TGIF: A (Not So) Beautiful Mind


On Arianna Huffington, Focus Tattoos, Gratitude, Elizabeth Gilbert and Sigur Rós.

“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.” — Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (Don Quixote)

In the last couple of months, my brain has dried up too. I’ve gone completely out of my mind from “so little sleeping and so much reading.”

I’ve begun to embody the female equivalent of Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind. Eyes darting from laptop screen to iPhone screen, scurrying from my desk to the kitchen for a coffee refill, avoiding eye contact with Susan at the photocopier, legs shaking continuously under my desk and being completely incapable of answering the bewildering question posed by my mother, “How was your day?”

Moderation is something I’ve always struggled with. It was hard to notice at first because I was having such a blast learning, exploring and reveling in blogs, audiobooks, podcasts, Twitter, etc. Pinning things, tweeting things, scanning things, downloading things, while listening to things. Of course.

I was stuck on a merry-go-round that was moving faster and faster with “It’s A Small World” playing ad nauseum.

I was excited when Idelette announced that the theme for August was “Rest.” My first instinct was to Pin, Tweet and read all things related to rest. But then, I logged out of Facebook for the first time in months. I disabled “Push Notifications” on my phone. And I lay in my bed staring at the ceiling, with no music, podcast or audiobook playing in the background. Just me and the cotton sheets. Slowly I felt my sanity seep back drip by drip, like coffee brewing on a Sunday morning.

Here are five things I’ve learned about “rest” this month:

1. Sleeping our way to the top – Media Moghul and founder of Huffington post, Arianne Huffington has a fabulous short TED Talk called “How to succeed? Get more sleep.” She discovered the value of sleep the hard way a few years ago, when she fainted from exhaustion and got five stitches on her right eye.

My favourite quote:

“And we women are going to lead the way in this new revolution, this new feminist issue. We are literally going to sleep our way to the top, literally.”

2. Focus Pocus – I’ve realized that one of the primary reasons I can’t find time for rest is my lack of focus. At any given time, I have multiple tabs, documents and email drafts open on my computer. In other words, I stop responding to an email because I get distracted by a text, only to get further distracted by the tempting red flag notification beckoning me on Facebook. My fiancé Kupa calls this “context switching.”

At $5 a pop, you think these nifty tattoos might help me focus?

3. Gratitude = Joy – Reading What My Son’s Disabilities Taught Me About ‘Having It All  by Marie Myung-Ok Lee reminded me that a grateful heart can restore peace in any situation.

There are so many things, yes things (grrr), that steal my joy and keep me in a state of unrest.

Marie says:

“I don’t enjoy that my 12-year-old son is still in diapers and sometimes purposely makes a mess in the bathroom. Or that he dumped his Thanksgiving dinner on my sister-in-law’s pregnant belly. Or that he screams in the parking lot of Whole Foods until people call the cops on us. On the other hand, he is my son, and he is what I have. And he has a nice smile.”

Marie Lee with her son

4. No means No-Learning to say “no” has always been something I’ve struggled with. The most I can muster on a good day is swapping a resounding “yes” for a hesitant “maybe” or “I’ll try.” In this interview, Elizabeth Gilbert talks about how she learned to say no by being a “bodyguard of her time.” She asks the question, “What are you willing to give up to get what you really really want?”

This question helped me reframe my dilemma. I realized that when I say “No,” I’m actually saying “Yes” to something I “really really want.”

5. Peace in unexpected places – When I was in university all “the cool kids” listened to Sigur Rós. Many of them were elitist music snobs who weren’t so great at being inclusive. So this Middle Eastern-bred, Indian girl, in her early twenties, had pretty negative feelings associated with the band. Their music reminds me of feeling left out, unwelcome and “less than.”

A few weeks ago, Kupa and I were driving to a restaurant for date night, when he picked a playlist on his iPhone called “Iceland” filled with Sigur Rós songs. I instinctively asked to change the music on the grounds that “I was in a good mood” and wanted to listen to something “happy.”

By the time we got to the restaurant, Kupa seemed disconnected and distant. What I didn’t know was that he had compiled the playlist specifically for date night and I had dismissed it without even giving it a chance. I felt terrible and [ahem] there may have been tears. He graciously accepted my apology and gave me a great big hug.

On the way home, as a peace offering, I insisted that we listen to his playlist.

And you know what? It wasn’t so bad! Actually, it’s kinda pretty. It’s the perfect music for a calming yet invigorating morning walk.

Waking up early to actually go on that walk? Weeeell … that’s another story. Hehe. Enjoy!

Sigur Rós – Glósóli from Sigur Rós.

WARNING: The kids jump off the cliff at the end of the video. Do not try at home. #imtooyoungtogotojail

So, dear ones, I’d love to know …

    • Which one of my five things jumped out at you?
    • What stumbling blocks are preventing you from carving out time for rest?

Love you more than Brown Butter Pancakes with Glazed Peaches,


To read more TGIFs from Tina: Click here.

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
  • Sherry Naron

    Good morning Tina!
    Ahhhh…the need to sleep – dang, thanks for hitting me squarely in between the eyes this morning! This is the one I have to do much better on. #2, I think I’m gonna order some of those tattoo’s…they probably won’t help me focus but they’re super cute 😉 #3, I learned the art of “no,” a long time ago. At some point I figured out I usually said yes to things I really didn’t want to do because I was a people pleaser. Once I learned to value myself and the things that bring me joy, and the time it takes to do them, then “no” came much easier for me.


    #4, Who the heck has a boyfriend that creates a special playlist for a date night!!!! Wow, Tina, was a sweet guy – he needs to give lessons to the general population of men in the world. 🙂

    Ok, I’m off to take a nap!

  • On Sigur Ros….well, if it helps I was entirely unaware of Sigur Ros until 2008. This homeschooled, evangelical-raised girl was mostly excited for a new Bebo Norman album. Might explain a lack of connection with those music-snob-types myself!

    Isn’t it funny, music-associations?

    It is so hard to say no to possibility and shut my eyes to sleep, even when I know it’s necessary.

    Battling expectations is tough; I think its #3 that stands out most to me today.

  • I love that you lay on your sheets without even relaxing background music. On rare occasions I accidentally end up in that delicious position and wonder why I don’t do that more often!
    Context switching – never heard of it, but I am a died-in-the-wool addict. Sometimes I suddenly dissolve into tears when all the potential products spread in front of me mean nothing but chaos and I don’t know which straggly end I left off last…

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  • That is too crazy about Sigur Ros, Teens because I have never given them a shot for the exact same reason! And Sufjan Stevens was the same way but Stephan had their albums and played them and now i am catching up a decade later and feeling less controlled by those 20-year-old snobs that seem to have collapsed back into regular people now that they are small fish in the big earth pond like the rest of us always were… Did you ever stalk any of them on FB and hope to find them uglier and more boring? I mean I of course NEVER did that (cough cough) but it might have crossed my mind… 😉

  • Also… I am totally the type to screw up a thoughtful romantic gesture from my husband so you are not alone. It’s still awful though, trampling over the poor dude not paying attention!

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