I’m a Dolly Parton fan.
I don’t actually know much of her music. The most popular tunes, yes, and I like them – especially Jolene. But I’m not familiar with much else.
I’ve seen two of her best-known movies many, many times. 9-5 influenced my perspective on corporate culture. Even though it was made decades ago, I still find little nuggets of business wisdom in it each time I watch. Doralee is a heckuva lot smarter than people give her credit for. Steel Magnolias? Always a good option when you want to curl up with a lovely, bittersweet story that has some really funny moments. The “laughter through tears” lines is one of Truvy’s best.
But – while I respect her musical talent and enjoy her acting, that’s not what I appreciate the most about her.
What I admire, what makes me a fan, is her authentic hopefulness. She radiates genuine positivity. She’s not blindly cheerful; she knows the difference between the good, the bad, and the ugly, and she’s not afraid to speak her mind. But she chooses to focus on constructive outcomes.
For example, her Imagination Library, which mails a book to children every month from birth to kindergarten. As an extension of this work, she recently started a weekly bedtime story video series, Goodnight With Dolly. If you’re finding it hard to sleep these days, I recommend tuning in. Her voice is sweet and comforting, and the books she reads are hopeful and kind. Even if you don’t have any young-uns in the house, I’m sure you’ll be welcome.
She’s also self-aware, emotionally intelligent. She knows who she is, her skills and talents, but also her flaws. She doesn’t hide who she is, and she knows that she’s not perfect. That type of sincerity is refreshing.
When acknowledging her flaws, she often uses humor. It’s not directed at others; she points it at herself, and there’s a kindness in her humor, an element of forgiveness. We laugh with her because we see ourselves in that moment. We share those same thoughts about our own flaws or the things we do, and we’re grateful for the chuckle instead of the judgment. Dolly’s laughing with us, not at us.
I just learned that Dolly released a new song, When Life Is Good Again. It’s intended to address the COVID-19 situation, but the underlying message of respect and love is universal. It’s a nice little something to go along with this morning’s cuppa, a reminder that goodness and kindness, trust and hope still exist; that caring about each other is an essential element in moving forward, and that each moment of doing so is worthwhile.