30-Day Blog Love Affair:: Day #30 Whohoo!


[Testing my wings at Burning Man, circa 2006]

Do you have a cup of tea?  You might want one for this post…it’s a bit of journey in and of itself.  I promised I would go out with a bang, so here goes.  May I present…the never before told story of my most daring and life-changing act to date…

The story of changing my name. 

It may come as no surprise that my Irish-English-German-Midwestern parents did not actually give me the groovy name of Flora when I was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, in 1974.  Nope, not even close.  Instead, they gave me a good ol’ fashioned Irish name.  They named me Shannon.  And, honestly, I liked my name.  I never ever for one second considered changing my birth name, but as it turns out, another name was waiting for me all along.

It’s difficult to know where to start this story because in some ways it is the story of my entire life, but for the sake of brevity, I’m going to fast forward thirty years to the moment I decided to hightail it down to the Katrina-ravaged Gulf coast.  I can honestly say I don’t know why I felt such an intense urgency to help with that situation, but every time I saw footage of the flooding, the stranded people, the city under water, the entire coast wiped off the map, I was literally moved to tears.  After sitting with those feeling of helplessness and rage for a few weeks, I decided to do something about it.

With a backpack full of essentials, a tent, a sleeping bag and a desire to help, I secured a ride with a stranger from Craigslist, and a few days later I landed in the center of New Orleans.  This was three weeks after Katrina, so you can imagine what the city looked like—or maybe you can’t?  I certainly never thought I would see this kind of destruction in my lifetime, and definitely not in the United States.  To say it was intense and overwhelming and hard to comprehend would be a gross understatement.

Through a series of events including more Craigslist magic, I ended up getting a ride in the back of a dark moving truck from New Orleans to Waveland, Mississippi.  Rumor had it there was a group of “hippies” there serving food and they always needed more helping hands.  Sure enough, when the back of the truck opened and the sun spilled in, I found myself in the middle of a parking lot full of colorful people running around with boxes of potatoes and carrots—smiles on their faces.

Quickly, I learned the ropes and became enmeshed in one of the most beautiful human happenings I have ever experienced.  This rag-tag group of people had one thing in common and that was their desire to make a difference and help people in need.  I spent the next month cutting vegetables, serving salad, sweeping the parking lot and giving the occasional massage to the most grateful people I have ever encountered.  After about month, the “New Waveland Cafe” dissolved, but a group of about ten of us knew there was plenty more work to be done on the Gulf Coast.  We formed a non-profit called, Emergency Communites, and searched for a new location for our kitchen.  We were embraced whole-heartedly by the government officials of St. Bernard Parish, right next the the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans.

{And, yes, I swear this all relates to my name change}

For the next four months, I lived in a tent (see below) and worked as the volunteer coordinator for our relief center and kitchen, aptly named, “The Made with Love Cafe.”  Everyday, we served about 2,000 healthy meals to anybody who was hungry.  As you might imagine, this job involved a million different tasks all involving…people.  For the first time in my life, I found myself in a leadership position.  Everyday, I found myself standing in front of groups of people giving orientations, coordinating teams and reaching out online to recruit more volunteers.  I was also chosen as one of the main spokespeople to represent our community to reporters who inevitably came looking for a good Katrina story—we were a pretty awesome story, I must say.


[Emergency Communities tent city, circa 2006]

My six months on the Gulf Coast (I had planned to be there for two weeks…ha!) were simultaneously the most difficult, rewarding and life-changing six months of my life.  By the end of my time there, I had a new sense of myself as a leader, a whole new group of amazing friends and a deep satisfaction for the change I knew I had made.  However, I also had mold in my lungs, post-traumatic stress syndrome and a serious need to touch the earth again (the ground in St. Bernard was too toxic to touch, so our whole world was set up on pallets).  My soul needed to rebuild itself in a pretty major way, so after a quick art show at a New Orleans gallery where I perfectly made a enough money to get back on my feet, I booked a flight to Costa Rica where I could regroup and figure out my next bold move.

During my third week in Costa Rica, I found myself sitting in a natural hot springs pool, surrounded by tropical flowers with an active volcano erupting in the distance (true story).  I was traveling with two friends at the time and one of them jokingly said, “You need a new name.”  You see, Spanish speakers do not have the “SH” sound in their language so pronouncing Shannon was proving to be a bit of a stumbling block every time we met locals.  So, without hesitation, I dipped my head under the water and quickly racked my brain for the most Spanish sounding female name I could come up with.  I emerged and declared ‘Flora’ as my new name.

It was a joke.


However, these two friends took the name  to heart, and for the rest of the trip they called me Flora.  The interesting thing is that every time my friends called me Flora, my heart kinda fluttered.  I LOVED this name!  It still felt foreign and jokey, but I could not deny the other feelings this name inspired.  It made me feel empowered, beautiful, more alive, more…in bloom :)

After my trip to Costa Rica, I decided to move to Portland, Oregon.  I didn’t know one single person there, but the draw to this city full of creatives was strong, so I made the leap.  I quickly met some amazing people and we all decided to go to Burning Man for the first time together.  I heard that it was typical for people to take on “playa names” at Burning Man, so I decided to be ‘Flora’ for the week.  Why not?  It felt like a fun chance to embody this beloved name for a little bit longer.

What I did not see coming was the HUGE life changing experience that my first trip to Burning Man would become.  In this dusty desert, anything seemed possible, including the ability to re-create yourself in whatever ways you desired.  All around me, I witnessed people expressing themselves FULLY.  One of the ethos of Burning Man is participation, meaning there is no divide between audience and performers.  In theory, there are no spectators.  In the desert, we are all participants, creating our experience collectively and spontaneously, moment-to-moment.

During that profound week, I found myself stepping into a way of being that I had been craving for the past fifteen years.  I could literally feel my heart opening, my confidence growing and my body shifting to embody a more empowered version of myself.  I was becoming more brave, more expressive and more resilient everyday.  It seems crazy to think I could go through such a powerful transformation in just seven days, but I’m pretty sure every moment of my life had been building towards that experience in the desert.  My time on the Gulf Coast was a huge part of the story, followed by my healing time in Costa Rica, my bold move to Portland and then seven days experimenting with “radical self expression.”  The fact that I was ‘Flora’ during those seven days felt really profound.  It was as if ‘Flora’ represented this new version of myself—the version I was so ready to become.


[The Temple @ Burning Man, a place for letting to of what you no longer need.  Oh, and we burn it down on the last night just to make the point.]

After Burning Man, I found myself back in Portland and back to Shannon, but every time I heard this name, it suddenly felt like the “old me.”  I craved ‘Flora’ and all the associations I now had with that beautiful name.  One night, it occurred to me that I had the power to change my name, to redefine my entire being. WOAH.  Really?  This hit me like a ton of bricks.  It was scary because I think on a soul level I knew this is what I needed to do, but seriously?  Flora?  My family would officially think I’m crazy.  And, what about all the work I had done to establish my artist self with my other name?  What about www.shannonbowley.com?

If this was going to actually happen, this was going to be BIG.

For the next couple of weeks, I sat with this seemingly crazy idea.  I swear I had sleepless nights worrying about what everybody would think.  Yet another hippie changing her name…how annoying!  But, there was something much much bigger happening here.  This name, this newly empowered person was choosing me, and it was my job to…listen. Eventually, I caved.  I felt like I had no other choice.  I told my entire family I was now Flora.  (Holy shit, that was scary).   My 87-year old dad still calls me Shannon, and I totally understand, but every other person on the planet now calls me Flora…

and I love it.

I officially changed my name seven years ago, and like I said, it was absolutely the boldest and most empowering thing I have ever done.  This idea of stepping into and renaming yourself as the person you know deep down you want to be is a pretty amazing concept.  To believe you have the power to change yourself and how you show up in the world is a pretty fucking radical idea actually (pardon my language, but I’ve refrained from dropping the f-bomb until I really really needed it to make a point :) ).

Every year since I changed my name, I have felt myself embody ‘Flora’ more and more.  After decades of believing I was ugly and awkward—a wall flower without a voice, I literally started to change the way I perceived myself.  I started to see myself as beautiful, unique (vs. awkward), smart, able to lead and able to stand strong in my power.  This definitely didn’t happen overnight and I believe this kind of transformation never actually ends (as proven by these last 30 days), but the fact that my very name represented the person I was striving to become, was a very crucial part of my transformation.

{Wow.  Are you still there?}

This story ended up being a lot longer than I intended, and it actually could have been ten times longer, but there you have it.  My “name coming out story” finally set free for all to know!  It sure felt good to share that with you and I hope you enjoyed it.  And, just as my new name signified the beginning of a new chapter in my life, so does the conclusion of this 30-Day Blog Love Affair.  Instead of dreading my blog writing “homework,” I now feel all kinds of excitement and loving anticipation when I think about writing more posts in the future.  I can assure you this is certainly not the end.

It is only the beginning.

Thank you so much for joining me for ride.

Until next time…

xo flora


[Embracing 'Flora', circa 2008.  Photo by Tyson Robichaud]


  1. I just adore you. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Flora, I think I’ve said it in previous comments, but you are such an inspriation! My art journey (is not nearly as interesting and adventurous as yours – YET!) has also been a journey of learning to be authentically me and to love myself. The bravery you have exhibited in your art, your life, and these 30 blog posts gives me courage to be more brave too. Please keep shinning your light, painting, blogging/writing, and in resonse to yesterday’s post, I would LOVE to see your video blogs (vlogs)! Oh, and you ARE beautiful – inside and out. XO Marcella Nordbeck-Richardson

  3. Wow! I have loved every post this month and now I know the true story of BRAVE. You are one self expressed and inspiring woman! Thank you for sharing yourself over and over and into the big tomorrow….

  4. Flora, I absolutely love this post. I attended your Sept. workshop at Valley Ridge in Wisconsin and your mom told me your birth name was Shannon but I totally forgot about that until your post. You definitely embody your name completely. It is beautiful as are you. It’s funny you write about this because I was adopted and was given another name at birth than Jill and I’ve just last week been thinking, what name fits me? I don’t feel a connection to my birth name which I’m sure isn’t surprising because I didn’t know about it till years ago, but I wonder if I have the “right” name. Thanks for sharing this amazing story of your journey.


  5. What a great post! Such a brave, bold and honest move to change your name. And it suits you so much! I thoroughly enjoyed this post. And no, it’s not too long. Just perfect.

  6. Flora by any other name would still smell as sweet but, I do love the name change and the story!


  7. YAY! I too could attest, it felt scary and liberating for me, exhilerating I guess. Though I still crave parts of the previous self back, few of the qualities and the confidence, I think Ill do the work to reclaim bravely. Thx for the post!

  8. What a beautiful and inspiring story, Flora! Thank you so much for sharing it.

  9. Woweee … you really ARE brave Flora … and an inspiration. That is such a great life story. xx

  10. “To believe you have the power to change yourself and how you show up in the world is a pretty fucking radical idea actually.” Damn straight it is. You did it! I did it too. Changing my whole world midstream, leaving a marriage that had stopped working and a sexual identity that never felt quite right in the center of a small suburban NJ town? SHIT. Stepping into the person you know deep down you were meant to be. Yes. Feels so good, doesn’t it? Thank you for embodying this concept so beautifully, Flora, setting the perfect example for the rest of us to learn how to bloom.

  11. I loved every word of your story :-) Brave and inspiring. I’ve also loved the 30 bog affair – well done for keeping it up and I look forward to reading more when you’re next ready to write!

  12. What a wonderful and beautiful story about your name….you are a Flora!

  13. Very inspiring, and the photos are Amazing, especially the wings. Flora suits you much more than Shannon! There’s a lot of power in shedding a name along with a past identity.
    Will miss your daily blog posts!

  14. I am still here… BUT I WANT MORE FLORA Fauna…. ….!!! ~:)))

  15. I would be remiss to let this great post slide by without adding my voice…. love to hear the full version of the “Now I am ___” story, and love to see just how much this echoes the exact trajectory of my superhero name of “Gratidude” (and for the record, I took this name on 2 years prior to those youtube-dancing boys). I also would witness–in addition to the power of transformation this has on one’s self–the power of chosen-names to ripple effects outward in the people who reflect our name back at us…in fact: it seems the main power of the new name is it’s power to alter those who speak it back to us.

  16. I think Flora suits you- as if you were always meant
    to be. And as others have said, beautiful inside and out.

  17. Wow! You certainly ARE beautiful and strong! This is an amazing read and I thank you for sharing. I can’t even describe how it makes me feel….something inside me wants to burst! My heart perhaps?!? I am so much older than you….and coincidentally in 1974 I was just starting college at UW-Green Bay! But I can so totally relate! It took me until I was 47 yrs. old to even BEGIN grow into the person I was meant to be. It’s now 10 yrs. later and I’m still working on it. It was thru you that I first heard of Burning Man and I watched a video and thought it was incredible! I said to a friend, “I want to go to Burning Man but I think I’m too old!”. She, who lives 70 miles from Portland and is an artist, said, “No you’re not! Get your costume and go!” We shall see! LOL! Thanks for being so inspiring!!

  18. I in awe of your courage….to pick up and go to the Gulf Coast and live and help for all those months is something I dream of doing! I love your story of your name change and Flora is such a beautiful and fitting name for you!

  19. I love this Flora! I had always wondered what the story behind your name was. Thank you for sharing. I’ve so enjoyed all of your posts over the last month and will be checking in for more posts regularly! :) Jen

  20. Wow, what a great story! You are an amazing and inspiring individual! I have really enjoyed your daily blog posts and I look forward to more in the future?

  21. Flora, you rock! or should I say, you bloom…or better yet, “LIFE is blooming through you.” Thanks for sharing your story.

  22. I have been reading and absolutely loving every blog post – especially this one! You are so inspiring and brave! I have been wanting to change my name since I was a little girl and a few months ago decided that I should finally do something about it. I am just figuring out what name I want… I am waiting for it to be revealed to me. :-)

  23. Um.. Yeah. You’re pretty fucking awesome (and I too wait for the right time to drop the ol’ F-bomb) Love you!

  24. Hi Flora, I’ve been loving your blog this one in particular.Thanks for your courage in sharing. I too changed my name 22 years ago now, but I still feel a sense of shame that it’s not my “real” name. Lots of people ask where did my parents come up with that name? It was such a personal time for me that I don’t want to share it with strangers. Yet the name always felt perfect for me and I too experienced all the energetic transferance when people first started calling me by it. So with your courage in just putting it all out there you’ve given me courage to do the same. I’m just about to start your e course and I’m soo excited! !!

  25. I loved every bit of your story.
    You are brave and beautiful
    Thank you Flora for the ride.

  26. I love it! And I had no clue, Shannon … well, I relate :)

    Can’t wait to paint with you Flora as I can’t wait to have the opportunity to get to know you better. I liked you from the moment I met you.

    Thank you for sharing such a gift!

  27. YAHOOOOO TO YOU FLORA! What an wonderful path you’re taking. Brave. Bold. Blooming!!!

  28. You rock! You have helped me so much….your online class has revolutionized the way I do art and things are “blooming” left and right because of your inspiration. Thank you for your vulnerability too, I know its not easy for you.

    I soooooooooo want a picture of myself standing in those wings!!!!!

    I have always wanted to go to Burning Man!


  29. Flora you ARE fabulous! And so brave!
    I love this story and just wanted to drop a line to thank you for sharing – the thrilling exhilaration of your empowerment spilled from my screen and feels contagious! Amazing how reading words can make us so buzzy! I loved every word – thank you so much for sharing – running off now to blast Shirley Bassey ‘ I am what I am’ at a squillion decibels! x

  30. Flora, an artist friend of mine said to me one day, you have to check Flora Bowley out. Since then, you have inspired and moved me to be more authentic, courageous and creative. Thank you so much for being, and I really look forward to more blogs – they have nourished my soul over the last 30 days Xxxx

  31. Oh, wow, what a GREAT story, Flora!! I love, love, love it!!!!!

  32. Yay, flora! thanks for sharing this story. i love when we can share big stories that are part of who we are today. Rock on, sister. way to listen to your heart.

    sadie rose (lost boys + lovers)

  33. Wonderfully inspiring story. Flora suites you. It embraces your artistic,
    energetic, and down to earth life style. You are beautiful inside and out. Continue to follow your dreams.

  34. You have to keep writing, Flora! What an empowering story! It speaks to the process of always becoming and growing. How brave you are to live in the present, spontaneously. I feel I am morphing into someone new at this stage of my life due to your class and I am so excited to see who I become in this chapter of life. Thank you for fostering this process in me and in so many others. XO

  35. Flora, I’ve been waiting for this story! Thank you for sharing…it was better than I could have imagined.

    I recently got my official original birth certificate (I was adopted)and learned I had the coolest name, ‘Jane Clair Peace’. I absolutely love it! My name was changed to Emily Ann when I was adopted, but still, there’s something about that name that was originally mine….meant to be my name, that pulls at me. It strikes the artist in me and I completely understand the intuitive call to make the name change. I wish I could do that.

    Just last week I found my two biological brothers that I never knew I had and my one brother still calls me ‘Janie’ because that’s how he knew me as a child. So, to some extent I can be Jane and Emily.

    I love your story. It’s awesome. And Flora is a lovely, unique name. Good decision!

  36. You rock girl!!! thats all I got to say!! have enjoyed it all!! when is the next 30??? xxoo

  37. aaaaah what a joy to read and feel. Tears happened.. and big smiles..
    perfect ending.. beginning … xo
    you’ve inspired me.. I started a 21 day pledge today haha.

  38. Dear Flora, it’s been an amazing 30 days of getting to know you better day by day. Thank you for sharing so openly, honestly and courageously.
    See you soon in Nyuhkuning, xo Nicole.

  39. I have been a huge fan of your painting for a while, and now I must say that I am a loyal reader. You are a gifted writer and motivator. You should be doing TED talks! Thanks (again) for making me a better painter, but also for the insights. You are are real life changer. And I look forward to your next book!!

  40. Flora,
    Thank you for sharing your story. Your honesty and insights are so inspiring. Many thanks for all that you’ve shared and taught in your Bloom True course. I am still painting away and showing every month –which is a wonderful new adventure!
    Best wishes to you!

  41. Great story, yes. But the “Freida Kahlo-ish” photo embodies it! Brava!

  42. Flora Flora FLORA!
    You who inspires so many with your expressions of self confidence, talent and kind heartedness…this name change story is mind blowingly powerful.
    You in effect gave birth to yourself, something a lot of us are striving towards.
    I am so enchanted by this name change- and for me it means something huge- that we can embrace acceptance of ourselves in so many vast and sweeping ways such as this. I can see this tale inspiring people to give more of themselves, and in doing so actually find themselves in the process.

    You are a gift to the world. The “old you” must look upon the new you with great pride and joy. It’s perfect that you intuitively said the name without much thought- as if the seed of Flora was already born in you and just needed a little encouragement and nurturing to grow.

    Kudos to your brave heart.

  43. Flora, this is one of the most inspiring, energizing things I’ve ever read. Talk about brave and open! Thank you for sharing the story of Flora with us. <3

  44. Love your post Flora!

    I can so relate to a name change and it is amazing how the sound of a name can sing in your soul or sink…

    Your name sings and I would have never guessed that it was ever anything other than Flora – it is perfect for you!


  45. Flora I just love you! I started out loving your art and have come to love you for all you are. Thank you for sharing your name change story. To be honest I always envied your cool artsy name and wished I had been given one. I always wanted to change my name but when I mentioned it to my mom she just about freeeeaked out! I still play with the idea and now hearing your story? Well I feel the need to think about it more seriously. And hopefully my mom will understand I want to be the person I feel deep inside. Thank you for inspiring me yet again.
    Peace, love and many blessings
    Kim :)

  46. A thousand applauds for your brave intuitive you. Keep up the good work and step deeper into your soul. The world calls out for it!

  47. Bravo!!!! Love, love, love…

  48. I love you and your journey Flora. We have such power as women and we WILL CHANGE this world for the better as we all find our voices. XXX

  49. Holy Fuck! :-) Sometimes the F word is appropriate. I remember in your interview with Beth during BT where you spoke about stepping into a leadership role in New Orleans, and I remember commenting in response that I would love to hear more about that ‘turning’ point in your life. Now I have it! Interestingly ‘Shannon’ is not an authentic Irish name it is an Americanism. Some part of you felt that too maybe, and when you really think about name changing its surprising that more of us don’t do it, so many women have happily changed their name through marriage, which never felt right to me so I resisted that one! Having a name you like is really important. GREAT POST, I was late to this party and will have to read all the others now. You are a wonderful writer as well as artist, I really hope we meet someday! ;-)

  50. Beautiful! I Love it! C x

  51. I have the biggest smile on my face after reading this. I love your name and am so happy you shared this story with us all. Crazy Good way to segue into blogging from a 30 day Blog committment . Love it!
    I too changed my name after I had recovered from an extended period of ill health ( 5 years). I had never had the desire to change my name either and then I was sitting in a waiting room reading a book and it mentioned that some indigenous tribes would change their names after a great deed or a long illness and it changed the vibration around and in them when people spoke this new name. I then just felt it was what I really needed to move on with the next part of my life. It’s funny cos I just shared this story with 2 friends on Monday and then I read your blog today. I don’t usually tell people cos I feel like they will think I have been keeping something from them in some way even tho I’ve been Ushonah ( Shona for short) for 7 years now. After reading your blog, I realised I didn’t feel that way towards you – I just felt happy for you, so this is the start of not feeling uncomfortable around sharing it when people ask about my name. Thank you again for being your beautiful self. x

  52. Every single one of your posts this pas month has been a treat and today’s last post is just amazing. I firmly believe that we each have a soul name which may or may not be the same as the one chosen by our parents. For me, taking my husband’s last name was liberating, a way of letting go of my past, my family ties and the child I had been. Funnily enough, I have been living abroad for 12 years now and experiencing life in another language has been strangely liberating also, like shedding yet another layer of skin to reveal the real me a little more. Thank you for these fabulous posts, Flora and for sharing so much of your inspiring story with us. I will look forward to your next posts whenever you feel like writing them.

  53. I attended your very first e-course in 2012 and was so totally not hearing you. I was focused on technique and your calmness and being at peace, frustrated me, because I needed and wanted that too. So thanks to you I started to reach out for people and experiences that would reveal the softness of soul. I now know what you are talking about in this post, because my transformation in in process and it is like coming home at last. I’m so happy I stuck with the e-course and saw through my frustration and happy that you ‘put yourself out there’ in spite of your own feelings of doubt and stage fright.

  54. Flora, I got tingles of possibility just reading this post. I’ve really really enjoyed the last 30 days and this was an inspiring and uplifting end to it. Thanks so much for sharing. Jane x ps have never felt my name was ‘me’ and have often talked/joked about changing it. Now I feel like contemplating the possibility of it! Thanks again.

  55. Thank you Flora! I was born Alison Francesca, and was known as Alison til I was 16. Almost the day after I left school I came running downstairs into the kitchen and announced from today I would like to be called Francesca. I felt a huge burden tumble off my shoulders. I love my name, however there are times I feel I need to acknowledge that little Alison does want love and attention, and these days I find it easier to love myself,and her. Its about healing an ancestoral pattern, about giving birth and failing to bond with the baby.

    Have love your blog, and have always wanted to go to Burning Man, thank you so much for having the courage to share with all from your heart,
    with love


  56. Wow, Flora! I was mesmerised reading this as I never knew…My real name isn’t Elvina Dulac but it’s my artist persona and the person I wish to be or the more accurate version of me underneath. I’m going through a transition at the moment and so you’re post feels so fitting right now. Thank you thank you xxxx

  57. thank you for sharing this. It makes me feel like anything is possible.

  58. Thank you so much for sharing. You inspire me and you are helping me so much. You don’t even imagine how. I am really greatfull for the day my mother gave me one article about you and your work. You are helping me born.

    Thank you.



  59. its 3:15am and i am so jet-lagged I am actually crying as i write this! ha. loved your 30 day project and such a beautiful note to end on.
    i felt like this when i decided on Sas. my birth name was Sarah but little brother and mum have always called me Sas. And then it just spread. And now I am Sas on officially documents.
    It feels like me.
    And names have so much power. Just ask anyone who has ben bullied. Or reduced to a number.
    To claim your own name is such a brave and beautiful act. xxx

  60. I found myself so moved by this. I’ve enjoyed all your posts this month and look forward very much to what’s to come. You have a clarity and honesty that clearly everyone here can relate to, which is an incredible gift. x

  61. Flora dear…. thank you, thank you… *insert massive bear hug here*….Oh I have so loved meeting you here everyday for a little ‘chat’. xxx love!

  62. Badass.
    I didn’t NEED yet another reason to add to the ever growing list of reasons why Flora is rad, but this just takes the cake.

    xo, Lisa

  63. I remember reading a little earlier that you said you are shy, and this surprised me… you are an incredibly powerful woman who seems utterly fearless! I am in deep, deep admiration and awe of you and regret that our personal paths have yet to truly cross. I hope that will happen one day – I feel that I have so very much to learn from you. xo

  64. oh, dear flora!! you have an amazing and powerful voice that resonates in so many of us! i took your online course last year and am now reading your book for the third time. i love your approach to painting, but it is your approach to life that moves me– you are an inspiration and one who believes in a world of possibilities, and that has a magnetic attraction. as one who has moved away from the fear-based world of caution into the world of trust and gratitude, my happiness has increased exponentially! you have been a part of that shift for me and i will be eternally grateful!

  65. Your pursuit of life and self are admirable! Thanks for sharing and inspiring…Look forward to more!

  66. I L-O-V-E-D reading this, Flora! Wow. I can’t even imagine you as anything but beautiful, inspiring, creative Flora. Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful story. xo

  67. congratulationsFlora! My life is forever changed b/c of you and I”m ever so grateful! You deserve the best!

  68. Flora! Lovely story. I’m looking forward to Ahmed, and hopefully you’ll allow me to share my own name changing story. ~squeal! so excited to paint in paradise!

  69. Like Jill I was adopted and given a new name. I have never really felt at home with either name and you have given me the courage to become the real me. Thank you so much and I am looking forward to the e-course start on the 27th!

  70. I have adored you since I first discovered you. I love your paintings, I love all the bright colors. I have thought you were so cool and lucky. I was a bit envious. I am envious of your beauty. I see no awkwardness about you.
    I enjoyed reading this post and hearing some of your history. It has been a pleasure. Thank you for being brave, inspiring, and an awesome teacher of things that are important for our souls.
    I just wish you were closer to my neck of the woods – closer to your home, northwestern Indiana – Chicago, Notre Dame, the Michigan state line.
    God bless you, you awesome hippy! Keep on doing what you’re doing. Don’t change a thing. One day I hope to have the time to have you as a teacher….

  71. Hi Flora! This blog lifted my spirits. I just had a crappy day at work where I stood in my power and had my voice. That doesn’t come easy for me and I’ve been working towards feeling confident enough to speak the truth with kindness.
    And then I apologized for it when I was done.
    Your blog helped me get back on track. Thanks.

  72. Thankyou Flora for shining your light in this world. My heart feels full. Xx

  73. Flora, as you have written, you have experienced much more than a name change. You have had a paradigm shift in your entire being. As one that has roots in Louisiana, I am very touched that you would go help in any way that was needed. You lived in a tent, for Pete’s sake! Afterwards, you had the insight to know you needed a place to heal, so you took that time away. You were “drawn” to move to Portland knowing no one. And, finally, you stepped out of your comfort zone again by attending Burning Man. You were able to look any fear/insecurities in the face, and they dissolved. Courage took over, and you were able to accomplish amazing feats. Thank you for sharing your empowerment with us all. You have shown us that paradigm shifts are possible for each one of us if we are open. xoxo

  74. So I was not so happily painting away, copying bit by bit from photographs, making picture perfect faces with oils, when one day I came upon a greenish book full of splashes of colour…I was blown away and there was no turning back. I went to look for this “Flora” on the internet and came upon a video in which she was playing with paint on a canvess….man I was intrigued. I packed away the oil paint and went to buy a few tubes of acrylics …. obviously I went through the whole process of battelling with what I’ve learned versus just “going for it” and paint without thinking. I’ve cried and laughed and got angry but in the end I found the greatest of treasure, the joy of making art. Thank you Flora for your “green” book and your inspiring art….it changed the way I was seeing, thinking and doing.

  75. The best blog post ever written. Soul bearing, truth telling, joy rising. I have been thinking about a new name for my emerging brave artist self. This came at just the right time to listen to my whispers to reinvent and go forth. xo

  76. It has been an honor to know you more intimatly !!!
    You So inspire me!!!


  77. wow. cool story!! I only changed my name when i got married. to me that was about not being a child anymore. I dunno. nothing special really. I loved my old name too. But Scott is shorter. more succinct.

  78. [...] Flora Bowley’s “name coming out story” [...]

  79. I absolutely love, love, love your courage, and your story. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing it. It was absolutely perfect for me to read at this exact point in time. Thank you!

  80. I just wish I could experience life they way you have….♥
    Beautiful…inspiring…. xxx

  81. ever inspired by beautiful bold amazing YOU, FLORA!!!

    so much love

  82. dear flora, :)

    to read every day on your 30 day blog affair was so fascinating for me.
    thank you so much for your openness.

    heartfelt greatings from bavaria – tina :)

    i am glad to meet you in every blog you write.

  83. you are so beautiful! I loved hearing this story in person and I loved reading it. Flora suits you so perfectly. <3 in exponents

  84. [...] popping in to say hello and to thank you for your ah-MAZE-ing comments in response to my last post about my name change.  If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend reading the comments—so moving and [...]

  85. Thanks so much for sharing! I also changed my name and I still fell weird sometime coming out to people about it. I feel like they won’t like me anymore if they knew my ‘real’ name. Reading you text is empowering to me and reminds me why i made that choice and how great and alive I feel with my name, the one that i have choosen and that feels right to me!


  86. Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora Flora

  87. So inspiring, my fellow Wisconsinite! Flora embodies everything that you ARE and everything beautiful in your life and your art! It’s a perfect name – and I think the universe thought it should have been yours all along! LOVE!

  88. Now that I know you as “Shannon,” and a bit of your story/path/journey, I appreciate you even more. It’s funny how our challenges make us so much more relateable. When I thought of you before you were just too amazing… now you are even more amazing but in a more touchable sort of way. Does that make any sense at all, lol! Thank you for sharing who you are, your journey, and your art with all of us. Lead on, girl, lead on.

  89. Love…I have known your name change story for almost as long as I’ve known YOU…but seeing it here, the way you’ve so succinctly led us to that decision…I cried for most of this post. ‘Flora’ is such the perfect name for the forever unfolding inspiration that you are. Like petals, opening ever outward to reveal ever more vibrance within and beneath, the layers of you only grow more beautiful by the day. I love you you. So. Damn. Much.

  90. Flora – you are fabulously and wonderfully encouraging and your truthfulness and transparency is so very very refreshing. Your words are resonating in my heart as I too try and make the bold decision on changing my name post-divorce. Living with three names is confusing! But as you say, it is so very defining, and important. You have given me much to think upon – lots of love from all the way down here xxx

  91. Thank you for sharing your story with authenticity, it was what I needed to hear this morning, this year. I love how the universe brings froward what you need to see, hear and feel at the most unexpected moments. I took a class from you in Seattle at Teesha Moores studio, Flora is definitely your soul name. Thank you for being inspiring and standing with courage to explore, expand, love greater, live a more authentic fulfilling creative life!!! Have a blooming beautiful week!

  92. Dear Flora (FLORA!),
    your entired 30 day blog-love affair was such a gift, Inspiration and accompanied me for 30 insightful days.
    It seems so clear to me that the name Flora found YOU – having your artwork in mind, and by this the first way to find out about you, I have to say there’s no better name for you.
    Flowers come out of a bud and your artwork as well as the artwork you encourage to develop is like encouraging the bud to open, no matter what weather there’s outside. These were the first few thoughts I had reading your #30 today.
    To me you are very much where you are supposed to be, not only locally but in everything you do.
    This is very precious and this is why you are able to inspire so many People with your artwork and your words!
    Best, Nicole x

  93. I loved your story about your name change. I introduced a friend to your website recently; she said you were amazing- ‘so beautiful and lovely’-just what I thought too. I’m glad you didn’t stay stuck in that place of feeling bad about yourself; instead you are sharing your gifts with the world and making such a difference. You are a beautiful soul inside and out.

  94. My friend, you express it so beautifully. And you know…I get it. ;)

  95. A little behind the 8 ball here, but I love this post Flora! I have been contemplating changing my last name for 11 yrs now. It’s my married name. I have been a Savage for almost 29 years. Longer than I had my maiden name. I’ve had two maiden names because my stepfather adopted my sister and I and we took his last name. He is the best dad ever, ever. But I do not want to go back to that name and I don’t want to hold on to my current name either. I have a new last name that I have used as a joke mostly, amongst my closest allies, and it just feels right. The funny thing is the name i picked, when used in conjunction with my first name, sounds like a porn star name, hah hah. I haven’t done it for fear of hurting my parents feelings, but I think I just may do it now. I turn 50 next year, oh how it hurts to type that, but I am setting some life goals to accomplish by then and changing my name is going to be added to the list. I joined your workshops to not only learn how to paint, but to learn how to be bold and brave too in my life.

    So being brave in this moment, I want to be Janel Jax. What do you think? You can tell me in Portland! :)

  96. I adored every bit of this post. So inspirational! I am so happy that you shared your ‘new name’coming out’ story. You are beautiful and your name fits you perfectly. I can’t even imagine you with any other name. I remember when I first found you online and I thought how lucky you are to have such an awesome name. :)

    It’s so funny because I had an awakening today when I read a quote by Robert Frost – “I am not a teacher, but an awakener.” Very fitting that this quote gave me an ‘awakening,’ eh? ; ) I wrote a blog post about it today and shared a bit about it but this awakening is so very deep that I know I will be writing several more posts about it as I process it more and more. And then to come upon your awakening story tonight was pretty cool timing. :)

    I’ve been reading your blog for a year or so now and I’ve always wished you posted more because I love your work and I always love to read artist’s blogs and get a little peak into their lives and world. I’m so happy that you will be posting more. Now I’m off to read the rest of your 30 days of blog postings.

    Thanks for being the beautiful soul that you are with the perfectly fitting name!

  97. I am SO thinking about this, as the mother of a 16 year old girl who has always hated her name. Such a deep seated part of our very identity is our name! We named her after her great grandfather (he is Sidney, she is Sydney). I am proud of you for giving of yourself…even when it was scary and uncomfortable. You showed your heart, truth and feelings. You are finding who you want to become. I admire that so much. I hope you prosper and enjoy life to the fullest.
    With love.

  98. Thank you SO much for sharing, Flora. Beautiful name for a beautiful soul. Flora Bowley sounds and feels more ‘right’ for you than Shannon Bowley :) It even looks better written.

    Have a wonderful summer,
    Connie xo

  99. 15 years ago, I changed my name from Karen to Kit. I had gone to a conference for psychotherapists and the leader’s first exercise was to go around the circle and ask our names. After we said them, he asked how we felt about them. I was surprised to find myself spilling out the whole story about how much I had always hated mine….didn’t know why.He asked if I had a better alternative in mind … I said. NO. Then he suggested that he call me Karen In Transition. I thought that was pretty silly buy said, Ok. On the way out of the room that afternoon, a young man stopped me. He sails he had just had a thought and wanted to share it with me. What would I think of the name KIT?….Karen In Transition. I loved it immediately! Eager to always be changing and growing, I thought it was just perfect. Thanks for your blog.Luv, Kit

  100. Just read it all Flora, cried for ten minutes and lingering. Just tears I have, no words.

  101. Ahhh, thanks Orly! I so appreciate hearing from you. So glad you enjoyed my journey…xo

  102. […] learned to love my body, discovered how much I love to dance, fell in love, fell out of love, fell in love with myself and experienced what it’s like to live in a city of artists, community builders and radical […]

  103. Having just read what you wrote in your newsletter that I received today, I read those words as if I was writing them myself. It was a true “aha” moment for me. And then you led me here and I’ve soaked up all that you have said. Thank you Flora. For being Flora. And for being inspiring. I’m tucking this away as I continue to move through being able to stand up and stand out. xo

  104. […] with writing and sharing by writing a blog everyday for thirty days in a row.  It worked!  My final post also turned into my name change “coming out” party, a beautiful and vulnerable […]

  105. […] to me, I named my avatar Elle Jaye (L.J., with a twist).  Recently, I read this blog post by Flora Bowley wherein she talks about how she went from being Shannon to Flora. It was a life-changing, huge […]

  106. I have been thoroughly enjoying getting to know you and your wonderful art, and kept thinking to myself, what a perfect name she has! How cool that someone as colorful as her could have the name Flora… And here’s the rest of the story! As I read the comments here, many insights have been revealed. Like several commenters, our son was adopted and he has been firm about a nickname that he likes… My husband isn’t cool with it, but now I’m glad that I’ve defended his use and ownership of it. Its all about self-expression, and how lucky we are when we discover that we CAN be the person we want to be!? (I’m a work in progress, as I guess we all are…) Your paintings and writings are already influencing my own art, and I can’t wait to begin your ecourse :)

  107. Hi Lindy, Thank you for your sweet comment. I’m so happy to hear that you are enjoying my art and stories, and that this particular post offered you reassurance with your son’s name choice. Perfect! xo flora

  108. […] surrounding myself with the people I love.  This shift was so potent for me, I actually decided to change my name to reflect the “new me.”  This is how committed I was to letting those old stories […]

  109. HI Flora,
    I read your name-change story today. So many “truth-bumps” of resonance here!

    I’m currently working my way through your “Bloom True” course and so your approach to life is informing mine in deep and profound ways. Thank you for your bravery, and thank you for sharing your stories.

    I changed my name, too. In third grade. I stood up in front of my third-grade homeroom and announced “I will no longer be going by “Kristy” and you can all call me Mieka (short for Annamieka). I also endured the experience of asking the whole family to get on board, and my Dominican step-mother still thinks I’m silly and calls me Kristy but she rolls the “R” so I find it endearing…

    There’s a longer version too of course, but the relevant part is just that I wanted to share my name-change experience with you.

    Twenty years later, I recently learned that my name has meaning in Sanskrit – it means “the one who has no name” or “the name of infinite possibilities” and is given to a child so as to avoid the limitations that typical names create.

    …did I know that at age 8??? My mom didn’t, she just knew a girl in my older brother’s class with the name and helped me choose it. What in the world?!!!

    Who knows. All I know is that it’s important to follow our intuition, then, now and forever.

    Thank you so very much for being who you are and sharing so much.

    With love,


  110. So surprised to read about your experience in Waveland, MS., as it had been my home for the five years before the storm. We relocated back to the midwest with similar symptoms, my husband has the mold in his lungs and I have a terrible case of post traumatic stress! Art is my medicine and I love your style and would love to take a workshop sometime.

  111. Woooohoooo! Fabulous, radiant, wonder-filled you. My heart is singing along to your story. I salute you.

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