Who Do You Think You Are?

August 25th, 2008

I wait too long to blog and I get this major build-up of things I want to share. Ack! Where to start? Well, I hope you all had a lovely weekend. I've been really loving taking yoga classes combined with some at home yoga courtesy of Yoga Today. On Saturday morning, I went to a class I've been going to this month, but the regular teacher has been out of town, so when she got back yesterday, I was new to her. She had everyone introduce themselves at the beginning of class and let us know she was bad with names. I'm awful with remembering names as well, so I could certainly relate and understood when she called me by the wrong name. By the end of the class I was cracking up though because she had called me just about every two syllable name starting with "L" except my own. I was Lyla, Lulu, Laura, Lily, etc. I'd correct her each time, but she just couldn't remember it! At the end of class she repeated my name, three times, "Leah, Leah, Leah!" (which reminded me of "Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!") and then asked what my name meant. I told her that in Hebrew it meant, "weary one." I laughed, but I've never liked that meaning. So later that afternoon, I decided to put my mad searching skills to good use and find out if that was the only meaning for my name.

What's in a name?

In the bible, the name Leah references her eyes as being "weary" while her sister is far more beautiful. The interpretation is unclear, so it could also be read as "delicate", "sad eyes," "beautiful eyes" or it's possible the "weak eyes" referred to "blue eyes." The story of Leah in the Bible is not the happiest of tales and I won't recount it here, but I very much enjoyed Anita Diamant's version of her story in The Red Tent. However, prior to the Bible, the name Leah in Assyrian meant "ruler" as in a queen or princess. I like this meaning combined with my middle name's meaning (Melisssa = Honey Bee in Greek) which would be Princess Honey Bee. Heh. My favorite meaning though was the Irish Gaelic meaning of Leah which is, "Light of the sun." Now, that's lovely. I've always loved my name, without much thought to what someone a very long time ago decided it meant. But at the same time, I feel like I've somewhat embodied that weariness in the past and I'm wanting to step into that light-of-the-sun type of being. If you don't like the meaning or have no meaning attached to your name, why not create something that suits you?

Who do you think you are?

My sweet friend, Ruby, sent along a link to the site of the movie "Who Does She Think She Is?" There is a very powerful trailer at the start of the site. I definitely want to see it. Here's the synopsis I pulled from their site:

Who Does She Think She Is? focuses on five particularly bold women artists, each radically different in background, race, religious creed and choice of artistic field.  But they all share the common challenge of making careers in various art worlds.  Simultaneous to their creative existence, they are pulled in different directions as they try to answer the competing demands of artistic fulfillment, marriage, motherhood and economic survival.

Have you ever heard, "Who do you think you are?" or some version of that? I know I have. It's always good to hear how others deal with that, especially other creative women like the ones featured in this movie. There's such a twinge of shame involved when I hear that or feel the question implied. But I can always pump myself back up and rebound. This quote from Marianne Williamson is particularly helpful when rebounding from the energies of those who wish us to be small or less than:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

I know I've posted that quote before, but good quotes are worth repeating! I read the funniest story in Loving What Is this morning. In it, Byron Katie talks about a Darth Vader toy she's given to her grandson. After dropping in a coin it says, "Impressive, but you are not a Jedi yet." Her 3 year old grandson felt so disappointed that he wasn't a Jedi and no one could convince him otherwise. When Katie had a pilot announce over the loudspeaker that he was in fact a Jedi now, he went home and checked with the toy again who still said, "...you are not a Jedi yet." And he believed the toy. It's so easy to let someone else's story or more likely our own false story dictate who we think we are and therefore how we act, how we dress, what we think we are capable of. Do you have a nasty Darth Vader voice in your ear telling you that you're not enough yet? Who do you think you are? And who are you really? I'm still figuring it out for myself and I feel like I'm shedding layer after layer or false story as I go.

The above pics are pages from a sketchbook swap I'm doing. Well, there's always more to write, but I'll stop here for now.

12 Responses

Well hello Princess Honey bee! I am totally going to call you that from now on. It suits you very well. Especially since all of us creative every day participants are your little bee’s.

My name means “Womanly”, ha! I guess that is an ok meaning.
Love ya,

hi leah, love your spreads, especially the red and gold one of the female form. Lovely!

Thanks for the link to Who Does She Think She is. I really want to watch it! It really speaks to what I am struggling with right now. Balancing my art career with being mother. Right now there is no balance and I fear that my art may have to wait several years. Anyway…the link seemed to speak to something that I really need to hear about right now. So thanks!

I enjoyed what you wrote about your name, and the beautiful pics. My name means “Peace”, but I chose it for that (changed my name at age 33 or so). Aloha, O

Hail O Light of the Sun and Nectar Seeker!
She who lights the way and sees the truth.

My name is often described as being “the feminine form of Charles which means man” – which is a very odd thing to say rather than “woman”!

And you are spot on about those Darth Veda voices – I was awake at 4 am this morning struggling with my piano teacher from when I was at school… my other music teacher noticed the damage she’d done by telling me I didn’t have any rhythm but his attempt to help me back to where I had been before her pronouncement just emphasized it… a much more perceptive and just thing would be if she’d said “You’d play more smoothly if, instead of relying on reasonable sight-reading, you actually practised a bit….”

I’m not sure why this particular monster has raised her head but I’m attempting to deflate her this time!

Regardless of the source, my name is interpreted the same again and again. I am “youthful!” It makes me happy. I’ve always enjoyed my name, never wishing I was named something different. This quote is so powerful, as is the story from Katie’s book. Ringing true every time. I feel like we’re going through many moments of quiet introspection. I think it must be the fall. Preparing to nestle in just a little bit more!

As always, Thank you, deary!

I am horrible at checking back..I need a yoga class but they are expensive! I think my name means wine and my last name fountain glug! glug!

Thank you for posting about that documentary! I’m now seriously considering hosting a house party since there is yet a screening in my area.

Love the gold in the pages!

I love your red and gold piece especially. Love it. And yes the Vader voice… must find the inner Skywalker to combat that.

My name means things like white breasted one, light skirt, whorish… mainly because it was first an anglo princess who fell in love with and ran off with a saxon warrior. But I think it originally came from the Rowan tree.

What a nice name, Princess Bee – and lovely story!

Ahhh, the name game. Most know I am not a fan of my very 1960’s name and don’t you know that a customer at my work, upon discovering my name, declared “Oh, what a plain name.” Would someone please pull the knife from my back?

So… then there’s the coworker at the OTHER job who said “If you don’t like your name then stop introducing your self as that.” Well why didn’t I think of that? I’m now tossing about Bambi, Sunflower and Cocoa as potential new monikers. HA!

As ever dear friend, I loved reading this post.

These paintings are gorgeous! They are great together, and the red figure, wow! So beautiful! Roxanne

Hi Leah!
wonderful post…I love your name too. I have spent a lot of time enjoying researching my name…now I’m off to investigate the links you posted.

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