Call Me Sofia

I now answer to “Sofia”, so if you yell that down the street as I walk past, I’ll turn around and wave.

Then again, I’ll also do that if you yell: Shannon, Shawna, Shaina, Sheena, Jenna, Deanna…or, around here: gringa (white girl), mona (blond girl), seño (teacher), nena (little girl), mija (my daughter), or a host of less appropriate ways to call one’s attention.

When I introduce myself, this is what follows:

–“Hola! Mi nombre es Shanna.”

–“Oh, Sebastiana!” 

–“No, Shanna. Como Hanna…” (Like Hannah)

–“Queeee????” (Whaaaaaaaaatttt???)

Then, I met an old soul with painter’s fingers and a shaggy moustache at an artist’s party. When I gave him my usual spiel (Shanna, not Sebastiana, kinda like Hannah…)  he  asked, “But what does your name mean?”

“Well, sir, it means sabiduria,” I said, pleasantly surprised. “My name means wisdom.”


I’ve always imagined my “granola” parents chose my name over vegan sandwiches, their Birkenstocks and graduate school textbooks piled in the corner of their cramped travel trailer that took them from Oregon to Nevada to California, where I was born. They chose to name me “Shanna”, because it was an Irish derivative (my Dad’s side is Irish) and it sounded similar to a family friend’s name, Shauna. But most of all, it represents the pursuit of knowledge and discernment, a constant theme in their lives and now mine.

I like to think our names fit our character, sometimes. I’m not saying that I am one wise woman, but my life is a love affair with learning: studying, analyzing and reflecting and sharing. It’s what Solomon wanted most, more than wealth or lovers. He wanted to understand, and he became the wisest man on earth. His books are only a few of the many I’ve read in my own meandering quest for wisdom.


“Ah, wisdom. Yes,” said the old soul, as he searched his wine glass for a thought. “Sofia! I shall call you Sofia, the Greek goddess of wisdom.”  (author’s note: In Greek, it’s spelled ‘sophia’ but in Spanish, it’s spelled ‘sofia.’)

Then, he promptly turned and introduced me to his friend: “This is Sofia.”

I laughed, but then I played with the word myself, pushing the syllables around with my lips. So…feeee…uhh. “Wisdom” in any language.

“Sofia.” Simple. Sweet. Pronounceable. Spell-able. Memorable. Translate-able. International. Classical. Beautiful.

Call me Sofia.







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