Jodi Hills

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



After seeing it, the Liberty Bell, I had to look up the actual definition of the word. The thing is, we always think we know. There are many interpretations of course, but the words that kept popping up were freedom, rule of law, and not depriving anyone else of their freedom. Oh, we get the first part so easily, freedom, freedom, freedom. Me, me, me. But do we get the second part? The anyone else’s? That’s the hard part, I suppose. That’s where the crack comes in. This is where we fail so often.

We stood in line to view it, this line of anyone else’s, this line of every color and age, this respectful line that moved slowly in the heat of the sun – the great disinfectant. We were quiet, polite, respectful. For we were all in search of the same thing – proof that this was still the case – it could be done peacefully – this search, this daily march toward liberty. This daily march together in our differences, together in our similar pursuit.

We only got a few minutes to stand before the symbol, this bell. But it rings in my heart. I pray it rings in yours. I am your anyone else, and you are mine. And we march together, search together, work together, to ring out the great truths we all want to hear.


When there’s no parade.

There was a small piece of this wood left in the scrap pile. I could have just left it there. Who would know? Who would care? I guess the answer is me. I cut it into the largest four lengths possible (which wasn’t very big). There was a hole in one of the lengths. I had to use it, or there wouldn’t be enough wood to complete the tiny frame. I squared it up. Pounded in the old nails I pulled from another piece of wood. Sanded. And sanded some more. I cut a small piece of wood from an old dismantled armoire to fit the opening. The whole thing was about 6″ x 5″, fitting into the palm of my hand. I stained the frame. Gessoed the board. Painted a pear in charcoal. Secured it to the frame. Covered the back in paper. And attached my card. But what to do about the hole? It wasn’t that I didn’t like it. I thought it added something, but still, it called out, like “use me – this could be really special.” So I found some weathered string, and attached the smallest card. Front – Still. Life. Inside – Never perfect. Always original. And it was complete. For me, a treasure. Right there in the palm of my hand.

Today is the Fourth of July. For Americans, that’s something special. Independence Day. Living in France, it could easily pass as just another day. I could just forget about it. Who would know? Who would care? I guess the answer is me. There will be no parade, and no fireworks. But the songs we marched to in band play over in my head. The kids waving flags, and jumping into the lake way too soon after eating too many hotdogs from the barbecue – these thoughts make me smile. They are treasures that fit into the palm of my heart, and I choose to care. Because that’s the freedom we were given, isn’t it? The freedom to choose what matters. The freedom to take something and make the best of it. To see not the flaws, but the beauty. The freedom to love, even the worst of us. And to celebrate all, wherever we are!

As I type the words, the sparklers are bursting from inside. To celebrate here is not perfect, but it is original! And it feels so good, so magical, just to care!!!!! Happy Fourth of July!