I was born as Melissa, but my parents called me Missy growing up. (Yes, they had other nicknames for me, but none I will mention here.) I grew up in skydiving and began my own skydiving career as Missy. However, when I turned 28, things in my life were changing.
My friend Amy Chmelecki and I were going to Australia for the first time to organize an event together in 2005. We decided to read books and do a bit of research online to learn as much as we could with our busy schedules about the country. We both read this book, “The Mutant Message Down Under” by Marlo Morgan. It was about Morgan’s experience going on a walk-about in Australia with the Aborigines. There was a passage where she noted that one man had several names and had explained that the Aboriginal take on a name from something or somewhere that describes them from their birth. If a big life event happens later in their life, they will take on a new name that captions that event. It was told to Morgan that the Aboriginal had had a good life if they had many names.
When I was 27 I had made a big life change, choosing not to drink or use drugs – ever. It made a huge impact on me and I found that not only did my lifestyle change, so did I. The passage in the Mutant Message didn’t occur to me until after I asked my friends and family to call me Melissa, it was just the best way to describe the life event, or change in my life. Thus, I continued on as Melissa Nelson.
Photo by Jake Kilfoyle at Skydive Hawaii
In 2010, I had met a man – Ben Lowe. He completely captivated me and we were soon in love. We moved in together in the spring of 2011 and Ben proposed to me New Years Day (the day I flew back from the Sebastian Invasion with 2 hours of sleep) on a beautiful, cold, desert hike to Corona Arch in 2012.
Ben handmade my engagement ring out of exotic wood – and it fit perfectly!
Arches National Park
On October 5th, another new life event had happened. Ben and I were married at the trailhead of Corona Arch in Goldbar Park. The weather had been unpredictable and wintery cold and windy. However, on our wedding day, it was in the 60s with a slight breeze and not a cloud in the sky.
My mom had asked me a few months ago, “Are you going to take Ben’s last name?” Until then, I never really thought about it. And I didn’t need do. My immediate answer was, “Of course I am.”
My name has changed several times throughout my life and I’m going to have to admit, having many names has definitely signified an amazing life.