Proud Mary

In 2006, after my youngest daughter took the Choices seminar, following her
sister and I who’d gone through earlier the same year, we would always go to
the Family Dance on Saturday night.

It became our tradition.

As did, dancing to Tina Turner’s – Proud Mary.

The music would start, the girls and I would step into the middle of the dance floor as
everyone formed a circle around us. Nice and easy. Movin’ and groovin’ Rollin. Rollin’. Rollin’. as the music sped up and Tina belted out the words of the song. Nice and rough.

By the end, and it’s a long song, 100 people would be gyrating wildly to the
pounding music as we pulled the rest of the room onto the dance floor with us.

Out of breath. Hearts pumping. Smiles wide. We danced and laughed and flung
our heads back and twisted and turned our bodies as we lifted our arms into
the air, fist pumped the air above our heads and gave our all to the music and
Tina Turner’s urgings to keep Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’.

At the end of the song, the three of us would hug and lean on each other as
we stood celebrating six minutes of wild dancing as if no one was watching.

People were watching. Our Proud Mary ‘routine’ became a staple of the dance.

It was wild fun. A moment in time that stood still as we moved into the
empty spaces of our bodies and filled every cell with the exhilaration of wild,
abandoned movement.

Over time, as one daughter moved away and the other became involved in other
areas of her life and had less time to come to the dance, I would still dance
it with anyone in the room. But our Proud Mary moments together at the dance
past on.

Yet still, we carried the rhythm and the music with us. We danced it at C.C.
and my wedding, at karaoke one night where a group of “just us women” had gone to
celebrate my eldest daughter’s upcoming nuptials. In fact, that night, as the
three of us were prancin’ and a dancin’ (the youngest daughter and I always let
her older sister hold the mic – she knew how to use it well) a friend text his
sister, who was at the party with us, to say he’d just received a text from a
group of guy friends who were at the same pub where the girls and I were dancing to
Proud Mary. The friend, not knowing the relationship between us and his friend,
sent a video of the three of us with a comment about how his friend was missing
out! There were crazy women performing Proud Mary!

At my eldest daughter’s wedding, she and her sister slipped away to don
white mini-skirted fringydresses, a la Tina, and when they returned, the music
started, nice and easy, and the three of us started to dance, Rollin’. rollin’. Rollin’. and then, with wild abandon, nice and rough. It’s our schtick.

Proud Mary is my anthem. My call to action. My heartbeat’s yearning.

Once, at a course I was taking, each of the 20+ participants were assigned a
song they had to sing and dance to, alone, in the middle of the floor, with
about 40 to 50 people watching. The facilitator did not know my connection to
Proud Mary — but there it was, the song she picked for me, the song she felt I
needed to embody to stretch myself beyond the comfort of my known way of being
in the world.

The facilitator was very wise. She knew the dancing part wasn’t my stretch.
It was the living into the legacy of Tina Turner I needed to embrace. To keep
rising up, claiming my right to be powerful. wild and free..

Whenever I’m asked, “who do you admire and if you could, would ask to be your
mentor, or to at least sit down and share a meal with you?” Tina Turner is
always at the top of my list, ahead of Madeiline Albright, Gloria Steinem, and
other powerful women.

Tina epitomized rising up from a trauma-riddened past and leaving the
destruction behind. In everything she did and said, in every movement, every
song, she declared her freedom with wild abandon. Her power was in her decision
to walk away and rebuild. To reclaim not just what was lost in her relationship
with Ike Turner, but in living her life to other people’s demands and

Frank Sinatra may have sung, I did it my way. Tina Turner lived it.

Thank you Tina for teaching me (and the world) how to live wild and free, being
true to who you are, singing and dancing as if no one is watching, doing it your way.

#ProudMary #TinaTurner

Great artistry abides in everyone.

Great artistry copy

If I had met them walking down the street, I might have been inclined to judge them by their look. To think the two young men walking towards me were out to find trouble, or at least, aimlessly wandering without direction.

In every human, judgements reside.

Not knowing their artistry, not knowing their story, I might have wondered about how we could be of the same world and inhabit the same space when we are such world’s apart in how we appear to the world. I might have passed them with a fleeting thought about what caused them to look so fierce. To dress so grunge. To think being hipsterish was cool.

On their part, I might think that if we passed each other walking down the street, they would not even notice me. I would imagine they were so caught up in the stage of their lives, they would not notice an older woman walking down the street, or even wonder if we had anything in common.

And then I watched the video of two young ‘hipster’ men dancing.

What struck me most, what superseded any judgements I might, or might not have had about their ‘look’, was the passion of their dance and the incredible discipline, training and commitment to their art it must have taken for them to be able to dance together like that. What talent and creativity. I was in awe.

When I posted the video on my FB page, a friend commented on the power of their dance. When I replied with my commentary of how judgements of ‘the look’ could have interfered with my seeing the beauty of their art, she replied, “Great artistry abides in every human costume.”


Within each of us great artistry abides. No matter how we look, what we wear, how deep our pockets, how tight our pants or how long our pasts. Great artistry abides within each of us.

It is what struck me every day when I worked at a homeless shelter and started an art program. The individuals who came to the studio didn’t have deep pockets, they didn’t have a wealth of clothing options or choices on how to share their creative gifts, or how to express themselves through every medium. We only had so many supplies in the studio, so many canvases, so much paint for people to explore and use.

It didn’t matter.

Because when they walked into the studio, they came with the fierce desire to create. They came with their deep passion for expressing themselves through their art.

While homelessness may have ripped away all of their possessions, undermined their self-confidence and sense of place, they all shared a fierce commitment to holding onto ‘the thing’ that no one and nothing could take from them. Their creative essence.

Life can be tough. It can tear us down. Pummel our dreams and shake up our sense of purpose. It can hold us in arms of sadness, grip us in the death maws of addiction, weigh us down with the heaviness of sorrow, loss, regret, and trauma.

But it cannot take away the greatness of our individual artistry.

That abides within us.

No matter how deeply it gets buried beneath the clothes we wear, the heaviness of our backpacks, the depths of our traumas, our greatness cannot be diminished.

And when we set ourselves free to express ourselves from that place where all that matters is being true to ourselves and our self-expression, we create a world where differences diminish, judgements disperse. In that place all we are left with is the raw, beautiful and shining gift of our greatness.

I am so grateful these two young men had the fierce confidence, passion, discipline to not leave their artistry buried within them. I am so grateful they chose instead to dance with abandon for all the world to celebrate.

Let us all dance with abandon today so that in our dance, the world can celebrate the great artistry that abides within each of us.


Thank you Slim Russell for inspiring this post.