Jodi Hills

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

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She said, “What a lovely coat,” as she brushed against me in the narrow airplane aisle. I completed the hug we were nearly in and thanked her with smiling words.

Because it wasn’t just about the coat. I suppose it never is. This was the last coat my mom and I bought together at Herberger’s. A time capsule of laughter and trust and love. The woman on the plane didn’t know that it was our favorite times together, trying things on, being and becoming the best of ourselves, inside and out. She didn’t know how many times the mall had saved us. Lifted us. Held us. How it still does. But with those four words in her passing compliment, she gave it all to me again. I lived it again on the plane. Again, right now.

Never underestimate the power of a compliment. With just a few words, we can give so much. Which then allows that person to give to someone else. And so it goes. On, and on… reaching further than across the aisles. Lifting higher than any sky.

Give the gift today. To a stranger. A family member. A friend. The face in the mirror. Say the words. Complete the hugs. Give it all.

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The 6th of July!!!!!!

I suppose it was delightfully confusing as a child — all the excitement of having a birthday. So much attention in the air. And sugar. And presents. Or maybe it was because my mother was so inclusive — every compliment returned, every celebration gathered in. When I was wished a happy birthday, the first thing that always bubbled out was “Happy Birthday to you too!”  Bubbling joy is meant to be shared!

She loved lemon boats. And yellow tulips. And extra-hot skim vanilla lattes. More frosting than cake. And no-salt margaritas during happy hour. She loved dressing for all of it. Oh, the getting ready! Maybe that was the most joyful part of all. Nobody did it better. And she knew it. So when it came to the big reveal — what she was wearing for her birthday celebration — she entered the room that I was getting ready in (we each had to have our own room, with our own mirror) — and before I could get any words out, she would say, “You look nice too!” Oh how we would laugh!  

That’s how I want to carry myself. With that playful confidence. That inclusive spirit of beauty and grace and laughter. Especially today. On her birthday. My mother’s birthday. So, I ask you today, on this 6th of July, to drink the coffee and buy the flowers. Frost the cake. Light the candles. Smile in the mirror. Enter the room with confidence and joy. Be the compliment you need to hear, then give it away, freely!  Be bigger than the 4th!  Be the 6th!  

Happy Birthday, Mom! I smile at her picture, and say, “You look nice too!”

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My mom thinks I’m pretty.

I made a magnet of that years ago. It made me laugh. I used to say it, when I made a mistake, or did something stupid…”My mom thinks I’m pretty.”  (as if to say, well, sure I did this, but nevertheless…)

It still makes me laugh, but I suppose, there’s a lot of truth behind it. I knew, I know, always, even in my lowest moments, in her lowest moments, she loves me. And that tickles my heart in the most glorious way.

And to think she knew how to do it, when her mother (bless her heart) wasn’t fast and loose with the compliments (it just wasn’t the time, nor the way.) But if I think again, maybe that’s exactly why she knew how to do it. 

It isn’t because they’ve never been knocked down, these people who stand so tall — I think it’s probably because they have. Surround yourself with these people, these unexpected beauties! They will have a story to tell and a heart to share. They will make you laugh, and help you cry. Not much more beautiful than that!