Jodi Hills

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


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An imperfect life.

When I walked into his new condo, downtown Minneapolis, I was immediately impressed. It was curated as only Ken could do. Right down to the last detail. Just as he had curated each show in Anne’s lovely gallery by Lake Minnetonka.  It smelled fantastic, that mixture of clean and possible — you know, the kind of light fragrance that just makes you want to dress better.  “Sex and the City” was looping on the television screen. The lighting — just enough to highlight the art and keep your skin tones youthful. The bathroom – manicured. The bedroom – so warm, pillowed. And there it was. Framed. On the shelf. My poem, “Again.”

Again, I live this day

for the first time.

I feel the possibility of this brand new sky, again,

and I make promises to the world and myself

that I will make the most of this moment

again and again.

And I make the same mistakes for the first time –

and I cry old tears – and smile new hopes –

and I try and I laugh and I hurt,

and I pray for answers to the same old questions,

asked again and again –

when the answer is still and again – love.

I am blanketed by the night sky

and dream sweet and scared

and happy again – to wake to this day

for the first time –

to live in the possibility of this brand new sky,

and love, like I never thought I would, again.

Whenever I see this poem, I think of him. He is living his life in fabulous Ken fashion. As flamboyant and imperfect as only he can. And I saw him — not the curated version, not his sparkles, or feathered hats, or flashes of orange and prescriptionless glasses — I saw him. 

This morning, I page through my book, “An imperfect life,” and I read this poem and others. Each a snapshot of people I’ve seen. I’ve known. And what an honor it is. I read, “Hit by a train,” and I am with my Aunt Kay. I read, “Grace sat with me,” and I am with my grandmother. “The truth about you” — my mother. “Big girl world” — my Aunt Karolynn. What a joy it is to see people. To know people. What a privilege when they invite you in. Ask you to stay. 

I breathe in the morning air. Ready. Again. Eat croissants with the one I love. Open. Again. To see the beauty of this imperfect day. “To live in the possibility of this brand new sky, and love!  

Good morning world! I see you!


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Refer a friend.


There is a concept on the internet market called “refer a friend.” If you refer a new customer (we’ll call them a friend) to a website you have used, this “friend” will get a free gift or discount, and you in turn will get a free gift or discount. I can honestly say that I’ve never used it. Maybe I’ve never been that sure about a product.


It got me thinking though, in real life, it’s a pretty good concept. I have both felt and seen what the power of friendship can do. My mother has a friend, a dear friend, that has been extraordinary. She, even in her own difficult times, has been able to offer my mom a care that only a true friend can. And because of her, my mother has more to give. Together they create a comfort and a joy — (just like the song says, I suppose). Free gifts exchanged daily.


Go ahead and buy whatever you want. That’s up to you. I will only offer this small bit of advice. Find a friend like this. Be a friend like this. Giving. Open. Freely exchanging. Because it is so true, you always get more than you give, and they in turn will have more to give – and the circle of love continues. Of this I am very sure!

(This post is dedicated to Sara. Standing strong with her in this difficult time.)


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We walked to the fish market yesterday. It was a lovely day for a walk. 60 degrees. Sunny. No wind. They are doing construction just down the road from us. Cars were waiting. Blocked. We easily walked by. Smiling at the simplicity of it all. We strolled through the fish market. Such beautiful things. Les fruits de Mer! (seafood) But neither of us were really hungry, we had had lunch not that long ago. It’s hard to think about dinner when your belly is full. And what a glorious problem. We didn’t buy anything. On the walk home, we marveled at the luxury of it all. Such beautiful things offered, and us having no real needs.


We walked past a car accident. Construction chaos. Horns were honking. We easily walked by. Now I feel bad for the people involved, of course, but what a gift not to be a part of the chaos. And I understand life doesn’t always allow us this luxury, but I think a lot of times we can make the decisions that keep us out of the continuous horn honking. Because make no mistake, it’s always out there, always will be, but I don’t want to be a part of it. I like a calm heart. I always have.


I think one of the most romantic pieces I have painted is the blue VW on the side of the road. Some might question this, but I feel it. The simplicity of the car, the street. The colors that don’t shout, but embrace. The quiet beauty of being in the right place at the right time. The certainty of calm. Your heart will tell you when it’s home, but you have to be able to hear it.


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Winter boats.

It’s easy to love the summer of someone. The well lit, sun filled long days of them. But when the tanned shoulders are covered, with no aid of chilled rose wine in clinking glasses, you have to really love them. Just them.

But, oh, the winter boats. They are so beautiful. Resting on the shore. This is when you know. You know you can trust the love of the winter boats. The ones who will sit with you when the waters have cooled. Will be there, when no fireworks light July’s sky. Will be there, just be there, for you.

What a joy it is to not look back, nor forward, just beside. True love rocks gently.


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Red Rover.

There was a game we played in grade school — Red Rover. The game is played between two lines of players, positioned apart from each other, with hands or arms linked together. The game starts when the first team, calls a player out, by saying or singing a line like “Red rover, red rover, send ‘insert name here’ right over.”

The immediate goal for the person called is to run to the other line and break the other team’s chain (formed by the linking of hands). If the player called fails to break the chain, they have to join that team. However, if the player successfully breaks the chain, they may select either of the broken “links” and take the link to join their team. The game continues until there is just one chain.

Today, it seems we continue to play this game – over and over – never able to successfully make one chain. I’m not saying we should all have the same beliefs in every “game.” But we should be able to come together, in the largest sense. Treat each other with kindness and respect, embrace each other, with all our differences…practice decency.

Decency. It sounds so simple: “Please” and “thank you,” “have a nice day” and “yes, you, too.” But what does it mean to be decent during a pandemic?

In Albert Camus’s The Plague, published in 1947, he writes about a plague outbreak in North Africa. In it, the physician Bernard Rieux says: “There’s no question of heroism in all this. It’s a matter of common decency. That’s an idea which may make some people smile, but the only means of fighting a plague is—common decency.”

I guess there are some lessons we have to learn over and over. But I still believe we can come together. Red Rover, Red Rover…


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Heart strings.

She sent a picture of the Kentucky Bourbon Balls she made yesterday. It was after our first trip to Kentucky this year that I made them. And instantly I was in love. Well, what’s not to love? Sugar! yes! Pecans! yes! Bourbon, chocolate, yes, yes!!! So I wrote a story. Took the pictures and passed it on to my little world. She, seeing, feeling this love, decided to make them for herself. We are connected in so many ways, but once again, yesterday, we, from across the sea, were gathered in.


You never know what it will be that connects us. But I’m a firm believer in throwing out a lot of heart strings, hoping, knowing that some will attach. And when they do — oh, how delicious!!! Because that’s really all we have, all we are, these connections. They give us strength, purpose, joy, the ability to live, more importantly the reason to live.
I’m reaching out again today. I know you are out there. I can feel it. The strings of my heart whisper yes. Yes!

We are only as strong as our connections.