Maria Schnabel

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Sleeping Beauty Misses Out in Life

She was too pretty to play with, said my mother.

So, she wrapped Mariola in blue tissue paper, lest light yellow her porcelain-like skin and crisp-white ballerina outfit; tied soft bows around her wrists and ankles to preserve her ladylike stance; and then stored her in a closet where she remained, in the dark, for the next 50 years.

Mariola was one of the first dolls that could open and close her lids. She did that slowly, languidly, with thick eyelashes for added dramatic effect.

Too bad her eyes remained closed for half a century; that she never got to move her hands and feet; never got to see the light in the playground.

There were times when on visits to my parents’ home I would open the box, marvel at her alabaster beauty, and wonder what was the point of giving a child a doll too delicate to play with, too prissy to get dusty on a shelf, too sensitive to daylight.

I asked myself that same question this past week as I was letting go of things to make room for new interests.

You won’t be surprised to know that Mariola did not pass Marie Kondo’s “does it bring joy?” test. I dismissed her with a heartfelt “Thank you for waiting all these years.”

Dormant opportunities

Mariola’s story made me think of the opportunities we put on hold. Opportunities we keep dormant, whether in a closet or in our minds, while we wait for a day when we may have more time, more courage, more resources to explore them.

The danger is that when that day finally comes, the opportunity—or our ability to seize it– may have passed.

It certainly is too late for Mariola and me to hit the playground, but not too late for other things I’ve put on hold.

This why I think of this time of my life as my Bonus Round.

Carpe diem.



  • Carol Hanlon

    Yes, indeed!

  • Pepi

    What a pity you couldn’t enjoy Mariola. Mine was Cristina and…well I could enjoy her a little bit. Kisses.

  • Penelope Murphy

    My daughter has not one, but a closetful of beautiful dolls still in their boxes at her grandmother’s house. They collected over the years, but stayed boxed and never enjoyed. Hopefully, it is reminiscent of a bygone era when females were cast as too pretty and delicate to play or get mussed like these dolls in boxes. So one retirement project will be to find new homes for them and perhaps contribute to my grandson’s education fund. He’s into trains and cars and they don’t stay in the boxes!

  • Kathy Van Buskirk

    Amen santa maria!

  • Marylu

    I can’t tell you how many beautiful dolls I ruined because I liked to brush their hair…hair that was meticulously coiffed by the manufacturer and never intended to be “restyled”. I messed up several beautiful dolls and as a result carried a deep sense of guilt and remorse. I, out of my own selfish desire to brush their hair, had stripped the poor defenseless dolls of their beauty. And there was no way I could ever make it right again.

    I wonder…did they experience a fuller life because they were allowed to be abused at the whim of a child, or would their lives have been better had they been lovingly tucked away in a safe place where they could sleep and dream of wonderful places and experiences without fear. Did I experience a richer life because I was allowed to do as I pleased to those lovely dolls, without having advance understanding of the emotional consequences?

    Perhaps my life and the doll’s lives would have been better had I been a sleeping beauty. Now I’m depressed.

    But, Maria, you are a very awake beauty and have always embraced life to it’s fullest. Carry on!

    • Maria Schnabel

      I think dolls were meant to help kids live their childhood to the fullest.

  • Kris Rainey

    How fitting for me that my dad gave me a Boxer dog stuffed animal with eyelids that popped open as if he was ready to take on the day. All these years later he’s stil with me — fur worn to a nub but eyes that say he still ready for action. Who could have known when my dad gave me my boxer at 5 years old that my passion in life would be dogs! Thanks for your wonderful remembrance Maria. I just retrieved my boxer from my closet as I write this post — hey buddy it’s good to see you again and you are looking good for 64!!

    • Maria Schnabel

      Glad this piece brought back memories of your own. Just saw your Boxer’s photo. Cute fellow.

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