Jodi Hills

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


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Belonging.

At first, she was always surprised that she was accepted. And more than that, looked to, her company welcomed – enjoyed. How could she fit it? She didn’t have the money, the pedigree – but no one else thought that. She came with me across the country. To shows in Minneapolis, Chicago, New York. She dressed in her curated, tasteful style – tall, elegant, crisp white collars – popped to present her ever smiling face. I was so proud to have her stand beside me, my mom. She knew the pricing, the availability, and more than that, she knew the stories behind each piece of art, each book, each card.


This didn’t surprise me. I knew she could do it. But the real gift came for me when I saw that she knew she could do it. When I saw her belonging. Belonging, not because someone told her she did, but belonging because she herself felt it in her heart, her soul, her being. This is something!!!! To belong.


I think she’s still delighted when people remember her, from galleries in New York, shops in the Midwest, bookstores across the country. And why wouldn’t they?! I’m delighted! I’m delighted every time she tells me what she’s wearing to her doctor’s appointment. She makes the effort, and oh some days what an effort it takes!!! Because she belongs here, in her own skin, in this beautiful life that she has made.


I walked into the art gallery in Rhode Island. The neon sign read, “You belong here.” I knew it in my heart. My soul. My being. This was not my first glowing sign, my mother will always be that.


Welcome to this day. You belong here.


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Look what we’re protecting.

The Art Institute of Chicago was the first major museum I ever visited.

It felt like I had been walking forever in the cold and wind from the hotel. Barely looking up. The cold of the sidewalk seemed to seep into my shoes, up my legs, slowing each step. The sidewalks were clear of snow, but I still felt like I was trudging. I could see the crowd of feet before me. The stairs. I stopped. Looked up. There they were. Standing guard. The lions. So majestic. So beautiful. Proud even. And why not?! Look what they were protecting! Before I stepped one foot inside the museum, I knew this was important.

It was easy to recognize what the lions represented. I had seen it my whole life. I had lived it. My mother had always been the lion who stood guard in front of my heart. Told the world it was important. Valuable – this life. As I grew older, I tried to do the same for her. I hope I did. I hope I still am. Because it is something. She is something!

The roles can and will reverse, at any given moment, throughout our lives, switching back and forth from the protector to the protected. But if we can approach both roles with a ferocity of grace, then each cold and trudging step along the way, will be more than worth it!