What's your best advice for getting centered?

It's me, Jen. I need your advice, insights & words of wisdom...

On Monday 6/19 at 12 PT, I’ll reply to my favorite piece of advice in the comments section below & gift that person a $150 Jenny Pennywood shopping spree.

Even if you decide not to comment, you cared enough to stop by & that matters...

Deep Knowing by Jen Garrido, 2022, acrylic on canvas, 52 x 48"
Deep Knowing by Jen Garrido, 2022, acrylic on canvas, 52 x 48"

I'm feeling a little burnt out

This year has felt like a closed loop of circular thinking. It’s like my head is in an orbit I can’t escape. I’m not depressed, but my headspace is spinning. These days (most days), I feel burnt out. Ups & downs are part of my process, so this feeling isn’t so new but I am just so tired of it.

My burnout has a backstory

Let's travel back to the early 2000s. I had just graduated from grad school & was teaching art at a small, private K-8th school. It was an amazing job. Or, it would have been had I loved teaching. I didn’t love teaching, but oddly enough I always thought I’d teach. During those same years I taught, I also waited tables & was an affiliate artist at the Headlands Center for the Arts where I was just beginning my art career. 

After several years of juggling jobs, my art career began to unfold. At 30, I decided to let go of teaching because if I didn’t try to do art full time, would I ever? It was the right choice. I think. My career was up & running until 2008 arrived & the economy crashed. Suddenly, the relationships I had worked so hard to build ended due to one thing or another. So, I decided to create Jenny Pennywood as a way to explore textile design. Fast forward to today & it’s as though I’ve been living a double life & hustling ever since the crash. 

My deep desire to recenter

Recently, it dawned on me that for 20 years & counting (essentially my entire adult life), I’ve been incredibly persistent in setting goals & assigning myself tasks with the simple intent of getting somewhere. In many ways, this has been an organic unfolding marked by key moments in time where things seemed to be coming together. But if I’m being honest, I’ve mostly struggled along the way.

Fast forward to today & it’s 2023. Here I sit, drowned in a deep desire to recenter. But, what’s next? 

I love the work I do, I love Jenny Pennywood & I certainly love painting. In fact, I always want to paint more. I’m cool with the struggle in some ways, but I would rather it be a side dish rather than the main course.

What's on the other side of the struggle?

Have you ever been stuck? How did you climb out? What was your key turning point? Is there a version of life on the other side of the struggle, where there’s still struggle, but not so much? Comment below & share your story, struggle, words of wisdom, best advice, tools, habits or something else altogether that you think I should know. Whatever it is, I want to hear about it. Thank you for caring. XO, Jen

Share your advice in the comments section below by Monday 6/19, Noon PT. Best advice wins a $150 shopping spree because why not add a little sweetness to the misery?!


  • Liz says...

    I completely burned out a couple of years ago after pouring myself into my career, which I viewed as my calling. Listening to many hours of the Slow Home podcast with Brooke McAlary during my commute to that job helped me separate my identity from that career and figure other ways I could find joy, meaning and fulfillment. It didn’t happen overnight, and it required a break from the work I was doing to bounce back from the burnout. I hope this helps in some way—I ended up making some big and small life changes—kind of a mid-life resetting of my priorities—and it completely reenergized me.

  • carina says...

    thank you for being so vulnerable and sharing with us. i have always wondered if there would ever be an opportunity for you to merge jen garrido with jenny pennywood or vice versa. sounds like a super reckless thing to do, if only because i assume that there are some nuts and bolts business side stuff that will make it not easy to do (????). it seems like at one point the separation helped you immensely, to create these different buckets while you contended with each side of you (commercial vs. artist) in what seems like a past lifetime ago by now. today, these entities exist on the same platform (ie, your website) side by side, and they talk to each other in such a beautiful way that perhaps there no longer needs to be any partitioning between the two. as a customer and admirer of your work, i see both sides of you as one.

  • Sarah Levin says...

    My dad used to say “If you don’t know which way to turn, keep going straight.”

  • Megan says...

    Instead of putting the pressure and focus in word on myself, I try to think of nice things to do for others. Whether that is calling in really listening to a friend, I like to write handwritten thank you notes or appreciation cards and send in the mail,i compliment strangers or make sure to hold the door. It helps remind me the importance of community. Kind of without realizing it, that’s exactly what you’re doing… Reaching out to your community, offering a gift, creating a space where people can talk about what helps them or their own experiences.. i hope it helps ♥️

  • tasa says...

    When things are overwhelming and I feel stuck all over, and even meditation seems impossible, the practice I turn to is deep breathing. It helps so much. Sure, the bed is still unmade and the storm rages on, but those moments of peace and stillness help me find a path through the day. And then maybe that momentum builds into the next day and the following.

  • Emma Ndambala says...

    Sometimes we get so caught up in our womanhood, that we forget there is a little girl inside of us that needs a listening ear. Often when I’ve felt burnt out or I feel like my creativity is exhausted, I ask ‘Little Emma’ what she needs. Sometimes she’s crying out for something, and I’ve not wanted to ask her what it is (often scared she’ll slow me down or cause me to stumble). My adult self will try to conjure up logical reasonings as to why she shouldn’t be heard, but she’ll continue to shout all the same. And Little Jenny deserves to be heard too. Maybe she needs to feel okay making a ‘mistake’ in her painting, or maybe she’s needs to be given a chance to speak where she was once silenced. No matter how silly her request is, I believe that is a part of a place we find a new realm of freedom & healing in. What would it feel like it to let Little Jenny lead for a while?

    All my love. ♥️

  • Jenna says...

    Girl, cipralex.

  • Cheryl S. says...

    Slow down, breathe deeply, enjoy the moment. Take good care of your body first: eat well – things that make you smile and feel healthy, allow yourself down time – walk, hike, bicycle to absorb a little peaceful nature, sleep enough. Explore new ideas, but don’t let them consume you. Pace yourself as you begin new projects and pathways. Don’t worry about where you’re going…just enjoy the ride. You’ve already accomplished SO much, and do keep painting. Allow your mind to wonder – good thoughts, fun memories, future interests, keep it light and carefree. 💗

  • Steph says...

    Don’t know if this is super relevant, but since you’re an artist, you might find this useful:

    There’s a New York Times article by Simone Stolzoff who wrote the book, “The Good Enough Job: Reclaiming Life From Work.” In the article, Stolzoff writes about the current writers strike and the rhetoric that surrounds jobs in education and the arts: that these jobs are a “labor of love,” a passion, a noble calling—that the privilege of doing the work is reward/compensation enough. However, Stolzoff points out that this kind of language suggests that love for the job is a suitable stand-in for job security and fair pay. She explains that the righteousness of an industry can cover up the problems that exist in it, like low pay, unsafe working conditions, etc. It’s easier for workers to be taken advantage of, exploited, and burnt out when workers (and bosses) believe that the greater good of the job is of the utmost importance. Those in education and the arts are more likely to continue working in challenging working conditions because of their sense of duty to their calling and passion for the work.

    Not saying this is exactly the challenge you are facing! Maybe what Stolzoff writes about is not something you face at all, so I apologize in advance if I’m making assumptions about you :) But, I resonated deeply with your writing about the struggle and the burnout and and hustle. I’m an English professor and mom, and I very much struggle with this idea that my job is a calling—that I’ll do anything for my students, that they are the reason I come to work everyday, etc. But, this kind of attitude, like Stolzoff describes, has lead me to overworking myself. I have said yes to everything at work: yes to every meeting, yes to every new project, yes to every student request. I’m grading essays over the weekends, zooming with students on weekends, waking up in the wee hours to catch up on committee work. My identity is soo wrapped up my job. I’m frazzled, overwhelmed, overworked, burnt out, resentful, etc. Stolzoll isn’t the first time I’ve learned about changing my frame of mind, but it’s a current piece and I appreciate her perspective. For me, saying “no” at work has helped me recalibrate why I work and allowed me to focus on the parts of my job I really do find value in. Also, saying no/having boundaries is also useful for my personal life and being a mom because I now have more space/time to deal with things on the home front. There’s still struggle, but just not so much struggle. It’s a massive re-centering of my mind that I have to continually work at. Less is more! :) Her article is titled, “Please Don’t Call My Job a Calling.”

  • maria says...

    everything you’re saying and feeling makes perfect sense but… stop trying to get somewhere/over there/anywhere but here. the things you’re experiencing aren’t things to “get past” or "solve., they’re your life as it’s unfolding. you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be, progressing on the exact path you’re supposed to be. the eternal striving, questioning, hustling, reaching, sorting out, attempting to eliminate the struggle with the idea that there’s a utopia beyond it – those are all symptoms of the distraction and discomfort. stop. inhale. notice those feelings and recognize that you don’t have to engage with them or respond to them at all. you don’t need to “get centered,” you already are; you just haven’t tuned in to the frequency of observing it yet.

    no need to try to get somewhere. you’re already there.

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