Jodi Hills

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

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Put me in, coach.

I played summer softball when I was a young girl — and I emphasize the word “played” here. We did keep score, but I can’t say that it really felt like we were competing. We were playing with our friends. There was something called “the ten run rule” — if your team was behind by ten runs after a certain inning, they just called the game, assuming you had no chance of winning. (A rule most certainly created by adults. We would have played forever.) And what I most appreciate about these times, times when they enforced this rule, it always came as a complete shock! I, we, never dreamed that we didn’t have a chance. We always thought we had a chance. We thought surely we should be allowed to try, to keep playing.

The confidence of youth! Had I known there was a chance it could slip away, I would have guarded it for the treasure that it was. I work on it now daily — rebuilding this confidence. Because what a joy!  To step up to the plate, without fear of the score, or the outcome!  To just play. To just live!  

I was in college when John Fogerty’s song, Centerfield, was released. It became a theme song for my mom. 

“Oh, put me in, Coach – I’m ready to play today;Put me in, Coach – I’m ready to play today;
Look at me, I can be Centerfield.”

I’m not sure everyone understood the song to the depths that she did. She had spent years rebuilding her life. Rebuilding her confidence. And this song, told her she was ready. And oh how she sang!  

The song begins, “Well, beat the drum and hold the phone – the sun came out today! We’re born again, there’s new grass on the field.” I look out the morning window and smile. There IS new grass on the field! And I, we, have the chance to play – forever!

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Being Pelican.

We were on a trip a few years ago. The Florida Keys. It sounds romantic, and it was. I mean everything. When you allow yourself to be swept up in it, the Ernest Hemingwayness of it all. The small details — waves rushing under a beating sun. The boats rocking next to the thatched roof bars. The night heat. The novel being written by the couple you can’t help but overhear at the bar — you start to feel it all, deeper than you could imagine. You can smell the salt in the air. Taste it. Everything is more. Even the pelicans looked beautiful. The pelicans.

We sat for a long time on the pier. Watching them. They had runway model confidence. Up and down the pier with ease. “Go ahead. That’s right. Take our picture.” I couldn’t look away.

I’m always painting in my head as I look at something. Seeing each shape. Color. I stared at them. Bit by bit, this is not a conventionally attractive animal. A little awkward. Weird angles. But I couldn’t look away. They looked back, as if to say, “I know, right? We’re beautiful!” They believed it. They truly believed it. And so did I! I could see them. Really see them. And they were something!!!

I continue to paint them in my sketchbook. Each time I understand them a little more. Appreciate them more. On the days when I really need to be brave, I think, I could be that pelican! I am that pelican! The romance of confidence sweeps in, and I am saved.


I have to believe my feet will take me where I need to go.

When I was in high school I had surgery on my right ankle. For the first time, and eventually the sixth time. For many years, and for good reason, my ankle was very weak. The doctor recommended that I wear work boots. Work boots. This would be a new addition to my wardrobe. I wanted to be a girly girl, like the girly girl my mother was. Fashionable. Pretty. I saw her get dressed for work. Taking care with each piece of clothing. Right down to the shoes. Shoes. Not work boots. But I needed them. So there was only one thing to be done. Not hide them. Celebrate them. (This was long before chunky was in. Long before Dr. Martens boots.) I had to make them my own. So I wore them with everything. Pants, rolled up and pinned, of course! Dresses! Full view. I was proud of them. I had my own style. I walked steady, and sure — even when I wasn’t — probably the greatest lesson my mother ever taught me.

It wasn’t easy for her, to get dressed for work each day. Answer the school phones with a greeting that people still remember to this day. But she did it. Broken, weak, for sure, (also for good reason) but she put one foot in front of the other and did it with style. I would do the same, in my own way.

Some people in this world stomp and trudge and carry on. While others, they make a path — believe in those people. Be one of those people. And your feet will take you where you need to go.