Words, I have found, have a way of being naked —— and brutal —— in unexpected ways. It takes a lot of courage to be a writer —— self reflection and honesty are absolute requirements. What makes this honesty so hard is that it is not fact-based honesty, it is an honesty based on trying to convey universal truth. Writers take the stuff of experience and translate it using words, which, of all things, are most subject to personalized interpretation by readers who, perhaps despite themselves, translate truth back into what they think are facts. It’s horrible! Why can’t writing be read like melodies are heard? Whatever the answer may be, writing is not read the way melodies are heard.
I recently joined Toastmasters to improve my public speaking in general, but also to add a dimension to my voice as a writer, and to see if saying words out loud would help me say them more honestly. This post is part of a 10 part series based on the 10 speeches I am giving as part of my Toastmasters membership. This first speech, the “Icebreaker,” was a four to six minute exercise in self-introduction. I hope I told the truth.
A Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet
My name is Anna Colibri. But it wasn’t always that way…
This is the story of my five names, the five lives that go with them, and how they made me who I am today.
I was born May 19, 1969, to a family of hippies, in Butterfly Town, USA.
Yaya Cooper Kiggins
My first name was Yaya Cooper Kiggins. My parents were hippies, so my dad said my mom was going to give birth to a Yaya rose —— whatever that is. When I was born tea roses bloomed in our front yard, and my dad brought my mom a bouquet in the hospital. As that was about the last effort my dad made on behalf of the family, my mom did some editing. He landed on the cutting floor, and I became:
Just to be clear, when you’re named Yaya, you get teased. So, when I was eight I decided, in pursuit of my passion to become a ballerina, that I would become Anna, after Anna Pavlova, and leave my hippie roots behind, so I became:
Anna Yaya Cooper
Anna Yaya Cooper was an excellent student, received scholarships, and studied at UC Davis, abroad in France, and at UC Berkeley, after which she began a career in social work and launched a life in the beautiful city of San Francisco. She got married and, good feminist, kept her name while working with nonprofits across the country helping them market programs for older adults. When the time came to have children, she wanted to live a white picket fence life with a nicely unified family name to go with it, so she became:
Anna Yaya Kelleher
Anna Yaya Kelleher left social work behind to become a yoga teacher and a yoga teacher and stay at home mom to two bright and beautiful boys. Their father decided to become a rock star and fell in love with the younger, bustier, blonder accordion player in his band, and that was the end of Anna Yaya Kelleher.
Anna Colibri was born of necessity and pride. As a newly single woman with two young boys, she needed to make a living and yoga, as much as she loved it, just wasn’t going to cut it. Anna Colibri was originally the “doing business as” name of my digital marketing business which, as it grew, became Colibri Digital Marketing.
What do these five females have in common?
Three of my core values, in life and business, are:
Anna means full of grace. When I am strong in my faith, I am full of grace —— that’s the Anna part of who I am.
Colibri, in most languages, means hummingbird. Hummingbirds, small as they are, fly faster than anything on earth and are fierce fighters. That’s courage and I’ve found I’ve needed it time and time again.
Hummingbirds survive by finding the sweetest, brightest flowers. They do it all day because their lives depend on it. What could be more fun than burying your head in flowers and sucking their juices for a living?
My goal is to live a life that reflects my values, my history, and the woman I’ve become. I aim always to make the most out of life so I can uplift my family, friends, colleagues and clients and help them get the best out of their lives, too.
Without faith, courage, and fun, I wouldn’t be who I am. I wouldn’t be Anna Colibri, proud mom and founder and CEO of of B Corp certified marketing agency, Colibri Digital Marketing.