Dolly Party

Yesterday was Dolly Parton’s Birthday. I know this because it’s just long enough after Christmas to still feel comforted by your Christmas decorations being up, but not too long after that you feel lazy for not having taken them down yet.

I usually take down my Christmas decorations the same time as Dolly… on her birthday. I blast Dolly’s Christmas album and it makes taking the tree down a little more enjoyable instead of feeling like the spirit of Christmas is dying and we’re about to go back to the real world of people hating each other.

I normally wouldn’t be that pessimistic, but after 2020 ended and 2021 didn’t get off to the best start, I’m tired of looking on the bright side. Mostly I’m just tired. I think everyone is.

And yet, knowing we all have moments of feeling too tired to encourage others (even Dolly), I’m grateful for things like technology where words can be recorded, saved and replayed at a later date, a date when everyone’s too tired to come up with more encouragement and instead can just read or hit play and remember the words of someone who encouraged them once before.

I was too tired to take my tree down yesterday. I didn’t play Dolly’s Christmas album, but I did play her greatest hits and was reminded that bullies don’t get far in life, women are stronger than anyone thinks, and you can’t keep wasting time… you gotta get to livin!

While Dolly may not be everyone’s cup of tea (neither am I, and WHO IS anyway?), to me, she’s someone who inspires people to be unabashedly themselves, change as they see fit, and love others no matter how different. For that, she deserves a cake (at the very least)!

I don’t usually bake her a birthday cake every year, but I was inspired to yesterday morning as I saw my empty egg carton sitting upside down in my recycle bin. I’m not quite sure what it says about the way my mind works, but upon looking at said egg carton, I thought to myself, “Omg, Dolly!”

Yea, I’m not quite sure how it all happened, and the fact that it was perfect timing to have finished off a carton of eggs on Dolly’s birthday… but there she is “in all her glory,” as my once 13-year old brother would have said.

My sister and I had a Dolly Party last night, which these days is a Watch Party on Amazon showing 9 to 5. Like I said, I’m grateful for technology, especially during a pandemic that allows my sister and I to still hang out and watch movies together.

While watching 9 to 5, we commented on how different things are today than they were back then, glad for the progress but knowing we (as humanity) still have a ways to go. It was nice to just be, to be silly and careless, and bake a cake just for fun. I’m grateful for the moments I get to have like this.

I’m still a little tired, but mostly rested and finally ready to take the tree down. Today, January 20th, feels like a good day for change.

Silly as it may be to celebrate a woman’s birthday who doesn’t even know me, it was a little breath of fresh air to be celebrating something instead of grieving so much loss that the year 2020 brought. The celebration doesn’t cancel out the loss, but the loss doesn’t have to be reason not to celebrate life’s big and little accomplishments. There are many things in life to still celebrate, many more things than Dolly’s birthday, but that seemed like a great place to start.

I’m genuinely grateful for a presence like Dolly in the world. I’m grateful for women, no matter how different, who blaze trails for those of us who wonder where we fit in life. 

I’m grateful and tired and concerned and curious and hopeful and worried and excited and nervous and happy and sad and anxious and all the things that life throws at us.

Happy Birthday, Dolly! 75 years is quite an accomplishment. Making this cake sure gave me a bunch of laughs, and laughs is what I needed right now!

Hoping everyone gets to do a few things this year just for the fun of it.

💖🎉💖

jj

You can order my Holly Dolly Christmas design at www.teepubic.com/user/jj-barrows

dark blue

Tonight I went and sat under one of my favorite trees in San Diego. I have favorite trees all along the west coast. It’s not every day or even every year that I get to see them and climb them, but I know they are there waiting for me to return. They stand tall and firm, branches swayed only by the wind and roots that aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

I sit at the base before climbing up. I take in the strength along with the shade the tree has to offer. I lean against the trunk. I feel small but important. I look up at the branches above me and I imagine angels scattered among the limbs, dangling their feet, smiling, whispering, laughing. They watch me and I watch them. I can’t see them, but I watch them and I thank them for being there.

“You can come out,” I say sometimes hoping they let me see them, “I can’t see you but I know you’re there.” They laugh with each other and smile. They wave to me implying that maybe one day I’ll get to see them but not yet. I laugh too because I know how it sounds, or at least how it would sound to any passer-by who sees a young woman sitting at the base of a tree yelling at the limbs.

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I take a deep breath and look out at the water. The tree I sat under tonight is nudged up against the bay and the roots are almost long enough to dip their feet in but not quite. The sun was bright orange and I watched it slowly respond to the call of the water as it got closer and closer before disappearing beneath the bay.

I sat and I watched and I listened. Nothing profound happened. No answers to life’s questions, no angels revealing themselves. But in those few quiet moments just before the sun disappeared, I was okay being me. I had nothing to show for my time, save maybe a few bug bites, but my time was not wasted.

The gold sky turned dark blue and I knew it was time for ice cream.