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, February 25, 2013

Monday Reflection:Just Enough Goodness To Keep Me Going

I woke up this morning to a Tweet that made my freaking day. I was lying in bed thanking God for another day and when I was done, I took an assessment of my body; Pelvic Pain-Yes, Neck Pain-Yes, Tingling in my Feet-Yes.

Yes... A deep sigh. I looked to see where Sophie was and smiled; she always makes me smile curled up somewhere in the bed getting her beauty rest. Lately that's how life has been and I take the bitter in stride and embrace the sweet.

No matter what I face I take it in stride. Either I do, or it will do me in. This I understand to be so true; you can't allow the heaviness of life to weigh you down. You have to do something while under the weight. Even if it's only wiggling your toes. That way you know that the weight doesn't have all of you.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the pain and the heartache, it feels like that's all that life is. When in fact life is all of it, the good, the great, the bad, the ugly and the fucked up. As I muddle through trying to find solutions to all my secondary health issues, I feel weighted down. But the fighter in me won't let anything or anybody have that much control over me, so I appreciate the good moments no matter how small or large they may be. Good is Good and I don't dare depreciate it's value.

So sista girl has been basking in the glory of goodness all morning. OMG! Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph wore my bracelets to the Oscars last night! When I saw her tweet  to me, I almost did a two-step, like for real... for real...

I feel like I won the freaking lottery!  I'm so honored and so surprised. I had NO idea that she was going to wear them. I love her combo. She is wearing a black Marc Bowers gown and added color with different tones of green agates from my fall and winter collections.

 Shoot, this is enough goodness to keep me going all week long. It reminded me that in the midst of my pain and doctor appointments, God still has a life for me to live. There are new bracelets to be designed, blogs to be written, more wonderful moments with Sophie and a new handbag waiting on me in my future. It reminded me to hold onto the goodness however and whenever it comes.

Over these last few years of downsizing my life, I have learned that you don't need as much as you thought you did. Most often we are over indulging in this society of more is better.

I love handbags!!! And I probably will never stop buying them. But after having to sell a ton of my designer handbags just to buy groceries, I've learned the hard way to never overlook the smallest of blessings and to never squander them in excess.

 When God blesses me with money to pay my bills, I don't take it and buy a handbag with some stupid ass rationalization. I don't miss place my blessing!  When you accept your blessing for what it is, then you honor God's gifts to you. I was reminded today, that God will always give you just enough to keep you going. All you have to do is recognize the gift when it strolls your way. Often times we begrudge the small things, waiting on the big things. But I wonder, if you can't handle the small, if God will bless you with the big. So today, I bask in the blessing of my bracelets being showcased in such a grand fashion. It was just enough goodness to keep me going...

Post Script: Sheryl is wearing the Candy Apple Agates up top with a fireball center and an enamel center in the middle of her stack. Click Here! The top bracelet she is wearing is this multicolor faceted Agate in the bottom picture. Click Here! And the last  multicolor bracelet is from the summer collection and is no longer available.  There are only a couple of each bracelet in the collection.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bitter, Sweet.. BitterSweet... Video Blog

I was on the road speaking last night and I needed to wind down after a thoughful question and answer session with the students at Missouri State University, so I made this video blog. Now isn't life bittersweet sometimes? And would'nt you know it; there's even a plant that's named bittersweet.

On one level, it is loved for its' beauty and versatility, but yet disliked  becasue it's invasive and grows wild. But isn't that how life is? One monet beautiful and the next, crazy and out of control? So just keep on living no matter how life hits you, Bitter, Sweet or BitterSweet. Either way you are alive and at least, there is versatility.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Monday Reflection:Gettin To Better!

The Bible says that Faith is the things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. With this in mind I keep moving in the direction of better. Better does not always mean what you want, but in the end it becomes the solution that becomes your blessing.

Ideally, I would like to not have HIV/AIDS and all the health problems that are a result of my compromised immune system. Like for real, it would be a wonderful thing if God healed me from this ratchet illness, but that has not been my testimony.

 My testimony is one as complicated as my life. I was sick enough that I should have died, but didn't. I have on-going health issues that does enough to become intrusive in my life at times; just enough to slow me down to a pace that is nothing close to what I consider normal; just enough to intrude on my work patterns; just enough to bring my dream making to a halt at times and the pace of a turtle at others; just enough to cause enough depression for me to say, enough is enough.

Yep, my testimony has been just enough pain to make me insane, yet through the madness I don't lose my mind; And with that, I keep moving in the direction of better. It seems lately, I've had a lot of the above mentions, those things of just enough to say, enough is enough.

At the Infusion Center on Friday
In the midst of trying to figure out solutions to help my nerve pain, because looking for solutions in the midst of pain is moving toward better, I got another case of genital herpes. Yes again and it has NOT been two months seen I got off that 36 day round if IV medication to treat the last bout.

Now let me be clear. I have a separate infection of genital herpes that I got before HIV. Some stupid shit in college that I have openly admitted too. Over the years I was not really affected by herpes. I had an outbreak maybe once every 3 years. Then when I made an transition to AIDS 21 years ago the outbreaks became more frequently; about every 6 months or so. My doctor was able to get that under control and I was back to outbreaks once every 2- 3 years.

Then about 7 years ago herpes became my worst nightmare. As a result of AIDS Immune Reconstitution Syndrome (Read More on Immune Reconstitution) I got the most aggressive herpes outbreak ever. It was resistant to all oral and topical medications. It was as if the herpes was possessed or something. If I didn't know any better I would have said someone put some freaking voodoo on my clit. The only thing that will treat my herpes is an IV antiviral medication.

For Real,  in 7 years, it started as once a year, then became once every 6 months, then once every 3 months and now it's looking like once every month and a week or two. The doctors have concluded that my immune system just can't fight this herpes off. They still don't know if this is long term fall out from Immune Reconstitution.

It is also true that people who have both HIV and Herpes can potentially have more aggressive herpes. Also, herpes is viewed as an opportunistic infection for people living with AIDS.  (Read More on Opportunistic Infections) There are other forms of herpes that people with AIDS can get other than exposure to genital herpes. I've also had my share of that too. Herpes is no joke for people living with AIDS. Back in the day, CMV, another form of herpes, was causing people with AIDS to go blind. I should also go on record and say, if you have herpes your chances of becoming infected with HIV are medically higher.

Mediport Drama! Top the first, bottom the second.
So, while I was on the road 2 weeks ago speaking for National Black HIV/AIDS awareness day my doctor and I was working on solutions to get me to better. It was decided that I would get a new mediport placed a week ago Friday and begin IV medication on that Sunday. It was a great solution that wasn't full proof with no back up plan. #epicfail

The doctors at Intervention Medicine assured my doctor that I would have no problems with this new mediport. But that was not the case and that Sunday when the nurse placed the needle in my port and started the IV drip the pain was so bad that I almost fainted.

So my doctor started working on a plan B because for me, it's always about working toward Better.

Picc Line
Now Plan B is the pits.com but it's all we got and it is a direction toward better. Let my mediport TOTALLY heal before I try to use it again. What a brilliant idea. Given the last fiasco with the last port maybe that should have been my starting point, but noooo there are some people who can get a port placed and use it in the same day. Obvious I'm not one of those people. Now, it is starting to look like I may have to get this new port removed also.

They started me on antibiotics last Thursday. This has been a weird, crazy journey with mediport. They don't know if I just take longer to heal or is it that my body is just flat out rejecting the port. What I know for sure, I'm in a lot of pain and I'm tired of hurting. This is a BIG fat mess because I cannot get anymore picc lines in the left arm. I've had too many and that has caused my veins to narrow.

So Plan B, I would then get a different anti-viral medication called cidofvar to treat the herpes. It's administered in the HIV chemo clinic with a local IV line once a week.

I was depressed as all hell having to get cidofvar. It's an 6 hour day IV infusion and the side effects are a monster; extreme fatigue and nausea. I also have to take another medication the day of the infusion to protect my kidneys. It's 8 pills throughout the day and they also have side-effects.

Like for real, that on top of trying to heal from the trauma of getting the mediport this weekend I was sick as shit. Today is my first day even bathing since the treatment on Friday.

But I was determined not not let the solutions from this new problem of the unexpected outbreak of herpes and how they intend to treat me interfere with the solutions to my other health issues that are caused by living with AIDS I talked about in my last blog.

So I finally went to my first appointment last week with the alternative medicine doctor. I have got to keep moving toward better. I also kept my second therapy appointment because with all this new health drama, it's a wonder I don't lose my mind and I gotta stay sane enough to make the best decisions to keep moving toward better.

 SO in the midst of new problems, I was working on old problems with new solutions, moving toward better.

This is what I know for sure; If I hold onto my faith, even if I can't see the better in my right now, I know that if I keep working toward better then it will get better. That's what faith is all about. Believing that it can happen, even when you can't see it.  I also remember that, "Faith without works is dead." It's unlikely that you will get a job if you never apply for one. Now that's some real talk. My health ain't gonna get better if I don't seek the solutions to make it better.

For sure, with AIDS anything new could come tomorrow. I tell friends all the time. You can't disappear on me because in your month, weeks and even a day absent, I could get sick just that quick. Can't change that fact. That's part for the course when it comes to AIDS.

What I know for sure, if I do nothing; If I stop working on better today, then better will never come tomorrow. So I keep God at God's Word and work toward better with the belief that the better I cannot see will come when I least expect it.

No matter what you are facing. Keep working toward better. You can't see how that better will happen, nor can you pinpoint the time better will occur. Don't get discouraged if better does not happen in your time. God's ways are not our ways and Gods time is not out time.. But if you keep working on better, for sure God will bless you with the better that's belongs to you.


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