"Kor-chee,” I say when someone stumbles on the cluster of consonants that group together as my last name. “K-O-R, -T as in Tom, -G as in Girl, -E. Kor-chee.” Then I shrug in apology. “It’s my husband’s name. It takes getting used to.”
I’ve been getting used to it long enough to recognize the look of helplessness on the face of a receptionist calling me in for an appointment. Or a restaurant host, scanning my name on a waiting list. It takes only the tentative, initial “kuh” to bring me to my feet. I’ve learned to anticipate the questions.
“Kor-chee,” I prompt. “It’s Germanic in origin but the spelling has morphed over the years.” I try to ease the awkwardness of a surname that baffles everyone except those born to it.
When I went to work as a journalist, I tried to buffer the challenge of “Kortge” by inserting my maiden name in article by-lines: by Carolyn Scott Kortge. ‘Scott,’ I thought, offered a transition between an easy first name and an unpronounceable last. I bore the weight of Kortge as a marital burden—a hardship assumed by a young bride who simply never considered standing fast with the surname of Scott.
The Perfect Name?
Then, a few years ago, I was teaching a week of Spirited Walker® classes at a California resort when a participant came up to me with a warm smile. “You know, Carolyn,” she said, “You have the perfect name!” I gaped at her in confusion. Where on earth was this going? She could see the bewilderment in my face. “Don’t you get it?” she asked. “Your name is Core--Chi. ‘Chi’ as in life force! Core Life Force!”
Thirty plus years of marriage. Thirty plus years of spelling my name letter by letter. Of visualizing the sound just one way: “Kor-chee. With a K.” Then, in a glorious, shining moment, the weight of Kortge lifted. A burden became a gift. Core--Chi. What could be better than a surname that proclaims the truth of who I am—a woman blessed with a deep well of energy and a vigorous love of life.
Encounter Your Own Core Chi!
In this blog, it’s my goal to share that energy in ways that invite you to connect with your own core chi—the inner well of energy, purpose, and inspiration that refreshes your spirit. I’ve called this blog A Spirited Life because I want space to consider more than my interests as the author of The Spirited Walker, and Healing Walks for Hard Times. Yes, many entries will be about walking, but I’m hoping to stroll a broad landscape of topics that engage my spirit. The surprising challenges of aging (or “saging”). The satisfaction in raking autumn leaves.
I hope you’ll travel with me, and share your own discoveries in responsive comments. I hope that we’ll rejoice together at insights that rouse the senses and awaken fresh eyes, illuminating passions, dreams or surprises—the elation of core--chi hidden in Kortge.
Ready to take a walk with fresh eyes? Try these simple steps.