To start, I used to be Beth Owens. I wrote for Miller’$, Doll Reader, and Haute Doll. I started out with vintage and new Barbie dolls but quickly realized that my real passion was Midge. I loved her freckled face but I also was drawn to her being the underdog and the perpetual supporting player in Barbie’s world. But I was an archival collector at that time. I didn’t take my dolls out for play because I didn’t want to inadvertently harm them, so they just sat in the confides of a curio or, even worse, in their original boxes. Eventually I got tired of not being able to play with my dolls so I looked to the new 16-inch dolls like Gene, Daisy and Willow, and Tyler Wentworth. I also ended up buying dolls like Kingsgate’s Micki, Susan Wakeen’s Eve, and The Butterfly Ring, dolls with storylines that had each one of them getting over a hurdle in life, like anorexia or a bad relationship. Oh, and they also had crystals embedded in their eyes. I collected Madame Alexander’s Alex, a doll I tried hard to like, and John Puzweski’s rebooted Cissy, one of the most sumptuous dolls I’ve ever collected. At that time, I was writing about the new generation of fashion dolls for Miller’$ and Doll Reader, and I was working on my book, Contemporary Fashion Dolls: The Next Generation. (Surprise! Did you see that one coming?) and, since the companies did not send samples, I ended up with too many dolls.
Sadly, the sheer volume of dolls I felt I had to buy for my book and column dampened my enthusiasm for collecting. Tyler and Cissy were my favorites, and while Cissy has been voted off the island, the only dolls I kept were, for the most part, Tyler and her crew. Also, life got in the way of my favorite hobby. I got divorced and married a sweet man who understands my passion—hence the name change. We moved several times and with each move, I’d let go of a few more dolls. The move prior to our latest one was difficult. I had recently been diagnosed with having fibromyalgia—later chronic fatigue syndrome as well— and I was not physically able to work as a staff nurse anymore. I got my master’s degree in nursing education and was accepted for a PhD program at a school that had been what I thought was my dream program. My master’s program was fun. The PhD was not. Frankly, It was the most stressful time in my life, even worse than getting divorced.
In an effort to alleviate the stress, I went to a workshop to learn about different forms of meditation. Some of the exercises we did were genuinely painful for me. But the woman heading up the group suggested mini-meditations, just taking a few minutes off to listen to a song, mindfully eat some food, or anything else that might help decrease the stress.
At the same time, some members of a fibromyalgia Facebook page were getting fuzzy, stuffed purple Disney monsters to help them focus on something other than their pain. This sounded good to me but I thought a doll would work better for me. Because she was on sale, I decided to get my first Ellowyne. But that’s a story for another post.