Thursday, April 3, 2014

Surprise! Benefit Concert for...Me!!?? What!?

I haven't talked about this on my blog, but here goes:
As you know from past posts about 3 years ago, I did a study abroad in London, England in Shakespearean studies. This was one of the best experiences I have ever had in my entire life. You can read past posts, but Shakespeare is one of my favorite things in the entire world and it means the world to me. This study abroad meant the world to me. I wanted to go back this summer, almost as a graduation trip. (Did I mention I'm graduating April 25? Hooray!) It was getting me through my final year of college. Well as life happens, things came up, and by winter break, I was broke. No more savings. And I decided then that I would not be able to go to London. I told myself I was fine and I could go back some day. But as Spring semester started, I found myself unmotivated, not looking forward to my last semester ending, and just...down.

I woke up one morning a few weeks into the semester and my first thought was, "I'm going to London." It wasn't like something said it to me, it was more of a resolve. I was going to London, because I know it was the thing that was making me feel blue.
A few hours later I got an email from the professor I went with before, and he asked me to be his Assistant. Seriously? This would be amazing. I would have a chance to learn from one of my favorite professors, Once again live in South Kensington for 6 weeks, and hopefully network with grad schools and internships. Going to Grad School in London and eventually working there are my "hopes and my dreams" as my best friend, Kristi puts it. It is the final goal. Working for a Shakespeare company (especially one in the UK) is the ultimate goal.

The semester went on and there was one thing that was weighing on me: Where the HECK do I get money. Seriously. Trust me, I have gone down every avenue. Financial Aid, Scholarships, Grants, etc. Everything was a dead end. Because of my hours at school with classes, work, and scholarship/practicum hours, plus being in Picnic At Hanging Rock, I could not take on another job.

There have been a few avenues I've been able to take in order to make money. But not enough to pay my way to London.  I expressed this to a few friends. I asked everyone I could to let me know if there was a grant I missed or a scholarship that I hadn't found or some untapped money that I might be able to apply for etc. I am making and selling workout leggings/capris, because it's something I know how to do and can do in my limited spare time.  (Here is one of the kinds that I'm making. My sister is modeling and they turned out super cute) But it didn't change the fact that I was having a really hard time getting money together. My parents helped me out with a graduation gift (my flight).
As I worked the whole semester on trying to get my funds together, stressing, and having emotional breakdowns about money, something I didn't know about was happening. 
Fast forward to this last Monday. Well kinda.
About three weeks ago, my dear friend, Nic asked me to keep March 31 open, because it would be the first night he had open and he wanted to go on a Mandee-Nic date. I of course agreed, because I didn't have anything that night either. As the day approached, I was so excited! Also, there were things going on that were completely going over my head. Seriously, I was oblivious.
When that day came, Nic came to my voice lessons, made me sing "The World goes Round" for fun, and then told me we should dress up for our date and I should go home and dress up. Nic kept telling me to do things, and I just...blindly followed. Which is funny when I look back at how he was acting. I suspected nothing. (Even though someone totally gave it away, I still didn't catch it.)
That night I got back to the school, and after some really weird diverting and sleight of hands, Nic got me into the wildcat theatre and in I walked in to see A huge crowd of my friends and family clapping at me. I was so confused. My thoughts went like this in a split second, "HEY! That's all my friends! Hey! That's my family! Hey! Those are my costumes on display! Hey! Wait....Wait...this is for me...isn't it. What the heck? Oh my gosh. Whhhaaaa!?" Then I got embarrassed and emotional. And then more embarrassed for being emotional. 

My friends threw me the most amazing benefit concert. To raise money for my trip to London. I was blown away. I LOVED the concert. My friends are amazingly talented, they all chose beautiful songs that they felt personally applied to me or songs that I loved. 
It was very overwhelming.
In a good way.
I just couldn't understand why they picked me. I felt so loved and blessed, but so amazed as to...why me? But they all said the same thing, Because they loved me. It was a beautiful evening. They raised quite a bit of money for me, but that wasn't even the important thing in the evening for me. Don't get me wrong, I was so incredibly grateful. But the love my friends showed me was astonishing. 

Nic and Maddie opening the show with
"A Foggy Day in London Town

Alice singing "Once Upon A Time" from Brooklyn

Dear Jenessa singing "I have Confidence."

My gorgeous Amelia, Maddie, and Becca singing the stunning trio "Neverland."
I wish I had the video. This was truly amazing.
(Here's the link to the youtube video of them singing this amazing song)

Compilation of videos for the night
Me entering with my Nicholas, Nic singing London Town, and then they  had me get up on stage and sing the song Nic made me practice at voice lessons (Thank goodness he made me practice)

A lot of people weren't able to attend, and really wanted to. And a lot of people have been asking me how they can help donate since they couldn't be at the concert. Every penny helps. Seriously. There's a Fundly-Fundraiser Set up for my trip to London.  That is a link, so click there.  Or on the link below to go donate.

And seriously. Thank you.
And thank you to my amazing friends and family who gave me the most amazing gift. I don't know what I would have done without them.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My Sunshine's 40th Birthday Party

I am so behind on my blogging. My priorities have been elsewhere, and my time scarce, but I am trying to give you an idea of what has been happening in the last year. One thing that was AWESOME, was my sister's 40th Birthday Party. (Check out her amazing blog here) She is my sunshine, my only sunshine, My gypsy at heart twin. And in July (YES! CLEAR BACK IN JULY!) My sister turned 40. I love spending time with her. We love going to the Renn Faire together: 

SO last July we threw her a birthday party worthy of who she is: A Gypsy. It was a BLAST! And in true nature of who my sisters and I are, lacking a filter of when too much is too much, we threw the best party ever, despite the fact that it POURED RAIN ALL MORNING

Setting up the bunting and garland
 Took over the entire dining room!

 The tables by daylight

The crazy thing is that I owned most of that fabric, India stuff, etc.

The chocolate fountain station:

The cake: It's supposed to match the colors while mimicking the designs of Henna Tattoos

The Gypsy Lounging Area

 Let the Festivities begin!!!


Buffet Table

Chocolate Fountain


Parties are so much better when sisters are doing it together.