Each Easter brings thoughts of family, friends, and colorful fashion flair: all hallmarks of Dolly Parton’s life and career. “Easter has always been a big deal,” the East Tennessee native tells Woman’s World. “My grandpa was a preacher, so Easter was always about Jesus and the resurrection, but also about finding Easter eggs and fun. It was about springtime and putting on frilly clothes to freeze your butt off because it usually turns out being colder than you wanted it to be!”
For the beloved icon, those memories carry into her celebrations today and help her keep those she has lost close, like her mother, Avie Lee. “Mama would always make potato salad, a ham and a big chocolate or coconut cake. She’d do it from scratch, but now you can use an easy mix for all the good stuff,” Dolly says, referencing her partnership with Duncan Hines that includes her own line of cakes, brownies, biscuits, and cornbread.
This year, Dolly is looking forward to pausing to enjoy her traditions, and it’ll be a welcome respite from working on a rock album and releasing “Peace Like a River,” a gospel song she wrote and recorded with Dionne Warwick. “I love seeing something in the world today that wasn’t there yesterday,” the 77-year-old says. “I’m so thankful that I can be creative and try my wings. I’m going to fly until I can’t fly no more. I’m going to try those wings until they wear out!”
Below, Dolly shares six tips for flying high at any age and filling your Easter season with faith, food, and memories to last a lifetime.
#1: Find peace in faith.
“My faith means everything to me,” Dolly declares. “I personally grew up believing in God, but it’s my belief that we all need to believe in something because knowing there is a higher, greater power out there makes this life so much richer and more joyful. Believing that there is a God up there who’s bigger and better than me and looking out for me keeps me focused rather than wandering aimlessly. Easter really brings that direction, peace, unconditional love, and assurance home to my heart.”
#2: Trust your gut.
“The best advice anyone ever gave me is from my mom — it’s that old thing, ‘To thine own self be true,’” Dolly reminisces. “Be true to who you are. These days, I make choices based on where I’m at at the time. If it makes me laugh and makes me happy and makes me feel like I’m doing something good, I’ll do it. I usually have that old gut feeling — you can’t go wrong when you follow that!”
#3: Lose yourself in life’s music.
“Music is so much a part of my life,” Dolly shares. “It was a song that brought me out of the Smoky Mountains, and it has been a song that’s brought me to where I am now. But it’s always been about the gift that I feel God gave me that He allowed me to do so many things with. And in between, I’ve been so grateful and so blessed that I can do so many different things.”
#4: Enjoy new starts.
“It’s important that people stay busy,” says Dolly. “I’ve learned that it’s important to keep your eyes and ears and your heart open to things that can be done, that should be done and to make a difference in the ways that you can. I just don’t want to ever get stale. I always say, ‘I want to wear out rather than rust out,’ and ‘I’m going to be doing that until I keel over.’ I just love making things happen and being productive. That’s a great joy in itself, and it makes me feel so good!”
#5: Keep dreaming.
“Everybody says, ‘You never seem afraid to do something new,’ but I always get butterflies,” Dolly admits. “Of course I get nervous, but that doesn’t stop me from trying. I always say, ‘It’s okay to change dreams in the middle of a dream — no matter your age.’ If one dream ain’t working, you might pick up enough stuff from that one to be better at something else. If you’ve got a dream, pursue it!”
#6: Get into ‘God zone.’
“When I’m stressed, I go to a spiritual place,” Dolly says of finding peace during worrisome times. “I call it my ‘God zone,’ where I can just shut everything else out and focus on all that’s good in the world and beyond. There, I try to just kind of anchor myself in the Spirit. I let everything else fade away and let that positive energy in — it instantly calms my soul.”
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.