It is my pleasure, honour and utter delight to welcome you to this very special edition of Ten Things of Thankful. *stops to let that sink in*
But this is unaffiliated with the weekend hop; a total renegade (and anyway, it’s my hop and I’ll do with it precisely as I wish) which today means co-opting the format to invite you to join in with me as I celebrate the birthday of quite simply one of the most wonderful people I’ve ‘met’ in this ol’ Blogosphere.
Happy Birthday Mandi xXx
My lovelies, indulge me, because this is going to be an absolutely selfish Ten – Mandi has come to mean a great deal to me, and I really want to share some of the very best bits of our friendship so far with you, because it has brought me such delight; such brightness and sunshine, and has really made a very big difference to my life…let me explain.
Mandi’s a little bit like one of those gummy candies (roll with me – I’m thinking on my feet) which seems quite unassuming, though obviously ‘nice’, but when you bite into it, it has an utterly unexpected centre full of oozy, candy goodness, which makes the entire experience a million times better. When you look past the (perhaps, on the outside) unassuming blogger you might think Mandi to be, you’ll discover that her centre is full of glitter and fireworks and the most wonderful upwellings of love and encouragement, which are all a bajillion times better than the loveliest gummy candy…
1. She gives *the* best comment…no word of a lie. There are people who I look forward to hearing from when I hit ‘publish’, and then there’s a whole other category for how much I love to read Mandi’s comments. They are wonderfully rich in visuals and Feels – she taps right into my imagination and plants gorgeous images there, which unfurl like flowers under the sun. I think her comments were what first caught attention, because I’d seen the amazing things she’d written on Beth’s posts, and couldn’t help but ‘follow her home’ to her own blog, to see what kind of person was capable of saying such things.
2. In the midst of all the glorious visuals and glittering outpourings of *twinklysparklygoodness* comes, almost always, a massive dollop of encouragement, which according to the lady herself, is her specialty. She lives to support and nurture others, crafting her words carefully to boost – not just the ego – but the person, and to really get behind what they’re doing and cheer them on. The most inspiring (to me) thing is how absolutely unafraid Mandi is to say precisely how she feels about someone, *to* them. This is something which has forever thrown me into a panic, because I’m afraid of those levels of vulnerability, but Mandi manages to be so sweet and disarmingly endearing, that no-one could possibly have cause to ever find her frankness anything less than utterly charming.
3. Mandi is solely responsible for transforming my friendships with other bloggers from something which was just ‘on the page’, to something which is real and vital and breathing and FUN! She showed me how it was possible to send my voice, for free, around the world, and hear back from my friends in return, which is *such* a treasure, given that words often lose the full essence of communication, phonecalls are really too expensive, and it’s not always convenient to vidchat. So I have heard her sing to me in her very best English accent, I have traded jokes with her adorable children, and have thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful new way of having a friend in my pocket (in my phone…nothing weird).
4. She writes…oh my gosh…she writes *so* well. Mandi asked me once what I thought of her writing, and (forgive me, Mandi, if I muddle this one – it’s late) I described it as that moment when you’re reading, and suddenly a scene becomes so real to you – like you’ve been transported into a cinema, and are watching it unfold in front of you; full-screen, HD, surround-sound, and with the speakers turned up so loud that your whole body vibrates with the power of it…
5. One of the biggest, most wonderful ‘online’ gifts was given to me by Mandi, who recorded her piano playing for me, and sent it to me to listen to (there’s a context…wait for it). She has a wonderful, soft way of playing, which seems to coax notes from the instrument until it fills the whole room with beautiful music. Mandi thought she could have done better because there were mistakes, but I loved each one, because in the midst of those moments which were slightly less polished, was bravery and willingness to be vulnerable for the sake of friendship, and so each one was raised up to shining perfection by the strength of such a gesture.
6. She is my Muse (here’s the context) – after learning that Mandi had been a waitress who played the piano, out of nowhere (and this, bear in mind, was still fairly close to the beginning of our friendship, so I didn’t tell her for a while) a character popped into my head and became Anitra, whose story I am currently attempting to write into a book, and whose songs and love of music are all tangled up in Mandi-inspired moments.
7. Music has become different since knowing her – which is wonderful. There was a whole subset of musics which I…liked okay…but which weren’t my favourites. But since beginning the Anitra story and finding that Mandi had gotten herself lumbered with being my muse for it (which she has borne very graciously, when I’ve suddenly messaged her out of the blue with a bizarre question or flash of inspiration for feedback on), there have been certain pieces of music which have spoken to me and become part of the story – they shimmer out of the radio and fill the air, and all of a sudden I’ve been aware of a different quality to the sound, and it’s as though Mandi’s name hangs there, unseen, but very present…and on the odd occasion when I’ve sent word to tell her about these songs, not only have they usually been ones she knows, but sometimes have counted amongst her favourites. It’s a bit spooky, but the writing makes me happy, so I don’t question it too much.
8. The woman can hula-hoop, she can pilate like nobody’s business (and got me into it) – she can also do a hurkey. In a conversation about cheerleading (because that’s what Mandi does, with all her encouragement), somehow the subject of hurkeys came up. Lo and behold, next thing we knew, she’d only gone and DONE ONE! Incredible. She claimed it was camera angles and trickery, but I saw jumping and hurkey-ing and it was awesome. And let me tell you now – I watched a YouTube tutorial, and tonight, as an experiment, I tried a hurkey outside in a large space. My only advice for anyone else idly wondering if they should give it a try, is DON’T! Not unless you have exceptionally stretchy hamstrings. That said…
Ten! And I could keep going, but quite honestly however much of a writer I consider myself, I haven’t the words. I try not to have favourites (mostly because it causes arguments (I have some argumentative favourites)) but I figure this is different – it’s not about favourites – it’s about knowing a bunch of very different, wonderful people, and loving them for exactly who they are.
But that said, sometimes it *is* about favourites, and today, Mandi, you’re mine 🙂
FOLLOW THE SONG to read the next post in our celebration: When Skies Are Grey
START AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SONG to read the whole thing, as it bounces around the Blogosphere singing: You Are My Sunshine