Free will, our greatest gift, is a muscle you’ve got to flex. If not, it withers and atrophies into the illusion of victim-hood.

One of my favorite experiences on earth is when I realize I have the freedom of choice about something that I previously felt powerless about.

Whether it be shifting my attitude, changing my circumstances, or setting a boundary that I had forgotten I have a right to set, I love working out in the gym of free will.

Like my name. I legally changed it in 2010 from Scott Kalechstein to Scott Grace. And I’ve been giddy about it ever since.

Here was something that I thought I could never change. That I should never change.

It wasn’t an expression of anger or rebellion. It was just that Kalechstein was hard to pronounce, cumbersome to spell, and I wanted to travel light. I wanted to own my name consciously, to choose it wisely and playfully, and Grace was the perfect fit.

When it dawned on me that I wanted to be Scott Grace and that there was nothing stopping me, I had such a party in my head.

To this day, every single time people introduce me using my name, my inner child and I have a party. Or at least a tingle and some goose bumps.

It reminds me that I have been given free will, authority to create, and a clean slate that is not determined by my past.

My daughter and I used to play a game. She would wear a certain hat that she called The Name Change Hat. When she wore it, she would become The Name Change Princess, and wielded the power to change names. I would bring stuffed animals and dolls to her feet as if she was royalty. And then I would pretend to be the stuffy, saying something like: “Oh, I am so excited to finally meet you. I heard you have the power to grant me the perfect new name. Might you? Folks call me Froggy, and I’m tired of it.”

The Name Change Princess would speak in a commanding tone of authority, as if all beings were under her rule: “You are no longer Froggy. Your new name is Groovy Green Thing!”

Then I (as the frog) would happily hop away, profusely sputtering out thanks, insanely thrilled about my new name. Then the next stuffy approached her throne. And the next. Then we switched and I’d wear the name change hat. There seemed to be no end to the amusement this game brought us. At least two years worth.

And then years of forgetting about it.

And then I remembered. We were at my favorite hippie dippy health food restaurant in Santa Cruz called Dharmas. I surprised Aysia by taking out the hat. “Remember this, Aysia? Remember the name change hat?” “Of course, Daddy.” We played for a bit, and we both got nostalgic. When Aysia got up to use the bathroom I walked over to a lively couple sitting at a table near us and whispered, “Would you be willing to do something that would make my daughter’s day?” I explained what I had in mind, and they agreed.

About ten minutes went by, and then one of the women came over to us and said to Aysia, “Aren’t you the Name Change Girl? And isn’t that the Name Change Hat? Might you be willing to give me a new name? I’m so ready for a new name!”

Aysia put on the hat and wielded her authority, granting her a new name. Then her friend got in on the action. Both women poured on the excitement and gratitude as if the new names were new cars. I was so grateful for this couple. They were naturals at improvisation. They played it beautifully. Aysia had a huge smile on her face, and asked me if we could do more.

So we did.

We traveled from table to table, inviting children and adults to get new names. I explained that these would be temporary names, not legally binding, and could be discarded anytime. Almost everyone played along and had a ball. We left the restaurant filled up, not just with healthy food, but with joy and connection.

A name is a temporary thing. We all discard them the moment we leave our bodies. Does yours feel like a fit? Do you realize you have a choice? What would you dare to name yourself if you could simply choose, from your free will, what you wanted to be called?

Really, I’d like to know. Put on your name change hat right no and make it so. And make it playful, if you so desire.

And please report back to me, just for the fun of it.

Your move, sport.

PS. Here’s my daughter in 2015 with her name change hat, changing the name of her owl.

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