I am always fascinated by the defining moments in a woman’s life.

In particular, I am fascinated by her re-defining, the moments when we realize we are different from what we thought we knew, what we knew we thought, who we knew we were. I am fascinated by our becoming.  The day when we become someone different, a new version of ourselves.

I have often wondered, do men define and redefine as often as we women do? Does it happen so abruptly? Or are our definitions simply more obvious from the outside?

I mean, look simply at the culture of changing our names. Men often travel through all the seasons of life with the very name their parents gave them, but you so rarely meet a woman who keeps the same name her entire life.

My life is now divided into four distinct chapters with subheadings for all the names I’ve taken.

(Sidenote: Pete and I refinanced our home this year.  This involved notarizing a page of all the names I’ve ever been.  With all the variations and initials and Mrs., Ms. and middle names, my list carried well into the second page.  I was delighted to find one name that I wasn’t.)

Tricia Lott was bright eyed and naive, happy and hypersocial.  The single girl in pursuit of an education first, and a husband if he came along.  She wore hair ribbons and collected (God, help me) whimsical cows.

Tricia Williford was a bride and a brand new teacher with a classroom of her own..  She collected recipes, wooden jewelry, plaid jumpers, and friendships.  She received the name “Mommy.”

Tricia Lott Williford was broken-hearted, strong willed, and so determined to stay in the game.  Her world got really small, really fast.  She collected words and wisdom. She received the name ‘widow’ and ‘author.’

Tricia Heyer is a bride again, seasoned this time and not quite so black-and-white.  She collects happiness and recipes again.  She’s deeper and softer, careful and intentional.  She has boundaries and purpose, and she knows who she is and isn’t.

Tricia Nicole Lott Williford Heyer.  John Jacob Jingleheimerschmidt. (It’s a little dizzying. And it’s sometimes concerning to airport security officers.)

A woman’s redefining happens in seasons and chapters, sometimes over time and sometimes in a moment.  A single girl, a wife, a single girl again, an author, and now a bride once more. With every change, I am who I have always been.  But with layers.

Sometimes the name you start with isn’t the one you finish with. And somehow you can answer to all the names you’ve ever been.

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