Jodi Hills

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

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We’re all going to get there.

Long before ever hearing of the word “blog,” I put words to paper to keep a record of our lives. We called it writing.

For my highschool graduation, my mother gave me a small journal and a cross country train ticket to Washington State. In a class of 400 or so, I graduated 13th. To commemorate, my sister-in-law gave me 13 cans of Hi-C grape drink (my favorite at the time). My mother and I packed our non-rolling suitcases, along with the Hi-C and boarded the train.

As we rolled along the uneven tracks, often reaching 50 miles per hour, I began writing down the details of our adventure. We couldn’t afford the sleeper cars, so for more than 24 hours we watched the other passengers. I wrote down everything I saw. The man handcuffed to the federal agent (possibly just local law enforcement). The man kissing the “other” woman between cars, then returning to his seated wife and children. The older couple cutting their food so finely it could almost be described as pureed. The fielded landscape that passed so slowly outside the window allowing me to describe stalk by stalk.

I wrote it all down. We passed the journal back and forth. Laughing loudly with purple stained lips.

I still have the journal. Reading through it, one thing becomes quite clear — I stopped writing once we reached the destination. I suppose it has always been, and always will be, about the journey. These are the most precious moments.

I recently bought a booklet of handmade paper from a small French mill. Far from being filled, it has already given me hours of entertainment. It won’t be for sale. The profit comes in the daily escape. The magic as the images come to life. The stories behind their expressions. The lives revealed. The wheels of brush to paper click along at a reduced Amtrak pace, and I’m able to see everything. To feel everything, below the speed of this summer afternoon.

You can call it whatever you want. Journaling, writing, creating, blogging. However it is you fill your day. And you can do it for whatever reason you want — that is not for me to say. But if it’s purely for “likes,” for approval, the destination… you could be missing out on the most fantastic part of living.
This is the advice I give to myself — Relax. Breathe. Don’t worry. Look around. We’re all going to get there.

The sun is rising. Let the journey begin.



It’s not always easy to see it when you’re in it, but the challenge usually ends up being the gift.

Living in a country where you are learning the language, you notice everything. You have to. Even the simplest of things. The most mundane of tasks are brand new. Going to the grocery store. Asking directions. You have to humble yourself to the fact that you don’t know — a lot! “In the middle of nowhere” takes on a whole new meaning.

We were driving through this very “middle” the other day. I was fully prepared to admit that we were lost. Dominique on the other hand, was simply looking. We were trying to get to a place to picnic with friends. We were supposed to bring dessert. We wanted to wait to pick it up at a nearby place because of the heat. We were overestimating the opportunities of “nearby.” The GPS wasn’t working. In its defense, I’m not sure that there was anything to base directions on. We were running late, and later. Desperately in need of dessert and directions. And then we saw her. A human leaning against the car. In my best French I asked if there was a supermarket nearby. Dominique was mortified. She laughed — a supermarket! (We were basically in a field, a very big field. We were “time travel” away from a supermarket.) But still smiling, she did lead us to a boulangerie in a neighboring village. Which sacked us with cookies and directions.

I think about how fast life moved when I knew everything. (Or thought I did.) Which direction to turn. How long the drive would be. Where to get the best dessert. Where to buy the best paint. How to mail a package (not to mention just finding the post office.) Everything was easy. And time blurred by. This, perhaps, is more frightening than a little humility. Time moves more slowly when you have to stop and think. Stop to wonder, how in the world will I get this done.? Or what is the word for that??? Because in this stopping, you also get to see everything. In the middle of a lavender field, beside a small church built centuries before, Centuries!, eating the best cookies you ever tasted, you get to stop and say, “isn’t this something!”

We keep up the wander. The wonder. Dominique can hardly believe that I permanently have a rock in my shoe. Both literally and figuratively. I always have. I guess my whole life mother nature has been trying to get me to slow down. Here, in France, she’s found a pretty good way. I stop. Take off my shoe. Tip the gift from my sole and see where I am. Look at where I am! Isn’t this something?!