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:

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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

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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

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!!!

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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.

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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

 

Inspiring my Daughter

It’s no secret I hope my daughter (now 5!) will join me on some equestrian fun as she gets older.

In this post, I’m sharing a few of my favorite informal horse photos from this summer.

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The Minnesota Horse Expo (May) is always a great chance to get some rides in.
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She preferred the full-sized horses to the ponies at the Expo this year. She’s getting bigger but still looks tiny on a horse!

 

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Running into the stable… that’s what I like to see! (Woodloch Stable in MN).

 

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This is probably my favorite photo. We have a Farm Fest in our neighborhood every fall. The highlight for me is the petting zoo and the pony rides. My daughter couldn’t wait to hop on this sweet pony.

 

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I took her to the F.A.S.H Horse Show at the State Fairgrounds in Minnesota last spring. There’s nothing quite like watching English Pleasure riders prance around on their gorgeous Saddlebreds and Morgans.

 

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Of course, I need my both of my kids to cheer me on when I participate in a horse show. Here I had fun letting them spend time with the handsome Morgan horse Gemini, from Hardwood Creek Farm in Minnesota. 

Thanks for reading! Happy trails!

~Julia

Beach Riding :: Amelia Island

Beach riding tops virtually every horse lover’s bucket list, right? I finally had the chance to cross that one off recently while visiting Amelia Island, Florida (and I think I’ll go ahead and add it back to the list. I must do it again!).

 

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This is me with Misty, an energetic Tennessee Walker mare. Whoa, Nelly did she have some GO!

 

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On the right is my sister, who hasn’t really ever been on a horse. She did a great job on Cookie!

 

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Cue the joint head tilt. We must have been in sync!
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We lucked out on the weather. Our 5 p.m. ride was beautiful!

Interested in taking our lead (hehe)? Contact Debbie at Amelia Island Horseback Riding. Our awesome guide and impromptu photographer was Reva. The horses were well-taken care of and well-matched to our riding experience.

Happy trails!

~Julia

My Daughter: A Little Rider

Recently, for an Australian magazine that is printing one of my articles, I took some photos of my 4 year-old daughter riding.

She’s a natural, in my opinion ;).

Below you’ll find a few of my favorites!

 

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Here she is! Riding Leader at Hardwood Creek Farm, in Minnesota.

 

You have to love this sweet, patient Morgan horse: he must be wondering if anyone is even on him!

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First she wanted to avoid puddles, but soon she decided she wanted to go in “ALL THE PUDDLES!”

 

Here is Alyssa Wick, trainer at Hardwood Creek, leading Elizabeth.

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Alyssa is basically Elizabeth’s idol!

 

Last but not least…

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I love this shot; it naturally captures the joy she is feeling and the beauty of childhood (and horses!).

Thank you for stopping by!

~Julia

First Horse Show

I took part in my first horse show last weekend. It was nerve-wracking, scary, and lots of fun! I rode an adorable Morgan horse named Gemini, trained by the Wick family over at Hardwood Creek Farm in Minnesota.

I was the one riding, of course, so my husband gets the credit for the following photos. He didn’t do half-bad, considering he was also keeping our two little ones in check!

Plus, arenas are notoriously bad for photos– poor lighting, lots of photo bombs, fast-moving, etc.– but I wanted to share them with you anyway. Enjoy!

 

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That’s me: Number 289! Atop Gemini, a beautiful Morgan horse from Hardwood Creek Farm in Hugo, Minnesota. This is a Saddle Seat Academy Show: The Capitol Classic, July 2016.
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Getting in the line-up after an amusing ride with Gemini. Morgans are known for their smart and active personalities. They are also lookers!

 

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Trying to enjoy the ride…literally!
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I love the horse’s movement here. Morgan horses in this discipline have a high-stepping trot. This is me doing a little victory lap after winning one of my classes (I was shocked too!).

 

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Cool profile shot of the horse. I’m happy he didn’t get totally spooked when we went past the big window. Horses startle EASILY.

 

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There were only a few other people in my classes, which I liked. Too many riders in one area gets stressful.

 

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I like to think he enjoyed taking me for a ride!

Thanks for joining me :).

Best,

Julia Arnold