Jodi Hills

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


1 Comment

Beating.

There is no vacation from your heart. It’s forever with you.

Even as we travel, I always take time to create something. Daily blogs. Sketches. Small paintings. It’s who I am. It’s my heart. I don’t need a break from my own beating.


I started painting and writing when I was five or six years old. My mother says I would go into my bedroom, and no matter what I was feeling, it would end up on paper. Felt. Resolved. I know I am one of the lucky ones. Not because I have something I love to do – I believe everyone has that – but because I knew what it was early. And continue to do it.


Every bird in the sky, and each of us on the ground were put here to do something. Find your reason. For yourself and for the world. The scariest part I suppose is claiming your gift. Daring to do it. Once you’re doing it, you’re doing it. No fear in flight.
You can flap and flutter all you want. Fighting it. Digging your feet in the ground. But your heart won’t rest. Each beat telling you – “Just do it already. I’m right here with you.“


1 Comment

Find the good.

I don’t have all the answers. But I have a lot of them (that work for me). And I guess that’s the key.  

You know what’s best for you. You know what will fulfill you. You set the bar for yourself. Others’ successes do not hurt you. Be happy for them. Others’ failures do not lift you.

They may not even feel they’ve failed. They get to decide that for themselves. You have the answers for you.

I was about to say that yesterday was a bit of a stressful day, but I’m stopping myself because the day itself was actually perfect. The day was sunny, open, and offered every opportunity.  There were stressful moments though, within this lovely day. And in those moments, this is where all the work pays off. This is when I need to use all the tools I have been given, created, found, discovered – that work for me. First on the list is always my happiest of places – the painting studio. I took out my bird sketchbook, and penciled in the first bird. My heart rate slowed. I took out the paints. I must have been smiling. The paint moved from palette to brush to paper (sometimes to fingers and clothes), and I became the weight of the bird. I let him dry and did the second one. I know what calms my heart. The day held the same ingredients of every good day I have ever experienced – it was up to me to find it. Find the good.  

Today is beginning with the same sun. The birds are singing, as if to remind me who I am. I smile because I know the song. I know myself. It’s going to be a wonderful day.  



3 Comments

Set up to fly.

She was really too petite to be a Barbara. We called her Barbie. Barbie Smith. She was the setter on our volleyball team in high school. She was excellent in her role. She knew each player. How high they could jump. When they were ready. Quick set. High set. And when she did it perfectly, the hitter got all the credit with the perfect spike. But we knew…without her, there was none of it.


I’m not sure we value these people enough. The setters. Those that set us up for success. As school is about to begin around the globe, maybe it’s a good time to recognize those that have lifted us, lift us now.


My mom worked in the Superintendent’s office at our high school. She took all the calls. She was the first to handle the ball. She welcomed the teachers, new and old. She directed the parents, upset or confused. Kept the administrators smiling. Not only made the school run, but made it look good. The perfect setter.


And the teachers. To say I can’t thank them all would be wrong. I do thank them all. They gave my broken world structure. Gave it a play. Popped the ball in my direction and told me to jump. Jump as high as I could. And I did! I still do it. Every day. Because they set me up. Sure, they offered up the words and the skills and the rules…but they also gave me a reason to stretch my every muscle, a curiousity, a belief that I was part of the game. And I am. They “Barbied” me into a wider world. What a gift!


Today, let’s look behind the curtain. Give thanks to all those who lift us without reward or recognition. The every day heroes — I don’t say everyday because they are not ordinary — they show up every day, they lift us. They give us not just a chance at winning – but a chance to fly!


5 Comments

Cardinal on my sleeve.

We sang a cheer in high school –


“We are the cardinals!

Mighty, mighty cardinals!

Everywhere we go – oh,

people wanna know – oh,

who we are,so we tell ’em…

We are the cardinals… (and repeat and repeat)


I never thought about it then, really, but what a lesson. I’m not sure that people often describe cardinals as mighty, but we did. And why not? It was our decision after all. We were cardinals. That was the mascot we were given. We could choose to wear it proudly, or sink behind someone else’s fragile truth.

So the black and red became a symbol of strength to us. A symbol of celebration in victory. A symbol of perseverance in loss. And we were nothing, if not mighty!


You get to decide what makes you strong. You get to decide who you are. Stand up in the colors you were given, and the colors you create. Even with the most fragile of wings, you can choose to be mighty!

I paint the birds again and again. They are my heart. My fragile, but ever-winged, mighty heart! The heart I wear proudly on sleeve, and in song, because I still think, maybe, you just “might wanna know – oh…”


1 Comment

Worth the time

Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time – like to have a friend takes time. Georgia O’Keeffe

She held the clipboard tightly to her chest. It was a listing of all the paintings I was showing at her gallery. She didn’t list the prices on the wall. Only on the secret clipboard. I wondered at first if this was a good idea. I watched her interact with the guests. She was in complete control. Like she was leading the dance. They followed her. Asked questions. Even if someone asked to buy a piece, she said she would write their name down and let them know at the end of the show. Really? Was this a good idea? I didn’t know, but I trusted her, and this dance, it was so lovely. So the evening went on. Glorious with anticipation. People chattered. Who would get the paintings? It was so exciting. Value was added with each inquiry, each name taken down. And she held it all close to her heart.


She took her time, you see. She made the people engage. Ask questions. Learn about the paintings. The meaning of each one. The stories behind them. And it all had worth, the paintings, the people, the time. She sold out the show. The only time this has ever happened for me. It was amazing! What a rare and precious gift. All because she took the time. And in the time, saw the worth, held it close to her heart.


I want to live like this. Make friends like this. Gather it all in, close to my heart, every story, every second. This life, it’s really quite a show!


4 Comments

Remembering to fly

I could see him from my window, this bird. He was at the bottom of the large pine. A tiny little thing, dwarfed by this massive tree. He started climbing. Hopping really. Up, so slowly. I could hear the little click of his feet (claws?) grab onto the bark. Click, hop. Click, hop. He wasn’t making much progress. I had never seen a bird make so much effort, struggle, to climb a tree. There was an alternative… I kept watching. He was about a quarter of the way. Click, hop, Click, hop. I wondered when he was going to realize it. You know, that he could just fly. Half way up, there it came – the realization – oh, yeah, I have wings. And in two seconds he was at the top. Then floating in the sky. What a relief! How delightful – I could see it in his wings.


Yesterday, after waiting two and a half hours from his initial phone call saying he was near, the FedEx man called and said in fact he wasn’t going to come at all. Like it was just some option. Like when you call for a pick-up, he’ll swing by if he has the chance…. Aaargh. So frustrating. I got upset. It happens all the time. The anger was building inside of me. Rising. Climbing. Click, hop!!!! CLICK, HOP! It took about 15 minutes until I decided to jump into the pool. The water was lifting. I started doing laps. The strokes started to release it all. I was getting lighter. In the pool, I started to fly.


I had thought the bird so silly for not realizing the lesson he had learned so long ago. Then I saw myself. How easy it is to forget. And so we live and learn, sometimes the same lessons over and over, again and again… yesterday’s lesson — patience.


This morning the sun is shining in a bright blue sky! I hope I remember to fly!