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

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Tea With Rae: All Love For Oprah Chai Tea!!

Yesterday Oprah and Teavana launched a new tea; Oprah Chai! I love tea, Teavana and Oprah and I think they are a match made in heaven.

I wasn't feeling well but I couldn't allow AIDS to interfere with sampling this tea on the day that it was launched;  By 3:30 I put my big girl panties on and headed to Teavana. 

I figured the walk to Teavana and the sip of this new tea would make it all better. Well, it didn't change my current health situation, LOL, but it did put a smile on my face.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this new Chai Tea collaboration between Oprah and Teavana. I have to be honest, Chai tea has not on my list of top favorite teas, well it is now.

Howard Schultz CEO Starbucks and Oprah
At Teavana I went straight to the sample. I stood their half in the door and put it straight to the test. One swag and I lit up like a light bulb. It was a winner!

When the sales person opened the tin, the rich flavors hit my nose like a whirlwind. If you have never experience the Teavana smell test you have no idea what you are missing.

After I smelled a few other teas, with my goodies in tote I came home to see if the  Oprah Chai would render me the same result at home that it had in the store. I added a few drops of the rock  sugar, I also pick up at Teavana. Within an hour I had drank two cups.

Ok, lets talk specifics. Chai tea is Oprah's favorite. So it stood to reason that she choose Chai in this partnership. She  worked with the chemist over at Teavana to render a prefect Chai tea that she could share her name.

  Oprah Chia Tea is a perfect blend of cinnamon, ginger carob pieces, black pepper, chicory root, cloves, cardamom black tea and roobis tea. The rolled peppercorn gives it the perfect bite, the carob adds a chocolate flavor  but I think its the blend of black and roobis tea that makes the big difference. It's the perfect balance between that traditional spicy chai black tea taste and  a smooth sweetness.

Rooibos tea comes for the Red Bush in South African and it is known for it's natural sweetness. Black tea adds a rich malty flavor that helps to balance the sweetness of the Rooibos.

 Did I say it was a perfect blend? Oh I did, LOL. Honestly I'm not a chemist, but what I can say for sure, is that this Chai Tea is a winner and one of the best Chai teas that I have ever tasted.

I even had Oprah Chai this morning and found it to be a great alternative to my staple, English Breakfast. It gives me that  traditional black tea I must have in the morning but the cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and peppercorn speaks loud and clear, "Its a new day!"

You can purchase the loose tea both at Teavana and at Starbucks. Also at Starbucks you can have an Oprah Chai Latte. The tea purest that I am, I'm not big on latte's so I passed, but for those who are latte drinkers why not give it a try? You can also order the loose leaf at Teavana online.

Soon to come, you will be able to purchase more of the Teavana tea selections as a beverage at Starbucks. Now that's a tea lover's dream. For those who don't know, Starbucks owns Teavana.

Even better is tea with a purpose. A portion of all Chai Tea sales go to Oprah's Leadership Academy Foundation. This is the breakdown: For every beverage purchased either at Starbucks or Teavana, the donation is .25; For every 2 oz's, of tea sold and every Oprah Chai Tin $100, and yes you have to buy the tin. Storing your loose leaf tea for freshness is important. Lastly, for every gift set sold  Teavana donates $4.00.

My bottom line, the Oprah/Teavana Chai Tea Collaboration is a winner!!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Living in My Right Now: A LIfe Update!

Speaking at FAMU
Where the heck have I been? I'm glad you asked! I've been using all of my energy to take care of me. Self-care should always be at the top of one's list. Between these menopause issues, hot flashes, sleep deprivation and now HIV Neuropathy and adjusting to medication it's taken all of my energy.

I haven't been blogging but I've done some work. I  spoke at FAMU two weeks ago. I love those student leaders. They always find a way to keep HIV/AIDS in front of their classmates. It was a great program and great dialogue. Yet traveling under these health conditions always add extra stress and require more time to bounce back. I came home and shut it down for a few days. Then last week I spoke at a south suburban high school in Chicago, TF North and keynoted the Upward Bound Leadership Conference at Chicago State University.

Human AIDS Ribbon /TFNorth
Mostly, I've been dealing with me. You know this menopause stuff seems to have no end. I have had 3 different dose adjustments of the Hormone Replacement Therapy.

Then  I started having nerve pain in my face, hands and feet. So what does that feel like? I'm glad you asked, at one end of the spectrum a burning sensation and at the other end, like someone is sticking pins in my feet, hands and face all the time.  I haven't had Neuropathy this bad in a few years.

I always had Neuropathy, but over the years the intensity of the pain became mild and I learned to manage. I told a student once in a speaking engagement that their is never a time when I don't feel something in my feet, whether its the numbness, burning or tingling, but three weeks ago the pain became obtrusive and I found myself saying, "I'm hurting" which is rare for me to complain about pain.

I typically take my pain in stride. However, I knew this time that I needed to get back on medication to get some control.  All the medications to treat Neuropathy are very difficult to take. They are mostly anticonvulsants medications and first generation antidepressants, which have some mean side effects. One just feels lifeless, that the best explanation I can come up with. 

After spending last Wednesday in bed basically I decided that I was over it. I think  that I would prefer to hurt then to be non-functional. Luke said to me, "I'm sorry that you have to choose. "But I felt like I had to. My tolerance for pain is high but not being able to function because of mediation is worst. In the couple of weeks that I was on the medication, there was some improvement, but shoot I had gotten to a place where I couldn't get out of bed because of the side effects.  I'm going to see my doctor this week to see if we can fine some place in between.

I am seriously thinking about alternative non traditional neuropathy avenues that I can take to get some of this health stuff under control. The thing about me is that I never give up or in to the madness.

What I no longer do,  is try to keep up to meet people's approval. If I can't get it done, or do something then I accept it and more on.

 I'm devoting my energy to self-care and that's my bottom line. For sure, at soon to be 52 years of age, I want to live my best life and be my best me so that I can be my best for Gods earthly plan for my life.  
 I've been trying to maintain the self-care component in my life like working out: Doctors orders! Then on last Monday I started Yoga! I love, love love love it. Not only does it work on your core but it's a calming centering excise that takes you away from the madness of the day.

I've been making some major changes in my life. Well, Mr. Handsome decided that he didn't want to work toward a relationship. He actually like being single and didn't want to put in the work and on that note, I heard him loud and clear. I have no desire to be with a man and be half in/half out; those days are long gone!!
Yep, some major changes. I resigned from the leadership positions at my church. I was not capable at this junction to meet the expectations and I'm grown enough to be able to walk away from what's not working in my life. I'm also coming to terms that my ministry, call and gifts are public. And while organized religion has a place in my life, it is not my call.

As I was facing this dilemma I pulled out my old application for seminary to revisit my understanding of ministry as I saw it for me. It reminded me that I was always clear that my ministry was one of public. But once I was ordained, I lost my path trying to meet people's expectation of an ordained minister.

I'm feeling really proud of my own growth. The fact that I was able to walk away without thinking about the judgements of what people think I should be doing as a minister was major for me. As long as God and  I know what I'm suppose to be doing, I'm straight.

Honestly, while I've had to work through organize religion and it's role in my life. I have also been on this Spiritual journey. I've been reading these recommend books by Oprah on spiritually and personal growth. I will admit, a person has to be ready to receive these concepts. I think these books are powerful, but if you are not ready, you will miss the lessons that lays within.
Also new for me, I've been mediating with Oprah and Deepak. I know shut up! But for sure it has  keep me centered and grounded in ways I had no idea. 

If you are not content with where you are in life, then do something about it. If you want to grow, then do something about it. If you want to be your best you, then do it.

It's been an amazing journey for me, meditating, yoga but most importantly, becoming still. I'm always so busy and my mind is always on over load. I'm learning to tune out the noise in my head, the noise of others and of what you think is in other peoples head. Don't you know, we can have an entire conversation in our head based of assumptions.

It's been amazing in these last two months as I've watched the conversations in my head and not participated. I just simply let them pass through me and keep it all flowing. I'm leaning that from some of these Spiritual books I'm reading. I haven't mastered this passing through, but I'm working on it for sure. Half of life's drama stem from the conversations in our head.  We have convinced ourselves of some shit and then we act on it. I know this has been true for me.

My journey with HIV/AIDS has been a world wind to say the least. Shoot my life has been a world wind. The gratitude in my heart for the life that God has blessed me with is beyond measure: The growth that I have experience; The demons that I have buried; Learning to forgive and then forgiving, others and myself; The learning to like me, then love me and then act on that love has all been life changing.

Even with all the health challenges I'm currently facing, I'm learning to live in my right now and make the best decisions to be my best me.

At the end of the day, God has granted me the gift  of life, I want to live at my full potential. Don't you? Well then, Let's Go! 

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