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What’s in a Name: Claiming the Beloved Within

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About a year and a half ago, I started to get the sense that my name no longer resonated with who I was anymore. It may have been a combination of things. Number one, the possibility of marrying Drew and what to do with my name, and also the fact that I was coming out to the world as a love coach. I had the opportunity to rethink the whole concept of whether my name was in alignment with who I was becoming.

And while I have appreciated all the experiences that my given name has afforded me, it started to feel heavy. Cynthia Tsai, for some reason, didn’t evoke ease, and there was a desire for my name to inspire an inner smile, a deep recognition that when I announced myself and when people called me by it that I would feel truly called forth, that my true essence not that of my cultural heritage, would shine.

So I went through books of names, letting them roll off my tongue, from Audrey, to Jacquelyn, to Celia, Natalie was a forerunner for awhile, but sounded a bit too organized (which may not have been a bad thing). But nothing stuck, so I let it go and figured, like the story of an old African tradition where the mother waits under a tree to hear the name of her unborn child,I would wait until the name came to me. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, a good friend who is quite intuitive said,

“They’re saying that there is a name for you if you’re still considering a new one.”

“Oh yeah?” My eyes widened. I hadn’t thought it about it for six months. “What? What is it?”

“Bella,” she said.

I was immediately flattered that my higher self wanted me to own and claim this name. And by the grin that appeared on my face I realized that embodying such a name was a healing act in itself. One of my core beliefs growing up was that I was not beautiful. I can’t tell you the number of times I heard people say, “Wow your mother is so beautiful, you look so much like your father.” Somehow I got it into my head that my mother’s role was to be beautiful, my father to be powerful, and me, well, to look like my dad?  I felt that if I ever was to be considered beautiful, it might somehow be competing with my mother’s position in the family and thus threaten her survival in some fashion.

Bell—ah. I rolled it off my tongue the entire afternoon, and we both agreed it was easy, exotic, abundant, endearing without being entirely ostentatious.

I went home and tried out a bunch of combinationsfor the last name: Bella Tsai, Bella Tsai-Freeman, Bella Freeman, looked up the numerological vibration of each word and decided that none of them quite fit. And then it hit me: Bella Shing. Shing Shing is my Chinese name which although it sounds like the same word twice but written down is actually two separate words “Fragrant” and “Heart.” Unfortunately, when you put these the two words together it also sounds like the word for Gorilla- my father had a strange sense of humor.

Yet another reason to change the name. But I always identified with the heart, and so I decided to keep it. So Bella Shing, the name can be interpreted to mean Beautiful Heart.

That weekend, Drew had planned to whisk me away for the weekend as a surprise birthday treat.  I decided I’d wait to ask him what he thought. That Friday morning, Drew got me up at 5:00 a.m. and told me to pack light but bring a passport. He joked all week that he was whisking me off to Fresno. Nothing wrong with Fresno, but well, you don’t need a passport.

When we drove past the San Jose airport, and Drew made a move as if to get off at the 680 exit (towards Fresno), almost held my breath, but then he took a turn for the Oakland Airport and at the security gate, handed me boarding passes for Seattle.

Great! I had never spent any significant time there and was looking forward to spend a luxurious weekend in that beautiful city.  But as it turns out, we weren’t staying for long. The minute we landed and I asked him what hotel we were staying at, he said, we weren’t. We were getting on a boat!

I got to use my passport afterall! Drew ended up taking me to Victoria, British Columbia. He knew that the princess in me needed and outing and when we got to our hotel, I revealed my new and very princessly name to him. He took to it immediately. Having him whisper Bella in my ear knowing it wasn’t just a compliment but was my moniker opened up my heart in a completely new way.

He reminded me of how he had changed his name from Andy to Drew when he entered college. In our culture, we have barely any rites of passages, and I realized that my entire work with women is about helping them to reclaim the part of themselves that is Source Energy, and not the personas that have been handed down through generations, genetic nor social.

And while I was already enthused by it, I guess the Universe wanted to make sure I knew that it was indeed my new name by giving me plenty of signs. The first one Drew pointed out as we were walking on Johnson street after having high tea at the Empress Hotel.

He liked the idea of Bella on Johnson. Naughty man. Okay, maybe not such a coincidence, having a beauty boutique called Bella. The next day however, as Drew was waiting for me outside of the hotel, he saw a little dog on the bench. Her owner was training her to stay. He lifted her tag and what did he see?

Yup, and if that doesn’t beat all, when I returned home, my dear friend presented me with a present honoring my new name. She knew that I had changed it to Bella, but she didn’t know what Shing meant. And this is what she gave me:

She said, when she handed it to me, “This is a book for all your serendipitous experiences as Bella.”

Yes, as Bella Shing indeed.


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