For years, my whole life in fact, I have hated my last name: Carichner. How did you pronounce it? Our family pronounces is CARE-ick-ner. It has the German -ich- that is pronounced -ick-. When people ask me how to spell it, I have always broken it down: car-ich-ner. Always in 3's. People have almost never pronounced it "correctly" on the first try. Once, and I really mean once in 43 years, I had a person look at my name and pronounce it like we do. It was a checker at Safeway. I was flabbergasted. Now that I think about it, is the store next to my parents' house, so he may have been schooled on the pronunciation more than once. That aside, for my whole life, I have been "correcting" people on my name and feeling frustrated and resentful that I did not have a simple name, something easy to pronounce and spell. Now, I did not pine to be a Smith or Jones, but maybe Worthy or House or Simon. Anything simple. But alas, my whole life is a long time to feel frustrated. Then, suddenly, things changed.
Last week, a Facebook friend posted the list of questions for his friends to answer. It was the Bernard Pivot Questionnaire that James Lipton asks at the end of Inside the Actors Studio. The first question is: "What is your favorite word?" I answered the questions and said my favorite word is "perspective." The reason I love this word comes from my American Sign Language (ASL) training years ago. In ASL, the word is signed with the index finder of the left hand pointing up, (go ahead and do that now) and the index and middle fingers of the right hand pointing horizontally at the vertical left finger, like two eyes. (you can do that now, too) Then you move the "eyes" around the left finger, as if looking at it from a "new perspective." Imagine that those are your eyes. First you see the fingertip, then as you move, you see the side of the finger and then the nail. It is the same finger but depending from what angle you look, it appears totally different. When I learned that sign, it was an epiphany for my young mind. The same thing looks totally different if you just change the way you look at it! After that, I always loved that sign, and that concept.
A couple days after that reminder about perspective, I was receiving a massage from a new friend. She asked me, "Do you pronounce your last name ca-RICH-ner?" Now, people have almost always looked at my name and said it that way, and I have ALWAYS corrected them and said CARE-ick-ner. But at that moment, in the state of relaxation and release I was feeling from the massage, I had another epiphany. Right there in the middle of my name was the word "RICH." It is amazing to say, but that had NEVER occurred to me before! There is was staring me in the face. People had said it that way my whole life, and all I have EVER thought was, "NO, that is WRONG," not "Wow, there is a sweet word hiding out in the middle of this confusing name!" Light bulbs went off, and I suddenly saw my name from a new perspective. ca-RICH-ner. I suddenly realized that I have been emphasizing the "CARE" but never the "RICH." I consider my family very caring. We are people how look out for others, love others and make caring an important part of our lives, but I would not always consider us RICH, especially in the financial realms. I said to her, "I think I am going to start emphasizing the the RICH part of my name." Her wise response was, "I will emphasize both!" CARE-RICH-ner. We are rich because we care! Rich in love, rich in health, rich even in money? Why not! I have been denying the richness right in front of me and hating my name for too long!
I called my father to ask if there was any specific reason we pronounced our name this way. He could not give me any good reason why. It was just how is has been passed down in our family. It may have had different a different spelling or pronunciation many generations back. I told him my story and said I would like to make it easy for myself, others and emphasize the RICH, not the ICK!
The next day, a woman was writing me a check and asked me my name; I said it CARE-RICH-ner, spelled Ca-rich-ner. She looked at and said, "Just like it sounds." I nearly fell over. An easy to spell name? I never DREAMED it would happen to me! There is was all this time, I was just blind to it, stuck in position that I needed to pronounce it the away we always had, even though we all find it frustrating. Breaking free of those rigid ways of doing things feels so good!!! Is there anything in your life drives you mad that you do out of habit, without thinking why? Maybe a change in perspective would shine some new richness for you?
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Joanna Carichner, Yoga Instructor,
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