What’s in a name?

I have always had a slight obsession with names. As a young child, I was intrigued as to why my siblings had strong, simple names (Deborah and Kerry), yet I was burdened with a French name that bore no connection to my Irish heritage.


When I asked my parents, the answer was inconclusive:

“It was just a name that was popular around the time you were born,” they said, which appeased me until much later, when I was making the big decision of naming my own children.

I needed to respect the fact that my husband had to have choice as well. We were blessed that we were able to find out if we were having a boy or a girl, so we were able to narrow the names down.

Due to my unusual Christian name, I favoured simple and classic names, such as James, Ryan, William, Richard. But my somewhat “modern” husband preferred names that were, well, modern; different, but not too unusual. So when my eldest son began his transition in to the world, I was doubled over in pain with the television projecting the cricketers name “Matthew Hayden”, knowing that this man was sharing his surname with my son’s first name. There was no other connection with his name apart from this. Gavin liked it, I thought it was OK, and I made Gavin promise that the next child would have my choice of name (within reason).

When choosing Hayden’s middle names however, more thought went into this. I wanted to honour both of their grandfathers, so Hayden’s official birth certificate name says Alan, and his baptismal name is Michael, which was not only Gavin’s father’s name, but I also chose this name because I had always referred to Hayden has my “angel”, so it was very fitting

We followed a very similar decision-making process with our youngest son. I decided on his Christian name with the decision based purely on the fact I had read an article of a rock star who had named his son that, and I loved it. The bonus was that it was Irish, and that it was unusual enough to keep Gavin happy. It ticked all the boxes. His middle name honoured Gavin’s father on the birth certificate, and as Donovan had a due date which was the Feast Day of St Nicholas (and that he was my early Christmas present), we decided on his baptismal name of Nicholas.

Despite our perhaps sloppy decisions on the first names of our sons, we did dig deep into our core values when it came giving them their other names. It was important to me that both maternal and paternal grandparents were incorporated (we would have done the same with female names had we had girls), and my religious background had to bring in the reasoning behind their baptismal names. When it comes to their Confirmation names (should they wish to take this path), that will be down to them, as it was to me when I took mine.

The important point here is that any important decisions we make in life, we draw upon our core values to help make that decision. For example, Gavin and I have very healthy, good, and longstanding relationships with our fathers. They are active in our lives, and I hope they continue to be so, for a very long time. We have named our sons after them from a place of love and loyalty. Had we not had any kind of relationship with our fathers, the names we chose could have been very different, and we could have adapted our mothers’ names, or honoured good friends.

So let’s move on to the decision of changing jobs, or moving house. We don’t make these decisions lightly either. We don’t just decide to move house or walk out on a job. This normally involves a long process where we analyse the reasons why we want to do it, and see if it is worth moving on. For example, we decided to move into our house as we knew we would be starting a family, we wanted to be in a family community with good local schools and a short commute from our jobs. The house ticked the boxes, and we are here now. Should any of that change with time, we would look to move again. And the decision would have to be made again through that process. Do we need less room now? Are we able to still travel to work? Are we still near family and friends? All these things are important to us.

And this moves me on to the reason I ask my new clients *why* they want to lose weight and get healthy. I want them to look beyond just getting “skinny”, or fitting into a certain size, or having their body “bikini ready”. I appreciate that these things are important to people, but I want to delve deeper. It can normally take a life-changing situation to really make people aware they need to make the changes. A health-related death in the family for example, a particularly horrible photo they have been tagged in on Facebook, a sombre chat with the doctor during their check-up, laying out all the risks they will have should they continue on this path, a comment from a friend of family member voicing their concern, upping of medication they never thought they would be on. These are all reasons why people end up contacting me, once we delve beyond aesthetics.

Have a think about the most important decisions you have made in life, and what thought processes you have gone through to get there.

As always, I welcome your comments!


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