Jodi Hills

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


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To rise above.

I began mixing up the bread dough this morning. The first thing I have to do is to proof the yeast (to make sure that it actually does what it claims it can). If it’s good, with a little sugar and warm water, it will show you exactly what it is capable of. And when it works, rises up to meet you, you’re good to continue. 

Maya Angelou said, “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” People will often say, after doing something wrong, “Oh that’s not who I am…” Or after being mistreated by someone, say, “It’s ok, that’s not who they are…” I’m sure I have been guilty of both. I’m sure we all have. But Maya was right. People will show you who they are, again and again. Some good. Some very bad. And the key is to believe them. To stop asking for proof when someone is kind to you. To stop aking for proof when they are not. 

Last week, when making bread, for the first time in a long while, the yeast didn’t work. I threw it away and started with some new yeast. It never would have occured to me to try and proof it again — it told me right from the start — “I’m not going work.”  Maybe it’s a bit harder to see in humans, but it’s still there, usually right in front of us. We just have to be willing to see it. Embrace the good. Walk away from the bad. 

I want to be better at this — be who I claim to be — who I want to be. And see others for the truth that they offer. What if we all did that? Offered the world proof that we truly can rise up!


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A case for dreams.

When I was six, my family went to the Wisconsin Dells. This is about the most exotic place a Chevy Malibu could take a family of five from Alexandria, Minnesota. I know there was water, probably rides, but my clearest memory is of the pencil case my mom bought for me in the gift shop. It was a white vinyl case, shaped like a giant pencil. There was a zipper just where the eraser would begin on a normal pencil. Inside, more pencils. Oh, the possibilities! Imagine that, pencils inside a pencil. This was indeed the most exotic place!

The first museum I visited as an aspiring adult was the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Inside was the giant portrait of Chuck Close. It was magnificent. He says in painting this portrait, “I think I was trying to find out who I was as an artist.” I think at that time, I was just trying to find out who I was as a human. I wasn’t sure how I was connected here, in this place, with this art, but I felt it — once again, I felt it — the possibilities! My pockets were mostly empty, save for these brewing dreams, but I had enough money to buy two pencils. One represented what they created. One represented what I could create. I named them, “Did” and “Could.”

Through the years, I have purchased pencils from The Chicago Art Institute, The MET, MOMA, Van Gogh’s Museum, The Georgia O’Keefe museum… The Louvre! And everywhere in between. I have purchased pencils from book stores, universities, anywhere the dreams seem to hang in the air and call things out as possible.

That’s what pencils are to me – the possible! Each pencil tells me that Dreams have come true – Dreams will come true.

At my desk, next to my portrait of Chuck Close, and a small collection of pencils, I tell you that what you dream matters. Gather in that dream. Grasp it in your chubby little hands of youth, and hold it until your fingers gnarl around it with warmth and gratitude. Did and Could. Can and Do! Wisconsin Dells and the Louvre! Oh, the possibilities!