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Emails to my Therapist

Career Success Barbie! Visionary Barbie!

Dear Nicholas, About 25 years ago, feeling discouraged about my work, I gave a Barbie doll (knock-off) a make-over with my face and hair. I surrounded her with tiny Play-doh versions of books I meant to publish as well as the one I already had. Inspirational Barbie! Visionary Barbie!

She had come equipped with a quill pen in one hand and a phone in the other. Her pale blue too-short skirt was something I would dare to wear myself. For the little books strewn about her feet, I made intricately detailed covers with gold awards stickers, blurbs, etc.

I set her before me on the window sill of my office. She became Aspirational Barbie!. Many-book Barbie!


with newest book and old quill pen


How I Came To Do a Doll Make-Over

For weeks, I’d had a card on my desk that had a floral arrangement on the front, very delicate, mostly freesia. It was pretty. I’d glance at it now and then.

One day, I realized I was seeing two floral arrangements, on an echo of the other.  The second one was real, three dimensional, a vase full of flowers, as it happened, the same kind of flowers as in the picture. Without realizing what I was doing, I had replicated the picture I’d so often seen. Uncharacteristically, I’d bought a bunch of flowers. And they happened to be, like the ones on the card, freesia. The arrangements were almost identical. I had “manifested” the flowers.

A Moment of Recognition

It seemed that what I kept before me, I would reproduce–for real. And so I bought the doll, put my face on her, and gave her a stack of books.

I now have about as many books out as I made in miniature. And like the tiny model, one of them even has a little award emblem on it. (New York Times Notable Book of the Year)  Shall I give Barbie credit?

Future Barbie

I’m glad to be reminded of this experience. I’m calling a new version of her back into action. Updated Barbie will be a writer whose books sell very very well. Bestseller Barbie. Exactly how to represent that visually I’m not sure yet. I’ll figure it out. We’ll see if she still has her powers.



#writerbarbie   #careersuccessbarbie






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  • Brent
    July 24, 2023 at 7:56 pm Reply

    Love it. Can you make a Bestseller Brent out of an old Ken doll. Hair would have to be gone though!

    • Peggy Payne
      July 24, 2023 at 9:10 pm Reply

      Great idea, Brent! Although I don’t think Ken wears a lot of writerly tweed. I just had the thought of making a Retirement Ken for my husband who retires at the end of the year and is thinking about how to use his time.

  • July 24, 2023 at 9:27 pm Reply

    This is wonderful! You should write this up for a magazine! So timely!

    • Peggy Payne
      July 24, 2023 at 9:37 pm Reply

      Thanks, Billie! What would your Aspirational Barbie look like?

  • Kenju
    July 24, 2023 at 9:51 pm Reply

    Sounds like a good plan. We do manifest what we put our attention on, or so I’ve read.

    • Peggy Payne
      July 24, 2023 at 10:12 pm Reply

      I think it works some of the time, Judy. Have you tested it?

  • Robbie Lane Jackson
    August 2, 2023 at 3:30 am Reply

    Great “Tiny Story.” Like it very much. Why not a picture of you on the UNC-Center stage, with a tiny camera pointed your way. That would be relevant to any subject, like aspirational Barbie, all-grown-up-Barbie, bestseller Barbie, etc. I had so much fun back then, working the old camera. I really felt like I’d made it.

    • Peggy Payne
      August 2, 2023 at 6:03 pm Reply

      Well, you had made it! That was fun and, for me, pretty tense. I was comfortable on the air, but tough deadline. And I like your idea of TV Barbie. Talk Show Barbie could be good too.

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