Not with that attitude, you won’t!

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In the years since I was diagnosed with the first mental illness condition I discovered I am living with as a challenge to enjoying this life I have been given, I have been doing my best to maintain a steady course as a writer. My steering hasn’t always been steady, constant, or successful, but I have always felt driven to write. Obviously I’ve also felt a very clear desire to keep company with dolls, hence the creation of this blogging website. Since I was very young I have found my dolls to be muses of sorts for me in my nearly lifelong writing endeavors. However, I didn’t fully realize that my doll collection was a source of significant inspiration until relatively recently.

One thing that has unfortunately been nearly constant in my writing journey has been a pernicious habit of people I encounter, people who don’t write, to quickly offer discouragement when I expressed my desire and drive to make a life for myself through my writing. Like many other people who live with mental illnesses, I was for much of my life very easily influenced by the ideas and opinions of others. I eventually learned that this tendency of mine to care too much about what other people thought was actually symptomatic, and as such it also contained the potential to be altered.

Initially, when someone would urge me to reconsider my vocational choice because they felt the writing life must be too challenging, particularly with someone facing challenges like mine, and probably not nearly profitable enough to be worth the effort anyway, I admit I often felt swayed to believe the discouraging things those nay-sayers were nay-saying.

Fortunately, my desire and drive to write have always been far stronger than my wish to believe things said to me by people who actively rained on my writing parade. I feel proud to state that no matter what challenges I face in my life, I always come back to my writing. One tactic I learned in the past few years that has become essential in aiding me in maintaining belief in myself, instead of in the disheartening words of nay-sayers, came to me by way of an old friend of mine.

This friend of mine used to very patiently, and regularly, endure what had to have been the uncomfortable experience, of listening to me beating myself up verbally in far too many of the conversations we shared. When I would say something self-defeating about how I couldn’t do this or that, demonstrating for my friend just how effectively the doubts of others were seeping into my view of myself, my friend would always firmly tell me this simple rebuttal: Not with that attitude you won’t!

When my friend first challenged my negative views of myself with that statement I laughed, and I didn’t really listen to the words, much less take them to heart. But, as my friend continued to state that same rebuttal, every time I put myself down in conversation, those wise words eventually started sinking in.

Time passed and my friendship with that particularly helpful friend became less of a constant. We drifted apart, as friends often do, but those words remained with me. They haunted me with the persistency of a slow leak in the bottom of a boat. I kept trying to steer my writing craft, and even while I would falter and seem to all but give up, my friend’s words kept leaking into my consciousness, helping me steady my course.

These days, many years later, when I occasionally find myself slipping back into old patterns of being unkind and unsupportive of my own writing ambitions, I feel very grateful to my friend for giving me that suggestion with such regular and reliable predictability. “Not with that attitude, you won’t!”

Many of the upcoming photo stories I will be sharing here at Mini Mansion Memoirs contain within them the trials experienced by dolls working hard to overcome limitations they have placed upon themselves within their own imaginary lives. It is my hope that the dolls living here in the Much Ado About Nothing giant backyard dollhouse will all be able to better succeed in their imaginary endeavors, thanks to the hard work I have been doing on myself all these years which has now enabled me to to reach a place where most of the time, I both believe in myself, and in my ability to share writing that is worth reading.

Emory Corbin, the busy boy pictured organizing doll paperwork above, is my steadfast companion in creating these photo stories to share with you all. He is the doll who I have assigned with that most important job of reminding me, when I slip up and say something self-defeating: Not with that attitude, you won’t!

Thank you so much, my old friend. You know who you are. You made this blog post possible.

Skating the Doxies!

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There was once a doll here in my collection who I named for my own self. She was my mini-me. When she was here she had lots of grand adventures. Her name, like mine, is Iris-Petra. Just recently, Iris Petra has moved away to become my Doll Play Ambassador to Wyoming. (Scary Shirley, my Shirley Temple PlayPal doll is the only individual here now who has her own mini-me. She prefers it that way.) Though she is now off having adventures in the midwest, I am pleased to be able to share some of Iris-Petra’s past adventures with you all here.

When she lived here, Iris-Petra had two great loves. One was teddy bears, a love which we shared. Her other love was dogs. I personally am NOT a dog person, at all. Iris-Petra however loved dogs. She made a couple of trips to the Build-a-Bear  Workshop when she was here, which I will share one of in a future photo story. The other trip she made to the Build-a-Bear Workshop was to create herself a pair of dogs. Iris-Petra named her Doxies, pictured above, Oscar Meyer (the boy) and Honey Dijon (the girl.) When we went to the Build-a-Bear Workshop to acquire Iris-Petra’s dogs she declared that since Doxies have short little legs she thought they would need help getting around with her since her legs are so much longer than theirs. We remedied this problem by getting roller skates for the pair of dogs.

Once she brought her new pets home, Iris-Petra wanted to share them with her teddy bear friends. So, here you see Iris-Petra taking Oscar Meyer and Honey Dijon out for their very first skate with a pair of her teddy bear friends. They all had a lovely time together that day, and the Doxies weren’t at all tired out. In Iris-Petra’s new home in Wyoming she gets to play whenever she likes with a very real dog called Ginger, so I feel certain that she’s loving her new vocation as Doll Play Ambassador to Wyoming!

Off the shelves!

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In my chosen life role as a doll photo storyteller I am sometimes asked by curious people how I came up with my idea to create and share photo stories which are inspired and populated by my doll collection as the characters in my stories. It’s a fair question. I haven’t heard of too many other folks choosing to do this particular sort of storytelling as their life’s vocation. To answer those who are curious about this, I can tell you it all began, quite simply, with the photo you see on this page.

A couple of years ago, when I was just becoming newly acquainted with a brand new friend who happens to live next door to my house, she asked me about my doll collection. At the time the few of my dolls that I had out on display mostly sat on shelves. They needed dusting far more regularly than I actually did any dusting. Many of the other dolls in my collection were packed away in storage.

My doll collection wasn’t really getting much attention of any kind back then. This was largely due to the fact that at that time I had recently moved into my  home. So, to be fair to me, I choose to believe that my dolls, if they’d been people instead of dolls, they would have been quite understanding of my need to get settled and moved into my new home, instead of spending much time with them. Dolls, unlike some humans, are amazingly patient that way.

In a series of text messages, my new friend asked me a few questions about the dolls. She asked questions like,  “Where did they come from?” “How long had I maintained these same dolls in my collection?” To answer her queries I brought down the doll pictured above from a shelf. I sent my new friend the photo you see here, and with it, I shared that doll’s story. This bright eyed little doll wearing her smart Panama hat was one of my very first dolls. You can read more about her origin in my life here.

In that text message conversation, I shared the story that I just linked you to above with my new friend, and her comment about that particular doll went something like this:

I think that little doll has such a lively look about her! I bet she’s had adventures she could tell you about. Her face reminds me of the old Kewpie dolls. Wouldn’t it be something if you were to someday use your writing talent to tell her stories?

When she said made that suggestion I thoroughly agreed. I agreed with her when she said it, but I didn’t really think much more about the idea once I put that little doll back on her shelf. I can’t even tell you for sure if I actually dusted her before returning her to her regular spot on the shelf. Dusting is not one of my favorite ways to pass my time in this life.

I have been telling photo stories with dolls for many years. I usually tell stories about one of the other types of dolls in my collection, and ordinarily I share those photo stories exclusively in collector groups for that doll type. Just recently, I decided that since I love to write, and since I so delight in taking whimsical and creative photos of my Cabbage Patch Kid dolls, why not expand the enterprise? Why not take photos of other dolls and tell stories about them too? Why not indeed! No reason not to!

I have been taking photos and making up stories about my Cabbage Patch Kid dolls since I adopted my very first one back in 1983. In 1983 I was ten years old. While I have nearly always wanted to spend my life engaged in creative writing, this is the one type of creative writing which I have never grown tired of and quit doing. I firmly believe this is a very real  accomplishment for me because over the years I have gradually tried my hand at, and grown tired of all of the following:  Short story writing, playwriting, writing memoir, and also novella, and novel writing. While all those other types of creative writing were but passing phases for me, my interest and enthusiasm for creating doll photo stories has never waned in the slightest.

So, thanks to that idea planted in my head by my dear friend next door when I first shared that photo with her, I am now happily creating doll photo stories about all the dolls in my collection, instead of excluding all the others to only tell Cabbage Patch Kid doll stories. I’m feeling very pleased to have made this decision, and I’m also happy that since I have begun taking more photos to share in stories with you lovely readers here that my dolls have not needed dusting nearly as often as they did before. At long last, now the members of my doll collection are able to spend a good lot of time off the shelves!