Dogged Inspiration

Being outside, especially on a warm, sunny day (though I’ll certainly take a brisk fall day, or a slightly cloudy spring day), is what helps clear my head the most.

Not only does this likely have something to do with the sunshine and vitamin D, but I’m pretty sure walking around and being outside gets our feel-good endorphins going. Surely exercise makes 99% of us feel better (I’m not sure about that 1%…). And having a clear head and a positive outlook absolutely makes me a better writer (not to mention mother, wife, and person).

Another perk of spending time outdoors: it gives us a chance to leave the screens inside, which becomes a break from many of life’s stressors and the constant reminders of our never-ending to-do lists.

Social media has many great benefits, however, in my opinion. Even a bit of inspiration in its own right! I’ve met writers from around the globe on Facebook and we have a virtual writer’s group that provides– on our own time–the essential support, advice, and encouragement people in creative fields require.

I’ve also joined hobby and interest groups online that offer tips and tricks and just plain old glorious enthusiasm about our chosen obsessions hobbies.

I love scrolling through Instagram and seeing photos from people I follow from around the world, hinting at what’s going on in say…Denmark on Saturday at 3p.m. Sharing my own photos on Instagram is also a fun pastime and helps me forge new connections too.

But there is something else inspiring me these days– something wiggly and energetic and about 30 pounds. At least, she’s busy inspiring me when she isn’t pulling me around to go pee or darting across the trail to sniff a dead tree.

Her name is Sunny.

Here’s a photo of me holding her around 12 weeks before she got too heavy for me.

Mama and Sunny at 12 weeks
Puppy Dog Eyes Extraodinare!

Sunny may be my inspiration now, but she’s also the reason my focus turned from writing for a good 2 months. Full time puppy care is like adding a full time job to an already busy and full life. It is just as busy as everyone says it is, and if you stick with it, just as rewarding too.

We’ve made it through the earliest and longest days [I hope], and she has rewarded our family of four with countless great, one-of-a-kind moments.

Not only does Sunny force me to take a step away from my computer and get outside many times throughout the day (every day), she has, I think, had a positive impact on our entire family.

My kids have learned how much responsibility a puppy actually is, that you can’t wrestle with them at 8 weeks old, and that to have a calm dog, they need to be calm.

Sunny has also gotten us to step outside our neat little comfort zones. For example, puppy classes with other folks from all ages, stages, and walks of life were intimidating at first, but so worth the interaction and camaraderie with other humans who are in the same crazy-puppy-rearing boat.

She also got me interested in a new endeavor: field work and hunt training. Yes, me!

I took my son to our first training event last week, and well, all three of us had a blast!

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Was meeting a bunch of new people (mostly male) with their dogs on a hot, humid summer night out on a farm and introducing our puppy to gunfire and birds stepping out of my comfort zone? Of course! But so worth it.

I’d love to hear what gets you out of your comfort zone. Was it worth it? Will you do it again?

I’d also be interested to hear what inspires others to carve out the time to do what they love. Is it nature for you too? Or perhaps it’s travel, spending time with friends, or going to the gym.

On that note, my now 5 month old pup is giving me her best puppy dog eyes right this moment, wanting to get out for a walk. You know what? A walk’s not a bad idea.

Until next time!

~Julia

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April Updates (and a new book!)

Hello everyone!

I hope spring is in full swing in your neck of the woods. It snowed here (again) recently, and I have never been more ready for sunny, warm weather!

I wanted to share a couple of publications with you.

An article I wrote for Dressage Today Magazine, The Unstoppable Eloise King, is up and running on their website. The article is about a fascinating, lifelong equestrian and full of fantastic photos she and her comrades saved over the years. From show jumping at Madison Square Garden as a young teen, to dressing as a circus clown and doing pony tricks, to riding and training the highest levels of Classical Dressage, Eloise King is truly inspiring.

 

 

 

Now available is an anthology I contributed to, Will Work for Apples, published by New York Times bestselling author Jen Mann of “People I Want to Punch in the Throat” fame.

39 authors from around the world wrote essays celebrating the teachers in our lives– some of them (like me) have been teachers, and some of the stories are about influential teachers they have had or their children have had.

Find this special collection on Amazon!

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Thank you to all of my readers for your ongoing support.

 

And if you didn’t catch my article in the May 2019 issue of Horse Illustrated, it is on newsstands now!

~Julia

Spring 2019 Updates: Passions Galore

No one is quite as passionate about spring as Minnesotans. It hits 40 degrees and the kids are in shorts, people are frantically outside running and biking again, and finally, finally!, it stays light past 5 p.m.

I’m beyond happy things are warming up in my neck of the woods, and I’m also happy to share some exciting publications I’ve had the chance to be a part of recently.

You might notice an unplanned theme in this post and in my recent work: Passion. It’s woven into everything I write, but in the following pieces especially, it really stands out.

In the May 2019 issue of Horse Illustrated, you’ll find an essay I wrote about how pursuing our own passions and interests (for me, one of those is horses), enables us to be happier, better parents in the long run, even if that means we are away for a couple hours a week and (gasp) spending some money on ourselves and our hobbies.

 

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I also had the chance to interview and write about Michigan horse trainer Katie Mair for The Morgan Horse Magazine. Her passion for her career comes through as soon as you start talking with her. I wanted readers to feel her energy too, and I hope I accomplished that in the article.

 

Local Minnesota photographer, Michele Quattrin of mQn Photography has taken many cherished photos of my family (including the one of my family in the above Horse Illustrated article!) over the years, but she is also passionate about using her talents for good: despite her busy schedule, she somehow finds time to give back to some wonderful non-profits.

I had to chance to share her philanthropic efforts in a recent issue of North Oaks Living Magazine.

 

 

Last, be on the lookout in 1-2 weeks (early April 2019) for my newest anthology collaboration, Will Work for Apples! The book, published by New York Times bestselling author Jen Mann, features a collection of diverse essays about school, education, and teachers. One of my many passions (besides writing and animals!) is teaching and working with all kinds of students, and I’m honored to write about my own teaching philosophy for the book.

Will Work for Apples will be available in paperback and electronic versions from Amazon and other online retailers soon.

I’d love to hear what you are passionate about, what you are doing to carve out time to pursue that passion, and of course, what activities you are excited to enjoy in the warmer, sunnier months ahead.

~Julia

Happy New Year

Have you adjusted to writing “2019” on checks and forms yet? It always takes me a while to get used to writing a new year. So far, I’m embracing 2019 and have a focused resolution of self-care for the year.

After years of being a mother (daughter/sister/wife/teacher), it is finally truly clicking that I need to take care of myself in order to be the best mother (and person) I can be. I’ve always believed that in theory, but as many beliefs go, it’s more challenging to put into daily practice, especially when schedules are busy, we get sick, school is out…you get the idea.

I’m exercising more, eating healthier (the usuals), and for emotional health, I took a short break from freelancing this fall to recharge my creative juices. I think when you work in a creative field, you feel constant pressure to produce, submit, produce, submit, but in the process of that never-ending cycle, you can lose the passion that makes you good at what you do. Taking intermittent breaks helps me with this.

I did, however, take on a couple (okay, a few) projects– there’s nothing like doing something you love in moderation that reminds you why you chose to do what you do!

First, I wrote about a fantastic non-profit organization here in Minnesota, Hope Rides, which gives children and their families (who may be struggling with significant life challenges– mental illness, divorce, death, to name a few) a chance to visit a farm, spend time with horses, and receive welcoming guidance and connections from the volunteers there. I shone the spotlight on a special Hope Rides volunteer in my article, which appeared in the lovely Neighbors of Chaska Magazine.

 

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full hope rides article for chaska mag

 

I also wrote about a handful of great people and horses in the Morgan industry for The Morgan Horse Magazine. It’s always a pleasure to work with that publication, and it was fun to contribute to their huge Grand Nationals issue.

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Next, I wrote about a friend of mine, Michele Quattrin, who has taken many cherished photos of my family over the years with her own company, mQn Photography. She makes giving back a priority, and I wrote about her pro bono work for an upcoming issue of North Oaks Living Magazine (due out March/April 2019).

In one of her efforts, she partners with Tiny Footprints, where she takes high quality photos of families and their sweet newborns who are in NICU units. In her other effort, she contributes her time and talent to Spectrum Inspired, which pairs professional photographers with families who have children on the Autism spectrum. She’s pretty cool, right?

Last, I took on a fun passion project: two wonderful companies, Mamalode and Hyland’s Homeopathy, asked writers to share meaningful holiday traditions– both big and small– with their readers and followers.

I loved sharing the simple tradition I have with my daughter of making and delivering Christmas cookies. Writing about Motherhood is where freelance writing all began for me, and it feels decadent when it comes full circle and I get to indulge in the topic again.

 

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Read the essay on Mamalode.

 

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No, not everything is from scratch. The perfectly imperfect fun is in making them, spending time together, and giving them to our friends, teachers, and neighbors.

You can read the article here.

As for my private tutoring business, where I help improve the reading and writing skills of local children and teens with dyslexia and other learning disorders, I’m totally booked! This summer, however, I will have some weekday morning availability. If you are interested in getting on my schedule, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Things fill up quickly since I have such limited time due to my own children’s needs.

Happy New Year to all of you. I wish each and every one of my readers all the best for 2019!

~Julia

Horses, Veterans, & You Do You

One of the highlights of my summer was the chance to spend a weekend at Patricia and Andy Brown’s farm in Stilwell, Kansas. It wasn’t just a friendly visit (though it was indeed friendly). It was an opportunity for me to witness War Horses for Veterans for an article I was writing.

War Horses, founded by combat veteran-turned horse trainer Patrick Benson and horse breeder Andy Brown, is a non-profit organization serving combat veterans from around the country. They use horses as a bridge to help the visiting vets heal, connect, and feel supported.

I was fortunate enough to write about the program and its employees, volunteers, and visiting vets for the The Morgan Horse Magazine, October 2018 issue.

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I am obsessed with the October cover.

Purchase a single issue (October 2018) on the Morgan Horse website to read my article and learn more about this incredible program.

Supporting our veterans is not a partisan issue. Regardless of who you vote for, I believe we should always support those who have put themselves on the line– often leaving their families for many months at a time– all to keep us safe and to fulfill a commitment they bravely made.

On another note…

Next weekend I’ll make my first trip to Oklahoma City to for the championship weekend of the Grand National and World Champion Morgan Horse Show. I can’t wait!!!

Morgan Grand National Arena
Grand National Arena. Photo courtesy of Grand Nationals.

Stay tuned for the fascinating human (and horse) interest stories that I plan to capture while I’m there.

Finally, be sure to grab your copy of the 4th anthology I’m honored to be a part of: You Do You, an all-female, multi-generational collaboration focused on encouraging and empowering the girls in our lives, edited by New York Times Bestselling author, Jen Mann. Find it on Amazon, iTunes, Nook, and more.

You Do You
Yours truly is a contributing writer for “You Do You,” an all-female anthology, published 09/2018.

 

Keep reading, keep growing, keep taking risks!

~Julia

 

Book Release

 

Ta Da!

It’s Release Day for my newest project, an all-female collaborative effort!

The book is called You Do You, and it’s edited and published by New York Times bestselling author Jen Mann of “I Just Want to Pee Alone” and “People I want to Punch in the Throat” fame.

 

You Do You Cover

 

Here’s the big reveal: My essay is called… Be Your Own Damn Rock.

It’s all about taking ownership of our lives and our accomplishments, and standing on our own two feet. It’s a message I want to inspire in my daughter. I will support her in whatever endeavors she chooses, but she can most definitely achieve any of her goals using her own brain, effort, and determination. No one needs to do it for her, and she certainly doesn’t need to give someone else the credit.

So how can you support this effort? You can order a copy on Amazon or iTunes. You can choose it for your next book club pick. You can order some to give as gifts– think friends, sisters, neighbors. In doing so, you’ll be supporting all the wonderful ladies who poured their hearts into this uplifting, girl-powered book.

Order your copy today, from Amazon, iTunes, or Barnes & Noble.

In the meantime, You Do You— I mean it!

~Julia

Summertime Updates

Summer has officially arrived in Minnesota, and from the look of it, people can’t get enough. If anyone earns their summers, it’s us northern folks!

I’ve had a couple of recently published articles and some exciting announcements. Buckle up!

Last spring, I wrote about a Morgan horse breeding family, the Grundens of Grunden Ranch in Nebraska, for one of my favorite publications, The Morgan Horse magazine. I enjoyed learning about ranch life and about the breeding side of the horse industry!

 

Next, I had the opportunity to write about two mother-daughter equestrian duos who ride at Hardwood Creek Farm with me. This article appeared in the June issue of White Bear Lake magazine, a regional lifestyle publication.

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The black and white photo is by Lauren Mueller Photography, based here in Minnesota!

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And now for some exciting news about upcoming assignments!

My nonfiction motherhood-focused essay was accepted to be in the next installment of New York Times Bestselling author Jen Mann’s next anthology. This collection (due out September 2018) of female-written prose and poetry will be called You Do You, and the focus is on empowering our girls and each other. I can’t wait to share it with you!

Finally, one article I am thrilled to work will feature the incredible non-profit organization, War Horses for Veterans. The good people who started this program, Patrick Benson and Andy Brown, work hard every single day to give combat veterans not only an amazing weekend on a Morgan horse ranch, but also to provide these deserving men and women with an ongoing network and lifelong support system as they reintegrate into civilian life. Keep your eyes on a fall issue of The Morgan Horse for that one.

On top of my written work, my tutoring calendar is totally booked. I’m currently working on reading and writing skills with kids ages 9 up to 18! What a joyful challenge!

Thanks to all the readers who offer their continued support for my ongoing, ever-present quest to spread the joy and love of horses, animals, and kids (ha!) to anyone who wants to read about them!

~Julia