If you're following Wailani's on Pinterest, you're bound to have noticed my name as the founder, Lisa Czlonka, and maybe thought, what a strange assortment of names. So, in honor of March 4 being Unique Names Day, I thought I'd give you a little satirical insight about the names behind the business that ends with a heartfelt lesson about motherhood. Hope you enjoy!
~Have fun and live healthy
You're More than a Name Baby
From a young age, I thought life shouldn’t be a Spelling Bee. My maiden name was E-A-K-M-A-N. Go ahead, say it aloud, is that Eekman or Eckman? If you said Eckman, you’re right. You’re in the minority, but you’re right.
Then, at some point in college, I realized I might be able to trade-up and not have to spell my name every time I said it. BUT then I got married…bum bum bum…C-Z-L-O-N-K-A, ZZZ-lahn-ka. Yep, somehow I found an even harder last name…and I promise you I was not secretly saying, “Challenge Accepted.”
After I got married, I would literally tell people, after spelling it out-loud over the phone several times to just put down Smith. Who cares if my husband’s cousin was former NFL player Larry Csonka and my husband went to family reunions with him growing up?…That guy’s part of the family tree started changing consonants to try to make sense of it all, so why shouldn’t we? I just kept thinking over and over that my kids were going to be plagued with the same fate I went through of finding animals to spell out their name…C as in Cat, Z as in Zebra, L as in…okay, you get the point.
But, what I’ve failed to share to this point is that I’m from Hawaii. I realized what a ridiculous level this has all reached the other day when I was buying something from a vendor over the phone for my Hawaiian business, Wailani’s, with a Polish last name, Czlonka, in a Cherokee town, Tahlequah. Thank goodness everyone knows Oklahoma… “where the wind comes sweeping ‘cross the plains.” All my vendor could say was, “Wow!”
Seriously though, I spent so much time spelling on the phone the other day that I was almost banging my head against the wall wondering why I didn’t just tell my vendor that I’d email them the information, like I usually do, because getting them to tell me their email had to be easier than some sort of combination of Hawaiian, Polish, and Cherokee, right? Right! Plus, I was spelling all that information while I had two sleeping kids at home, hoping they wouldn’t wake as I got a little louder each time I was trying to spell things out. As a mom of three kids aged four and under, I get my business done whenever I can and efficiency does not equal spelling out Czlonka every time I say it.
But, lest you think I’ve learned my lesson, I need to divulge that all my children have Hawaiian names. Why is this an issue, you may ask? Well, in case you don’t know, the Hawaiian language is based on the English alphabet, but only uses 12 letters, including all the vowels! Yep, that means only 7 consonants. So I’ve got a last name with a lot of funky consonant combinations, and I’ve plagued my children with names that blend all sorts of vowels in interesting arrangements…Kekoa, Ke’alohilani, Kona’ihilani…
I bet you’re now wondering how a Czlonka (if you can even remember how that’s pronounced) could do that to her kids and how in the world those kids are supposed to learn how to spell their names. I assure you I was not trying to provide an unlimited source of humor when my kids get called at the doctor’s office, though the scene usually involves a nurse’s assistant opening the door, looking down at the file wide-eyed and then just staring for a couple minutes until I stand up with my kid. Seriously, it happens every single time.
So, what am I trying to do here - make my kids spelling champs? No. Maybe see if my daughters could find more challenging married names than their maiden name? No. Oh, I know, get everyone to stare on the soccer field when I three-name my daughter – Ke’alohilani Michaela Czlonka – as she’s trying to run on the field to join her big brother while the game is going on? No.
What I realized when I became a mother is that it’s not important to make yourself easier for the masses to understand. The people that really love you and that are important enough in your life will always take the time to figure out how to say your name.
I know this isn’t rocket science, but it was to me. When I became a mother, I stopped caring what people thought and realized a little more what unconditional love meant. The other day, I heard myself tell my daughter: Take a deep breath. You are a Czlonka woman. We are brave, strong, smart and beautiful. Just like our name.
Listen to your mother. Don’t wish away your name wanting to be amongst the crowd. The friends that care to become spelling champs just to say your name are the ones worth keeping. They are the ones that care about you to know more than just how to pronounce your name, they care to know you. And those are the real relationships that matter in life.