Filling the well. How do you make space?

Stars at my feet, shot with iphone 4S

Perhaps you know the moment I am about to describe.

This is the moment when you need a break. You want to jump off the train and retreat. You need an effing break– from all of it — the writing, the thinking, the screens, the emailing, the constant status updates.

Lately, I”ve had the urge to give away all our belongings, delete the entire inbox, and unplug the DSL.

But there is reality right?

And so I sit in my backyard studio, listen to radio stories and make jewelry. I surf ebay and etsy to find new beads. I chat on the phone with friends and look up Eckhart Tolle podcasts. And it’s heaven you guys. Pure heaven.

I’m sure I will want to write again. But for now, I just want to go to yoga and make things and be quiet. I want to clean the house and bake banana bread and figure out how my rice cooker works. I want to go away, somewhere beautiful, to sit and do nothing at all.

I don’t want to compete, or rise to any occasions, or be brave, or pull up any bootstraps.

I want to watch PBS documentaries about animals and walk in the woods and push Nico in a swing and read the wishes hanging from the wish tree.

Julia Cameron would call this filling the well.

New ideas have been percolating in this space. I am seeing clearly how much this is part of the creative process. That without this there is only wringing out a damp rag, trying to squeeze something out of myself that is almost dry. Blood from a stone.

Can you relate? How do you create space for yourself?

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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. Tricia

    I took this week off from my day job to stay at home and do just this. I’m making a clearing for the upcoming busy season. I’m cleaning up my living spaces, rearranging the furniture, making applesauce, spending time with my sister, reading books, making doodles, staring out the window at the rain falling. It feels good. I needed this rest.

    I have a stainless steel rice cooker, and it sticks sometimes. A little olive oil in the water helps.

  2. MrsWabiSabi

    I can certainly relate! Sometimes I push myself so so very hard, and strive to be so so tall. But I just attended an Artists’ University/Intensive Weekend where they stressed the importance of Taking Time OFF. Especially for artists who inspire others, they need time off to BE inspired themselves! Oh Man, boy-oh-boy, how I can relate. So today I’m filling the well with froofy indulgent tv & crayon drawings. And thank you for sharing!! Your well sounds fun.

  3. Laura Case

    Andrea!! This is exactly what I needed to read right now. I photographed my last client of 2012 and am purposefully giving myself a break for two months from shooting for other people.

    I realized I needed a break when I texted a photo from the session to a friend and said “If they don’t love this, I quit forever!” I just want to stop creating for others and create for myself a bit. It has really gotten under my skin, making me worry that I’m not cut out to do this full time. But your thoughts are exactly where my head is right now.

  4. Jen

    This is me. I’ve been sick for two…almost three…weeks, and I’m feeling such a need for hibernation, for retreat. For just rest. Because it’s been so intense for so long, and I’m depleted.

    So this weekend that was supposed to be spent at a frantic run of traveling will be spent cocooned with the PA’s family, and I think I’ll be working on some crafts. Maybe some writing. Some photographs. I don’t know. Or nothing. Whatever it is, though, I need the space and replenishment.

  5. jen

    thank you for posting this love! i love tuning in to synchronicity. i just wrote an affirmation on my mirror that reads, “I care for self in body, mind, and spirit.”

  6. Mariella

    I hear/feel you, mama. This sounds heavenly to me!! xo

  7. Meghan Leahy

    Oh girl. We are in the same biz, so do I relate. I don’t want anyone to tell me how to live, or how to be grateful or how to be. I just want to BE. JUST BE. I am burnt out and burnt up. And that STRIVING feeling is getting me down.

    If I simply MOTHER my kids, I will lose it. If I only WORK (even though I love it), I will lose it even more. So, there’s all that.

    Thanks for your honesty and I look forward to not hearing from you. 😉 Until I do.

  8. Jill Salahub

    I have a card on my desk at my paid work that reads “Give yourself time to be.” It’s been there for the past year, even though it’s one from a set of 53. There it sits, day after day, giving me its wisdom, silently sending me its message, waiting patiently to be noticed, and I continue to be so busy, I don’t even see it.

    Until the other day, when I actually saw it, looked, listened, opened my heart to it. I am hungry for space, craving stillness and quiet, wanting to clean and declutter, to nest, to rest. It’s the season, but it’s also the path I’ve been on (more like an interstate highway than a path), driving so fast and working so hard to get where, exactly?

    The answer is right there in front of me: where I want to be, what I am longing to manifest is who I already am, just me, time to be that. May we both have the space we long for, may we all be filled so full our hearts break wide open.

  9. Cathy {tinniegirl}

    I can so relate Andrea. I think this year was the first time I have ever experienced true creative burn out and it was awful. I don’t ever want to do that to myself again. It’s really hard as creative entrepreneurs to find the balance between working towards our goals and stepping away. I don’t think I have any answers in terms of how to do it. It’s a journey that each of us takes. But it sounds like you are doing good things for you.

  10. imene

    I can totally relate it’s just that I’m not very good at filling up the well. When I feel depleted I keep pushing until I crash and burn.
    I am reading the creative life right now. I am looking forward to finding more focus in life and work

  11. playcrane

    All,of this sounds wonderful Andrea. I am sitting with a glass of wine and reading blogs. Also looking forward to receiving my Superhero necklace.

  12. robyn

    oh, i’m totally there as well! i’ve been making lists of the things i want to walk away from (both permanently and temporarily) and then checking the list off one at a time. so refreshing!

  13. Anneli

    Yes, yes, yes. I needed to read this today. I have been fighting the urge to run away from it all and become a hermit in a cave. Thank you for reminding me to make some space and take it easy and just breathe.


    I like to sit in my studio and watch the rain drops wend down the window glass; drink tea, each chocolate and read. I think the trick is to have quiet. For me, finding quiet space on the outside helps me to get quiet on the inside.

  15. GailNHB

    Oh, heck yes. I know that feeling. Only I don’t want to push my kids on a swing. I want to push away from the jetway of the airport and land eight hours later in Madrid… Alas, my escape will have to wait a while.

    In the meantime, I need to find ways to fill the well right here at home. Thanks for the reminder to do just that – take deep breaths, stop being brave, and just be real, no matter what that looks or feels like. Withdraw to my inner sanctuary, bask in color, and be quiet.

    Happy well-filling.

  16. Belinda

    I certainly understand. As a single mother of a 23 month old I am finding it so hard to even just breath lately. I need some space to just centre myself, get my eyebrows waxed, have a massage, and decide on the next step of my journey.

  17. Belinda

    PS I love Julia! I must read her books again. Thanks for reminding me.

  18. Kathleen

    I do exactly what you are doing – take time for hobbies, whether it be reading, long walks, listening to podcasts or putting together photo albums.

    Needing to fill up the well is also what helps me most keep my house organized, because during those times, I love the simplicity of tasks around the house that usually don’t require much thinking (of course, this thus allows you actual time to think and tends to be when great ideas pop into my head).

    Enjoy the time…savor it. And share the rice and banana bread, please?



  19. Heather

    I don’t. I don’t do this, ever. And it has broken me in places where, when I finally do find a moment of time to grab up for myself, I no longer know how to use these moments. I haven’t played my guitar in months, even though it hangs on our living room wall. And when I get some time to sew, it’s only enough time to do a part of a project, to which I never go back and finish. I have two very small children and no one to take them even for a short while, and no resources to pay someone to give me a few hours of time, either. When they go to bed, the things I like to do are too noisy to start doing, or I’ll wake them up. But mostly when I have free time, I clean my house and do laundry. I find my life revolves around the needs of others and never around myself. If I knew how to steal some of these moments, I would gladly do so 🙁

  20. Sarah Ford

    I agree that this time is so valuable. Sometimes I get to the stage where my other half asks me if I want a cup of tea and my mind is so full I cant remember the word for ‘yes’ – usually happens after a crazy day at work as a PA when I need to multitask and jump (mentally and physically) between at least three things at a time!

    In order to ‘fill the well’ I take time when my husband is working at the weekend to walk the dog along the beach (with no MP3 player), bake, read (with no background radio or TV on), spend time in the garden working away but thinking of nothing but what I am doing. For an extra boost, I spend the weekend at my mums where we chat, read, drink tea, eat, laugh, visit open gardens, with no agenda or without needing to be in a certain place at a certain time – bliss!

  21. mary

    I find sitting and playing with colours as I crochet is what fills me up. Usually while listening to a serial on the radio.

  22. Jilanna

    Wow. This post really speaks to my heart. When my well runs dry, it’s hard to know where to start.

    I read a post over at The Kitchn a few days ago and found it helpful.

    @Heather, I think (hope) this post might help you too.

    Take it easy, everybody.

  23. Savannah Foley

    I definitely relate. I’m participating in NaNoWriMo and I’ve reached the point where I’m done constantly producing, and I want to go back and find the heart of my work. I’m between official projects at the moment and I feel like maybe I should have taken this month to relax and ‘fill the well’ instead of doing more work.

  24. Elle

    I seriously need to do this every week. That is what my Sundays are for. Unplugged and unplanned. Beautiful!

  25. Nancy

    I am currently on day 4 of a 5 day TV detox!!! Wow what good has it done me!! I have a whole bunch of projects in my head and things weren’t moving along quickly enough, and after estimating that I could spend approximately 34 hours per week watching tv I understood why!!! So I decided to turn off the tv and focus on what drives me – writing my blog, planning a new website, trying to inspire people to get moving and push their limits. TV detox is definitely creating space for me!!!

  26. Moyra

    Art, pasting things. I have cut out of magazines into my scrap books, cooking, making stock, and soup. Rearranging the house. Yoga, meditation, which for me is stopping to tak time to just breathe. Someone wrote, that everybody needs 30 mins a day of doing nothing. Unless you are really really busy and up against it, in which case you need an hour. Indeed.

  27. Tina

    Yes. It sounds heavenly. I’m thinking this year I should use my vacation days for just this sort of thing.

  28. Taryn

    For me it was a challenging personal event that tipped me over… I retreated from much of the world for a couple of months. I’m trying to get back into things selectively now, but it has taught me there are some major changes that need to be made in my life… I need to start living more of me & less of a chameleon existence. Rediscovering my creative side has been an integral part to this process!

  29. Quilter Kathy

    I know exactly, on a cellular level, what you mean. I was washing dishes at 1 am last night…just couldn’t stand to see a pile of unwashed dishes when I woke up this morning. I always have to fit my “recovery” time into my family’s schedule and have skated too close to the danger point too many times. My sanctuary is my quilting, but I turn that into pressure on myself too sometimes.
    Everywhere I go, there I am! *frowny face*

  30. Heidi

    Guilty-pleasure TV. Mary Oliver. A thrillingly complicated recipe, preferably for pie. Taking a long shower, curling up in bed with O Magazine, and not moving until my hair is completely dry. Going to see an intriguing person speak. Dancing it out, home alone, until I disappear into the music and reappear half an hour later — sweating, breathing, whole.

    Much love and strength to everyone who commented above as you fill (or try to fill, or simply want to fill) your wells!

  31. Heidi

    PS: Tina, I love your idea to use vacation days for “just this sort of thing.” That’s really what vacation is for anyway, right?! 🙂

  32. Christine DeSavino

    Well, I just joined this group last night…I already got an easy and delicious recipe AND some great advice:

    Every Moment That My Thought Feels Good, I Am Fueling My Wellness

    Just relax into your natural wellness. Give your attention to things that feel good, for as you are able to accomplish holding your thoughts on something that feels good for five seconds, then for that five seconds you will stop fueling your illness. As you accomplish it for ten seconds, then for ten seconds you have stopped fueling the illness. As you think about how good you feel right now, and as you think about your natural state as being a state of wellness – you being fueling your wellness.

  33. Whitney phippen

    Hi Andrea,
    I love reading your blog. Especially posts like this. You remind me that although we may not know each other, there are people like me out there somewhere. Thanks for filling my well 😉

  34. MelanieX

    Hello blogger i see you don’t earn on your website. You can earn additional money easily, search on youtube for: how
    to earn selling articles


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