As someone who has devoted her life to helping others navigate the course of emotions and family interactions, Julie Baumgardner knows firsthand just how important healthy relationships are. She helped launch First Things First, as she puts it, to help others prevent the pain she experienced as a child when her father left. In doing so, she and her team have touched thousands of lives and helped countless families. In her personal life, Julie practices patience and self-care. And, just like HealthScope® magazine, she and her husband Jay are celebrating their 30th anniversary! Read on to see how Julie tackles life with gusto.
HS: As someone who spends her professional career supporting the emotional health of other families, what are some of the most important healthy habits that you incorporate into your own family life?
JB: We don’t have a perfect family, and we don’t have a perfect marriage. I’ve just learned that it’s important to be in it and pay attention, every day. When something frustrates me, I’ve learned to take a walk or go do something else that gives me the chance to ask, “Is it worth a conversation?” Often, I realize it wasn’t a big deal. I’ve also learned the importance of connectiveness – making time to intentionally be together and know what’s going on in each other’s lives. That’s been key to staying connected with both my daughter and husband.
HS: What are some of the ways you spend time together?
JB: I used to always make sure that we ate dinner together as a family. That was our time together, and we could definitely tell a difference when we weren’t able to make that happen. And Jay and I walk together every night after dinner. It’s only 20 or 30 minutes to walk about a mile, but it gives us a moment to connect. We started doing this 26 years ago – we would walk our daughter around after dinner when she was a baby. And we’ve just continued to do it every day since.
HS: How do you encourage healthy communication in your marriage?
JB: I think we’re pretty communicative. We try not to let things fester. If we’re irritated with each other about something, at this point, we can count on the fact that we’re going to talk about it. Whereas earlier in our marriage, like the first decade, we might have put off dealing with it. But it’s not worth letting resentment build up or keeping score. Consequently, we do better together and feel healthier and happier as a couple.
HS: How do you approach your personal wellness?
JB: I’ve learned a lot of things about myself, and there are three main things I practice that keep me feeling healthy and happy. One is that I really need adequate rest, and I make a point to get the rest I need. Another is, I make sure to work out first thing in the morning so that it gets done. And third, Jay and I have drastically changed what we eat over the course of our marriage.
I love how food makes me feel, and I gave up things that made me feel bad.
HS: Where in life do you find the most purpose?
JB: It’s always been on my heart and mind to help people develop skills to have the relationships they want. HS
Photos by Lanewood Studio