Sometimes self care seems extremely selfish. Making time to invest in oneself feels frivolous. Often it seems like more effort to push through the barriers and prioritize the things that give life than just sitting on the couch, lapping up reality tv.
Monday morning gave me an unexpected moment to practice this potentially selfish and frivolous thing. I was shocked to see a clear sky, yellows, pinks, oranges pushing the blue of night away. I grabbed my coffee and ran out to cozy up on the deck and take in the sunrise. The birds were singing. It was so restorative. Simple. Free. Only 15 minutes. And yet, such a rich, almost indulgent way to start the day. Truly doing things from the soul allowing me to feel that true river of joy as Rumi coined.
As a Type A girl through and through, known for strong tendencies to overcommit and spread myself thin, I jumped at the chance last November to be part of Jessica Turner’s launch team for her upcoming book, The Fringe Hours. This book explores the ways the “must dos” of life push out the activities and balance we need to take care of ourselves and our passions. To see how life giving and life changing it can be to embrace the activities that we love, that allow for self-care.
Women, in general, tend to swing towards guilt and comparison rather than perspective and community and rest. Success is measured in to-do lists completed and the impossible balanced effortlessly without breaking a sweat or swear word. Living well can be a very gray area. Is living well about achievement at all costs or about finding balance? My calendar might be neatly scheduled but if my family is overwhelmed with to many commitments there is no true balance.
Finding the “fringe hours”, as Jessica writes, requires first looking at the places in ourselves of deeply rooted beliefs. What pressures do we put on ourselves? Where do we operate out of guilt and comparison? When we work on identifying how to prioritize caring for ourselves, we have to first figure out what that even MEANS. As we approach almost eight years of interrupted sleep in our household, I sometimes find it hard to pinpoint what is life giving anymore. Sometimes the zoned out mind, comfortably settled on the couch after the boys are in bed feels like the most life-giving outlet I can fathom.
And yet…there is more there under the surface. For me, reading the Fringe Hours helped me re-tap into these areas of passion. Photography. Cooking. Reading. Making memory books for my family with photographs. Traveling. Enjoying a hike or walk with a friend. Sometimes these pursuits feel too decadent, though, and Jessica’s book was a deep reminder to me of the ways these passions can be prioritized and pursued in the time we have. Standing in line at the post office can be enriched when I have a book in my purse. Keeping a few notecards in my bag allows for a moment in the waiting room to be used to get a thank you note written. Keeping my phone memory free to take pictures when beauty crops up unexpectedly allows me to remember my love for framing the world around me. Planning a fun, unusual meal once a week after reading the latest copy of Bon Appetit. Sitting down with my eldest and reading together over a cup of tea each night. He gets in his 20 minutes of required reading and I do too. Sitting down at the dining room table to actually eat and digest my lunch over that day’s Suduko puzzle. Enjoying a podcast from a favorite author or blogger on my way to work in the morning. These are the fringe moments that might have passed me by before, but for which I am now keeping alert for.
My Dad just sent me this picture to remind me that my love for photography started young…perfect timing.
The Fringe Hours isn’t a book to allow maximum time efficiency and thus a perfect, productive life. Jessica Turner’s goal is to help us see what passions truly make us tick as individuals. To overcome the fears resulting in comparison and guilt and pursue taking care of ourselves. The heart of her message is “finding underused pockets of time in [our] schedule and utilizing them for [ourselves].” To say no to some things. To prioritize other pursuits to allow for fuller, richer days.
The chapter on “Finding Rest”, the spiritual practice of Sabbath, was the most meaningful for me. Jessica reminded that if we don’t take time to be still and rest, that we will eventually suffer. That in “relentless busyness….we have lost the rhythm between work and rest.” (Wayne Muller)
She quotes Muller again, “Without rest, we respond from a survival mode, where everything we meet assumes a terrifying prominence….Sabbath time may be anything that preserves a visceral experience of life-giving nourishment and rest….the presence of something that arises when we consecrate a period of time to listen to what is most deeply beautiful, nourishing or true.”
Finding the fringe hours isn’t easy, but it is vital for a balanced, rich life. For me, even reading this book meant finding time to make it happen–during bath time! (aka: parallel play at its finest).
I hope you will consider getting your own copy of Jessica’s book, The Fringe Hours. I was provided with a free copy of her words in exchange for sharing my thoughts here. But, I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. You will be asked to do hard inward work, but it is the topic that I find at the forefront of almost all of my conversations these days—how to not loose our truest sense of self in the midst of day-to-day life. Sometimes we really need the reminder to stop trying to be everything for everyone and start investing in who and what really matters.
The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You
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Learn more and access resources at www.FringeHours.com