TGIF: I Won’t Dance. Don’t Ask Me.


On Beyoncé, Japan’s tsunami debris and my “one word” for 2012.

I would believe only in a God that knows how to dance.”  -Friedrich Nietzsche

For some reason, it didn’t occur to me there would be dancing at a New Year’s Eve party. A small (naive) part of me hoped the night involved: steaming cups of Rooibos tea, reading excerpts of Eve Ensler’s book “I am an Emotional Creature” out loud and lemon pound cake.

I-know-I-know. I’m such a party animal.

I’d successfully escaped the dance floor for the first half of the evening by: perusing the appetizer table, hugging friends extra (creepy) long, pretending to be thirsty, then pretending I had a full bladder and initiating long conversations by asking open-ended questions like,”So, how was 2011?”

The festive yet fairly sober evening was under control until, the evil iPhone shuffled its way over to Beyonce’s song “Single ladies.”

Game over.

Squeals sounded, the couch emptied and female-folk ranging from six to thirty-something crowded the carpeted, cozy, living room dance floor. I found myself in the middle of an impromptu R&B inspired tribal circle of exuberant “single ladies” (and one exuberant dude).

I surveyed the situation and immediately started plotting my exit. “Another washroom break? A fake phone call?” I thought frantically. Suddenly the lone exuberant dude on the dance floor grabbed my hands and ushered me off the couch.

“C’mon!” he said.

“I can’t do it,” I said avoiding eye contact.

“Keep it simple,” he reassured.

“No seriously. I can’t do it!” I said fighting back tears.

“Just bop your head.”

“What is wrong with me?” I whispered. “I suck.”

I’ll have what she’s having …

For as long as I can remember, dancing has been the proverbial scary monster under my bed. I’d rather give an impromptu speech on live television dressed up as a chimp than get jiggy with it. I could never be part of Ellen’s studio audience. Just watching her dance at the beginning of her show, makes me a little short of breath.

Early 2010, my girlfriend Adriel invited me to a wedding in Seattle as her date. In my excitement to see her, I’d completely forgotten about the dancing component of the evening. The moment I stepped into the reception hall, I broke into a cold sweat. So, I did what I always do in uncomfortable social situations. I pulled out my camera security blanket.

I documented Adriel and her fabulous friends that night. They were inspiring and hilarious to watch. I thought about how amazing it must feel to be free.

Last summer, Adriel hired me as her wedding photographer. Looking back at the pictures from her reception, I’m amazed by how liberated her friends and family seemed. They made it look so easy!

Why do my arms and feet feel like lead on the dance floor? I–so badly–want a piece of what they are having.

Soul Debris

My mom has a newspaper clipping about Japan’s tsunami debris on our refrigerator. Twenty million tons of wreckage, including furniture, TVs, refrigerators and other miscellaneous domestic flotsam is making its way to the West coast of Canada and the United States.

Two things occurred to me about the story:
– Tragedy results in debris.
– Debris eventually washes up to shore.

So then, what about tragedies of the heart? Where does the invisible debris from the wreckage of a soul go? The nuclear disaster left tens of thousands dead or missing. Soul-disasters must have a similar effect. Parts must go dead or missing.

A tragedy of the soul occurs on the inside, and yet it manifests in different ways on the outside. If I think back to my childhood, I can remember a time when I was free. A time when I was comfortable in my skin. A time when my limbs were full of expression and life.

And yes, there was a great tragedy. The debris is mostly invisible. It often surfaces when I have to dance. I want to recover the parts of my soul lost at sea.

Silent Soul

Martha Graham, the Picasso of modern dance says, “Dance is the hidden language of the soul.” If dancing is the hidden language of my soul, then what is my mute soul trying to say? More importantly, given my soul’s total inability to communicate (dance) what is my soul unable to say? Why is my soul afraid to speak-up: bop my head, lift my arms, shuffle my feet? How long is my soul going to stay silent?

Martha says, “Dance is a song of the body. Either of joy or pain.” I want to hear the song of my body. My body has been running away from expressing pain for 23 years now. I want healing. Unfortunately, the only way to heal is to dance until my debris rises to the surface.

My One Word

2011 was an incredible year of growth and healing for me, but I’m starting to realize that I’ve only scratched the surface. There is still so much work to be done.

My “one word” last year was “leap.” And, leap I did. Each leap was like the swing of a big demolition ball that slowly knocked down the skyscraper of my fear.

This year is about delving deeper and pulling out the roots, addressing the foundation of the fear and identifying the invisible fear. I’ve realized that the root of most of my fear is from feeling unworthy, less-than or average.

So my “one word” for this year is [insert drum roll] … ENOUGH.

God is showing me that: I am enough. (Philippians 4:13)

Strong enough.
Smart enough.
Brave enough.
Loved enough.

To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak.” – Hopi Indian Saying

I want to hear my heart speak loud and clear this year. Dancing feels risky. Who knows what dark and putrid ugliness dancing to Beyoncé will bring to the surface, but I’m ready to find out.

I’m going to write a blog post at the end of 2012 titled, “How Tina Got Her Groove Back.”


Let’s do this!


I love this 2008 Gap commercial featuring the adorable Ms. Hepburn. #dancepiration


So dear friends…

1. What terrifies you?
2. What is your “one word” for the year? (Read more about the One Word conversation here.)

Love you more than Steamed Mussels & Buttermilk Frangipane Cake, (<- Recipe)



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