. I liked the design so much I decided to add it to my AIDS Awareness Collection. The necklace is a simple design with lots of symbolism. Red is the color of HIV/AIDS Awareness. Red is the color of power, and for sure it is the color of blood, which has a strong symbolism of life and vitality. Red brings focus to the essence of life and living with an emphasis on survival. Coral gives strength and willingness to meet challenges and critical situations. Coral is also a good stone for spiritual balance to be worn in jewelry. 

When I tell you that my conversation with Ms. P about the necklace made what was in all other ways, a shitty day, I'm for real, for real. She continued telling me about her adventures with her necklace. She had lots to say, I sat there and laughed through most of her animated conversation. Ms. P,  as I will call her, was a breath of fresh air. Just what the doctor ordered! 

"Yes, people have tried to buy it off me."
" For Real?" I questioned.
"I told them that this was a GIFT!" she patted her chest proudly. 

I didn't have the heart to tell her where to tell other people to get the necklace. I didn't want to steal her joy. For sure I need sales. I explained that in my last blog on the GiveFoward Fund my friend Dwana started for me. But at the end of the day, some things are worth more than silver and gold. 

She continued, her body language exhibiting the same joy coming out of her mouth and through that big smile on her face.

 "I tell them they have to be in the study to get this"
"They ask me, can they be in the study."
 "I tell then NOOOO it's for WOMEN!!" She and I  laughed so hard.
"Thats right!" I said, the women in the study are special, and they are. The fact that they are willing to go through this half day of test and questions for the sake of other women, every six months.

 It created a joy inside of me that I cannot explain. I wanted to share it on my Social Media sites but didn't want to disclose Ms. P's status, that not my right to do.  I asked, 
"Can  I take a picture?" She beamed proudly as I pulled out my phone. I took it chest down and showed it to her for approval before I put it on Instagram. Then we started talking about this new guy in her life that's real cool with her HIV status. 

I started designing my bracelets originally to spread awareness to HIV/AIDS, then I branched off into fashion bracelets. But still people tell me that they wear all my bracelets with pride. They tell me that they feel like they have a part of me with them when they wear my bracelets. One of the ministers at my church said, "I got you with me Rev. Rae everywhere I go." She said, "I don't take it off!" 

Opening this bracelet business was a big step for me. I am not an entrepreneur by nature. I have spent my entire young adult, and adult life, trying to bring about change for the betterment of people. First, in politics and now as an AIDS Activist. For sure the bracelet business helps me to live. Especially since speaking engagements are far and few in between. I haven't had a gig in almost six months.

My bracelet business makes it possible to eat and buy Sophie dog food, to have internet and mobile devices so that I can continue to do what I do daily through social media and blogging; a free forum to educate thousands in minutes. I had my first Instagram chat, "Ask Rae" last week and there were over 90 total comments in the dialogue - that was amazing. That work comes first! For sure I love designing, and I work at being an  entrepreneur, but honestly, I don't know how to hustle that way. LOL! 

But Ms. P, reminded me in an unexpected way why I do what I do. Even my bracelets, and now necklaces, those with AIDS ribbons and those without, spread Awareness in some way. Think about it this way, every single person that goes to my bracelet website, will be reminded of HIV/AIDS. I do not hide my identity in this entrepreneur venture. So each person that buys a bracelet says I'm not afraid or ashamed of HIV/AIDS. That for me is worth more then all the silver and gold in the world. 

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