Billie Letts wrote within her novel, "Where The Heart," which later became a popular film starring "the Walmart baby," a very profound statement about choosing a name for a child. Within the novel, one of the beloved characters, Moses Whitecotton tells the main character Novalee Nation to "get your baby a name that means something. A sturdy name. Strong name. Name that's gonna withstand a lot of bad times. A lot oh hurt." He continues to say that "...the name you pick out is gonna be with your baby when nothing else is. When nobody is..."

Growing up, I used to despise my name. I thought the spelling was too long and all of my friends could never spell the name right - heck, sometimes even I spelled my name wrong. I hated that I would walk down the bicycle isle and look for those cool bike license plates and never find one or anything with my name on it. Then, when "share a Coke" came out the first year, I went looking on the Coca-Cola website to see if there were any even made with my spelling of Ashleigh. The Coke website said that name did not exist. I laughed.

After reading the above section of Letts' book, I have to say, I started to look at my name in an entirely different light. For so long, I could not stand anything about my obnoxiously long name (19 letters including first, middle and last name). However, now I see my name as a gift.

While I might not be able to find a "share a Coke bottle" or a key chain or mug with my name on it, that does not make my name and the spelling of my name dumb or weird. In a sense, it makes me feel unique. I know that there are other Ashleigh's in the world with my spelling (see, I cannot even spell Ashley the other way unless I try), but they are few and far between.

Not only is my name unique and special to me, my spelling of my name will show up on my family tree for the rest of time - which once again, makes me feel pretty special. For the rest of time, I will be different. My name means something, and so does yours.

This might sound weird now, but one day when I do grow into the ideal "adult," married with a family, I plan on naming my children something uniquely spelled and with meaning. Looking back, I think I have always hated my name because I wanted to be the same, but I am different, and the rest of you with unique names or odd spellings, you are unique too.

Here is my piece of advice for those of you who are in or were in the same boat I captained for a long time: look into research about your name. Learn when that spelling first came about, other variations, what your name even means if you don't already know. I promise, even if you still hate your name, you will have learned something about you.

So own your odd name with pride, ladies and gentleman. For the rest of time there will always be a special spot on your family tree with your name and your name's spelling on it, and that is pretty cool.