Fall 2019 Updates (hint: dogs, dogs, dogs!)

 

I love fall. It is, in my opinion, the most beautiful of all the seasons due to the incredible red, gold, and orange leaves filling the trees with a bright blue sky backdrop. Add to that the crisp air! The crunch of leaves underfoot! The start of school! Ah, it’s just a great season.

Plus, October is my husband’s birthday month, and our wedding anniversary month. And who doesn’t love Halloween to cap it off?

I’ve been busy getting ensconced with my new reading specialist job two days per week, and using the other days at home to write, take care of the house and pets, and do… all the other things required in life.

Here’s one fun article I had to chance to write recently for North Oaks Living Magazine. It highlights some of our great neighbor and their wonderful pets and nature projects!

 

I was also asked to write a blog post for the Minnesota Chapter of NAVHDA (North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association), which my family joined after getting our first versatile dog, Sunny, last spring.

Check out the article, here. The dinner I write about, as well as the other NAVHDA activities I participate in, are an example of how we can open up our comfortable little worlds by trying new things and meeting new people.

Of course, Sunny, our now 8 month old pup, continues to inspire me, so I had to write an article for the Fall 2019 issue of Munster Tales, the seasonal newsletter for Small Munsterlander Club of America members and enthusiasts.

 

 

One other special pup I shone the spotlight on in a recent magazine article is Rosie, a rescue dog who now has a happy and posh life with her four totally pawsome hoomans.

 

 

I have a few other writing projects in the works; I can’t wait to share them with you once they hit the press!

In the meantime, I wish all of my wonderful readers the happiest of falls and happiest of Halloweens!

~Julia

.

 

Art Imitates Life and so on and so forth

If you had told me when I was 25 that I’d be more excited to write an article for a hunting magazine than a fashion one, I would’ve guffawed [as my son would say; he loves that word].

Have you heard the theory about how every ten years or so we can expect our careers to take entirely new directions? For me, it rings true, and I couldn’t have predicted the exact path I would take.

10 years ago, I was teaching high school English full time to students with various learning disabilities. Over time, I’ll just say it– I became good at it. With experience, passion, and dedication comes success, right?

But then I had my son, my very first baby, followed soon after by my daughter, and in the chaos & enormity of new motherhood, I took time off from teaching to be a stay-at-home mother. {and yes, for the record, it is absolutely a full-time job to be home caring for babies and toddlers all day long. It is an unpaid job that stay-at-home parents are expected to be “grateful for” at all times… but you should probably go visit my other site, Frantic Mama, to dig into all that}.

Thankfully, I found time to write in the small pockets of time I could manage.

I had always loved writing, and by starting my blog, Frantic Mama, I found a niche in the parenting/humor world. Blogging was a fantastic outlet during those crazy long days (and nights). I developed my voice, honed my writing skills, learned about social media, and gained a loyal following. Frantic Mama was a gift to myself and hopefully to the many new mothers out there who could relate to the very real, very unglamorous side of parenting I wrote about.

I soon started pushing myself to publish my work outside of my own blog, and that was a great experience too– turns out, there was a demand for moms writing about the real side of parenting. Not the Martha Stewart sh*t!

Slowly, writing became a professional pursuit for me, and it has since turned into a career for me.

Side Note: People often ask “how do you become a writer?” and it’s a huge concept with a somewhat simple answer: You start. You work. You write. You submit. You get rejected and you get accepted. Repeat. Nothing magical happens overnight for 99% of us. So my answer to aspiring writers is always the same, and I have to tell you, so few like my answer because it’s not a shortcut, but here it is: Start a blog. Try not to think about who reads it. Develop your voice. Keep at it. 

Anyhoo… With the addition of my one-on-one tutoring over time (because I missed teaching and I knew I had the skills to help kids learn to read), I found myself working almost whenever I wasn’t taking care of my children.

How, you ask? Many think because my car is in the garage, I’m home doing, well, I don’t know. What do people do?

To have two part-time jobs and virtually zero child care except preschool and now (thankfully) school, I’ve worked 7 days a week. Not 12 hours in a row each day of course, but within almost every single day for the last few years, I’ve found time to write or tutor. Add in childcare, and well, I’m pretty much always working [laugh cry laugh cry].

Life is good that way, though. The harder I work, the richer life is. At least, for me it usually feels that way. I start to feel very unhappy if I’m not inspired to write.

This is what I begin to look like when I haven’t written anything for a few days:

debbie-downer
Yeah, that’d be Debbie Downer.

This year, I’ll be an in-house tutor at a small local school twice a week, so kinda sorta back in the classroom (are careers on a cyclical cycle for some of us?), and of course, a writer through and through the rest of the week, whenever I can have a peek at my trusty laptop. Does that mean fewer/less this or that? Yes! Of course it does. We must actively make room for our goals. Not everything gets 100% of us.

I’ll leave you with what I started with: a piece I wrote about stepping out of my comfort zone right along with my son, and our Sunny Girl pup. Yes, it’s a hunting magazine. And no, I don’t think there’s another place I’d rather see the piece than in this one.

 

September 2019, VHD (Versatile Hunting Dog) Magazine, published by NAVHDA (North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association).

Read the whole article, here.

 

How the world turns! What will I be doing in another 10 years? What will you be doing? 

~Julia

End-of-Summer Publications

Happy end-of-summer, everyone!

It is happy, isn’t it? I suppose the end of August always feels bittersweet to me, as I imagine it does for many. I love the summer weather and the chance to be outside as much as possible during the warm months in Minnesota, but I also look forward to the start of a new school year and new routines in the fall. Fall in Minnesota is also the most colorful, beautiful season, in my book.

Of course, fall also means my two young children head back to school, which is again, bittersweet. I know they’re ready to be with friends, old and new, and to learn and absorb All The Things. They are also happier with a regular routine and schedule, whether they know it or not. School gives me more time to write, which makes me a happier, more fulfilled person.

Alas, I am not a Pumpkin Spice Latte person, but there are some local pumpkin cookies that always get me in the fall spirit… so there’s that!

I recently had the opportunity to be published in what I’d call a “bucket list” magazine: EQUUS. It’s one of the most highly regarded equestrian and horse care publications, and as a writer it’s a huge honor to see my words in print in those glossy pages.

 

image
My article is in the Summer 2019 issue.
EQUUS Article
My article features non-profit War Horses fo Veterans.

I’m especially proud that my article features a non-profit I fully stand behind, War Horses for Veterans.

You can read the article online too, at Hope in the Saddle, a website that shares all the good that horses do for us.

I’ve also been toiling away on an unusual story for The Morgan Horse Magazine; it’s taken on rather epic proportions, as the subject of the article doesn’t use a computer, has no cell phone, and is usually out of range in the mountains of Wyoming. It promises to be a good read, however, no matter how long it takes.

I offered to take on the “pets” section in my local lifestyle magazine, and it’s been a fun passion project– writing & animals are two of my favorite things, after all. My first article features a neighborhood family with a lizard, a dog, and a cat (my kind of people!).

 

Tutoring Updates

My tutoring business will change this school year: instead of working privately outside of school hours with families, I will be working in a local St. Paul school two times a week, providing intensive reading instruction during the school day to students with learning disabilities like Dyslexia.

I think this new model is such a win for students– they get to receive that one-on-one help during the school day, rather than when they’re tired and busy after school, or need a break on the weekends. I’m looking forward to this new challenge and helping more children gain confidence in their reading.

Fall, here we come!

In the meantime, I’m off to get one many of those pumpkin cookies. And my puppy sure is hoping to get a pheasant or two this fall. Let’s do this!

IMG_3035

Happy Fall,

~Julia

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!

8BCFE9E5-57B4-4B40-8014-F806DE8B5489

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

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!

apples cover

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.

 

FullSizeRender-11

 

 

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.

 

chaska cover

 

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.

img_0479

img_0480

 

img_0481

 

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.

 

screen shot 2019-01-11 at 2.14.13 pm
Read the essay on Mamalode.

 

cookies image

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