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,
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
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.