No, seriously – just how important is a name? The answer: very. Take it from me, the multi-monikered bandit – a name is by far one of the most important components of your make-up. Your name is not just about what someone calls you, but what you answer to. A name is about legacy – who named you and why. Perhaps you were named for a parent or a great-aunt. Maybe your name is a reflection of your parents’ spiritual enlightenment or cultural alligiences. Or maybe your name is your own external demonstartion of some personal, internal shift. Maybe you were born with it, maybe you married into it….regardless you can’t escape from it. Your name often precedes you. People are more likely to know your name from having read it somewhere than they are to recognize your facknow you. In fact, sometimes (as with finding a job) people may determine whether or not they want to know you based on your name. If you’re like me you might have a legal name that’s been changed to better suit who you feel you are…only to change it later in an attempt to assure my spouse that I identified with who we said we were. Interestingly enough however, I just learned that my husband’s grandfather was adopted and the last name we’ve been using isn’t “wholly accurate.” Talk about confusing. Not to mention, my professional alias – an assumed name I use to protect the anonymity (the secrecy of names and identities) of my loved ones. Yes, you read that right: even after changing my name to better reflect my identity, I then chose to conceal that very aspect of myself to preserve the privacy of those that contribute to making me who I am…but don’t wish to be so public about it. So what’s in a name? Everything. I’ve found that at different times, depending on my name, I fared far better than others. It didn’t matter what I knew or who I knew but my name, it seemed, made most of the difference. In fact, I was so intrigued by the thought I decided to do some research. I found that those who shared my various last names also shared similar fates. For instance, my father’s bloodline struggle with familial interaction, effective communication and entrepreneurial prowess among other things. My maternal great-grandfather’s bloodline has the typical issue here and there but for the most part their lives are fruitful and blessed – health, wealth, love; passion and purpose are at the root of their lives and the foundation for their beings. Then there’s my (not-yet-ex) husband’s family with a lists of generational woes that reads like a bad 1970s Quentin Tarantino script. Now, I’ve known a thing or two about names for a while. Its why I changed my own. It’s why I did my homework (or so I thought) to see if changing it again after marriage was the best idea. Because I understand that, though your name doesn’t define you it is your identity, I wanted to be sure. You see, when people describe who you are, they might not always be able to say what you look like but if they know your name they will always use it. Suzy O. and Suzy H. are not the same Suzy. They may share some things in common – including their name – but associations and connectors have been made with those names that put together a story. See, changing my name didn’t change me (per se), it made me more completely who I am. Using the alias, iscis malone, doesn’t make me any less mother, daughter, sister, wife, ex-wife, friend; writer, teacher, counselor – but it does place the recipients of those benefits behind a hedge where they are covered from unwanted (and unasked for) publicity. My hope is that as they become more complete and comfortable in their skins that they will tell their own stories freely, thereby permitting me to openly tell my story using names and such without the need for shrouds, guards, hedges and other distance-generating mechanisms. Our names are part of our story. They are wholly and uniquely us. Maybe you have to change yours as I did to get the most out of it (and you). But no matter what, remember that your name is your stamp. It will leave behind a mark and a story well after you’re gone. How do you want to be remembered? As always, here’s wishing you grace and peace. Namaste.