Dolly Parton says she's "had a great life." The country music icon and philanthropist turned 77 on Jan. 19, but says she's never thought about aging "in terms of years." Instead, she measures her life in experiences and accomplishments.
"People say, ‘How do you stay so young?’ and I say, 'Because I don't have time to age,'" Parton tells Yahoo Life. "That's really kind of my line, but it's true … I’m turning 77 and I think, Golly, how did I get that old? The time just kind of flew by, but you base it more on what you've got ahead of you instead of what's behind you."
"I think: I've gotta work. I've gotta make hay while the sun shines," she continues. "I have been blessed in my life to have done so many things. They say wisdom comes with age, and if that's the truth then I ought to be really smart by now because 77 is a big number."
To celebrate her birthday, Parton released a brand new song, "Don't Make Me Come Down There." She describes the tune as "God's perspective — wondering what we're doing with our lives."
"He's like, ‘Don't make me have to come down there. My children, you had best beware. Why can't you learn to listen? Learn to love and share?’ Then, he goes through all the things we're doing that we need to fix before it's too late."
Parton says she decided to release the song on her birthday in hopes of "starting the new year on a positive note."
"People are always asking me for words of wisdom or some Dolly-isms or whatever they call it," she says.
So what Dolly-isms would she offer to young women who are just starting their adult lives?
"There's that saying of ‘to thine own self be true,’” she says. "You've gotta know who you are and believe in your talents and whatever it is you're trying to promote or do. Don't let your fear hold you back."
In fact, Parton has made it a practice to move forward in spite of her own fears.
"I have a saying that my desire has always been greater than my fear," she admits. "Even if I am scared to death about something I think, Well, if I don't try it, I'm never going to know and what's the worst that could happen? I'll just try something else or I'll try again later."
"It's not like somebody's going to kill you or anything [if you fail]. You're just going to try, so don't be afraid to try," she adds. "Try to do whatever you think is right. And it's OK to fail. If you fail, get up and try again."
Parton spoke with Yahoo Life while promoting the release of new additions to her Dolly's Southern Favorites baking line, a partnership with Duncan Hines. At the line's initial launch in 2022, coconut and banana cake mixes and corresponding frostings were released. Now, cornbread and biscuit mix, along with two brownie varieties, have joined the collection.
"People requested it," Parton says of the new additions. "People thought, well, you've got all these cakes and all these cookies but we need some things that are not so sweet. People just wanted more of that Southern stuff."
But she's careful not to show one product more love than the others: "I'm not gonna choose a favorite because I think they're all good," she says. "I really do. It depends on if I'm in a sweet mood and want cake or I want something like cornbread or biscuits with a soup or stew or chili."
But is there any advice the iconic performer has been given in her lifetime that she continues to cook up over and over?
"My momma always quoted all those great sayings like ‘to thine own self be true’ and ‘all things are possible to those that believe,’ which is scripture," she recalls. "So I just try to stay out of my own way and stay on a path and not let too many voices get in my head."
"I try to stay true to what I think my original plan was and try to not be a follower and follow every little trend that comes along," Parton continues. "I try to be secure in myself: Keep your own council, that way you don't get too addled or scattered. Even if somebody tells you something and you think it sounds good, you need to analyze that before you jump off someone else's cliff."
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