Growing into My Name

Daphne ... A Way of LifeAt this point, I’ve been a part of The Writer’s Post group here on Facebook for over a year, so many of you know me and, I can only assume, are comfortable with my name. You probably wonder why I’m making note of this.

Lemme tell you, going through life with such an unusual name hasn’t been easy. Growing up in the 1970’s and 80’s,  girls around me were named Amy, Lisa and Jennifer; Sarah, Mary and Julie.

New Yorker popular names cartoon

Daphne of Scooby DooAnd then there was this girl named Daphne. I don’t suppose I need to tell you that Daphne is unlikely to ever be in the top 10 girls’ names for a given year or, for that matter, even the top hundred. It just isn’t very popular. But that’s okay. After nearly 44 years of living with it, I’ve just about “grown into” my name.

“What exactly does she mean by that?” you’re probably asking yourself at this moment.

Some of you more “colorfully” named writers here on the post can probably relate to the following reactions that have occurred when I’ve answered the age-old question, “What’s your name?”: “I’m sorry, what’s your name? How do you spell that?” or “Oh! So nice to meet you Stephanie!” or “Was that Delfine (pronounce Dehl-feen)?”

Yeah, whatever. 😕

In my travels, I have been called just about every name in the book. Debbie, Dabby (Seriously? Who names their kid Dabby?), Delfine, Daphen (pronounced Day-fin) and, most frequently, Stephanie.  I’m especially fond of Daphen and Delfine. The latter always leaves me scratching my head in wonderment about where exactly the “L” is in D-a-p-h-n-e.

Yeah, whatever. 😕

And as if it weren’t enough that I have this name that’s way out of the mainstream, as a child, the only Daphne references people knew of were Daffy Duck and Daphne of “Scooby Doo” fame. Throughout elementary school, I would get asked in shrill tones, “Daphne! Where’s Scooby?!” I was also called Daffy Duck for longer than I can remember… .
Daffy Duck

Take heed, would-be parents, Daphne is not the greatest moniker with which to ensure that your young daughter (or son, if you’re really progressive) is surrounded by friends.

Unless, you live in Israel, which I did for a year and a half. There, the name Dafna (pronounced Dahf-nah) is almost as commonplace/popular as Mary is here. So one more Daphne or Dafna, just blends in.

To my great surprise, after standing apart from the crowd for so long, I found that I didn’t like just being one of the masses.

When I returned to the US from Israel, I began to strive to live up to my namesake by being unique, wherever possible. It was a thrill for me to be told by a teacher when I worked at a private school that a student had referred to me in conversation as,  “that cool lady who works for the Headmaster.”

Being named Daphne really does put me “a full degree below normal,” I think. And, by me, that’s great. I rest pretty well assured these days, that no matter where I go, there won’t be another Daphne there.

I can’t help but wonder though, if that will be the case when I travel to Alabama later this week. Here’s a map of where I’m going:
Daphne, AL map

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Walking the Talk

Blog the blog“I challenge you to make your life a masterpiece. I challenge you to join the ranks of those people who live what they teach, who walk their talk.” ~ Tony Robbins (Self-help author and motivational speaker)

More than 20 years ago, a colleague told me I was “the most negative person” she knew.

Two phrases come to mind when I think of that moment:  (1) “The truth hurts,” and (2) “That which does not kill me makes me stronger.” That biting, semi-truthful remark just about killed me then. It didn’t though, and today I try to use it to make me stronger.

For the last umpteen years on New Year’s Eve, I’ve said to myself, “The year that starts tomorrow is going to be the year of more and less.” Under the heading of  “More,” I place to love, learn and laugh.  And under the heading of “Less,” I file to worry, complain and be snarky.  Unfortunately, for the last umpteen years on New Year’s Eve, I’ve reviewed my performance over the course of the year that’s about to end and I’ve been disappointed. More and less

Last year, I had a rude awakening. My perspective on life changed dramatically when my Dad was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer early in the year. My grandfather — my dad’s dad — died at age 77 shortly before my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary. My Dad was 77 and my parents’ 50th anniversary would take place in December … if my Dad made it. The terrifying similarity of the situation had me living day to day asking, “Will Dad survive?” I think I went through four of the five stages of grief in about 20 minutes. 😆 I’m not sure I ever got to the final stage — acceptance.

Throughout the year I went back and forth to NY, where my folks live, to help out my Dad and “spell” my Mom. Initially, I was reluctant to do it. I didn’t like being separated from Gary or the idea of leaving him alone to fend for himself; I didn’t like having to “look after” my Dad as if he were a child and I didn’t like being taken out of my comfort zone and disrupting my routine. Gary, whose father died very suddenly when Gary was 12, turned out to be the voice of reason. He said, “You don’t know how much time you’re going to get with your parents, Daph, so go.” And go, I did. What happened over the course of those months and the days I spent in NY was that I realized how very, very wonderful it is to be of service to those who matter to you and how very, very happy you can make those who you serve.

With that in mind, about three weeks ago, on December 31st, I swore nine ways to Sunday that 2013 was going to be the year in which I made my life a masterpiece as Tony Robbins defines it.

I’ve never wanted to be a nasty, snippy person, but it seems that it comes more easily to me. (Are ya with me here?)  It’s Day 23 of the New Year now and I concede I haven’t been entirely successful in making my life a masterpiece. Then again, Rome wasn’t built in a day. But, no excuses… .

Smile! It Makes People Wonder ...

I also know, though, that on several occasions on which I’ve felt the urge to be sarcastic, I have taken the high road and kept my thoughts to myself. And, I’ve been more mindful of my lapses and consequently, my fits of snarkiness are less frequent and don’t last as long as they once did.  I’ll be damned if I’m not going to prove my former colleague wrong about me.

But it takes a lot of energy.

Last week, in a phone call with my Mom, I commented that I was feeling overwhelmed from continually fighting my gut instinct to be negative. Reflecting on my words, I have to laugh. “Mom,” I said, “This ‘being nice’ thing is exhausting!” 😀

Foolery, Tom Foolery

paparazziThe other night, I saw the 2010 movie, “The King’s Speech.” For those unfamiliar, the film, which won the Oscar for Best Picture, essentially tells the story of Prince Albert’s work and relationship with the speech therapist who helped him get a stammering problem under control so he could speak publicly as the King of England. (As an aside, it’s a brilliant movie, well worth seeing, if you haven’t already.) It comes back to me powerfully in the context of the topic “FAME” chosen by Michelle Liew for The Writer’s Post Blog Hop #63.

Why? Because here was a man who, as much as he hoped to stay out of the limelight, was thrust into it, “warts and all,” so to speak.  Admittedly, many people who are famous, milk it for all it’s worth and love it, despite claims to the contrary, but plenty of celebrities really just want to be left alone.

And then there are the rest of us. The “Other 98%,” I suppose you could call us, who live our lives unnoticed. I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing. A guy I know has said to me on more than one occasion, “I just want to be famous.” When I consider the lengths to which some people will go to become famous, all I can do is shake my head.

It makes me think of this joke:

Mr. Jones, 75, and a widower, is having a lonely time in Miami Beach. But he regularly sees a man about his age who’s never alone, people always surrounding him and extending invitations.

So he works up the courage and one day asks, “Mister, how do I make friends like you have?” The guy smiles and says: “Get a camel and ride up and down Collins Avenue every day. Before you know it, everyone in Miami will be asking who you are. You’ll have to hire someone to handle all the invites you’ll be getting.”

So Jones gets a paper and looks through the ads where he read of a circus, stranded in Miami, in need of capital. Jones phones the circus owner and within an hour he has a camel.

The next morning, Jones, wearing khaki shorts and a pith helmet, sets forth on his camel to Collins Avenue. Everywhere folks stop and look in wonderment. Daily, for a week, he rides in this way.

One morning, as he’s getting ready to ride, the phone rings. It’s the parking lot attendant calling to say his camel’s been stolen.

Jones calls the police and Sgt. Riley answers.

“What…you say someone stole your camel?” Riley asks. Western Man on Camel

“That’s right,” says Jones.

“I’ll have to fill out a form.” Riley says. “How tall is the animal?”

“From the sidewalk to where I sit, a good six feet,” Jones replies.

“What color is it?”

“Camel color.”

“Is it male or female?” Riley continues.

“What?”

“Is it male or female?”

“How am I supposed to know that? Wait! Wait a minute…. It’s male. Yes, male.”

“You’re sure?”

“Absolutely,” Jones says.

“But a minute ago you weren’t sure,” Sgt. Riley says, hesitating…

“Trust me, officer. I’m positive,” Jones says. “You see, I just remembered that every time I rode on Collins Avenue, people would say, ‘Hey, look at the shmuck on that camel!’”

Inspired by Michelle’s villanelle, I thought it would be interesting to take a more “poetic” approach to speculating on what someone might do to achieve fame. I offer you this look…

A strapping young Irishman named Seamus

Male athlete wearing laurel wreath posing in studio showing six-pack and strong arms

Was dubbed Limerick’s chief ignoramus

After donning naught but a crown

He paraded downtown

It’s okay with him though, ’cause now he’s famous.

And this one…

A fellow who we will call “Amos”

from a passionate desire to become famous,

did something he’d never

ever, ever, ever, ever

do unless compelled by a writ of mandamus.

What say you, readers? Better to be famous or fly under the radar? 

Hard Reboot?

A hard reboot is when power [to a computer] is abruptly turned off and then turned back on. A hard reboot may be caused … deliberately as a last resort to reset a critical error. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reboot_(computing))

Earlier today while emptying the dishwasher, I dropped a mug, shattering its handle.

Broken mugTruth be told, the mug was pretty lackluster in appearance. When I turned it around in my hand, all I could see was a grayish white cylinder. My husband explained why.

The mug, he said, dated back to when he began working at the government agency he’s with, more than 20 years ago. Any printing that had been on the mug had long since worn off, as a result of heaven only knows how many trips through the dishwasher.

Still, I felt really bad that I’d broken it. My distress was compounded by the fact that in early December, I broke a substantial household item for the first time in our marriage. Once again, the dishwasher was involved.

That time, I was pushing the top rack of the dishwasher back into place, after unloading it. For some unknown reason, I had a Pyrex pot in my hand. When I pushed the rack all the way back on its track, I managed to smash the pot against the counter, putting a large crack in it and rendering it unusable.

Don’t get me wrong, dear reader. I’m not crying over spilled milk. I recognize that these things are only “things” and are replaceable (although in light of how many other mugs we own, I’m quite certain we won’t be getting another one….)

What bothers me is the uncertainty of why these accidents occurred. Could they have been avoided? My gut says “yes.”   Perhaps if I’d just put the pot on the counter and not tried to multi-task… Perhaps if I hadn’t slathered my hands with lotion just before handling wet dishes…

But what’s done is done. I can’t hard reboot, undo my actions and wipe the slate clean. I can, however, think of countless other occasions on which I’ve been left kicking myself upon reflecting on what I did or didn’t say/do/etc.

Reset buttonWhich is why, I wish my life had a reset button. Boy, would that come in handy!

While I wait for technology to develop a means to turn back the clock, I suppose the best course of action would be to try to learn from my mistakes. That and maybe consider hiring someone to do my dishes. 😀