Jodi Hills

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


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The captain’s table.

It was my first job after college. To say I was green would be an understatement. I had heard once in college the best way to keep the conversation going was to say, “Yes, and…” So that’s what I did, with everything. Even to things that clearly the correct answer would have been no. Like do you know how to work on the computer. Certainly I did not. I didn’t even own one, but yes, I said, and I learned. Quickly. Do you know how to layout a catalog, work with Adobe programs — certainly I did not, but yes, and I learned. They asked me to design the flyer for the company cruise. I remember the tag line, “Oooh weee, Oooh wee baby…” (for those of you who don’t know, that song continues – “won’t you let me take you on a sea cruise?”) The most joyful yes I knew. They asked me if I wanted to go along, be the “Julie” from Love Boat. Yes, I said. You can take someone, they said, a friend, or significant other. I didn’t have a boyfriend, well, not one that I was willing to invest a week in. So I asked my mother. She said yes. 

Now to put it in perspective, it was not that long before that we had lived in an apartment where you couldn’t drink the water. It was not that long before that my mother lived on Heath Ice cream bars, because she was just too broken hearted to eat.  So to find ourselves at the captain’s table was more than a delightful surprise. We dressed up, made our faces up, our hair up, and our chins up, and sat as if we had always been there – up! Smiles, through course after course, we seemed to get higher and higher. And looking at my mother, I knew this is where she had always belonged. Where I had always seen her, even on dry ground, the dryest ground of a gravel road.

They, he, and she, will all try to tell you no. In their own fear, they will want to keep you down. “No, you can’t! No, you don’t belong here. No.” Just make sure your heart isn’t one of them. Make sure your heart believes in you – gives you the courage to look up – to say YES!

I see my mother at the captain’s table, and think, what a gift she gave herself – and what a gift she gave to me! Over all the negative voices that surrounded her, surrounded me, she said, YES! And I still believe.The sun is coming up – Oooooooh weeeeeeeee, Baby!


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Yes, and …


In the world of improvisation, (which is really just living), the main rule is that when offered a line, an opportunity, you must reply with “yes, and…”  Without this, the conversation, stops, and once it stops, then it’s over – there is no show, no living.  I guess this is more than true for life itself.


In high school, I think we think, well, if we can just graduate, then that will be it – we will know who we are.  I played on the volleyball team. Linda “Toes” Johnson was the best jumper on the team. It was like she had springs. We decided it was all in her toes, hence the nickname. She had the longest toes we had ever seen. She was Toes!  We called out her name during practice, during games. I would find it hard to believe that Linda, today, still defines herself as Toes.  


If we are truly living, we invent ourselves every day. We practice. We become. So if you ask me, are you from Alexandria, I reply, “Yes, and, Minneapolis, and Chicago, and New York, and France…”  Are you the writer? “Yes, and the painter, and blogger, and friend, and daughter, and wife, and..


There is so much to learn. To discover. To be. Thank God!  So today, I write something here, throw a little paint on a canvas, and I build. I listen to your replies and I say, yes, and I build. I listen to my heart’s whisper, and I say, yes, and… and I keep building. “What?” you ask. My soul. I’m building my soul. 

In high school, we imagined that Linda could fly – why in the world would we not imagine that for ourselves?  So, I ask you today, are you becoming?