"What's in a Name?"

"What's in a Name?"


I got a new name yesterday. Nana. Do you hear the music because it certainly is music to my ears. Bill’s daughter, Alyssa, my (step)daughter gave birth to an amazing little girl yesterday. Her name is Boston, she arrived in Houston weighing 7 and 1/2 pounds with a cute button nose, adorable lips and fantastic lungs!

What is it that makes being a grandparent so wonderful? There are the obvious things of course, including the traditional “you enjoy them and then give them back” angle.

For Bill and I we realize that we are enjoying the “fresh start”. We have learned a lot since our kids were little. We have learned lots about how to parent, how not to parent. Probably even more importantly we have learned lots about ourselves.

A few weeks ago we contemplated shame. Let’s talk today about guilt. It’s tied in to these new beginnings.

So, what’s the technical definition (at least according to Wikipedia)?

Guilt is a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person realizes or believes—accurately or not—that he or she has compromised his or her own standards of conduct or has violated a moral standard and bears significant responsibility for that violation. It is closely related to the concept of remorse.


An earlier blog discusses forgiveness, including self-forgiveness. What do we do though with the imagined guilt; the overall shame over how we showed up in the world?  Often this is not tied to a specific event but a season in our life.

Sometimes it is about drawing a line in the sand for ourselves and declaring a new season. This is not about repression, denial or minimizing (if you know me at all you know I’m not in to those things!). This is about acknowledging a new chapter that allows for character development.

It’s easier in our transition to becoming grandparents. We even get new names (Bill wants to be Papa, me Nana). Even so, we are planning to cash in on this natural transition and intentionally embrace a new way of being in the world together.

So, what are the tools for fresh starts?


Creating symbolism and ceremony are cultural tools that work. Weddings, funerals, baptisms, new titles, new names, these all help us declare a new future.

There are transitions that society doesn’t give us as much support for: divorce, the new version of us after significant healing or significant changes in our own belief systems.

Creating symbolism and ceremony can be very helpful. Sometimes it just looks like a party - be that a ‘coming out’ party, a divorce ceremony with friends or your own private ceremony and celebration. This might include the discarding of a significant item from the previous version of you as a marker of transition.

  • Burn old items (such as old love letters);
  • Write significant words on beach stones then toss them in the ocean (lake, river); 
  • Have friends and or family join you in creating eulogies for the previous you that you want to leave behind
  • Write your old self a ‘Dear John’ letter


Do you have some parts of your past you need to say goodbye to so that you can more fully embrace a newer version of you?

Who can you invite to help you say goodbye?

What will your new name be?




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