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 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.

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