I changed my middle name

Type the Sky. Lisa Rienermann, illustrator. 
She uses the silhouettes of buildings as seen from below to create a photographic alphabet. Our names are a collection of letters that form words with meaning.

I was not born with the middle name Michael. I chose that name. My middle name was Lee.

I first experimented with a name change in third grade. I told my teacher that my name was not Susan or Sue. I said, “Call me Suey. My parents want this.” (A lie. They had no idea.) So my teacher wrote a note home to verify this request. 

I recall my Mom’s response: “Suey? Is that a good idea? That’s the word they use to call the pigs in when it’s time to eat.” She had a point.

Not that I don’t like pigs. I love them.

It’s common for kids to experiment with new names. I was my daughter Erin's teacher at the Montessori School for three years. During that time, I remember she asked me to call her Lesa for a few months.

One time I asked a group of preschool-aged kids this, "If you could have picked your own name, what would it be?"

Some kids respond immediately. Some want to think about it. Here are some of their choices:

Elijah chose Mr. William
Skylar - SpongeBob
Peyton - Tinkerbell
Ansel - Iceman
Mason - Bob 

Maggie said she'll call herself Let Her Shine and added, “Wherever I look, flowers will grow.” A name with intention. Oh, Maggie, you are connected with your innate capacity.

My idea of a name change arose first while I was in college and more seriously after I’d gone through some life changes. I changed my name as a celebration.

I liked the name Michael and even gave it to my son. Some people thought I chose that name in memory of him. But I changed my name before he died. I chose Michael because it was the name of a woman I admired but didn't know personally. I viewed her as generously philanthropic, confident, independent, and caring. It was a perception and a view of myself I wanted to embrace.

Cheryl Strayed, author of Dear Sugar and Wild, reveals that Strayed is not her given name. In Wild she writes about her name change process:
I [could not] go back to having the name I had in high school…Nothing fit until one day when the word strayed came into my mind. Immediately I looked it up in the dictionary and knew it was mine. Its layered definitions spoke directly to my life and also struck a poetic chord: to wander from the proper path, to deviate from the direct course, to be lost, to become wild, to be without a mother or father, to be without a home, to move about aimlessly in search of something, to diverge or digress. I had diverged, digressed, wandered and become wild…I had strayed and that I was a stray and that from the wild places my straying had brought me. I knew things I couldn’t have known before.
Today I wonder if I’d choose a different name. I like the Cherokee name, “Ahyoka” which means “She brought happiness.” I'd like to live with that aspiration. 

Or maybe I’d choose Sky. That would work: Susan Sky.

(Posted on 9/1/13).