FARGO - Jessica Turner was just living her life as a mom, full-time employee and blogger when the concept of "fringe hours" struck her while attending a work conference. As she thought about the idea, Turner realized she needed to share it with other women as a way to encourage them to find fulfillment and happiness in their lives.
The fringe hours, Turner explains, are pockets of time everyone has available that can be used to fulfill a purpose or passion.
"It's not about doing more or checking more items off your to-do list," Turner says. "It's about identifying time you already have but aren't using and being more alive in your own story."
Turner is the author of "The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You," a book that attendees will receive at the upcoming Women Connect event. The Chamber of Commerce is hosting the event on Jan. 24 as its kickoff to another year of events focused on addressing challenges women face in their personal and professional lives.
At the event, Turner plans to share with attendees various ways they can make time for themselves and the projects that bring them joy.
"January is a fantastic time to be having this conversation and attending this event, because we're in the season of goal-setting," Turner says. "It's a great time to think about what should the year look like or how do we want to live differently than we have."
Turner acutely understands the concept of the fringe hours, because that's what she used to write her book. She attributes a "phenomenal husband" to allowing her to take advantage of her fringe hours to complete it, even while working full-time and mothering two young children at the time.
In addition, just a couple of weeks after she finished her book, Turner found out she was expecting again so she used her fringe hours to edit the final version.
"I like to say I birthed a baby and a book within six weeks of each other," Turner says with a hearty laugh. Her kids are now 8, 5 and 2 years old.
Turner's approachability is what drew Women Connect committee chair Jodi Heilman to her as the group was mulling speaker options for the event.
Heilman recognized Turner from a viral post she'd written in 2009 that resurfaced in 2014; the article was about how women shouldn't miss out on important events because they have insecurities about something like putting on a bathing suit in front of other people.
"It just struck me," Heilman said. "As women, we are so concerned with what others are going to think and say that we forget our kids will remember the times we put on the bathing suit and got in the pool with them rather than sit on the sidelines."
As Heilman and the committee began reviewing Turner's message and her book, she discovered that Turner could fill a need many Women Connect attendees have.
"We're all looking for ways to find work-life balance; it always comes up in our surveys after events," Heilman says. "She offers helpful tactics about the pockets of time in our lives that can allow us to make our lives more beautiful, more healthy and more happy. If we're drained and unhappy, we aren't bringing our best selves to the rest of our lives."
The first chapter of Turner's book talks about the necessity for self-care, a concept many women have trouble embracing. Turner originally didn't plan to include that information, but after she started reaching out to women, she gathered pages of responses with reasons women weren't able to make time for themselves.
"I really wanted to address the fact that women feel stretched too thin," she says. "We juggle lots of responsibilities and it feels hard. I want women to go from feeling overwhelmed and barely surviving to thriving."
During the event, Turner will encourage women to track their time and identify where time could be better spent. Heilman hopes attendees take the advice to heart.
"It's not going to take a calendar to create work-life balance," she says. "It really comes back to: what are the things that bring you joy? What are your passions? What fills you up as a person and how can you find time to do that?"
While Turner wants the women who attend the Jan. 24 event to come away with practical tips and application ideas, she also wants them to leave encouraged.
"I want them to realize that in their own stories, they do have time for themselves," she says. "Not only is it possible to use that time, but it's necessary in order to be better at everything you do and all the roles you have. You'll be a better wife and mom, friend and coworker. We are better when we make time for our passions."
If You Go
What: FMWF Chamber Women Connect presents "Making Time For You: Secrets of The Fringe Hours"
When: Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 3 p.m. (Social at 5 p.m.)
Where: Holiday Inn, 3803 13th Ave. S., Fargo
Cost: $40 in advance for Chamber members, $50 at the door; $60 in advance for non-members, $70 at the door. (All attendees will receive a copy of "The Fringe Hours: Making Time For You.")