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...jen o'connor's...Artful Adventures & Daily Inspirations

I Love Art, Adore the Handmade and Treasure the Vintage. I am the Fun Mom, the Silly Friend and the Writer who wants to make more room for beauty in the everyday.

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Thursday, January 31, 2013

a dog whisperer among us...

I've realized I learn a lot when talk to my friends. So many of them know things that I don't, they teach, they share, they help me grow.

This is my great gal pal Julia (on left)...many of you who have frequented our Art Girls' RoadShow events and have met her -- she is a devotee and a true patron of our artists...Here she is with Jennifer Lanne and Melody Elizabeth last March in Sanford when we shot our "heART of winter" event for FOLK magazine.

What many of you don't know is that she really is the dog whisperer of Ann Arbor.

 Here she is with THE dog whisperer Cesar...
 And here's Cesar with Julia's dear Tot Man...

 And read on to hear how it all happened below...Congrats Julia on the recent press on your fab dog training biz "In Harmony Dog Training" and all your many accomplishments. I really am so proud to know you and to have watched your business grow... 

xxoo Jen

  Reprinted from 
The Crazy Wisdom Community Journal • January - April 2013
 By Julia Levitt

Let me start at the end of the story.

I have to pinch myself to make sure that it wasn’t a dream. I spent five days in
an intensive workshop for advanced dog trainers with Cesar Millan, “The Dog
Whisperer,” the most famous dog trainer in the world, my idol.
I have all of his shows and training DVD’s. I subscribe to his magazine. I am a member
of the “Cesar’s Way” online community. For the past few years I have watched The
Dog Whisperer reruns for two hours every evening. I know each of the episodes by
heart but still learn something new with every show.
Cesar does not describe himself as a dog trainer. He says, “I rehabilitate dogs and I
train people.” He trains people — the dog owners — through his words and through
his presence. He is centered. He brings a sense of calm and a deeply respectful
presence to every encounter. There is never a hint of chastising, or mocking, or
derision. The dog owners’ children often become the “stars” of the dog owning
family because Cesar finds in them a readiness to learn and to be present with the
dog. Older people are addressed as “Mr. Steve” or “Miss Kathy,” reflecting Cesar’s
Mexican heritage of respect for elders. He is brought into situations with fearful,
hopeless owners and aggressive or frightened dogs and leaves them all with quiet
calm, confidence, and routines for living together in harmony. In seeing that, I have
found my life’s calling.
Like every little girl who has had a dog, I loved my Napoleon. In retrospect, Napoleon
was a not an easy dog to be around. He growled at dogs and people. We generally
kept him in the laundry room with the linoleum floor so he wouldn’t mess the house.
My parents, like most dog owners, didn’t have a clue as to how to raise a dog. But I
loved Napoleon with all my heart.

My next dog, or should I say dogs, came about 25 years later. That’s when I started
to collect dogs. First a German Shepherd we named Tristan after a character my
husband and I loved from the TV show All Creatures Great and Small. Then a softcoated
Wheaten Terrier named Duigan (an Irish name because Wheatens come from
On Becoming a Dog Whisperer

Cesar does not describe himself as a dog trainer. He says, “I rehabilitate dogs and I train people.”He  is brought into situations with fearful, hopeless owners and aggressive or
frightened dogs and leaves them all with quiet calm, confidence, and routines
for living together in harmony. In seeing that, I have found my life’s calling. Then another Wheaten. Then a Portuguese Water Dog (like the Obama's have). After the Wheatens passed away, it was then a retired racing Greyhound. After the Greyhound and the “Portie” passed away, we “downsized” to smaller dogs — a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and two Pomeranians. I have loved them all.

I took dog training classes with all of them and trained all of them, some to the very
highest levels of obedience. But all of this had nothing to do with dog whispering.
It had nothing to do with providing the dog with a calm, assertive presence — a
presence that allows the dog to feel stable and reassured. That is something totally
different. Cesar Millan and dog whispering had not yet arrived on the scene. In the
meantime, I was learning about a different kind of whispering — horse whispering.
While it is true that I loved my Napoleon, as a child I did not want to be a dog.
I wanted to be a horse. My sister and I spent hours pretending to be horses. As
adolescents we rode horses. And 30 years later I bought a horse and named her
Punya, which means “good karma” in Sanskrit. I devoted most of my waking hours
to learning about horse whispering. If you saw the recent movie Buck about Buck
Brannaman, “The Horse Whisperer,” that’s what I was learning, from instructors who
had worked directly with Buck. Natural horsemanship is about relating to a horse in a
horse-like manner and speaking their language rather than using abusive or coercive
techniques to “break” a horse. It works. It is a delightful pleasure. It touched my

And one day five years ago it almost killed me. As will happen occasionally with
any horse, my horse spooked and threw me. I had been thrown off a horse many
times over the years but this time was different. This time I broke my back, had
eight broken ribs, a collapsed lung, and a separated shoulder. I was first taken to St.
Joseph Mercy Saline Hospital, and then transferred to the Trauma Unit at St. Joe’s
in Ann Arbor. I wore a brace on my torso for six months. As soon as I had the okay
from my doctor, I went back to riding — but it wasn’t the same. Well into middle
age, I shuddered at the potential impact of another accident. I decided to get out of
horses. It left a big hole in my life.
Just to fill the time and to keep busy during this transition, I joined up with a dog
walking service. I love dogs and love to walk. What a perfect combination. Right
around this time I was starting to watch The Dog Whisperer on TV. I tried some of
his techniques on the dogs I was walking and they worked great! One of my first
real successes was walking two Jack Russell Terriers. They were typical Jack Russells,
feisty and in command, and a pain to walk. I tried Cesar’s techniques of calm,
assertive leadership, and, somewhat to my surprise, the Jack Russells responded just
like on TV! In about five minutes, they were walking along like little gentlemen! Even
the neighbors were pointing, and laughing, and amazed. “Are those the same two
dogs you started out with?” Talk about fun! Because of all of my horse whispering
and natural horsemanship experience, I was able to pick up the basics of dog
whispering pretty quickly. And it worked like a charm. 
Because of all of my horse whispering and natural horsemanship experience, I was able to pick up the basics of dog whispering pretty quickly.

From there my path was clear. I became a dog trainer and a professional dog
whisperer. In addition to training dogs and their owners, I started teaching dog
training classes at Ann Arbor Animal Hospital and started to write a dog training
blog for I contacted Cesar Millan’s protégé, Cheri Lucas, and asked
her to provide me with telephone coaching so I could continue to learn about dog
whispering. This past January my husband and I planned a vacation to California so
that I could spend a half-day learning from Cheri Lucas. Cheri was very pleased with
what I had learned about dog whispering and encouraged me to attend the first
workshop that Cesar ever planned for advanced dog trainers.
That’s how I met Cesar and became a true “dog whisperer.” I brought my
Pomeranian, Tot Man, to the workshop. He was the only toy breed there, going on
pack walks with the big dogs, and everyone loved Tot Man, including Cesar. It has
been a long road. I am at the age when some are ending their careers, and I am just
starting my career, my calling. My calling as a dog whisperer.

Julia Levitt, “Ann Arbor’s Dog Whisperer,” provides effective dog training for all
breeds. In addition to private training and “board and train,” Julia also teaches
classes at Ann Arbor Animal Hospital and writes articles for that
help dog owners “live in harmony” with their dogs. More information about her
dog training services, upcoming classes, client comments, and all of her previously
published articles can be found on her website,
Contact Julia at and follow her latest activities on
the In Harmony Dog Training Facebook page.

WOOO HOOO - what a great story, Julia.

We love ya' we are in Sanford see us and meet Julia too on 3/1 & 2 when we make our annual pilgrimage to the Jeanine Taylor Folk Art Gallery...

Monday, January 28, 2013

circle of friends...

When a friend shares a friend something amazing can becomes more richly textured, and you glimpse in yourself something strong and positive, someone worth giving too, something to be cherished within yourself.
...hello new week, I have a lot to share, I am grateful for my friends and what they share with me. 
I am grateful for the texture and stories they add to my world...
Hello Michele and congrats on your feature in Where Women was a treat to shoot this piece and get to know you...
Hello Jo Packham I am grateful to you for sharing your friends.  (When Jo needed someone to shoot Michele's studio for the current issue of Where Women Create, I got the call and headed to CT.)
Hello to what I found....3 hours later I was in Michele's home, and in about 15 minutes she was in my heart.  Hello to her world is gentle and richly textured, as are her creations. 
 Hello to the small magic of a friend's creations in work in her studio...
Hello to seeing things in print....sometimes a story takes a long time and a lot of work, but there's nothing better than holding that article in your hands...
 Michele's story and studio are truly inspiring...I hope you will read both in the current issue of Where Women Create...
Hello new issue, can you believe this is #17....I was in issue #1 in 2008 and it seems like a forever ago!

 Hello to all my friends, and thanks for all you give me...
support, affection, appreciation and love.
 Hello small wonders of the week...I hope I can be as productive as I need to be...there's a lot to do.
 Hello to the these globes Michele makes her own with gobs of found objects and mosaics...
Hello beautiful things....I hope you see them all around you.
 Hello creamy white treasures, there's snow everywhere and white is the color of cold to me this week...
You share something that is important, something maybe only you understand... and then it blooms in understanding. Hello to sharing ideas.
Hello week...

xxoo Jen

Thursday, January 24, 2013

...we're heading south soon!

It's time for the Angels to fly south for our winter visit to sunny Sanford, FL and the wonderfully festive Jeanine Taylor Folk Art Gallery event....

Those of you who can make it will join those in the know -- this is simply one of our favorite events of the year...

Here's Mary's (the gallery manager at JT Folk Art) official press release...

7th Annual "heART of Winter" - SOUTH comes to Florida
Two powerhouse folk art dealers partner to bring the best to savvy art collectors at this winter's end

Friday, March 1 from 3 - 7 pm
Saturday, March 2 from 10am - 4 pm
Free and open to the public


Jeanine Taylor Folk Art
211 East First Street, Sanford, FL 32771

Expect a packed house for the third visit from Jen O’Connor’s Earth Angels as they travel from all corners of the country to set up a “pop up” show at Jeanine Taylor Folk Art in historic downtown Sanford. This merry band of artists specializes in one of a kind handmade art, jewelry, accessories, soft sculptures, fashion accessories and decor. You’ve seen them in national magazines like Where Women Create and Romantic Country, now you can meet them in person.

"Jen and her Earth Angel artists will take over my gallery for two days and present a show that has historically brought in over 500 visitors a day," remarks Jeanine Taylor.  "I am thrilled to host the heART of Winter-South show in Florida and bring art collectors to Sanford from all over the southeast." 

This year’s special guest artists are Melody Doyel, Jane Dagmi, Jennifer Lanne, Laurie Meseroll, and Letty Worley. Over 800 items including paintings, home decor, sculpture, wearable art and jewelry will be featured in this two day showcase. Visitors will enjoy a festive shopping atmosphere where they can meet artists face to face and discover vintage luxuries, gifts, and heirloom toys.

O’Connor’s Earth Angels receive national media coverage and have developed a devoted following from such publications as Country Living, Cottages & Bungalows, FOLK, PRIMS, and Romantic Homes. 

Here are some of my fave images from last year's event...

Sure hope to see you there...
this event is a great mix of good friendships, great art and that wonderful warm sunshine.

xxoo Jen

Monday, January 21, 2013

FOLK is "heartfelt' with Lisa Leonard...

 Hello to this beautiful new week.

I am so excited to share some "heartfelt" news...
My piece on Valentines and Lisa Leonard's jewelry has just come out in the February issue of FOLK magazine...
Hello lovely and artful things that make me feel good about what I do....and Woo Hoo Lisa! You and your creations look utterly amazing!

and pssssttt...hello to a little SALE to celebrate take 15% off your order
 with HEARTFOLK15 at checkout until 1/22.

Hello to this talented lady...I won't see her to June and then I can give her a hug and a hello and tell her how honored I am to work with her...
Hello to friends working together to get something done.
This really was a wonderful piece to work on...thanks to Harold for the great can even see a few of Jody Battaglia's adorable creations he snuck into the shoot...
Hello to savoring the small details...
here are some more of my favorite images and jewelry designs that were photographed for the magazine article...all are available here...
Hello to the little things that make me happy...

 Embrace Imperfection and Tic Tac Toe are two personal faves....

 I adore the beautiful bracelet...
 Hello it's almost Valentine's Day...
And how perfect...i love you...on an id style bracelet with a chunky link chain...this is on my personal wish list...
 hello to this idea...listen to your's usually right...

 ...Lisa...the truth is you are truly amazing...congrats on this wonderful piece.

Hello to this new issue, I have just read it cover to can order the new issue for $7 on our site...right HERE...

Hello and thanks again to Ben for the chance to showcase Lisa's "hearfelt" designs...
And to Lisa for sharing her creations with us...they make my heart happy.
  xxoo Jen
PS an event where Lisa AND Ben will attend...
And some more exciting news....we'll be hosting an appearance in San Luis Obispo, CA on 6/1 & 6/2 with BEN AND LISA!  Totally cool...See the events page of our site for full details and stay definitely want to try to meet these folks and out other special guests if you are in the area...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

old is new again, with a dose of style

I really adore anything that bravely nods to vintage style, especially fashion.
Ben Ashby of FOLK magazine likewise reveres the past and has a great respect for clothing, textiles and American made designs; he's asked me to do a piece on talented Earth Angels' artist Melody Elizabeth who creates artful jewelry, purses and wearables from vintage textiles, clothing and found treasures. So we started with a photo shoot of Melody's creations...

Here's a peek at some of my fave images...there will be oodles more in the next issue of FOLK magazine -- The Fashion Issue. So stay tuned for news on that!

...and while I  cannot spoil the surprise here...I just had to share a few and say thanks to Ben, give a salute to Melody Elizabeth and a shout out of appreciation to our wonderful models Allison and Danielle.

 Loving these textures and colors...
 We did have fun too...
 Umm, not sure what's going on here...
 Allie tidies a shelf and models at the same time, that girl can multi-task...
 "Where can we go next for out next fashion shoot?", they say...
 The dice earrings are my personal fave, fun, festitve and love Bakelite dice and crystals alike!! You can shop for them and her other jewelry creations here...

I want this one, it;s in Melody's personal collection, but she always brings a few special coats to share at the Country Living Fairs...

 And I love her purses, pretty and sturdy at the same can shop for them here...

Thanks to all and stay tuned for more on this article....FOLK magazine and more creations from Melody Elizabeth...

xxoo Jen

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