The real reason I changed my name
Last year was a wild ride for me. But really, for my family. It was a really big deal for us to leave our home in the forest and move back to the city, especially because it meant Derek was going to stay home full-time with Hawksley, and Rogue Wood was going to move into a position of being our primary income. But I have to tell you, I earned six figures last year with this little “part-time blog” that I was running (and all the moving parts that support it) while staying home with my kid, and I’m really proud of that.
Like, really proud.
Lemme tell you: i’s hella scary to say goodbye to steady pay. Even if it wasn’t me making steady pay. It’s exciting because it means a lot of new freedom, but it’s still scary. We said goodbye to the regular weekly paycheques we were used to, and committed to earning income in an unpredictable way: bigger chunks at random times. I know a lot of people don’t understand how “bloggers” make money, but I really believe online entrepreneurship is the future, and something that Millennials and Gen Z are going to sink their teeth into in a whole new way.
Because what is important to us as individuals and a collective is changing. Freedom, awareness and play are becoming more necessary, because we’ve moved out of “survival energy” as a collective, and into “awareness energy”.
When I left my full-time job in finance in 2014, a lot of my team was telling me I would never make more money than I did there - or had the potential to. At the time, I really felt like they were trying to hang on to me by leaning on money and income potential. My best earning year in finance was $80,000 - but I had a tax nightmare that followed me all the way up until last year.
The hardest part about leaving that position was the hundreds of clients I had built relationships with and was leaving behind. I had orphans who had become adults, young people who were starting businesses, individuals battling terminal illness… I went into a very dark place when I left because it felt like I was breaking up with 100s of people.
So having a financial year under my belt where I was doing sincerely what my heart wanted - as an entrepreneur - and still helping people while making more money than anyone thought I would, felt like a real achievement for myself in my career.
But. I’m not motivated by money. I’ve done a lot of work with my relationship with money, and pinning down the moments where it was impressing on me; my dad dying - the bank suing us for the expensive mortgage - my mom an entrepreneur trying to make ends meet by using her salon money to buy us groceries while she was grieving my dad- the visual of her passed out on her desk around bills. My mom is fucking incredible. She bought me insurance as a child - the only insurance I’ll ever have now as a cancer survivor - she helped me with the equipment I needed for college, bought me a car when I started driving, put me singing lessons and dance lessons… and she retired at 55 because of her smart investments after a shitty young life of losing everything. And you know what? She NEVER made ME feel like I went without.
But I was adopting her fear and experiences with money as my own. That “we don’t have enough” energy didn’t belong to me, because actually, she always made me feel like I did have enough. My mom never said, “we can’t do that, we don’t have enough,” even though I know she felt like that sometimes.
Wow wow wow. Mega liberating for me.
I also worked in finance, so I understand money, the market, investments, business moves, market trends, etc. What a gift experiencing all that for those few years. It makes so much sense to me why I pivoted in finance after developing an education in journalism, design and marketing.
So if I’m not motivated by money… what IS my motivation? Because my money fear belonged to my Baby Boomer Mother. I’m motivated by IMPACT. Connection. And completing the things I just want to do. So if I want to write another book, I’ve just got to write it and make sure it impacts a few people… and then figure out how to market it and turn it into something that can earn an income with. I don’t start at considering its profit - my brain doesn’t work that way.
I’m still a Libra. Connecting with others is my sincerest motivation, and really why I’m here living. But that Aries Moon of mine is like extra fuel. While I was connecting with my clients - deeply - in finance, the medium wasn’t what my heart wanted. Finance wasn’t my passion. But I stayed for years because of those connections with my clients and how much I loved them and felt responsible for them.
And as soon as I got real with myself about my interests and motivations - which may seem narcissistic because I literally just want to do what I want to do (I’m a Manifestor in Human Design) - my whole energetic around money shifted. I was no longer paralyzed by the “we don’t have enough” fear.
It was life changing.
And then our finances started to change. I made $20K with an online course I designed. Thousands on ebook downloads. All quick. All chunks of money. And I think it’s because of the place they came from inside of me.
Yes, I’m educated in marketing, and I teach marketing part-time in college and universities. But I spend zero dollars on advertising. And that’s kind of my thing.
I don’t claim to have this all figured out, and I don’t claim to never feel the fear around money at all. I still do. I’m stressed right now thinking about income for spring. But I try my best not to let my mind zoom ahead to an entirely new season, and just stay where I am now and focus on my projects and ideas. I know I’ve built smart systems, and I know how to enhance them and make them better and then try them again, because they’re never perfect the first time around, and that’s OK.
I also aim low and realistic with my sales targets, and if I crush them, then great, and if I hit the tame target, then I’m well-prepared and we can pay for our mortgage and swimming lessons for my kid.
But it’s nerve racking when you really just sell your ideas and designs.
2019 has a whole new energy
Lately I’ve been talking a lot about how Jupiter was hanging out in Scorpio in 2018, and how that was affecting us. Once Jupiter, Planet of Growth, Expansion, Skills and Luck, moved into ballsy and adventurous Sagittarius, I felt something in me change, and my ambition take off in a new direction. I mean, I literally had to feed my family now.
I didn’t even feel like the same person anymore on the gate of 2019. The things I learned about myself in 2018 were so eye-opening and so life changing that I sincerely felt like a different person.
Some of my favourite things that helped me get real with myself this year:
Derek and I are always talking about marriage (especially after our tax problems), but with finances being so fragile and uncertain, we kept pushing it on the back burner.
And sometimes I feel like I take the romance out of it because I can be so strategic and analytical. I’m working on it. I’m on a journey!
So while I was traveling in Oaxaca last year with my best friend, I started confessing that I didn’t feel like the same person anymore, and that I wanted (and maybe needed) to do something to support how I felt. I started tossing around the idea of going by “Van” again - a name I developed in high school that spread into a music career I had in college. I went by “Van Kunder” first as an attempt to protect my identity when the internet was new and I was sharing music online… and then it became my pen name when I got into fiction because it hid my gender and opened me up to a wider potential audience. I was Van Kunder for a long time (my birth name is Vanessa Kunderman).
When social media started to pop up, I was Van Kunder. And I learned the power of social media and changing your name on social media then. Whatever you put your social media name as, people will call you that. A lot of people call me “Rogue”!
I remember sampling wine at a Liquor Mart, and the woman who had booked me for the little gig wrote my name tag as “Vanessa Kunder”. She knew my name was Vanessa, and Van was a nickname - but Kunder? She didn’t know my real name!
Van Henry was a real consideration this go around. Henry, of course, being Derek’s last name, and my son’s last name. But honestly? “Van” felt too masculine, and I had finally moved into a place where I was becoming more comfortable with my feminine side - and THAT was the journey that 2018 was for me. And I wanted to honour that.
I wasn’t this domineering, scary, aggressive woman anymore.
I thought about Vanessa Henry, but honestly… it was too generic. The last name is common, and the Vanessa Henry’s were abundant on social media and online. And since so much of my work is online, I needed to consider this. All my work and my pen name was a big deal to track online. My name is literally is my career, especially in journalism and fiction.
My coven was pretty set on Van Henry. But. Gah. It didn’t feel right. So one night in Oaxaca while we were going to bed, my best friend said, “Vaness… Why not just go by ‘Vaness’ Henry?”
I immediately knew.
My closest friends only call my Vaness. Derek calls me Vaness. No one calls me Vanessa once they enter “that zone,” you know? I laid in bed and scrolled through my coven feed on my phone, and as we were talking about my name change, everyone was calling me Vaness. Then I peeked at my convo with Derek. There was “Vaness” again. And again with my convo with my mom. It was this soft, comforting pet name that made me feel immediately loved. My family used it; my love used it; and my best friends used it.
I knew I was changing my name at the start of 2019 to start the new year fresh, with a new identity and a new numerology and energy to my name. I knew 2019 has dynamic energy attached to it, and it felt like the right time. Derek was very on board, and it turns out it’s pretty easy to do when registering as common law or applying for a marriage certificate (I’ll keep the rest of those details private for now).
All the new work I had come out in 2019 had my new “name”. Some people reached out to me to let me know that I had a typo and forgot the A on the end of my name. So I started changing it in bigger places - my email, my website URL, my instagram. I was making it pretty real. And I felt good.
I started teaching at the University again, and my STUDENTS started emailing me, addressing me as Vaness because that’s what my email said, and what my handles said - and people will absolutely call you what you put on your handles.
And getting those emails from my students felt amazing. I actually felt my energy shift when I read that they had addressed me that way; I was more approachable, relatable, friendly… I was letting more people “in that zone” and not erecting these old walls that weren’t a part of me anymore. I felt like I was really transforming. Rather, that I HAD transformed.
No one was pinning me in emotional shackles the way I had been my whole life - and I knew I needed to finally shake them free. I didn’t want to fear that everyone hated me or thought I was mean or too intense or aggressive anymore. Because I’m not those things. And maybe I was a shit head when I was younger - but you know what? I was grieving a dead parent, and then battling my own cancer. So maybe I was a little angry and scared. I don’t blame Young Van for those experiences or how she acted toward others. And I don’t think others think of me that way anymore either. It was really ME assuming that they DID still think that.
And I was severely limiting myself with that old belief.
For all intents and purposes, legally, Vanessa Henry has the A on the end. But for my online identity, I dropped the A because I can literally do what I want and that is so my mantra for 2019: #2019dowhatyouwant. And I want to continue to feel softer, like I am approachable and friendly and helpful, and that others do not fear my intensity. I can still have clarity, feel confident and driven, without bulldozing others.
I can allow myself to be softer.