“One always has time enough, if one will apply it well.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Are you like me? Do your days move at warp speed, and by the time you catch your breath it’s midnight? Adulthood can feel like one long string of obligations, especially for women.Beginning in childhood, society says put yourself last. As kids, how many of us played with dolls that cried or needed their diapers changed? Before we knew ourselves, we learned to care for others – starting with the toys.
Even in the 21st century, with more women in leadership roles, our culture continues to revere a kind of femininity rooted in service and selflessness. Yet moments spent alone pursuing those passions that nourish our souls rejuvenates us. We become better mothers, wives, friends, siblings and professionals. Why? Because there is time to see us fully – not only the roles we fill. I know, you’re thinking, who has time to write poetry, paint, or hit the gym for yoga class? I’m running a household and managing business obligations.
Well, the truth is you and I have more time than we realize. While reading one of my favorite blogs, (in) courage me, I discovered a new book, The Fringe Hours by Jessica N. Turner, mom, blogger, crafter and marketing professional. I wanted to know more. Where are these hours? How can I discover and maximize them?
Fringe hours are small pockets in our days – early mornings before the house is chaotic, lunch breaks, nap times (for stay-at-home / work-from-home Moms), or evenings after the kids fall asleep. These are opportunities to transform mundane moments into periods of creation and growth.
How do we get there though? Well unlike other books tackling time management, Turner doesn’t start out by giving us a system to implement. She urges digging deeper with some critical questions: What stops us from putting personal time at the top of our lists? Do obligations to everyone else feel more important? It is vital to examine these self-imposed blocks.
The late writer James Baldwin wisely said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” Balance, then, is at the core of fostering time for ourselves. I hear you mumbling. Who ever achieves this? Well, one of the lessons I am beginning to learn is balance changes all the time, its constant shifting and negotiating, but without it, life swallows us. Here balance is defined in a way rarely heard: “emotional stability (how does what we are doing make us feel) + a satisfying arrangement of elements.”
Essentially, is the calendar full of draining responsibilities, or have you found a way to make self care a priority in the midst of it all? Oh, yes. Its one area of constant push and pull for me (and I am sure lots of you, too); giving ourselves permission to enjoy me time minus the guilt.
There are clear areas of focus on the road to a more fulfilling life, Turner insists: “Understanding self-care habits and identifying your passions and available time are just the first steps to living a life that prioritizes you and your needs. Once you commit to this lifestyle, embracing additional practices such as prioritization and accepting help can make a huge difference in your well being.”
“Busy people get things done.”
Trudy Leocadio (my very wise Mom)
This is a book full of actions, daily steps we can begin taking to discover fringe hours (track your days for one week) and maximize them (learning to say no, and being prepared to use unexpected time, i.e. long waits at the doctor’s office by keeping your journal, iPad, etc. on hand). Each chapter concludes with a few sentences of motivation to elevate our spirits and assure us others join us in the journey. There are gems of wisdom like this:
“You can organize your time in such a way that prioritizes yourself. Sometimes this means saying no or skipping dishes. Creating boundaries with our time and in our relationships is an important and healthy way to live a life that models self-care.”
I urge you not to stifle your gifts because you wear so many hats. We all deserve a full life, one where creativity, joy and freedom flourish. Getting to this place takes some work, and once we are there, it’s about maintaining boundaries, and consistently reminding ourselves that we matter immensely. But it’s worth all the struggle and organization. God did not create us to blend in to the world, but rather to ignite it with our light and purpose. Your legacy matters. Start building it, minute by minute, today.
Connect with the video series of The Fringe Hours on YouTube.
Originally published in Beautifully Said Magazine, the September issue.