Jodi Hills

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


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Seeing it through.

“There was the man who got on his horse one afternoon and told his wife he was going to bring in the cows. She watched him ride off across the flats. He came to their two mild cows, grazing half a mile from the house, and he rode around them and kept on going. She watched him to the top of the rise, a mile away, and she waited and waited. He never came back. “I don’t know what got into him,” his wife said. “He didn’t even say goodbye.” Hal Borland from “High, Wide and Lonesome”


When I start a new painting, I like to keep quiet. Those who know me don’t ask, “What is it going to be?” I suppose there are a few reasons for this. First, I’m often not sure. What I begin might turn into something else completely. That, to me, is never failure of losing the first, that is the magic of gaining what is to be. The magic that comes from seeing it through. Allowing it to become. Never abandoning the canvas, but working with it. Not forcing it to be something it isn’t, but allowing it to be what it wants to be.


Maybe she learned it from her father — the farmer who always came back from the field. But most certainly, I learned it from her, my mother. From her I learned the magic of seeing it through. The magic of no more abandonings. So today, if you’re wondering what the next painting will be… what tomorrow will bring…if you really need to know, know this, it’s going to be magic!


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Mother helped me believe not all things are bad, many things are good.

How do you know to believe if no one has ever believed in you? 
After the publication of my second book, “Believe,” I was asked to read it to a group of inner city kids in Minneapolis.  I’m not sure I like the term inner city.  In the US, the term inner city has been used as a euphamism for lower income residential districts. I wasn’t labeled this as a kid, probably because I was white, but certainly, in terms of income, I was no different.  Maybe the only difference between us was I had someone who believed in me. My mother.


When I finished reading the book to them, which ends, “I believe in you,” most of the kids were quiet, almost stunned.  I looked around, hoping for some reaction.  I looked directly at the largest boy in the group.  I knew if I could get a response from him, the others might follow.  I smiled in his direction. I kept smiling.  He made eye contact, so I asked how he felt about the book, did he have any thoughts?  He said, with no pity, no hesitation, “No one has ever told me they believed in me before.”  The others nodded.  


My heart wanted to cry, but I kept smiling. I was honored to be the first, I said, but I would not be the last. Once you hear it, it cannot be denied. Never unheard.  Now you must live it. 

We painted a mural for their school with the words below. They grabbed brushes confidently, loudly, boldly, and painted themselves a future.


We are born with our eyes and our hearts wide open. Innocence and youth make it so easy to believe…so easy to fall asleep in someone’s arms, to trust in smiles, to see animals float across the sky…to believe your summer will never end.This gift that we’re given – to not just hope – but truly believe in people and feeling and all these things under the sun…this ability to act like it all matters…where does that gift go? Why does time and experience have to wear it away, instead of building on it? At what point do we lose the courage to believe and then just start hoping? And why do some give up completely?Now, I am not the most courageous of sorts…but I’m not willing to give up this most precious gift, for me or for you. I know it won’t be easy, and I know it shouldn’t be. And I’m going to fight for it, every day. Because inside this beautiful struggle to believe, we are given the power to comfort, to heal, to inspire and to love.As I get older, I know my summers may not last forever, but I’m not going to stop believing in the chances that rise with each morning sun. And I know it matters…it always does…the things we do, the things we say, the lives we lead, and the hearts we touch.I want to see giraffes float by, instead of gray clouds. I want to feel the sun, deep inside of me, even when it isn’t shining. I have to believe in myself enough to have the courage to say “I love you,” and mean it…and have the strength to hear “I love you” and really feel it.I believe all this can happen for me, and I believe it can happen for you.

We hung this in their school. I pray it reached their inner-most souls.  

Hang this on your heart today, “I believe in you.”