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This blog is a great place for my own musings, but for anyone who follows my books, I’ve created a new author site here on WordPress.

If you are so inclined, please come take a look at:

http://www.julieballantynebrownauthor.com

As always, thanks for reading!

I typically don’t make New Year resolutions. It’s a nice idea, but they’re generally self-defeating after a week or two. I have better luck with positive changes when I’m really feeling it, no matter what time of the year it is.

This year, though, I am making a resolution. Two, actually.

  1. I am going to actively, consistently seek representation from a literary agent until it happens.
  2. I am going to connect more actively in the Writing Community.

Not that I haven’t done those things before, but I tend to drift off to other things after a spurt of writing or queries, usually my day job because that’s where my energy goes.

But this year, I’m going to query every damn day if I have to. Or at least every week. That’s probably more realistic.

I want to be a professional writer. I want to write for a living. It’s time to get after that in a real way.

To all of my readers, have a Happy and Prosperous New Year. Thank you for the views, the reads, and the likes. If you like me here, check me out on Medium.com as well, at Julie Ballantyne Brown.

Here is the link to my latest article on Medium.

https://julieballantynebrown-68872.medium.com/an-ode-to-the-unnamed-women-ad551b2ab38f

Book Release!!!

As an indie author, it’s always scary to publish a new book, but I’m also really excited to announce that Traveler II, An Uncivil War, is now available for purchase on Amazon as a paperback or on Kindle.

This is the second book in the series that I’m writing, aimed at middle school and above. Here’s the summary:

“Twelve-year-old middle-schoolers Tommy and Nick are modern-day best friends with a big secret: they can travel through time! With their history teacher Mr. Barnhart, aka Sir Edward, and Tommy’s parents, they use magical stones to travel back to 1863 and stop a bizarre new attack on President Abraham Lincoln in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. All does not go as planned, however, and they must once again escape from the clutches of another Abraham, a villain who was supposed to have died in the Battle of Gettysburg, forcing them to flee once again to Tudor England and the court of the terrifying Henry VIII.

Along the way, they meet new friends and foes, including Mary, Sir Edward’s scullery maid with an adventurous spirit, and the infamous John Wilkes Booth. Will they be able to defeat Abraham and save the world, or will he defeat them with his surprise magical weapon and strand them in the past forever?”

If you’re interested, head on over to my author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/julieballantynebrown

You can also go straight to the new book here: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B09HV8BGTG/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i1

Thanks for reading!

Tomorrow is the first day of public school where I live. For the first time in many years, we will not be sending any of our kids to school.

We took the “baby” up to college yesterday, he’s on his own schedule now. Our older two are out of college. I am no longer a teacher, having changed jobs last January. My husband, the math teacher, is the only one attending the first day of school tomorrow.

I’m seeing all of the posts on social media from friends who are parents, teachers, or both. It’s a mixture of excitement and stress, especially in this pandemic atmosphere. I truly am happy for those who are ready to go back. I have friends and family who are absolutely brilliant, amazing, teachers who love what they do and are raring to welcome their students to the 2021-22 school year.

At the same time, with the exception of one teaching nightmare, I am relieved this August. The dread that usually builds up in my gut about attending pointless professional development (I NEVER have to ‘unpack the (same) standards’ ever, ever again.), getting that kid in my class, or girding up to be a police officer in the hallway no longer exists.

Disclaimer: Before anyone says anything about my dread about getting ‘that kid’, please keep your opinions to yourself. I know ‘that kid’ has problems that should probably be worked on in a professional environment, but the reality is ‘that kid’ in a class of 30+ is going to demand most of the teacher’s attention with their behavior. Schools are not given the resources and teachers are not given the time to properly work with ‘that kid’s’ issues, so while I always felt for ‘that kid’, my stomach would clench when their names would appear because I also felt for the other kids and I knew that it could be a rough year. There were often more than one. Don’t get me started…

The point being, I am supporting my teacher friends, including my husband, 100% tomorrow and for the whole school year. They are rock stars, they are amazing. I know what they’re up against and they need the support of the entire world.

I wish the students and parents a wonderful year.

And…

I feel so very relieved that tomorrow is not my first day of school.

Click the link for the article I just published on Medium:

https://julieballantynebrown-68872.medium.com/shadow-work-and-gardening-31d2f7fc85dc

Thanks for reading!

Music

Some days it’s the soul-clawing heavy guitar of metal and angst.

Some days it’s all musical theatre, full of heart-wrenching ballads, fast tap, and sultry, sensual dances. Think Chicago.

Other times, it’s 40s swing jazz, all in the mood and flips and kicks.

Pink Floyd’s floaty imagery.

The evolution of the Beatles.

At times, I’m rapping Hamilton (gotta get that Guns and Ships).

Hildegard’s haunting strains echo through the centuries and lodge in my soul.

The hippie side surfaces with Janis and Grace Slick.

British Isles folk music awakens my DNA.

Queen and Aerosmith and G&R and Def Leppard and KISS make me roll my hips and feel all the feels.

Italian arias say it all.

High kicks and clumsy pirouettes across the kitchen to Sia’s Chandelier.

“Fix You” makes me well up. Every time.

I go to Georgia with the devil every time, saved by amazing grace.

Yo-Yo Ma brings peace.

Music is a pulse, a heartbeat, breath itself.

Therapy, life, pain, and beauty.

Sunny, balmy, days are lovely, especially when near the water. Fluffy snow clinging to trees, making the world a winter wonderland, are picturesque and breathtakingly beautiful. Even chilly rainy days have their charm when there’s a book, a blanket, and a cup of tea involved.

But do you know what sort of days I like best?

The days that don’t know who they are

With the clouds roiling overhead, making the elusive wind visible,

Whipping my hair, witchy and wild, into a swirl of knots that I’ll have to untangle later.

Thin slices of sun struggle valiantly with the marble clouds.

It’s warm enough, but the wind urges you to don a cloak and pull it tight.

Nature indecisive, delightfully unpredictable and feral,

A clandestine joy bubbles up, arms out, whirling and twirling in the backyard where no one will see (maybe)

Until the cold rain hits your face, flushed and happy.

Peace

One bonus to working from home is that I can take a short walk in the mornings in place of a commute most days. The last few days it’s been beautiful out, if a little chilly, with bright sunshine and clear, cloudless, blue skies for once. This morning, the sunshine was wispy with clouds and beautiful, the air a bit warmer.

It’s a wonderful time to quiet my mind, think things over. Walking (fast walking/jogging) does that for me. I’m away from technology, I’m moving, breathing fresh air. Morning is the prime time for birds in my neighborhood, too: robins, blue jays, sparrows, woodpeckers, orioles, starlings, and crows are all out and about. That’s a big difference from my evening walks when bats, rabbits, and the occasional opossum are usually the only companions I see.

I’m not a morning person by any means, but walking in the mornings reminds me of walking out into Greenfield Village when I worked there, a day yet un-started, full of potential. It’s peaceful. It’s good.

My life has been going well lately, a lot of thing have fallen into place, and for the first time in a long time, I’m happy in most areas of my personal life. There’s that little part of my mind, though, that’s waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the bad thing to happen. That thing that ruins it all because I don’t deserve the good stuff, and it sends me back to doubting everything I know. This is a deep-seated trauma response that I have struggled with for a long time and it keeps me from truly enjoying things.

BUT… as my therapist keeps reminding me, I should enjoy this time for what it is. Yes, negative things will happen because that’s life and it can’t all be smooth sailing, but in the meantime, I’m going to accept the peace and contentment that God and the universe is providing right now, saving it up for the difficult times that will undoubtedly show up later.

Love

Integrity

Respect for all

Peace

I’ll also keep walking.

This article was originally published on Medium. Here’s the link to the original: https://julieballantynebrown-68872.medium.com/seven-weeks-after-teaching-aadf5bbcac3a

Seven weeks ago I left my secure teaching position and started a new job adventure. I had a really good spot in a district, did fairly well at the actual teaching part, and loved the people I worked with. I had a great administrator.

The problem? A lot of things that I won’t dwell on too much, because then it becomes whinging and whining, and that’s not what I want this to be.

Working 60+ hours a week sucks, especially when you don’t get paid for that time.I know many teachers who have a passion for teaching and all that comes with it, but even then, they put far too many hours into work than are fair. They live school all day, almost every day, searching out Pinterest themes for bulletin boards at all hours, designing virtual Bitmoji classrooms on the weekends, and crafting diverse, complex assignments to fit the highest levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. Those people are born teachers, but many of them are tired and overextended. I couldn’t do it anymore.

I love working and being useful, but I also want to leave work at work, during work hours. I resented, really resented, having to do work on what was supposed to be my own time and it was constant. I felt like I could never get out from under the weight of the never-ending papers-planning-staff meetings-content area PLC meetings-parent meetings-grade level PLC meetings-MTSS meetings, and then there was the actual teaching to do, which I was actually pretty good at. I was exhausted all the time and my depression was always on the verge of getting the best of me.

There were definite payoffs, though, some wonderful students who I genuinely love, and who I loved teaching. I’ll always remember them, but I don’t want to teach anymore. Those students are good memories.

I worked with some really fabulous people over the years: teachers, teaching assistants, administrators, paraprofessionals, secretaries, and custodial staff. I learned a lot from my coworkers and I met some really beautiful souls that really cared about what they were doing. Our kids will be better because of them.

I also worked with people who should never have become teachers or who were completely burned out and should have left years before. That’s what was happening to me and I didn’t want to be that person.

I love my new job. I love the staff, I love the people, and I’m really enjoying what I do. There are good challenges there, not impossible ones, and I can leave work at work. It was a great move, if a bit scary, but I’m so glad and grateful to be where I am. I’m happy.

At the end of the day, I did what was right for me. Teaching will always be an important time in my life, but it was time to go. Sometimes you have to do that in life, even if it means a big change.

You might be really glad you did.