I'm feeling sort-of overwhelmingly compelled to blog about Mandi. Actually, about people I'm proud to know or stories that testify to the greatness of people. I'm just starting with Mandi. Usually I change the names of people in the blogosphere to protect their identity. But that's not a hard and fast rule. Mandi doesn't need protection from what I'm about to say, so I'm gonna open the flood gates and let it pour out.
Brief side-trip for personal belief summary. I believe everyone comes into your life for a reason. Everything happens for a reason. There's something to learn from everyone and the true journey, battle, challenge in life is to "get it." For me, that means dealing with all kinds of people and thinking and DECIDING . . . "that's a great example" or "know I know what looks like from this angle." Moreover, I believe that events are cyclic and they'll keep on happening, sort of God karmically whacking you over the head while he madly flails his arms around in silent, whole-body animated but speechless Italian -- UNTIL you get it. Example: abuse. Until ONE brave person steps up and says "generational abuse stops with this family", it keeps coming around. Until that ONE brave person educates themselves about their past and believes in the possibility of a better future, it keeps coming around. There are a million other examples. Ponder that.
Back to Mandi. I met Mandi at the end of the last school year. Without knowing anything about each other, we accepted a big (okay, enormous) role within the school infra-structure. I didn't know much about the way she worked or thought. I didn't know anything about how she dealt with people or what her expectations were. Accepting a position like we did, and agreeing to do it with a complete stranger can be summed up with one of two words: stupid or trusting.
Well, Mandi and I have spoken and interacted and shared stories since last April. Sometimes it's on a daily basis, sometimes weekly, sometimes different intervals of time. This week, it's been about 80 times per day. Yesterday, four times between 5 pm and 6:35. When her name pops up on caller ID, I actually like it. Twice this week, Mandi has delivered a soap box schpeel to a woman in our presence that has made goose bumps pepper my skin. We had a meeting this week where one of our "team members" was sliding into the bitterness that can engulf and swallow you whole. Mandi reached out an arm and a life line and spoke from her heart about our community and the friendships that are developed in this piece of our lives. "You won't find this anywhere else," is the phrase that rings in my mind. When I walk up to the school, just before I pull the big blue door handle and voluntarily march into a lion's mouth, I think, "You won't find this anywhere else."
Yesterday, in the drama that we call life, Mandi did an awesome thing. A truely great, fabulous wonderful thing. Too much detail will spoil the story, so it will have to suffice to say: Nobody likes confrontation. Nobody likes to the person with the balls of steel, that stands up to bullies and makes the world a better place, but she did it. She did for our mutual friend. And for our organization. And for the world. And I'm so proud of her . . . I'm so proud to know this woman called Mandi.