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 10, 2014

Valetine Series: 365 Days A Year!

It's Valentine's Day week and everyone is thinking about being, "Booed up." You are either thinking about what you are going to do, what you are going to get, and how good the sex will be.

Or you're thinking, "Why am I alone this Valentine's Day?" This week we are all thinking red and I don't mean for AIDS Awareness, but for our hearts, including me.

It's been years since I've had an actual "date" on Valentine's Day. Shit, if I'm really honest, it's even been years since I've laid in a man's arms. Now, don't be confused, I can get sex, but I decided well over 10 years ago that a man who didn't appreciate my worth was not worth my innermost self. And if I really want to be transparent, this decision has left me lonely a many of nights, including well over a decade of Valentine's days.

Now,  I've actually been more O. K. with being alone on Valentine's Day more so, than being alone on those nights after a long day when I've poured my soul out at a gig. Or like on this past Friday where I spent 13 hours answering questions on Social Media for National Black AIDS day. It would have been great to process that day with a man who supports my ministry and then can provide a safe place for me to let go and let my guard down.

Now don't get me wrong, it would also be nice on Valentine's Day to have a great dinner and flirt across the table all night. I mean, don't get it twisted, every woman wants to feel special. But years ago Valentine's Day stopped being about what he does for me or with me, over and above how he treats me 365 days a year.

Now, this hasn't always been the case. I use to run out and buy him the best gift no matter how young the relationship was. My thinking was so twisted. I just knew if I got him those Tiffany cuff links that he would love me forever. WRONG! Then as I waited on his gift my world would shatter when he didn't have at least a card in tote.

I learned over the years, that men think differently from women. They tend to be a tad less thoughtful of this "love" day especially if the relationship is young. Men don't get that a card says, "I like you and I like where this is going." I remember one year I tugged balloons in a Chicago snow storm to get nothing from the guy I was actually in a relationship with. It was a sad case of familiarly breading contempt.

My thinking is a man should be thinking that Valentine's Day is important to women and that should make him want to make her feel special, but then again, he should be making her feel special all year long. He should tell her to put on her lipstick and heels and be ready for a night on the town, just because she is special to him. Date nights are important all year long.

For a long time I developed thick skin around the insensitivity of a man, then after much work on myself, I got enough balls to stand up for myself, If I'm not worth a card and dinner then you are most certainly not worth my innermost self," not just on Valentine's Day but throughout the  year. Give a card sometimes just because.

Now don't get this twisted either, dinner isn't an exchange for my body, it's just an act of kindness that says I appreciate you in my life, no matter what stage the relationship may be. It took me years to stop accepting him between my legs late at night after spending an evening alone, but when I look back, Valentine's Day was really no different from the other days of the year.

If I accept him between my legs without standards throughout the year, why should I expect him to do anything different about me on that one day out of the year. If he didn't do anything about me the other 364 days there isn't much that will make him do it on Valentine's Day. Women, we set the standard for how men treat us. Men will typically accept your standard if they understand your value. Men who really respect you, will want the best for you and they will give you their best all year long.

All of these topics are important to women: dinner, cards, gifts and respect, but the lack thereof isn't the main thing that shifted my thinking on how much weight I put into Valentine's Day. Nope! It was a young pregnant girl in the AIDS Clinic. When I arrived to the clinic that day I spotted a young very pretty African-American girl who looked to be very pregnant. The moment I saw her my heart dropped and I couldn't stop staring.

Finally, I waltzed over and spoke. I learned in the course of our conversation that she was 19 years old and 7 months pregnant. She had only known her HIV status for 2 weeks. We were talking and passing the time away as we waited to be called. Then out of the blue she said, "I know who you are Ms. Thornton." I was shaken for a second, "Huh" was all I could get out.

"Yes, I heard you speak my freshman year of high school," then she added, "you were sooooo good." It felt like she had kicked me in the gut. I was standing talking to a young woman who heard everything I said, but didn't listen enough to apply my lesson to her own life.

You know I had to go there. After I regained myself, I asked, "Baby you heard me speak, how did you end up here?" She looked at her feet and said, "I trusted him." Silence swept over both of us, and she added, "Yeah, I will never forget it, I found out I had HIV on Valentine's Day," all I could say was, "neither will I, neither will I." And I never have.

That was the day Valentine's Day became less about what he does for me ,over and above the value he places on my body, mind and spirit 365 days a year.
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