The Big Reveal

I’ve watched too many makeover shows on television. Between home renovation, fashion faux paus interventions, and Dr. Phil prestidigitation, I expect there to be some major overhaul after 30 to 60 minutes of sweat equity and personal introspection. I’m hoping that you are also primed for the startling “after” picture, because today I am presenting you with the Terri LaBonte Big Reveal.

The Terri LaBonte Big Reveal is that…. I am not really Terri LaBonte. Well, I kinda am. Let me explain.

My parents named me Dorothea Therese Goodness. That name sounds more like a pseudonym than Terri LaBonte, doesn’t it? My mother initially planned to name me Penny. She probably should have. Dorothea Therese was kind of a mouthful for such an itsy-bitsy baby. I can’t imagine my parents ever referring to me as “Dorothea.” It just seems absurd. That may be why they started calling me Tinker Bell. At any rate, before any rendition of the name Dorothea had time to stick, my brother was born. His name was Ernest Anthony Goodness. My grandmother took one look at him and declared, “he looks like an Irishman; you should have named him Timothy Patrick.” The family immediately started calling him “Timmy.”

This kind of solved the whole name thing for me. “Timmy and Terri” sounded so cute, my extended family decided to ignore my first name altogether and focus on the Therese part. I was Terri for several years as a little girl.

This was fine until I started school. When the teacher called roll on the first day and got to the end of the list without little Terri responding, she was flummoxed. Apparently, Dorothea Goodness was absent, but this random child Terri had shown up. Given that I didn’t know my own name, the teacher questioned my kindergarten readiness. When she called my mother in to discuss my apparent backwardness, my mother realized I could not continue to live a double life. She promptly returned home, taught me to answer when someone called me Dorothea, and sent me back to school the next day. To the outside world, I was Dorothea from that day forward.

The name Dorothea was still way too long for me. I was always an impatient kid, hurrying from one activity to another with no time to form eight whole letters each time I had to write my name. I shortened it to Dorry when I was about ten. I made peace with my non-Terri existence and enjoyed being Dorry through adulthood. I married and acquired the Curran family name. When I divorced, it seemed like too much trouble to change it back to my maiden name. Besides, when you change your name to Goodness, everyone notices and I was too ashamed of getting divorced to want to call attention to the fact.

When I started writing the blog, I debated what to do about my name. I legitimately wanted to retain some anonymity and privacy on the internet. I was cracking open my life on cyberspace. It seemed wise to erect some sort of security wall between me and random strangers who might decide to get a little too up close and personal. Also, I have to admit to some desire to stave off too much vulnerability. I was going to write about some pretty personal stuff and I wasn’t quite ready to completely own it by acknowledging it with my real name. I decided I wasn’t brave enough to use my real name and would use a “creative name.”

I resurrected Terri from my childhood name. LaBonte is the French version of “Goodness.” Family folklore says that my first ancestor to come to the United States was a French-speaking Swiss national who entered Ellis Island as Monsieur LaBonte. He left Ellis Island with the more “American” name of Mr. Goodness, courtesy of the good civil servants in charge of Immigration Inspection who did not speak French. I am not sure if this is true or not, but it makes a good legend.

You may wonder why I am disclosing all this now. I’m excited to tell you that my book, Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement will be released within the next couple of months. I decided to publish my book under my real name, Dorry Curran. I want all my dear cyberfriends to be able to find it, which would be difficult if you think Terri LaBonte is the author.

There are other reasons why I thought it was time to come out of the Terri LaBonte closet. I have been writing the blog under the name Terri LaBonte for over two years now. Soon after starting this project, I felt like it would have been better to use my “real” name right from the beginning. It was sometimes confusing when I had to explain who Terri LaBonte was when talking to potential readers who knew me by my real name. Besides, using the name Terri LaBonte felt sort of like using the cyberspace equivalent of a fake ID to buy beer. It had its advantages, but there was also a downside. Yes, it is wise to be cautious about giving too much identifying information on the internet. On the other hand, it felt sort of deceptive and cowardly to hide myself behind a fictitious name. I try to write from a place of courage and honesty. It felt incongruous to deny the value of my truth by denying the name of the person who wrote it.

I’ve thought about sharing this story with you before now. The thing was…. by the time I realized it would have been better to use my real name, I had become kind of attached to Terri LaBonte and didn’t want to give her up.

You see, my legal name may be Dorry Curran, but Terri LaBonte is still very much a part of who I am. In fact, I may be more Terri LaBonte than Dorry Curran at this point in my life. Some time ago, a reader commented that, even though he had known me for many years as Dorry Curran, he found it interesting that he had absolutely no trouble at all thinking of me as Terri LaBonte. Terri LaBonte has always lived inside my soul. She just didn’t get much playing time in my younger days. Maybe people around me recognized her more than I did.

Terri LaBonte is confident enough to dance to her own music throughout her own life, whether anyone is looking or not. Terri LaBonte is visionary enough to make a reality from the blueprint of a dream. Terri LaBonte is brave enough to create something wonderful.

Terri LaBonte is also generous of spirit. When it came time to publish the book, she abdicated authorship to Dorry Curran. After all, it was Dorry’s dream first.

Quick, somebody say something! Now that I’ve revealed this big secret, I find myself feeling extremely wobbly and nervous. My stomach is somersaulting its way all over my innards, like some sort of demented pinball. Please, leave a comment to help me put on the brakes before my ricocheting guts do internal damage!!!

Seriously, I hope no one feels deceived or misled. I humbly ask your forgiveness for any offense or discomfort I caused because of the “fake” name.

Please share your perspective by leaving a comment (please, please, pretty please!!!). In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a wonderful day!

Terri/Dorry (seriously, I don’t even know how to sign my name now…. Maybe Derri?) 🙂

19 thoughts on “The Big Reveal”

  1. That’s 4 names including Tinkerbell. It seems that we are often living up to a family name or living it down. A woman often takes on her husband’s family name so that she becomes associated with that family. “Are you related to so-and-so?” to which she replies, “That’s my husband’s family,” forsaking her family of origin? Does a name define us? The most important thing is that you know who you are.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Mona. That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet?

  2. My son in law is legally Brandon. He introduced himself to my daughter as Ryan. We call him Ryan. When he last went “home” with his young family, his mother called him Brandon. His four year old replied, “I don’t know anyone by that name Grandma!”
    Go with Terri. I love the story and the blog!

  3. Here I thought I was the only one who had a problem with the kindergarten teacher calling me by a name I didn’t recognize! I literally argued with her the first day of school.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. I’ve been lurking for a bit, but had to let you know you are not alone. I could tell where I knew someone from by the name the called me. I was also assigned a new name in first grade, the teacher decided to add my middle name to my first so she could differentiate between the two of us with the same first name. I had no choice in the matter, it’s who I was all through school but I did change back to just my first name when I hit college. I look forward to your book.

  5. Hi Terri and Dorry: How exciting to be an author soon. I am happy to get your book once it is out. You should be very proud of yourself. Let everyone know when we can buy it.

    I always went by my complete name with my middle name as my maiden name.


  6. You will always be Dorry to me! Congratulations on having your book published. After I wrote a book a few years ago, I sent it to one publisher and got rejected. I never sent it out again. I realised it was on my bucket list to write a book and I accomplished that. Can’t wait to read yours! Miss our email catchups! Just married off my stepdaughter in Melbourne on Friday. I had all the kids together and all four granddaughters. No dramas either! Times have certainly changed!

    1. Hi Shari! I miss our catch-ups, too. I’m going to send you an email later. Perhaps we can reinvigorate our correspondence!
      In the interest of full disclosure, let me explain that my book isn’t getting traditional publishing… like when a publisher buys the rights to your book, takes all the financial risk in financing the publication, and handles the wholesale sales. After getting my requisite rejections from a plethora of literary agents, I decided to go to Plan B. My book is probably not as widely commercial as necessary and I am not well-known enough for a traditional publisher to take a chance on me. In my case, I am self-publishing with the assistance of a well-reviewed author services company. They have worked with me on the actual production of the book and will be handling distribution and some marketing. The difference should be transparent to a reader. Basically, going this route just means I put up money to pay for some costs of publication and distribution, which I may or may not recoup through sales. However, I will have published a professional, quality book.
      I think the fact that you wrote a book is a cause for celebration, even if it doesn’t get published. I hope you are proud of yourself for such a big achievement. You should be!!! Luv u😘

      1. Hi Dorry, thanks for that and good luck with the book. You have obviously put in much effort and I will look forward to reading it. I was way to lazy to go the route you did with publishing, but I’m happy that you did. Yes I will look forward to your email!xoxo

  7. OK, now I understand Dorry and Terry. I wondered at times if you were actually 2 people (there are blogs like that).

    My name change is not as dramatic. On my family side I am Aunt Patty, since that was what I was called in my childhood and my siblings and high school friends still call me Patty. [And I still call my 60 year old brother Jimmy, which he hates! ] I dropped the “y” after college to sound older… so I’m Aunt Pat to my husband’s family and Pat to all post college friends & hubby. It takes thought to decide how to sign Christmas cards!

    I got tired of begin referred to as Mr Pat Doyle for a while and started going by Patricia at work/professionally… so some folk do call me that.

    I also took my husbands last name on marriage…. so went from the end of the alphabet at W to a D…. that was a huge change too! I still don’t recognize the initials “PD” as me.

    My MIL called me Patsy… there were 2 other Pat’s in the family – both male. No one else has ever called me Patsy!

    I actually refer to myself as Tricia. And then thought about renovating myself totally as Trixie. Just because. I might still do that.

    I never thought about my fluctuating name that much… or if I’m a different person with each variation. Will ponder that a bit now!

    Thanks for clarifying the Terry/Dorry thing…. and let us all know when and how to get your book!

      1. I have identified with so many of your posts as we have shared a lot of common experiences (corporate job, retired in 50s, no kids, parent who passed away in nursing home). I was named after my dad’s two older sisters – Dorothy Elizabeth. I wish someone had shortened that to Dorry! I am Dottie, Dot, and Dorothy depending on who I’m with. Good luck with your book!

        1. Thanks, Dorothy/Dot/Dottie! Welcome to the conversation! I’m going to tell you something else we have in common. My confirmation name is Elizabeth. I thought the whole name thing was complicated enough, so I didn’t mention it in the blog. I’m really Dorothea Thérèse Elizabeth Goodness Curran! Heavens, it doesn’t even all fit on one line!!!!

  8. Terri/Dorry- it was really interesting to read your name dilemma. I too write my blog using a pen name. When I started my blog ten years ago, I was working in a publicly visible position, and I wanted to have the freedom to write openly and on personal matters on my blog. I felt that I needed to keep my work identity and personal life separate in order to do that. As well, I have published career-related writing under my real name, and as I have a unique last name, it would be easy for people to make the connection between “career me” and “blogger me.” Now that I have retired, I am considering doing a reveal of my own. I have taken a step in that direction by acknowledging my first name – Jude.


    1. Your rationale for maintaining anonymity is certainly more reasonable and noble than mine- pure cowardice!

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