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

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

A Journey Into Self!

Writing my memoir is an incredible journey filled with discovery of self. I'm sure for those of you who journal it would be similar if you picked up an old journal, say from fifteen years ago and re-read it. Well that's how writing my memoir has been for me.

Looking back, for most of my life, I understood that my childhood had been riddled with physical, emotional and sexual abuse. But it was always as if I was on the outside looking in.

Even the first version of this memoir that was under a book deal with a big time publishing house. I put a lot of information in that first manuscript, but I did not unpack not one story. Maybe I just needed to get it all out of me as a base line. Or maybe I was also protecting myself, from my own story. Let me tell you, walking head on into a deep black hole of abuse is no easy task. You have to have a lot of nerve and equal strength to examine every horrible thing, but at the same time not allow it to consume you. I believe that I could not have done this that first time around.

I know for sure that the first book was riddled with crazy and that is always a sign. My first ghost writer who was a former editor at a magazine that I was suppose to trust quit, leaving me high and dry because the advance wasn't enough money for her liking.

But truth be told, under pressure, she couldn't do the job. Before the book was sold, another major publishing house asked us for a sample chapter and rejected her efforts two times, like what the fuck is this? As a result, my literary agent said it lost us a six future book deal. He was royally pissed, especially since literary agents get their payment up front.

Then, my second writer, could deliver a sample chapter, but after about five chapters it was clear that she couldn't complete the task. It read like a six year old had written that bull shit. I fired her and she walked away with the ten thousand dollar advance that I had given her up front in good faith.

 My back was against the wall. I had to deliver this manuscript to the publishing house that actually signed me, so I wrote it myself. At the time, I did the best that I could with what I had. I knew that it needed revisions, but I also understood that my editor at the big time publishers would guide me through that process, that's why they get paid the big bucks. But she didn't make sense to me. I remember one time she told me, "I want it to read like a Jame Frey, embellish, embellish, embellish, just don't lie." WTF?

After weekly calls with her and submitting revisions on I think three chapters it wasn't even remotely enough for my big time editor.  She told my literally agent  that it was the worst written manuscript that she had ever read and that it was not her job to re-write and the publishing house walked.  I was crushed. The rejection, left me wounded. I internalized this like I internalized everything my mother told me about myself that wasn't true. It is crazy to think that I allowed  this woman to get in side my head. I had just finished my Master of Divinity degree at McCormick Theological Seminary on a Merit Scholarship and was working on my PhD on an academic scholarship at the Luther School of Theology. Of course I could write.

About six months later, my good friend, George Curry, who was the editor of Emerge Magazine, said so. But most importantly, after he read the manuscript, he said to me that this is one hell of a story that must be told. That publishing house he felt, made a mistake. He told be to do the re-write, and not worry about who validates me. But I was so paralyzed, no matter how many times I tried I bulked.
I could tell the stories of what happened, but I would never re-enter them. Maybe that was a tool of survival for me, just like when I was a child living it. I had learned to keep the pain at a distance. Today, I can honestly say that I have held little Rae's hand. I have cried with her  and nourished her as she told her truths.

Looking back, maybe God knew that the time was not right those twelve years ago. My subconscious said HELL TO THE FUCKING NAW!  It was not willing to allow me to give of myself, not in this way. I believe  that there are no mistakes. I wanted that book deal so bad for so many reasons but I was not ready to tell the story that needed to be told.

Even when God gives you an assignment, when the time is right, the Universe lines up with every move you make. Today I am writing my ass off, telling the story that needs to be told, in spite of the pain.

 I have a wonderful editor who is working her ass off with no money upfront. I have five readers on the team who are walking this painful journey with me. Not to forget my therapist and my psychiatrist who has helped me to unpack every painful thing that needed attention. They have listened to me read chapters with patience and compassion and helped me to unpack every horrible thing that happen to me.

As painful as it has been when I embarked on this book project a year and half ago, I was ready to do this. I was ready to walk in solidarity with that girl  little Rae, who was so deeply wounded by those who should have protected her. Over the years, people have asked often, if speaking was cathartic. My answer has been an unequivocally NO.

But writing this memoir has been a journey into myself. Looking into that black hole that was my life, has been one of the most important parts of my healing.

I know that I will walked away better for giving my  journey up to the universe for God to use. I hope and pray that those who read my memoir Unprotected will not only hold onto the hand of little Rae, but the little girl, the little boy that walked their own journey. Although, we may not be the same issues, we, hurt nonetheless.
What I know for sure, at some point in our life, we must release the pain, so that you can fully heal.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

My Legacy is My Work!

Today I turn 57 years old. Honest to God I had no idea that I would make it this far. I've been living with HIV for 36 years. When I transitioned to AIDS is was a death sentence and that is a fact. I try to explain to people that it was a lot of things that kept me here. At the top of the list is the God factor. But then there was an phenomenal doctor at the top of her game, treating women with HIV because she felt  it was the right thing to do. Dr. Mardge Cohen  fraught for me when I could not fight for myself, but equally important, I did everything she asked of me. I took all the medications that made me deathly ill until something came along that was better and more tolerated and less pills. Well, I'm on fifteen a day now, but that is better than 31. I am grateful to be alive.

As I complete my memoir Unprotected, I've been giving my legacy a lot of thought and some research. When I started speaking in Chicago High Schools, I had no idea that I would end up on the cover of Essence Magazine. Twenty-five years later my ground-breaking cover story has had an phenomenal impact in the history of the AIDS Pandemic.

One of the Founders of Essence Magazine- Edward Lewis, said in his memoir that was published in 2014 that my 1994 Cover Story was the number one December newsstand seller of all times. Now that blows my freaking mind.

Well I've been doing a deep dive on my legacy and I'm learning things that I have never knew about the reach of my work in the last twenty six years and I'm humbled.

Here are some of the books that feature my work as an AIDS Activist, My Journey Living With AIDS and the impact of the Essence Magazine Cover.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Valentine Day: Self Love Radiates Out

It Valentine's Day and most people are thinking about what they are going to do, what they are going to get and give, how good the sex will be, or why am I alone on Valentine's Day?

We are all thinking red and I don't mean for AIDS Awareness, but for the symbol of our heart, including me.

It's been years since I've had an actual "date" on Valentine's Day. It's also been a while  since I've laid in a man's arms.

Not because I can't, but because I decided well over 15 years ago that a man who does not appreciate my worth is not worth my vagina.

I'm actually  O. K. with being alone on Valentine's Day. More so than being alone on nights after a long day when I've poured out my at a speaking engagement. After I have given my everything it would be nice to fall into someone's arms and let them take care of me- help to replenish what I've given out.

Now don't get me wrong, it would also be nice to have  a date- a great dinner- great conversation- laughter and a flirt or two across the table. Everyone wants to feel special, appreciated. But then again, we should feel those things for ourselves.  We should have a  baseline of self-love and respect. I know you here Oprah talk about it often but it's true, The Universe gives you back the energy that you give out.

For sure every person wants to feel special, but it shouldn't just be on one day- it should be 365 days a year.  If dinner- a date helps to fuel you, why not arrange date nights more often? Why wait? And why wait on another person. Treat your own self. That's what I do. I treat myself to fine chocolates, I get fresh flowers every week and sometimes I take myself out to dinner. Why expect others to do for you, what you are not willing to do for yourself. Expectation and Deliverance thereof should start with you and flow out to the Universe

 I've got to be honest, its been years since I viewed Valentine's Day from the lenses of the commercial world. I remember the days when I would run out and buy a man a gift no matter how young the relationship, even if things were bad between us. I did it because, well I don't rightly know. LOL Sometimes I would spend my last dime on a gift, and y'all know I got expensive taste. Crazy shit. Thank God I'm not that girl anymore.

Let me tell you in my *auntie voice* No gift at any cost is going to make a man love you. No  amount of sex tonight is going to make a man love you. You can suck his dick until your mouth shrivels and he still may never love you. Shoot a man don't even have to like you, to let you suck his dick.  If you accept him between your legs without standards throughout the year, why should you expect him to do anything different about you on that one day out of the year.

 We should set the standard for how a man treats us and it will easily flow to Valentines Day. Now don't get me wrong. If you just want to get your groove thang on--do it-use a condom- but don't have expectations for something that clearly is not. You can only have peace in your soul when you accept it for what it is. Acceptance is hard, I know, I know, I know. But when you accept it- you  operate in truth.  If you want more for your life then you must give yourself more.

You will never achieve the love you want it, if you continue to clutter your life, your spirit with dead weight.  It all begins with you. Self love starts from within and radiates outward.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Monday Reflection: Set Your Intention- Make Your Goals!

WOW! I honestly cannot believe that it has been two years since I've blogged. *Side Eye* I have no idea what happen in 2017. And guest what, I'm going to beat myself up about it. We are often to hard on ourselves, including me, for no danm good reason. Whatever you did or did not do, that will forever be a part of your past. Even if it happened today, say at 9:00 A. M. -well at 9:01 A. M. that shit was history. Time moved on and so should you.  Stop beating yourself up -it serves no good purpose. But it does destroy the spirit. Whatever lesson you learned, receive it and move the fuck on.

Well, in all of 2018 and so far all of 2019 I've been working on my memoir- Unprotected. I mean really working on my memoir- for real, for real. When I set out last year about this time, to finally get it done, that's exactly what I did.

So where the heck is it you may ask?- glad you asked- I'm still getting it done.  Not beating myself up about it either.

I set my intention well over 25 years ago and I'm reaffirming it every single day. That is- to continue to let God use me- my story to enrich the lives of others. Some of you may say, but you do that already, through speaking, through your use of social media.  You are so right! But I began to explore what was missing from the story and how I deliver it. This is especially true in the #Metoo era. God continued to make clear that the time was right for the fulness of my story. It was time to talk about molestation and it's impact on my life. How HIV fit into the equation.  How one overcomes rejection and abuse. How a child grows up to be told-You ain't never gonna be shit, to turn around and still get 27 years of education with honors.  God said, the story is much bigger than being the first Black woman to tell your story of Living With AIDS on the cover of- Essence.

The Goal then became the memoir- Unprotected, as another way to live God's purpose for my life.  

 Goals are about your future- a desired outcome. Intention is the thing that jumpstarts your goal. It comes from the place of presence. It's the authentic Core of you.

My memoir is the intersection of my life's  purpose and how I live it  each day- my intent each and every day is to be a vessel. I achieve that each and every day through my transparency- living from my soul.

 I reaffirmed my intention - Let God Use Me--and I followed through in every way. Every word that has been typed  is to meet that goal- So many days I became that little girl who survived the trauma. For me it was the only way to achieve the goal.

  Every single thing that I have done for the last 15 months has been about the book. First, you all sent me to Bali, for which I will be forever grateful.

I choose a boutique hotel near the Bali Sea, about an hour  or more away from tourist type stuff. I did that so that I  would have no distractions. My gut told me that being in an environment that was Zen filled was the medicine I needed to start this painful journey of writing this book and I was right.

 Sometimes you have to create a space so that your environment works for you, rather than against you.  I know everyone can't go to Bali but you can create an environment for the life you want to live. Your home for example should be a place where you can breathe. If you share your living space, then your bedroom, the bathroom, find a spot in your house that breaths life into you. I live alone and I don't invite many people into my space-it belongs to me-about me-for me. The world is crazy enough to let all that drama into your life, especially those things that you can control.

That 14 days in Bali gave me the jump start that I needed. I knew that writing this memoir would cause a lot of emotional trauma-- I was right-it has, but there was something about Bali that  said to me you got this. Maybe it was nature, the kindness of the people, especially the Balinese women, honoring God throughout the town every single day. The Australia friend, Tesa  I met who continues to cheer me on.  I just know I came back home ready to work.

The other thing about intention and goals is that you must be willing to follow through. You can create the best possible environment, but if you don't do the work, it will not get done. And every time you make an excuse you are feeding yourself bullshit- it will defeat and that will break you, your spirit and your confidence. There is something to this thing about the energy you put out into the Universe. When you set your intention your goals and you act accordingly the Universe creates more and more space for you to be successful. 

Take last week. For those of you who follow me on Social Media, you know that my fur baby Chloe Chanel had surgery. Thank you for supporting the Go Fund Me to help pay for the surgery. She is recovering just fine, but last week was nothing short of crazy. After the surgery, she wouldn't eat, drink or wee wee. I was going through fur baby Mommie drama. But at the same time I didn't surrender into the madness. I knew if I allowed it, it  would take over my life.  When drama comes, you can't create more drama by giving into the misery. Leave that shit right where it is. Yes, I had to take care of my baby, but I didn't have to make it another emotional issue for me. It is what it is---- Stop creating unnecessary crazy in your life. And by the way, when you create more drama, you remove yourself from the preset moment. Noting get accomplish.

I didn't want to be taken off track.  Once Chloe had her pain medication and was in my arms knocked out, I opened my computer and got to work.  I didn't begrudge the time I couldn't work on the book, or how much I could not got done, instead I just did it. The energy you give is what you get back. Why put the negative into the Universe.

I have one priority other than to take my medication, that's to finish this memoir- so no matter what else pops up in my life, I go back to this goal-this intention. It is as simple as that.

Anything you want for yourself can be accomplished.
Even self improvement.  Let's say your intention is to live a positive in all area of your life. The Goal would be, how you achieve it.

You are at the table where Gossip is happening- talking about people is not positive.

You can participate or you can speak up-- that has nothing to do with me, let's talk about something else. Not there yet, excuse yourself and go to the bathroom.  Go home early.  You cannot control what others do, but you can control what you do, that means even walking away from the people who are not going in the same direction as you.

The more effort you put into not gossiping, the more the Universe will cheer you on.

Staying focused is not always easy. Sometimes it's a change of environment- I leave the house and go places, like the lobby of a nice hotel, it's free. For some reason I work well at Panera, and can't so much in Starbucks. They both play music but I cannot concrete in Starbucks. At Panera, I get me some tea and a scone-- free refills on drinks and they never put you out, unless you're doing the nasty on top of their tables. #Imjustsayin

During this entire process  of writing my memoir my therapist and my psychiatrist have been on this book journey with me-holding my hand- reminding me that I am more than what happened to me. Let me tell you writing about molestation is not easy. You got to relive the story, so that you can tell it, and then you have to get your verbs right.

Some day's it has put me in bed with Chloe shut down, not adulting. But I talk it through in therapy and I go right back. If writing about my uncle molesting me is to much to handle today, it's my book, my rules. I go to another chapter until I can come back to it.

I hope you get the point. Set your intention - set your goal and let everything you do and say, lead you right back when you get off track. Stop making excuses because it only does more damage-it is a hit to your self-esteem. Resolve it- either the time is not right in your life to do whatever it is you want--- or resolve that there is no time like the present.... Set your intention---make goals to achieve it-create the environment to get it done... The Universe is your friend, what you give out will come right back at you.

And another thing, tell the negative committee in your head to shut the fuckup--- it will have you jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge.


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