11 Year Marriage Anniversary!!

Happy Anniversary to us! We did a live video this evening about growing together in marriage! Tonight’s Facebook Live Video

Distractions getting you down?

If we are not alert and of sober mind, we are vulnerable to distractions. Those distractions get us totally off course, off track and depending on the distraction, it can take YEARS out of your life, keeping you stuck in that place. The place where you wake up, drink the same coffee and complete your day in the same way as you did yesterday. Letting yourself get distracted by behaviors that make us, oddly enough, feel comfortable, normal, and steadied.

Distractions Getting You Down? Do you feel like you can’t concentrate during the day because you are so distracted? Are distractions getting in the way of your goals?

These sound like the beginnings to a really bad, late-night infomercial. When I was younger, I remember the lady with the fluffy blonde hair on T.V. saying, “Do you want to make more money? Sure, we all do.” And then, I remember, she went through the long list of career options you could have if you just called the 1-800 number and chose to get your “career” diploma. I imagine that if you went through this program, you’d end up with some kind of certificate or even associates degree. Did this help a lot of people? I’m sure. Especially those who were wanting a night-school, but couldn’t physically leave their home because of a varying number of reasons.

How many types of “Sally Struthers” (aka the lady with the blonde, fluffy hair!) advertisements are there? Get your degree, live the life you’ve always wanted, buy this workout program and lose 50 lbs., adopt this rule to get this amazing outcome in your life!

The truth is that any one of these programs could possibly work for you and help get you where you want to be in life. But, the reality is that millions of people spent, likely, millions even billions of dollars and started any one of these programs. But, they didn’t finish. They got distracted.

In today’s world, we’ve given “self-help” a more fancy name: Personal Development (PD). I love reading about how to better myself. But, I get distracted with actual, real life. I get all fired up and then what happens? My life continues. I continue waking up the same way, drinking the same coffee, reading yet another PD article or book. And every day: I’m the same. Do I have more knowledge?

“The U.S. self-improvement market was worth $9.9 billion in 2016. It is forecast to post 5.6% average yearly gains from 2016 to 2022, when the market should be worth $13.2 billion.”

Click here for resource.

This personal development industry is HUGE! I do believe though, if we started realizing what our distractions really are and worked to delete them from our lives, the industry might shrink up just a bit or perhaps grow with a new genre: You’ve tackled your dreams, now what? What’s next?

I’ve mentioned before that I love self-help books and audio-books and even listed my current favorites in that blog post. I love learning new things about my career field, being a better human being, a better mom, wife, and, and, and. I like to read and listen to these because they are inspiring, make me feel hopeful and give me permission to feel like I can conquer the world! But, then distractions happen.

What are your distractions?

Let’s list the easy ones first.

The ones that we can clearly see throughout our day and if we give just a little bit of effort, we can stop these distractions. You don’t need me to tell you how to stop doing these things…you know how. You’ve read enough PD to get you through these!

Smart phones. Co-workers’ gossip. Procrastination or putting off a task that will further your productivity, only instead doing a task that lets you feel that immediate check-mark: cleaning the kitchen or windex-ing that one window that your dog breathes on and slobbers on when she barks (oh yes, the one that needs cleaning right. now.). Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Google. Kids. Drama in the office.

Now let’s list the not-so-obvious ones.

These are going to take action. Physical or mental. These are going to require you to dig deep into your habits and behaviors. You need to update yourself in order to get these distractions out the door. After the list, I’ll tell you what I’ve done for myself to “delete” these distractions.

Negativity. Nay-sayers. Internet Trolls. Addictions. Fear. Self-doubt. Rejection. Netflix, Amazon Prime or TV. Social media conversations. In the above “easy” list, I’m talking about the feeds, just scrolling and catching up on your “friends'” days. Here, I’m talking about getting involved in or fixated on conversations that are happening…local and national politics…really any conversation happening through comments that are nasty, ugly, demeaning and have gone way past the point of a simple opinion.

The real difference between the Easy List and the Not-So-Obvious list is really your mind. The latter gets in your head and can really destroy not only your ambitions and goals, it can destroy you as a person. The things on this list can destroy relationships, your family, and your career.

If you know me, you know I love my Bible. I love what I read in it and what truths God gives me to live my life. I understand that not everyone believes in God or has faith in anything higher than themselves. But, I do. If not for Jesus, I’d be so, so lost. There is no way I’d have any of the knowledge or wisdom or experience that I have today if it weren’t for him. So, let’s hear what He has to say about Distractions in just one little but mighty verse:

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)

If we break this down, first we see: Be Alert and of Sober Mind. What does this mean? Yes, we know that caffein and sleep can help us be alert. And, being sober, in our day-to-day thinking means saying no to anything that impairs our judgement – drugs, alcohol, medications not being taken as prescribed by your doctor.

But, think about my Not-So-Obvious list and why these things are so bad! What do you think surrounding yourself with negative thoughts, feedback, or external conversation does to your self-worth? It makes you negative! If you continue to allow nay-sayers to tell you how ridiculous you are, how your life isn’t what they envisioned, or even telling you how stupid and uninformed you are because of your beliefs about managing finances, abortion, or your marriage, then you ARE being distracted! (Side note: In another post, I will go through each of those distractions I’ve listed and give examples on how I’ve overcome some of them in my own life because if I don’t, then I’m just another personal development post without the follow-through!)

Those words can really start to dig at you and pierce you and can totally distract you from a simple task of getting on your treadmill. This treadmill that will allow you to accomplish your goal of losing weight. This goal of losing weight so that you can be the mom who plays with her kids, scores better on her cholesterol test and can go up a flight of stairs without being embarrassed at how heavy you are breathing. How many of you feel like exercising after you’ve been scolded or belittled by some stupid troll on the internet? Not me. Either I start to question my beliefs or I get so angry because of someone who I may not even know. And, don’t tell me: “Julie, those are just words. Ignore them.” I’m sorry, it doesn’t work for me. I replay those things over and over until they…devour me.

Delete. Block. Mute. Shut It Off.

Delete these things from your life. Do you know how many people I’ve blocked on social media? People I know and who are in my community and then people I don’t know at all. It’s not that I don’t care about them as human beings, it’s that I’m choosing to protect myself. I’ve lived too many years in a state of distraction. Block them so you can’t read the idiotic words they choose to write about other people – those words that fester in your mind for hours, days and weeks. Mute them in conversations. Or, take your social media off your phone. Just access it from your home computer. Let’s be real. We lived without Facebook over 15 years ago. You can go 5 days without looking at it. “But, it’s my job…” Yup, been there too. If that is the case, just do your job. You don’t have to go down the rabbit hole to do your job. You don’t have to read negative comments about something you support and love to do your job. Shut off the distraction.

Same with Netflix, Amazon Prime and TV. Are you getting almost addicted to shows? Do you watch 2, 3, 4 each night? That’s about 3 hours! What if you just stopped watching them? What would happen? The show would continue and you’d actually get something done. There is nothing about the shows that make you a better person. Nothing. If it didn’t exist, would you know any different? Let’s say you spent 2 hours working on your book or 1 hour working out each night instead of watching TV. In one “work” week, you’d have 5-10 HOURS under your belt. I think that is way better than being a sitting target for that lion who is waiting to eat you alive.

I believe in Heaven and Hell. I believe they are real places and the only way I’m going to Heaven is to believe in Jesus. Because of this, I know I have an enemy. And that enemy is the devil. And you better believe that I believe that he and his minions are prowling around waiting for every chance they can get to bring me down. How do I know this? Because it’s happened. I’ve been thrown off-track for years, I’ve invited that list of not-so-obvious distractions to live with me in my home and get comfortable with my family.

Going back to 1 Peter 5:8, the Bible doesn’t use the word weasel or even tiger. The Bible uses the word LION. Think of that power! Those claws, teeth, brute strength. “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion…” Looking for what?? Someone to bat around? Someone to chase? Someone to trip? Someone to scratch? No. Someone to DEVOUR.

/dəˈvou(ə)r/ verb

1. eat (food or prey) hungrily or quickly.

2. (of fire or a similar force) destroy completely.

3. read quickly and eagerly.


If we are not alert and of sober mind, we are vulnerable to distractions. Those distractions get us totally off course, off track and depending on the distraction, it can take YEARS out of your life, keeping you stuck in that place. The place where you wake up, drink the same coffee and complete your day in the same way as you did yesterday. Letting yourself get distracted by behaviors that make us, oddly enough, feel comfortable, normal, and steadied.

In my version of the Sally Struthers commercial, we would begin the same way (with an updated hairdo and slightly edgier power suit and definitely lose the glamour shots makeup look).

Do you want to make more money? Sure. We all do.

Just call this 1-800 number and we’ll hang up on you. Because right now, we’re going to list all of the things you need to stop doing. Right now, you need to stand up and start actually working on yourself. You need to take action Because you are in control of who you get to become.

Get alert and get sober.

You can read all the self-help books and personal development books that you can afford! But, if you aren’t keeping yourself alert and sober, you will fail. If you aren’t actually completing the actions, tasks, mental preparation it takes to get yourself to the promised goal of your current personal development program…you will fail. I’ve failed. I’ve read and read and then each night watched episodes of The Real Housewives, gone down the rabbit hole that is Facebook for hours at a time. Can you fit those things into your life? Of course! But, don’t let them be at the expense of where you want to be in a year. Stop the distractions. You DO have that power.

Julie N. Baker, May 2019

Don’t Put Me In That Box

Do not put me into that box. That box that you created for me. That box that you dreamed up for me. I don’t want to be in that box. In fact, I don’t want to be in any box. I want to be me. I want to be on your team, but I want to be me on that team. I’d much rather work with people who are themselves, wouldn’t you?

I’ve wanted to write this post for a while. I think I’ve held off because I have so many memories of others trying to cram me into their own custom-shaped box and those memories make me queasy.

I’m not talking about mentors, advice that comes from a genuine and caring place, or even constructive criticism when I’ve been wrong (which has been countless times). I also believe, because of my belief in God, that I should respect and those in authority. But, I do not have to become a shell of myself in order to do this.

I’m talking about people who put other people in an ill-fitting box. Seal it. And, then stand on top of it.

Many years ago, I worked with a woman who did just this. Actually, I really had no idea that I was under this type of “spell” until another co-worker gave me a wake-up call. Only then could I really see the lies, manipulation and jealous behavior like a dark veil was lifted from my eyes.

We all have these experiences, these life lessons that teach us to never be “that” way again or to never make “that mistake again.” That’s how we learn and grow. Based on this experience, I know that I will never again allow someone to try to put me into their version of who I should be.

Dr. Henry Cloud is a psychologist, a speaker and a NY Times bestselling author. I know his work from his Boundaries series: excellent books on setting boundaries in your relationships and from his business-related books. Dr. Cloud talks a lot about what successful people do and don’t do. Successful people stop repeating the same habits and behaviors that cause them to fail, to make mistakes, to keep going down the wrong path. We hate going through trying times (I know I do!), but if we learn from them and if we can change our habits and behaviors that keep us pinned down, then we will become better, more successful and even achieve what we consider greatness for ourselves.

“Lysa* controls the air you breath.”

My co-worker and I were meeting with a client and we decided to do some shopping afterward because we were in the cutest neighborhood! The work-focus of our outing faded away as we looked at eclectic jewelry, flowing pashminas and quilted handbags. I don’t even remember how the topic came up, but she looked me in the eye after we had been talking and after I told her I felt like I couldn’t move forward in my position at work, I was stuck, I didn’t feel like I was making a difference, and I felt like I wasn’t working well with another co-worker. That’s when she told me. , “Julie, Lysa* controls the air you breath.”

*Lysa’s name has been changed.

Think about your breath. We breath in and out. Mostly involuntary and sometimes voluntary. I am a singer. I have great control over my breathing and while singing an entire opera, you have no chance of making it through if your breathing is not on point. Now imagine someone putting a stick to your throat. You go to take a breath and they slowly cut off your air supply. What do you do? The only thing you can do. You must wait until they release the pressure. They have the control. You could try to fight them, but that stick could hurt you, could make things worse for you if you go against it.

What this co-worker (Lysa) was doing to me, or rather what I was allowing, is for her to manipulate and control me at work to the point that I was stripped of my own thoughts, creativity and confidence.

I’m so grateful for the words said to me that day of shopping to wake me up. But they hurt and actually left me breathless for a while. I wanted to run, to quit, to find another job asap. Honestly, I was embarrassed that I had let someone treat me like this and other people noticed that I allowed it! A mentor of mine, during this moment, helped give me the confidence I needed to set boundaries and to break away from this uncomfortable box that wasn’t suited for me. It’s funny. You have two people. Lysa and the Mentor. Both want something out of you. Both can get it. But, only one leaves you feeling uplifted, encouraged and able.

You cannot change other people. Let’s say it together: You. Cannot. Change. Other. People.

They are who they are. They are who their experiences allow them to be. You cannot change your spouse, your child, your parents, your co-workers. Once you realize this and stop trying to cram other people into this box that you envision for them, you’ll learn how to work on yourself and change your own mindset and situation. YOU can only change YOU.

I’m so grateful for this experience and that I had already learned years prior that I cannot change another person. Believe me, I tried that already with my husband! (Ha!)

So, in this instance, I had to work really hard to undo those fuzzy lines that I had misrepresented as boundaries. I had not set my boundaries and I had not made it clear that I am not a puppet. I do not blame Lysa for how she acted because that is her personality. She is the only one who can change how she treats others. I could have quit that job because of one person, but instead, through encouragement and strength and working on myself, I stayed at the job another year. During this year, I excelled. And then? I had the opportunity to move on. Do you know what I remember the most? The time that I had with my mentor and with the other people who truly worked as a team.

Do I want to learn from others? Always. But, do not put me into that box. That box that you created for me. That box that you dreamed up for me. I don’t want to be in that box. In fact, I don’t want to be in any box. I want to be me. I want to be on your team, but I want to be me on that team. I’d much rather work with people who are themselves, wouldn’t you?

It is important to realize, too, my beliefs. I do believe in submitting to authorities. I do believe, because of my Faith, that I should respect and honor those who are in positions in higher authority. But, I also believe in setting clear boundaries through my actions and words that I am not to be lied to, gossiped about, or smashed down. It is not right to do that to any person. Will it happen? Yes. But, going through this experience and others before this that were similar, has taught me to move on. To move forward. You should move forward to. Our Creator loves us and has a grand plan for us. Guess what? He wants you to be who He created you to be. Listen to Him, not Lysa.

I encourage you to evaluate your relationships. Are you trying to cram someone into a box that you created for them? It is okay to mentor, parent, coach, and redirect, but you cannot change someone! If you try, you’ll just be frustrated and the other person will eventually realize that the person they are becoming is someone YOU created, not who God meant for them to be. You can only change you. And, if you are the one being put into a box, I suggest figuring out how to set your boundaries. Don’t let yourself be put in that box another minute. Other people don’t get to tell you who you are, how to be, or what to achieve in life. That’s all you. (And, if you read this post, you can get some insight into how I’m doing this today.)

Books I recommend from Dr. Henry Cloud are linked below. (I’ve listened to and read through the 9 things You Simply Must Do… about five times!)

Boundaries Updated and Expanded Edition: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life

9 Things You Simply Must Do to Succeed in Love and Life: A Psychologist Learns from His Patients What Really Works and What Doesn’t

Marriage: Look inside yourself first then apologize!

Are you in an argument with your spouse that has gone on now for weeks? Do you even remember what you’re fighting about? Jim and I learned early on to be the FIRST one to say, “I’m sorry.” If you want to move on, then YOU need to be the first to apologize. Even if you don’t want to. Even if you think you’re right! Because, even if you are right, your relationship is more important.

Click the image below to link to the marriage books that we reference in this video (The Art of Marriage)

Marriage: Look inside yourself first then apologize!

We’re Going Live Again This Saturday, May 11th

We hope you join us this Saturday LIVE on our Facebook page as we share another tip that helps us continually in our marriage.

This Saturday, Jim and Julie will discuss another tip that has helped them not only in the beginning of their marriage, but a tip that they still use today! We will discuss something that you can do as individuals and quickly apply it to your relationship so that you can cut through the noise, the arguments, the hurt and the fights. We hope you join us this Saturday LIVE on our Facebook page!

Click here to go there: https://www.facebook.com/JimandJulieBaker/