Where’d Donna go? Who is Ellis?

When I was a little girl, I desperately wanted a nickname.  Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do with “Donna.”  My dad called me DJ, but no one else did, and the fact that both my brothers had names which easily lent themselves to nicknames (as did my parents), was pretty hard for me growing up.  Don’t know why it mattered so much, but it really did. And here we are.


I remember as a young child (maybe 5ish?) asking for a nickname.  My mother said sure, then laughed at my suggestion (“Bubbles”) and said it was a stripper name.  Clearly, a missed opportunity to have been an early Powerpuff Girl, but whatever.  Parents do the best they can with the information they have at the time.  (In all honesty, Buttercup is really the Powerpuff Girl I’d want to be, but Bubbles is probably more accurate: “Bubbles…is seen as kind and very sweet, but she is also capable of extreme rage…”  All the yeps.) 


So, long story short, after the last two years of transformation getting my shit together, and also a lot of great time spent with wonderful people embracing their true selves, I had a moment of thinking, “If I were 18 and had my life to do over again, I’d totally change my name.”

Wait for it…

Keep waiting for it…

<Several weeks later…>

Umm…I’m 46. I’ve lived half my life (if I’m lucky) with a name I don’t love, that I don’t think expresses me, and isn’t nickname-able (is that a word?).  What if I thought about changing it?

See what I did there?

I sneaked up on it.

I didn’t rush right into “What if I changed it?” That’s overwhelming, scary, huge, blah, blah, blah.  I cozied up to it. For several months.  Like four.  Finally, I started casually bringing it up to people, starting with my hubby. Here’s how that went:

 Me: “So, what would you think if I changed my name?”

Hubby: “Your last name? Like go back to your maiden name?”

Me: “No, my first name…” <insert whole story of not liking my name which I’ve never told him despite knowing him for over 30 years>

Him: “Oh yeah, fine, whatever. I was just worried you didn’t want to be married anymore. What name?”

Me: “Oh, uh…I hadn’t gotten that far. No idea.”


Then I brought it up to my adult kids:


Me: “How big of a mid-life crisis would it be to change my first name?”

Adult Daughter: “You do you. What name?”

Me: “Oh…uh…I hadn’t gotten that far.  No idea.”


 Me: “How big of a mid-life crisis would it be to change my first name?”

Other Adult Daughter: “Cool! What name?”

Me: “Oh…uh…I hadn’t gotten that far.  No idea.”

and the one child still at home:

Me:  “How big of a mid-life crisis would it be to change my first name?”

Teenager: “Do whatever makes you happy. What name?”

Me: “Oh…uh…I hadn’t gotten that far.  No idea.”


I kept talking to family and friends, and just sharing my “cozy-ing” up to the idea.  Told them I was considering it, but was taking my time.  That I hadn’t even gotten to the point of picking a name, I was still on the “Could I?” Part of this process.

As a previously divorced woman in the corporate world, I’ve changed my name a couple of times.  I’ve had email addresses which had my maiden name, some with married names, my passport didn’t match my ss card, etc., etc.  But changing my first name?  Who does that?  And also, for a reason like “Because I wanted to!” Seems like a LOT of work for something rather minor.  And believe me, it is a lot of work.  But also, we have professional personas, particularly in tech, and particularly in this era of LinkedIn, and other social media platforms.  While I’ve generally kept my full name off of my blogs, twitter, etc., and my fb is private and under my maiden name, I do that for privacy reasons (see the “previously divorced” bit…), but LinkedIn is obviously me.  When I presented at the SQL Server Users group that was as me.  

I’m about to submit a couple of abstracts for a SQL Saturday.  And (conveniently?) I’m also switching jobs right now.  I literally just mailed the paperwork for the records request (required for the motion to change my name).  So, it actually dawned on me that my name change is about to get very public, very quickly.  I need to be ok with that.  In some ways, it’s kind of a big non-event, and in others, this is completely self-indulgent.  I also need to be ok with that. :)

I’m adding Éloïse to be my first name, moving Donna to join my old middle name, and keeping my last name.  There are a lot of reasons for “adding” a name, and not “changing” my name outright…but this is the line between sharing and TMI. I will say that I picked Éloïse because it has so many amazing nickname possibilities, it is French, (and if you know me, you know I love all things French), and it has a reported meaning of “Healthy” and “Wide.”  Both kinda apply here, too! 😊  One of the first nicknames that jumped out is Ellie, which is super close to the name Ellis (who was a total bad-ass I worked with at MS many years ago), so, for the time being, Ellis is my preferred nickname.

However, as the saying goes, feel free to call me anything but late to dinner!