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.
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.
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
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World AIDS Day!! On Monday December 1, 2014 Essence Magazine is hosting a Google Hangout with me at 3pm EST. The Host will be Essence Relationship Editor Charreah Jackson and writer on the December 2014 anniversary article on me. Please join the conversation. Nothing will be to personal as we reflect on the 20th anniversary of the iconic Essence cover story on my life and all the important issues surrounding HIV/AIDS.
I finally finished the 20 Collection for RLT Collection commemorating the 20th anniversary of the iconic Essence cover story. I wanted to do something special and from my heart that I could share with everyone. I started designing this collection well over 9 months ago. Then life happened and it seemed to have stood still and so did all my creativity. 20 Collection!
In time, I pressed through the depression and completed the collection. My original goal was to complete 20 different bracelet designs using the color red for AIDS Awareness, because on the cover of Essence, I literally sat on a sea on red ribbons. I'm happy to say that surpassed that goal with 33 designs. I have something for everyone, fun, classic, glamours and even unisex. I always wanted to make AIDS Awareness as popular to wear in the same way we do pink for Breast Cancer Awareness. This is actually why I started making bracelets. Well, with the 20 Collection I have shown that red can be a great color to wear and have meaning at the same time, but not always in the traditional red ribbon way.
These are all limited editions and once they sell out there will be no more. I hope that you will support me in this endeavor by sharing in the victory of my life. Plus the designs are wonderful! Also Essence Magazine are featuring me in this December issue, looking back over my life twenty years. Pick up your copy! SHOP HERE FOR 20 Collection
For the last few months I've been sitting still. Not because I didn't want to move but I've just been stuck. Depression has that way on you. It seems to just grab you and not let go. It paralyzes you in the worst kind of way. Over the years I've had mild bouts of depression but nothing on this magnitude since I transitioned to AIDS twenty- two years ago. Back then I thought that I was never going to get AIDS and when I did, it caused the worst mental health crisis of my life. I cried all day and I was barely making it through my daily routine. I started medication but I think the turning point was when I started speaking at high schools here in Chicago. God gave my life new purpose and meaning and that turned things around.
But this time there has been no turning point just slow progress.
Over the last couple of years I've had so much trauma in my life. Any one thing could have triggered depression but combined they were the monster that paralyzed me. People take trauma lightly, but it has an impact on ones life. Over these years my health has required so much to manage. On and off IV medication to treat the drug resistant herpes because my immune system can't fight it off with regular pills. My veins becoming occluded as a result, not one but two ports placed that didn't work. Diarrhea I couldn't control, then constipation with no relief. And I still have 15 pills to take a day. My finances hitting so rock bottom with no speaking engagements in sight. It's more than a notion to have to choose between groceries or your light bill. Then being kicked out of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority over my tweets and the unkindness that followed. Women who called me sister turned on me because I dared to speak up. And quite as it's kept, some still dig at me via social media. Then my precious poodle Sophie died in July. One week she was barking for bacon and then the next week I was told she had cancer. She became so sick in a matter of a week I had to put her down.
Then let's not forget, HIV itself effects the neurons in the brain that effects your Serotonin. Those living with HIV are prone to depression. So over the years I've been on and off antidepressants to keep it in tack. But I was caught off guard when Sophie died. I had been off Zoloft for a few months and before I realized it I was so far gone into a deep depression. Depression is a strange illness. It not only takes away your joy but simple things like daily living. It paralyzes you in a way that even taking a shower is to overwhelming.
The fighter in me knew that I was in trouble back in August. My therapist and I shifted gears. For a while I was having sessions twice a week. Then she referred me to a incriable psychiatrist. The psychiatrist wasn't taking any new patients, but when I called she was the one to actually answer the phone, and bam I'm in! So she's been working to get me properly medicated these last couple of months. And they both have been working to help me fight depression as best as I can. The way God works is awesome. He seems to get me what I need, you just have to be willing to go for it.
At first I was guilty that super woman hadn't kicked in. I kept telling myself, "Pull it together girl." But honestly, I didn't have the energy to push or pull. Depression takes away everything but your breath. Then I had to accept that this is an illness like any other and you have to do what you can each day, one day at time. Now, for sure you have to do something or it will consume you. But I had to accept that my something is baby steps. But baby steps are better than no steps. This has been hard for a super woman like me. But I accept my victories whatever they are and however they come. Like I've showered everyday for the last three weeks and actually read my morning devotional with tea. I was going two-three days without a shower. For real y'all. The last two weeks I've opened my computer that was a victory a small step that got me here today writing a blog for the first time in two months. Understand something, depression is so overwhelming that even opening the computer can be to much. So I take my small victories in this war on the way to winning this battle. But I'm not letting shame or pressure to be what people need me to be to guide what I do or don't do. If I feel like posting on Social Media I do. If I feel like talking or responding to a text or call I do. But if I don't oh well, prayerfully there will be another day.
For sure I can see progress. I have come a long way since my Sophie died. I know that God still has work for me. I have not given up, even if it seems like I have. I'm just fighting this battle, One Day At A Time.