Jodi Hills

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



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?!


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.

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The apricot tree in our front yard is letting loose her leaves. She, (because of course I named her — Adelaide) is not bearing fruit, not green with the youth of spring, but golden. So beautifully golden. And never, I think, is she more vibrant. She cries her golden tears, not in sorrow, but gentle tears of tenderness, so loving, such beautiful memories of summer breezes. The pines that surround her, evergreen, never make fun of her…I imagine they marvel at her strength, almost envy her ability to feel the changing seasons — her ability to color her surroundings with her ever adapting heart.

My mother had to shed a few tears on the phone yesterday. It was one of those days. An Adelaide day. She worried that she was letting me down in this moment – that she wasn’t being strong. Impossible, I said. I stand pine-tall beside her, and know that I am witnessing the most beautiful colors of an ever adapting heart. The most golden pool of life itself!

Remember in the movie, Fried Green Tomatoes — when she shouts out “Towanda!” “Towanda” is a reference to the alter-ego of the character Idgie. Idgie refers to Towanda as an “Amazon woman” and introduces herself as “Towanda.” It is the name she uses when she wants to feel strong, empowered. So, too, aging Evelyn shouts out “Towanda!” as she runs her car into the snobby young ladies who take her parking spot. “Towanda!” It became a battle cry for 80’s. Well, today, my Towanda is Adelaide! Adelaide I shout to the sky! Adelaide, I shout for all the beautiful women in their beautiful golden battles! You are strong! You are empowered. You are beautiful! Adelaide!

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Perfection knows no time constraints.

When I focus only on my own tiny heart, I can feel badly that she doesn’t remember me, my mother-in-law. It’s only natural, I suppose. And when I say the words out loud, it is only natural. There is no malice. Only nature. She has done her job. For 96 years. She has cared and nurtured and lived. When I arrived she welcomed me. Learned about me. Clapped for my paintings. Sometimes more than once. Knew me. And that was perfect. In its time. It is now my turn to welcome her, again, for the first time. Welcome this period in her life, not with anger (How could you forget?), not with sadness (Why don’t you remember?) but with grace (I’m happy to see you.)

I have climbed the Sainte Victoire. The mountain doesn’t remember me, but oh, how I remember each step. Each stumble coming down. It is my job, my joy to remember. I remember kissing at the Eiffel Tower. Wandering the relics of Rome. The feel of the Mediterranean washing over me. I remember my grandfather’s overalls. My grandmother’s hands. It is my job to remember. To share the stories. Pass them on. Give them life. Until one, day, in one language or another, someone might carry them for me. Carry each kiss and stumble. Until they can only pass them on again.

And it will all be as it should. Filled with grace, this perfectly imperfect gift of time.



I woke up wondering how I would make the transition from yesterday’s post into today’s. Not like Casey Kasem (the famous radio host) ranting about making the transition from an uptempo song to a somber dedication – I wasn’t that concerned, but it was on my mind. But that’s life, isn’t it, making the transitions? It’s easy, or perhaps more understandable, to be in the middle of something. For example, it’s easy to be in love, and it’s easy to be single, but to make the transition from one to the other… well, I think we’ve all been there. Life gives us constant change, and we have to make the transitions.

Each morning, when I’m doing my French lessons, I know that right after I will be writing the daily blog. Some days I have an idea, and other days I don’t. I just begin to write. Beginning is always the most difficult. Once I start. The words flow. And I let them. I don’t edit. I hope that’s not too obvious… or maybe I do… I hope you can tell that each post is coming straight from my heart.

We’re all asked to go through things, impossible things. Here, in these transitions, is where we need the most grace, from ourselves and from each other. In the transition is where each new day begins. Each opportunity. Each glorious awakening. Believe in the unbelievable. Find the joy. Good morning!

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