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7 to 7 and Odd Jobs

Words honestly can't describe how lucky this last month has made me feel.

Typically, May is a month I dread, and between the finals I had to take and the unprecedentedly insane schedule I've had to juggle, this month was no exception. None of that makes me feel particularly lucky, though it does make me fall asleep faster at night. With the schedule and the finals, though, came an opportunity I'll never forget.

For the past few weeks, I've been working for the Hallmark Channel on their morning talk show, Home & Family, as they've been shooting a week of shows at Dollywood. I was an assistant cue card writer, which basically means I helped prepare cue cards for the hosts and correspondents to read from during the taping of the show. There are a couple of great things about this:

1. I love Dollywood. Like, really love it.

2. I gained professional experience on a national show.

3. I got paid for the first time in my life (for film work, anyway).

4. Did I mention I love Dollywood?

All of this would have made the experience worthwhile. It got even better as I watched the show's correspondents (they call them Family Members) film segments all throughout the park, getting to see professionals in action. Every Family Member I met was incredibly kind, humble, and, most of all, talented, so watching them film segments was a really rich learning experience.

So far, this has probably been really boring for those of you who aren't interested in reading about Dollywood and/or filming a talk show, so I'll get to the good part now: I got to work with Dolly Parton. DOLLY. PARTON.

The queen of country has been one of my favorite musicians and heroes for as long as I can remember. I love her songs, movies, and just about everything else she does. Above all, though, I've always admired how wise, humble, funny, and generous she is.

I've often heard that you shouldn't meet your heroes. People warn that meeting them will be a disappointment, that the actual person will never live up to the version in your head. In general, this rule is probably a good one to live by, but, wow, was this the exception to the rule.

I'll be honest, I didn't get to meet Ms. Parton, but for the best reason possible. The woman was working her butt off. In addition to answering questions about her career, life, and Dollywood itself, she was also singing live, engaging the audience, and rocking some great outfits. I wish I could show you pictures, but you'll just have to tune in to the show.

In watching her work, I realized everything positive said about the Backwoods Barbie herself is absolutely true. She didn't have to talk to the audience in between segments, but she did. In fact, she made a conscious effort to do so. She didn't have to personally hand out chicken sandwiches, but she did (still bitter I didn't get one). There are so many things she didn't have to do. She could have acted like a diva and not talked to anyone. She didn't even have to be here for the shows. She's a living legend, for crying out loud! She was there, though, setting an example for every man, woman, child, or otherwise in the audience, making a lasting impression as a kind and generous soul.

Not only did this experience fill my heart, but so did Ms. Parton. She was everything I hoped and more, and I'm forever grateful for that.

If you want to watch the shows, they air May 30th-June 3rd on the Hallmark Channel at 10 a.m. Eastern. They're honestly fantastic (and I helped).

I also now have a Facebook page for the blog! Click here to like it.

I'll leave you with my new favorite Dolly song. It's very Alanis before Alanis existed.

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