What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare
So, what IS in a name?
Some people don’t like their own given name, and sometimes we don’t like someone else’s name. Sometimes we are in wonderment at how someone might have arrived at a particular name, or notice that a name has a funny ring to it, or sounds like it might be from another language than our own, etc. I remember disliking my name when I was young. I much preferred nicknames to my own given name when I was a teenager. That changed as I grew into an adult, but not necessarily for the reasons this post is about… until now.
Our family has another grandbaby on the way — our third. So it’s an exciting time! I was teasing the kids about naming the baby after me — even if it was a boy — or combining mine and mother’s names — DeboRosa. Yeah, I know how it sounds. My former husband says it sounds too much like “ambrosia,” which I still feel qualifies it for the possibility list. (I’m seriously just kidding.)
When I was out for my walk the other day, I was chuckling to myself about that conversation. Then I started thinking about our children’s names. All three boys are named after beloved family members who are not only loved, but strong in character. The lone girl’s name was chosen because it sounded pretty (and it is — almost as pretty as her). Our first granddaughter is named the same way, and our first grandson is named after his father and has a middle name with a very special meaning in Spanish. Anyway, that’s the context for this post.
As I and my thoughts meandered around the neighborhood, it occurred to me just how much I love our kids’ names, and how much they mean to me. I started thinking about the things I mentioned above about my own name, about times when I couldn’t imagine why someone would name a child “that,” or when I heard someone making fun of a name because it sounded “foreign.” I know people who have changed their names because they didn’t like them, and others because the name they were given at birth did not match their gender identity. I know some who have changed their names because they wanted a more American-sounding name. (That makes me sad for a few reasons.) I also recalled some people whose names make me personally feel a particular way — upset, angry, sad, fearful, anxious. And there are still others when I hear them, I feel joy, love, warmth, happiness. But I couldn’t recall ever hearing a parent say that they regretted giving a particular name to their child/ren.
I worked in various positions in healthcare, primarily women’s health for many years. Names were important, and spellings of those names were extremely important. I used to keep a list in my drawer of the peculiar or unusual ones. Some seemed thoughtful, but others still have me scratching my head to this day. Nonetheless, someone cared about those names enough and whatever was behind them to dole them out to a most precious gift.
How do people respond to your name? How do they feel when they hear it? How do you feel about your own name? How will you hear names after this?
When your parent/s gave you your name, it sounded like love in their soul, like music to their ears, a song etched in their heart, or a sweet memory worthy of sharing. It meant something to the person that thoughtfully gave you your name, and they heard something in it, knew someting about it no one else could hear, see, or feel quite the same.
Or: Now that I Know So Much I Know How Much I Don’t Know
Or: I’m Highly Qualified to Know this Stuff; I’m Over 50!
Now that I am past the halfway point of my fifties (LORDY!), I feel mature enough and qualified enough to speak on these things. Here is what makes our fifties so interesting to me and other stuff I’ve figured out:
Feeling instantaneously compelled to take layers of clothing off due to a sudden rise in internal body temperature.
Feeling instantaneously compelled to put layers of clothing back on due to a sudden return of normal internal body temperature.
Feeling homicidal about anyone who thinks they are going to change the thermostat.
Feeling justified about feeling homicidal towards the thermostat hijacker.
When I say that I don’t care what people think, I mean it literally, not like when I said it when I was in my thirties as a spite.
Watching the evolutionary process of being an older parent with adult children as if I am some kind of an outsider to it.
Realizing on so many occasions that my children are just plain smarter than me, and possibly than I ever was at their ages.
Having friends that I have known for half a century or more.
No longer feeling guilt or compelled to hold on to family members that are chaotic, unkind, and disruptive just because they are family, and having the certainty that it is the healthy thing to do.
Not being sure how to do something, then figuring it out, then forgetting how I did it for the next time, and just not caring that I forgot and I now have to ask one of the kids and we’re going to laugh about it – even though it’s likely they’re laughing at me.
Yeah, I know some of these are run-on and incomplete sentences. And guess what… I don’t care about that either!
The thought I had when my grandkids were born that I should have just skipped the kids and gone to the fun part of being a grandparent, except now I know that I wouldn’t be the kind of Gram I am without raising those fabulous parents first.
The realization that if someone doesn’t value me, then they either aren’t paying attention or they are missing something in themselves.
Though my fifty-something body may not be in the strong shape my twenty-something body was, my mind and heart are stronger than ever in my resolve to be a co-creator of a world that works for everyone.
Wasting time looks different to different people.
Slow the f#€k down.
You have to look at the stars, and the sunrises, and the sunsets whenever possible. You may not get another one.
Barefoot is good — unless you are going to put them on the dashboard or window of the car. That’s just gross. Walking barefoot on the Earth is grounding. Besides being gross, the other one will get your knees shoved through your face if you get into an accident.
Take care of your feet. Wash them, for God’s sake. Don’t let your nails get gross and your feet get crusty. It’s not just gross, it’s unhealthy.
Don’t be the reason the person you live with feels lonely.
It’s easy to take the people that care about us and/or we care about for granted, but it’s not okay.
Be fearless. Say yes to things that scare you or have you stopped.
Get tattoos if you like them, no matter what your dad might say.
It really doesn’t matter if someone’s pants sag. What matters is when you think you are better because yours don’t.
If you can look the other way when someone is cheating or being deceitful, you are an accomplice.
Don’t let past regrets stop you. You have them because you are supposed to do better next time. That is the lesson from regrets.
I don’t for a second believe that everything happens for a reason.
I do 100% believe that there is a lesson to be found in everything.
When someone is talking to you, acknowledge them, and act like what they are saying is of the utmost importance. They are giving themselves to you.
As a parent, tell your kids when you could have done better with them, even if it is decades later.
I think most often most people do the very best they can. But don’t let that be an excuse to keep a terrible person around or excuse their poor behavior and choices. Sometimes someone’s very best may still not be a good fit for you.
Don’t think for one minute that you always know more than your children. At any age, child or grown, we should be learning from them.
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you have to keep them around. It can; but it’s possible it can also mean “thank you for showing me who you are and where you belong.”
It is the job of our youth to challenge our ideals. Each generation co-creates the world for the next generation. We fall short only because we don’t realize in the moment that it is all going to change, and that is the way of things. If you are ridiculing their ideas, that says a whole lot about you and nothing about them. Remember, we raised them and we brought them up in a world whose systems were created before us and also by us. And what did we do?
We do see the color of people’s skin. Color blindness is only a real thing when you’re talking about the genetic disorders. Claiming color blindness when talking about another person is not actually honoring the person of color as you might think. It is actually dismissing a part of them that is worthy of being seen. It is dismissive and indicates you are not willing to dive past the surface to be not only inclusive of our differences, but it assumes that assimilation is key to equality. It is not. What you are actually blind to is your own privilege that you walk around in without seeing that either. You may think that by ignoring the color of another’s skin that you are making a dent in racism. You are doing the exact opposite.
People of color are not here to do all the educating for you on inclusion and what it’s like to be a person of color.
When someone tells you their experience and it’s different from yours, they are still right.
Teach your kids to read books, not screens.
I am never bored. EVER.
When someone mistreats you; that is who they are. There’s no reason under the sun to let them continue.
When someone tells you something about yourself that’s hard to hear, HEAR it, and move forward accordingly.
Don’t let someone talk you out of your dreams or convince you that you’re not worthy of them — big or small.
It’s okay to be mad. In fact, sometimes we should be mad.
It’s not okay to hurt someone because you’re mad.
Therapy. Do it.
You don’t have to do things like your parents.
Do NOT live vicariously through your children. You will be in their way.
Children are not tiny adults, and you are a parent first and always; then sometimes you can be their friend, too. When they are grown then you can be friends, and before you know it they will slowly take over, and they may need to. It’s that middle part that’s the sweet stuff, and if you cultivate it, they won’t mind having to take over at some point, and you will trust them to.
Don’t let anyone interfere between you and your children. That should remain an indivisible bond.
We all need quiet time.
Your kids do NOT need to be busy all the time.
Alone is not lonely.
Suspicion breeds suspicion.
Trust. Don’t screw it up.
Cuss if you want to.
Go out of your way to get to know people that don’t look like you or sound like you. You’ll NEVER be sorry.
Centrist ideals and actions, passivism, and just plain refusing to see (cognitive dissonance) are killing this planet. Essentially, it is killing us. You may have the urge to blame it on those that are obviously being destructive, or obviously protesting that climate change is even real. But every time you make up an excuse for our government officials and political groups ignoring the issue of climate change, you are aiding and abetting those that intentionally have ill will for this planet as evidenced by their desires for personal gain over a survivable planet. And when you think about it, you have personal gain issues, too. Yes. “We have more important issues at hand,” has been said to me. I wonder what that could be? I’ll tell you what it is, and it’s not what you think. It’s your fear – your irrational fear that Trump is the biggest thing we have to defeat – over anything and everything else. F.E.A.R. I don’t know about you, but most people don’t operate in their best thinking when they are coming from fear. We’re all afraid, but we shouldn’t let our fear have us operate from the inability to move out from in front of our noses, unable to see the bigger picture.
Right now the Amazon Rain Forest is burning at phenomenally faster rates than have EVER been known! Some of this is on purpose – for monetary gain. How disgusting! Climate change is killing it as well. We laugh, scoff and wag our fingers at climate change deniers… but how is waiting around for a better time to do something about it any better? In my opinion, that’s even WORSE, because we know better.
I am in an ongoing fight and struggle for equality for all persons on this planet, as many of you may be. If you know me, or have read many of the things I write, this is likely not news to you. Off the top of my head right now, I can’t think of anything more important to me than seeing a world that works for all. Full disclosure is, I selfishly do this because ultimately that’s the world I want for my grandchildren. I’m probably not going to see it. Maybe, but probably not. That’s OK. That’s the bigger picture. It doesn’t mean I’m ignoring the louder, more current concerns or that I’m not afraid. But the bigger picture speaks louder to me than the current, temporary ones. Does that mean that I/we ignore the current madhouse? No, not at all. What it means is that we should not put all our eggs in the basket of fearing the current madhouse. There has to be a balance. But if we’re reacting now without any regard for later, that is a God-awful strategy for our future. If your child is crying because he has a wet and soiled diaper and he’s hungry, but you just realized you’re out of diapersandformula, are you going to run out and get diapers to avoid the current mess, but wait on the formula because it’s less pressing at this moment? Or do they both require your full attention?
This is where we are. Mother Earth is SCREAMING for help, but many of us can’t seem to focus our energy on anything other than the mess in front of us. It’s urgent, yes, but there’s something bigger and also urgent that is starving for our attention as well. And if we don’t take care of it, there won’t be one single reason for any of the rest of it. The thing about starvation is, once it’s noticeable, there’s very little time to correct it, if at all. And even once it’s corrected, there may be lasting, irreversible damage to the point that saving it is in reality only slowing down the inevitable.
This is not about how much or little you might be doing for a better world. This is not about making the important work any of us are doing now suddenly worthless. IT’S ALL IMPORTANT. IT’S ALL NEEDED, ALL NECESSARY. But operating out of fear to the degree that we let ourselves be led by the nose, to ignore the underhandedness of those that we allow to represent us is going to be our end. And we do this for the short-term goal out of fear. Fear has us blind. Fear has us deaf. Fear has us cutting ourselves short. It’s sad. It’s maddening watching some of those that I love, appreciate, and think so highly of, and know without a doubt to be otherwise intelligent folks give it all up for the moment.
If you think we have bigger fish to fry than climate change, or that it can wait until after the next election, you clearly need the oxygen that we are currently running out of. This is dire. If you actually think the DNC or GOP has your best interests at heart, you MUST be suffering from hypoxia and can’t think straight. Wake up… while you still can. How is it that you can look the other way while they make up their own rules and decisions, mostly ignoring what the voters want, bowing to them out of fear instead of standing up to them and being fearless. Last election, and it looks like the upcoming one as well, so many people wanted to blame people like me for a sub-par candidate losing the election. You should be blaming yourselves and the DNC who led you by the nose KNOWING BETTER. Many of us tried to tell you, and you ridiculed and laughed at us. We’re telling you again, and you’re still laughing.
I wish I could say that “I told you so” tasted sweet, but I have to wade in the bitter poison right along with you.
Your social justice and equality issues also do not take a bigger stage than climate change. Again, these issues are not less important, but to be perfectly clear, they won’t be an issue at all if we keep ignoring climate change or putting it off until ____________. If you care so much about social dynamics and the struggles that are going on right now in our communities of color and our underserved communities, then you absolutely SHOULD be thinking about climate change. Why? If you have your community activism hat already in any arena involving those communities, then I already know you are aware of how they get hit the hardest, the fastest, and the longest when anything bad comes down the pipeline. They also take the longest to recover – if ever. Sometimes it’s actually by design, sadly, and sometimes it’s because of positioning. Here are just a few examples: housing crisis, redlining, gerrymandering, poverty, bank bailouts, war on drugs, high cost of pharmaceuticals, disparities in healthcare, inflation, etc. DO YOU THINK FOR ONE SECOND THAT AS OUR CLIMATE AND EARTH DETERIORATE THAT THESE COMMUNITIES WON’T SUFFER HARDER, FASTER, AND LONGER THAN OTHERS – THAT SOMEHOW THEY’LL ESCAPE THE USUAL ROLL CALL FOR THIS? Like I said, if you already have your community activism hat on, it shouldn’t be hard for you to see how this will go. All our work will be for not if we refuse to address our climate issues NOW – not after the election; not after… anything else. NOW.
Look, I am also guilty of waiting to fully address climate change, and not being willing to realize that if our world deteriorates, there is no point at all to anything else that I work for, strive for, pour my heart and soul out into. My selfish reasons for the other activism work that I do has to be, and is, the same for climate change. I want my grandchildren to grow up in a world that their Gram helped make better and survives for them. I don’t want them to suffer from the effects of racism, classism, bigotry, hunger, violence, xenophobia… and I most certainly don’t want them to suffer because they can’t breathe or the little food that’s left or the water is poisoning them. As a bonus, I would also like to live out the rest of my life on a planet that is being loved and nurtured, knowing it’s going to be a safe place for my Milani Jhené and Joshua Rey, and whichever beautiful grandbabies that might come next.