Julia Dellitt is an inspirational writer, yoga guru, and new mother! She has learned a lot throughout her young life and and loves to share her stories with her readers. Lover of television shows, good books, and traveling, Julia makes sure to always strive towards a balanced, happy life. Learn more about Julia by checking out my interview with her below!
Q&A WITH JULIA DELLITT
Could you tell our readers a little about yourself and the things that you do?
I’m a writer living in Des Moines, IA (truly the middle of the Midwest) as well as a mother to a one-year-old boy. I’m also a partner to my tech-y husband, yoga teacher, and a content manager for a large healthcare company. I spend a ton of time writing, editing, reading, practicing yoga, and hanging out with family and friends.
Yoga is a major part of your life. You do it personally and professionally as a teacher. When and how did yoga become such an important aspect of your life?
After college, I moved to Chicago and promptly got myself overwhelmed in a lot of ways. I was working full-time in communications for a big church downtown, in and out of several romantic misadventures, and going to graduate school full-time at The university of Chicago. I remember feeling extremely stressed, all the time, and so I decided to try yoga.
My first class was at a fancy studio. I rode the elevator up with a woman carrying her own yoga mat, looking super cool and like she knew what she was doing—in contrast, I was wearing TJMaxx leggings and an old sorority t-shirt. I felt nervous and out of place, but I put the $20 fee on my credit card (because I was broke all the time!) and forced myself to stay anyway. It sounds dramatic, but I felt like a million bucks an hour later: sweaty, strong, and just better. Calmer. Steadier. From there, I never stopped. I couldn’t always afford to go, but I slowly learned how to build an at-home practice, watched a lot of YouTube videos and eventually found my way to getting certified for vinyasa, prenatal, and kids yoga. Even though I’m currently taking a break from teaching and simply being a student right now, yoga remains a huge part of my life. It keeps me sane and healthy on many levels.
Many women can find classes intimidating when they first start out. What advice would you give to them?
Know you’re not alone. Seriously—everyone feels this way at the beginning. Hell, being a beginner at anything is scary! It’s okay to be intimidated, just find the courage to stick with it and give it a try. You never know until you put yourself out there. As a teacher, and even now, I hear lots of women say yoga isn’t for them, they’re not flexible, they can’t do yoga, whatever . . . well, maybe that’s true, but maybe it’s not.
I personally find that real classes require trial and error to know what you like and what works for you. Nowadays, there are so many styles and types of teachers. If you try one class or studio or teacher and it doesn’t feel like the right fit, try something else! For me, taking that approach until I landed on what I did like yoga-wise helped me eventually incorporate yoga at home more consistently. And at home, it was too easy for me to rush through the poses versus an instructor offering up options or holding me accountable.
Another option: go to a class early and talk to the instructor beforehand. Literally say: “I’m new, and completely out of my comfort zone.” The best teachers will take you under their wing and provide encouragement.
You’ve stated that you “believe in balance over busy, love over limits, people over things, and intention over outcome”. How has your life experiences led up to this type of perspective?
The older I get, the more I witness an emphasis on four things: being “crazy busy” all the time, getting stuck in mindsets or expectations, prioritizing items instead of relationships and viewing results as a metric for success. I get these messages from society, from the workplace, from articles, from men and women; it’s everywhere.
And my honest reaction to all of that is like… yeah, no. I’m opting out of those choices. There’s got to be some better options.
I don’t want to be stressed and busy 24/7; I want to feel like I’m making time for the right things in my life in an intentional way. I don’t believe that dreams and goals are impossible, or that I’m stuck in a box of how I’m “supposed” to behave—instead, I care about loving myself enough to try really hard at certain objectives, even if they’re outside of the normal trajectory, or there’s great risk. My iPhone is absolutely stuck to my hand some days, and I love to buy pretty things, but relationships matter so much more to me. And because I’m a control freak at heart, I want to obsess over how different or decisions will turn out, but instead, I try really hard to do my best with the information I have on a given day, forgive myself if it turns out differently, say thank you to those who help me grow, and let the universe handle the rest.
You are a writer yourself and have written for multiple websites! What is are a few of your favorite pieces that you have written?
The very first piece I wrote for The Everygirl was about unexpectedly getting pregnant, and feeling really overwhelmed about that new journey. I quickly realized women are not really “allowed” to feel ambivalent about having a baby: they’re expected to either 100% love it and wait their whole lives for it to happen, or be the type to never ever want children. And that seemed unfair to me, to only have two choices. I rested squarely in the middle, where I didn’t totally want a kid right then in my life, but I also wanted to try to open myself up to the experience and make peace with it. I knew I couldn’t possibly be alone in that sentiment, and sure enough, after the post went live, the comments, emails and stories from other women and mamas-to-be started rolling in. A year later, I still get the most thoughtful responses from readers about that piece. It makes me really happy that my story helped some people feel less alone, and reminded them it is okay to have mixed feelings about big life transitions like parenthood.
Congratulations on becoming a mother! How has motherhood impacted the way you see the world?
Thank you! I was one of those mothers who worried parenthood would change me, and I wanted to still feel like myself as a mom. Now I realize that you can’t evade the changes that occurand they can go hand-in-hand with who you are as a woman and as a person. Motherhood has taught me to be more patient, flexible and gracious, but it has also forced me to make hard choices about how I spend my time. It doesn’t consume my every waking thought, but it’s also one of my top priorities. I’m learning there is no such thing as balance, not in the way it has been presented to women, but you can certainly find little pockets of time for what matters to you. Mostly, motherhood has led me to be in awe of all women: those who do and don’t choose to parent, those who support parents in the form of community and those who work their asses off to provide for their families and follow their dreams. Our bodies are so incredibly strong and powerful. Women are truly a force, and mothers are fierce.
Travelling is important to you. What places have you been to and where do you want to go next?
I’ve got a long list in terms of places I want to see in the world, as traveling is extremely valuable for building empathy, perspective and context for how people live their lives. I’d rather book a plane ticket than buy almost anything else.
In the U.S., I’ve been to several places for different trips and vacations. My favorites include St. George Island, Minneapolis, Chicago, Charleston, and literally anywhere in California. Internationally, I studied abroad in Rome, Paris, and London, but I’ve also spent time in the Lake District of England, Vancouver, Vienna, Munich, Dublin, Barcelona and the Virgin Islands. On my bucket list: New York City, Denver, much more of California, Greece, Morocco, Australia, Iceland, Russia, Egypt and South Africa. I have a long list, and if I could, I would go to every single country. Who knows, maybe I will!
You seem to absolutely adore reading. What type of books are your favorite?
Right now, I’m really into well-written fiction by female authors and authors of color. I went through a phase last year of lots of self-help and professional development books and learned a lot, but honestly I love the escape that fiction provides. That doesn’t mean fiction is mindless; in fact, the best fiction encourages you to see through another character’s eyes and confronts stereotype or convention
You also have a great love for Netflix and Hulu! What show would you suggest for us all to watch next?
Netflix and Hulu are my downfall. Seriously, there is so much great television right now! I have to be mindful of how many shows I watch because I can fall down that rabbit hole so fast, and then I’d never get any writing done, ever. I’m currently into Big Little Lies on HBO. It’s based on a book by Liane Moriarty, and has an all-star female cast. The storylines are so nuanced, honest and unexpected, and it covers everything from marriage, raising kids, balancing careers, truth, friendship, jealousy, abuse, sex and power. A must-watch, for sure!
Is there a fun fact about yourself that might surprise our readers to learn about?
Well, I wouldn’t necessarily call this a “fun” fact, but most people are surprised to learn that I was engaged twice before meeting my husband. For some reason, it shocks them—and I understand, as most people only get engaged once. I used to feel a lot of shame and guilt about those experiences, but I don’t anymore. They happened for a reason, and I learned a lot about love, what I need in a partnership, and what commitment means to me.
You’ve spoken out on how important it is for girls and women to be heard and not just seen. Do you have any tips on how to be strong willed and encourage women to see themselves as just as important as men?
I’ve gotten a few questions recently regarding “how I found my voice,” and it kind of makes me laugh, because there wasn’t a singular moment. I’ve always been strong-willed, but it took me longer to figure out how to speak up. Teaching yoga helped immensely, because it was several years of standing in front of a room of strangers, talking about myself and other topics, guiding them in physical and breath movement, receiving feedback and being confident about all of it. Each and every time I write something publicly, I become a little braver. I don’t really worry about trying to be as important as a man, or competing with men or women. Instead, I focus on cultivating opportunities and taking advantage of my privilege to use my voice, stand up for what I believe in, and speak about my truth in order to serve others and tell important stories.
My advice to women: know your worth. Trust yourself. It’s okay to have an opinion and to speak your mind; don’t let other people do it for you. You’re allowed to learn and change your mind and mess up. Besides, being only seen and never heard gets boring, fast. If you feel like your voice isn’t being heard, then do something about it. Run for office. Get involved with political dialogue. Ask for a promotion. Write an essay. You’re not helpless; you have agency.
A lot of people, especially women, find it difficult to understand that self-care isn’t the same as selfishness. You’ve discussed the “fill your own bucket” method before. Can you explain to our readers what exactly the method entails?
Women are taught to be selfless, which sounds wonderful in theory, but can easily lead to a destructive sense of giving, giving, giving until we’re completely depleted. I refuse the idea that prioritizing your own emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual health is selfish. I just completely disagree with that notion, and I think it’s used to make women smaller, and to make them fit into the box of what society expects of them—which is to be this person who always gives and never takes.
And that’s bullshit. When my own tank is running low, I’m the worst version of myself: I’m mean to my husband, I’m sassy to my coworkers, I’m short-tempered with my parents, I lack patience for creative expression, I start procrastinating on deadlines, and I’m a distracted mother. None of that is good. None of that helps anyone. But when I make the time to practice self-care on a regular basis, the switch flips. I want to give my best, loving attention to the people I care about, so why would I not include myself on that list?
You’ve powered through multiple challenges throughout your life. How were you able to find the strength to tackle on some of the bigger hardships you went through?
I once asked my dad how he had the strength to raise three girls, especially when he worked so many late nights and weekends as a police officer. He said, “You just do it. You reach inside of yourself, and pull out the strength, and just find a way.” I always think about that now, because it’s true: when hard things happen, you don’t feel ready for it or like you have the strength to carry on. But you do. You put one foot in front of the other. You take a deep breath and make a decision to show up. And every challenging situation builds resilience, which is like emotional muscle memory—the next time, you have a tiny bit more strength than you did last time, and you feel stronger to take the hit.
You’ve had such an exciting and extraordinary life! What do you think the future has in store for you?
Ha! Well, I’m only thirty, so I hope this is merely the beginning of my life. I hope the future involves a couple of things: health, enough money to pay the bills, my family and friends, and a strong sense of belief in something bigger than myself. I also hope to write and speak as much as possible, which for me translates into publishing a book someday and sharing stories at a big event.
Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?
When I finished yoga teacher training, we did a little exercise with our mentors where we had to pull a rock out of a hat with a word on it, and talk about what that word meant to us. I picked “play,” which is not a word I would normally use to describe myself. But I think about finding a sense of play often now. It’s really easy to be stressed and “crazy busy” these days, and of course, many things are worth serious attention. However, life is very short. We don’t know how long we get to experience it, so make sure you’re enjoying the ride.