#71 - What's In A Name?

Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet?

My confession today is that I've been thinking for a while now about changing the name I go by.

When I was a kid, my parents called me "Jenny." As I got older, I thought that was too baby-ish, so I asked to be called by "Jennifer" from then on. (My parents still call me "Jenny," by the way. :) But I wouldn't have it any other way. It just feels right coming from them.) So, most of the world called me "Jennifer" after that. Except for those people who naturally like to shorten names, who called me "Jen."

I went through a phase in High School where I wanted to be called "Jenny" again. I knew this really sweet girl who went by "Jenny" and I wanted to be that person. Plus, there were about 2.2 million people at my High School named "Jennifer." There were even 2 other girls in the school with my same first AND last name, since I have a very common maiden name. But my "Jenny" phase was short-lived and it never really stuck. And some of my close friends called me "Jen" anyway. :)

When I met my husband, he always called me "Jennifer." He even commented at one point when we were first dating that he preferred that I go by "Jennifer" just because it was a more beautiful and sophisticated name. So, forever afterward, I referred to myself as "Jennifer." (Although my friends and those people who naturally like to shorten names continued to call me "Jen.") LOL.

Then, you have the nicknames that have been imposed upon me over the years. My brothers called me "Knifer." That name actually stuck for most of my growing-up years. My husband (yes, the same one who wanted me to have a sophisticated name) decided to give me a nickname for the first half of my name instead of the last half. So when he's in a teasing mood, he calls me "Jennif."

So, what's the point of all this blab about my name? Well, I have a friend who decided she wanted to be called Cyndi instead of Cindy. It makes more sense with the spelling of her full name, anyway. I realized as I thought about it that the person I picture when I think of "Cindy" is different than the person I picture when I think of "Cyndi." I can't explain why, but it just is. Maybe some of you know what I'm talking about.

After that, I got to thinking about what name I wanted to be called by. I have a picture in my head of what kind of person each name represented. It's interesting how my image of myself changes as I think of just changing to a different version of my name. I can't imagine myself with a different name altogether. I know a couple people who go by "Jenn" and there's something about the image I have of that name that I like.

The fact that a lot of people call me "Jen" influenced my decision as well. :D For those of you who know me in real life, though, I'd like to ask a question. Could you think of me as a "Jenn?" It's crazy, I know, but I have doubts about whether I can pull "Jenn" off. I almost feel like I'm not cool enough to be a Jenn. Like I said, it's crazy. :D Am I the only one who feels so strongly about the image they have of themselves that's connected to their name? Or do you all get what I'm talking about here?

As my friend Ali pointed out, we sometimes have a hard time naming our characters because we want to find just the right name that fits them. And, of course, everyone has trouble choosing the names they will give their children. There's just an image that goes along with each name. And maybe everyone has a different association with each name, depending on the people they've known with that name.

Anyway, I'd love to hear all of your opinions on this subject. Do names evoke a strong sense of what a person is like? And, how do you feel about your own name, nickname, etc.? Do you feel like it fits you? Or would you change it if you could?

#70 - I Love That Feeling!

I just love the feeling of setting a goal and actually accomplishing it! And I think the best way for that to happen is to set mini-goals for yourself.

For example, if your 2009 resolution was "get more organized," well, when do you know if you've done it or not? It's hard to reach an exhilarating feeling of "I DID IT!" when the goal is so ambiguous.

So, I've been doing a program called Body-for-LIFE and some of my goals are: Lose 25 lbs, get into a size 8, etc. in 12 weeks. One of the things I'm doing is a cardio interval program. You run for 20 minutes at various intensities, finishing up with a final all-out burst of energy. As I've been going along, I've been able to run a little harder over time. When I first started running 2 years ago, I would start to get dizzy and my vision would black out if I ran much more than 5 mph. I'd get through about 1.4 miles in 20 minutes. As I've continued to run and push myself harder, I got to where I could run 6 and even 7 mph and not even feel as spent as I did in the beginning at 5. I've also been able to keep up the pace for longer, to the point that I don't even have to stop and walk during my recovery minutes.

So, I've been increasing the distance I could run in those 20 minutes, to the point that I was getting in the 1.8 mile range. I kept hoping to be able to run 2 miles in that time, but didn't feel like I could do it. But one day I said to myself, "I want to run 2 miles in 20 minutes. And I want to do it in the next 2 weeks." So, each time I ran, I'd figure out ways to increase my speed here and there in order to get there. I used to take more time warming up. Jogging at 4.5 mph or so for a couple minutes to loosen up the muscles. But I found that if I run at 5 - 5.5 mph during that time, I still don't feel like I'm pushing myself too hard in the beginning. It still feels like a warm-up. Yet, I'm running farther as I'm doing it. I also found that I don't have to slow down and recover quite so much during each of my recovery minutes. I set a mini-goal last week to never set the treadmill below 5 mph throughout the whole run. Since 6 mph is the 10-minute-mile pace, I started gauging how many minutes I spent below 6, and tried to counter them with an equal number of minutes above 6.

And on Saturday, the deadline for meeting my goal, I pushed myself hard and I actually did it. I ran 2 miles in 20 minutes. And it was an amazing feeling! To know that I had set my mind to do something, and I actually did it, felt so empowering and exciting.

So, I need to get back to my January challenge goal. I slacked off too much during the first half of the month. I'm tempted to just say, "I can't write 30,000 words this month. It's just too hard at this point to catch up." But, on the other hand, if I can run 2 miles in 20 minutes when that used to seem too hard, then why can't I write 30,000 words in January? I have 12 more non-Sundays left in January. That means I have to write 2055 words per day to get there. Why can't I write 2055 words per day? That's not unattainable. So I'm going to do it.

I'd say, "Wish me luck," but I'm not going to need luck. What I'm going to need is determination. So, "Wish me determination." LOL!

#69 - Victory, Sweet Victory!

Okay, that's the blog title I should have saved for when I actually meet my goal to write 30,000 words this month. :D But, it's how I feel right now, having actually exceeded my daily goal for the first time. I feel like things are starting to flow a little better now.

I experienced something last night that has happened to me a few times before. I wrote something random, just because I'm trying to write words and I didn't know what else to write about. And it wasn't until after I wrote it that I figured out how absolutely perfect it is for a curveball to throw at my heroine! Anyone who reads this book will think this was a major part of my plot from the beginning because it works so perfectly.

Sorry, though. No spoilers. You'll just have to buy the book. (Or publish it, if there are any editors out there reading . . . anyone?) :)

Anyway, I'm writing strong and feeling good. Let's cross our fingers that things stay this way.

#68 - David Bowman's Art

I wanted to share these beautiful pictures and what the artist has to say about each one of them! You can ALL win a FREE signed 8x10 print of your choice (out of the three prints), by copying and posting to your blog or website this whole post by noon on January 5th! After you post then send an e-mail to David (contact@bowman-art.com) with your website or blog address telling him you posted it and that you read about this offer on my blog. Also send him your name and mailing address and he will send your signed 8x10 print of your choice :)

David Bowman has had a passion for art ever since he could pick up a pencil. He loves creating images of the Savior that inspire and uplift. Along with his Christian fine art, David has also written and illustrated a series of scripture storybooks for children titled "Who's Your Hero". Check out his website at www.bowman-art.com to see more of his precious art.

The Savior tells us we need to become as little children to inherit the kingdom of God. I've often wondered what it is about little children Jesus loves most, and I think its their innocence. They are clean slates, seeing the world and others through untarnished eyes. Their hearts are pure, without the baggage of cynicism and self-doubt. In this piece, I've tried to imagine how a child would act upon meeting the Master for the first time. Without reservation or inhibition, I think he would simply want to play with Him. He would be at complete ease, allowing his pure little heart to soak in the love and laughter of His pure, infinite heart. Its no wonder Christ delights in these little ones and sets them up to be our examples.

One of the greatest human needs is a sense of security. In all aspects of life, we naturally gravitate towards anything that makes us feel safe. In this piece, I wanted to convey a sense of complete peace and calm like only the Savior can provide. It's a security that allows us to rest assured, without fear or worry, when we put ourselves trustingly in His arms. Little children have that inherent kind of trust in their parents, so it's fitting that the man and girl who modeled for "Security" are actually father and daughter. They generated the exact feel I was looking for.

"My Child"
This piece conveys an intimate, up-close-and-personal feeling of the Savior's love. Notice how all the lines draw your attention and point towards Jesus' face in the center. I chose the name "My Child" because the only thing that could compare (even remotely) to Christ's compassion for us is the love of a parent for his/her child. This image is also intended to put things in perspective. Above all, we are God's children first. He allows us the privelege of experiencing parenthood for ourselves and we are entrusted to be the mothers and fathers of His children here on earth.

#67 - No Progress

Unfortunately, I haven't written any words yet. I know, it's only day 2, but I really don't need to be falling behind. The problem is that my dear hubby gave me a new computer, but I have to set a lot of stuff up on it, and that includes moving all my Word files over, and all the stuff I have in PageFour has to be transferred over /somehow/ and I've just spent a lot of time trying to get ready to write and no time actually writing.

So, although I'm sleeping on the job, hopefully I'll take off once I get everything set up and ready to go. Wish me luck!