COVER STORY: Dr. Julie Lohr


What would people be surprised to find out about you?

I am a reformed people pleaser. I used to worry about making everyone happy and cared what they thought of me. On my weaker days, I still do. Childhood taught me that to be seen, heard, or given affection or any attention, you must achieve, work, or perform at a certain level to be worthy.  

As an adult, I’ve discovered that all that truly matters is what God, my husband, and my children think of me. What other people think of me is none of my business. My pastor, Fr. David Hemann, gives excellent homilies regularly. He once said that if 100% of the people in your life approve and like you, you are doing something wrong. He said that if 100% of the people dislike and disapprove of you, you are doing something wrong. If about half of the folks around you like you and half dislike you, then you are living an authentic life where you stand up for what you believe, and do not make decisions based on others’ opinions. It resonated with me.  I left Mass feeling like I was definitely living an authentic life.  

What is your life purpose? Do you have a personal mission statement for this phase of your life?

I think my life’s purpose is to be a wife, mother, and dentist. I want to be the best version of myself. I do not have a personal mission statement, but if I did, it might just be about surviving. The last two years have felt like I’m living in survival mode. Just keep swimming, as Dory says in Finding Nemo

As a business owner and a mother to four children, one with a disability, I often feel that I am operating at my maximum capacity for 18 hours a day, seven days a week. When my mother was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer at 61, I wasn’t sure I could handle the heartache or additional stress. It was gut-wrenching watching her suffer and knowing that my mom was going to leave this earth far earlier than expected. In addition to that, my associate dentist also moved away to be closer to his wife’s family. Carrying the entire clinical load while trying to help my mom navigate a cancer journey was extremely challenging. As the sole provider at the dental practice, I was overwhelmed. I relied on my Catholic faith and friends to help me through. I surrendered control and trusted in God’s timing, survived, and thrived in the chaos. 

What drives you?

My children are my driving force. Providing for them keeps me going. I want my children to have less stress and worry than I did. My parents’ divorced when I nine, it was traumatic. My kids deserve to have two parents who love each other and provide a secure home life. My husband and I prioritize each other and our marriage. We connect every morning and evening. 

We work together, and that is difficult. We  have nontraditional gender roles, and are a very traditional and conservative couple. We accepted the trajectory of our lives as God’s will for us after our oldest son was injured and nearly died. Chris, my husband, felt being a stay-at-home dad was really hard. For me, being the sole provider was brutally difficult. We envied each other and struggled with resentments. We leaned on prayer and our love for each other to get us through those first 21 years of marriage. We will do the same for the next 20 years. We laugh together and continue to date. We love to exchange witty banter and fun sexy talk. We truly enjoy each other and know we are soul mates. I know it sounds corny but who isn’t looking for what we have? We know we are lucky, and do not take it for granted. Chris is a wonderful husband and father. I feel incredibly blessed to have him in my life.  

What have been the most valuable lessons you have learned?

Life is short, precious, and fragile. Live each day of your life to the fullest and strive to enjoy each moment. Choose to be happy, to find joy in your career and your chores. Decide to be thankful instead of complaining and focus on what is right instead of what is wrong. I have learned that unconditional love from your parents cannot be underestimated in terms of its importance in a child’s life. The negative impact of trauma from abandonment and rejection from your parents cannot be understated. 

A dose of a new perspective can change your whole outlook. Perception is your view of reality. How do you see the world? How do you fit in it? Can you open your mind to see what is outside of your narrow worldview? Can you imagine someone having bigger obstacles to overcome than your own? Can you visualize someone enduring more tragedy or hardship in their life than you have, and yet they approach each day with gratitude and positivity? 

When people you care about show you clearly that they do not value you the way you do them, listen and learn from it. Many people choose to avoid difficult conversations. Conflict delayed is conflict multiplied. Left unaddressed, hurt feelings only lead to deeper wounds. When people show you their true colors, believe them. Do not make space for people who do not value what you bring to the relationship. 

There are some people in life that can drain the life out of a room with their negativity. They complain and whine and do nothing to improve their lot in life. They often have a fixed mindset. I struggle with this type of person, the 50% who do not care for me. 

I gravitate towards positive people who have a growth mindset. They self-reflect and want to continue growing and improving in all aspects of their lives. They are open-minded to constructive criticism and strive to learn new things, especially about themselves. They enjoy a challenge and do not seek comfort, because being comfortable creates weakness. 

Do you have morning rituals or daily habits that enhance your life?

I start my morning early with water, attempting not to trip over my two dogs. I make a cup of coffee, read my devotionals, and a couple of pages of a good book while loving my pups. I am currently reading Financial Happiness, by Mike Finley. I write a few things that I am grateful for in my gratitude journal and then give myself 15 minutes to hit social media, news, and weather. 

Then it’s either to the gym to meet my trainer, meet my friend Amanda for a run outside or at a fitness center, or I go downstairs to my home gym. When my kids were younger, nights and mornings were so unpredictable. After my workout, it’s getting everyone ready and out the door. My prayer time and exercise set the stage for me to have a healthy, productive, and positive day. 

Bringing babies, toddlers, and preschoolers up during the night is a real challenge when you are a mom who works full-time outside of the home. With the kids getting older, I have a more predictable morning routine now. Another daily habit is positive self-talk and shutting down negative thoughts once I recognize I am drifting down that path. 

What are your non-negotiables?

We are raising our children to value these traits: respect for the truth, authenticity, accountability, honesty, and integrity. These qualities are all interrelated. I expect these characteristics in myself, and I hope for them in others. 

What habits have you built into your life that increase your stamina and help you power through long days?

Dentistry is taxing on the mind and body. It is a very stressful profession. Many people have high anxiety levels at the dentist’s office, and the person responsible for diminishing that anxiety while completing excellent, painless dentistry, and staying on schedule is your dentist, in other words, me. You are required to be on all day long. Stamina is definitely required due to holding static, unnatural positions all day. I’ve done that for the last 15 years and it has created muscle imbalances in my body.  

Exercise has helped me combat pain and stress. I enjoy long-distance running. It clears my head and allows my mind to wander and be creative. Strength training has also been beneficial as it provides variety and challenges to my workouts. My trainer, Laura Groseth, has taught me so much in the last year and a half. She opened my eyes to the importance of mobility training for a lifetime of healthy joints and agility. Flexibility, balance, and range of motion of our joints are all things that seem to decrease in our bodies as we age. That does not have to happen. If we train our bodies in mobility, they can function and move at a high-level very late in life. She has helped me prevent injuries, as has my physical therapist, Jane Stanley. I am very grateful to these two women who have taught me so much about how to take care of my body. 

How do you decompress or unwind?

I love to be in nature, walking, running, hiking, kayaking, and playing with the dogs. A long walk at Adams Nature Preserve is relaxing and peaceful or taking the dogs to Bacon Creek to run at the dog park. They both help me let go of work stress. We have kayaks, and some of my favorite memories with my kids were kayaking on Lake Yellowstone in Yellowstone National Park or at Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park. 

I love watching comedy.  Chris makes a mean Moscow mule and delicious homemade margaritas, and a cold drink on the couch watching Sebastian Maniscalco is a good way to chill out. 

I love going to the spa for a massage or a facial when I’m on vacation or a hot bath with some scented oils. The kids got me some of those battery-operated candles to put around my big bathtub, too. It’s  lovely. When I come home from work, I like to light a couple of candles throughout the house to make everything feel cozy. Pizza and game night with the kids, followed by a movie and a glass of wine on the couch, is perfectly blissful after a long week at work. 

Where do you find joy?

I find joy in helping my patients achieve healthier mouths. Some of them struggle with complicated dental problems that require spending a lot of time in the chair. When we complete a treatment plan, and the patient and I both feel proud and satisfied with the result, it is a wonderful feeling. I also enjoy teaching, mentoring, and training my team. We work well together. We often can anticipate each other’s next move in a procedure. That doesn’t just happen organically. It takes time working together, perfecting policies and procedures, and working through patient scenarios that didn’t work so well. Leading my team has been a humbling experience for the last 11 years. It has helped me grow as a person and an employer. They taught me as much as I taught them.  

I find joy in watching my children grow, learn, and thrive. I love watching them play and laugh together.  They are beautiful and unique humans with incredible souls. Jack is incredibly resilient and becoming such a handsome young man. Savannah is strong, athletic, and hard-working in school. Landon is sweet and affectionate, always wanting to help me and his dad around the house. Charlotte is quick-witted and is always making us laugh. 

I find a lot of joy in my marriage. Chris is my best friend. I cherish the quality alone time we have together. He puts me back together when I am falling apart. We have so much in common and are  aligned with each other on all the big stuff: religion, politics, family goals and ambitions, and our goals as a couple. We love to travel, just the two of us. Hiking, golfing, snorkeling, and exploring new places are things we enjoy doing together. 

I find joy in Christian music. The songs shift my mood in wonderful ways. I find joy in writing. Currently, I am writing my memoir with the help of another talented writer. It has been therapeutic for me to go back through coping with the memories of my childhood, including my mom’s death, to find meaning and understanding. I am hoping my children will want to read it someday. I find joy in learning new skills and taking up new hobbies. This year, I am working to become proficient with firearms and striving to become a confident shooter. And, I find joy in running with Amanda. She is hilarious and makes me laugh. I find joy in spending time with my dear friend, Samantha. She helps me become a better person and a gentler mother. 

Who do you look up to?

I look up to people who are living their best lives. I admire people who remember that they are living the lives they prayed for to God. A grateful heart to God for all your blessings in life makes you radiate light to others around you. I admire my fellow women dental practice owners in the trenches with me, raising their families and working hard to provide for them. I look up to people who are not afraid to speak the truth. People who are intelligent and work hard. People who have earned their success. These people have fortitude and tenacity. They are gritty folks like Elon Musk, Dr. Jordan Peterson, Tucker Carlson, Candance Owens, Rand Paul, Tim Scott, Allie Stuckey, Abby Johnson, and Vivek Ramaswamy.  

How do you want to be remembered?

I want to be remembered as someone who you could have counted on. I want my children to remember me as a mother who always unconditionally loved them. A mother who recognized that children who may be acting unlovable are actually demonstrating that they need love the most at that moment. I want to be remembered as someone who helped people reach their full potential. I hope people think of me as someone who served others. I want to be remembered as a generous, kind, and faith-filled woman. I want people to remember me as someone who served God and loved her country. 


What drives you?

In a career that is incredibly important to me, I am driven by a never-ending desire to achieve excellence. My patients and staff put their trust in me. It is an incredible responsibility to consistently deliver top-notch results to my patients and create a thriving working environment for my staff.

What sets your business apart from the rest?

A patient recently told me I should use his marketing idea. He was in the chair and starting to get numb.  He is tough, tall, broad, and fit, with multiple tattoos and steel-toed boots. Pretty sure he was the most well-armed patient I have ever had in my chair. He was grateful to get in as we moved his appointment up when we had a cancellation, and one decayed tooth was starting to hurt him. He said, “I know you are swamped, but if you ever need an advertising slogan, I got one for you.” I could tell he was being authentic, and he smiled.  I said, “Okay, let’s hear it.” He grins and says, “Lohr cares more.” He went on to explain that he’d been to several dental offices in his lifetime and had never felt that his dentist truly cared about him until he came to my office. That just made my day. He was so genuine and grateful that we were helping him. That is what sets our office apart from the rest!

What is the client’s experience?

The client’s experience should be personalized, individualized care that prioritizes their  oral health. We value relationships based on trust and work to earn that trust. Dentistry is not a commodity. My skill level is not the same as every dentist. Each dentist has a different set of talents for different procedures. We use trusted, exceeding industry standards materials in our office that are made in the best labs in the USA and not outsourced overseas.  

How do you approach obstacles or setbacks?

I approach challenges in my life with discipline, resilience, and fortitude. I give myself precisely 15 minutes to wallow in self-pity when things go wrong or encounter a setback.  After that, it’s full steam ahead with a positive outlook. 

What has been the most valuable lesson you have learned?

 I learned that doing dentistry is the easy part. Running a business and being a consistent and effective leader is the challenge. I am required to make important business decisions daily that have repercussions. I do not have a lot of time to belabor them and must be decisive. It is difficult, but each year that passes, I gain valuable experience. I make decisions with more ease and no longer overthink them.  

What are your non-negotiables?

I must work with people who share my strong midwestern work ethic. I have a rural/agricultural part of my upbringing that I take pride in.  I sometimes joke about being farm-strong. You cannot be part of my team if you are not a hard worker.

What makes you proud?

 I am proud that we made it through massive phases of renovation while keeping our office open and surviving the pandemic. It was brutal. There were so many times when I felt disheartened, discouraged, overwhelmed, and even a bit hopeless. It was very hard, but we persevered. 

What are you doing to better our community?

I am passionate about the FIRE Foundation in NW Iowa. Witnessing the momentum of inclusive Catholic education in our community and in Le Mars’s Catholic community has been extremely fulfilling.  I serve on the board of directors, and we are proud of the growth and success of our nonprofit organization. FIRE is changing the landscape of Catholic education in a beautiful and positive way for all the children attending Catholic schools in the diocese.  

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