november 11, 2019
I’ve been Lauren my whole life. And I never liked it. Too common and too often pronounced in a weird drawling way that makes me cringe. However, I always loved my middle name: Leola. So dreamy, yet fierce. Like royalty. I have always wished I could adopt this name, increasingly as I aged. But it was impractical. And as I grew, it became too late. I didn’t want to be one of those annoying people who changes their name halfway through their life and insists on shaking things up for everyone.
And so I kept Lauren. Lauren is practical and conventional and common.
When I moved to LA earlier this year, I again flirted with the idea of adopting Leola. What better time to reinvent yourself than when you move to a new city? But upon implementation of the decision to go “Leola” I would always forget when I introduced myself and then was too embarrassed to go back and make corrections about my own damn name. So I bit my tongue, as Lauren would do. I didn’t want to confuse anyone or look like a crazy person with two names… and two personalities.
But Leola was fighting to get out. She was stepping into herself. She wasn’t practical or conventional or common. She was an artist. She chose herself. She didn’t care what others thought of her - her priority was in expressing love and truth.
And, so I shed Lauren, because if the opinions of others is the only thing keeping you from doing something your soul is aching for, you’ve got to realign your priorities. A lion doesn’t loose sleep over the opinion of a sheep. So, here I am on the cusp of my 26th year and I’m finally owning myself. I am Leola. Nice to meet you.
It’s incredible how a simple name change can shift your entire identity. Your decisions, priorities, creativity. And so, the universe sees you differently and treats you as such too. Introducing myself as Leola, allowed me to fully step into my true persona. I began asking myself, What would Leola do? Lauren would worry about what others thought of her. She wanted everyone to like her. She put the needs and desires of others before her own. She second guessed her decisions. She questioned her attractiveness. But Leola would not tolerate that. Leola knows who she is (a goddess) and what she deserves (love from herself and others). Leola does not negotiate unless it’s in her best interests. She knows her worth.
It’s actually nearly suspicious how my life has changed since I became myself. I have more energy. And I’m more gentle and patient with my anxious mind. I’ve also had lovely bursts of prosperity - my range of opportunities and income increased. I took risks that paid off in unprecedented ways. I felt a boost in my self-worth. I was even aligned with a charity that feels intimate to my soul.
In the realm of romance, I stopped feeling the need to date around. Suddenly the hole I was looking to fill was overflowing with self-love. I’d rather stay home and do something artsy or develop a concept for work or make plans with a friend than go on another dead-end date. The right guy will come to me. He’ll see my value. He’ll treasure this gem and demonstrate his worth in a way that will leave both of us without a doubt in mind. I will be open to receiving in a divinely feminine way. The Lioness is not submissive. She lets the lion become king for as long as she pleases. It will be the type of partnership that is full of trust and freedom. But until then, I am stronger alone than with a silly boy to distract me. I satisfy all my needs and more.
Leola means lioness. And I’m living up to the namesake. With my independence and fierce loyalty, I am gracefully me. I am leaning into my roar and finding my truth. I am regal and self-assured. I am the queen of my jungle - vigilant to opportunities to grow and own my space. Glowing in a golden coat, my prowess is flawless, yet humble, as I recognize that we are all connected in this great circle of life.
a photo series with Abba Shapiro