Almost everybody that’s well-known gets tagged with a nickname. ~ Alan Alda 
This school vacation was marked not by some plane trip to a resort, instead by a visit with Aunt Connie, Uncle Chuck and cousin Mike.

We ate food that Dotti never cooked, heard stories about our family that were sometimes funny and sometimes shocking, and played with objects that seemed exotic — like shooting guns at the rifle range and throwing knives at trees.

I measured home in Los Altos against theirs and I sometimes felt that I was lucky to be with Aunt Connie this summer. She brought us ice cream after lunch every day.

There were a few dogs and a few cats that roamed all over the property as well as chickens, lizards, and snakes.

We visited here twice over the next three years. It was a mini paradise for kids.

George had a fun time with Mike catching frogs at midnight and going for rides on his Harley. It was a special few weeks that got stretched from two to three.

Al was agreeable when Aunt Connie drove into town to get groceries and called him from a local pay phone.

There was no phone in the trailer.

One Saturday we all started out with breakfast and just enjoying a relaxing morning before we went for a drive around the lake.

Aunt Connie and I picked wild flowers and George and Uncle Chuck shot the rifle at targets.

As I was picking flowers, Aunt Connie came over and took my hand.

We headed off on a path for a walk by ourselves. It was the first time we had been together since the funeral and it brought tears to my eyes as we talked about mom. I had so many difficulties coping with her death and missing her. Grief is still present on some special days. As we walked Aunt Connie called me “Dore” instead of Doretta.

I did not like it at first. I just didn’t identify with the name, and I felt like it made me feel too childish when I felt so grown up. I asked Aunt Connie where that came from and why?

As she spoke it was as if I was hearing another person.

“It’s not just a coincidence that this name came to me. Everything happens for a reason Dore. It is the universe telling me, your angel ancestors, that made it clear to me that Dore is your name. I’m sorry I can’t be more clear. I don’t  understand the message myself. You are a very spiritual person, and when the universe wants you to know something they will constantly make something open to you. Your mother taught me that. I hope this helps.”

Happiness can sometimes feel like a totally elusive thing that is hard to define, yet you know it when you experience it. No one’s life is perfect and shiny all the time. Mine was in that moment.

My insecure child was so desperate to be loved and this felt loving.

That night for dinner we had a delicious pork steak in cream sauce with mushrooms.

I remember this because it was one of the favorite meals Uncle Chuck made that I just loved. I am not sure what was in the cream sauce, however, I remember seeing rosé wine on the counter each time.

My cousin went out to meet some friends, and my uncle, aunt, George and I had a nice time playing cards.

Life was good. It was very nice to get to spend a lot of time with my family. And this was my family.

It would seem a conundrum that such little attention and value is placed on the meaning of a name. I usually make it a point to ask each person I meet what their name means. Nine times out of ten, they give a clueless look and say something like, “Well, I don’t know.”

Another common response is, “I read the meaning once, only I can’t remember it.” For most in this culture their name holds no power, no meaning and no value.

Doretta Cascinai was also difficult, and at times impossible to pronounce on the first try, and even more difficult to spell. I hated the first day of school or a new teacher or substitute teacher for this very reason. The nickname stuck despite the fact that, as a child, I absolutely hated it for about two years.

I have a few nicknames.

A lot of people called me Sunshine in my hippie days.

It came out of my trip to Woodstock. I can only assume they found me cheerful and warm and welcoming (which is funny, since I considered myself a bit of a grump a lot of the time).

In high school I was called Doretta by some and Dore by others. Bubbles is a name my ex gave me that he would never explain. I found it somewhat insulting for years.

I went through different spellings of Dore – Dori – Dorie – Dory – and use to put little hearts over the ‘i” and then ultimately Dore as being short for Doretta.

Now this is the only name anybody calls me – it is legally my name from when I went through a name change. It’s on my CV, my bank account, my business cards – everything. And I love it.

At the time of my spiritual emergence, I finally embraced my name Dore. Not only did I want to shed the shame and pain that my childhood name created for me, I also wanted to feel empowered to step forward into my destiny. Dore means, a gift. I actually have met two young men when I was in my 20’s with the exact same name. Dore is an unusual first name for women, spelled in this way. People with this name have a deep inner desire to inspire others in a higher cause, and to share their own strongly held views on spiritual matters. The name Dore is of French, Greek origins.

Historically, names have served as a fingerprint of one’s identity.

During the Middle Ages, people were referred to by a single given name and gradually the custom of adding another name was a way to distinguish one from another.

By the 12th century, the use of a second name had become widespread.

I was now ready to go see Aunt Dorothy in Washington.  I wondered what she would think of my nickname.

Where can we find happiness? Happiness is not found in a tranquil life free of storms and tempests. Real happiness is found in the struggles we undergo to realize our goals, in our efforts to move forward. ~ Doré 

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What does your ideal day look like?