Why I’m Now Kimberly Robb Baker, or, You Can Take the Girl Out of the Curry…
I’m going back to my maiden name, Kimberly Robb Baker, for professional purposes. I am legally remaining Kim(berly) Mohiuddin and will keep most personal arenas (i.e. my personal Facebook profile) the same. Those of you who know me both personally and professionally will just have to understand that Kim Mohiuddin and Kimberly Robb Baker are both me.
Though one might not expect it of people who had spent only 16 days together before getting engaged, my marriage of 9 years to my best friend of 11 years is going strong (some people have asked). I’m lucky to have a husband who supports me as I find my way through these questions of personal identity.
If you just needed the basics of why the name I’m using on my website, email, etc. has changed, read no further.
For those curious about my musings on the topic, you’re welcome to dig in below.
From the bottom of my heart, I thank all of the clients, colleagues, and friends who have made me and my business a success under any name. Let’s keep movin’ on up!
Follow your bliss,
For the record, Mohiuddin is pronounced, “Mo-hee-you-Deen,” with a hard “D” if you care to be perfectly authentic.
When my husband asked me to marry him, I said, “Yes! And could you tell me how to pronounce your name one more time?” (There was a more formal engagement process initiated by my wonderful in-laws, per Indian cultural customs. Good thing I knew how to pronounce their name!)
I’ve told this story to put people at ease when they ask me how to say my married name. They often ask with a bit of embarrassment, as if they are being culturally insensitive by not putting it together themselves.
I loved the name Mohiuddin long before I could say it properly. It means, “propagator of faith.” In truth, it has taken me years to say it with anything like the ease of a native speaker. Even our children add a distinctly American accent to it, so the name is evolving as it enters its first generation in the US. But the name, which has Arabic origins, is accustomed to travel.
The thought of changing my name came up because I’m writing a book and booking speaking engagements. More people need to be able to say it and remember it. As I go more public with my mission to help people succeed in their careers and lives by being more authentically themselves, my advisors have told me that I could have more privacy if I used a different name for my professional endeavors.
My husband, Imran, is “Ron” to his work colleagues and to most Americans he meets. He calls it his Starbucks name. It’s just easier.
But this change for me is more than just a Starbucks name. My maiden name was given to me when I came into the world. It’s the one that described me for the first 29 years of my life. It trailed the shy, thoughtful girl that was me as she went to school, read mountains of books, danced ballet for seven years, and rode horses for many more. Laurie Beauchamp, my mentor in horses and life since the age of 11, reminded me recently of the time a horse threw me off five times in a row, and I just kept getting back on until he stopped. I had forgotten that, and it made me wonder what other aspects of myself had receded into the background.
It was Kimberly Robb Baker who almost bailed out of India when the mosquitoes and poverty and seeming lack of order challenged her comfort levels. She was the one who stayed on past the discomfort, allowing the beauty, dignity, and diversity of the land to reveal itself.
Nowadays, it would be a big production to go backpacking in India or anywhere else. Simple shopping trips require planning with young children, a husband, and a business to consider.
“Kim Mohiuddin” has a different life, and even a different scent. My hair usually smells of curry, a fragrance I’ve always been attracted to. When I entered an Indian household and smelled what I now know to be a mixture of many spices—notably cumin, cinnamon, garlic, and curry leaf—my mouth would water. Even now that I eat mostly raw food, I add cumin to my date shakes or pair bananas with fresh ginger.
The lady who teaches our kids to rock climb always smells my hair on purpose when we hug hello or goodbye. “I love it!” she exclaims. My hairdresser has suggested a hair deodorizer. “I don’t know if you need it or not, but I wanted you to know that we sell it,” she [not so] tactfully states.
As much as I love the smell, it’s not one I would have chosen as “mine,” but the curry has chosen me. It has unpacked its bags and put its toothbrush in the medicine cabinet. Unless I keep all of my belongings in a closet far away from the kitchen and wash and dry my hair (a many-hours process for this curly girl), every time I leave the house it will be with me. I’m simply not willing to go to great lengths to separate myself from it.
The fact that my home is an amalgam of two cultures is a huge piece of who I am, and those with sensitive noses are cued into it right away. But it’s not all that I am. I’m a vegan, yogi, resume writer, mystic, singer, actress, public speaker, teller of bawdy jokes, and more. When we really start to describe ourselves, it all gets beautifully complicated.
I sometimes lose touch with that quietly voracious young Kimberly who still wants to be in the picture. I don’t know exactly why it feels good to use my maiden name for my professional life, but it has something to do with her.
I shared my name-change plans with a married colleague recently. She confessed that she loves her maiden name and wishes she could use it again. “It’s a lot of trouble to change your name,” she lamented, “But I’ll be watching eagerly to see how it goes for you.”
Is there a change, name or otherwise, you’ve been thinking about making? One that will bring you more authentically into the world? I’d welcome your insights in the comments below.
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