We all want to be seen.

As you might know, Juna and I took 10 ladies to Bali this year. We ate beautiful food, went to magical places, did powerful rituals, and connected in deep and unexpected ways. But one of my favorite parts of our week, was the closing circle.

Here’s how we did it:

We sat in a circle around a flower mandala that was made for us each day by the staff at the retreat center. It always felt like stepping into sacred space each morning when we would see it.

After going around and generally sharing what we learned and what we were coming away with from our experience, I invited the women in the circle to go around and do something wonderfully intimate. We would begin with one person in the circle and we would all focus on her – just beaming pure love at her in quiet meditation.

Next, we would think about what we appreciated about that person and who they were at their essence. (We had built so much intimacy and connection throughout the week that this felt effortless. The love cultivated between these women who didn’t know each other before Bali is what I am most proud of + excited about when I think of this trip. But I digress!)

After a minute or so of that, we would go around the circle one by one and offer a word (or sometimes two) of acknowledgement:

Wise Warrior
Bright light
Sexy earth mama
Joyous expression
Open heart
Deep knowing

It was an intuitive and beautiful process. Whatever words came, we spoke them and the person simply received the words, said thank you and let them seep into their bones.

After we all offered our words I would pause, turn toward the next person in the circle, and say their name aloud. It surprised me how potent this particular moment was each time. I could feel their name vibrating in the room as I said it- Meredith, Jamie, Carol, Alicia, Cynthia… It was as if their name was infused with all the love in the room and I could see something shift in them as I spoke – Mayra, Clare, Jenny, Susan, Juna…

And then I felt it when my own name was spoken aloud. It had a vibration all its own as well. It reminded me of Romper Room… remember that show? and the way the announcer would look straight into the camera (right at you!) and say, “I see Tony and Elizabeth and Paula and George…” and you would wait at home expectantly for your name to be called. You wanted them to SEE YOU! You wanted to be seen!

I think that’s what made the exercise so powerful. It was confirmation that we saw each other. It was a celebration and honoring of this beautiful truth.

I just had a conversation with a friend this morning who is planning on changing her name. This inspires me and I am in awe of the courage it takes- you mean you can just do that? Change your name? Holy smokes. You mean we get to choose the name that suits us if the one we have doesn’t fit?

The paralegal just emailed me this week asking if I wanted to go back to my maiden name. I said yes, but even as I typed the words I knew they weren’t 100% true. What’s more true is that I want to go back to my original name but give myself a new middle name- one that perhaps no one will ever know about except the DMV! Almost like a secret line of code infused in my name- an intention, a blessing for the future, and honoring of who I am at my essence.

Have any of you ever changed your name?

Tell me about it if you have! XO Andrea

P.S. Juna and I will be going back to Bali in May 2017. We would love to have you in our sacred circle of sisterhood!




  1. Posted August 20, 2016 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    I’ve never changed my name (not even when I got married, and even though I desperately wanted to in grade school), but I wanted to tell you the story of my mom’s name changes. My mom was born in England, but her parents emigrated to the US when she was a year old. She became a naturalized citizen when she was 18 and added a middle name, something she didn’t have before. She chose “Anne.” I don’t even know why she chose that name. But you may know that my name translates as “Lady Anne (roughly”. My daughter’s name is Stella Anne. Middle names are powerful. The only thing frustrating about changing one’s name is getting others to remember it. But that just takes a little time. It is so awesome that you are doing this thoughtfully!

  2. Roisin
    Posted August 23, 2016 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    I think I would like to change my surname. My first is is so deeply engraved into my personality, but my surname has never felt like it fit. But heres the thing – I shy away from even getting my passport updated because it’s too complicated. The reality of changing my name seems so daunting. Thoughts?

  3. Sara
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    After my divorce, I changed my name back to my maiden name. I am SO GLAD that I did. I never really bought into the name change in the first place and reclaiming my maiden name felt like an affirmation of my identity. I know that some people cite their children as reasons not to- but honestly, my kids have not cared.
    It is a lot of paperwork to get everything changed back. Four years later, I still occasionally notice something that I have forgotten to change. Who would have thought frequent flier miles are such a hot commodity that a copy of the divorce decree is needed to transfer them into your new name??!! But it has been worth it for me.

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