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Gifts from a Friend

My friend Mandy is a woman of many gifts and one of the smartest people I know. In our small group of girlfriends since junior high, she’s known as our collective memory. “Mandy, who sat next to us in Mr. Stone’s science class in eighth grade?” She’ll know the answer, just as she knows any line or verse from just about any movie or song we throw at her. Mandy is also a creative, an artist and singer/performer who has the ability to bring beauty into the world with her voice, her words, her actions. She’s the friend who’s always there whenever you need her. And her most intriguing gift is her ability to communicate with animals without uttering a sound.

Mandy once told me of a time she was at a picnic in a park. People were milling about, enjoying the beautiful day. Out of the corner of her eye, Mandy noticed a stray dog standing alone at the periphery of the crowded park, staring her down. The dog kept his eyes on her as she sat still and silent on her blanket, avoiding his gaze. Still, she could sense him coming closer as he circled the park, the concentric rings he made growing smaller and smaller as he came near. It took a long while but finally, the dog was within arm’s reach of her blanket. He hesitated, then stepped forward and lowered himself onto her lap.

To me, this is her greatest gift: the ability to notice, and then to sit quietly and wait for what will come. And she believes in what will come, believes herself worthy and ready for it. No holding back. No fear of being bitten or rejected. She opens herself up freely to what awaits without knowing exactly what comes next, confident in the uncertainty.

That openness and lack of fear, the self-knowing, the comfort she possesses in her own skin, is a treasure she passes along to others without intent or awareness. And yet, there it is, a gift she’s given to me for almost fifty years.

I want to be the bearer of that gift as well as its recipient. I want to sit on my blanket, to notice and then to wait, secure in my own self-knowing that what will come to me is what I need. What I want. What I deserve. And what I’m able to pass along to others without even trying.

Image: Amanda Marie Meyer, wearing her own feathered creation.


  1. You are blessed to have Mandy. 💕

  2. I’m hearing a believe in the universe and the universe brought your lives together to enrich you, to challenge you, to comfort you and to love you….and I can imagine so much more. Gifts indeed! Thank you for generously sharing Mandy with us all!

    • Another reason to believe in, and love, the universe. In my experience, if we’re open to receive, the universe is happy to provide. And that doesn’t just mean getting happiness and love. Mandy has challenged me too, in ways big and small. And that’s been a gift as well. Thanks for your comments Dee!

  3. Truly an angel on earth. You are both blessed.

  4. Great thoughts, beautifully written, as usual, Jill.

    • And as usual Christy, you are so kind. Thanks!

  5. Beautifully written Jill. And knowing Mandy, you are spot on! She continues to enrich the lives she touches!

    • Yes, she does. Too many lives to count, in fact. I appreciate your comment Lisa and I’m sure Mand does as well.

  6. I am drawn to the statement “confident in the uncertainty”. To have that skill is truly a gift and I wish she could bottle that for those of us whose risk tolerance could use some expansion!
    What a lovely tribute to your friend Mandy and an aspiration for many to strive for every day.

    • I do agree Barb. While I’m all about taking risks (as you well know!) I am actually more of a second-guesser than I’d like to be.

  7. You are blessed to have a friend like Mandi. May we all learn from her patience and acceptance. Thanks for sharing, Jill.

  8. You can’t always get what you want
    But if you try sometimes, well, you might find…

  9. Jill,

    What a beautiful piece. You and Mandy were always my biggest supporters and fans during my HS wrestling career. I always appreciated it.

    Whenever anyone was down, it seemed Mandy was the one who came around and lifted everyone up. And now, as I watch her live her life in NOLA, she certainly continues to have that amazingly positive attitude about life.

    One of a kind.


    • Mandy and I were the co-founders of the Mat Maids. If it had been another era, you know we would’ve been your teammates and not just your supporters! Thanks for your comments Gary.

  10. At first I imagined chiming in on Jill’s latest piece would appear self-serving, but I chime in on ALL of them cuz there’s no bigger fan of her writing than me! I appreciate all the love that went into her thoughts and the truth is that I’ve always felt lucky to have grown up with someone who always challenges one to bring their best game, every day. The best kind of life training.
    Thanks all for the kindnesses from your readers. We all appreciate your wordsmithery!!

    Love to M&L in Phoenix- I TOLD you Mike made me listen to the Stones!

    And Gar, the THREE of us have known one another since middle school and along with mutual support, we have spent ever so much of that time LAUGHING together. An overlooked necessity in a balanced psyche. And for that I will be always be y’all’s forever fan!

    Live Long & Prosper

  11. Great words shared about your friend Mandy, and her approach to life. Interesting how while we plan or try to “control” our lives, letting go and letting things happen in their own way is probably easier, less stressful, and perhaps there’s even more happy surprises along the journey when unplanned.

    • So true, Jude. But so hard to do (for some of us, anyway–me included!). Thanks.

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