Jodi Hills

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


Hands at the wheel.

There are scientific studies that show actual hormones are released when you share, physically increasing feelings of well-being.

I didn’t have the words for it then. I barely do now. But I didn’t need the proof either. I knew for certain that every event — every book signing, gallery show, television appearance was extraordinarily better with my mother by my side. And it wasn’t just about the event itself. Her involvement started long before. Upon initial creation of the words or painting, she was first to see. From the very beginning she was my safe space for this most vulnerable act of sharing my heart and soul. Each time, preparing me a little bit more. Giving me the courage and confidence to risk it all and show others.

Some have explained artists as a giant nerve, sent out to experience all the feelings, returning as proof that it could be felt, or reminding those who have forgotten, or bringing in those who had to turn away. I can’t be certain, but it feels pretty real to me. I do know one thing for sure, I wouldn’t have dared the nerve without my mother beside me. And even if I had, it certainly wouldn’t have been as fun!

Because it was never in just the allotted hours. No, an event from 2pm – 5pm on a Saturday afternoon started with morning giggles. Extra-hot, skim, vanilla lattes. Outfits laid out. Jewelry arranged. Swapped. More giggles. Make-up. Fashion show. Compliments exchanged. A very light lunch. Nibble really. As not to ruin the ensemble or lose the buzz of caffeine. Then the glorious event. Laughter and hugs and tender, joyful tears. Still flying high, we would make it to a favorite restaurant. The wine and plates shared. Slowly. Mapping out and traveling the day again. Returning home. All exposed nerves filled to capacity, safely tucked in. Muted giggles swallowed in pillows.

Listening to a podcast yesterday, a woman was explaining her time as a Donut Dolly, working for the Red Cross overseas in WW2. With the same courage as any soldier, these women braved the front lines to bring the much needed supplies of coffee, treats, news, letters, smiles, compassion, comfort. Dodging bombs and boosting morale. She spoke of her best friend beside her. She explained that she “drove the truck,” but it was her friend “who brought the joy.”

Tears streamed down my face. People have told me through the years how brave I have been. To follow my dreams. Risking my heart. Exposing my life through the work. And yes, I did dare to “drive the truck.” But just as brave, just as valuable, it was my mother who sat beside me, bringing the joy.

We’re still doing it. Hands at the wheel, I gather in her joy. And the journey continues.