Who Is Toni Love?

Have you had your heart broken and are afraid to love again? Do you feel like you give yourself to others and don’t know how to love yourself? Do you yearn for a surge of passion and romance in your life? Do you love good music and poetry? If you can say yes to any or all of these questions, then do yourself a favor and click the link below to order my debut EP titled “The Restoration”. I intertwine poetry with the brilliant music of Robb McCall to explore all of the above emotions and feelings. As you allow yourself to become immersed in the music and share in my journey, I am confident you will fall in love with love again!

You can purchase the entire EP with the bonus track or download the digital version by clicking the link below:

Order The Restoration on CD BABY.COM.

If you would like an autographed copy of the EP, or a Toni Love T-shirt, please visit my site by clicking here —-> Order Toni Love Music and Merchandise.

All CDs, t-shirts and tickets ordered from my site will arrive with a hand written thank you note and autographed as you choose.

The Restoration is my gift to you. I believe we can do nothing without love first. I offer you a chance to release old love, rekindle your current love or to believe that the love you seek will become more than a dream. Get the love you desire today!

~ I thank you for the love! Toni

#loveistheanswer

 

 

The Day I Left God – Original Poetry from Toni Love

digging graveyardThe Day I Left God

I laid the red carnation on top of her casket

Collapsing through showers of grief

The sight of them lowering the flesh and bones of my mother

Into the cold hard ground was too much for my fragile womb to bear

I had prophesied years before

That her life would end when her decayed lungs could take no more

Tobacco

Stress

Worry

Fear

Yet I still was not prepared

God was not supposed to take my mommy so soon

I did all the right things

I was baptized and attended church

I paid my tithes

Helped the elderly, sick and poor

Volunteered and served my community

I got good grades, graduated from college, supported myself

And although I wasn’t perfect I tried to do every righteous thing I could do

Stayed by her side like a good daughter should

Took her to doctor’s appointments

And brought her clothes and food when she was unable to move

I was so good how could he take my mommy so soon?

Every day I walked into the cancer center I stopped in the chapel to pray

Please wait until my baby is born before you take my mommy away

Every day

On my knees I would pray

Please God

Please God

And he took her anyway

Standing over her casket tears flowing too fast to even wipe away

I sobbed again for her grand baby comfortably swaying in my womb

Anxious to see the light of day

Not realizing the would never get the chance to wrap his little

Hands around her face and say

I love you mom mom

Day by day the anger filled up every space left in my perforated heart

How dare my God leave me to do motherhood alone?

Without my mother to tell me how to hold him when to feed him

When to worry and when to let go

How cruel can he be to leave me mourning during the most beautiful time in my life?

Just two months before I would walk down the aisle and become someone’s loving wife

With each contraction my unborn child had no choice but to drink in my tears of pain grief and anger

My soul cried out why

And received no answer

I found myself sitting in silence once again

Praying to find the strength to go on

So I did what I felt God had done

I banished love and left my soul deserted

Back in the cemetery in the cold hard earth I left my faith in God and buried it deep

And I walked away

And I wept

The day I left God.

© M. Tonita Austin aka Toni Love

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!!

“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

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

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

Memories of a War Veteran..I have not forgotten

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 me as if I were her own daughter. She had a beautiful smile and contagious laugh and she and my mother grew close because they were both married to Austin men who also had a close bond. My father and Uncle Bay were both very charismatic and handsome men and were famous for the trouble they would get into when they would frequent the night clubs and speakeasy’s in Philly and South Jersey. For some reason I also took fondly to Uncle Bay. Maybe it was because I sensed his bravery, maybe because I knew how much my father loved him, or maybe it was because I knew he adored me, but I felt s special bond. I would see him whenever he came to our home or when we visited our grandparent’s and he always gave me a big hug, told me how pretty I was and like my dad would spoil me rotten. I was very young, not quite seven years old when I remember sitting, talking to him and he insisted on giving me a piece of his jewelry. I of course loved jewelry and the idea that he would want me to have what I thought was an expensive piece of jewelry it made me feel so adored. I chose a name bracelet that was not engraved, but had big beautiful silver links and I kept it safely tucked away in a box in my room.

It would be not even a year later that I would be told of my uncle’s passing. My Uncle was a Vietnam War Veteran. He was fortunate to be one of the ones to come home alive, but the person who left never really came home. He was sad, he was depressed, he struggled with the choices he was forced to make at war and never really felt comfortable in his skin when he came home. He was a walking casualty of war. I remember the newspaper article and feeling so angry that his precious life could be ended in a corner bar brawl. I was seven but I wanted to know where it happened and I didn’t feel right until I saw the place myself. I wanted to find someone to blame. I wanted my Uncle Bay back. I couldn’t wrap my head around it; how some strange person could have the right to take the life of a brave soul who served his country so easily and quickly. My uncle wanted to escape from himself and couldn’t wait for my dad to come to the house to pick him up so he went out on his own. My dad never got over the guilt and the anger. I am no longer angry because I understand that back then they often did not diagnose post traumatic stress disorder, nor provided the necessary help, especially to Veterans of color. I understand that Uncle Bay felt the only relief was to provoke someone to take him from this life. I understand that he is in a better place watching over me and my family. I understand that he did not choose to serve in Vietnam. I understand and because of that I have never forgotten.

I love you Uncle Bay. Happy Memorial Day!

Keeping it Real – Original Poetry 12/15/13

“What can I do for you?”

What can I say

My patriarch has left this realm

And as they say “he’s passed away”

Could you just turn back time

Raise his body off of that floor

Breath life into his weakened lungs

Give him a heart that pumps strong and not stress his body even more

Can you make him change his diet

And leave the pork and ‘Jack alone

Can you tell him that I love him and that we want him back on the throne

Will the calls and cards and letters

Soak up every grief-stained tear

Will his grandchildren cease to miss him

At graduations and weddings from year to year

I appreciate the sentiments

The comforting calls, hugs and texts

But now that I’m officially an orphan

There’s nothing to seal this broken heart until I leave this life and meet him in the next

So thank you for asking but there’s nothing you can do.

I’ll miss my daddy forever cause I’m a daddy’s girl through and through.

(c) M. Tonita Austin 12/15/13
Broken heart

I’m back!

It’s been several months since I’ve written anything on my blog and I apologize to my loyal followers for the long absence. It was just recently that I realized that I haven’t been able to write a thing since after my father passed. I tried to think about what other than the depth of grief you feel over the loss of someone who gave you life would keep me from picking up a pen. I’ve been to numerous open mic events, recited some of my poems and my creativity has been fueled by the multitude of talented and gifted artists that I’ve heard over the past few months. I celebrated my birthday this entire month even though my born date was on the 20th, and I haven’t isolated from friends or family, so why is it I don’t feel inspired to write?

And what I believe the answer is has something to do with control. Normally when I write, I know what I’m going to say, I know what picture I will use and usually how it will end all before I sit down at my laptop. I am in full control for the most part. Yet grief does not lend itself to such consistency. Grief is less predictable than an ocean wave, and  just as powerful when it hits. I can almost assure you that it will rear it’s ugly head a week or so before any major holiday and the birthdays of my parents who were born two days apart. And then sometimes it is equally as unpredictable. Sometimes I feel passionate about something (or someone) and I feel the urge to write and a piece of mail comes through my doorway with his name on it, or I need to take care of his last cable bill, and I lose the urge to create. As the administrator of my father’s will, I have numerous  duties  to perform which alone can be exhausting. My daughter struggles with closure after his sudden death and I sink deep into grief for a while as I empathize and help her to understand and honor his transition. And it think it hurts a little deeper when I look around and see that not only are both my parents gone, but both sets of grandparents as well, and grief tells me that I’m all alone. Ebbs and flows..ups and downs..highs and lows..around and around. When will it end? I don’t know but I have begun to pray for the willingness to let go of my high expectations for myself. I pray for the strength to bounce back from this sudden and profound loss; that I don’t have to do it perfectly or feel happy to write, and that it’s okay to feel what I feel for however long I need to feel it. And I can take the time to heal from it all and I’m worth it.

I am writing now from a beautiful beach home that I’m sharing with some family and friends, listening to the waves crash as I summon my dad’s spirit to guide me and encourage me. I wasn’t sure at first about sharing a house with a dozen people, but somehow the combination of the calm and the chaos awakened my spirit. And the love and laughter abound as a warm healing balm for my soul.

So I don’t have anything fabulously witty or poetic to write just yet, but I am thankful that once again I am writing, and that is a huge step in the right direction for me. Just for today, I am moving forward remembering that it’s progress, not perfection.

Image

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