the printed thoughts of a woman on a journey towards awareness, truth, acceptance, clarity, and forgiveness...with some fun and fearlessness thrown in

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

all things wise and wonderful

"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us." -E.M. Forster

This morning, on my way to my personal growth group, I found myself driving behind a large animal veterinarian. It felt like an out-of-body experience of sorts where the present me was peeking in on the once-possible me. I imagined where the vet was heading and what kind of patient he was going to see. Was it a routine visit or an emergency call? Since I was driving through the horse country of Granby, CT, I eventually settled on the idea that the vet was going to check in on a foal who was born in the last few weeks. An inexplicable twinge of jealously came over me as I imagined the foal kicking up her heels and playing chase with another late Spring foal.

I can't remember ever wanting to be anything other than a veterinarian when I was a kid. I read every James Herriot book I could get my hands on and watched the BBC's "All Creatures Great and Small" whenever I could find it on PBS. I started researching vet schools and planned out my undergraduate studies before I even started high school. Every class I took from 8th grade on was a purposeful part of a bigger picture. I started working with the horses and ponies at the zoo every summer at the age of 12. I shadowed a vet on weekends during my senior year. I knew exactly what I wanted and how I was going to get it.

I won't get into how, when or why my plan eroded (at least not now), but I can say with certainty that I not only accept the course that my life followed, but that I am grateful for its twists and turns. I am so passionate about the work that I do with and for victims that I couldn't imagine doing anything else. The friends that I've made through my own healing process and my work as a survivor are some of the dearest people in my life. They've impacted me in ways they will probably never know, and I feel a comfort and an intimacy with them that's organic. I am more confident in my abilities and my talents than I have ever been, and I look forward to the challenges of proving them to new people in yet another state.

I was almost at the Massachusetts state line when I saw the flashing yellow lights of the intersection where I would turn off. I slowed, a little sad that the truck in front of me was continuing on straight ahead and that I would never know where the vet was going or who he was going to see. But, as quickly as the sadness had come, it left and was replaced with a deep contentment. I knew that I was where I belonged, doing what I was meant to do. I knew that I was following the right path. I knew that it didn't matter where the vet was going without me. I had adventures and challenges of my own to meet. I took a right turn and went forward in my day. My life was waiting for me.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

a rose by any other name

When I got married in March, the idea of changing my last name never really crossed my mind. Since then, however, I have occasionally considered it. I struggle between not wanting to be traditional by taking my husband's name and a desire to make a public declaration of allegiance and a new sense of family. I also toy with the idea of a new last name altogether.

I remember meeting a new girl on the school bus during 4th or 5th grade whose last name was Morgan. I loved the way that name sounded, and I really liked the way it sounded with my first name. I went home and started writing my name as Shannon Morgan. I said it over and over. I practiced putting other first names with Morgan and decided that it must be the perfect name, because it sounded great with every name I could think of. I mean, listen: Shannon Morgan, Mary Morgan, Susan Morgan, Brandy Morgan, Brittany Morgan, Sonia Morgan, Stephanie Morgan, Jennifer Morgan, Yolanda Morgan.... They all sound good. Morgan is the best last name.

But, I also think it would be cool to have a last name that matched up better with my first name in terms of its country of origin. Shannon Murphy. Shannon O'Brien. Shannon McCarthy. Shannon O'Reilly. Shannon O'Connell. Shannon Kelly. Smith is the most common name in the U.S., and Murphy is the most common name in Ireland. I lived in Murphy, NC and loved it there. Murphy seems the most logical choice.

I also considered the meanings of names and finding one with meshed well with me as a person. Shannon means "old, wise one." Of course, this resonates deeply with me. Murphy means "sea warrior" in ancient Irish and "strong, superior" in Gaelic. Nice. Morgan means "born of the sea" in Welsh. Interesting. I sense a theme here. Unfortunately, it doesn't help me in deciding between my favorites.

I love my first name and would never dream of changing it. It's really the name that I identify with. Too bad I can't just go with it as a singular name, like Cher. And that hussy actress Shannon Elizabeth already used my first and middle names as her name. (I don't know and/or believe that Shannon Elizabeth is a hussy. I just say that, because she stole my name.)

I'm not as attached to my last name. Maybe it's the fact that it's so common and that I am sick of hearing the smartass remarks about it being a made-up alias. Maybe it's the fact that the name isn't rooted in a long tradition. My paternal grandfather was orphaned and adopted by an aunt whose married name was Smith, so his name was changed to Smith at that time. He was the first Smith in our line, and my brother and I are the last.

I have a dear friend who changed her name entirely. She found a new family and made a new life as an adult. Her name fits her beautifully, and I can't imagine her with any other name. It's funny what a difference a name can really make.

So, for now, I will make believe and try on different personae. Shannon Smith. Shannon Pearson. Shannon Morgan. Shannon Murphy. Maybe I will spend a day each week as each girl and see how it feels.