Dolly's Dreams

Big prayers, big goals and a big heart have all played a role in her rise to superstardom, and the wisdom of Norman Vincent Peale helped, too!

By Dolly Parton, Nashville, Tennessee

As appeared in

I wake up early in the morning to do my dreaming–at four o’clock, ’cause I’m not a big sleeper. I think of God as a farmer throwing out nuggets of wisdom and inspiration first thing. I get out there and pick ’em up before everyone else. In the wee hours, the world is quiet and I can really listen to God.

Because, most of all, you have to trust him with your dreams. Maybe he’s got something planned that’s even better than you expect. I thank God for all the blessings he’s given me. I ask him to take the wrong things out of my life and bring in the right things.

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If my prayers are slow to be answered, I think, Well, that’s part of this prayer. God’s trying to make me work on something. If he gave us everything we wanted right when we wanted it, we’d already be in heaven and I wouldn’t be here talking to you.

You might think with all I’ve accomplished in my life–going to Nashville and becoming a big star beyond even my wildest dreams–I would rest easy. No, ma’am. As long as I can, I’m gonna keep going–writing songs, making music, going on tour, building parks, being creative.

If I can’t get up and walk, they’re gonna have to put wheels on my rocking chair so I can still rock and roll. I keep thinking big, dreaming big and praying big. Believe me, you never get too old to dream.

For instance, at Dollywood we’re building a resort where families can slow down, kick back and just enjoy being together.

It’s got a real down-home feel, with rocking chairs and straightback chairs on big white porches, where you can take in the quiet and talk to God in the morning, or gather with your loved ones and swap stories all night long. Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort, we call it.

Back to books. My love of reading is another thing I got from my mama. We didn’t have television in our cabin in the Smokies, and our radio was used only to listen to the Grand Ole Opry and the news. So Mama would sing to us and read to us from the Bible.

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The stories from the Old Testament made me want to know more–and read more.

So many of my people when I was growing up didn’t get a chance at education, like my daddy, who never learned to read or write, though he was very smart. That’s why one of my dreams has been to give free books to children who need them. I created a program called Imagination Library to do just that.

It started in my hometown (Daddy was so proud that kids called me the Book Lady, even prouder than he was when I became a member of the Grand Ole Opry) and has spread all over the country. So far we’ve given out 50 million books, and we’re still going strong.

Now, about that book that inspired me all those years ago. The one by the preacher who said think big, pray big and dream big. He’s also the man who started this magazine you’re reading–Norman Vincent Peale, author of The Power of Positive Thinking.

Who would’ve guessed that a little girl who sang to the chickens in her yard and got lost in the woods chasing butterflies would one day appear on the cover of a national magazine? Why, that’s more than even I could dream up!

Watch as Dolly offers advice on pursuing your own dreams!

Download your FREE ebook, Rediscover the Power of Positive Thinking, with Norman Vincent Peale.

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Your Comments (8)

I have a large family. We share our guideposts with each other. When we are through with each issue we donate it to the library at my mother's church.
I used to work in a nursing home and it was not uncommon to see a patient in a wheel chair reading an issue of Guideposts that was several years old.
I loved Dolly's article. My favorite songs were always The Coat of Many Colors and I Will Always Love You. I also love Dolly's dimples. Her face is so pretty and that smile-wow.
Reading, writing, and my horses have always been my passion. I love to write children's stories. I have written quite a few. I submitted some of them to the various children magazines on the market. They were rejected but yet a few months later my stories appeared in their magazine, changed some but with the editors name as author. I was devastated and quit writing. The dream still lives in my heart though. My children's stories are good and they each have a purpose of conveying a positive lesson for children. After reading Dolly's article my flame for writing started flickering again. I am sending this e-mail in the hopes that Dolly would be interested in looking at my stories and they might be found worthy of publication somewhere.
I have had a difficult life and that's ok because I have learned good lessons to pass on to others.
Please tell Dolly that I also love to read self-help or any good book. The book that changed my life is Heaven by Randy Alcorn; it is the most life changing book I have ever read.
Thank you for reading my e-mail. I hope to hear from you. Have a gratitude day. Sandy A.

Thanks for sharing the hope and inspiration you find in the pages of Guideposts, Sandra.

I've had Guide Books for years.Just love them.When I finish one I leave it in the Dr's office so others can read it. I give them as Christmas Presents to some of my friends. Alice.

Thanks for sharing the hope and inspiration you find in Guideposts, Alice!

Dear Dolly,

Yours was the first story I opened up when I turned on my computer early this morning - I'm an early riser too. What a wonderful way to start the day.

What an incredible lady you are; you're an inspiration to millions of people and have a heart as big as Texas. I read articles about you often and have enjoyed and learned from them. I've often wanted to tell you how much I admire you and now I have an opportunity to do that.

Years ago I dated a man who loved country music - at the time I had a tape you'd made and on that tape was a song about Mary going to Jesus tomb. The words were inspiring but the emotion with which you sang that song was so powerful that I burst into tears. I was driving home from work at the time and had to pull over to the side of the road while I listened to the rest of the song and then replayed it and listened to it again. My tape player and tapes disappeared long ago and I don't know the name of that song; I wish I did. Dotty, you have moved mountains. You are God's beloved child and I have no doubt He is incredibly proud of you. I wish I could go to your Dreammore Resort, but I'm afraid my old car (and old me) couldn't make it; so I'm just going to have to follow my dreams here in Suffolk.

Keep doing what you're doing with your loving, indefatigable, bouyant, beautiful spirit. You are truly one-of-a-kind and the world is a better place because you're in it. I don't believe you'll ever know how far-reaching your book program is and how you have (and continue to influence) the lives of children in a positive way; helping them to dream their dreams and achieve their goals. Bless you!

Loved this story. Never knew that much about Dolly Parton. I was fortunate to read "The Power of Positive Thinking" and it changed my life completely. Since I lived in NYC, I attended The Marble Collegiate Church and felt right at home there and loved to listen to Dr. Peale....I just felt like he wa speaking directly to me. That's the kind of person he was...down-to-earth..but full of positive thinking and spoke in a marvelous way.that I just listened intently. I thank God that I became acquainted with his philosophy and how well he explained the scriptures. Funny thing is he came from Ohio and moved to NYC. I came from NYC and moved to Ohio.

I enjoyed reading your Dolly's Dreams in the June, 2014 issue of Guideposts. I admire you greatly for your spunk, independence, and all your achievements. I tell you what I tell my seven year old grand daughter--you go for it, girl. (Not that I need to tell you that.) I was particularly intrigued by your paragraph dreams do not come true unless effort is put into them--words to that effect. You said hard work; I say put forth effort and want. I loved your distinction between wish and dream. Achievement does not just happen. One must make it happen. And, yes, it takes hard work, commitment, effort and the almighty want. In the great wisdom of my first grade educated mother and my fifth grade educated father I have confirmed in my life the truth they passed on to me in Spanish, (translated) "He who wants achieves more than he who can." And that is another way of distinguishing between a wish and a dream, a desire and a want. Education and wisdom. Faith in God and nonbeliever.


The name of the song is He's Alive.