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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.