is officially on holiday break! All of my clients’ offices are closed until after the new year and the best thing about it is the kids still have two days of school next week! Woo hoo! Tonight I will be soaking in the great energy at The Collective at La LaRose Jazz Club and then hitting the studio to add some Toni Love to a hip hop track. Be safe and find joy FB fam!
Originally posted on Parenting Today's African American Children:
My former sister in law once told me while I was still carrying my first born in my womb, that being a parent would be the most difficult yet most rewarding job I’ll ever have. She was right. I think even the most seasoned of parents question the choices that they make for their children, wonder if they’re doing everything that they could for them, stay up at night worrying about them when they are away, worry if they’re being over-protective or not disciplining them enough, and we all hope we are not causing irreparable damage! Believe me, I have witnessed many who have raised children without an ounce of compassion and nurturing, but when you put your heart and soul into your job, whether as a parent, nurse, doctor, teacher, politician or first-responder, you utilize an enormous amount of physical, mental and spiritual energy and risk suffering from burnout or as my pastor so eloquently phrased…
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Your breath became my own
and you exhaled life’s elixir into my lungs
as I was yet being formed
Your dreams were etched into my DNA and each step you took created my legacy
You are life
No one can doubt a Mother’s love
It’s God’s favor manifested from above
Life’s shelter from our enemies
A Mother transforms herself often to be
Best friend and nurturer
Wife and reliable comforter
Steady and stern when necessary
With laughter sweet and colorful as ripe strawberries
You are Life
You will always be life
You will continue to love us
To help and encourage us
Your love transcends time and earth and breath
It is everlasting
It is omnipresent
Love is here
You are here
Your spirit remains here
With every breath we take
You are life
(c) M. Tonita Austin aka Toni Love 11/23/14
Four years ago in August, the weekend of my birthday I packed up my two offspring and headed to the beach. I knew that my life would never be the same when I returned and that I was embarking on a journey to recover the joy that I so desperately fought to create by marrying their father. After almost a year of counseling I realized that our nine-year marriage was not salvageable and I had to start planning for my release. I will never forget sitting on the couch next to my husband as he told our counselor that he’ll “never be the type of man to sit down and ask me how I’m feeling”. I knew then that my heart would never find a safe place with him and that I had found someone emotionally numb to marry because at the time so was I. I married my children’s father just two short months after burying my own mother and wanted a way out of the grief. Once my son was born I abandoned my career and my writing to become supermom and perfect wife. I don’t regret the time I took to raise my children but during those years I lost myself. I even stopped going to church because my husband wasn’t. Today I see more clearly and take responsibility for the part I played which has helped me to be authentic with myself going forward. If I had not accepted the reality of my choices then, I would not have been able to move on and create the joy I needed my life. The only regret I have is of not regaining consciousness sooner.
Today, four years later, I remain unmarried and am now faced with the difficult task of parenting alone but I am a much happier and more peaceful person. I am blessed to have family and friends and sometimes extremely nurturing childcare providers who help make the journey much easier, and their father’s financial support. I started this blog so that I could have a place to recover my passion for writing. I am so grateful for all of my subscribers and those who continue to comment and encourage me to write because it has been a safe haven for my emotions and a place to share my journey. I hope that my honesty will help others to reinvent, recover and/or recreate themselves. I’ve learned from losing so many loved ones that tomorrow is not promised and to embrace each day with the same energy I would if it were my last. I am thankful that I am able to continue to be self-employed which affords me the flexibility to welcome my children home from school and taxi them to their extra curricular activities after school. I am enjoying them now.They have not had an easy four years during our separation so I am dedicated to making the rest of their life as consistent and safe as I can, without neglecting my own needs. My daily meditation and prayer helps to keep me centered and I am learning to ask for help when I need it, emotionally and physically. I make amends to my children by loving myself and taking care of my mental, physical and spiritual health so that they are free to live their lives authentically without worrying about me.
Currently, I am getting to the gym on a regular basis, I get all of my physical and other health check ups and my long-term goal is to stay on this course keeping my body strong and healthy well into my nineties. I would like to be around for my grandchildren and the work starts now. A long time friend and follower suggested I start a Parenting blog, and I did! www.AfricanAmericanParenting.com is my other WordPress blog and has a small following. I share some of the ideas and tools that have helped me raise my children over the past decade. I am also beginning to make a bit of a name for myself in the local poetry community and attend open mics and other artistic performances. It’s a struggle finding the time and energy to get out during the week and/or weekends not to mention the expense of paying a sitter and the price at the door, but it’s my passion. I can’t get out as much as I’d like but I love sharing my poetry and I enjoy being inspired by the performances of other artists. Just a few days before my birthday this year I was given the opportunity to open up for a few well-known poets at The Collective All Artist Open Mic at La Rose Jazz Club in Philadelphia and it was a phenomenal night for me! Not only did my family and friends come out to fill the room, but a few local and extremely talented artists offered to support me so that I could perform my poems accompanied by live music and a vocalist! We practiced for two hours and put on a show that I am extremely proud of. For me, it was confirmation that I had indeed recovered Tonita (aka Toni Love)! The energy in the room was magnetic and they asked me to return in the near future to perform as the featured artist. What a thrill! I am so thankful I thought to have it all captured on video. You can see me performing my original poem “Finally Over” featuring the gifted vocalist Bruce Mustafaa, accompanied by the multifaceted Lamont “da Villain” and accomplished poet and percussionist Omar Sharif right here –> http://youtu.be/Ykb_NMRLPms. I am working on an EP of six or seven poems and hope to present it in early Spring, and I look forward to expanding my fan base and featuring in venues outside of Philadelphia. I am humbled that some mention Jill Scott when they see me perform and I know I have a long way to go before I am ready to share the stage with such Philadelphia royalty, but maybe not. My life thus far has been proof that anything is possible and that it is never too late to pursue your passion. I spent so much of my life trying to force solutions to unfold the way I thought they should or how I wanted them to be. My Creator has proven to me that I can ask for what I want but I cannot hold onto my wants like a shield. Often times I have to let go, step aside and allow the blessings in whatever form to come into my life. I am open to receive.
Thank you for taking this journey with me for the past four years. I couldn’t have done it without you. Stay tuned..the best is yet to come!
Happy Anniversary! Stop through again soon!
Toni Love: The “Toni Love Project” 8/15/14: http://youtu.be/PS-vrgVI9c8