When I turned 18, I decided to take a trip to Holland to visit my grandparents. While preparing for the trip, I pulled out my passport, perplexed to see that the name my mother had called me since birth "Marjolein" was not my legal name.
I am legally, Martha Suzanne Brugman, named after my paternal grandmother, the grandmother I was about to visit. She was a formidable woman, enormous in stature, who raised six very magnanimous boys and lived to be 96.
When I showed my mother my passport she said, "I named you Martha out of deference to your grandmother, I never intended to call you Martha." The name I was known by, Marjolein, means marjoram, the herb. It has a beautiful yellow flower and great healing properties. At the time, being named after an herb, made little difference.
The way I saw it, at the time, was that years of bad pronunciation and childhood embarrassment could have been saved had I been allowed to grow up in Australia (not a country well-known for its cosmopolitan tolerance in the 1950s) being called "Martha� so simple, so easy to pronounce.
Still, fast forward to 1996. I was launching the Pilates Performer. I had to create a business name. Using my name, according to most, would be difficult. Difficult to spell, remember or pronounce. So, the compromise was to use my initials MSB. But, because my philosophy incorporates mind, body, spirit, I switched the initials to MBS and added Fitness, MBS Fitness.
Now, I am extremely glad that my name is as unusual as it is. It still gets mispronounced and misspelled, but it is unique. I gave my children names I hoped would help define them as they grew "Skylar and Louis" not difficult to spell or pronounce but unusual enough to make them feel unique. I now know my parents gave me a gift by calling me Marjolein rather than Martha. I learned to overcome the embarrassment of Marmelade or Mayonnaise and the pain of always being singled out as different, and today I am grateful for all of it. I am stronger, wiser, more confident and yet still able to respond to any variation on the pronunciation of Marjolein.