Earlier today somebody felt the need to send me a message to tell me how “weird” they think it is that I use the last name “Howe” on my page/website, oh and also to congratulate me on my recent engagement. Well that’s one way to send good wishes!! Thanks? I guess? I calmly explained to them that I’m not just using a last name online…Howe is actually my legal last name and that it was a business decision that they didn’t need to concern themselves with.
To put this into context for those of you who are confused, my maiden name is Pipal and Howe is a last name from a previous marriage. I neither broadcast nor hide the fact that I was previously married for a short time and then divorced. Am I proud of it? No. But it is still a fact of my life and a part of my history. Everyone makes mistakes and not only am I forgiven by my Father in heaven but I’ve also forgiven myself and I’ve moved on from it.
So if I’ve moved on then why didn’t I change my name back? Well, I was the proud owner of group fitness studio named “Howe-to Fitness” at the time and the infant stage of a business is a really bad time to be changing your name.
Sure, I could have kept the business name and changed my personal one but that seemed strange (plus it’s a lot of work to change your name). The business was ME through and through and I wanted my name to reflect that. People suggested to drop the “e” and just have it be “How to Fitness” but that also didn’t make sense to me. The whole point was that my studio name was a cute play on words of my last name. I liked that. Plus I’d invested in a domain name and a logo. I’d started a following on social media. Most importantly, I’d built a reputation of excellence in group fitness under this name. So changing my name back was simply not an option.
Do you know what one of the proudest moments of my life has been? The day the signage went up after I’d signed the lease on my studio space. I don’t have kids yet so this is the closest I’ve ever come to the feeling that I assume parents have when their kids are born. “Wow this is really mine….I made this.” Pure pride and joy.
Other people can think I’m weird if they want, perhaps insensitive even. But that’s not what keeping the last name “Howe” was about. I didn’t keep it to hurt anybody. To me, the name represents a professional accomplishment not a personal failure. It represents my blood, sweat, and tears for 3 years of my life to pursue a dream. It represents the leap of faith I took, in the face of all my fears and doubts, to quit my full time job and commit everything I had to my studio. It represents so many positive things that happened from that point forward.
I think it’s kind of perfect that my engagement and the 1 year anniversary of closing my studio came within one week of each other (March 27th and April 1st of this year). Howe-to Fitness was a chapter of my life. I grew so much as a person and as a professional. I gained so many friendships and experience. It helped launch me to the next step of my career.
It already feels so long ago and while I miss it, I’m ready to close that door completely and move on to bigger and better accomplishments!! I’m not going to forever hang my hat on this one success of mine. It already doesn’t really matter anymore. I will oh so happily be changing my last name to Fischer this coming October. As Stephanie Fischer, I plan to continue to work and leave my mark at the YMCA, grow my healthy living blog, and I don’t even know what else yet!! But it will be great!!
So the judgy judgers of the world can think what they want. I’ll just live my life and decide what name I’ll go by, thank you very much! Now I’ve just got to figure out what to change the name of my page and blog to after the wedding in 6 months! Any ideas?!