Monday, March 23, 2009

Identity Crisis

I love the name of this blog, Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights. That’s also the title of my memoir I hope to have out later this year. But it wasn’t always the name of my book.

The original title was Hot Flashes of Insight! In some ways, I liked it better for its connection between female hormones and hypersensitive perceptions. That link has been true and dramatic for me, especially around the time surgically induced hot flashes threw me into hot flashbacks. The flashbacks were memories and figurative light bulbs that haven’t stopped flashing since (1992).

With time, I came to realize that the accent was on the wrong sylLABle by using a title that centered on the words hot flashes. My memoir is not about menopause—nor is this blog. Menopause did play a role. The instant estrogen dip and its symptoms, raging out of control, ignited what I already had a lot of—rampant intuition. Even more so, hot flashes ignited instant memory videos of incidents that somehow tied together the themes and learning trajectories of my life. This continued long past menopause, which happened for me early at age 45, due to an illness that required the surgery. The flashbacks, not the flashes, were the gift; so, it made no sense to me to accent hot flashes, even if they were the catalyst. Besides, I’d just as soon forget that miserable era of my life when I was thrown into “the change” instantly and could not do hormone replacement for medical reasons. I was a weepy wreck!

Because of my blog and book name, “hotflashbacks” became my handle on a number of social networking sites, one of my main e-mail addresses, and a way people have come to know me. I don’t mind that. From the Fast Lane to Social Security, it’s fun to flash back on what we’ve learned in order to figure out where we’re going to go next and how to make it groovy.

It’s Really about the Cool Insights
I’ve been musing for some time now about how the more important part of the title is “cool insights.” If we can’t make sense and grow from our experiences, it’s all just an old movie. Maybe it’s a comedy, maybe a drama; maybe a bit of both. But the movie critic in me wants to know “What’s It All About, Alfie?” I want to learn from my mistakes and make new ones!

Identity Crisis: A Way of Life

Naming is powerful. One of the songs sung at the christening ritual at my church goes, “Praise to the One who called and named you, up from the waters into life.” It implies that a child’s name is divinely given, channeled from Above, and written in the Book of Life, long before a baby incarnates on Earth. Even in fiction, every character I name is with great purpose and meaning. In keeping with our ongoing discussions about affirmations, one’s name is their most personal affirmation, something that is reaffirmed constantly over a lifetime. My husband likes that I have “joy” in my name. Me, too. But on the darker side, how can we be surprised that Bernie Madoff “made off” with so much of other people’s money?

As an adopted person, I never knew my original name until I sleuthed it out when searching for my birth mom. I consider it my secret, spiritual name that I only share with close intimates. It’s a beautiful name in its own right, but it’s “not me.” That makes sense, too. When my birth mom made the difficult decision to give me up out of love and a promise for a better life with two parents present and participating, she named me as she saw me then. My name was her vision of who I would have been, had she been able to raise me herself. That was not my path; therefore, my original name is not my “real” name.

Joyce Mason is my name by adoption. I have had this name since I was three weeks old. For reasons I’ll explore in another post later this year, I have steadfastly refused to give it up for marriage or any other reason. I love that in numerology, it has a 22 vibration that parallels my birthday on the 22nd of the month. Twenty-two is a master number—in fact, it is known as The Master Builder. It reflects someone who builds on solid rock with a purpose greater than herself. My “brick layer” surname, Mason, says the same. Builds on solid structures. One of the many business identities I have tried on and used periodically for writing services, such as résumés, is Wordmason—my slogan, Words built to last. Then there is the Fraternal Order of Masons, a rather mystical organization. I have a huge dose of the mystic in me—yet another reason to love my name. All ‘round, it’s “my vibe.”

Identity Crisis du Jour
On Twitter, I can only have one screen name with a maximum of 15 characters. There, I’ve been known as “hotflashbacks,” but now I have two blogs and two unique identities—baby boomer and astrologer. I have actually had the astrologer identity much longer, since the late 1980s. It didn’t seem right to continue to be “hotflashbacks” when I now have at least one other hat or mask to wear.

I struggled between “coolinsights” or “coolinsighter” and simply using my name, “joycemason.” Whatever I write, cool insights are the motivation. They’re the juicy core of the Tootsie Pop. The subject or flavor doesn’t matter. Even my short stories and mystery novel are insight-laden. I was tempted to use “coolinsights” to keep half of the Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights brand front ‘n’ center.

In the end, I decided that I am the true common denominator in everything I write. My Radical Virgo blog advocates the importance of being who we are, especially our optimal selves, because who we are is our unique gift. One of my favorite sayings that says it all: It’s not what we do; it’s who we are. When we become our unique selves, we do what comes out of fulfilling our Self. That’s why it’s called fulfillment. The Radical Virgo advocates a psycho-spiritual approach to evolutionary astrology, where we rise to be the best of our unique pattern. It’s our imprint for the personal evolution of our body, mind, and spirit.

Even though I am less comfortable in the limelight than it looks, life has always demanded that I take the stage. Being “out there” may be a stretch, but if growth is what I’m about, I have to come all the way out of the closet. Whose cool insights are they, anyway? If my way of seeing the world is my gift to give, why call it anything else but what it is—mine? If Erma Bombeck were alive today, her Twitter handle wouldn’t be funnylady; it’d be ermabombeck. Oprah isn’t talkshowhost; she uses several variations of oprah.

So, joycemason is it. I doubt you'll forget I’m the one with the Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights. Hopefully, what I write will be as memorable as who I am—intertwined and indistinguishable.


What’s in your name? If numerology fascinates you, here’s a starter website,
Seven Top Numerology Sites Reviewed. Another way of exploring your name—besides learning the meanings of first, middle, and last—are anagrams. You’d be surprised what words might be lurking in your moniker! If you want to have fun exploring this option, visit Internet Anagram Server. Bring a beverage. You’re likely to be there a long time!



Pop Art Diva! said...

I think you were right to go with your name in this instance - Hot Flashbacks is not a name as much as a title so it's not really an "aka" or a pseudonym or pen name.

I went with PopArtDiva as my main branding name instead of my name because I've always disliked my name! And my name doesn't say anything about what I do, whereas my pseudonym does!

I often sign things PopArtDiva, the artist formerly known as Terri - it's a play on Prince's name change and it's quirky, like me.

Plus I wanted to do several things like retro art, martinis, "tiny foods" (my name for appetizers). I have diva in each name so that's my tie-in.

Let's face it, I'm a multiple personality disorder kinda gal, lol.

Joyce Mason said...

Excellent distinction, Pop Art Diva! I think it's great that you have the diva name as a common denominator that weaves together all your various identities.

There's nothing wrong with versatility. Remember that line in "Let Me Entertain You, from Gypsy? Gypsy Rose Lee was "very versatile," and so is Pop Art D.

Susannah said...

I went with joyfrequencies on twitter as it was the name I had been known as longest online, and I like to think that that is what I am spreading!

I too think names are very important and when I went through some changes in my life some years ago and needed to decide which surname to use, I actually decided to have a whole new name that *felt right*.

So, I named myself, not based on names I liked, or were pretty, just on the fact that when I said it, I *knew* yeah, that's it.

My full name now could have been found within my first two names at birth. Names do have vibrations and I have felt the vibration change of this name.

Will I have this name for always? We'll see. :-)

I like the fact that you feel good about your name Joyce, I think that if people are not comfortable with their name and it doesn't feel right, then they should consider thinking about *naming their selves*. People evolve and sometimes their name needs to evolve as well.

Joyce Mason said...

Susannah, there is much wisdom to what you say about renaming yourself! Those I've known who have done it all seem happy with their new vibe, each time following a rebirth of sorts. Joyfrequencies is definitely the right screen name for you. I get a joy boost every time I read your tweets. :)

BTW, don't know if you realize I'm having a "comment contest" to encourage more reader interaction. Your name goes into the hat for a book drawing. See post on 19-Mar.

Pop Art Diva! said...

I forgot to mention I also go by Normal Challenged Artist - but maybe that's less a brand or name than it is a description?? LOL.

Anyhoo, thanks for stopping by and commenting on my 13 ART TRIBUTES to ICONS, LEGENDS & HEROES that shaped my world today. I'm glad you enjoyed my little video tribute too.