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?!


  • Sam Merz says...
    I think if you get your day started out on the right foot, you feel a whole lot better. Here are 3 things that are easy enough to accomplish in the morning :

    1. Make your bed
    2. Eat breakfast – I have oatmeal with chia seeds topped with fruit and pumpkin seeds and sometimes yogurt etc and it balances out my blood sugar so that I don’t get spun out and it helps with my mental clarity!
    3. Drink water
    I can’t function without coffee in the morning ( if you can bravo to you ) but I drink at least 16 oz of water between cups of coffee.
    Achievable small goals can help with our mindset and sometimes that is what you need to move forward :)

  • mj says...

    I’m a therapist so I really struggle with admitting that I feel this too. Is it an age thing? Get to your 40’s and these thoughts/refections pop up? A friend suggested making a calm & joy list and just reading it does something really positive. I have no answers but like that we aren’t laying down and letting life just happen. We are questioning, exploring, trying, accepting the love and support.

  • Alice Ashe says...

    As a graphic designer I feel you on this endless gravitron of creating and planning and dreaming but never knowing where to go next or when you’ll be content :) It feels weighty and impossible to get out of your own head.

    This is not anything groundbreaking, but the best advice I have is to listen to this commencement speech by Neil Gaiman to a graduating art class in 2012. It helps me see outside myself when I feel my brain moving in a thousand different directions:


    There’s too much that resonates for me to summarize it all, lol, but two of his big takeaways that always help me to hear are:

    1. Do what only you can do best, make good art.
    2. Make sure you pause and enjoy the ride.

    Listening helps reground me a bit and reframe the way I think about my career as an artist. Your work is beautiful! xo

  • Victoria says...

    It’s ok to go slow. To rest. Journaling can be an incredible tool to resee your world and surroundings. To look for patterns to follow. To Find gratitude. To identify limiting beliefs.

    If all else fails, remember that circles and cycles are a fundamental law of nature. Tidal streams, orbiting planets, rings on a tree. We’re meant to move in circles. In cycles. You’re beginning a new one!

  • Shuli Lotan says...

    Jen, I feel you so much with all of this! I was struggling really hard with that mind spiral about a year ago, and I think being a mom and a worker and peri-menopausal during a pandemic is just the perfect storm for getting pulled out of our center. Here is what I found that really helped. First is checking in on hormones and doing things to try to balance that out…look into primrose oil, maca, exercise, and a huge dose of self compassion. Second and probably what really helped me find my way back to more grounded and centered-ness is sticking to a morning routine. Check out the Miracle Morning book but any version of it will work – hot water with lemon, gratitude journaling, writing down how you visualize your day going, reading a bit of a meditation or self help book, a few light stretches, taking a walk, and then just sitting in silence for as long as you are able. I’m not a big morning person but I realized that taking this time for ME in the morning before anyone else has needs is a great foundation for the day. Mindfulness meditation seriously changed my life and my anxiety! I mean, there are still days that I feel off but it’s helped a LOT. I loved what you said about making the angst the side dish instead of the main meal…we have to make friends with all our feelings and not resist them, but it’s possible to get a further-out perspective where we don’t feel so in the center of the swirl. Sending love!

  • Michelle says...

    I’m sorry you’re feeling burned out. It really is not a good place to be but I think confronting the reality that’s it’s happening is the first step. I personally have to meditate and journal and ground myself. I see a lot of friends and try to take some of the financial burdens off myself. Usually it’s just a shift in perspective because generally things always seem to work out. I think these kind of transitional times in our lives are an opportunity to really listen because there’s some thing that you want or need. And it might be so subconscious that you’re not really taking the time to hear it and feel it. Or maybe it’s some thing that you want that you sort of subconsciously tell yourself you’ll never have. I know that happens to me a lot. I wish you the best of luck. I love your paintings.

  • Julie Cloutier says...

    I feel you in so many ways. My only advice is to work less, even if you don’t think you can make it work financially. I’ve been working 4 days a week since Feb 2022 and it’s been revolutionary. After being self-employed for 8 years and turning 40 years old, I gave myself the permission to do a trial run on the 4-day work week. I worried endlessly if I could afford to do so, but it has worked out. In fact, my income last year increased! Working less forced me to make better decisions for my business and it’s freed up more time for other important things in life. It’s hard to work less, especially when you love what you do, but I’ve found that I’m more efficient, more relaxed, more creative. I too struggle with juggling my art with my craft business, but when your productivity is compressed it opens you up. Time is my most precious asset and as I get older I’ve come to realize just how important it is to my wellbeing.

  • Ck says...

    That exact same sentiment, a double life, is something that resonates with me. The idea of choosing one or the other, why can’t a creative life be folded into the other life?

    The other thing I thought of immediately when you said centered, I thought if the potters wheel. So many times I’ve used the analogy that when I’m not feeling centered in my head, whatever I make in the wheel is not going to work out (but sometimes it can be good! accidents have sprung new ideas and directions.) And to get re-centered on the wheel, it’s a series of adjustments. I listen to the clay, does it need to be leaned in more, do I need to be more gentle, etc. So my advice is, sometimes it’s not major shifts that will re-center you, but listening for the small adjustment that need to be made.

    (Ps. I really wish we could respond to other comments bc Salamander’s experience echoes my own so much!)

  • Emily says...

    For me, recentering can come in different ways. Sometimes it’s taking a long drive, a walk in nature, a long writing session, a call to a good listening friend, art/painting for the joy of it ~ my personal favorite. I’ve also changed my desktop to a NASA Earth photo – which helped remind me I’m just a tiny speck and so are my ideas/problems/thoughts.
    I’m feeling I should take some of my own advice here.. and also take to heart what you and others are saying and recommending. My Dr confirmed my fear yesterday. I found a mass and it’s possible I’ll be going in for surgery again soon. I’ve been so upset with the news. Feeling let down by my body.. even though it’s been so strong for me too. I’m going to drive to the coast this weekend and sit by the giant ocean. Perhaps this won’t help you on your journey but I’m feeling the struggle too. Be kind to yourself <3

  • Andrea H says...

    The idea of a sabbatical is freeing. I’m a teacher and having the summer to recalibrate is crucial. I reflect, recharge, spend time doing things the grind of the work schedule doesn’t allow. Having been a teacher, I sure you get this, but maybe this is something that could be beneficial in the creative/arts world. Love your work and honesty!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published