Retire the Dolls

By Fiona Finn

Have you ever felt like you lived on Crazy Avenue, just down the road from Dysfunction Junction?

There are many of us who unknowingly live in the City of Denial. I believed I was living the life I always wanted, spending lavishly, even foolishly, for years. But there was always something missing that I couldn’t put my finger on. As a child I adored Barbie and spent the first decade of my life playing dolls and the next 30 years trying to look like one. I had the dream house, someone I believed was the perfect partner, and the life I imagined growing up. I was told that every fairy tale has a happy ending, yet I have struggled throughout my life to find that true bliss. Of course there were moments of happiness sprinkled here and there, but inside I was not truly fulfilled.

During the past two years of my life, I have been reading self help book after self help book. After researching and soul searching, I realized that I had been manifesting many unfulfilling things into my reality since childhood. Never in a million years would I have connected the dots from my play toys to the state of my actual existence. My creative play as a little girl was mainly with dolls. My simple wishes included to be pretty, have the perfect boyfriend who would turn into a wonderful husband and amazing father. We would live in a two-story dream house, own convertibles, and have a life filled with abundance.

Even today, these are still the yearnings of many little girls around the world. Worldly possessions, wealth, and fairy tale love filled my every waking moment. I was raised in a relatively normal family and was grounded to a certain extent. I never remember asking my purpose in life. Actually, I have never heard young children ask for acknowledgment of why they exist. I believe it is because all children demonstrate the purity of just being in the moment, the NOW, and I was no different.

I was born in the United States and moved to Ireland as a toddler. Growing up I ran freely through the fields, playing with my siblings and letting my imagination run wild. My surroundings were diverse, ranging from tranquil to serene and from mystical to magical. There was little value placed on money and having possessions.

At nine years old it was quite a shock to me, my sister and brothers that we were leaving Ireland to return to America. But like most kids we adapted quickly and viewed the move as a big adventure. My parents had a family meeting told us that we had to give away all of our toys. Remember that in a child’s world their toys are their treasures. Christmas after Christmas, birthdays, and major events spent wishing for these items to add to his or her prized collection.

We were advised that only one toy would be allowed to travel with each of us to America.

Yes! There were tears, screaming, and protests because we were forced to give up our most prized possessions. I felt like the “Godfather” willing all my property to my very best friends. My Daisy doll was my chosen toy, my pride and joy. She would accompany me to our new home across the ocean. I don’t remember much about the move but I do remember the flights. We were to fly to New York and then onto Cleveland, Ohio. My father had left weeks before us so he could find work and a home for his large family.

Once we boarded, settled into our assigned seats, I noticed Daisy was rather sleepy so I decided to put her to rest in the magazine holder. I then took a nap. Before long we arrived in New York and my mother shuffled her troop of six children off the plane. We rushed to meet our connecting flight to Cleveland, Ohio. I was half way to Cleveland when I realized Daisy was still sleeping in the magazine rack on our last plane.

Flooded with tears and sadness I lost my best friend and only toy.

Devastated, I was a child without her toy, a girl without her doll, living in a new country, attending a new school, it was all too much.

I had very little to play with for awhile, but my parents did give us the gift of creativity. We really had to be more creative than smaller families, since we were on a limited budget. Of course, there were hand-me-downs, both toys and clothes. Within the first few weeks after we arrived in Cleveland relatives donated toys including Barbie dolls. I wanted a Ken doll that Christmas but funds were low and received a Donnie Osmond doll. I didn’t like Donnie and Barbie rejected him tirelessly until my mother purchased a Ken doll.

I believe that Daisy and Barbie were extensions of who I wanted to become and who I actually did become on the surface—but it left me hollow inside.

My life has imitated the environment I dreamed up for my dolls. I was infatuated with the idea of one day growing up to look just like a doll. Perfect in every way! I fell in love with my first husband, who looked exactly like a ken doll in college. We had two sons but life was a struggle and we finally divorced. That was the first crack in my façade!

You will not believe this but my former second husband looks just like Donnie Osmond. He is tall, dark hair, and really wanted my attention when we first met. I believed that with my second marriage I had found my soul mate. From the moment I married “Donnie,” I wondered (as many couples do) if there was only one boat or life vest would he save me first? Little did I know that 13 years into our relationship I would know his choice first-hand. Luckily, I learned how to swim and then float peacefully within in the sea of spirituality as a result of the experience.

My perfect Barbie life was destroyed when “Donnie” abandoned me during my fight against stage III Colon Cancer, and I realized it was time to retire the dolls.

The heartache almost killed me physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. But I learned to burst out of my own self-inflected Barbie bubble to heal myself. My mind helped heal my body. I am in no way a “New Age” guru, but I am a big believer in the “mind- body-Spirit” movement. Spiritual healing became the key to unlocking my true self and finally helping me find real fulfillment in my life.

For many of us, the real “truth” is hidden behind illusions that society and our environment create around who we “should” be.

May we all have the courage to dive below the surface and learn how to swim in our own essence before we are put to the test and find that we cannot even tread water once we step from the shore.

Fiona Finn lives on Fort Myers Beach and is the mother to three wonderful children. She received her AA from Edison Community College and graduated with a bachelor’s in business from the University of South Florida. For the past 12 years she has been a full-time real estate agent and broker. Diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in Dec. 2009, she found the will to survive despite her husband abandoning her within six months. During remission, she discovered her love of writing and has since written three books, Barbie: A Parody, Cartoons: A Parody, and Pennies from Heaven: You Make Money. Money Doesn’t Make You. All her books are available on Currently Fiona is finishing up her autobiography, Raw: One Woman’s Journey Through Love, Loss, and Cancer. Email her at or visit .

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