About Karly Randolph Pitman
Karly Randolph Pitman wants to revolutionize the lives of women through self-care. Her call to arms -- that a woman put herself, first, for the highest good of all -- stems from healing her own mommy Martyrdom, body hatred, and sugar addiction.
A mother of four, Karly is the founder of First Ourselves, www.firstourselves.com, a website with tips on loving your body, feeling beautiful, and making self-care a priority. She's the author of Heal Your Body Image: An Inspiring, Step-by-Step Guide to Loving Your Body, Overcoming Sugar Addiction: How to Kick Your Sugar Habit, and a forthcoming daybook for moms, Mother Care: A Woman's Guide to Reclaiming her Happiness.
Karly cares for herself by indulging in her favorite things: dancing in the kitchen with her family, visiting the beach, reading, running, and lingerie shopping with her girlfriends. She prefers skirts and boots to jeans any day, and has a slight Project Runway addiction.
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10 Tips for Easy Self-Care
By Karly Randolph Pitman
How do you endow your life with greater meaning, fulfillment, and balance? Self-care is the secret sauce, the catalyst to change. Love in action, it transforms body, mind, and spirit.
Unfortunately, much of the "care" we bestow upon ourselves is punishment in disguise. We’re either too harsh on ourselves, neglecting our human needs for rest, intimacy, and healthy food, or too lenient, where we confuse self-care with indulgence, giving ourselves whatever we want.
True self-care is none of those things. Rather, it creates a healthy cycle of positive change: as you care for yourself, you love yourself. As you love yourself, you create compassion; leading to greater care and kindness.
This is why I encourage women to put themselves first: self-care radiates outward, positively influencing every area of your life. When you take care of your own needs, you offer your best you to your circle. In this manner, self-care serves the highest good of all: women, families, and communities.
Here are 10 practical suggestions for adding self-care into your life. Pick one, and start today:
Feed your beauty meter.
We all have experiences that make us feel beautiful, whether it's getting a facial, visiting an art gallery or enjoying a fabulous restaurant meal. What makes you feel beautiful? Make a list, and then integrate these activities into your daily life.
Feed your spirit.
How can you add meaning to your regular routines, so that they become opportunities for pleasure? For example, if you’re going to eat, take the time to sit down, plate a beautiful meal, and savor it. Likewise, turn your closet into a boutique, organized and tidy. Getting dressed moves from a chore to a delight. Is your bedroom a sanctuary? Make your environment a pleasure for the senses.
Give yourself time for changes to manifest.
Whether you're a new mother trying to lose baby weight, or you're trying to eliminate a bad habit, be kind to yourself, and give yourself enough time to reach your goals. Expecting instant change results in drastic measures and frustration. Either you'll kill yourself to meet your goal, or you'll give up and berate yourself for your lack of progress.
Reconnect with joy.
If you had several hours to yourself, what would you do? Take yourself out on a date: spend an afternoon at the movies, browsing a bookstore, or in an art class. This step is especially important for mothers who need to reconnect with the woman underneath the mom.
One of the most powerful questions we can ask ourselves is, “What do I need right now?” It may be a nap, a walk, or a good cry. Give yourself the same tenderness that you would offer a child, both in support, and compassion.
Ground yourself in good habits.
Healthy habits give you a strong foundation to overcome the inevitable storms of life. Nourish your body with a basic structure. Start with three, regular meals a day and 7-8 hours of sleep a night. For most women, who regularly skimp on sleep and food, this step alone can transform your life.
Give yourself permission to be less than perfect.
An example? If you gain weight, allow yourself to buy clothes for your larger size, rather than punishing yourself by squeezing into too small clothes. Or, if you are feeling like running away from home, honor that feeling, instead of “fighting” it or trying to change it: go for a walk, take an excursion to the library, or pack up the kids and take them to the park.
Temper your grudge list.
What are you currently doing out of duty, obligation, or that you feel like you “have” to do? Make a list. Now, what one thing can you cross of that list today? Here are some things that I no longer do, because I don’t enjoy them: Christmas cards, baking from scratch, ironing, and large children’s birthday parties. Releasing these “shoulds” has created time to indulge in things I do enjoy, like making homemade birthday cards, meeting up with friends for tea, and going on evening walks with my family.
We get locked into all or nothing thinking, where we make parenting harder than it is. For example, for many years, I believed that cooking dinner meant every meal must be organic, from scratch, and a four-course affair. But I can find a middle ground, honoring my need for health without creating such high expectations for myself. Now, we have sandwiches one night, leftovers another, and simple crock pot meals on several others. Still healthy, but a lot less work.
What are you doing for your children that they can be taught to do for themselves? What are you doing for your spouse or other family members that they can do for themselves?
"Self-care helps women and a lack of it harms them."
- Karly Randolph Pitman
Karly's Favorite Self-Care Books
I’m an avid reader, and have found many helpful guides that steered me on the path of greater love, care and compassion. Here are my top 10 self-care picks:
• The Woman’s Comfort Book by Jennifer Louden. All of Jennifer’s books are fantastic primers on self-care, but start here.
• Finding the Deep River Within: A Woman’s Guide to Recovering Balance and Meaning in Everyday Life by Abby Seixas. Learn how to slow down, find stillness, and untangle your busyness.
• The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Use creativity as a path to authentic fulfillment.
• Fit From Within. Creating a Charmed Life and Lit from Within by Victoria Moran. I love Victoria’s guides, little essays that you can read each day that offer tips on “creating a charmed life.”
• Transcendent Beauty by Crystal Andrus. Learn how to love yourself, body, mind and spirit.
• 12 Steps to Self-Parenting for Adult Children by Philip Oliver-Diaz and Patricia O’Gorman. While written for adult children of alcoholics or those who endured traumatic childhoods, the lessons in this book about parenting yourself can be applied to any person’s life.
• Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. A daybook that offers an essay for each day to cultivate gratitude and joy.
• Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much by Anne Wilson Schaef. Another fantastic daybook with a short, daily meditation to help you clear through your busyness and treat yourself with greater kindness.
• The Balanced Mom by Bria Simpson. Tips and tricks for mothering with balance and ease from a Mom and life coach.
• The Pathway by Laurel Mellin. Learn how to process painful emotions and parent yourself, so that you aren’t turning to negative self-care in a misguided attempt to heal.
For more book recommendations, click here.
The 6 Aspects of Self-Care: How to Love Yourself
By Karly Randolph Pitman
Why do women turn to food, shopping, or alcohol for comfort? Why do women put other's needs above their own? Why do women have a hard time ever saying "no" to their children, families, or communities? These are all symptoms of a lack of self-care, and the low self-esteem that accompanies it.
As a mom of four, I speak from experience. A lifelong people pleaser, motherhood was the perfect recipe for my "mommy martyrdom." I put everyone else's needs above my own, including, at times, even the dog's. I was addicted to sugar, depressed, hooked on approval, and drowning in low self-esteem and body hatred. Worst, I was so afraid. I took excellent care of everyone around me; not so good with myself. I had this image in my head of a "perfect mother," and what she should --- and shouldn't --- do. I was so determined to do everything right, in order to give my children the quintessential, ideal childhood. Ah, I was so mistaken: none of us escapes childhood unscathed, no matter how well we are parented. I was fighting against reality itself: the imperfection and pain that is a natural part of every life.
At the same time, I was seething with resentment: I didn't give as willingly as I tried to make it seem. I had huge expectations tied to my giving: expectations for my children, as well as expectations for how my "sacrifices" should be viewed. So I'd ignore my needs, and then be angry that no one was meeting them; I'd give to others, and then feel taken advantage of when my generosity wasn't reciprocated. I wanted others to read my mind, to guess what I needed, and care for me without my having to ask or say anything.
My turning point? When I recognized that the only one who could take care of me was me. And yet learning how to care for and comfort myself has taken me the better part of a decade. It’s very easy to talk about self-care; much trickier to implement. How do you care for yourself while caring for others? How do you balance your needs as a person with your needs as a mom? With your children's needs? These are the questions I've been attempting to answer, both for myself, and for other women.
It's taken me several years to unravel my mommy martyr hairball, as well as the sugar addiction, low self esteem and negative body image that were its bedfellows. Throughout the process, I learned how to find the me in the mommy; to let myself be a person --- who has faults, good points and bad points; who is imperfect, but still wonderful --- instead of this superMom caricature. I've learned how to let go of Control, how to let my children fail and venture out into the world, trusting in their resilience and inner wisdom to navigate their path. I've learned to accept the inevitable pain of life, that I can't always have everything that I want. I've learned how to meet my own needs, and care for myself: to be my own best friend.
How did I do this? By implementing the following six aspects of self-care:
1. Loving boundaries.
As a caretaker to others, women need to set boundaries on their time and energy. Women also implement boundaries with themselves, in the form of loving discipline: self-care is not giving yourself whatever you want.
Women need daily contact with those things that feed their spirits, giving them joy. This includes hobbies, passions, time in nature, and sensory pleasures.
Women need a nurturing inner voice to silence their inner critic. Women also need to show themselves compassion, and release their impossible, perfectionist expectations, for their bodies, homes, children, and parenting.
While there is joy in life, there is also pain. Likewise, there are many things we can't change that we'd like to. Self-care means accepting both aspects of life, the good as well as the bad; good feelings and the negative ones.
Life is not just drudgery and routine. It's important to balance completing the to-do list with answering the great question, "How am I serving my greater purpose?" Women need to be expressing their deepest selves in their daily lives.
At its most basic level, self-care is asking yourself, "What do I need right now?" and then finding a healthy way to meet it.
Self-care is a journey. It’s a mindset, an intention. It begins with that: by recognizing that you are a person with unique needs, and by taking the necessary steps to meet them.