What is in a name?
What is in a name? In numerology the number nine is a completion. This February marks nine years of my name change! From the time I was a child, I was always an outlier and certainly my adult life has been defined as such. My collegiate days took me to France and Europe having studied the language of love as my undergrad. There, I began challenging my notions of perception around our cultural boundaries as Americans and started to break through what is localized, familial, societal, as per how we are taught by our parentage.
Having been a high school teacher for four years as the "Prof de Francais", like many in our education system, I was broken and uninspired and found limited creativity in teaching. The gravitational force that pulled me into holistic health and massage was born out of this professional rock bottom that I very thankfully reached!
In 1997 I was one of the first few students to study in Charleston at the Southeastern School of Neuromuscular Therapy. There I fell in love with the body, anatomy and physiology and the workings of its organic structure.
I no longer lived in the box of expectations and began setting up a life of non-traditional standards and means.
While cultivating my career as a therapist in Charleston, I untethered myself many times to explore world adventures for months at a time. Exploring Mexico, Guatemala and Belize as Mayan epicenters, I was astounded by the richness of the people, the natives, the temple structures and astrology that far succeeds our explanation.
Traveling east, India was a second homecoming having studied yoga for eight years. India felt like my ancestry and I spoke their language. I was immersed in the sights and sounds of cattle, cars, pedi-cabs and thousands of moving parts! India sings all day with vibration from mosques to temples and the constant smells that flood the streets with incense and flowers are accented by the brightest of saris.
The most poignant place I have traveled is the outpost in town of Gangotri, frozen most of the year, but opens in the spring as everything begins to melt. This for me was a pilgrimage of self. For many Indians, it is the most sacred place on earth where the glacier melts to become the sacred Ganges. In this town, I situated myself sleeping with the sounds of the river crashing just underneath my hotel room perched hovering its banks.
Packed for the 20 kilometer one-way trek, I prepped myself for an overnight journey with a nights rest at an extremely minimalist ashram just on the edge of this earthly~spiritual convergence of space and time. Hiking alone, I took it all in and made it a very soulful and meaningful journey every step of the way. I am not Hindu so arriving at the mouth of the Ganges did not hold religious significance for me; it was more so the symbol of what we are as spirit becoming physical.
This sacred place and India touched me and is a significant part of my evolution. My name change is a reflection of all of the years leading to this trip and is an ongoing journey. I translate Atmah Ja as Soul~Sister keeping it animated and effervescent. Over time, friends and family found a nick name in A-ja and hence Aija was born.
I write this to share - there are different names and stories written in all of us, alter-egos and people we dreamed and desired to be or may still become. Life is a pilgrimage and unfolding who we are is a journey that was written into my destiny. I am so grateful to have you all as a part of this experience and certainly - my work is a centerpiece of who I am and what it allows me to be!
Very sincerely yours,
A t m a h J a ! ~ A i j a