Jodi Hills

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


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Beside still waters.

“If wishes were fishes, we’d all be in the brook.” My grandma used to tell me that. Maybe that’s one reason why I like the water so much.

We closed the pool down for the season. It’s a process. One that I never dreamed I would ever have to learn. Coming from the land of 10,000 lakes, nature took care of all that on her own.  We vacuumed and brushed. Swept. Scooped. Added the extra chemicals. Covered it. Then placed a net on top of the cover. I got a little dizzy, bending over, putting the stakes in the ground to hold the net. I leaned against the pool house, gave thanks, and said goodbye to the season. I know another will come. I believe in it. 

And in this new season, I will wish new wishes, and be buoyed by all the ones that have come true. And there have been so many. Pools and pools and lakes upon lakes filled with blessings. Oceans have been crossed and filled. I know how lucky I am. When I stop to lean against the sturdy of gratitude, beside still waters, I am saved.


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Let’s talk all night.

When I was a little girl, my mom would gather blankets and pillows in a pile for me beside her bed. She called it my nest. 

I fell in love with Dominique ping by ping. Our first correspondence was on the phone. Text by text. Word by word. 

My mom came to help me with an event. I inflated the air mattress for her to sleep on. First, we put it in the living room. But then, because of the time difference in France, as our night began, so did Dominique’s morning, and my phone began to ping. He was on the fast train to Paris. I ran out to the living room to show my mom. After several pings, and giggles, we squeezed her mattress beside my bed. A nest. “Let’s talk all night,” we agreed. There are some moments you never want to end.

We did it often. The magic was never lost on us. We did it in Minneapolis. Chicago. New York. After a show. A book signing. To fit into this world of laughter and praise and love. Art and music and wine and food. It was glorious. And we wanted it to last. To never end. I still do.

I am nested in the memory of it all. Here in the south of France, beside the one I love. I was sent off with a glorious giggle and a love that still nests beside me. In my head, my heart, I am gathered in, and I know, still, if I but ask, we can talk all night.


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This understanding.

Within the poems I wrote things like — “as I go through life…” — I was eleven years old.

I found a journal that my friend Cindy gave to me for my birthday. It is filled with my poems — words that I was confident enough to feel and to write, in ink. I guess I knew right from the start that they would save me. These words. There is a Chinese proverb, “I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I write and I understand.” I suppose that’s all I’ve ever wanted – this understanding.

I need some of that understanding, every day. I suppose we all do. So I continue to write. And I don’t mean that it all ends up making perfect sense. When does that ever happen? But the understanding of a heart, a heart that sees, smiles with lips curled inside, nodding in the agreement that “you are going to be ok,” –calming to this beat of understanding.

She had the assuredness to write on the inside cover, in red ink, “friends always, Cindy.” She was right. We still are. Always will be.

Knowing my mother for those first 11 years, I wrote:

“She’s like the sun,
going in and out,
waiting for someone to notice her.
I’m so glad that I did.”

I type the words. They are all still true. And my heart nods in agreement — We’re all going to be ok.


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In from the cold.

Maybe it was fun, for a few minutes. Or maybe it was out of pure necessity – I mean, what was the alternative? If we didn’t go out in the wintertime, we’d lose nearly half the year. So we did it. We bundled. From head to toe. Sweaters and snowsuits. Hats. Mittens. Hoods wrapped in scarves. At this point, not being able to bend over, our mothers would force our twice socked feet into our older siblings’ boots, and open the door.

The cold air felt like a slap to the only exposed area around our eyes. We blinked as our eyelashes doubled with frost. We winter-waddled through the yard as long as we could. Hoping to stay out at least as long as it took to bundle. Rolls of snowmen heads were started, then abandoned, and soon we ran (like penguins) to the nearest door. I guess for me, this is what it was all about – that full body sigh of coming in from the cold. Into the warmth of my mother’s arms. Warm kisses on red cheeks.Brought back to this world, mitten by mitten. Boot by boot. Sock by sock. I was home.

And I would do it again. And again. I suppose that’s what love is. Coming in from the cold.

What a thrill. What a blessing! To know this. To carry this warmth in my heart. As harsh as this world can be at times, I would, I will, brave the elements of whatever the day may bring, knowing, certain, my heart has a place to come in from the cold.


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Table by table.



We’re always told – “look at the big picture,” “the grand scheme of things.” I understand what that means and most of the time I agree, but I must admit, I can often be overwhelmed by the “grand scheme” of anything.

Every day I swim laps in the pool. Often times 100. But I never start out counting backwards from 100. I tell myself, just do twenty. And when I finish twenty, I think, well, 30 is easy, and I can do twenty easily later. So I do thirty. And slowly work my way to 50. 50 is fine for the day, and if I want to more later, I do it. And most days, I do. Et voila! 100.

This is the way I do most things. It works for me. Bit by bit. I need the tiny wins. So I let myself have them.

It wouldn’t be possible to paint a giant canvas every day. Not for me. It would take too much of my heart and soul and brain. So I make sketches. Small paintings. And it fills me. Gives me practice. Gives me joy. Confidence. Sets me up for the larger works. So I paint a small vase with a small apple on a small table. And it is complete. It is enough. I am enough. And I guess that’s where I’m trying to get to every day — where we all need to get to every day — that place where we know we are OK, we are good, we are enough.

Take the journey today. Lap by lap. Table by table. And know that you are enough. What could be more “grand” than that?


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This little light of mine.

I have lit candles in churches from the top of the red rocks in Sedona, Arizona to the Sacré-Cœur in Paris. In Rome. And New England. Minneapolis. Sometimes I say a prayer. Names of those I love. Wishes. Hopes. Sometimes I just breathe. Not in search of miracles. And I have chased them for sure, but it seems my handful (heartful) of miracles never came in moments of flee, but only moments of calm. It makes sense then, I guess, to give thanks in the same way, in the quiet glow of a candle.

I was gifted two new candles recently. And the real gift is, they know me!  I love candles. And I light them immediately. I can no more imagine saving a candle, than saving love. I want to experience it now! So I lit the new candle in my bathroom yesterday, and for the first time, it seemed so clear — I wasn’t just lighting a candle — I was lighting a candle! (Sacré-Cœur). Every moment is special, sacred. Prayers and thanks are as real and magical in the ordinary as the extraordinary. 

My heart smiled. It is not a cathedral, but it is my heart, my life, and as the song says, “I’m gonna let it shine.”


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What if today was our someday…

We’re all guilty of it, for sure – projecting, delaying our happiness into the someday. “Someday, if we just have more time… more money…”. “Someday, when I lose five pounds, get that promotion, change my hair, fall in love… well, then…”. How is then that different from now?

And even for the small things. Watching YouTube, I’m told I won’t be happy until I get this deskpad, or this computer, or certainly everything available at IKEA, not to mention the “must haves” from Amazon. And I will admit I have lusted after the gray wool desk pad from Grovemade – I’m only human… but my work life doesn’t depend on it. I can still create my blogs, make prints, cards, email my mother, do everything I need. So I’m happy. Today. Without that beautiful pad. Today is the someday that I celebrate.

I have to make an effort. It doesn’t always come naturally. Returning from vacation, I can easily slip into old habits, wearing the same thing, eating the same thing, but then I catch myself, and try to live better. Put on the scarf. Light the candle. Eat new things. Enjoy the view. Celebrate the day for what it is – the gift that is given. I have to remember that this, in fact, is my someday. I give thanks, and begin… today.


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The garden.

The yard will need a lot of work when we get home. Living in an apartment for years, I never really knew what it took to keep up a yard, a garden. There is digging and moving and poking and nourishing and raking and watering, and mowing. It takes sweat and time and faith. And then it’s calm. The peace of the green grass under a blue sky. Serenaded by the birds. Calm. Home. 

I suppose that’s what we all want. I thought that’s what we all wanted. Peace. And yet, here we are again — war. As if we’ve learned nothing. And I’m at a loss for what to write. What to paint. Does it make a difference? Does it make a difference if we post the pictures of those suffering, scared, fleeing? And it’s so easy to say “look how wrong they are” and then fight with our neighbors about masks and politics. We have to do better. We know better – don’t we? Please, let us know better. 

Spring is on the way. A most glorious time of year. Beauty at every turn. But it expects things from us. It expects us to participate in all this glory. We have to participate. Be sowers of green. Of peace. We have to do the work. With our hands and our hearts. And we can’t give up. We know after each winter, there will be work to be done. And so it is with peace — constant work to be done. I don’t have the answers, but I have hope, and hands and a heart, and I’m going to keep trying. For calm. For home. For us. For all. Peace.


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Of being carried.

I was watching something on netflix. I don’t even remember the movie. But an image I’ve seen a million times, on the screen, in real life, a young child being carried. And it struck me so – I wish I could remember that – that feeling of being lifted. Of being carried. Of being relaxed. Feet dangling. At ease. Held up. I have no memory of this. I’m not sure most people do.

I went to bed after the movie. Still a bit anxious from the news of the day. He knew that. I explained thoughts in fragments. Puzzles of emotions. He has a way of brushing the tear, not from my eye, no, he lets it fall to the bottom of my chin, and then catches it. Telling me it’s ok to feel. Allowing me to feel. And he’ll be there. He is there. And I know it. I release the air that worry tries to trap in my lungs, and I breathe. And breathe again. And I sleep. Feet dangling. I do remember.


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In a moment of happiness.

The kids and I played a game last night. Well, game is a funny word – no winners or losers, wait – I guess all winners. Anyway, we started with a blank piece of paper. One pen. One person started by drawing a line, or a shape. Passed the paper to the next one. They continued. And soon that line turned into something. For instance, a pirate — Jack Sparrow no less. We did this for an hour. Talking. Laughing. Drawing. One scrap of paper. One pen. We had so much fun.

It was not lost on me that about 5 feet away there was the Christmas tree. Gifts piled all around. So many presents. They aren’t up yet. Soon they will be rejoicing, and ripping and laughing for all the new! Before they do, I just want to spend a little more time in the moment. The moment when all it took was a connection. That moment will return. This is what I give thanks for, in the morning calm.

Now, I love a good present. Love to give them. Love to get them. I will soon gush over the purse that I picked out myself and then wrapped and put beneath the tree. But this moment. In the quiet, when I know that I already have everything, this may be the greatest gift of all.

The blessed dawn of Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas! 🎁