TGIF: The Summer My Dad and I Became “Dreamers-Who-Do”

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On building decks, toy trucks in cereal and a touch of crazy.

“You want to do what?!” I asked, my voice betraying my lack of confidence.

“I want to build a deck!” he answered, grinning like a school boy who discovered a toy truck in his cereal.

I had walked into the kitchen after work to find my mom and dad sitting at the computer looking at pictures of decks. “Should we build one level or two?” my Dad asked, his smile widening.

“Le-vels … ?” I asked haltingly. “One … I guess.”

Here’s what I knew about building a deck:
-       The raw materials are expensive.
-       You need to create something 3D out of pieces of wood and nails.
-       Assembling an IKEA bookshelf doesn’t count as “construction experience”.

When we first moved to Canada, my immigrant family of five encircled our very first lawnmower completely mystified, trying to turn the darn thing on. I’m sure our neighbours looked into our backyard and thought, “Oh, those crazy brown people! What on earth are they doing now?”

Sure, my dad can hook up a home theater system like a pro. No problem. But it was hard to imagine him building a functional physical addition to our house.

“Maybe he should start by building something small first? Like a table?” I thought. I felt like I needed to protect him from impending disappointment.

“How are you going to do this?” I inquired, my eyebrows furrowing in ways that would make Jim Carrey proud.

“Google!” he beamed.

I realized this was a man on a mission and I had a choice to make. I could either list out every possible thing that could go wrong or I could bite my tongue and wait to see how the story ends.

In my moment of restraint, it suddenly dawned on me that I, too, was in the midst of “building a deck.” I was training to run my first ever half-marathon to raise money for our sisters in Uganda.

Oh …

This deck was my dad’s half-marathon.

I wonder what my parents thought when their exercise-averse firstborn publicly verbalized her dream to run 21km by the end of the summer. Given my track record, they had a litany of sound reasons to conclude that this dream would quickly derail and head full-steam into the land of bitter disappointment.

But, like me, they too exercised restraint.

And maybe, what I called restraint … they called “faith.”

“Faith is a passionate intuition.”  -William Wordsworth

Dreamers who do

“The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.”  -Sarah Ban Breathnach

Over the course of the summer I watched my dad spend hours combing through Craigslist looking for deals on building material. He found an old lady in the process of renovating her house. She offered to give all the wood on her deck to anyone willing to demolish it for her. I watched my mom and dad pull into the driveway after hours of back-breaking work. They unloaded the rescued wood from the back of our mini-van, each piece a labour of love.

My dad has the work ethic of a farmer. Weak knees be damned. He was relentless.

Parallel to my dad’s efforts, I was training for the half-marathon. I was going for long runs, fundraising, raising awareness for our cause and rallying the hearts of the girls.

I watched him in our backyard, measuring tape in one hand and a piece of wood in the other. Over the course of the summer, he built the base of the deck, put together a white fence, fashioned a table out of scraps, added several coats of paint and varnish. He even built a covered patio so that our family could sit outside to have a meal, sip on chai or just talk. This from the man who has no experience in carpentry. I was amazed by his resolve.

Aesthetically, there are definitely some blips. For example, the colour of the wood doesn’t match the trim of our house and the fence is leaning a little to the left but … it’s finished!

He did it! And I think it’s magnificent.

The deck? Done and done.

The half-marathon? Done and Done.

[Watch this space for our VERY big half-marathon announcement next week.]

A touch of crazy …

I’ve said this on TGIF before:

Lukewarm, mellow and laid-back can’t change the world. Fierce, relentless and a touch of crazy,  just might.

As I type this, I can’t help but get misty-eyed.

This summer my dad and I:
- Dared to dream — lofty, unrealistic, ridiculous dreams.
- Finished what we started.

Here’s to summers of being dreamers-who-do!
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Here are five things that made me smile this week:

Lanyard + Royal Wedding + Dewarists + Stick Men + Ben Howard = TGIF!

1. The Lanyard: It has recently occurred to me that I need to carve out time for poetry and spoken word. It fills a void I can’t quite give expression to. At first, you may be confused by Billy Collins’ account of making a lanyard for his mother at camp. How is this “glee-inducing” you may think. Suddenly at the 1:25 mark you will hear a laugh escape your lips, then again softly at 1:45, and then louder at 1:55. I find his monotone delivery oddly hilarious! And then when you are least expecting it, at 2:18, he states a simple, sentimental, universal truth that will have you do a head-tilt awww.

2. Now, I realize this next statement is going to get me in a lot of trouble but … I wasn’t a huge fan of the neutral colour palette of “the” Royal Wedding. My personal pick for “Royal Wedding of the Year 2011″ goes to the King and Queen of Bhutan.

One word: Colour. Vibrant, glorious, revitalizing colour! That ladies and gentleman, is a crown. It’s the bling-lovechild of Michelangelo and Frida. For more pictures, check out Queen Pema on Facebook! I know, I know. I’m a junkie.


Mixing of patterns, textures and colour palettes. Ah. Love.

I’d much rather be, hanging out with cute babies vs. being escorted by men with Marge Simpson headgear post-ceremony.

Aww … too cute!

3. The Dewarists is a new original TV series that’s part music documentary and part travelogue that features musicians collaborating to create original music while traveling over beautiful locations across India. Hello? Of course, I had to share this! My sister posted this video on Facebook last week, a collaboration between Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Imogen Heap and composers Vishal and Shekhar for a track inspired by the Tagore poem, “Where The Mind Is Without Fear.” This episode was filmed at the luxurious, 475-year-old Samode Palace on the outskirts of Jaipur in Rajasthan, India. Download song here.

4. I won’t say much here. Except, click on: THIS. Go on. Play. Be creative. Think crazy thoughts and then execute. Bravely. Boldly. There are no wrong answers pictures.

5. Twenty-three-year-old British singer-songwriter Ben Howard hit the spot this cold rainy fall November work week. Acoustic Guitar + Catchy hook + Gruff familiar voice + Beautiful Video = Win. The lyrics start at 1:20.

“We stood steady as the stars in the woods
So happy-hearted and the warmth rang true inside these bones
As the old pine fell we sang
Just to bless the morning.”

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So, dear friends…

1. When was the last time you dared to dream a lofty, unrealistic, ridiculous dream?

2. What is standing between you and your dream?

Love you more than Coconut Soup With Red Kuri Squash and Shrimp and Apple Cardamom Cake, (<- Recipe)

xoxo,
Teen

To read more TGIFs from Tina: Click here.

Image from: Behance
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SheLoves Half-Marathon for Living Hope
- How it all got started? Read the story: HERE
- Donate: HERE
- Facebook Event Page: HERE

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Tina Francis
My name is Tina. Loved ones call me: Teen. Words are my chocolate. Music, my caramel. Photography, my bread. Girlfriends, my butter. Confession: Some girls dream about Manolo Blahniks or their next Hermes bag. Not me. I dream of freshly baked bread, perfectly barbecued meat & steaming bowls of Pho. My dream lover *cue Mariah Carey song* is someone who would read out a menu to me in Barry White’s baritone voice. I celebrate food, ask for help, interrupt conversations, laugh and cry hard, acknowledge the elephant in most rooms, fight for the underdog and believe in the power of storytelling. I was born and raised in Dubai and currently live in the beautiful city of Vancouver, known for some of the best sushi in the world.
Tina Francis
Tina Francis

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Tina Francis
  • Kelley Johnson Nikondeha

    Tea~ love the symmetry of your summer journey, you and your dad. Love that you took a moment to stop and see it, then the wisdom to honor both endeavors. I love that you can both celebrate now on that great deck!

    Bhutan knows how to do a wedding… did you see those shoes? Fierce with color! Now I am not dissing on the UK version – a cathedral filled with trees – still makes me catch my breath! Beautiful has so many different facets, I believe.

    TGIF!

  • Pingback: Music composer Shekar to act | SuperIndia Times | Latest India News

  • Amy Englemark

    Hi Tina, I was smiling the whole time I read this. We’re on the same page! Wait til you read my next article in Wellness. The group that filmed the music video in India, do you know if they’re collaborated on anything else? I would love to get my hands on other songs.

    I’m dreaming pretty big dreams right now. What’s holding me back from dreaming bigger is not FULLY knowing who is hungry the most for what I have to offer (in my business)…narrowing it down. xo Amy

    • http://n/a Margot Maines

      wow, Amy…powerhouse last portion of your comment “…What’s holding me back from dreaming bigger is not FULLY knowing who is hungry the most for what I have to offer (in my business)…narrowing it down…”

  • http://shirlock67.blogspot.com Shirlock67

    Teen, I had a wheezy week (catching up with school work and stuff) so this was a chillazin’ way to enjoy my Friday. That was until I began to scroll up and down your piece looking for restrictive clauses and complements…talk about done-to-donded-ness. I am a woman of extremes, so you know I’ll be scouring for reduced relative clauses after that…I am a hazard unto myself but I shall attempt to inflict some of it upon you as well…something about sharing burdens with friends come to mind.

    Before I forget, please relay this to Daddy Francis-
    A man’s home may be his castle, but a man’s deck is his flagship. I had been there to personally hear of your enthusiasm before the deck was built so I batted not an eyelash to see the final results of your labour of love for your family. And it is Stunning.I want to see a brass plaque somewhere commemorating your workmanship. You are a resourceful man, but more than that- a man unafraid to make his dreams into reality.

    I know words are your chocolate, Teen, (words are mushrooms to me) and I’ve recently found out why. Your writing, like dark chocolates, contains phenylethylamine and seratonin- well known mood elevators. Thanks for the lift.

    On a completely random note, I want to know why royals are so ruddy good-looking…

    Shirlz

    • http://n/a Margot Maines

      Shirlz…your post is like chocolate for me also–your brilliant use of words captivated me, and the wisdom in them–priceless! Keep on posting, Shirlz~!

      • http://shirlock67.blogspot.com Shirlock67

        Dear Margot,

        Thank you for taking the time to reply to a reply. Whoever dared to underestimate the sublime encouragement gleaned from unsuspecting virtual passers-by hasn’t met people like you… ;-)

        Shirlz

  • http://tararobinson.com Tara Rodden Robinson

    Oh, Teen! Glee has been induced! Lovely post. Many congrats to your dad on the fabulous deck–it’s gorgeous! And your half marathon, well, you know how proud I am of you and your accomplishment!

    Last but not least, Queen Pema’s shoes are to die for!

    With lotsa love and glee,
    Tara

  • http://drgtjustwondering.blogspot.com Diana Trautwein

    From start to finish, this was simply wonderful. Thank you for all of it. In early retirement still, my dreams are a bit amorphous, but do involve writing my life down for my granddaughters to read some day. I had read Billy’s poem before, but it’s wonderful to watch and listen to his rendition.

  • sherrine francis

    Hey goober,

    Its so heart wrenching to hear the beautiful story about the deck. isn’t it odd to think that in hind sight..you both were on a life altering journey? So proud of you two!

    I’m working on this x’mas quilt with andrea and liz at work. It’s absolutely a labor of love. Remind me to show you when you’re back from TO. it’s well..intricate.

    Have a wonderful, wonderful trip!!

    ps..LOVE the lanyard guys..what a cutie and the queen is just a total hottie! She looks like Michelle Soon. Doesn’t she??? Weird!