Jodi Hills

So this is who I am – a writer that paints, a painter that writes…

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More ideas.

Sometimes it takes me a while to get there, but I usually do.

I’m no different from the next person when it comes to packing a suitcase, if that next person is slightly neurotic and overly excited. It’s still three weeks away, but the neurons in charge of organization have already begun counting underwear and creating a capsule wardrobe. “Wouldn’t it be great,” they urged, “if we had packing cubes, and other various sorting devices for the suitcases…” I nodded inside my own head and began searching the web. The options, while infinite, didn’t seem exactly right. I searched through sizes and colors and prices. The right price was the wrong country of origin. The right color was the wrong size. The right size was the wrong price. I searched and fumbled. Added some to cart. Backed out. Searched again. After about an hour and forty-five minutes, it became clear that I could use the random tote bags given free from the pharmacy and the stash of bags my mother gave to me from the make-up counter promotions. I take a breath. I take a pause. I have everything I need. What a relief to quit searching…unless that is, I need more clothes… That’s when I play fashion show from my own closet and once again realize, I have more than plenty.

I suppose it’s true with almost everything — we don’t need more things, we need more ideas. Of course there are specific times when you require a precise tool, object, (even scarf or scarves to match your autumn overcoat), but most of the time I find, if I’m creative enough, thoughtful enough, I already have the perfect solution. And it usually feels great! To shop your own closet and create a new look. To sand and sand the abandoned wood and make a new frame. To create a delicious recipe out of the left-overs. To give the neurons a break and let my heart and hands take over.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for commerce. I bought two new books yesterday. (I will use the french bag as backing for a framed picture, but still.) And I want you to buy pictures and books and cards, even from me (insert shameless plug here). So what was my point? I don’t know…maybe Marie Kondo had it right, about all the “sparking joy.” I like that. I think it’s a good idea…I guess that was the point, after all, more ideas — more joyful ideas! Wishing you a day filled with them.

Pause, and spark!

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The get-a-way car.

The common expression was “partners in crime.” While we didn’t commit any crimes together, my mother and I, (unless you consider the time in Las Vegas when we cashed in the abandoned chips we found on a casino floor), together we made it through some laughable and questionable times, during which she drove the get-a-way car.

My apologies to our North Dakota neighbors, but it was in Fargo the first two times we fled the scene. I was maybe 21 at the time, in search of my first real job after college. I had an interview in Fargo. I was suffering from kidney stones at the time. I knew if I had a flare-up, I wouldn’t be able to drive home. Plus, my mom said, “There’s West Acres.” (Malls always factored into our travel plans.)

I only made it through half the interview when my stone decided to make its presence known. I began to sweat. Nearly doubled over. No longer interested in making a good impression, only making it to the car. I stumbled my way into the back seat. She literally squealed the tires of our light blue Chevy Impala wagon, (purely to tell me she knew how badly I felt) , as I threw up in an empty Folgers can in the back seat. “We can do much better than West Acres,” she said. And I was saved.

My second get-a-way, around the same age, was for an interview of another kind — a date. A friend of a friend. “Oh, you’ll love him…” my friend tried to convince me. Unsuccessfully assured, I asked my mother to come with me. Always up for a road trip, she agreed. She dropped me off at the restaurant and went to the mall. My date, to put it mildly, was as uncomfortable as the stone on the last trip. I was standing outside the restaurant as he explained the intricate details of his expensive car. Unimpressed, I searched the parking lot. And then I saw it. That glorious light blue streak of safety. I waved and speed- walked to my mom’s car. She could see the horror on my face. There was no need to explain. She squealed the tires even louder out of the parking lot. “Well, just to make sure he knows…” she said. We laughed. Again, I was saved.

I mention it only because I thought about it all night. I haven’t had a kidney stone in years, but one came for a visit last night. The extraordinary pain kept me awake for the duration. I kept telling myself it won’t last, it won’t last. When we’re in pain, time seems forever. But when I think about how quickly it has all passed, the years between Fargo and France, I can hear the squeal of time. I can count on my “getting through,” my “getting away,” my “getting beyond,” the moment. 

Dominique is here now — my streak of blue — here always to race where needed. I smile. And I am saved.

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The breath of lavender.

Hours before I knew it would actually be possible, I responded to a friend’s message. She was struggling with the “letting go.” I had this thought – telling her to give them to me. Hand them all over, these feelings of hurt and anger, and I would take them and place them in a field of lavender, to be swallowed up in all that purple. Nothing bad can survive that much beauty, I thought.  And then, if a few stray negative thoughts tried to creep back into her heart and brain, at least they would smell of sweet lavender.

As I said, I didn’t know that only a few hours later, we would be passing countless fields of lavender on the way to see friends near the mountains. An endless sea of purple. “Ooooooooh,” I exclaimed, looking out the window. “Do you want to stop and take a photo?” Dominique asked. “Yes,” I said, but thought, not only that. I had some things to release. Not only hers, but mine as well. It’s funny how easily it all rolled down the ditch into the lap of scented color. I took the photos. The field grinned, exposing the lines of purple teeth, and I smiled in return. 

Maybe we don’t all get the fields of lavender, but it is then we look to the friends that do. I suppose that’s what we’re all here for — to take turns carrying the load on our way to something beautiful. Because the world IS beautiful. Still and ever. 

Pull over today. Take it in. Let it go. The breath of lavender — nothing bad can survive this much beauty.

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All suitcases roll beautifully when empty.

It really came down to the color. They all seemed to roll beautifully — these new suitcases in the store. I tested many. Each one. Each brand. All glided across the polished floor. I picked one, sure that my next trip would be so much easier.

I removed the tags. Filled it. Full. Struggled over the rug. Through the door. Down the stairs. Hallway. Trunk. Airport. It didn’t seem all that easy. I labored with the weight. 

What seems so incredibly obvious, has taken me decades to learn. And maybe I should say understand, because to be honest, I’m still learning it. I still struggle with, “But I need it…I can’t leave it behind…”  Even more importantly, I need to learn it – for my head, my heart. How glorious it would be to roll around this world, unburdened by the weight of it all. All those conversations playing over and over in my head. The weight of worry and what ifs. The weight of well, they should have, and why can’t they…  and why didn’t I…  I’m learning to lighten the load. I don’t want to be crushed by this passage of time. Day by day. I want to let go, and enjoy the journey. 

It’s all kind of funny, when you think about it — this baggage. We have the power to choose. It can’t follow us on its own. It has to be dragged. I smile at this morning’s sun…empty handed.