Jodi Hills

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

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Finding shine.

I suppose it’s only natural to get used to things. Even the things we dreamed about for years can become ordinary while living them. And we all want to be comfortable. There’s nothing wrong with that. But the shine, I don’t want to lose that. So I make the small changes. Daily.

It might sound silly, but for me, it’s the little things. I change the painting in my direct view from the breakfast table. And this brand new, this shiny comfort, reflects my smile, and the day begins. 

After lunch is my usual reading time. I switch up the place. Moving daily from chair, to bed, to outdoor hammock. Yesterday’s sun jumped off the pages as I swayed above the grass. 

Being my mother’s daughter, it is not only my joy, but my responsibility, to change my clothes frequently throughout the day. The more challenging the day, the more changes. I will hold the conversation in my head. Clutching my pearls, sometimes real, sometimes imaginary. Humbly offering my thanks. Accepting the worked-for shine that only a mirror and a mother’s memory can reflect.

Now some might say, well it’s easy for you, you live in a beautiful country. You have inspiration all around. Yes, that’s true. But I don’t eat breakfast under the Eiffel Tower each morning. I, like everyone else, am not given a reason to get out of bed…I (we) have to get out of bed and go find that reason every day.

I don’t know what today will bring. I’m not even sure what I’ll wear, or how long I’ll wear it. The clouds overhead say, “you’re on your own today.” I smile. “I’ve got this,” I say. And set out to find my shine.



As one who maneuvered day to day, bandaged from knee to heart, these Weebles fascinated me. Careful not to get blood on the wall to wall carpeting, I sat ten inches from the color television set and watched them wobble. I sang along, “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.” For me they weren’t just a toy, but inspiration. I begged my mother mid-week, and waited the eternity for Saturday to arrive. I sat beside her anxiously at the laundromat. Listening. Praying for the spin cycle. Then the dryer. I ran the baskets to the back of the Chevy Impala and finally, finally, she drove to main street and parked in front of the Ben Franklin. I raced through the front doors to the back of the store. Gazed frantically through all the colors. Toy, by plastic toy. Then my eyes landed on the Weebles. They were so beautiful. So certain. I held the boxed family in my hands and smiled with want at my mom. She smiled in agreement and started walking to the counter.  “Would you like a bag?” the woman behind the counter asked. “No.” I needed them in my hands. Nothing could separate me. Not even a thin layer of plastic. 

As advertised, they didn’t fall. I wobbled them on stairs and gravel. Night stands and kitchen tables. I taped them to the back of my banana seat bike. Put them on the dash of the car. Stuffed them in pockets. 

They held firm. I continued to fall. But I was happy. It turned out I had the stability all along. It was her. The one who washed my clothes. Bandaged my knees. Held the back of my bicycle. Used her hard earned money to buy me impermanent things. Used her hard earned heart to keep me upright. She was the one who taught me the greatest lesson of all, “Sure, I’ve fallen, but oh, how I can rise!”

I wobbled through yesterday. Just one of those days. I smile with want at this morning’s sun, and I RISE!

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A proper reflection.

To earn my weekly fifty cents allowance, every Thursday afternoon when I got off the school bus, I had chores to do. It was my job to clean the mirrors, wipe down any surfaces in reach, dust and vacuum. To clean the mirrors, I used the off-brand Windex that my mother purchased, and wiped them down with newspapers, because, as my mother explained, that’s how you achieved that no-streak shine. I don’t know how she knew. I never saw my grandma do it. There certainly wasn’t Google. And it wasn’t offered information in the Encyclopedia Britannica. But I never questioned her. When it came to creating a proper reflection, I knew my mother was the champion. So each Thursday afternoon, I took the pages from the last week of the Alexandria Echo, and gave us both a fresh start.

Maybe it’s too simple to say, but it seems I learned very early on that it was how you looked at things. Giving yourself the opportunity to see it all, even yourself, in the best of situations. It never occured to me that we didn’t have much. I was proud of our home. I was proud of my Thursday work. When my mom arrived around 5pm, I stood, blackened hands by my side, heart filled with breath and anticipation. She walked me into the bathroom light. Put her arm around my shoulder, and we smiled at each other in the streakless reflection. We were together. Shining. I had everything. The world was possible, well beyond last week’s news.

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Joie du jour.

It’s dark now in the mornings when I open the shutters. I miss the light of summer. I took my tentative steps through the morning mist, just a little uneasy. But the birds were singing. Singing as if nothing had changed, or perhaps in spite of the changes. Even in this darkness, they found a reason to sing. They found the joie du jour — joy of the day. So I stopped to look around. The heavy air glistened in the light of the street lamp. A good photographer could capture that I thought. The birds sang, as if to say, a good heart could simply stop and notice it. So I did. And it was beautiful. Different, yes. Lovely, for sure.

We sat down to eat our croissants. The radio said it was going to be a lovely day. I smiled. Knowing it wasn’t for them to decide. It was for me, for each of us, to make the decision, no matter the weather, the circumstance, to decide to be happy, and sing!

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This little light of mine.

We got a new vacuum cleaner. It has a very bright headlight. It was amazing, and a little bit frightening, what I could see in the corners, under furniture — see what I had been missing. The great revealer, this light. It was so satisfying to know that I was actually making a good cleaning. It felt good, and I found myself vacuuming with enthusiasm. I can’t go back now, to the old vacuum, the old way…I know too much.

I suppose it’s that way with everything. At least I would hope so. But in so many ways, I think we are failing. In the few minutes of news a day that I allow myself (my heart can’t take too much), I see, what I can only call filth. The absolute worst of us, making the same mistakes over and over. And we allow it. We shine the light on it, and still refuse to see it. We have to do better than this. We know better. Right and wrong are not that difficult to see.

Get your house in order, they say. And I guess that’s right. I will do my best in my little corner of the world. Try to make it as beautiful as I can. It was what we were taught, wasn’t it? This little light of mine? I’m gonna let it shine.