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In 2019 we should all resolve to be more like Dolly Parton

Hannah Swayze • Dec 31, 2018 at 11:22 AM

If my life was a movie, the opening would be me waking up in the morning and getting ready while Dolly Partons 1980 hit, “9 to 5” plays in the background.

There’s something about the chipper should of the clacking typewriter that perks me up and makes me want to sing along.

To be honest, I love all of Dolly’s music. There’s something about it that exudes this warmth and happiness. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of home, or maybe it’s a little bit of Dolly magic.

Maybe it’s being reminded of Dolly that makes me happy.

Dolly grew up in Sevierville, just a little over an hour away from the Tri-Cities. Growing up here meant annual (or more) trips to Dollywood, Dolly’s theme park.

A local T-shirt company has a design that features a drawing of the country music star with the phrase “Dolly for President” on the front.

There’s a reason, too. Dolly is not just a singer, despite that being how she became famous. In East Tennessee, she’s a legend. While her music is unforgettable, it’s her wisdom and generosity that is what keeps Dolly relevant.

It’s these things that we all should think about and let inspire us for the next year.

Dolly reminds us to be generous.

Dolly Parton has a decades-long history of philanthropy, mostly done through her organization, The Dollywood Foundation.

Growing up in rural Appalachia, Dolly knew first hand of the poverty in the region. When she started the foundation in the late 1980s, it focused on educational success for local children giving scholarships and incentives for graduation.

Nowadays, the Dollywood Foundation is probably most famous for the Imagination Library. It started in 1995 delivering new books to enrolled children in Sevier County, once a month from birth to the beginning of school. Dolly started this program as a tribute to her father who couldn’t read or write.

Today, the foundation is International, delivering books to children all over the U.S., The United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. The total number of books delivered by the foundation exceeded 112 million in November.

You’ll also remember that immediately after a forest fire ravaged the Great Smoky Mountains in Sevier County in 2016, Dolly’s foundation was there to start the My People Fund, which helped get residents affected by the fires back on their feet.

Dolly reminds us to be creative.

Dolly’s been making music for decades. She’s sold millions of records and written plenty of songs, including the ever-popular “Jolene” and foot-stomping “Two Doors Down.”

And of course, who could forget the famous “I Will Always Love You.” The song was written by Dolly Parton and made famous by Whitney Houston. It arguably could be one of the most well-known songs of all time.

She’s stepped outside of performing to producing, taking care of business and acting. She wrote the score and lyrics for “9 to 5,” the musical produced on Broadway, and then starred in the movie adaptation.

Dolly has been around the block, using her talents anywhere she could. She branched out and it paid off.

Like Dolly said, “You’ll never do a lot if you’re not brave enough to try.”

Dolly reminds us to be brave

Beyond her music, Dolly Parton is known largely for her over-the-top style and personality. Bejeweled ensembles, hair piled high and her body nipped and tucked.

In a world where women’s bodies are examined and scoped under the spotlight, Parton remains true to herself, including making plenty of jokes during appearances on talk shows about her penchant for facelifts.

“If I wasn’t born a woman I would’ve been a drag queen” is a statement attributed to Dolly, who often tells a story about how she once entered a Dolly Parton look-alike contest and received the least applause of all the drag queens. 

In television interviews, you can hear the clinking of the rhinestones that cover her outfits because there are so many of them. She does what she wants, wears what she wants and doesn’t care what anyone else thinks of her.

“I just don't feel like I have to explain myself. I love everybody,” Dolly told ABC News in 2012, about receiving threats about her support of the LGBTQ community.

She handles herself with a confidence that warrants the admiration it attracts. She’s successful, confident and unintimidated by others’ criticism of her unabashed authenticity. This is something we can all aspire to adopt in our lives.

So, in 2019, let’s remember to be a little more like Dolly. Let’s be a little more brave, a little more generous, and despite any opposition we may be facing, to be unapologetically ourselves.

And when we’re feeling down, let’s remember, as Dolly said, “storms make trees take deeper roots.”

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