Musings at Dawn with Tonie Burke

Marmalade with a hint of vanilla skies – I spot two love birds heading towards the tip of the golden sun, “I see why they call it the City of Angels,” I think to myself. Like my untamed thoughts, the scent of my neighbour’s freshly bloomed jasmine flowers trails off, making way for a rich, coffee-stained early morning breeze.

I have an indulgence for dawn, a taste for the way the gods illuminate Earth’s body. Even in this concrete jungle, I exist within this pure light, guardian of all things humble and sincere. 

My vague thoughts are interrupted by the soft chatter of the two love birds sitting on my balcony rail. I have to smile and wonder how long they’ve journeyed with my wandering mind. “Goodmorning,” I say as I take in the stillness of a city awakening from a deep slumber one last time. 

I vowed to myself that if I had a perfect start to the day, I would reach out to Tonie, and my morning has been nothing short of magical.

I met Tonie on the Instagram some three or four years ago. There is something almost mystical about her. She collects shells, bones, beads, and all things oddly beautiful. In all of the time I have known her, there is never a day she isn’t exuding love. This love is evident in the way that she cherishes every item she has collected  – mind you, the term ‘cabinet of curiosities’ was coiled up just for her, so this is big love we are talking about. I can almost see her traveling the world as she assembles her outfit, and on our luckiest days she throws us a bone and teases us with a glimpse of the many little eclectic corners in her bedroom.

I am even more in awe of Tonie’s support for artisans and their craft. If you are a small business owner, you’ve probably seen her virtually cheering you on. To walk into Tonie’s light is walk into dawn, into colour, into beauty, into a boundlessly sincere and extraordinary life journey. In this short journal, we meet Tonie Burke.

Tonie Burke - Girl Gone Authentic

Tonie:

Hello beautiful soul girlfriend.
So I’m 52 years old and have French, German, Welsh, Irish, and Aboriginal heritage. I live in Australia and grew up by the beach. I have always loved the ocean and sand and seashells, I believe my bones may in fact be made of seashells. I believe that truly holding space for people, friends and strangers is the greatest gift I have and I try to use this gift every day.

Girl Gone Authentic:

I see you love collecting all things beautiful. How did that begin?

 

Tonie:

My love of collecting began in 1980 when I was 11 years old. My grandmother took me on a 2 week cruise around the pacific islands. Back then children could pretty much leave the ship on their own at each port and explore.

At the first port in Fiji I got off the ship and saw a group of beautiful women sitting in a group chatting and weaving amazing baskets to sell. I walked over to watch them and they told me I could sit with them if I wanted to. I spent a couple of hours with them watching them take simple grasses and weave magic. I was transfixed.

From then on I have always appreciated and loved and respected the skill and creativity and talent of artisans. I love collecting fabrics, baskets, jewellery and clothes that tell a story, that have the marks and stories of the makers. Traditions and history are told through these pieces.

Girl Gone  Authentic:

If you were to pick three words to describe yourself, what would they be?

Tonie:

Empathetic, kind, goofy.

Girl Gone  Authentic:

Do you have any daily rituals, or do you simply flow with the day?

Tonie:

My morning ritual is to look for feathers and seeds to collect as I walk to my local cafe and then spend a half hour journaling.

Girl Gone  Authentic:

Three of your favourite objects and why?

Tonie:

A bone that has a ship painted on it because I love collecting bones and the painting transforms it into art forever.

A shell and beaded necklace in the shape of a flower because I love beaded jewellery and also because I haven’t quite worked out where it is from and I love that handmade pieces all have a history.

And my Kuchi rings because I think about the hands that made them each time I put them on.

Girl Gone  Authentic:

An island or the mountains?

 

Tonie:

An island forever

Girl Gone  Authentic:

What are you wearing today? What were your thoughts picking the outfit?

 

 

Tonie:

Today I’m wearing a huipil form Guatemala a Tibetan wedding horn and some Kuchi tassels. My thoughts when getting dressed are always the same, I have mostly vintage and handwoven clothes and jewellery from all over the world so I simply put together little combinations of the world and put them on.

(This was on the 3rd of June: satisfy your curiosity)

Girl Gone  Authentic:

A song at the top of your mind? haha What memories does it bring?

 

 

Tonie:

Marvin Gaye’s Mercy Mercy Me. His voice, his life story, the message of this song.

(Ponder and sing along)

Girl Gone  Authentic:

World peace. Clean Earth. Love. Pick one.

 

 

Tonie:

Love, always love. Because with true, real strong, unconditional love we can achieve the rest.

Girl Gone  Authentic:

Your favourite scent?

 

 

Tonie:

Lavender for days and Patchouli for nights.

Tonie, you are an angel on Earth. I am reading this as if we are meeting in person. Thank you for letting me in, thank you for sharing yourself. I am very excited to be the messenger for your beautiful spirit and your personal museum.

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