Sunday, June 1, 2014

Dolly & I Believe It's Ok to Be Different

I grew up on country music in Texas. I remember my mother listening to Dolly Parton and Porter Wagner along with countless other royalty of the country music world. I've always loved Dolly, but listening to her interviewed on Sirius Radio for a Town Hall session from May 14th by Kathie Lee Gifford and my affection grew even more. It's her attitude mixed with her incredible talent that makes me smile. She mentioned how her song "Coat of Many Colors" is her favorite that she performs and what a message that has today in the world of bullying that it is ok to be different. (There is even a children's book written based on it.)
Dolly, like the exact words I have on my own website, is not one to be 'placed in a box' and told she can only do one thing. I always thought I was a freak for putting my hands into so many projects the way that I do. Even as I recently started a new job as a theater manager in Irvington, NY - someone there mentioned that I have such a varied background. At first, I felt the need to apologize for it. And yet there was Dolly on the radio talking about her songs, a fragrance line, writing music, writing her memoir for a Broadway play, working with children - the list goes on and on.
I loved it and I smiled so brightly driving down the road as she spoke.

This inspires me to reach for it even more. I'm a tiny spec in this huge world trying to make a difference with my creative arts, my children's books on autism awareness, attempting to work my way into the film world - 
NOTHING compared to what all she has done. And yet, as her song TRY says, you have to allow yourself to go for it!

"I have chased after rainbows
I've captured one or two
I've reached for the stars
And I have even held a few
I've walked that lonesome valley
Topped the mountains, soared the sky
I've laughed and I have cried
But I have always tried
'Cause I've always been a dreamer
And dreams are special things
But dreams are of no value
If they're not equipped with wings
So secure yourself for climbing
Make ready for the sky
Don't let your chance go by
You'll make it if you try."

I am so blessed to have been able to talk to thousands of kids the past two years because of my book. A book that shares a similar message: it's ok to be different. Don't fear someone with autism because they aren't just like you. And don't let someone make you feel you are less than simply because of that difference.
Guess I've always thought of myself as the outsider, but if I can even semi-imagine myself in the same perfectly mis-shaped box as Dolly Parton - heck, that is just fine by me.

Thank you, Dolly for sharing your story. Thanks to Kathie Lee for the great interview. I caught that interview today just when I needed to hear it…and naturally wanted to pay-it-forward & share on my blog. 

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