What’s In a Name? This is What’s in My Daughter’s. 

For 11 years Xander was my whole world, my only child, my baby boy. While he was always enough, I knew he wouldn’t be my only child. Even when my doctor said she wasn’t sure I’d be able to have more children due to medical issues, I knew MJ would one day come. 

Several years ago while on vacation in San Diego, I strolled through a local tourist shop and came across a small book with one word on the front cover: moxie. 

This is the original photo I took years ago in San Diego

The small book was filled with quotes about having moxie. I bought it and told my husband, “if we ever have a daughter, we’re going to name her Moxie.” Our vacation ended and the book sat in my drawer for years before we learned we were expecting a baby girl. 

Maybe I was meant to be in that aisle of that gift shop in that city at that moment, because Moxie has been full of moxie since she was in the womb. This baby girl who I was told might never be, found her way to us, fought through the subcorionic hemorrhage that doctors said she might not survive, and together we endured a trying pregnancy followed by a complicated c-section and difficult recovery.


Moxie (lovingly nicknamed MJ by her big brother) is full of that moxie I knew she’d have. Maybe that June summer day years ago was foreshadowing what was to come. Maybe when I spotted that little orange and white book, I was glimpsing into my future. Every quote encompasses hopes for my daughter, the strength and fierceness she’ll surely have. 

When she’s older I’ll tell her this story and pass my book on so it is hers. I hope she’ll understand that this book was written for her, about her, before she was born, because one day she’d be here and be “as unlimited as the endless universe” (Shad Helmstetter). And I hope she takes to heart the words of Archimedes and Nietzsche and Joan of Arc, and Sugi Tanaka when he advises her “Don’t go with the flow. You are the flow.”

Shakespeare might tell me that she’d have just as much moxie if she’s been named any other name, but to answer his famous question “What’s in a name?” this is what’s in my daughter’s: 

“Moxie. It’s a street-smart spirit that’s as old as recorded history and as new as the rising sun. David had it; Goliath didn’t. It’s that intangible tangible. You don’t learn it in school and you can’t get it from a book. It can jump oceans and move mountains. It says ‘Make your life what it can be. Take your life whereever it can go.”