What’s Behind a Name

Cliff’s Garden Summer 2021

As I work towards launching my second educational course this April, Reflective Practice for Reflective Practitioners, I’ve been busy honing my own reflective thinking skills. The course will feature guest presenters and be filled with activities and assignments that provide opportunities for students to develop their own reflective thinking skills and facilitate them in others.

One activity that didn’t make it into the course line-up this time around, is the reflective writing activity, What’s Behind A Name. Like any good HT/TH professional, I would never try out an activity on anyone other than myself first. Here’s what my reflective thinking led me to discover is behind my own name.

Growing up, I cringed upon hearing it spoken. Even the short form of Clifford, Cliff, seemed to garner just as much teasing with “cliff-hanger”, or the idiom “drop over sometime”.

I longed for a simple and popular name like Christopher. It didn’t seem to draw any negative attention, and there were many successful and famous people with that name like Christopher Marlowe (poet), Christopher Isherwood (author), Christopher Reeves (actor – Superman), and Christopher Robin (character from Winnie-the-Pooh).

It wasn’t until much later in my adult life that I began to think more fondly of my name.

Clifford is an English originated name and an example of a topographic name – a name derived from a specific location, place of origin, or topographic features. My name is a combination of cliff (a steep rock face, typically at the edge of the sea) and ford (a shallow place in a river or stream allowing one to walk or drive across). That makes me a cliff-side ford.

Actually, my name is very fitting for where I live now – at the bottom of a series of cliffs in West Vancouver BC, by the ocean.

What about you? What’s behind your name?

©Cliff Thorbes 2022

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