All this month I've been blogging about what I'm thankful for, including specific people in my life. From my family and friends to my Idols, co-workers and roomates, I've pretty much covered everyone, right? Wrong. I've been waiting to post a special thank you to one of the most amazing group of people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Those people are the backups.
New people in my life that are reading this are probably "what the heck is a backup?". Well, my friends...sit down and enjoy. By the end of this post you'll love them as much as I do.
No matter how well I know you, reader, I'm 90% sure you've probably caught on that I'm a huge American Idol nerd...and perhaps that I have been lucky to build friendships with some past contestants, particularly Melinda Doolittle. That's where the backups came in. When Melinda was on Idol, she built her fanbase, who named themselves "Backups" because Melinda was a backup singer before Idol and because they were committed to always "backing up" Melinda in whatever she did. (I know, we're clever). I was never one to join fansites, I thought (like many of you probably do) that those were for the crazies. It wasn't until after I met Melinda for the first time and saw her perform live that I joined...after witnessing that, I became 100% committed to supporting her career. I first joined just to keep track with what Melinda was up to, never ever expecting to have the friendships I have now.
You see, the Backups are NOT just any fan group. Ask anyone, they will tell you. We are about supporting Melinda in her career and seeing shows, but we also focus on supporting her humanitarian efforts. We've been participants in the Country Music Marathon to raise money for Malaria No More, we started a scholarship at her alma mater, and we each volunteer during the Christmas season in her name. We relate to Melinda and her "dream big" attitude, as well as her amazing compassion for others. We reach out to help others because that's what our girl does every day of her life.
I joined the backups at a time in my life when I was a little lost. It was my junior year of college, I had just been through one of the worst times of my life and I was in need of positive influences. Cue the backups to the rescue. They immedialey welcomed me into their family, and although I was (and still am) one of the youngest members, they didn't care. They took a general interest in my life (and not in a creepy stalker way) and cared about me. I needed that. Over the next few years, they've been constantly there for me whenever I needed it. The thing about the backups is...they've been more than just "other fans" to me. They've been my mama's, my sisters, my support system. I've never seen people so quick to help out, even though they had their own lives to worry about. They were there for me during the most stressful times at school, to celebrate with me, when Amanda passed away, to cheer me on through obstacles. I've been VERY lucky to spend time with a handful of them, whether in Nashville (Love), Chicago, Detroit, Chillicothe, or even Vegas. They've given me some of the best matieral gifts, but most of all they gave me the gift of their friendship and love. I honestly don't even have words for how amazing they have been in my life, but I can tell you that they have been some of the most positive influence I needed. When temptation came around and I could have easily slipped back into where I was, they were there to pull me right back out.
I'm going to talk about some of them individually, because they deserve it.
Shari: Shari is so encouraging. She's always helpful with advice on writing, and she herself is extremly talented. I'm honored to know such a kind soul. She always makes me smile with her sweet comments.
Lexi: My little sister. She's one of the few baby backups we have left, this girl is SO amazing. She's gone above and beyond and completed service projects in Melinda's name all on her own, without anyone suggesting it. She's full of bright ideas and motivation. She is way wise beyond her years! I'm very proud of her and inspired by her. Thankful for her energy and sweet heart. Can't wait to see where she goes from here.
Louise: Weeezy makes me laugh so much!!! She's a bright light for sure :-) Now talk about dedicated, this girl never stops working. We should all be very thankful for her for always being on top of things. She's also a wonderful friend and role model, as she as been through so much yet remains positive and selfless. I'm lucky to know her.
Rhonda: Rhonda acts tough but secretly she's a sweetheart who'd do anything for anyone. She is pretty funny when she's being snarky, though :-) She never fails to make me laugh. She's an amazing friend to all and not afraid to speak her mind. I love her so much and am very thankful for her presnce!
Babz: The past few months Babz has been my inspiration. She's lost a lot of weight by working hard. I'm proud of her and strive for her attitude, I honestly am very thankful to have her as an "older sister" and role model. She's also very encouraging and concerned about others around her. She's fun to be around and very sweet. I love her to pieces and am thankful for all the wonderful times we've had (banana and pickle FO LIFE).
Holly: My little Hollister! Just thinking about her makes me smile. I've laughed so hard my abs hurt with her. She's so funny, and SO wise. What a firecracker. Most recently I'm thankful for the weekend we spent together in Cleveland at WOF, but I'm also so thankful for all the times she has been there for me. Whenever I'm having a bad day Holly is one of the first to ask if I need anything. Holly and I have a lot in common and I'm thankful that we can share stories and experiences together. I admire her faith and her ability to be so outgoing and friends with anyone. She's an amazing friend to have.
Cathy and April- I started writing about these two seperatly, but then realized I was saying almost the same thing for each. It must be because they are so alike :-) Okay, it's honestly kind of hard for me to say how I feel about these two. There's something about them that just makes them so special, you know? I admire the heck out of them, they are both so strong. They have a WAY of making me feel special and supported. I can't quite explain it, but it never fails. I strive to be like both of them- strong, selfless, compassionate, and SO sweet. I remember longgg text conversations in the end of my senior year with Cathy when I was stressed out, she was one of the most helpful people at that time. Both of them are absolutley beautiful inside and out and AMAZING people! Like I said, they are just so amazing I can't even tell you all. I love you, Cathy and Ape! SO much!!! I consider both of you a hero to me. You inspire me.
Jena- Talk about inspiring. Jena....you, my dear, are the defination of inspiration. I think I speak for all of us when I say that we are lucky you joined the backups, because you have taught us so much. You're an angel, and I truly believe that. I am thankful for everything you've taught me...I seriously immediatley think "peace" when I think of you, because that is what you've brought to my life. Thank you for always ALWAYS thinking of others and sticking up for me, for leading the way and for helping me break down the barriers of anxiety. You are truly special and I thank you for being my friend. I love you and I miss the heck out of you.
Maria and Des- Okay, I had every intention of doing these two together...they are attached at the hip. Maria and Des are part of the formula of people who have helped me through some of the worst times of my life...not because they had to, but because they wanted to. I am SO lucky that they were there for me. They are both beautiful friends. I don't know where I'd be without their guidance. They understand me, they encourage me. They are there for me without even saying anything- I just know. I know that they would do anything for me. I'm thankful for all the fun times we've shared, especially the Vegas trip. I love them dearly. They have been two of my closest friends since the beginning and I hope to never lose that.
Val- Oh Val. My twinner. It's very unusual, I think, to find someone who I have so much in common with. Val TRULY understands me and everything I've been through. She is quiet, but one of the most amazing friends I have ever had in my life. Okay...as I'm typing this, I just got so sad because I miss the absolute heck out of my twinner. I want to see her ! Anyways...Val is beautiful. I mean...stunning. She's so sweet and always there for people. She is strong in her beliefs, yet quiet and helpful. The weekend I spent with her in Vegas was so much fun...she was always looking out for me, just as she does every day. I know that Val understands me and my anxiety and I am so thankful to have someone to turn to when I need advice. I love her to death, and now I really, really miss her. I love you Val, you have made a permanent impact on my heart. You are amazing and don't you ever forget it.
Well I guess that about wraps it up, huh? Just kidding, Gem.
Gem- I mean where do I even start? What do I say to someone who completly took me in? Who has given me more than I could ever begin to thank her for? Gem is my second mother, that's for sure. She cares about me, in a way that none of my other friends cna compare to. She's the most honest person I have ever met, which I appreciate. She has the biggest heart, always concerned about those around her and making THEM happy. She was immediatley there for me when I needed it, and to this day if she suspects I'm stressed out, she knows exactly what to do. We are compeltly different people and can never agree on directions, but go together so very well. Whenever people are around us they can't help but laugh at our relationship. She is such a special person and I hope she knows how thankful I am for everything she's done for me, which I can't begin to list because I will run out of characters. I will always hold a very special place in my heart for Mama Gem and I love her dearly.
Okay backups, now that I have written this I am missing all of you more than I was before. Reunion soon, PLEASE?