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Kathie Lee Gifford’s Life is Slower and Happier Now: Here’s Why

The former 'Today' co-host discusses her life's inspiring second act.


Former Today co-host Kathie Lee Gifford, 69, admits that her life in Nashville, Tennessee, is a bit slower these days, filled with singing, writing, and time with loved ones. But as she catches up with Woman’s World to discuss her life’s inspiring second act, she describes how heartache and happiness, loss and love has guided her on this amazing new journey.

Gifford has held many high-profile titles in her career as an actress, TV host, and author — but now, she says the title she’s most proud of is “Bubbe.”

“I never wanted to be called ‘Grandma,’” she dishes. “My name is Bubbe: short for Bubala and its Yiddish for ‘dearest one.’” As Bubbe to her son Cody’s new baby boy, Gifford is loving celebrating their growing family. “They FaceTime me so I can see the little one every day. It’s wonderful!”

Long is the list of Kathie Lee’s blessings, but that doesn’t mean that she hasn’t faced hardship— like the loss of her beloved husband, Frank, in 2015. “I’ve had so many times of struggle and grief. Grief is natural. We need to have a season of it, but God doesn’t want us to stay there.”

What helps Gifford through her hardest moments? Faith and moments of laughter. “When the doctors took my son, Cody, away for his circumcision, I put a note in his diaper that said, ‘Dear Dr., just take a tad, please leave me most of what I already have. Life is too short so don’t make me that way. Now please hold steady and have a nice day. Love, Cody,” she laughs. “Well, recently, Cody and his wife, Erika, did the same thing for their son. It was an homage to my late husband and me…and it moved me.”

And Gifford has discovered it’s the happy, shimmering little moments with loved ones that are the most precious. “I have a very dear man in my life now,” she says. “And I’ll never retire. No one in the Bible ever retired: They just died doing what God put them on this earth to do. One day, we’re going to run out of time in this world. I want to spend every day joyfully, purposefully, and faithfully.”

In her latest book, The God of the Way, Kathie Lee teams up with Rabbi Jason Sobel (with whom she wrote The Rock, The Road, and The Rabbi) to share stories of people from the Bible who changed the world. “This book exists because of a song I co-wrote,” Kathie Lee says of “The God Who Sees,” which became a short film that has been viewed 8 million times. “It’s got a devotional coming, and a curriculum,” Gifford adds. She’s also launching The Way, a film to be released with the book. “It’s a blessing!”

Need more tips for peace and bliss? Here’s what Gifford recommends.

Take things one day at a time

“I’ve learned that we need fresh mercies every day — it takes a ton of stress away to live life 24 hours at a time,” Gifford says. “That’s why God designed a reset from one day until the next. For instance, the Bible describes how God gave His people in wilderness ‘manna,’ a type of sustenance that was good for one day. It rotted if they tried to keep it. He was trying to teach dependence on Him, and that every day is new.”

Offer up all your life’s troubles

“In life, there are going to be hard times, but we’re not supposed to be carrying boulders around,” Gifford explains. “If we’re carrying around boulders, it’s because we haven’t given them to God. We think we’re supposed to carry them, but we’re not. We have moments of heaviness in our lives, but when we give those up to God, it brings so much peace.”

Find joy in creating

“I have had some success as a songwriter, and surprisingly, I’m getting better as I go along,” Gifford laughs. “I don’t do it to have a hit record — I just love the creative process of writing. I write everything from silly country songs to serious country songs to a movie theme to a brand-new oratorio. I also love to go antiquing with friends and help them decorate their new homes. That’s something that I love to do for fun. None of it is work to me: It’s pure joy!”

Lean on friends

“We’re all big lunchers!” Gifford says of her close-knit group of girlfriends. “My friends are more than friends: They are my sisters, my little army of prayer warriors. We spend a lot of time lifting one another up. A lot of them have been my friends for many years, and we have a few newer friends, so it’s not a closed club at all. It just makes life that much more fun!”

Keep dreaming

“My dream from the time I was out of my mother’s womb was to be an actress, singer, and storyteller!” Gifford reveals. “Think back to when you were young and ask yourself what your biggest dream was. God has dreams for us that He wants to come true, but we get away from them. You may not be able to become a ballerina anymore, but you can find what truly fulfills you.”

Embrace who you really are

“In today’s world where we worship youth and beauty, it’s hard not to be affected by the aging process,” Gifford admits. “It affects me as much as anyone, but I don’t define myself by it. I have always defined myself by who God said I am: daughter of the King, child of God, wrapped in the robe of righteousness.”

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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