Nicknames ~ Great Dane

Angela Vasquez-Giroux poses this question “What if names, nicknames, don’t simply attach a series of sounds to make it easier to communicate, but actually somehow denote and in turn FORM the essence of the thing they’re pointing to?” In her article The importance of being Ernie, not Ernest, or, how nicknames make legends. She concludes that nicknames offer a direction, something to become and begin the prophetic cycle of a legend. Without them who would they be?

Dana does not lend itself easily to nicknames, thank goodness. Of the few I have had over my lifetime, the one I have kept, the one that has lasted is “Great Dane”. Not being a fan of nicknames I am glad no one calls me it any more but in 8th grade at 5’ 11” it seemed to fit. Then the other day I came across this photo; Coco Chanel and a Great Dane and there in the essence of this simple image “Great Dane” was reborn.

Most of us have been given a nickname at least once in our lives. Sometimes they are considered desirable, giving us a feeling of acceptance or belonging in a group but I have found more often they can be a form of ridicule. That Additional description “four eyes”, “brainiac”, “lefty”, “string Bean” that seems to stick. Your mom calls you “Sweet pea” as if a subliminal cue to how she wishes you would act. Or you secretly refer to your “Monster-in-law”.  Any wonder why I am not fond of nicknames.

A name is truncated to Bobby, Mickie, or Franky; usually for someone else’s convenience and with implied familiarity. As if calling President Carter Jimmy we become closer to knowing him and he becomes more accessible to us. Don’t even get me started on Bennifer, Brangelina, and TomKat! Oh Vay!

Sometimes there is a time-honored tradition in giving nicknames as a means of identification like in the game of pool- “Handsome Danny” or the infamous Rudolf Wanderone…I mean “Minnesota Fats”. Take horse racing as another example “Big Red” for Secratariat and “Man O War” for Pan Zareta.

Finally the unending litany of nicknames for athletes is almost a prerequisite. Take the scene from The Sandlot when Smalls doesn’t know who the Great Bambino is. His friends believing he must be from another planet the following ensues:

Squints: You’ve never heard of the sultan of Swat?

Kenny: The Titan of Terror.

Bertram: The King of Crash, man.

Timmy: The Colossus of Clout!

Tommy: The Colossus of Clout!

Ham: The Great Bambino

In unison referring to him by his “real” name, Babe Ruth. Ahem… I mean George Herman Ruth.

I once worked for a man whose wife was also named Dana so he referred to me by my initials to avoid confusion. This often occurs in a social group where more than one person has the same name. Their last name becomes their moniker. My Father and brother both obtained “Borg” in this very manner. I later commented that to become part of our family was to be assimilated.

There are the seemingly random nicknames like “Daybanuba”, some strange middle school derivation of pigmy Latin; which today seems a little too close to George Bush’s “Dubya” for me. Or the accidental nicknames created by mispronunciation making my grandmother “Bomma” instead of Grandma.

Lastly the terms of affection: Honey, Baby, Sweetie, Darling. These commonly used pet names that many of us have come to believe make us uniquely connected to the whisperer. However I have come to learn that today I may be his “Girly Girl”, but someone else will be after the divorce. Perhaps as Zsa Zsa Gabor explains, “I call everyone ‘darling’ because I can’t remember their names.”

As you might guess I’m still not a fan of nicknames. Personally I believe they often separate us from one another creating a barrier to intimacy and giving a false sense of connection. A good marketing tool best left to sports, politics and movie stars. But whatever your feelings may be about nicknames they are part of our vernacular, often detested, occasionally fitting, and usually lasting.

So if Angela is right and nicknames point to a direction and an essence of something to become; I stand Tall, Dignified, Strong and Elegant with a friendly nature and lover of things French. A Great Dane, a “Gentle Giant”.

Image: Coco Chanel at La Pusa with Great Dane from Baudot, Francois.

Weekend ~ 1/31/14 ~ Year of the Wooden Horse

Year of Horse Logo

I tend to gravitate towards the Chinese New Year as the marker of new beginnings more than the western holiday on Dec. 31st. It’s the Piscean water rat in me demanding satisfaction. And like any fresh start I question the state of my life, health, wealth and most importantly matters of the heart.

Today the year of the Wooden Horse begins and the Water Snake slithers out. Last year I pondered what the snake would mean to me. I had surmised that being a rat made me snake food. And 2013 certainly left me feeling consumed, digested and spit up. Even as a little girl it was the water moccasin that kept me from enjoying our pond.  Oh, and the snapping turtles. I can only hope the Horse will be more generous.

The thing is, as difficult as 2013 was it also offered me an opportunity to change, to shed my skin and be reborn. In my case it was even literal-one kidney, cancer and all that-Which caused an existential crisis of sorts. After surgery the thought “What would my legacy be?” permeated my mind. What have I accomplished? What is really important to me? What do I still want to do before I die? –Which can be sooner than one expects- my big Aha in 2013.

It is said that 2014 will be a year of travel.  As Feng Shui Master, Chen Shuaifu says, “Horses are legendary for their ability to run long distances on great journeys.” I predict I’ll travel this year. Perhaps I’ll even move to that window on the water and write. Chen warns that as a rat I need to be careful of being stepped on in 2014 and that it might be a bad year for investing. Like the year of the snake this year will be challenging for the rat. I will need to hone my patience and be careful not to exhaust myself. This is already my goal, healing my priority. That said I plan to push back a little, reject the scenario I can’t move forward. I am going to finish some of my projects and market them to the world.

Speaking of projects I still can’t share the final Toile design until the lawyers due diligence. But I got a sneak peek at the final box design and can’t wait to show you the culmination of all my hard work and brag about Bevee Bags. Trust me you’re going to want to buy one…….or two……….or three…….. okay one in every color. For now check them out on Twitter and follow along as they launch the line.

Commercial break over: Now let’s talk about the nature of a horse as it can point to what the year will bring and if you look at your own personality hint to the challenges and triumphs ahead. Horses love crowds, are exceedingly witty and have great communication skills. So networking will be a big part.

Earlier this week I was reading an interview in Forbes of Chase Jarvis. As always he is a wealth of inspiration. The nugget that stuck out the most (this time) was the importance of relationships when creating. Allowing for collaboration and giving your friends the opportunity to share what you do. Chase’s advice was Make Friends. “The world of achieving career success is a world where community is front and center.   Your network – however you define it – is a huge, requisite key that will help unlock your future.” I am woefully bad at this. My friends don’t even know I blog.  I suspect this will be one of my challenges and growth opportunities in the year ahead.

Horses are also active, energetic, straightforward, with a positive attitude towards life. This I can channel to propel myself forward. But after 2013 that shouldn’t be too hard. Suddenly I wonder what a Leo Fire Horse would be like…….Hally Berry, hmm, softer then I’d imagined. Finally horses are independent. This I have in spades so I’ll mark that up as one of strengths in the coming year.

Sadly the wooden horse is associated with warfare so fierce battle cannot be ruled out. But I just went to battle at the tail end of the year of the snake. Either way I’m strong and ready to be victorious in my endeavors going forward. But I know when to be careful and how to take time off, to replenish my personal energy and rejuvenate my soul. These will certainly come in handy under the Horse’s force.


Blast from This Blogs Past

  • 2012: Nicknames ~ Great Dane
  • 2013: Monday Meditation on Tuesday ~ IF
  • 2013: Photo Pair ~ Bon Temps

    The Weekend Reading List


    Something Extra

    I have always loved Kate Bush’s song. Color me surprised to find a fabulous cover.

    This woman’s Work ~ Greg Laswell

    To the Dogs

    I met this gal the other day while grabbing lunch. As we stood in line waiting to order her campanion eagerly awaited her return outside. From time to time darting dangerous close to knocking down the sandwich board posting daily specials.

    So of course I had to sketch her up. For me there is something so satisfying about drawing people I come across along my daily routine. Capturing a Moment in the life of……kind of thing.

    After which I instantly flashed back to this editorial from Vogue Germany March 2010.

    What is it about people and their pets? Do we chose a pet that reflects/speaks to our personality or after a while do we begin to look like our pets? Perhaps our pets begin to look like us. Regardless, this gal seemed friendly, energetic and fit, so maybe there is something to the theory. Like I shared in Nicknames I can live with the moniker “gentile giant” but No I won’t be going out to get a Great Dane. My dog was an Akita, tall and hairy.

    The Weekend 4/20/12 ~The Creative Spark

    I had saved this excerpt from Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification by Christopher Peterson, Martin Seligman, Chapter 4 Creativity pg 109-110  intending to share. Then this week I came across a blog written by Jeff Goins full of boundless inspiration for my already churning mind. I began to puzzle together this excerpt with last weekends pursuing your passions.  And as I began reading his blog entry called You must Engage Your Creative Side, my half written piece on living up to your creative potential came to the forefront. It began with a list of questions:

    • Do you live up to your full creative potential?
    • Do you realize how extraordinary you are?
    • Are you living your passions?
    • If not what is stopping you?

    Jeff had engaged in an evening of creative exploration by drawing eyes closed on a sheet of paper. I began to ponder. How do you unlock creative potential?  Some ideas sprang to mind. Try drawing from an image turned upside down, Pick a word randomly and begin writing a short story, Find a photo and create your own caption, Pick three incongruous items from your kitchen and cook something. Or chose from one of the suggestions in 33 ways to stay creative or Why not be Creative by Shannon Ables.

    We live in a world of stereotypes “intellectual, artistic, athletic. As you may have gathered from my article on Nicknames these stereotypes pigeonhole us into categories. We even categorize artists (painters, singers, dancers, chefs, architects etc.) You don’t have to be published or recorded. Even if your work is never seen this by no means excludes you as creative. Every single one of us has a creative spark. We’re all creative. It is one of the things that connects us.

    As Jeff put it,

    “We don’t create for others.
    We don’t create to impress or be the best.
    We create, because we can.”

    I saw the angel in the marble and I carved until I set him free”….Michelangelo

    For me creating is divine, the spark that comes from deep within when we drop our defenses. I believe this is part of my own spiritual expression, the sacred. In this space I feel my own connection to all things. I delight with the ideas and pictures seeking expression and feel the flow and presence of my whole mind, the reality of the “I am”.  Whatever you call it, divine inspiration, the human spirit, a muse, the intangible, God, whatever your source, unleash it.

    Don’t let your limited belief systems hold you back. Those mental habits that keep playing in a perpetual loop in your mind, that fixed companion, the nagging thoughts that your dreams are unobtainable. You know…I’m not good enough, funny enough, and smart enough. I say enough! Break up these very belief systems before they become self-fulfilling. Don’t become less than what you truly are. Seek the truth, shine your light, and start fresh unencumbered.

    If you don’t know what your gift is then just try something, anything, until you find the thing that whispers to you long after you’ve put it down. What is it you see that no one else does? Your voice is uniquely your own so share it. Get to know yourself. What are you willing to give your heart and soul for? Create conversation, ask questions, and stand on your tip toes, spend an entire day fasting from self-concern. Engage, experiment, and give art the space it needs to grow, to breathe. Then keep doing it so it can flourish.

    Any passion must be practiced. So you must love it or you’re bound to quit. Jeff Goins says of writing that you must “learn how to enjoy writing for what it is — an arduous and sometimes tedious process of dying to yourself and being reborn. It is painful and glorious all at the same time and not to be taken lightly in the least.”

    Don’t create for others, create for yourself. Whether anyone ever sees it or not is irrelevant. If you deny this spark you are denying a part of who you are. And with each new creation you will discover a part of yourself. Perhaps something you never knew you were capable of. Delve into your Passionate Curiosity and be Fearless, bold. Hold nothing back.

    We are all Creative. Our greatest masterpiece is our life. So what are you waiting for? Create.

    Weekend Reading List:


    Images: Here / Here / Here / Here / Here / Here