Sometime last year Jessica Turner sent me an email and asked if she could interview me for a new book she was writing about making time for ourselves. I was honored to be asked and loved the conversation we had over the phone as I most likely overshared regarding my personal struggles with time and self-care and work/life balance and all that kind of stuff-of-life.
Her book, The Fringe Hours, is now available and I just finished it last night and it's totally worth a read - especially if you are like so many of us who wrestle with issues related to making times for ourselves and finding joy.
What are Fringe Hours? Basically they are "those little pockets of time you already have in your day." It's not making time out of thin air, it's taking a look at how you currently spend your time and being more mindful and choosing things you love to do with the time you already have. Of course there's some letting go built right in, because there always is - at least that's one of the things I keep learning as I journey through my own life.
See my chipped nails in the photo above? Time for some self-care.
You may know Jessica from her blog The Mom Creative. Just like many of you reading, memory keeping is one of her most-loved hobbies and one of the ways she chooses to spend her Fringe Hours (choice is a big theme in this book). I enjoyed reading about her personal commitment to making time for herself and how that makes the rest of her life run that much smoother with more overall satisfaction. And Jessica, being the authentic person that she is, is not afraid to talk about the times she struggles as well. I would expect nothing less from her.
From Jessica about her new book: "The Fringe Hours is a love letter for you. If we could sit down and share a meal, it’s what I would tell you. That you matter. That you shouldn’t feel guilty. That pursuing your passions honors God and the way He created you. That in the fringe hours, you can find joy."
Jessica's enthusiasm for self-care and finding time for things you love most is really inspiring and motivating.
It might be no surprise to many of you that the way I spend my time has been on my mind a lot lately.
As I read through the book I was really conscious of my own resistance to thoughts about "doing it all." Jessica tells the story of a common question she is asked about how she "does it all" and writes about how she uses her Fringe Hours to fit in the things she is passionate about and what personally brings her the most joy
Here's my truth: I'm one of those people that absolutely does not want to do it all and I don't even really know that I want to add anything else. I'm generally pretty good at saying no to things I don't want to do and I'm gotten so much more intentional and protective about how I spend my time (both those areas include a whole lot of practice, fail, practice, tiny forward movement, practice, fail, practice some more). That said, where I struggle is figuring out what I really want to spend my Fringe Hours on and then making that happen. Sometimes I'm just too damn tired and what I need most is to go to bed - also known as a form of self-care. I also struggle with thinking everything has to happen in a specific order or that this-must-absolutely-come-before-this which puts me in that place where nothing happens because I'm stalled due to my own rigid expectations right from the very beginning. Those expectations hold me back from using those small bits of time to accomplish bigger goals and generally experience more joy that comes from time spent doing things I love (or that are good for me).
So what do I do instead?
Pick up my phone and mindlessly scroll through InstaFaceTwitgram.
Reading this book was a great reminder that those little chunks of time can, and do, add up to joy.
Simply reading through Jessica's book made me that much more aware of what I'm doing during my own Fringe Hours which generally include early morning, after the kids go to bed, and other times when they are with Chris.
Here's a look at what I do during my Fringe Hours:
- Work. Sometimes it simply has to happen because there's just not enough time during the day for what needs to get done. This is my least favorite way to spend my Fringe Hours and when it goes on for too long it's really not good and everything else suffers - relationships, health, etc (the things that are truly most important). I'm working on remembering that the world will not end if I don't get whatever-it-was done today - which directly relates to my intentions to work-smarter and spend less time screwing around.
- Read. I used my Fringe Hours to read this book. Next up: Scary Close by Donald Miller.
- Sleep. I'm pretty good at making sure this happens, except when I overwork.
- Take a bath. The best. It usually involves reading as well.
- Mess around in the yard. This is really one of my favorite things to do - be outside.
- Spend time with friends. This comes and goes depending on my schedule, but it is one of those things that brings me great joy when it happens.
As I read through Jessica's suggestions, there were a couple specific things
- Thank you notes. I love how Jessica talks about how she carves out time for thank you notes. You know that time you were playing Candy Crush while you waited for your kid? You could have been writing a short note to someone who would likely really love a little piece of mail from you in their real-life mailbox.
- Taking a "real" lunch break and viewing that as Fringe time. It's a little more challenging when you work at home and she addresses that. Katie has been going home for lunch so she can let her dog out and I've been making sure I go downstairs and then I usually read during my designated time. Sometimes that's the paper or a magazine or a book. I like that time.
Jessica also touches on the idea of seasons and how that impacts our Fringe Hour choices. The concept of seasons is always a reassuring one to me and one that I tend to lose sight of from time to time when I get wrapped up in my own head games.
As a divorced parent who shares kid-time with Chris, I have a little more me-time than others. Over the last few years I've had to re-learn the who-and-what-and-where-and-when-and-why-of-me for the times when the kids aren't under my direct care. Basically, who am I when they are not here and what does that me do? That in and of itself is quite a process and for all the profound loss that goes along with going through a divorce, in my experience there is a silver lining in that reconnection with my self. From the initial rip-your-heart-out grief to the okay-this-isn't-so-absolutely-horrible-but-I-still-miss-them-when-I'm-alone phase, I've learned that time on my own where I'm caring for myself (and often getting things taken care of to run smoothly when they return) is precious and healthy.
Trust me when I tell you that's hard to write about.
My seasons might be different from your seasons, your life might look completely different from mine, but we all benefit from taking time for ourselves outside of our jobs and roles and responsibilities to simply care for ourselves and nurture our passions (or simply figure out what they are in the first place).
So totally YES to that paragraph.
Bottom line - this book is definitely worth picking up if you are interested in reflecting on the ways in which you currently spend your time, designating time for what matters, and are looking for motivation and/or permission to make that happen.
Nice work, Jessica.
Want more reviews of this book? Check them out here on Goodreads.
On the topic of time I also loved this recent post from Erin Lochner: Spending Time.
And PS | All opinions, as always in this space, are my own. I received a complementary copy of this book from the publisher in part because I was interviewed and in part because I agreed to share my opinions about it. I wouldn't take the time to write this much or recommend it if I didn't think it was a good fit and of interest to many of you guys out there.