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

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Grey Hair And I Don't Care: Aging With HIV

In ten days I will turn 54 years old. This will mean that I have lived 33 years with HIV and 25 years with AIDS. Although I was infected in 1983 I didn't learn of my HIV status until I donated blood in 1986. I've told this story a thousand times and over.

When I transitioned to AIDS twenty-five years ago, I had no expectation to live. At one point my T-Cell count was 8. Good treatment for HIV/AIDS had not been developed. It was a sad and scary period in the AIDS Pandemic. But I fought for my life and so did my HIV doctor. I did everything that was asked of me, but some days it was a bitter pill to swallow, literally. At my worst I took 32 pills a day and the side effects were not pretty, but I survived that ugly era as did many others.

Aging with HIV is one of the hottest topics around this disease. When you think about it, long term survivors like me are aging with the disease. The first documented cases of AIDS in the U.S. were in 1981, which makes HIV 35 years old. This means I've been infected the span of this disease, short of two years. For sure, my life is a miracle because so many died. A couple of weeks ago I had an opportunity to meet six other long term survivors, the stories we shared brought us to tears and laughter, but that's another blog post.

Like me and so many others, we not only have a story to tell, we also put a face to this disease with historical perspective. For sure the greying of AIDS, includes those of us who have lived and aged with HIV whether it’s been fifteen or thirty years, but it's also the population of new infections among the 50 and older. About 15% of new cases represent that age group. This makes it important to tell our story not only to provide hope for those living, but as prevention for those seniors who believe HIV only affects the young.

Last summer I had the pleasure of speaking at an event sponsored by Walgreens. Well Beyond HIV is an awesome exhibit featuring men and women living with HIV who are fifty and older. This traveling art exhibit was curated in collaboration with The Graying of AIDS. It was life size inspiration to witness other peoples’ stories of aging with HIV.

In those early days of our diagnosis many of us lived in isolation for fear of being judged. Thirty-Five years into this pandemic, I will admit that things have changed some, this bold exhibit is one example, but stigma continues to be an uphill battle. I firmly believe that medical technology has advanced quicker than our attitudes about HIV and those living with HIV. Well Beyond HIV provides a forum for people over 50 living with HIV. It is a place not only to create community but to provide tools for living well with this disease.

Aging with HIV has its own set of issues and we have to utilize all the resources that we can. Back in the early days, resources were slim to none. We had to make do the best way that we could. And let me tell you, traveling that road was like walking in a dense forest. Lord, and the days of hiding the few HIV magazines we had like, Positively Aware and The Gay Men Health Crisis. We were starving for information and once we got our hands on it, we coveted it as if it was our last meal on a deserted island.

Today, there is so much information available on living with HIV. What makes the Well Beyond HIV Tumblr page a great place is its focus on the 50 and older community.  Yes, this birthday is yet another milestone and I'm so proud that I didn't give up on myself.  I'm excited, grateful and humble to still be alive. I think grey looks good on me *flips hair* and I feel like I'm moving into a new phase of my life. I have so many dreams for myself and I'm putting those dreams into action every day I take a breath. Like Queen Bee said, "Ima keep running cause a winner don't quit on themselves."

I was sponsored by Walgreens to write this blog post. All opinions expressed are my own.

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