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My name is Monika. Actually, that is not true. When I was about twelve years old I dropped the “C” in my first name and adopted what I deemed to be the hipper consonant; “K.” For reasons I cannot explain, this spelling stuck. This has made cashing a check somewhat complicated and there is the occasional social media snafu, but for the most part, my adaptation has gone unnoticed.

Even more covertly, I have a native name. As a Native American, my father gets the honor of deciding which bundle of syllables carries my essence. I believe “Never Stops Talking” was tossed around and I even threw “Grazing Buffalo” into the hat. I have a penchant for appetizers and I am not ashamed. Ultimately, my Dad let me make the final decision which threw me into a panic.

What would you name yourself if you could?

Juliet mused “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” But would it? Could you imagine sighing into a dozen festering “dung beetles” this Valentine’s day? This is an unjustly loaded question because our brains default to gush at words like “beautiful” and “delicate” while casting aside “ointment” or “bureaucrat.” But our name is OURS. We were anointed with it by our parents who for the most part, deeply contemplated the perennial recipe of possible school yard taunts, necessary relative adoration and a pinch of their own creative self-expression. We learned to look up at the sound of our name, or hide when each given syllable was paraded as a threat. (Monika Marie Mojica did you just track dirt into the living room?)

So this is big stuff. I love working with clients on this concept.

Nestled among the preliminary introductory exercises, is claiming our name. After establishing the day as a safe space, we assert those precious seconds of time that uttering our unique calling card means. This enterprise is ripe with lessons. I marvel at how quick we are to say our names; sometimes breathlessly, looking at another person, in a hurry to get things over with. This is where it begins. Our name is not an imposition. Our name is at once limiting and freeing. It is the past, present and future. We blush when our beloved utters it and cringe when it is associated with something unsavory. Maybe we did not choose our name, but its energy certainly chooses us.

And just like all teachers I am still learning.

I put off claiming my own Native name for a long time. I was sure I would recognize it when it greeted me, and one morning it did. The name that I chose was at once something to strive for and something I had obtained. It was descriptive and prescriptive. I hope we connect beyond this reading and when we do I will offer you a choice. I am Monica with “C” and sometimes with a “K” or you can call me what I am learning to call myself; “With Open Heart."

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