Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Rose by Any Other Name...

My co-worker Kathi is having her second baby this fall. She already has a little girl named Brinley. Despite the fact that her last name is several syllables long, as well as hard to spell or pronounce, Kathi insists that she prefers trendy, unusual baby names.  Baby on board #2 is a boy, so naturally I suggested Romeo or Elvis.

We agreed that choosing a name for a future person is an important and often daunting task. It can be hard to please the myriad of relatives who want to offer suggestions. We joked about some of the crazy names that celebrities name their children such as Blue Ivy, North, Apple, and Moses. And don’t forget former boxer George Foreman, who named all five of his sons George. Perhaps he took a couple of blows to the head too many…

I always like to ask people who have unusual first names if there’s a story associated with it. My friend Portia’s Dad was a car nut. She had two other sisters: Mercedes and Lancia, as well as a brother named Dave (I’m not sure why he wasn’t named Lamborghini or Maserati). Another friend, Kai, was named for a family friend who had saved his Dad’s life during the war.

Of course, if you don’t like your name, you can always change it. My brother Gary has a friend who changed his name to Sunshine Megatron. It’s definitely distinctive, but I bet it’s hard to make a dinner reservation without a snicker or two on the other end of the phone. Personally, I’ve always been happy with my first name. It is easy to spell and pronounce. When I was growing up, some of the most popular girls’ names were Lisa, Karen and Linda, but I was usually the only Nancy in my class.

Do you have a distinctive or unusual first name? If so, did you like it growing up? Do you like it now as an adult? What is the story associated with your first name? Have any of you changed your first name? Given your children unusual first names?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Pomp and Circumstance

I spent last Sunday at my nephew Sam’s high school graduation. Simultaneously, across the country in California, my niece Rachel also graduated from high school. The last time I went to a high school graduation ceremony, it was my own, so it was a long time ago. The only thing I remember was that it had rained the night before, and our folding chairs were wet. Fortunately Sam’s ceremony was held under a large tent.

The theme for the speeches at Sam’s graduation was “Do your best.” I’m not sure if there is a central repository for graduation commentary, but somehow all four speakers gave some iteration. I was disappointed by “Do your best” because it felt a little trite to me. They didn’t ask me to give a speech, but I entertained myself by trying to imagine what I would say to a group of high school graduates…

Dear Class of 2015,

While your graduation today is indeed important, what happens in high school stays in high school. Thirty-three years later it won’t matter if you never went to the Prom or if you missed catching the winning pass in the football game. Keep moving forward. Life doesn’t happen in the past.

Be thankful to your parents who made many sacrifices (both time and money) so you could go to hockey practice, wear a North Face jacket, own an iPhone or simply have lunch money. Be kind to your siblings. They don’t mean to be annoying and if you’re lucky, when you grow up, they’ll be your best friends. Family matters.

Find your passion! Do something that delights you every day. Volunteer! Vote! Participate in the community around you. Get a summer job! Put your money in the bank (at least some of it) to help alleviate those immense college expenses.

Doing your best is important, but sometimes it won’t be good enough. Failure is important too. Sometimes we learn best from our mistakes. I like to say, “Good judgment comes from experience and a whole lotta that comes from bad judgment.”

Work hard in college. Take advantage of all the opportunities you are offered. Try a new sport or learn a new language. Do an internship. Study abroad in an exchange program. The next four years will be your time to shine!

What advice would you give to the senior class of 2015? What do you remember from your own high school graduation? What’s the best advice you received at graduation?

To see photos of my beautiful niece and my handsome nephew, go here.