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Time to Walk - A new form of Therapy. Dolly Parton and my first Apple Fitness+ Wander

A photo of Apple Watch showing Dolly Parton Time to Walk episode including photo of Dolly
Dolly Parton Time To Walk

Photo of Apple Watch showing closed exercise, movement and standing rings
Apple Watch

So, this week, I just started Apple Fitness+. I was looking for workouts rather than therapy, but hey, exercise can BE therapy.

It’s actually quite mind-blowing what’s available on Apple Fitness+, and for a novice, it’s a good kick up the bum!

Like many of you, I'm sure I signed up for the free month or free couple of months and then didn't use it for ages. What a silly waste!

All of a sudden, I decided it really was time to try and use it. I needed to get fit, I had already lost some weight and now was the time. I started with a plan, and it's not all that easy to make a plan with Apple Fitness, as many of you have noticed. Not easy at all. Now I have got a plan. It’s a cool mix of kickboxing, core, strengthening and pilates. I do 45 minutes a day (before any walks). I also switched some kickboxing classes for Dancing (I’m no dancer, I promise you, but even I could keep up and enjoyed the moves).

And then I thought, shall I try one of these time-to-walk episodes? They sounded intriguing, a bit like a podcast, but maybe more intimate, just you and one other person and people who have something to share, something interesting. It's more of a wander or meander than a power walk, I suppose. OK let's try it. So I got out with the dogs and thought I'd try the first one and just keep trying them in order. There’s only a finite number, and new episodes are released weekly, so I had to savour them! They’re around 30-45 minutes in length so a decent length for a wander.

The first one was recorded by one of my own icons, Dolly Parton, and they couldn't have chosen anybody better. It was recorded back in 2021 during a weird time for sure. 

It was halfway through the pandemic when nobody could really go anywhere. And we all know sort of Dolly stories already, I guess. So it was nice to hear some of them in a bit more depth, some of them with a bit more kind of nuance around them. She was already a heroine. 

It's hard to remember that time, and many of us needed therapy then and perhaps need therapy even more now.

My takeaways:

  1. For a universal icon, Dolly Parton shows thanks to those who showed her a good example.

  2. Dolly keeps her private life exactly that: private. She’s polite but vague. Family is everything.

  3. Family for Dolly extends well beyond traditional blood ties.

  4. Dolly despite her massive success, is often still like a little girl inside.

  5. Dolly manages to come across as a feminist and produce change to help women without actually being overtly feminist.

  6. Dolly appreciates how much others love her.

Starting the music, it was quite easy to feel that familiarity. She's already had so many hits over the years, and years ago, I had a tenuous connection with Dolly when I did a two or three-week road trip in Tennessee.  We started in Atlanta, crossed over to Chattanooga, which was cool and then made an absolutely mandatory stop in Dollywood. 

One of my big regrets about that whole trip is that we didn't stay at the Dollywood Resort. We stayed at a place just across the road from the Dixie stampede, which was also kind of cool. But the Dollywood Resort really was something else. I really wish I had done that. 

Montage of photos at Dollywood Dreammore Resort at CXhristmas and the Stampede
Dollywood's Dreammore Resort and Stampede

Montage of photos of the ringmaster for the duck parade at the Peabody in Memphis and of the inside of the Guesthouse at Graceland at Christmas
Peabody and Graceland Guesthouse

Somewhere else during that trip. I wish I had done something else different: we’d stayed at the Guesthouse at Graceland as a special treat for my mum. It was dire. It was absolutely dire. The place looked beautiful, but the hotel was just awful. No soul. Dreadful service. I really wish we’d stayed at the Peabody in Memphis. That was awesome - I’ll never forget the parade of the ducks!

You can never quite get it right, can you? Whichever one you did, you’d wish you'd done something else. 

But the whole Tennessee trip was amazing. We stayed just across from the stampede and didn't go to the stampede. And then we went to Dollywood two days in a row. It's kind of like a big family atmosphere—a bit like Disney without the rules. You could go on a little train trip without  anything to hold you in, whereas Disney has everything locked down, safety checked, and very   sanitised. 

Dollywood wasn't really like that at all. I loved it, and I liked that the people who worked there weren't necessarily the people that Disney would have taken on. But they were they were lovely, really friendly. We had a great time, and the food actually was amazing. One of the things we bought there was a piece of apple pie for my dad. He ADORES apple pie! I'd gone in to get a slice of apple pie, and I had no idea how much it was going to be. At Disney, it probably would have been $18. Anyway, I remember paying $18 for a slice of apple pie, thinking jeez, that's a bit expensive! I got this huge box that I couldn't even lift that fed all three of us for three days. It was  the most ridiculous apple pie I've had my whole life, but it was wonderful. 

Photograph og huge and delicious lattice apple pie at Dollywood. It is huge!
Slice of Dollywood apple pie

Later, we went and eventually saw how they made it - it involved a lot of butter and a lot of cinnamon so I’m not a bit surprised I loved it. I've tried to recreate it back at home, and it was lovely, though nowhere near the stratospheric heights of this apple pie. So that was something really special. We were there at Christmas as well. So it was just beautiful, absolutely beautiful. Something that stood out for us, though, was when we were at one of the shows, we were about halfway through the show, and it seemed to sort of transition into this quite religious thing that we just didn't see coming at all. The three of us were kind of looking at each other as this doesn't really happen in the UK. This seems to be an American South thing. We had the same experience when we went to see Brett Eldredge in Nashville as well. We'd gone to see him. Not at the Grand Ole Opry, at the other one called the Ryman Auditorium and the same kind of thing happened about halfway through the show. He went into this kind of quiet Christian thing that we just didn't see coming. 

Anyway, Dolly Parton really is a true icon. You feel like you're just having a walk along the road with her (as she muses a bit and giggles), and she says, you know, the best ideas come when you're just out and about, and your mind is a bit clearer. And, of course, that's true - a whole lot of the kind of gurus you hear on Twitter or X now are saying something very similar. Certainly, I never think that is going to happen, but actually, when I'm outside, things do seem to just clear. Usually it happens when you're not thinking about anything else, so some of the stories that she told are quite amazing. One of them I hadn't known at all was the Circle of Love. Or this the story behind the Circle of Love song. There were 12 children at home as Dolly grew up, and she was a force of nature among the 12 children. Her father, one year at Christmas, had decided that if they all wanted to, they could all put together the money that would be spent on all of them and get their mother a wedding ring. At the point that they got married, her father was 17, and she'd been 15, and they had no money. All of the children agreed and were really excited to give their mum this gift. 

Dolly’s father added to the excitement by hiding it on the Christmas tree, and then they had to try and find it on the Christmas tree. This was around the time that they first got real lightbulbs on the Christmas tree, so it was something really special. Just hearing that whole story was lovely. I wasn’t sure why I hadn’t heard it before.

Hearing about the story about Nine to Five being the first movie that Dolly had done. That she'd had many offers before, unsurprisingly, as she was so talented. But she sort of thought this time yeah, there's something in there. She didn't want it to be a feminist thing, particularly, but she certainly believed in what they were saying in the movie’s message. Equality was a world away at thatr stage, and we have made great progress since. 

Her one stipulation was that she got to do the title track. I didn't know the process of how she did that. So essentially, she sat on the lot with all the other cast and crew while they were making the movie. The women were on set, in offices, and altogether, there were lots of women in the group. So she's she sits around, a little bit at a time. A couple of lines each time, just sat there in between takes. A couple more lines, again, and goes back to her hotel room and polishes them a bit. More lines emerge the next day, a couple more lines, and it gradually builds up into this song. It took a good bit of working on it to get it into the polished version. And then what I really liked was that the crew that were there all came to do the backing vocals when they went to record. I thought that was really lovely. I hadn't known about the acrylic nails mimicking typewriters. It never even occurred to me that's where they come from. So that was really nice to hear about. And then she hadn't been particularly confident about it. She kind of said, well, you know if it works out, great. If it doesn't work out, I'll just blame it on the others. 

She'd been brought in as somebody to bring the southern market to the whole thing. And the whole thing was a massive success! Absolutely massive success as we all know. And as we all expected. 

A lot of the stories were obviously the ones we know about, like The Coat of Many Colours, based on Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. I think I probably knew most of that story already. The one little bit that did touch me, though, was remembering the bit of the song, obviously, where the children laugh at her when she goes to school, but she didn't expect that. That was the one thing that stuck out to me. She just didn't expect that, that they would laugh. She was so proud of the coat, and I get why she was, but something just didn't chime quite right with that bit. 

One of the other stories she talked about was when she'd had a statue put up in the courtyard in the local town. We drove around all these towns of Knoxville Gatlinburg, and more. Gatlinburg is the most amazing place. We only went there to see some Christmas lights, and I fell instantly in love with it. It was kind of like Banff in Canada or Aviemore in Scotland and had a really really nice chilled vibe to it. I absolutely loved Gatlinburg and Sevierville. She had this statue put up in her honour in the courtyard of the local town. She'd come back and told her dad that she was so happy and proud about it. It was amazing. And then he said, ‘Well, you just like anybody else. You’re just like a pigeon outhouse to the pigeons!’

Sort of gloriously bringing her back down to size. Obviously, the pigeons are dropping their droppings on the statue all the time. But what she didn't know was that he'd go at night with a soapy bucket of water and wash it every night as he was so proud of her. She's equally very proud of the rest of the family. She says she gets her work ethic from her dad and her musical talent from her mum. Her mum was an amazing, generous and compassionate person by all accounts and she credits both of them for a whole lot of her success, which I think is really lovely. 

She wanted them to feel proud of themselves, too. Her Dad, I think, was part of the Imagination Books and Projects. He hadn't been able to read himself and was really embarrassed about that. He got to do so much good work with these projects and got to feel proud of himself, or more proud of himself.

It's a ‘thing’ in a couple of these different Time-to-Walk episodes about family and interventions of family. One of the things you can see with Dolly is the family unit that she's part of she guards very, very privately and deflects quite successfully to try and keep people away from that. She answers politely but vaguely. She hasn't had children herself but has supported some of the rest of her family’s children. And then she also has supported the local ‘family’. These are the people that she understood in East Tennessee that struggled. She’s helped some of them that have had particular natural disasters. 

And then, of course, across the World of Imagination, books are distributed across the world. So family is important, but sometimes that's the wider family and the whole world rather than than just immediate relations.

Dolly exudes love and compassion and I hope I live some of her ideals.

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