What’s in a name? We arrive in this world and are given a name by our parents. As a parent myself, I know the angst I had when it came to naming my children. But why are names such a big deal? Or more accurately, why do we make them a big deal?
I’ve had a couple of different names in my lifetime. I was born Lisa Ann Burmeister. Most of my high school years I was called Beeda. In college, it changed to Bird (short for Big Bird). Even members of my family called me Bird.
When I got married, I took my husband’s last name. I didn’t want to but I did it to make my mother-in-law happy. Not a great reason to change my name! I doubt it ever really made her happy and it definitely didn’t make me happy. (Hmm. Note to self: Do things that make you happy. Don’t do things because they make others happy.)
When I separated from my husband a few years ago I started thinking about changing my name again once we were divorced. I spent a lot of time thinking about it and trying to find the perfect name. I didn’t want to go back to my maiden name. I’m not that girl anymore.
I didn’t want to keep my married name. As I said, I never wanted it to begin with and now, after all the work I’ve done on myself and on my life in the past few years, I’m not that woman either.
What to choose?? I decided early on that I wanted a name that fit me and expressed my personality. It’s a name that won’t be handed down to anyone else and doesn’t impact anyone else. It’s mine. All mine.
Many names were tried and discarded.
Then last year I was introduced to a book that quickly became one of my favourite books. EVER. And that’s saying something since I read a lot. Already this year I’ve read more than 15 books. And last year was crazy. I just read and read and read. But this book quickly became my favourite and I’ve re-read it a few times too. It’s called Women Who Run with the Wolves: Contacting the Power of the Wild Woman by Clarissa Pinkola Estés.
It’s an old-ish book; first printed in 1992. So it’s nothing new. In fact, it’s about the very old. It looks at the inner life of women through the history and knowledge passed down through oral tradition and fairy tales around the world. Through poetry and prose, Dr Estés spoke to my inner soul. The back of the book sums it up better than I can:
“Clarissa Pinkola Estés reveals how within every woman there lives a Wild Woman, filled with passionate creativity and ageless knowing, but repressed for centuries by a value system that trivalizes emotional truth, intuitive wisdom and instinctual self-confidence.”
The more I have read this book, the more I realise that I AM a Wild Woman. I am creative, intuitive, strong, beautiful, amazing, emotional, sensitive and loving. I lost my way for years because I bought into a society where emotional truth, intuitive wisdom and instinctual self-confidence and self-love is not valued. But I see now how every part of my life journey has led me to this moment and has helped me get where I am today. I am grateful for all of the people who have helped me along the way and I am now able to step into my own power and live life on my terms: speaking my truth and living authentically.
I am wild and free. And so, I have changed my name to Lisa Wylde.
It’s a name for me and I love it.
It’s also been delightful seeing other people’s reactions. For the most part, anyone who knows me smiles and says ‘how perfect! It suits you!’
A number of people have been surprised when they find out that Wylde isn’t my maiden name. ‘You mean you just chose it?? That’s brilliant!’ has been a recurring statement. And there’s also been, ‘You can do that? Just choose any name you want?’
Yes, you can. You can have any name you want (there are a few names you can’t have for legal reasons, but almost anything you want, you can have).
I’ve talked to many women in the past two weeks who although happy for me, have a look of regret in their eye as they say, ‘I wish I could change my name.’ I am astounded by the number of people who hate their name but have lived their whole life with it and just accept it. Some ask me how much it costs to change your name ($169 where I live), some ask me what made me do it, some tell me I’m brave. Some say it would just be too much hassle to do it. To those people I say, it took me 15 minutes to fill in the form and pay the money. Not much hassle for something that is so important to me.
Our names are such a part of us. I think it would be incredibly sad to go through life with a name you hate just because you can’t be bothered or are too scared to change it. It’s empowering to have a name you love. It becomes part of your persona, like how you dress or how you act. We change other parts of ourselves all the time, continually growing and changing throughout our lifetimes. Why shouldn’t we have a name that reflects our personality and/or where we are at that point in our lives?
Right now, I love waking up each morning now and thinking, ‘Ok, Lisa Wylde. What are you going to do today with your one wild and precious life? What wild adventure are you a part of today?’
It doesn’t mean that I have to be Lisa Wylde for the rest of my life. But right now, it is perfect. It charges me with energy. I want to be true and authentic to myself and this name helps me remember that every time I say it or hear it. Plus, it makes me smile.
And if you are wondering why I chose Wylde and not Wild? Why not? Besides, I like how it looks and it is a bit quirky. Just like me.
One of my beautiful tribe members had the plaque in the photo above made for me and it arrived, with perfect timing, the night before I got divorced. I love it and love being Wylde and free.