DEAR HARRIETTE: I was a baker for a number of years. I now work in construction, but I still have my skills. My friends love to ask me to bake them cakes for birthdays when they didn't think to order a cake (or want a freebie). This bothers me because although I like to bake for others, this is just exploiting my abilities. I've tried saying no to the requests, but I get guilted into it or iced out. How do I stop being the bakery for my friends? -- Betty Crocker, Los Angeles
DEAR BETTY CROCKER: Over the years, I have learned an important lesson: It is essential for people to stand in their own power in order to have ease in their life. This means having the courage and presence of mind to understand what your responsibilities are and what your value is, and that it is imperative for you to let others know that. This includes your friends. It is time for you to stop feeling guilty for having talent. It is up to you to stop them from taking you for granted.
To do so, you should make a menu of bakery options that you are willing and happy to make. Figure out how much each item should cost -- including raw materials, time and creativity. List the prices next to the item, and then distribute the list to your family and friends. Let them know that while your primary job is in construction, you have decided to continue to freelance as a baker since so many people are interested. If you receive a request, verify that the person is willing to pay the price. Have a formal order placed and paid for before you start mixing. If they balk, invite them to go to the local bakery. The end.