One of the questions I’m most often asked about my site is why I gave it this name. Everyone knows me as Grace, so why did I call my site “FInding Gracie”? The answer to this question is far from simple, and goes back to the very beginning of my life. I’ll start the explanation this week and I’ll continue it next week. I hope this helps you understand how very important this simple phrase is to me!
Both my parents were from Mexico and I have a deep love for my culture. My birth name was Graciela Sanchez. In Spanish, “dar gracias” means “to give thanks.” My parents gave me the name Graciela as an expression of gratitude to God for my life. We primarily spoke Spanish at home, but my parents wanted me to feel comfortable with my name as I started kindergarten. So they called me “Gracie.” “Gracie” means love and gratitude. I’ve always felt that the name represents a childlike way of living, of believing the best of others, of being quick to forgive and abundant in love.
I always liked my name and felt that it fit me, if that makes any sense. As a little girl, I was funny, lighthearted and very friendly. I remember my teachers always complimenting my helpful attitude and some would say that I was named appropriately. I have always enjoyed speaking Spanish, and when I was younger, I loved introducing myself as Graciela Sanchez. But one day, I made a fateful decision that would shift my identity forever.
I remember that day as if it was yesterday. It was my sixteenth birthday, May 18th. As I was getting ready for my mother to drive me to the DMV, I told her that I was going to change my name to Grace instead of Gracie. I’ll never forget the look on her face as she asked me, “Mija, why would you do that?”
My response surprised her. I told her, “Mom, there’s no Princess Gracie, but there is a Princess Grace.” Little did I know that on this day, at the young age of 16, I was beginning a life of focusing on my image and constantly striving. I often wonder if my childhood history of sexual abuse played into my decision to leave behind the secret that I carried. I was absolutely convinced that no one would ever dare question a successful girl named Grace.
Throughout high school, I got involved in everything I could possibly get involved in. I served in student government, I belonged to various clubs, and I enjoyed being a cheerleader. I was a straight-A student with big dreams of success. And with a name like Grace, I felt I could somehow achieve my dreams and leave behind that hurt little girl, Gracie.