Guest Blogger: Katherine Center


I’ve been trying to write this post for days, but it hasn’t been happening.

Which is totally nuts. Because I can always, always, always write. Even when I can’t sleep, I can write. Even when I can’t think, or talk, or dream, I can write.

But not this week. Or last week. Or possibly even next week.

I’m just empty.

It’s been a crazy few months in my life—running around promoting my new book, doing thing after thing to help it. And when I say crazy, I mean good crazy. Awesome crazy, even. And also, a little bit: exhausting crazy.

I guess I normally try to structure in a lot of leisure time. At least, as much leisure time as a parent of little kids who’s squeezing a full-time job into part-time hours can hope for. I’m a napper. And a lounger. In my regular life, I try to stay in my pajamas as much as possible.

But I gave up leisure time—personal time, quiet time, nap time, gym time—for the book, for a little while. There are only so many hours in the day, after all. A new book has a short season when it’s out on display in bookstores and when it needs a lot of attention and care. I was happy to give up leisure time for the book. Kind of the way I’ve been happy to give up sleep for my kids. Some things, you just do.

But maybe six weeks ago, I looked around and thought, “I am running on empty.” And then I never filled back up. And now I’m running on whatever comes after empty. Fumes, maybe. And there are no filling stations anywhere in sight.

So that’s the question I’ve been carrying around lately. How do you fill back up? I’ve traveled so much in the past few months, and written essays, and schmoozed, and blogged, and nursed sick kids, and planned birthday parties, and spoken at luncheons, and rocked my wakeful son at 3 a.m.—every single 3 a.m. for weeks and weeks. At this point, as the busy season comes to a close, I’m absolutely ready to relax or recharge or rejuvenate.

But I think I can’t remember how.

I want to make a to-do list. I want to attack the project of getting my equilibrium back with verve and moxie. I want to have a plan. I want to feel like I’m using my time wisely. There is so much I need to get done every single day that I don’t get done. Hours are precious, and minutes, too. I find myself wanting to turbo-recharge. Thinking maybe if I go for a pedicure, and take the New York Times Magazine, and bring my iPod loaded up with Sarah Vaughan I’ll come out feeling triply refreshed! And then maybe I can use the time I’m saving to get some work done.

I’m just ready to feel like my regular self again. But, of course, being me—the regular me—means lots of time frittered away. Lots of daydreaming about remodeling the kitchen and doodling plans for a butterfly garden and watching my kids sing and dance on the coffee table.

In general, I believe that downtime is essential for creativity. That the brain has to be allowed to wander. But I’ve been moving-and-shaking for so long now that being busy has started to seem like the only way to be productive. I’m a little afraid to let go of this efficient version of myself.

But then I remind myself of things I used to know: that opposites can work together, that you can only hear certain things when it’s quiet, that—as they say—not all who wander are lost. And while pushing yourself is certainly good for you, it’s also good to be comfortable. I am grateful for the busy months I’ve just had, and I’m also grateful for my pajamas. And tomorrow, if I wear them to the grocery store by accident, I will be grateful for that, too: For any way I can manage to hurry up and slow down.

You can find the talented author Katherine Center on her website or you can simply read one of her awesome books. I just finished The Bright Side of Disaster and fell in love.

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Hi, I’m Andrea

On this blog you’ll be learning with me how to use our voices, share our creative superpowers and live life in full color.

As an artist, photographer, life coach + mentor, I’m redefining what it means to be a SUPERHERO — ‘cause in my world, it’s got nothing to do with capes, spandex or sidekicks and everything to do with tenderness, intuition & baby steps of bravery.



  1. jquinn

    thank you for not being able to write…. for reminding me that I too need to refill my cup… honoring what is and embracing every moment(even if the moment happens to be at 3am)it is what it is and what it is is simply amazing

  2. Whitney Ferre'

    Katherine, Thank you for sharing! This is what I do when the writing is not coming easily…
    Making a Mandala is such an easy way to relax, access new ideas and become completely present.
    Mandalas have been created for centuries by many, many different cultures as a spiritual centering practice. Remember, as a species, human beings created art long before we created an alphabet or a monetary system! And it wasn’t easy! They didn’t have the “craft cave” where all the supplies were readily available. They had to dig the minerals out of the earth to create pigment for paint or cut down a tree, dry the wood, carve it out…to create the mask. Why was this such an important activity to our ancestors when their biggest job was simply survive? They spent valuable energy, time and resources to create art. Why was it important?
    Creating art connects you to a voice, I call it The Artist Within, that is connected to your spirit, that is completely present, that is closer to your subconscious & intuition. “Primitive” cultures understood the importance of nurturing and accessing this voice. Do we?
    Since we live in such a busy, detail oriented, task laden world our Artist Within has been relegated to the back corners of our mind. The symptoms of a mind that have not given this voice a platform in awhile are apathy, hopelessness, depression, anxiety, worry, stress…need I go on? I certainly deal with at least two of those emotions daily as I ride the emotional roller coaster of being a restaurateur, a mother of three, a wife, an author, and a woman. I have found the wellspring inside of my mind where I can go to balance those emotions with feelings of hope, peace, connection, unity, balance, rhythm…need I go on?
    So, create a Mandala today to create inner peace, centering, calm. Just draw a circle, or trace a bowl, put a dot in the middle and start doodling. Let me know how you feel after you have filled the space.
    Whitney Ferre’ is the author of the book, The Artist Within, A Guide to Becoming Creatively Fit.

  3. nicole

    katherine you’ve summed how i feel. with very creative work i am doing, a death of a beloved dog, a miscarriage and skin cancer, i am very much feeling like i am running on empty, waiting for some sign of a recharge.
    i think i just need to sit. however i can.
    thanks so much for writing what i have been feeling! and good luck to you! much success!!

  4. cjh

    My fumes ran out last Friday. I took the weekend to work on what I wanted to work on…just not every waking hour. Thanks for this. I feel less alone.

  5. Sarah-Ji

    Katherine, I just started Everyone is Beautiful on my train ride home yesterday, and I almost missed my stop because I didn’t want to stop reading. I seriously considered just riding that train to the end of the line so I could get in a couple more chapters.
    I can really relate to the running on fumes scenario. I spent a couple days just relaxing a couple weekends ago on a farm in Wisconsin, and I’m starting to crave that meandering rhythm of life.
    Here’s to hoping we can all “hurry up and slow down!”

  6. stef

    Oh andrea – how I love thee and all your wonderful guests! katherine has become a favorite because of the books, because of the way she speaks of lounging and relaxing and being in PJ’s and rocking the babe at 3am….all this i can relate too. love, love, love!!!

  7. Deborah Blake

    Katherine, I recently went through the same thing. After writing 6 books in 4 years (4 NF, published and 2 novels, not yet…) I just hit the wall. So I MADE myself take about 3 weeks off from writing. I did some gardening, and some jewelry making (part of my day job as the manager of an artists’ cooperative shop). Spent time with some friends, read books I hadn’t written and tried (without much success, alas) to get back into the exercising habit. Mostly just didn’t write. It was shockingly hard the first few days, then a huge relief. Of course, now I have edits for book 4 to do…but still, just taking a break and allowing yourself to be a human being first and a writer second can really help. Get out into nature if you can, too.
    That being said–when is the next book coming?! (Tee hee.)

  8. Christa

    Your post rang true for me. I found that meditation helps a great deal. I, too, am a napper and lounger; however, it is often hard to get back to that space when work is super busy. Meditation forces a stillness that is otherwise hard to come by.

  9. catherine

    Truth well said… in a perfect little nutshell.
    Been hearing about your books so now I will be off to buy them. can’t wait…

  10. Meg

    Yeah. I’m there too… with nothing beyond fumes for quiet a ways ahead. I just have to remember to soak up the good moments when I get them – and hour here, a weekend there. To put down the journals and the lists, and just be. It’s hard though, no?
    And I’m not going to lie, the hour I snuck last night was absolutly spent reading that great Clinton artical in the NYTimes Magazine. But lets not judge how we re-charge, lets just savor it.

  11. Kris

    “I’m just ready to feel like my regular self again. But, of course, being me—the regular me—means lots of time frittered away. Lots of daydreaming about remodeling the kitchen and doodling plans for a butterfly garden and watching my kids sing and dance on the coffee table.”
    I agree that we can get into a rut of busyness and not know how to go back to our other self. Even thinking this is a better self to stick with. But it’s not what you need. If this self is running on fumes, you need to take a step back and just breathe. Don’t schedule things. Do things that purposefully put you in a relaxed way. I order a pile of books from the library, make sure i have enough snacks on hand and fixins for impromptu picnics in the backyard. Bubbles and chalk at the ready. Gotta remember how to relax and then the energy and creativity will flow again.

  12. Thea

    Very well said. I hope you find respite from the busyness and some good pj/daydreaming.
    I too find it hard not to push for that list-to shove as much into every activity…that is why I alaways bring so much stuff wherever I go…just to multitask.
    Just this morning I took a 30 minute walk-decided to leave my cell at home instead of trying to catch up with a couple girlfriends while walking. I did get some great clarity and creative thoughts on that walk.

  13. kristine

    Can you take a train??
    I live two hours away from San Francisco and yet so much of my work is there that I go back and forth. When I take the train I consider myself taking a time out. I sit silently on the train looking out the window, sometimes listening to my ipod, sometimes reading a book or magazine. I just zone out and relax. It’s one way I have managed to incorporate a moment of rejuvenation into a rather hectic life.

  14. Sarah Ford

    Your blog could be me!
    I havent drawn, painted, created or played the guitar since before Christmas.
    My aunt passed away in February from breast cancer following a long battle, my family and I helped care for her.
    My mum had to have a biopsy on her breast on the day my aunt died. After it came back clear she then had to have a hysterectomy a few weeks after organising my aunts funeral.
    My sister and I are executors of my aunt’s (complicated) estate so are also working with solicitors and estate agents to sell her property.
    I feel that the end is in sight but dont know if I will have the mental capacity or energy to sit and create.
    Am hoping that it all comes back to me soon – I feel lost without my ‘mojo’.

  15. k

    i loved reading this and it made me feel so good to know i am not the only one that feels this way at times! i read all the comments prior to mine as well and each of them helped me! thank you! i also am so happy to hear about some of your books because i just finished one and was clueless (until now) what i was going to read next!! i will be seeking yours out within the next day or two!! 🙂 i knew there was a reason i visited today…even though i wasn’t even sure i was going to get on my computer – so happy i did!

  16. Katie

    This is wonderful…I needed the reminder. Thanks.

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