because it is your name

Came across an old photo and just stared at it.
I remembered this 4-year-old girl in this exact moment, so many years ago.
I remembered her NAME  - easily - as I stared at the photo of her water painting her own name with a stick, at our school, outside on the playground, on the side of the sand box.

Outside exploration with sticks and water and ... T-A-Y-L-O-R.
I thought about how special each of our names are to us.
How it begins so early to put our name on things we do, things we make, things we own. Putting our name on something is an action of sorts - it is an announcement that continues to announce every time someone reads our name:
This is ME, I am HERE. This is MY NAME.
Painting mostly abstractly on the easel...except for his name: can you see it TWO TIMES?
Think about your name.
Think about how people know YOU because of your name, how it sounds,
how it feels on your tongue,
how it rhymes or jolts or is lovely like a song.
one friend gives friend JACK a letter which he discovers in his mailbox: he knows it is his because it is HIS NAME.
There are so many names to know OTHER THAN our own: this girl is writing a note to someone from the class list!
Do you make sure to KNOW your students names on the first day (nearly!) of school? I have found that knowing a student's name (and their guardians, and siblings, and grandmothers...) literally changes your relationship in one instant:
"Wow? YOU know ME?" 
Has that ever happened to YOU? Didn't you feel immediately welcomed, included and "in" ?
Your name has power and grounding and vitality.
It is double-or-nothing for C-H-R-I-S-T-I-N-A as she signs her second piece of art work with HER NAME.

Personally, I remember wishing I had a different name because I wanted it to "sound" a different way - exotic perhaps, or like a famous person, or from another country. As I grew up, I realized my name was exactly what it should be and it fit me exactly right.
My name IS french and IS in songs by David Bowie and Elton John so surely I can be content with that.
My name IS part of I Dream of Jeannie and The Little Mermaid. It could be worse.
And, I am pleased with the general "magic" with which my name IS associated. 

Professionally, I have been called by my first name only, then "Miss Jeanne" for about thirteen years, then "Teacher Jeanne" (of which I am not a fan) and now, well, am back to my first name only in the college courses I teach.
My husband takes delight in hearing "Hello Miss Jeanne" on occasion as we walk through our downtown streets in the location where I taught for so many years. It does have a nice ring to it - my name ... granted, to be acknowledged usually does have a nice ring to it.

What about YOUR name? Does it fit you just right? Have you struggled with it?

A-M-A-N-D-A's name is ready to take flight with her twirly flyer any second!
special delivery of a card with 2 NAMES on it and looking for ONE NAME on the exact right mailbox.

Think about all the places we NAME IT in our classrooms: 
name tags, cubbies, clothing, shoes, blankets, backpacks, lunchboxes, mailboxes, coat hooks, charts, portfolios, writing area lists, birthday boards, sing up lists...
so many opportunities for our NAMES to be boldly present. 

a friendly monster story AND a painted I-S-A-B-E-L-L-A ... what could be better?

from a boy named W-A-L-T: "C-O-L-E you are inv - " ited to my birthday party. friendship rocks.

Think about the names that will be in your upcoming class.

KNOW that each name is important - the way it is pronounced and the respect it deserves. 
The name IS the child that you are inviting, welcoming, and including into the family that is your classroom. 
Uplift the names, uplift each child.

this says it all: L-A-U-R-E-N and then she had me write at the bottom "I put a frame around my name!" well done.

We should ALL feel this proud of our NAME [like Lauren's painting above] where we frame our name in big bold fabulous paint.

S-I-G-N  your  N-A-M-E.


  1. P-A-M
    M-I-S-S P-A-M
    T-E-A-C-H-E-R P-A-M

  2. @Pam - I know the first 3 of you :) You have some new names to learn quite soon...! cheers.

  3. D-E-B-B-I-E
    Deborah JO! (uh-oh)

    Miss Debbie
    Music Lady
    Aunt Debbie
    Mrs. Clement (in the most formal of settings)
    and my very, most favorite?

  4. @Debbie... nice to meet you! Thanks for reading and supporting Zella Said Purple!

  5. L-I-S-A

    A simple but profound post. Thank you.

  6. @Lisa - thank you from one California girl to another :) Glad we have connected via Twitter!

  7. RACHELLE (pronounced ra-kel)

    Jeanne -- I LOVE, love, love this post.

    My daughter just started at a new nursery school and all of the teachers knew her name right away. It makes a huge difference and showed me how much they respect the children they spend time with. The other day we ran into a teacher from her old school who knew her for 6 months and still called her the wrong name!! Isn't that unbelievable?

  8. @Rachelle - thanks :) Great story example of how your daughter's name was uplifted by her new school (or not remembered by a former teacher :(


    My full name is Sandra Rebecca, and I went by "Sandra" until I started boarding school when I was 13 years old. After years of being bullied, I decided then that my life would "start now" and introduced myself to everyone by my middle name. 23 years later, only two people from my past stubbornly stick to calling me Sandra. All others have proved that a) they care enough about my wish of being called Rebecca to b) be mentally flexible enough to make the change within 1-15 years... ;)
    But yes, it does

  10. @tribblesNZ - Thanks Rebecca! Nice to meet you and hear your Name story. Amazing what our names can feel like or represent happiness/not during specific periods of our life. Inspiring that you took on your middle name that afforded you a new start and the respect you deserved all along. Empowering and Bravo!

  11. Thank you for adding "Pronunciation." To me, when a name is pronounced incorrectly, it is a different name. My daughter has a "different" name that is constantly mispronounced. I knew that would be her reality when I named her, but it is always pleasant to hear someone say it the way we pronounce it.

    Also, if you really want to be a hero, know how to spell names correctly. My name is Lindsay, and it has been misspelled so many different ways over the years. It is just part of who I am, but I love when people pay attention enough to know how it is spelled.

  12. @Lindsay - Thank your for your uplifting of the Pronunciation and Spelling of names.

    I believe that any name - "unusual" or not - deserves the time and respect to be learned by adults/caregivers/teachers. I am sure your child's name is perfectly suited to her and should be pronounced as SHE knows it to be said.

    One funny story about articulating names is that one year I happened to have girls and mothers with 8 variations of Kathleen, Kristin, Caroline, Carolyn, Christine, Katherine, Cate, tongue tied up often even though of course I knew who was who - but Wow, so many similar names was quite a challenge!

  13. I found your blog from the Fabulous Kids Activities Blogs list on facebook. My youngest daughter is named Zella, so I've been searching your blog to discover the meaning behind your BLOG name! :)

    1. Rachael - Thanks for finding me and for your question about my blog name. I have a few reasons for the entire name of the blog and perhaps in the near future I can write a blog post specifically about it :) I hope your daughter loves being Zella her whole life!


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