You Need to Make Time for You

February 20, 2015 | 7 comments

I had lunch the other day.

Which may not sound like a big deal, but it was. Trust me.

Here’s why:

It wasn’t a “grab-a-boiled-egg-and-turkey-from-the-fridge lunch.” It wasn’t an “eat-at-the-kitchen-counter lunch.”

It was real lunch. The kind where a person sits down and enjoys her food. With actual people. And utensils. And chairs.

Two friends joined me, and we lingered a long time at the restaurant table, enjoying our iced teas and chicken-salad sandwiches. I could actually taste what I was eating.

I can’t do that every day, of course, but I’ve been having those kinds of lunches far more often in the last year than I had in the previous ten years combined.

And I’ve never once felt guilty about it.

I’ve been slowly learning the benefit of making time for me, of carving out space to do what I enjoy, to practice self-care, to be a better friend, and a more attentive wife and mom. 

For years, I had put so many of my own needs aside. I had felt more like a machine than a woman — a human doing, instead of a human being.

I said “yes” to every committee, every program, every writing opportunity, every speaking event. Because I wanted to please everyone. And I was burned out.

I had “over-yessed” myself. I could see the evidence all around me — the dozens of books I could never find time to read, the photos I didn’t have time to take, the cards I intended to send but “didn’t get around to it,” invitations to events from friends that I had to decline. I gained weight from lack of exercise, lost sleep from lack of peace, and could never catch my breath. There was no margin in my day. No whitespace. No hours on the fringes of days.

My days were full, but my joy-tank was often empty.

I knew for sure that I had become a slave to all those yeses, when my first words every morning were no longer, “Good morning, Lord,” but “Oh crap, how am I going to get everything done today?”

Many of those yeses were attached to good things. In that season, I was writing my my first book

, while managing an increasingly busy household, maintaining my roles on church committees, writing many freelance articles, and holding down a part-time job as an adjunct journalism professor. But the saying holds true: you really can have too much of a good thing.

Yesses can barrel down like an avalanche, not just on me, but on my husband and children who needed the less-stressed, less-yessed version of me.

So I quit my job at the college. I left something I loved, to reclaim what I’d lost: a huge part of my joy.

A friend asked me shortly after I quit, “Well, what will you do?”

“I …” my own eyes darted. “Well, I will … uh…”

I stammered, trying to find words to come up with a list of important new projects that I would tackle.

I finally told my friend the truth: “What will I do? Well, I’m going to breathe. That’s what.”

The truth is, I didn’t want to add anything new into that space. I had to reclaim margin, a little bit of space to draw fresh air in their lungs and pursue my passions.

I reclaimed my life, and I found what my friend Jessica Turner calls “The Fringe Hours.”

 And that’s the title of her important new book.

Friends, this book is a game-changer, a perspective-shifter. It is a celebration of the YOU that God created.

Jessica writes:

“To not allow the stress of too many good things to invade our lives and steal our joy, we have to learn to say no and prioritize.”

This book empowers women to take back pockets of time they already have in their day in order to practice self-care and do the things they love.

I am a passionate believer of her message (and apparently so are thousands of other women! The book has only been on the shelves for three days, and already it has hit the top 100 on ALL OF AMAZON!)

The reason I’m a passionate believer, is because I’ve experienced the joy of making time for me.

It’s how I have time to read some of those books I’ve been dying to read. It’s how I reclaimed those long bubble baths. It’s how I cuddle up on the couch with my favorite farmer every night to watch our latest NetFlix obsession, instead of burning the midnight oil in my office. It’s how I take long lunches with my friends, shoot more photos, and do burpees and squats at 5:30 a.m. with my workout buddies. It’s how I bake cookies with my girls, and invest the best parts of my workdays creating good content for you, right here.

Making time for me? It’s how I got my life back. 

Order The Fringe Hours

Post contains affiliate links.

by | February 20, 2015 | 7 comments


  1. Trudy Den Hoed

    Thank you for reminding me we are human beings, not human doings, Jennifer. And I do appreciate the time you invest in writing posts for us. 🙂

    • dukeslee

      My pleasure, Trudy. Blogging is one of those things that truly fuels my spirit. I’m glad you enjoy the posts.

  2. Lynn D. Morrissey

    An important post, Jennifer. I left a full-time career when I had our daughter, and it was a difficult transition for me. I remember sitting in a playground while she slid down a slide, thinking: “Wow, I am really wasting my time.” I had been so accustomed to cramming every moment with meetings and business and hustle and bustle. I hadn’t realized yet that my time is never wasted when I invest it in others. And I think it’s okay to invest time in ourselves, too, in the sense of reading, engaging in art and creativity, and just plain playing–all, ultimately, gifts from God to be relished. The book you recommend sounds excellent, and I’m reminded too of Laura Boggess’s Playdates with God and Lysa TerKeurst’s The Best Yes, It seems that The Fringe Hours conveys similar wisdom. I’ll have to read it–especially since I’ve made more room on my bookshelves. All my love to you as you slow down and savor. You have very wonderful days ahead.

    • dukeslee

      Yes, Lynn. Jessica’s book does contain similar wisdom as the books you’ve mentioned. They all complement each there quite well.

      I think it’s more than okay to invest time in ourselves. So many women I know feel guilty about that, and end up exhausted tending to the needs of everyone around them.

  3. Paige Estes

    I honestly don’t think I have any fringe time in this season. I would love to be a human being instead of a human doing. Maybe one day…

  4. Nancy Ruegg

    You are undoubtedly speaking God’s heart to us in this post, Jennifer. For too long too many of us have felt guilty if we weren’t productively occupied every waking moment. But that was false-guilt, wasn’t it. Self care is just as important as taking care of everybody else. Thank you for helping us get over this false-guilt, people-pleasing thing!



  1. » You Need to Make Time for You - […] I had lunch the other day. Which may not sound like a big deal, but it was. Trust me.…

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