Fringe Hours

I am laughing as I recall my Joyful friend and I talking so many years ago about the books we had in stacks beside our beds.

“They read like the self-help shelves at the bookstore.”

Yeah.  They did.

You know those books where an author proclaims they can tell you how to become a better person in 5 days or how to lose 25 pounds in a month or how to parent the perfect child……by a week from Saturday, just in time for the family picnic?

Been there, started to read that, rarely finished a single one of them.

Until now.

Fringe Hours

The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You by Jessica N. Turner

I have been fortunate enough to be a part of the launch team for this book.  Which means I got a copy (ooohhhh, a new book–y’all know how much I love books!) of the book in advance back in January.  I was excited to read it and share my thoughts.

So here goes.

First of all, I haven’t been reading it alone.

This has been my reading companion.

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My reading companion–so many thoughts have resonated with me that I’ve been underlining and starring all over the place.

 

I have been underlining and starring all through this book.  (And toss in a few “Yes!” and “Amen”‘s for good measure.)  This is not your ordinary “expert tells all the have nots how to get it”  book.  This is like a conversation with your friend.  She laughs, she confesses, she shares, and she cares.  I don’t know how she does it, but in this book, as I’ve been reading, I had this sense that she really, truly cares about me and how I carve out time for me. To be. Me.

Much like a dear friend would.

She’s also not just sharing her own stories.  Ms. Turner surveyed over 2000 women from all 50 states and over 30 countries around the world.  She asked questions and she took time to hear their stories, many of which are shared in the book.

And that’s why this book won’t leave my shelves.  Because of the message I got as I read page after page about women, like me, who crave some time to express themselves but feel guilty taking away that time from the family.

The message that I am not alone.

As I read story after story, I kept thinking, “Me too.”  “I hear you.”  “Oh my land, I thought I was the only one.”

Have you ever wondered if you were the only one who felt the way you did and then found out you weren’t?  That feeling.  That grace.  This book is full of it.

In one chapter, she remembers reading under the covers with a flashlight as a child–oh the joy of that memory for me!  And when Ms. Turner admits to leaving supper dishes in the sink until the next morning, I laughed with gratitude.  When she talked about her fabric “stash,” I knew we could be sisterfriends for life.  I live that.  (well, okay, with yarn instead of fabric, but still)

Here are just a few of the quotes from the book that resonated with me:

“Just because something is a good thing doesn’t mean it is good for this moment in your life.”  Chapter on Pursuing Balance

relationships currency

“In the end, I just had to let it go and not worry about the state of my home.  She knew I was on a book deadline, and she wasn’t coming to see my house–she was coming to see me.  Relationships are the currency that matters, not the conditions of our homes.”  Chapter on Letting Go of Self-Imposed Pressures     (oh AMEN!)

“Self-care needs to be included in what you should be doing.  It is not a privilege.  It is a necessity…..Choosing yourself is not wrong.”  Chapter on Eliminating Guilt and Comparison

“…..I have learned that while I sometimes regret saying yes, I never regret saying no.”  Chapter on Prioritizing Your Activities

“Yes is so often the expected response that a no can be difficult to both give and receive.  We get emails asking for volunteers, and if the slots don’t fill up fast enough, more emails come pressuring us to respond because not enough people have signed up.   If we still don’t volunteer to help, we’re looked at as ‘uncommitted……’ Women need to be kinder to themselves and one another…..What I am telling you is that if someone says they cannot help, do not judge her.  Instead, ask if you can help her.  Ask if she needs anything.  Or just say, ‘It’s really great that you know your limits and said no. I respect that.’ And mean it.”  Chapter on Prioritizing Your Activities

“Maybe we don’t need so many apps.”  Chapter on Using Your Time Efficiently

“Asking for help can feel very vulnerable. I sometimes feel like if I ask for help, I am not being a good wife.  This is a lie.  Who I am as a wife is not defined by whether I can get all the laundry done.”  Chapter on Embracing Help

“Sometimes we have to let go of self-imposed have-tos and settle for good enough.” Chapter on Overcoming Obstacles

“You can feed your passions by running a hundred miles or sewing a dozen dresses, but if you don’t take time to be still and rest, you will eventually suffer.”  Chapter on Finding Rest

 

Something tells me she might need a nap sometimes too.

We all do really, just as we all need to read this book.  It is empowering and encouraging.  The list of gracious ways to say no presented in Chapter 7 makes it worth the time spent reading it all by itself.  I think one of my favorite “guides” for knowing when to say no to was also in that chapter.  Ms. Turner shared the story of Mandy, who said “she says no to things that will make her yell at her kids.”

That right there.  My new rule of thumb.  We’ll all be better off, really, to be rushing to the car and to the “next” thing on the agenda a little less often I think.

This book is one I will thumb back through a lot.  For the funny stories, for the wisdom, for that list in Chapter 7 when I get asked to do something.  🙂  I want all of the folks I care about to read this book.  And be encouraged.  And to chase their passions.  To find what feeds their souls.

While I can’t send everyone a copy of this book, I am going to share a copy with one of you.  The book is being released today, February 17.  You can enter by sharing a dream that you’d like to pursue or one that you are making happen in the comment thread here or on the post on the I Might Need a Nap Facebook page.  Be sure to like the page and sign up to follow the blog, so you won’t miss anything.  One winner will be randomly selected from all entries.  Entry deadline is 11:59 p.m. EST on February 18.

If you are eager to get your own copy or twelve, you can head over to http://www.fringehours.com or any of the major booksellers to order now.  You can read the first chapter free on the website.  There are other resources also available.

 

Tonight I am thankful for the opportunity to read this book.  I am thankful for the woman who wrote it and for the women who were brave enough to share their stories too.  Most of all, I am thankful for being reminded of the grace we can and should offer each other, encouraging and empowering each of us to be joyful and better at living and sharing the journey with peace-filled hearts.

 

Wishing you all the surprise of finding some Fringe Hours in your week.

Love to all.

Just Some Guy at the Pool

This morning we went with my sister Mess Cat, her husband Leroy, and their little guy Shaker for an early celebration at the pool where they swim.  It was wonderful.  Not another soul there, beautiful weather, clear water, children laughing, folks visiting.

Awesome.

Then Leroy decided to shake things up.  He thought Mess Cat was a little too comfortable, so he jumped in right behind her when her back was turned–SPLASH!   In her good-natured way, she shrugged it off, laughing.  Everyone wanted in on the fun.  The littles came up wanting to be played with.  Leroy obliged them by doing that for a few minutes.

“More, more!” they called after him.  “Uncle Leroy!”  “Daddy!”

“No.  No.  From now on, I’m not Daddy or Uncle Leroy.   I’m just some guy at the pool.”

We all laughed.

“Besides,” he continued.  “Today’s Sunday.  It’s my Sabbath.  No more working for me.”

More laughter.

Except for Cooter, my seven-year old.

“Yeah, back in the olden days, you couldn’t work at all on the Sabbath.  If you did, you could get arrested.”

Leroy nodded.  “Is that right?”

Actually it is.  I am so pleased with my little guy.  He was paying attention when we studied the Revolutionary War this past year.  At one point, we watched the movie “Johnny Tremain,” an old one done by Disney.  There was a scene where the silversmith and Johnny were working on the Sabbath, trying to make ends meet.  The constable (I think it was) was coming, so they quickly tried to hide everything.  In the rush, hot silver was poured on Johnny’s hand.  An important part of the storyline.  I remember us having a conversation about that at the time.  Isn’t it funny what sticks in their little minds?

So it was an interesting coincidence that we talked about the Sabbath tonight at Evening Prayer.  The literal Sabbath, as in a time to rest.

Ahem.

A couple of years ago, I read the book “Mudhouse Sabbath” by Lauren F. Winner.  She described their Friday preparations for the Jewish Sabbath the following day.  She and her husband hurried home from work, prepared meals, ironed clothes, took showers, and  did everything else that needed doing for the next day.  When the sun went down, they were done.  Or had to be.  It wasn’t that they just dropped everything either.  They had worked ahead so they wouldn’t have to.   The Sabbath began and no work was allowed.

At all.

May I tell you how much I love that?

So many present tonight seemed to feel the same way–that we would love to honor the Sabbath, to take time to rest, for meditation and to have a time to just “be” instead of “do.”  We would love to, but we don’t give ourselves permission to take that time.

For some reason I don’t need to hear it’s okay–I need to hear it’s required.  As in if I don’t take a day to rest, to rejuvenate, to “be,” then the constable is coming after me.

Isn’t it sad when we can’t do this for ourselves?

It would be easy to blame the companies that choose to be open on Sunday.  It’s all their fault.  If they weren’t open, I wouldn’t need to go.  I’d have to make do.

Ummm, no.

Or on our busy lives.  We have so much going on each day, and there’s business to handle, to take care of.  It’s more than we can do in six days.  There are dishes and laundry and a house to clean.  We’re at work five days and Saturdays we’re at the ball field or the pool or traveling to see friends.  Sunday’s the only day to get these things done.

Okay.  Or not.

The truth is, it’s a lifestyle.  It’s what we’ve chosen.  We’ve chosen to fill our days and sometimes nights too with activities and meetings and programs.  We’ve made the choice to have all these things that have to be taken care of.  We are the ones who won’t draw the line and reserve an hour, an afternoon, a day each week to sit and be.

It doesn’t even have to be on Sunday in my book.  When we were going to the Sunday suppers each week, and our Sundays were busy with preparations, I guarded my Mondays carefully.  When that ended, I guess I lost my rhythm, and that time fell to the wayside.

I think it’s time I start carving out some “be” time again.  Not “me” but “be.”  Time to be with my family, unencumbered by outside distractions.  Time to sit and think and rest.  Uninterrupted by distractions.

So, in a nutshell, it’s not the distractions that will change.  It’s my attitude.  My setting boundaries.  Making different choices.  My making time for rest. Making it a priority and working ahead so it can happen.  My soul is crying out for it, I can tell you that.

And if the world starts calling out with distractions, I’ll just be some guy at the pool.

Wishing you time to unplug this week.  Love to all.

 

Have or Make, that is the question

I stopped giving my Daddy my number one reason why something wasn’t done many years ago.

I used to say, “Oh I didn’t have enough time.”

Never one to let us be less than we could become, he started challenging me the minute I became old enough to understand what he was talking about.

“Didn’t have the time or didn’t MAKE the time?  Because there’s a difference.”

Yessir, you’d be correct about that.  There sure is.

The past couple of weeks have gone by in a whirlwind.  I have a few things to get done by a certain day, and I’m feeling stretched a bit thin more often than not.  I found myself about to say the wrong thing in conversation with a friend the other day.

I was about to say, “I didn’t have time to get such and such done.”

And I sensed Daddy waiting, patiently, to see what I would actually say.

I was truthful.

“I didn’t make the time to do it.”

Truth.  Uncomfortable.  But truth all the same.

What we do with our time in a lot of life has to do with our priorities.  I have a crocheting project I’d like to finish.  And as someone shared on Pinterest, “Crochet does come before Housework in the dictionary.”  But I can’t say I don’t have enough time–not when I spend time on Facebook and Pinterest and piddling around with this and that.

A new month.  Lots to get done over the next few weeks.  I’m trying to maximize my time during my littles’ summer break from school.  It’s my goal to do more about making time for things.  Prioritizing.  And doing.

It’s funny how I still hear my Daddy’s voice even though I last heard it out loud two and a half years ago.  Giving thanks for having a wise Daddy who never failed to call me out in the hopes of making me a better person.

Love to all.

From one of my favorite artists and storytellers, Brian Andreas of StoryPeople:

“Everything changed the day I figured out there was exactly enough time for the important things in my life.”–Brian Andreas, StoryPeople http://www.storypeople.com

Stop Waiting on the Next Round of Normal

Tonight at Evening Prayer before the worship began folks were milling around and catching up with each other.  I love that part.  As I looked around the room, a beautiful young mother caught my eye.  She looked familiar, but I couldn’t place her.  She reminded me of a young woman who came several months ago, who was pregnant and due any day.  But this woman could not be her–her little one was toddling all over the place.  Someone said the baby was fifteen months old.  Well, there you go, it couldn’t be the same person.  But still…..

I walked over to say hello and she rose from her seat with a smile so wide and genuine, my heart recognized her before I fully did.  It was the same woman.  Mind blown.  I had only met her once, and we had sat together during Evening Prayer one evening.  It HAD been fifteen months ago, yet my memory of her was so vivid, so clear–it seemed like there was no way it had been that long.

I am so thankful I was able to visit with her, albeit briefly, tonight.  Such a sweet soul.  Our seeing each other again reminded me of something that no matter how reminders I get, I seem to forget.

Time is fickle.  And deceptive.

It can seem like no time at all has passed and before you know it, the minutes turn into hours turn into weeks, then months, then years.  I know it’s been talked about way too much, and it’s very cliché, but time goes all too quickly.

I was just surprised that’s all.  I’ve been kidding myself into thinking I was trying to savor every moment.  Grief and the deaths of those you love can do that to you.  Makes you focus a little differently.  Makes you want to make sure nothing is taken for granted.  But eventually time starts slipping and the next thing you know it’s fifteen months later and you don’t know where it all went.  Way.  Too.  Fast.

Time by Cindy Cheney

Time by Cindy Cheney

Here’s the thing.  I’m always thinking about what I will do when “things settle down” or “get back to normal,” and I have put things on my to-do list to handle as time allows.  Fact: It’s not going to happen.  I have got to rearrange my priorities before time and the living of life take away opportunities I thought I would always have.  People get sick and may not be around forever, sisters move away, friends get full-time jobs and can’t get together anymore.  Assuming folks will be around for the next round of normal, whenever, whatever, often leads to heartbreak and regrets because it isn’t guaranteed.

A wise and fabulous friend of mine called and talked and listened, and we had the best visit on Friday.  She said that she felt I needed to do some “culling.”  Well, I look around this house, and I know it’s true (except for the books and the yarn stash–call me out on those and I will disown you).  But she interrupted me, “No, I don’t mean things.  I mean your time.  How busy you are.  You need to cull some of your activities, don’tcha think?”

It’s been on my mind all weekend, that maybe yes, I might need to do just that.  But tonight.  Realizing how fast time flies…..and seriously it does.  Fifteen months–poof–just gone.  I believe I need to cut back on some things so that I can take time for other things I’ve been putting off, thinking they could be done whenever.  It’s just not guaranteed, is it?

Tonight I give thanks for beautiful smiles that warm a heart, for fifteen month olds toddling around a worship service making everyone smile, for family that I can reach out and hug less than a half hour drive away, and for a wise friend who opened my eyes and said what my heart (and my body, let’s be honest) has been trying to tell me for quite a while.  And if you need to cull to make time for folks you love, come on, let’s do it together.  I don’t think we’ll regret it, do you?

Sometimes a Cigar is More than a Cigar

A double guillotine-style cutter, used for cut...

A double guillotine-style cutter, used for cutting the tip of a cigar, next to two hand-rolled H. Upmann Coronas Major cigars, one inside its storage tube and one outside. The “Made in Cuba” label (see “Cuban cigars” section) is visible on the lower tube. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the midst of tackling Mt. Washmore and using my Psychology degree on a ten week old puppy AND two children–wait, make that three–and doing all the things that Monday brings to be done, I had hopes of doing something out of the ordinary.  Like finish a painting that Mess Cat is pretty much convinced I will never finish, I am sure.  Or working on a new crocheting project.  Or, I don’t know, maybe reading one of the bajillion books I have waiting on me.  ALL OF THEM guaranteed to be excellent.

But instead I unloaded the dishwasher and took care of vet appointments and math lessons and thought about how I really don’t have the time to do these things I’d really like to.

And then I heard him.

“You don’t have the time or you don’t make the time?”

It was my Daddy this time.  Yeah, I’ve heard him say this before.  A time or two.  Or ten.

He was right then just as he is now.

Because in truth, there are a million little moments each day that I piddle.  I don’t focus, I let myself get distracted.  I spend five minutes on Facebook, ten on Pinterest (pinning ideas I rarely make time to try), and fifteen clicking this and that on the Internet until I’ve almost forgotten what I sat down to look up to begin with.

And there you go, a half hour that could have been spent focused on a book I want to read or crocheting a little bit more on my project.  Or sorting through things in the littles’ rooms. *sigh*  But that’s an entirely different thing all together.

Daddy once told me a story.   Two men were sitting in a restaurant bar, and the first guy says to the second, “Hey man, let me buy you a drink?”  The second guy says, “No, I’m good.  Thanks.”  First guy: “Aww, c’mon, man, just one drink.”  Second guy: “No really, thanks anyway.”  A couple of minutes later the first guy tries again, “Let me buy you that drink now, okay?”  The second guy shakes his head and says, “No, I don’t drink.”  First guy: “Well why not?”  Second guy, after thinking for a minute, replies, “Because I just had a cigar.”  The first guy stops for a second and then says, “Just had a cigar? What does that have to do with anything?”

Exactly.

It’s just an excuse.  And when you’re looking for a reason, for an excuse, a cigar is as good as any other.

Daddy and I used to talk about our cigars and what other folks used as their cigars.  “I don’t have time” is used a lot.  But here’s the deal.  If I really wanted to, if I focused, I could make time and get to read some on my book du jour.  Or I could plan it out to take my crocheting with me and work on it in the doctor’s offices or dance room waiting areas instead of pulling out my phone and cruising through other people’s business.  Or people watching–again, other people’s business.

But instead, I say I don’t have time.

That’s my cigar.

My friends, it is time I “quit smoking” and making excuses.  It’s time I quit tossing out, “Well we’re too busy” or “Maybe when things get back to normal” or “My house just isn’t up to par yet” and let those all go.  For good.  I want to do these things that I enjoy.  And my life doesn’t make them prohibitive; my not “making” time to do them does.

I am not sure I’m ready for Technology free Tuesday just yet, but I think I’m going to try to make my mind a cigar-free zone and see what I can make time to do.  No excuses.

The only thing standing between these things I want to do and me is ME.