Okay, I wasn't sure whether to post this here or in the Dreyers' forum, but since that's just supposed to be media reviews, I figured I'd post it here -- feel free to move it if y'all want.
I'm sitting here and trying to figure out a way to even begin writing about yesterday. I honestly don't know that there are even words to describe how special it was (but, wel, y'all know me -- I at least have to try, haha). I guess I should start out by saying that, even though "Dream Big; Work Hard" has been my motto in life for well over five years now, yesterday showed me the importance of that all over again. It's beyond amazing what can happen if you dream big, it really and truly is. Every time I think Melinda can't possibly go farther above and beyond, she does. She truly is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the kindest, sweetest, and most genuine people I have ever known -- and I know, of course, that the same goes for all of you guys.
My friend Sara and I got to the store at around 3:00 (I STILL cannot get over the fact that it was only five minutes from my house -- it felt bizarre not to have to drive for a long time, haha). There were probably about ten people ahead of us in line, and then another five or so got in line behind us shortly after we got there. The people behind us were beyond sweet, and SO excited to meet Melinda for the first time. They were asking about her, so I told them all how wonderful she is ... it was cute to see their reactions. I had had my picture with Melinda from the Christmas tour meet and greet blown up to frame, so I brought that with for her to sign. I was juggling that, my camera, and Melinda's gifts while we were waiting in line, and the picture must have shifted into view, because the people behind us saw it and started asking about it ... so I told them all about the Christmas tour and such. I wish I had my camera out when they asked how I got the backstage passes and I told them that Melinda had arranged for them ... their expressions were just priceless! It's always nice to see people truly realize for the first time just how amazing Melinda is ... and they thereafter dubbed me "the huge fan," haha. Okay, ANYWAYS (see, told you guys this is gonna be insanely long!), Melinda got there shortly before 3:30, and everyone got so excited!!
They had had us all line up down an aisle that was directly in front of the table Melinda was sitting at, so she was able to see who was next in line right away. As soon as she saw me, she called out my name (seriously, how sweet is she? Okay, so I probably don't need to be asking y'all that, I'm thinking you guys already know, huh?) and motioned me over. By this point, I was holding so much stuff (the picture, the envelope for it, her card and gift, the articles I've written for the site, my purse), that I thought I was gonna drop everything, hah. I told her I had a whole boatload of stuff for her, which appeared to amuse her. She signed an autograph for me as we were talking (it says "Shari - so good to see you! Thanks SO
much!" ... I think I said something to the effect of how wonderful it was to see her again. I gave her the gift next, which was a sterling silver star keychain from Things Remembered. It's a big star (the front of which is covered in dozens of sparkling stones) with three little stars dangling from it ... and I had the back engraved with "Dream Big" -- I figure nothing could be more appropriate. Not ony is it the motto we both share, but she has truly inspired me to always dream big, no matter how far away those dreams may seem -- and she's inspired me to MAKE those dreams come true (more about that later on in the novel, hah). I gave her the card first and promised that I had somehow managed to NOT write a novel this time, that it was only a note, and then I gave her the gift. She asked if I wanted her to open it, to which I of course said yes. I had really been hopng she'd like it, but I never in a million years would have ever dreamed she'd have such a special reaction to it. I had put it in the box so that she would see the "Dream Big" inscription first ... and I honestly don't think I'll ever forget the expression on her face when she took out the keychain and looked at it. Her mouth kinda fell open and she held it up for Kelley to see, and *I* wanted to cry, knowing that she liked it. It was definitely a meaningful gift for me to give her, to in some way thank her for really inspiring me more than I can say - so I was beyond thrilled that she liked it. She told me to come back and give her a hug ... but somehow that didn't happen yet (I think maybe she was putting the keychain back in the box? I can't remember). I had printed out copies of all the articles I wrote for the site and put them in a report folder type thing for her -- I had mentioned to her before that I was writing them, but I didn't know if she had a chance to read any of them, and I just really wanted her to have a copy of them all and to be able to see all the special things y'all have said about her. I explained what the articles were for, but she already knew, so I had mentioned it before. Her reaction to them is something I'll carry with me always -- words cannot even begin to express how much it meant to me. I told her all about the articles and how it has been such an immense honor for me to write them, to write about her and the huge impact she's having on this world. The report cover I used was clear, so she started reading the first article and then held the whole thing up and started calling to Kelley and the Dreyers' people, telling them "Shari writes for my Backups site!" I can't quite explain the tone in her voice when she said it, but it was just really special -- I somehow managed not to cry, but I really have no idea how. To know that it meant a lot to her that I was doing that - there simply are no words (and clearly I'm not at a loss for words very often, haha). She started paging through all the articles and reading them ... and I think MY mouth had fallen open by this point, that she was sitting there and reading what I wrote. That moment is something I will truly cherish forever. Writing these articles truly is such a "work of heart" for me, such an honor ... and I was incredibly touched by her reaction. She kept mentioning how wonderful it was that I was writing for the site and commenting on the articles (at least, I think she did -- I was in a bit of a daze at this point, haha). Okay, so at that point she kinda commanded me to come back behind the table, haha ... she went "Come back here!! I have to give you a hug!" Hmm, have I mentioned lately how sweet she is? She gave me the biggest hug ... and then we were ready to take a picture, but she couldn't decide whether to sit or stand for it, it was cute. She kinda hesitated in the middle of sitting and standing and went "do you wanna take the picture up or down?" She saw our picture from the Christmas tour meet and greet, which I had on the table with all my other assorted stuff, hah, and immediately asked if I wanted her to sign that too. She wrote, "Shari - You know I love you! Thank you! <3" Hmm, so yeah, that whole plan I had of not getting misty-eyed this time -- yeah, that definitely went out the window at that point, haha. And then, this was too cute -- she got this panicked look on her face all of a sudden and went "Wait, I'm spelling it right, aren't I? S-h-a-r-i?" In case I haven't mentioned it lately, she's just the BEST! There were a lot of people in line at that point, and I didn't wanna take up anyone else's time, so I told Melinda that my mom and sister were on their way to meet her too, as soon as my sister got home from her college class, and she got all excited about meeting them. I also told her that I'd LOVE to get a quote from her for one of the upcoming articles I'm writing for the site, but didn't wanna infringe on anyone else's time with her, so I offered to hang around and wait until the line cooled down. She said that was great and that I should "absolutely wait," that it would be great, and she would be happy to give me a quote (so I was pretty much like this
at that point!). My friend Sara was next in line, but before she talked to Melinda, we took a picture with the three of us, since we had forgotten to do that back in December. Melinda is just too funny ... she was like "Let's sit down for this one and put our heads real close together!" She was all excited by it, it was just too cute! Sara talked with Melinda next, and I got to be the photographer for that. Oh, and speaking of photographers... there was a reporter there from a local newspaper (who apparently took a picture of me and Melinda), who asked for my name and where I'm from ... so now I keep checking their site to see if they're gonna upload any pictures (and I'm thinking I should send a resume to this guy since he should hopefully recognize my name). My fingers are crossed that they post all the pics!!
My mom and sister got to the store around 4:00 or so, so Sara and I waited in line with them. As soon as Melinda saw me waiting with them, she called over to me "Is this your mom?" As soon as my mom got up here, she said "Hi, Mrs. Shari's Mommy!" It was just too cute!! I hung back a bit from the table so my mom could talk with Melinda, so I'm not sure of everything they talked about. I know my mom thanked her for everything she did for me back at the Idol tour, and she said she had to see me and couldn't have left without seeing me ... and she mentioned that big "Dream Big" sign again. I'm pretty sure my mom also mentioned her getting those backstage passes for me and Sara in December. She also mentioned how much I love writing for the site and Melinda said something about how wonderful my writing is (that'd be another teary-eyed moment). I'm not sure what else they talked about, but I do know they talked about the Backups .. my mom said that Melinda said "I love ALL my Backups ... they're amazing ... and your daughter's right at the top of the list!" Hah - so much for that vow to not be misty-eyed (but at least I didn't cry in front of Melinda this time - progress, right?). My mom mentioned the scrapbook we all gave her too, and I believe Melinda said something about crying quite often because of us, lol. My mom also mentioned something about the meet and greet being so close to our house, and Melinda went "I know! Shari told me in one of her comments ... her long, long, loooooooong comments - I love them!" (LOL LOL LOL -- I guess my comments are just a tad on the long side, huh?). Anyways, then she looked over at me and called"But your comment this morning was shorter!" I told her I was proud of myself for leaving a shorter one, but that she shouldn't expect it to be a trend, haha. And I mean - just wow - I know she reads all her comments and she's shown time and again that she takes to heart everything they say, but to remember their length and which day they were posted? She seriously just never ceases to amaze me! My sister went up to talk to Melinda next ... she explained how she hadn't gotten to meet her at the AI tour because they rushed Melinda off (well, the second time, since the first time she ignored them and came flying over to me and screaming my name lol). You could just instantly tell Melinda felt bad ... she kept apologizing and hugging my sister. I have the CUTEST picture of Melinda hugging my sister and making this pouting face to show how sorry she was (and she signed her autograph ... "Pleasure to finally meet you! So sorry!" My sister explained that she couldn't come with me and Sara to the Christmas tour because it was her dance show at college (she's a choreographer and a dancer). Melinda said it was really cool that she dances and asked her what kind. My sister (who is an AMAZING dancer, by the way) told her tap, and Melinda went "Oh wow, wait a second!" She finished signing her autograph and got up and started tap dancing! It was seriously beyond adorable -- and she is SOOO good!!! I wanted to take video, but Melinda went "Nooooooo! Don't you dare!" Hahahaha! Seriously though, she is SO good ... and my sister danced for her too, which was really cool.
There were still people in line, so we just hung around for awhile. I took that opportunity to go talk with Kelley. I know y'all know this already, but she is SO sweet and cheerful and outgoing ... and her laugh is contagious! I interviewed her for the articles I'm writing, which was just a ridiculously cool experience. She gave me some great quotes, and it was just so abundantly clear how much she loves meeting the Backups. She seemed to know who I was (she said something about matching names to pictures), and we talked for a really long time. I told her how nice it was to finally meet her, since I hadn't gotten to at either of the previous tours (and she mentioned something about only going to the Nashville show for the Christmas tour). We were talking about the Christmas tour and I mentioned that I was Jewish but just had to go to the tour anyway (and that I felt bad since I was in the front and didn't really know any of the songs) ... and she just cracked up! She started laughing all over again when I told her that this time around, it's Passover, so I couldn't even have any of the free ice cream samples. That led to a lengthy discussion of ice cream flavors and Kelley being sweet enough to give me a coupon for free ice cream, "since I couldn't have any of it right now." We talked about the Christmas tour for a long time too, and especially "All Is Well." She cracked up all over again when I said I was always glad when it was a more commercialized Christmas song, because then I actually knew the words! We also talked about the Backups for a LONG time (prompted by my interviewing her for the article). She talked a lot about how we're a group like no other ... that we're not fans, but a support system. She kept talking about how wonderful we all are, and I mentioned that we (of course) feel the same way about Melinda, so we talked about that. We talked a lot about the marathon this weekend (and the press its gotten) -- she said she and Melinda are so excited to cheer y'all on -- and the Backups' charity efforts in general. Oh, and Dani, she mentioned you specifically and said how dedicated you are to be walking in this marathon with all you have going on. I know there was more than that, but I can't seem to remember what else we talked about.
The line was dwindling at that point, so we went back one more time. Sara got autographs for her parents (and Melinda just cracks me up, she even mentioned that she has a friend who spells her name the same way as Sara's mom) and took another picture with Melinda. My sister got an autograph for the girl she babysits for (and took another picture) and my mom got one for my grandmom (Melinda went ... "so I'm making this out to Grammy?"). I got an autograph for my friend Mary Kate, who really wanted to come but had class. She's graduating next month and is going to be a nurse, so when I told Melinda that, she went "WAIT! I have to tell her congratulations!" and added that to the autograph. I asked if we could take a picture with the keychain, so she immediately took it out of the box again and started posing with it for a picture by herself. For some reason, my camera was on video instead of camera mode, so we have video of her posing like a model ... she went "so now you have all this video of me just sitting still!" Hah! I have a picture of her with the keychain and then a picture of the two of us with it. I asked if she wanted to do the quotes then or wait til the end, and she was like "Let's do it now!" She stood back up so I could interview her ... and went "I can't think of what to say!" It was too cute! She gave me a really great quote about the marathon and the sweetest and most touching quote about all of the Backups. I can pretty guarantee that y'all will be as teary-eyed when you hear it as I was when she said it to me yesterday. And talk about experiences that you will cherish forever and always hold dear to your heart. I've always believed that if you dream big, anything is possible -- and Melinda has made me believe in that tenfold -- but never in a million years would I ever have dreamed that I'd have the chance to interview her for articles I'm writing about her and the Backups. Yesterday was complete and total proof that if you dream big, anything in this world can happen. To have the chance to get quotes from her, to interview her, so to speak -- it was honestly one of the most special and meaningful moments of my life. Journalism and writing have always been my passions, and to get to interview Melinda, someone I so respect and admire and who has made such an inspirational impact on my life, there are truly no words to begin to explain how much that meant -- it meant the world and more. I seriously can't help buy get misty-eyed every time I look at the pictures from it. To say it was a dream come true is an incredible understatement. I think this smiley sums it up best:
Melinda kept thanking me for writing the articles and said I was the best -- to which I of course told her that SHE is the one who's the best -- and I truly mean that. There were a few people who came up who hadn't met her yet at that point, but Melinda said "Shari, stay here!" ... so I got to give her a hug and thank her again, and I got to say goodbye to Kelley, too.
So I know I say this in every recap, as do all of you, but it's just worth repeating -- Melinda is truly the best. I was there for the entire time yesterday and I so loved watching her interact with everyone. You can just see the joy in her face as she goes out of her way to make every person feel special. She made sure everyone who wanted an autograph got one, even a little girl who walked up after everything had already been packed away. She just has such a truly kind and giving heart -- you can just see how much happiness it gives her to give to others. If there's one word I can use to describe yesterday, it's "happiness" -- there was just this overwhelming sense of happiness among everyone involved. As I told Kelley - not only are the Backups a group like no other, but Melinda truly is a PERSON like no other. She just always goes so far above and beyond, without ever thinking anything of it. It's so natural for her, because that's just the kind of person that she is -- incredibly kind, caring, special, and so giving. She so clearly touches people's hearts and people's lives, as I know you all know very well. My friend Mary Kate showed me a quote the other day, and it's so fitting here ... "Some people come into our lives and leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same." Melinda has done that for so many people, me included. Just like it is for all of you, it is truly an honor to call myself a Backup. I can never thank Melinda enough for everything yesterday, for everything from past experiences, for being an incredible inspiration and reminding us ALL to dream big ... for being her and for changing this world for the better. She truly is one of a kind, and the memories from yesterday are something I will cherish forever (and I know the same is true for Sara, my mom, and my sister -- it was a joy to share it all with them!).
Perhaps Melinda says it best - you know I love you!! I know I say this repeatedly, but I also know y'all agree with me - she truly is the very best. I will never be able to thank her enough for everything, because "thank you" doesn't do it justice. Yesterday was, without a doubt, one of the most special, meaningful, and incredible days -- I will treasure that experience forever <3
All my pictures:http://s295.photobucket.com/albums/mm149/dreambig906/Melinda/
And just a few of my favorites...
Opening the keychain:
Reading the articles:
"Come back here! I have to give you a hug!"
Posing with the keychain:
Melinda and me with the keychain <3
Love her too!!
Interviewing Melinda .... aaahhhhhhhhhh!! Proof that dreams DO come true!
I have many more pictures in the photobucket album if you guys are interested, but I figured I'd subjected y'all to enough already