Jodi Hills

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


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Rabbits and bells.

I still get excited. And why not!? Everything is in bloom. There is candy on the table and kindness in the air. Eggs of many colors. Family soon to arrive. Everything feels like hope.

My first Easter in France was so different from that of my childhood. There is no Easter bunny here. They have bells. Bells deliver the candy and hide it. Not in baskets, but behind trees and throughout the garden. Bells, I thought, how ridiculous – everyone knows a rabbit… I know. I heard it too. And so I joyously rang the bell, and let myself believe. It made no difference how the magic arrived. It was there, filling the trees. 

My mother used to change the words to Peter Cottontail. As she skipped through the house with a basket of candy she sang, “Here comes Peter Cotton-fuzz, best little bunny that ever was…”  Different words. Still magic!!!

There is room in the sky for all of it. All of us. Whether you celebrate Passover, Easter, or Ramadan, or just the bloom of spring. I think we all want to believe in the best of us. The renewal of goodness. The spirit of kindness. The lightness of hope. Let the message be delivered in every way possible – even on wings!


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Feel like blooming.

There is something to the spring cleaning. The refresh. And it’s probably no surprise that the new Home Edit series was just released on Netflix. I will admit that I am excited by their organization. Inspired to do my own. This, mixed with trees in bloom, the flowers singing along with the birds, I begin.

I am not one who believes I have to buy more things to get my old things in order. No judgements, just me. I’ve always liked shopping my own dwelling. And I do. Frequently. I started with a good clean of the bathroom. Changed out the painting. Changed the postcard. Took the candle that I was gifted for Christmas out of its red container (red wouldn’t do) – put that candle into an appropriate container (a previously used up candle), and lit it, of course. And I picked a small flowering stem from our garden. As we say here, quite loosely I might add, Voila!

There is something quite satisfying about a spring refresh, and I slept well. The next morning, not quite awake, I turned on the bathroom light, and my heart smiled to the tips of my mouth. That, my friends, is refreshing.

I’ve started tackling my office. And it occurred to me, maybe I could do this within, within myself. An edit. Let go of the old feelings I’m not using anymore, the ones just cluttering up space, gathering dust…wouldn’t that be something! And even if it lasted for a day, a season, and I did it again, wouldn’t that, just like the spring birds, give my heart something to sing about! I think so! My inner voices must deserve as much attention as the shelf in my office. And so I begin. The load a little lighter, a little cleaner, in my house, in my heart. I smile, and feel like blooming.


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Bus Driver.

It was a big responsibility to get us safely to and from school. They seemed so old, these young men that were usually our bus drivers — law enforcement students at the Tech School in town. Maybe it was the uniform they kept on after class. So authoritative in their beige and brown. They felt like “sirs” when really they were probably 19? Maybe 20? 

I think of them today because of the changing weather. This promise of summer vacation in the air. This need to open windows and doors. To be a part of this air, so fresh, so new! Almost wild (in the best kind of way.) I, we, started feeling it at six years old. Let loose from the doors of Washington Elementary, onto the big buses. We opened windows and let our hair blow against the streak of yellow that lumbered down the street. Contained only by the glance in the giant mirror of the one driving the bus. Holding the back of the seat in front of you for leverage. One leg in the aisle – braced to race out the door when reaching your stop. Then the “almost sir” would move the big silver handle. Door open. Freedom!

What an amazing gift to be given. And we’ve always had it. Today, and every day, I give thanks for each window, each door, and those who flung them open!


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Worth a second look.

The first time we went to Lafayette, a few years ago, we didn’t really like the city. To be fair, we didn’t really see it. We lost a tire (we found it, as it rolled past our moving rental car) and spent the afternoon at the gas station. By the time it was finished, we asked the station attendant, where was the city center. He seemed baffled and said, “I think we’re in it.”  Banking this as truth, we drove on. 

Just before arriving in Lafayette this year, I asked Dominique, “Have we been here before?” We relived the runaway tire story and laughed. We both decided, “Not really.” In the daylight this time, we could see all the signage urging us to try the boudin balls. We love trying local food. Winding our way through the barriers set up for the Mardis Gras parade, we stumbled upon a small restaurant that said, “still open.” We ordered the pride of Lafayette – the boudin – not really in a ball, but more of a sausage – and it was delicious. We started to really see Lafayette. We went to an antique shop. They had real antiques, not Chinese remakes. We browsed slowly, thoughtfully, wishing we had more room in our suitcases. We visited with the owner. He was delighted we were visiting from France. We praised his store. Offered our apologies for not being able to buy anything because of the travel. He went into the back room. Came back with little packets. “I want you to have these.” They were flower seeds. Almost weightless, but for the meaning. “Plant them when you get back, then you will have a part of us there.”

Lafayette in the light of day. In the light of the people. Beautiful. We really saw it. 

It is springtime now in the south of France. Soon we will plant these flower seeds, and get a second look (or third) at Lafayette. And I suppose that is what spring is all about – giving us a second look, another chance. Another chance to see the beauty that this world holds. The weight of this! The importance! I don’t want to miss a thing!


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Welcome to the garden.

I was born in the springtime, every year. I can’t say that I’ve ever been much for New Year’s Eve. Sure, I’ll enjoy a glass of champagne and kiss in the beginning of the coming year, but for me, it doesn’t hold the magic of spring.

When the birds start to sing a little louder, the light lasts a little longer, the trees open up their branches in bloom, this, this for me, is intoxicating.

Our apricot and plum trees are covered in flowers. It is pure art. Coy as the Mona Lisa smile, the bloom says, well, I promised, and here I am. They just can’t stop smiling, and neither can I. I want to clean fresh, create new, enjoy every moment of this life. I am born again, for the first time and I too want to bloom.

The air smells not just clean, but sweet, and I feel lighter. Each step has just a bit of a bounce and I know none of it is to be wasted. I want, I need, to take that bounce and toss it against the page, the canvas, the hearts around me and follow it wherever it leads. I, we, get another fresh start. What a gift! I skip to the song of the birds, and know that I am new.