From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and the Unexplainable


It was 2015 and I’d taken on so many creative projects that I felt like a juggler who was dropping balls left, right, and center. As I tried to keep up with my deadlines, I felt I was letting everyone down. I found myself snapping at my husband, yelling at my mother, slamming doors on my sister, even exploding at my dogs for giving me a look that implied they wanted more from me than I could give them.

And then I had a dream, and everything changed for me.

In my dream, I’m walking into a dark, unfamiliar living room and a terrifying alien with menacing eyes jumps out from behind a couch. She has flowing dreadlocks and a Medusa look. I gasp in fright . . . until I realize there is something familiar about her.

“Don’t I KNOW you?” I say.

She is thrown off by my question — disappointed her scare tactics aren’t working on me. Then, it dawns on her . . . she knows me, too.

Our hearts melt as we realize how much we know and love each other — dear friends reunited after a long time of no contact. With this recognition she begins to soften and morph before my eyes into a soft, crystalline blue alien . . . with the sweetest upside down teardrop-shaped head. Her beauty is so stunning I can barely breathe.

This version of her is completely the opposite of the monster she showed herself to be just moments before. The love she now beams at me feels alien, but also comforting, as if I’m floating in a warm bubble bath.

When I journaled about this dream I struggled to find the words to describe the profound feeling of peace it gave me. The only word that came close was “fleece.” The dream left me feeling like I was surrounded by the softest, most cushiony baby blanket . . . protected from harm and cradled in love . . . a shock absorber to keep my life smooth amid all the chaos and stress in my waking reality.

My dream was a gift from my subconscious sleeping self to my awake self. It revealed to me how I had been “alienating” people when I really had a deep desire to connect and love. Reconciling these conflicting needs felt impossible until this dream came to my emotional rescue. Now I had my cushiony, soft fleece to protect me as I navigated my impossible deadlines, and I could do so with joy instead of stress.

Shortly after this dream, I found myself on the phone with Amy Newmark, my co-author and publisher for this book and for our previous book, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and Premonitions, which was about to be released at the time of our call.

Over the year that I’d worked with her, most of our conversations revolved around practical matters pertaining to our book. I never shared my daily dream report with her. I’m not sure why, but that day I decided to share my “Blue Alien” dream with Amy.

As the dream slipped out of my mouth, I immediately wished it hadn’t because all I heard was silence from her end of the line. I guessed she was figuring out how to break our contract and run as far away from me as she possibly could.

You see, here in Southern California, conversations about aliens and fringy, “new age” topics are normal. But, Amy, being from the more conservative East Coast . . . I thought, Now I’ve done it . . . I’ve alienated Amy . . . she’s going to write me off.

To my surprise, during the very long silence that followed, Amy was actually texting me a photograph of her bright blue car’s personalized blue license plate that read ALIEN in blue letters.

What? Why? You live in Connecticut! What are you doing with a blue license plate on your blue car that says ALIEN in blue letters?

She proceeded to tell me that there’s a running joke in her family that she is an alien. She said that one day twenty years earlier, when she and her family were sitting around the kitchen table, her seven-year-old son, Mike, asked her, “Mommy, what are we?” She knew what he was asking: He had heard his friends talking about their parents’ religions and diverse backgrounds.

But Amy spontaneously assumed a serious demeanor and said, “Mike, I think you and Ella are old enough to know the truth.” It sounded like she was about to tell them they were adopted. Mike later told her that he was excited that he might not be biologically related to his annoying five-year-old sister.

“Your father is Catholic . . . and I am an alien. So, you are half Catholic and half alien.” The kids’ mouths were hanging open.

She continued to improvise: “In alien families, there is a marker person in each generation so that all the aliens will be able to recognize each other. My father’s name is Allan, and that name is spelled almost like ‘alien.’ In my generation, I am the marker since my initials are ALN and if you say A-L-N really fast it sounds like ‘alien.’ Ella, your middle name is Anne. If you say ‘Ella Anne’ really fast, what does it sound like? It sounds like ‘alien.’ ”

By then, the children had caught on to the fact that she was kidding. But, she had started a wonderful new family tradition with her kids, even ordering that ALIEN license plate from the Connecticut DMV. Soon, everyone at the elementary school knew that Mike and Ella’s mom drove the “AlienMobile.”

My jaw would not come off the floor at her telling me this story. What a bizarre coincidence!

Now, with my Blue Alien fleece, no matter how intimidated I might be by people or deadlines, I feel the warmth and comfort of my dream . . . further strengthened by that synchronicity with Amy, who represented one of those people and one of those deadlines that used to intimidate me. Synchronicities, which I interpret as being in the right place, with the right people, at the right time, doing the right thing, are another focus of my work, along with premonitions and all those other unexplainable, but life affirming things that happen to us if we just keep our minds and eyes and ears open. We cover all of them in this new collection of Chicken Soup for the Soul stories, and I am so excited to present them to you.

As I write this introduction, my eyes are blurry and swollen from the tears I’ve shed reading the final 101 stories that we chose from the thousands of submissions for our book. These are tears of awe, inspiration, and gratitude, because each of these stories is a dramatic reminder that we live in a friendly universe in which miracles abound, no matter what hardships we may endure.

Some of these stories are even ones that I personally experienced! You’ll read Amanda Lee’s story, for example, about her preteen son, Andrew, who was desperate to meet his skateboarding idol on a trip to Los Angeles from Australia. In a city of four million people, because of his strong intent (and a little help from the angels in the city of angels) he ran into his hero in a most magical and unexplainable way, and I had the privilege of being there to watch it happen.

No matter what your religion or spiritual path is (or even if you don’t have one) you will be convinced through reading these stories that there is more going on here on Planet Earth than our five senses report. After her husband passed away, Loreen Broderick was desperate to make her husband’s special pasta sauce for her grown children for Christmas dinner. The handwritten recipe was nowhere to be found until, just in time, the family dog woke her at 3:30 a.m. What was that folded piece of white paper at her feet? The recipe.

These 101 stories of dreams, premonitions, synchronicities, and the unexplainable also demonstrate that magic happens when we listen to the still, small voice within, even if it diverts us from our original plans. The detours we take are divinely orchestrated and lead us to the most incredible people, places, and situations. In “Destined to Detour,” Ferna Lary Mills shares how after losing her best friend to a drunk driver, and moving to another state, she found her car inexplicably sputtering and stopping on the side of the road. It sputtered and stopped intermittently for miles until it finally gave out at a gas station in the middle of nowhere. Who did she find there, watching the place for “just a few minutes for his brother,” but her friend’s father, renewing a connection that had been lost for years.

When we pay attention to these mysterious navigation nudges, whether in waking life or in dreams, we can not only avert disaster, but we find love, happiness, fulfillment, joy, and even . . . hidden treasures. You’ll read about Patricia Miller, whose grandmother led her through her dreams to find a gorgeous crystal chandelier left behind in a box in the back of a dark cellar — just days before the house was scheduled to be torn down. And you’ll find plenty of love stories in this collection. Prepare to be wowed by Jake Aller’s story. He dreamt of a beautiful Asian girl for more than eight years, even joining the Peace Corps and moving to Korea in his quest to find her. She finally appeared in front of him one day, after he had been in Korea for many years, and they fell in love instantly. Jake’s still married to the girl in his dreams, thirty-five years later.

I’ve learned that the solutions we seek and the miracles we’ve been praying for occur most often when we listen to the GPS that comes from our own consciousness. One of the themes particularly close to my heart in this book is the occurrence of a dream or vision that gives hope to survive (and even thrive) after the devastating loss of a loved one. Aurora Winter’s young husband died suddenly of a heart attack right in front of her, and she understandably had a hard time moving on until two years later when she received a dream where her late husband asked her “Three Questions” that transformed her, and gave her a new lease on life. Grieving people from around the world caught wind of her dream, and to date, Aurora has coached thousands of people from “Heartbreak to Happiness.”

In addition to being entertained by these stunning short stories of premonitions, dreams, and miracles, one of the benefits of reading this book is the fact that it is a “wake-up call” to live the life you were meant to. No story illustrates the awakening power of a dream more than Judy Dykstra-Brown’s. She dreamt of a woman approaching her in a bar, throwing a drink in her face, and hitting her on the head with the glass, as she shouted, “Wake Up!” As jarring as that dream was, Judy changed her life on a dime and is no longer living a safe distance from the creative life she always longed for, but is now truly pursuing her passion.

So, you may be reading this, thinking, That’s great for those lucky people who have premonitions and remember their dreams, but I’m not that kind of person!

My response to you is this: The wisdom of your subconscious communicates with you all the time, whether you are asleep or awake, whether you listen or not. You might want to pay more attention now, to your daytime premonitions and intuition, and to your nighttime dreams — maybe even get a dream journal and write down those dreams the moment you wake up before they fade away.

Surprising as it may seem, even ordinary people can have these extraordinary experiences, as evidenced by the stories in this book from people who thought “it would never happen” to them! All that ability is inside you, whether it seems strange to you or not. As I like to say, “It’s our personal power that is most alien to us.” The stories in this book will help guide you to using that power!

~Kelly Sullivan Walden

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