The Fringe Hours, by Jessica N Turner

I have been reading Jessica's blog for ages.  I happened upon it once, several years ago, and was drawn to her warmth, her passion for organising and her immense skill at scrapbooking (if you remember back to when I would do Project Life Tuesday link ups - that was with Jessica).  I've watched her family grow up on the blog and read as Jessica and her husband Matthew (Matthews are the best! /biased) navigate the ups and downs of parenting, marriage, work and writing.

I was overjoyed when some time ago Jessica announced she'd be writing a book, and just as I've observed her wee ones grow up through her blog posts and tweets, so too have I seen her book, called The Fringe Hours, grow up in front of me.  I took a tiny part in one small element of the original research Jessica did (an online survey) and when she announced she was looking for people to read and review advance copies, I shot my hand up like the oh-so-overkeen child I was at school!'s really good.

In The Fringe Hours, Jessica makes an empassioned case for us all making time for the things in life which fulfil us.  Not the many things we do in order to be good wives, mothers, friends, teachers...but the things which call most to us, which make us happier and healthier.  She researches widely and is unafraid to talk about prickly subjects such as guilt and comparison.  She meets with people who utilise their 'fringe hours' beautifully, and offers guidance and practical tips for others keen to find time for their passions and hobbies.

I must admit that I wasn't entirely sure how I'd apply the ideas in the book to myself but was pleasantly surprised!  Everyone I know is busy, and so too are the women Jessica meets and interviews.  There are a broad range of women involved in the research and case studies and it really opened my eyes to ways I could make time for the things that make me happier and more relaxed (in my case, reading, singing and walking were the three I focused on).  As my days trot by speedily I often feel guilty if I take time to go for a long walk or to read a book or to learn a new song - this book helped me to realise that I'm not alone in this guilt, and the ideas and tips within it helped me to be braver about carving out time for me.

The book made me be honest about how I used my free time, and a fair few useless apps got deleted while I made these changes.  It also made me more protective of the time I do take for me - because by recharging and recalibrating I come back stronger and better able to achieve all I need to do in a week!

If you're interested in wellbeing, self-care, organisation, or just love to see how others juggle the many elements of this ride we call life, I would heartily recommend The Fringe Hours to you.  Congratulations, Jessica, it's a cracking read!   And thank you for the genius of page 145 - I copied your 'Creative Ways to Say No' into my journal and they have been a godsend on myriad occasions since!

As a member of the 'launch team' I was lucky enough to receive a free copy of the book to review.  To buy a copy it can be found on both Amazon US, and Amazon Canada. Here in the UK it releases March 17th (although the Kindle version is available now); you can preorder the book here.
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Things to Remember, 1

London is a beautiful city.  As I strolled through the city today I was struck (as I often am) by how lucky I am to call this city home.  Sure it can be loud and busy and a little abrupt, but I'm constantly blown away by the big, impressive, London-ness of it all.

This evening I walked from Green Park to Liverpool Street, pausing midway for ramen and Merlot with the lovely Katie.  It's a decent swathe of the city and I love the journey through so many different parts of town.

You start at Green Park, passing through the arches of the Ritz, the juxtaposition of town cars spewing out new people to check in or play a little baccarat at the club, suits fresh from work, and homeless guys just trying to get some change for dinner.

On down St James's to Pall Mall, past the cigar shops, the yacht emporiums and the members' clubs.  On to Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery and St Martin's coming into view, then behind you as you bear down on the Strand.

Past tourists and theatres, buses and black cabs.  A quick glance at St Clement Danes and a remembrance of that happiest of days.  Through the legal district, lights burning on and on, chalk protest signs scrawled on the pavements outside the Royal Courts of Justice, waiting for rain to dissolve and destroy them.

A pause for food and chat and rest, then onwards.

Up Ludgate Hill to the majesty of St Paul's, the dome so imposing and grand.  Past the columns of the Bank of England and the winding streets, so small, beneath the gargantuan towers of the financial district: Gherkin, Natwest, Heron.

And then to Liverpool Street, to crowds and trains and warmth and home.

What a pleasant walk.

What a magnificent city.
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