Not long ago, Kelly Harris’ hectic life revolved around juggling children and her home office in Edmond. She made time for everyone and everything except herself.
Married with two children, Harris said she was concerned she was spending too much time sitting in front of her computer. She said she dearly loves her family and enjoys her work as a medical transcriptionist, yet she yearned to do some things to nurture herself.
Today, the energetic mom still works from home, but she now shares her enthusiasm for life with women who take her Zumba aerobics classes.
Harris, 38, said she gradually made changes in her life, starting with her health.
"About 2 1/2 years ago, I got really tired of being overweight and decided to do something about it,” she said. "You get so caught up in your life that you forget about you.”
Oklahoma City psychologist Ellie Lottinville, 71, said Harris’ former situation isn’t uncommon.
She said mothers often place themselves last on the priority list.
"I think women generally do go through a lifetime of making sure everybody’s taken care of,” Lottinville said. "As a result, they often get very tired, very worn out, very irritable and often feel that they don’t matter very much.”
Susanne Blake, 68, author of the book "Ten Commitments for Women,” agreed.
"Women have been taught to always put everyone else first,” she said.
Lottinville and Blake said they have a remedy for such stress.
"I think the main thing is, women need to take as good care of themselves as they do their families,” Lottinville said.
Steps to change
Blake, a Pauls Valley life coach and mentor, recently conducted a women’s class at United Methodist Church of the Servant, 14343 N MacArthur, based on her book. She said her advice comes from lessons gleaned from experience.
Years ago, with her MBA, husband, children and various community commitments, Blake said she appeared to have it all together.
"I looked like a very high achiever on the outside, someone who was always happy. But I was not like that on the inside,” she said.
Blake said she began going to a support group that helped her confront her tendency to be a "people pleaser” and her pattern of rescuing people from their troubles instead of addressing her own.
"I put a sign up above my telephone that said ‘I have the ability to say ‘no’ and I am not responsible for the other person’s reaction.’”
Blake said she learned not to overcommit by giving herself time to think about each demand on her time.
Both Blake and Lottinville said women can take simple steps to nurture themselves. Lottinville said they can get their nails done or see a movie with a group of friends.