Memories of a War Veteran..I haven’t forgotten

Toni:

Re-posting in memory of my Uncle Bay and all of the soldiers who lost their lives as a result of war. Hoping you all make love and not war you priority this Memorial Day. #loveistheanswer

Originally posted on Toni's Room:

Soldiers TearsI can hardly remember his smell, but I will never forget his smile. Even his face is fading in my memories, but his physical presence has left an inexplicable imprint on my heart. On this day of remembrance and honor for those who served our Country, we often think of those brave souls most who laid down their lives to keep us safe. We memorialize most those fallen soldiers who fought in wars and in countries far away and did not come home alive. Yet we don’t always think of those who came home from war and touched our soil physically complete, but mentally and spiritually deceased. I write about these fallen soldiers because I loved one..my Uncle Bay. His name was Robert Austin but his nick name was “Bay” so we grew up calling him Uncle Bay. He had a beautiful brown-skinned wife, my Aunt Barbara and she loved…

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Save the Date for the Toni Love CD Release Party! August 22nd!

Toni Love with Robb and Pauline Houston McCall

Toni Love with Robb and Pauline Houston McCall

Three years ago, I finally got the nerve to attend an open mic and step up on the stage to recite a poem I had written just a few days prior. In just a few weeks I will be sending seven mixed and mastered original poems that I have recorded with Musician, Producer, Arranger and all around wonderful being, Robb McCall of  Charging Bull Massive Productions. Exactly three months from today I will be presenting my first work of art to the public. I am still pinching myself. When I stepped onto that stage a few years ago, I was shaking so badly that I had to hold the microphone with both hands and I could even feel my face trembling! The band played behind me, I held on to the paper in front of me and with the love and support of my family and friends attending, I made it though the poem and received a warm, supportive applause from the audience. Even though I thought the crowd was being more than generous with their applause, a host of a much larger open mic approached me and suggested I come out to his venue. A month later I went to the Harvest/Spoken Soul 215 to sign up on their open mic list and whenever I could, I would attend venues throughout the area to hear poetry and possibly get a chance to recite my own. None of what happened was planned. I just opened myself up to the possibilities of it all, and gave myself permission to explore the unknown. At this point in my life, I have awakened the passionate writer/poet that laid dormant for decades and she does not want to stop. But I am first a Mother and an entrepreneur so I take it a day at a time, I take suggestions from those whom I admire and respect and love, and if the door opens, I walk through it. And here I am, planning my CD Release party. Toni has been recovered and restored and for that reason the title of my CD is “Toni Love: The Restoration”. My celebration will be at the Community Arts Center in Wallingford, PA on Saturday August 22nd at 8:00pm. The entry fee is $12 and includes light fare, live performances by some of the greatest artists in the area, beer and wine and a DJ for your dancing pleasure after the show. CDs and Toni Love T-shirts will be available for purchase. Please “like” my Facebook Page and join the party if you can. I have supplied the link to the Event below. I hope you come, and I hope you will enjoy The Restoration as much as I have. I thank you for the part that you have played in my journey.

Peace and Blessings ~ Toni Love
—>  Join the Toni Love CD Release Party

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New Shoes: My Mother’s Day Gift from Above

wpid-20150510_100024.pngMy Mother transitioned a little less than fourteen years ago, and last year was the first year I awakened on Mother’s Day without heaviness in my heart and tears in my eyes. Our relationship expanded beyond mother and daughter, we were best friends, so it was a deeper loss for me. The first few years were the most difficult. Even though I was a mother myself, all of the Mother’s Day commercials with scenes of children hugging and delivering gifts and flowers to their mothers trickled into my joy like Chinese water torture. The constant barrage of reminders and emails about the day made me want to crawl under a rock until it was over. One day about ten years ago, my Godmother called me to wish me a happy day and I burst into tears. She spoke to me about the pride she felt when she watched me with my children, and that she knew my mother was watching with even more pride and how I should pass the joy of motherhood on to my offspring, not just the sadness of the loss. She told me that it was normal and acceptable to have a moment of sadness and recognition of the loss, but not to sit in it and watch the day pass without honoring myself and all of the other mothers and mother figures in my life. That same year my daughter’s Godmother talked to me about the love of a Mother and how her presence is strong and with us but we have to push aside the cloud of grief to see their light. She suggested that I ask her to manifest herself in some small way during the day and so I challenged her belief and I did. Later that afternoon my best friend’s mother showed up on my back porch (mom’s favorite spot ) with a beautiful bouquet of plants and flowers and also reminded me that this is a day not only of remembrance of my mom, but more importantly to celebrate and applaud myself. Mom had sent her most faithful messengers to me and I finally had no choice but to hear them loud and clear and drink in the love that she was offering through them.

I can’t say that the weeks leading up to the holiday aren’t still sometimes melancholy and that I don’t think of her more because of all of the commercialized sentiments, but I do three things leading up to mother’s day that keep me from being overwhelmed by the sadness that can envelop the holiday:

  1. I pamper myself : Last week, I put appointments in my calendar for a massage, manicure and pedicure. I also made arrangements to take a mini-retreat; a 24 hour stay-cation at a nearby hotel complete with wine, bubble bath, and as much sleep and relaxation I want without anyone yelling “mom” or bursting in my room, even if it is for a morning hug. As caretakers, our first priority should always be to check in with ourselves and make sure we take the time out to refuel every once in a while. I save $50 a month and put it into my Serenity Fund so that I can take a stay-cation at least four times a year. If you patronize a particular hotel each time you can end up with points and some of your retreats will cost you nothing.
  2. I purchase myself a gift that will arrive on or before Mother’s Day: In the last few years of my marriage, my ex would not even buy me a Mother’s Day gift. My children were babies so I would be disappointed to say the least. I realized then that I didn’t have to wait for another person to validate me as a mother and that I could do it for myself, so each year I purchase one gift that I wanted but had refrained from buying for myself, and I purchased one gift that I would probably have given to my Mother (almost always ends up being a pair of shoes!). This year, I replaced my worn out couch with a slightly used couch with two recliners. And I ordered three pairs of shoes. I honor myself and honor my Mother at the same time and receive twice the love. Win-win!
  3. I ask for Mom to “show up” and always expect a gift from her in the form of a mini-miracle: I never really felt my mom’s presence until months of grief therapy helped me get past the mild depression that set in after her loss. She was around but I wasn’t present. Now, I ask her to show up for me and she always does. And I always experience a random act of kindness from one of her angels here on earth. This year, the day before Mother’s day my shoes arrived and I got the sudden urge to rid my closet of old shoes I can’t or won’t wear any longer and to organize my closet to fit in all of the shoes that I can wear since my ankle fracture. It truly felt as if mom had taken over my body because I haven’t cleared out my bedroom closet in about ten years. Mom had so many shoes that she had each shoe box cataloged by number on her computer. Halfway through the project I smiled because I couldn’t deny that she was making her spirit known to me, and I thanked her for the beautiful gift of her presence! Most years I get several mini God-incidences (much more than a coincidence) or miracles, so far for this Mother’s Day I’ve received two. I have been wanting to replace my couch. I originally purchased it from a Thrift Store just to have something to sit on when my ex moved out and took the furniture with him. The couch was nothing fancy but it was cheap and comfortable and would suffice. A few weeks ago on a Yard Sale site I saw a double reclining sofa listed for several hundred dollars. I mentioned that I was interested but knew it was still not in my budget. A few days ago the woman contacted me saying the other buyer had backed out and she was dropping the price of this gently used couch (it retails new for over $700) down to $100. When I mentioned that I needed to find someone with a truck, she said she had a friend who could move it for me, no extra cost; mini miracle #1. Friday I went to the local Whole Foods to get fruit and thought about what I could get that was appetizing and also easy enough for the kids to cook me for Mother’s day. While browsing, a gentleman working at the fresh pasta counter invited me to consider some of their options. I started thinking that pasta would be easy enough for the kids to prepare especially since fresh pasta cooks so quickly. Before I could decide, the young man said that he would give me a sample of Ricotta Gnocchi to try at home and proceeded to fill up a small box of fresh pasta that I could take home at no cost to me! I picked up a small container of marinated and grilled chicken breast and just that quickly my Mother’s Day dinner dilemma had been resolved. I smiled again and said “thanks Mom”; mini miracle #2.

Some don’t believe in spirits or the after life or even that people transition and remain with us as energy, but I do. And even if you don’t, and you have or have had the experience of a Mother’s unconditional love, you should at least believe that she would not stop loving you or showing her love for you just because she is no longer physically able to do so. Mothers are God’s miracle workers and I don’t believe the miracles stop just because their earthly heart stops beating.

Wishing all of the caregivers of beautiful children, a beautiful day of love, gifts and miracles! And oh yes, shoes!!

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…

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“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