Jodi Hills

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


Leave a comment

Be it ever so humble…

When I moved to France I gave up so many of my things. No, that’s not right – “gave up” sounds like a sacrifice. And it wasn’t. It was a choice. What I did really, was release a lot of my belongings, and made a choice. A choice to trade these things in exchange for experience, for feelings, for life, for love. The best choice I ever made. I will never regret it.

It’s easy to cling to items. And when those items don’t fill us up, we buy more items, different items. Items on sale. And when those items break, we search for more. But they will never fill us. Make us whole.

We are all guilty of it. Myself included. Each trip I make back to the US, I am limited by the weight of one allowed suitcase. And there is only so much I can bring, and so much I can bring back. Sometimes, it feels hard – (hard – insert laugh here) – to pass something by, not bring it with me, or bring it back. Just things, I tell myself. Only things.

What I want now, more than ever, is love and time. I choose love and time. I fill up my heart’s valise, no limits there, and I am whole.


Leave a comment

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.


Leave a comment

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.


Leave a comment

Filled.

There is a substance I use once in a while when I make a frame with reclaimed wood. The wood is never perfect of course, and sometimes when I cut the angles, little pieces will chip away, and so to make them strong enough, I add this putty to fill in the gaps or cracks and it not only becomes stronger, it has more character, and a new life.

There are days that chip away at my heart, and I think, if I only I had some of that to fill it in. Strengthen it. Some days it takes longer than others, but once I let go of the Oh, why?’s and the poor me’s, (can you imagine a piece of wood whining to his carpenter?) I can see that I do have it – have had it all along, just what I need to fill in the cracks. Sometimes it comes in the form of words, sometimes a book, a conversation, a hand, a smile, all just love, finding the right shape, to crawl inside the tiny cracks and fill them.

And on those days, when I let myself be filled, I give thanks, not only for the love, but the cracks that let it in, the narrows that give it a home, the imperfections that make it my own.


2 Comments

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.


Leave a comment

Rise up.


She sang with her whole body, this woman in the choir. I was just a child at Bethesda Lutheran Church. Sitting in the pew in front of the choir loft. The crowd was silent as she swished to the music stand. I know now that it was her nylons rubbing together, but then it seemed as if she were floating. She was more strapped in, than wearing that polyester dress. The fabric gripping each curve of her torso, rising up to the gold plated brooch on her shoulder. The organist began the intro, and I heard her breathe in. I could feel myself being pulled back with the intake. I turned around, resting my head on the wooden pew. It would not be enough to say she “sang” this song, this hymn, “The old rugged cross,” but more that this music rose from within her. It rolled, so majestic, through each ripple of that Lutheran polyester, gathering strength in her core, building through her heart, and then, like powerful lava flowed over the congregation. She said she would cherish the old rugged cross, and I, we, believed her.


I want to say her name was Doris. I’m sorry if that’s not right. But I can see her, to this day. Rising above us all, with this gift of song.


I don’t think I can recite most of the things we had to memorize. I can’t recall the sermons. But I remember the pure grace I saw with this woman. This unconventional beauty.


My mother is still waiting for a call of support from her church. It’s only been six years since she received her first diagnosis of cancer. But, at the same time, she has been given love. Friends who show up with cookies. Rides to doctor appointments. Beautiful cards. And books. Phone calls of laughter. Hugs of encouragement. Shared tears. For what is church, other than the kindness of people. The grace of the imperfect, rising up! I give thanks for each Doris willing to carry your burden for just a few moments. Moments that will last a lifetime.


2 Comments

Green. Golden.

It was not an accident that I ran into the stainless steel tree yesterday in the museum’s park. It was beautiful. Permanent. It would never die, I thought. And this seemed so appealing, just after hearing of her death. This tree would never die. Never.

It was an overcast day. No sun visible. And what if time did stop for us? What if it stopped now, and we were forever here? Never changing. No, I thought. I don’t want to be the stainless tree. With all of life’s flaws and heartaches. Goodbyes. Tears. I want to live. I want to feel it all. I don’t want to miss out on what today will bring. What tomorrow will bring.

Nothing is permanent. And that is frightening. But even more, to me, is to not really live. I want the chance to blossom. To bloom. To green. And with that, I will not get forever, but I will get now! A more beautiful now than any permanence could ever promise. A today of chance and hope and love and life.

We said goodbye to Rose Ann Maloney yesterday. She did not live a perfect, stainless steel life. It was filled with hellos and goodbyes and joys and heartaches and laughter and laughter, and work, and more work, and love – so much ever changing LOVE! So no, it was thankfully not stainless steel. It was not permanent. Not shiny. But make no mistake – it was green! It was golden!!!

In loving memory, I will repost a blog that she said was her favorite. She said it would help her be brave in her journey. Maybe now, for those saying goodbye, it will also, I hope lend some of that much needed bravery.

——
Barely more than air.

There is a group of migratory birds that, each year, flies 7000 miles over water, without stopping, without eating, without sleeping. They are able to shut down a piece of their brain. Their heart rate changes. Their digestive system adapts. These beautiful living beings, weighing barely more than air, have been given every tool necessary to make the journey. Each year, at the same time, in the same place, without worry, without discussion, they take the flight. They don’t gather and wonder, “Well, I don’t know, it’s a long ways… I’m not sure… It’s super hard…We could get hungry… Probably tired… Maybe we should wait…” No, these are the voices in my head, probably yours.

When I was five years old, I began to write and I began to draw. My mother said, no matter what I was feeling, I would go into my room and create the feelings on paper. Feel them. Work through them. Resolve them. These words and colors would carry me through unimaginable things. They still do.

Sometimes I forget. Clogged down with little things like, oh, my computer isn’t working correctly, how can I possibly go on… I’m embarrassed to say that I can be grounded by the smallest things, when I know, I have been given everything I possibly need to make each day’s journey.

I, we, barely more than air, hold the most magical gifts. Here comes the sun, my friends. We can do this. The sky is open with possibility. I’ll see you up there.

———-

See you up there, Rose Ann!


3 Comments

Black barns.

I have never smoked. I don’t really care about tobacco, but I was interested in the black barns of Kentucky. The woman at the tourist office told us they were used for tobacco. The black kept the barn hotter, and helped in curing the tobacco. So many are no longer in use, but I think they are still beautiful. They are so different from the red barns I grew up with.

We stopped at the Muhammad Ali museum in the next leg of this journey. I was never a boxing fan, but I was interested in the man. He was not a perfect human, but I haven’t seen one yet. I do know that he helped raise awareness for Parkinson’s Disease, the Olympics, the Civil Rights movement, and being human. I think that is beautiful.

It’s getting harder and harder to know who and what we are supposed to like anymore. We are constantly being told you can’t like this painter because he said bad things. Can’t like this music because the singer was a drug user. Can’t shop here, they support the wrong ideas. Can’t be friends with them, they voted wrong. I don’t even know if I’m allowed to eat that chicken.

And I want to support the things I believe in. I really do. But I want to know the world. Experience different things. Meet different people. Eat some chicken. So what do I do? What do we do?

If I write about something you aren’t interested in one day, does that negate the 20 other times you laughed or cried when you read my words. I hope not. I hope we can all be open to each other. I hope we can all believe in different things, and still be kind to each other. Walk different paths, and be open. Look differently. Laugh differently. And still believe in love.

I will sketch the black barns. The champion horses. The beautiful losers just wandering the field. And maybe when I get home I will paint the black barn. I don’t think my red barn will mind at all. I want to find the beauty. I think it’s even there in the search. Probably there, most of all.


2 Comments

Simply. Love.

She was immersed in gray, this young woman on Youtube. I watched her walk by the lake, in the fog, in the drizzle. The sky seemed to seep into the water, barely a difference. And she was so happy! Truly happy! The kind of heart-sighing that breaks into the widest smile of content. And just to confirm it, she said, “I love this weather. I wish I could live in this every day! It’s my favorite!” And I knew she meant it. You can’t fake that kind of happiness. She thought it was absolutely beautiful. She took photos and videos. Gasping in delight.

Normally, I am a person who can’t get enough sun. I feed off of it. I love the colors it creates, in nature, and in my heart. It is a warmth that I crave. But here she was, telling me how beautiful it was, the exact opposite of what I love, and you know, I could start to see it. Yes, it was beautiful. Because now I could see what she sees.

Now, I’m still going to hope for a sunny day. It is, and will always be my favorite. But I can appreciate that she loves what she loves in the very same way that I love what I love. Let’s slow that down a bit. She loves what she loves and it is beautiful. I love what I love, and it, too, is beautiful. That probably works not just for what, but for who…

It’s a pretty big world. Room enough for all kinds of love, I suppose. Maybe we should just let love, simply love.