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

Original Poetry 1/13/15

Undercover Lover

If you were not there
When empty souls glanced at me
from a distance
False eyes pierced at my heart
And rainbows failed to caress me
Then tell me my tainted love
Why are you here now

1/13/15 Toni Love

Thanks for visiting! Love, Toni

is officially on holiday break! All of m

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!

Compassion fatigue ; even Superman takes a break from saving the world!

Originally posted on Parenting Today's African American Children:

wpid-img951416.jpgMy 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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Life (for Elizabeth) Original Poem 11/23/14

AngelandStaircaseLife ( for Elizabeth)

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

Because

You are life

(c) M. Tonita Austin aka Toni Love  11/23/14