Revealing my new logo!

So excited to reveal my new Toni Love logo! A huge thanks to @thecollectivemic Digital Media for bringing my idea to life. Contact them via e-mail for your digital media needs thecollectivedigitalmedia@gmail.com

Thanks for visiting! Love, Toni

A Snowbound, Single-Mom’s Prayer (Original Poetry)

Toni:

I wrote this a year ago but it rings true for sure today since the schools are closed for two straight days now due to the weather :-o Pray for me and feel free to share if you can relate!

Originally posted on Toni's Room:

1622048_10201994660362900_1691772360_nWell, it’s day two of this winter blizzard, and the schools have been closed both days. When you’re homebound with two young, energetic kids you have to keep a sense of humor and an attitude of faith and hope! I enjoy sleeping in, and I love my kids dearly, but boy am I looking forward to the dog days of summer! I wrote this poem for fun. It’s titled “A Snowbound Single-Mom’s Prayer”. Hope you like it:

Now I come in from the cold
No help with groceries
Nor hand to hold
The kids are excited about the snow
And my only prayer is that the lights won’t blow
Please keep the heat and the television going
So I’ll have a little peace and work flow while it’s snowing
And after movies, popcorn and snuggling of course
And the kids are finally tucked in their bed
May a handsome and…

View original 18 more words

“Grief Waits” – Original Poetry by Toni Love

Grief Waits

Grief Waits

I read this original poem “Grief Waits” at The Collective All Artist Open Mic a few weeks ago at Rose Petals Cafe and Lounge and a few people asked me to post it. This was written a few weeks after my father transitioned, not for sympathy but to support the little girl inside yearning to tell her story. Not sure I’m finished with it, but here it is:

Grief Waits

She cries
Into makeup stained pillows when no one is awake
This single mother of two wants her own daddy back
But no time to be sad with taxi runs to baseball ballet and piano lessons
No chance to cry with the babies watching and counting on her strength
Even peaceful meditation is interrupted by children’s nightmares soaked in sadness
She greets the morning sun holding back the tears
Adorning sunglasses so the suburban moms don’t ask her “what’s wrong?” as she skips her child to school

Gotta make sure her offspring are happy and
Gotta make sure they keep up their grades and
Gotta keep their schedules consistent so they won’t feel the pain
Gotta keep a smile at the job and
Gotta search for the desire to
pay the bills, do the laundry and cook them a healthy meal

Gotta shield them from the rain

But who is taking care of the little girl who just lost her daddy
Who makes sure she eats and keeps the heaviness of her heart from sinking into the pit of her stomach
Who holds back her fear of the journey through life as an orphan and raising strong kids alone while the village is slowly disappearing
No grandfathers, no grandmothers, no great grands, no mother no father
No father

Who holds her at the end of the night when the kids are counting sheep and she can’t find enough energy to weep
Who takes her by the hand and lifts her off her feet to give her burdens a chance to sleep
Who says its gonna be okay and wipes her tears away
Maybe tomorrow will be a better day
Maybe then she’ll feel like going out to play
But not today

Because she’s tossed and turned all night
Living a nightmare until the first ray of daylight
Then its time to dab away the pain and push away the tears
Because its 7:15 and the school bus will soon be here
And no one wants salty tears in their lunchbox

Yet she rises once again meeting the morning with a smile
As grief waits behind every closed door

God Bless the Child

(c) M Tonita Austin aka Toni Love  5/30/2013

I Surrender – Original Poetry by Toni Love

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I Surrender

Been tossing and turning all night
just as my weary eyelids begin to close
they reflect scenes of you and I struggling through our first fight

My mind replays the who what when and why
my head tells my heart not to break down and cry
cause it doesn’t understand how it can love you and ache to hate you at the same time

I want to stay angry so I scan my memories for reasons to leave you, to ignore you, to believe you

The more we talk the more I see
how important communication is to strengthen the bond between you and me
for it dissolves the mounds of fear built up over the years
from the deceit of those who could not love me

Yes I want to stay angry convincing myself its easier to be alone than in love
But you love me unconditionally and refuse to leave me be

A moment of weakness and you climb my wall
I finally take your call

Intentionally sending through words that you know will melt my heart
not to mention my other body parts

The next thing I know you’re at my door
and we’re holding each other with promises and whispers of forgiveness
as our clothes hit the floor

Our lips meet and I forget what all that arguing was for

We come together and become one

As I surrender

(c) M. Tonita Austin aka Toni Love  1/25/15

Thanks for visiting! Love, Toni

The Balancing Act: You can have it all, just not all at once.

wpid-wp-1404782549159.jpegI remember the day I started writing again. I was a full-time stay at home mom and business owner, six years into my marriage, lobbying with my son’s school to get his IQ tested and nursing an infant. I wasn’t getting much sleep at night and had to find time to juggle clients, housework and bills, babies and PTA meetings during the day. Needless to say my house never looked like the spotless ones in the Parenting magazines! One day while checking e-mail, I came across one from a dear friend from high school. She came into my life at a time when I was my most authentic self – proud, brave, strong, emotional, nurturing, vulnerable and fearless, and I wasn’t afraid to write about any of it. She asked me if I would consider writing an essay for her upcoming anthology. I thought she was either on medication or feeling sorry for me! I placed writing aside to be mom, wife and business woman and there was not time to sit in my feelings or even sit and write about it. I barely found time to sleep and she wanted me to reclaim some brain cells and write and essay?! We had several conversations about it and I am sure she heard the exhaustion and defeat in my voice. I politely said thanks for the honor but there’s no way I could fit it into my schedule. But she wouldn’t give up on me. I received an email the next day which I will never forget. Aside from reading the uncomfortable praise about my writing and the effect it had on her as a young woman, she told me that it is okay to give my self permission to be more than just a mother and a wife. That I could do all of that and still write. I could take my son to school and still write. I could nurse my daughter and still write. I could cook and clean (well, not much cleaning) and still write, and that I could be the best wife I could be and be a writer too. She also reminded me that my children were watching, and more importantly my daughter was watching. Did I want her to grow up being shown that she could not have it all? That folding clothes and running to doctor’s visits; that caring for her husband and children was more important than sharing my gifts from God?

The next day I agreed to take on the challenge of writing the essay. I spent late nights at my laptop, sometimes with a nursing infant at my bosom and sometimes in-between naps, but I followed her editorial wisdom, put on my big girl pants and dusted off my journals and pens. I can’t say that my ex (husband at the time) was happy about it. As a matter of fact, he rejected my offers to him to read my draft and at the time of my book signing years later, he still had not read one word of my essay. Nonetheless, I had never felt more fulfilled, more proud, motivated and accomplished than when I received the published anthology in the mail. I cried and thanked my Creator for giving me the strength and the support to write such an emotional essay about my mother. She was my mother, my best friend and now my muse.

Five years later, I am still writing and working with new situations to balance. I am reading poetry and working on my first poetry CD. I am still self-employed, I am still home to greet my children when they get home from school, and I still have a home to take care of, but now I am doing it alone. It’s not easy finding quiet time to write. Most nights I am too exhausted to do anything after the kids’ bath and bedtime, so I keep my laptop by my bed in case I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea and want to write. I collect journals so there’s always one in my briefcase, bedroom or car for convenience. Thankfully with today’s technology I can also log into my blog from my smart phone and jot down some ideas or save an inspirational quote, meme or picture to my phone that will jog my memory to write. I love getting out at night and I try to support local artists, writers, poets as much as I can in the area, however I have to pace myself because it can be costly. Not only do I have to pay the entrance fee, but I sometimes end up paying a sitter up to $15 an hour to care for my kids, so a night out to an open mic just to get paid nothing can cost me fifty to sixty dollars depending on how long I’m staying out. So I pace myself, and try to get out at least twice a month. If it’s a new venue, I go to check out the energy and the crowd, or I may go to a familiar place to support fellow artists and be inspired. It’s an investment in myself and much-needed “me” time, so I budget for it, find the time in my busy schedule and am blessed to have family and friends I can rely on at times to care for my children (and save me money!). I’ve learned how to find balance between my responsibilities as a mother and business woman and my need to express my life experience with words. It’s never easy to leave my children with a sitter on a school night and interrupt their normal bedtime routine. It’s not easy getting in my car and traveling into the city at the end of an already long day. And sometimes it’s very frustrating when I really want to go out somewhere to read my poems or hear other artists and my sitter cancels on me, or one of the kids get sick. But to quote India Arie’s lyrics to Life I Know.. ” it’s all alright ’cause this is the life I know”.

I just want to spread love, encouragement, passion and healing through my poetry. I’m thrilled when someone hears my words and is inspired. I’m more thrilled and proud of the fact that my children are learning that they can have it all…with balance,

Toni Love show on January 31,2015

I’m so excited about being asked to co-feature at Heard it Through the Grapevine with Maryland poets Analysis and Mosaic on January 31st at A Poet’s Art Gallery at 4033 Girard Avenue in Philadelphia! The night will include wine tastings and love poems and the cozy art gallery will be sure to fill up quickly, so get your tickets early. I will have Toni Love t-shirts for sale to find my first CD, so please come and support me if you’re in the area. Love is the answer!

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Thanks for visiting! Love, Toni