By definition it's difficult word to define and as my (now official) ex-husband said recently to me, "you responded to my e-mail with some esoteric bullshit". It got me thinking maybe I have been a little bit too vague with my writing here. I thought an image of caution was necessary because at times the facts are potentially hazardous. You can proceed at your own risk- even though the sign basically says no trespassing, it's just a way of being protected from liability when someone wants a closer look.

We separated on 11-1-2015 and the divorce was finalized yesterday on 2-22-2016. The full moon was reassuring as a bright light in the sky last night while adjusting to my (now official) new name. The best part of the divorce was that I finally got to choose a new name. I've gone by middle name since I was 17 and had wanted to change my first and last name legally but it always seemed like too much hassle. I changed my last name when we were married and thought that was a good start. After almost 7 years as a "Sloan" seeing that last name in almost every public restroom (and not being related to the founder of that well-known successful valve company) I was pretty sure I didn't want to keep that last name either. What I didn't realize was that in a divorce whatever someone writes down on one line on one page in the final document could be anything. Unlimited potential for redefining oneself all because of a committed documented relationship that didn't work out. Thank God.

There is a required 90 day waiting period after separation to determine if the marriage is irretrievably broken so I had some time to think about what I wanted to be called. I still love my middle name and decided that will never change, it's the core of my identity, the creme between the two cookies. My first name I've always felt a bit ashamed of, the early years of my life were filled with moments of emotional upheaval, traumatic experiences and personal lack of understanding the big picture. A lot of memories I associated with my first name caused me to cringe whenever I heard it. And it was inevitable that someone at the bank or grocery store would call me that name as they read it off my identification unknowing that the second word written there was what I wanted to hear. So then I thought, if I keep my middle name what do I want people to call me when they don't know me and are looking at identifying documentation? It didn't take me too long to decide, anything but "Tina" would suffice.

I chose a name that in Turkish means, "Halo of Light" around the sun (or moon). Realizing right away that the name could be mispronounced easily because of the spelling. I was okay with that, sometimes I unknowingly speak with an accent and people hear "Joey" or "Joyce" in stead of "Joy" when I introduce myself. Ayla, (which I prefer to hear pronounced eye-luh) sounds way better no matter how you say it and kinda makes me want to sing. For some reason the song, "Lola" comes to mind leading into more random daydreams of potential stories and adventures of Ayla put to music. Ayla Joy felt right so on to the last part of a common 3-word identifying name.

As with my first given name, my last name was a colorful one including lots of experiential associations and family history. I like the color when I think of it as earthy but somehow those shitty memories of kids chanting, "How now, Brown cow?" as a chubby middle school student made it less than desirable to keep. I love my family too and the Brown side has qualities I sincerely appreciate. The word itself is not pleasing to my ears and makes me feel kind of down, or like a clown, or like I'm wearing an old gown, or... I think you get the picture. A rhyming mind leads me to Love- sent from above, fits like a glove, on the wings of a dove... And I thought of many last names I would love to have.

Ayla Joy... Osprey, Raven, Light, Peace, Forest, Moonstone, Star... so many words I love came to mind. The options were overwhelming and the potential implications of choosing something I would regret later was scary. Then looking into numberology my mind wandered all over the place searching for an answer that felt right. I went back and forth, felt high and low, free and stuck until suddenly I realized I knew it all along. There were signs everywhere confirming that my inner thoughts were correct. Even writing during the Super Bowl the answer was right in front of my face. The super bowl! Really? How many crazy signs did I need outwardly to confirm what I already felt deep inside? Apparently I needed a lot because the screen shots and pictures I have taken in the past threes months show a common theme and "Love" is the Answer.

I changed my Facebook profile name the day before the court hearing and then announced to all my friends via a post yesterday with two re-affirming photos taken the same day of my official new name. I received a text from my beautiful friend Jen last night, "Ayla Joy Love ❤️💗❤️ I love it!" And I do too. It feels right and when I saw the car with Joy Love stickered on the black fender and read the pink words written across the back window "Live with purpose" I knew. 

Change, no matter how scary, can be a really good thing and sometimes it's all about timing. Why did that person park their car there then and why did I park next to it, how did the timing create the circumstances to show me such a profound message in such a simple way? That I have to leave to the great universe, I don't really need to know that answer. My logical mind can make up all sorts of reasons why that had nothing to do with my name change but I choose to believe something different. I'm choosing to believe in something I feel in my heart. My purpose is to act out of love, to share the joy that is a choice we can make to believe in what makes us feel good. It's always an option to choose how we see things and how we react to things we see.

I'm making a different choice now than I used to. I know everyone is doing their best. My family gave me a beautiful name, they took care of me, they taught me things I needed to know to survive, they kept me warm and safe and did everything in their power to do what they thought was right and I am so thankful for everything they have done and everything they have taught and continue to teach me. Family is always going to be family even if I have a different name than what was given to me at birth. It's another one of those choices we all have to make in life. We always have options and that's what makes our world go round. 

Yes, I like playing with words and some of the ways I have used words in this blog post prolly had some of you rolling your eyes. In the past I believed pictures are worth a thousand words and now I believe words are worth a thousand pictures. It all depends on the context and it's useful to have both tools to convey messages in this physical world we exist within. There I go being esoteric again and I'm a Taurus, an earth sign who is generally very grounded. There is definitely a shift happening on this planet and I can feel it. At first I thought I was going crazy and had completely lost my mind. 

I never thought I would get divorced, we had figure 8's- a symbol of infinity tattooed on our ring fingers. Our life wasn't perfect but I truly believed I had committed to spending the rest of my life with that man. I was sure that if anyone was stubborn and strong-willed enough to make it work it would be me. With a big heart and an open mind I've done my best to be faithful and true to the ones I love. This openmindedness led me to explore a vague nagging feeling I couldn't quite shake and suddenly my heart felt like it was going to explode. What I didn't know what that I had closed off parts of myself that I love because it wasn't practical or acceptable by the man I married. He told me multiple times that those parts of me, those things I felt, "didn't matter" and I tried so hard to believe it, to make it work. 

One of my favorite new sayings is you have to "believe it to see it" and I'll admit that sometimes no matter how much we want to believe in something if it doesn't feel right in our heart it won't work. There are boundaries and guidelines for our beliefs for a reason, body, mind and spirit have to communicate and cooperate in this process. Hard lesson to learn but so valuable and I just hope that the man I spent the last 10 years of my life with can understand some of these truths I have learned.

I know I wasn't perfect and I know now I'm not the right person for him. Yet we learned a lot from each other and had some incredibly amazing adventures together. The love was true and there will always be a special place in my heart for him and I wish him well on his journey. He has great potential if he allows himself to be who he really wants to be. And only he knows what that is. I am thankful for our time together and sad that it didn't work out the way we had hoped. Life goes on and it's unproductive to dwell on what could have been.

This moment is all that really matters and the future is a gift waiting to be opened. I am grateful for this life and all these opportunities that await. I have spent the battery on my smart phone and have stuff on my task list to check off. It's time to continue switching over to my new name, number one being a new drivers license. What do I want the new identifying picture of Ayla Joy Love to look like...? 

I hope everyone has a magical wonderful day today. Love to you all. 💞