Jodi Hills

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


Leave a comment

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! 🎁


Leave a comment

Pull over fantastic!

There is a Prada store alongside the road near Marfa, Texas. Prada Marfa is a permanent sculptural art installation by artists Elmgreen and Dragset. The installation, in the form of a freestanding building—specifically a Prada storefront—was inaugurated on October 1, 2005.

I suppose it can be argued as a statement against consumerism, but that was all lost on me, when we saw it, in this middle of nowhere…the extreme unlikeliness of it all, it just seemed so beautiful.

A picture came up in my photo memories — me, standing in front of a Christmas store window in Paris. That is “pull over to the side of the road” fantastic — the unlikeliness of it all. I mean, I was born in Alexandria, Minnesota! It took me years to see it – but what a gift – to begin there. A gift to begin with (you probably are thinking I would have said “nothing” here) but to begin with desire, hopes and dreams and the belief that if I kept driving, driving through this empty dessert, something magical would happen — and that, is not nothing! That is something! And something magical did happen! Continues to happen! Every day! You just have to be willing to search for it, long and hard, and pull over to enjoy it when it does.

I remember it was an extremely cold day in Paris. The winter winds were blowing. Most people walked with their heads down, bracing the cold and the wind, having seen it all before. But this was Christmastime, in Paris, and I couldn’t keep my head down. I could barely keep my feet on the ground. I stopped in front of each window. Big smiles – the unlikeliness of it all! The magic of this season, this life! I am the Prada store in Marfa. That is my Christmas miracle – every day!


Leave a comment

Acts of light.

I just finished watching the movie Power of the Dog on Netflix. The young cowboys of 1925 worked the cattle farms in the shadow of the mountains. I imagine, without maps, or education, they had no idea what, if anything, existed beyond the giant barrier. “What do you suppose it is?” one asked the other, as the sun lit the mountain.

Emily Dickinson lived all her life in the small town of Amherst, Massachusetts. When she died in 1886, her sister Lavinia found a single box that contained hundreds of poems. In all of them, she envisioned worlds far beyond the apparent simplicity of her daily life — looking for acts of light.

I don’t know if it is luck, chance, fate, that gives us our place in the world. We all begin somewhere, at some time. I guess the key is to be forever curious, no matter where we are, what time we are in. We don’t know what lies ahead. But I’d like to believe it will be forever well lit.

So today, I hang the Christmas lights. I hang the lights to welcome the songs and the gathering. To welcome the questions and the faith. To welcome the joy of the season, and of the coming year. Forever envisioning the worlds within and beyond my simple life. I welcome the comfort, the warmth, the kindness of simple acts of light.


Leave a comment

Halting of hate.

Now that Thanksgiving has been celebrated, but not forgotten (for I want to keep that gratitude in my heart every day), it is, for me, joyously, all Christmas, all the time! But I like to do it slowly.

A few years ago I made toffee for the first time. It is a wonderful lesson in patience, this slow simmering, this delicate balance of heat, but not too much… wait, watch, simmer, bubble, not yet, stir, easy now… maybe now… gently pour… That’s the way I like to decorate — in a slow, sweet, so deliciously sweet, simmer.

Yesterday I put out my favorite book — Maya Angelou’s Amazing Peace. She wrote the poem in 2005 for the lighting of the White House Christmas tree, but it has, perhaps, never been more relevant, this call for Peace. For peace, she says is not just “the absence of war.But, true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.”

I know some people worry, oh, we shouldn’t say Merry Christmas. People have different faiths. Different practices. But never has it been more beautifully explained than in this poem. She welcomes all people:

“We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Peace.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you, to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.
It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.”

A halting of hate. What could be more magical than that? I don’t know if you celebrate Christmas, but this is what I want to celebrate with you. This joy. This hope. This peace. If you are one to decorate, I encourage you to place this book, front and center. If you like to keep it simple, then I encourage you to wear these words on your heart,

“Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.
Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.”

What an amazing time of year! An amazing opportunity for growth, even on the coldest of winter days. Warm yourself in the practice of peace. The slow, sweet simmer, of all that we can be.


Leave a comment

Stringing joy.

My office smells like the cinema this morning. I began stringing popcorn for the Christmas tree we have yet to purchase. I usually don’t start decorating until the day after Thanksgiving, but technically, I thought, this wasn’t really decorating, it was just pre-decorating. Truth be told, I also started hot gluing the strings on the pine cones from our yard. Still, only the “pre” stage.


I love Christmas! I mean, I really love it! And I want to be patient. And stringing popcorn, what an exercise in patience! I have a memory of popcorn being one big chunk of white fluff at the top that you could easily slide the needle through — but not our popcorn. Our popcorn pops with a flurry, in some sort of neurotic burst that makes the accessible part – almost inaccessible. But I love the look. The smell. The challenge of it all. So I strung, bit by bit, through the tears of watching Love Actually for the 15th time.


I will never apologize for feeling. I want to feel everything! And when there is joy – I will do my best to elongate it! Stretch it out, string it along, kernel by neurotic kernel. You don’t need my permission, but I will offer it anyway, wrap it in colorful, scent-filled words, telling you to do it – find what you love and do it! This day and every day – ’tis the season.