Joy: What’s In A Name

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When I said I was changing my name, people had a stutter in their stare. A moment of “huh.” Being divorced, I wanted to take a name that was totally me – the new me. Going back to my maiden name seemed to be a step back. It’s funny how much other people were invested in me keeping my name the same. The idea of choosing who I wanted to be was foreign. It’s not as if I was disappearing. I was still me.

But then again, according to numerology, my name dictates certain tendencies about me based on the numbers associated with the letters. But didn’t the numbers change when I took my ex’s last name? To be sure I wasn’t shooting myself in the foot, I bought some books, ran a few computer searches, talked to some “knowledgeable” people, and did the normal overkill research that I usually do. (After all I have to check it out to see if there is any validity to the claims.)

And guess what? Yes, the numbers give tendencies for my actions, thoughts, etc. For example, based on my birthday and my birth name, I am inclined to be a fantastic boss and leader (I loved to hear this one), a good teacher, polite, courteous, goal oriented, and tend towards being materialistic (but not greedy and I’m willing to share). One life lesson challenge will be to not get carried away trying to heal others by interfering in other people’s affairs. Yep, this sounded like me.

My new name? Apparently, I would be fiercely independent, desire to lead, nurture, analyze and seek the truth, and an eye for quality. A challenge will be to learn to lead without being dictatorial (According to my kids, I need work on this, and I still have my old name.) So could I live with these? Sure. They aren’t too bad. After all, they are only tendencies.

So, the real question was “what name did I really want deep inside?” I asked myself, but I couldn’t hear me — a recurring problem. How does “Starr” feel? How does “Dinkleschmidt” feel? How does “every other name I can think of” feel? I looked in the phone book for ideas. I asked people. Every time I found a possible name, I checked it out in the numerology until I couldn’t remember which name was associated with which qualities. Finally, I give it up. Literally. “God, please help me find my new name.” I went about my life and forgot to focus on it.

Then one rare Sunday, the kids were all gone. I could use some area of my house other than my office for writing. Oh excitement. I chose the family room. New ideas were flowing. My pen was moving. Pages flew by. The thrill of it activated my thirst glands. (Can you tell I was avoiding?) On the way back from the kitchen, I walked through the great room and noticed a book on the table. Granted, that book had been sitting there for a month or two. But that was the day I had to put it away. I knew exactly which bookshelf it belonged on, and there was one space open on the shelf. It was then that I noticed the book next to the newly shelved one, “Are You Happy?” Sounds interesting. I pulled it out and read. The word joy keeps popping up. Another book I picked up had the word joy spread all over it. “Hmm, this is funny.” I was conscious of it, but I hadn’t noticed it yet.

My butt was out of the chair and the writing had stopped, so I prepared lunch. A magazine was sitting on the counter. It had an article about the author choosing a new name for herself. “Oh, I can relate to this.” I got excited and settled in to read as I munched on my salad. The name she chose for herself was Joye. There is that word joy again. “Oh, now I get it.” God chose Joy for my last name. Cool, I like it. Little Judith inside of me was jumping up and down. Or at least that’s what I think I felt.

But was this really it? Should it just be Joy or should I include my maiden name also? Eventually, I decided to include my maiden name. I checked out the numerology. It could be good. The name was published in the paper for three weeks, a legal requirement. Who reads that stuff anyway?

A week before it was official, I changed my mind. I only wanted Joy. My lawyer called the county clerk. We were assured it was no problem. So it was off to court we went. I was so excited. I was ready to burst. Well, I knew something was up when the lawyer lost his cell phone, the parking lot was full, the line to get into the courthouse was very long, and the clerk wouldn’t take a personal check. But, we persevered and finally got before the judge. Guess what? The clerk was wrong. I couldn’t drop the maiden name and get my name changed that day. I quickly checked in with Little Judith and asked her. She really wanted just Joy. Going on the assumption that I’d learned to listen to myself, I decided to republish my name without my maiden name. I left the courtroom stoic, but with silent tears. This name change was so important to me, and I was frustrated.

It was worth the wait. My kids even joke about how happy I am when I say my name. Every time I say my name, it’s music to my ears. In fact, using just my first name feels flat. I love my new name. My head even bobbles when I say it. And you know what? My life has restructured internally. I am Joy. Judith Joy.

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