I am Enough from Katherine Center

I am Enough from Katherine Center


Image of Jenny being painted by Katherine courtesy of Karen Walrond

I’m not exactly sure exactly how I got the idea to paint words on people.  It just kind of came to me—in that mysterious way that ideas do. 

What I am sure of is: There are words I really should say to myself.

And I know that I do not always listen and pay attention the way I should.  Especially when I am saying something kind.

And so I try to write them down.  Just to make them that much more solid.

And words on a piece of paper in Times New Roman can work just fine, but sometimes there are words I need to write big and loud.  The way we see a word can impact how we hear it—what it sounds like in the head. 

And so sometimes I paint the words on canvases.  Or stamp them on metal.  Or put them on cupcakes.

But there’s always a distance between the eyes and what they’re looking at.  That’s how seeing works.  And you have to see words before you can read them.  And you have to read them before you can feel them.

Unless I could close the gap.

I wanted to make words of kindness into things we could literally feel on our bodies:  feel the wet brush move across our skin, and then feel the words’ tiny, almost imperceptible presence when it was dry. 

I wanted to find a way for words to touch not just the mind, but the body.  To make them real.

First I asked a friend if she’d let me paint the last paragraph of one of my novels all over her, and she said yes.  And what she said afterward about how it felt confirmed just what I had hoped: that it was powerful stuff. 

So I painted more words on more people.

And one lucky afternoon, I painted the words on Tracey’s body that led to this collaborative.  I am enough.  And she felt them, and she heard them, and even though the paint itself washed off the next day, the words stayed with her.  They lingered: just exactly—beautifully—the way I had hoped.


About Katherine Center


Katherine Center is the author of three comic novels about love and family.  Her third, Get Lucky is due out in April and her fourth is coming in 2012. BookPage named Katherine one of seven new writers to watch. She also makes video essays. Katherine lives in her hometown of Houston, Texas, with her husband and two young children.

  • melody
    Posted at 07:28h, 23 March Reply

    A sleepless night here, reading. Through your words I feel your brush gently stroke across my skin, embossing words upon my mind. Feels real. I’m grateful.

  • Lee
    Posted at 14:15h, 23 March Reply


  • Cara
    Posted at 15:15h, 23 March Reply

    Katherine has such a way with words, I can feel them!

  • Molly
    Posted at 15:16h, 23 March Reply

    I’ve read this three times now, each time I’m asking myself how to close the gap. Thanks for putting this question on my heart today.

  • Kerry
    Posted at 15:56h, 23 March Reply

    Just grateful for these words today..They ring true and hit deeply.

  • katherine center
    Posted at 17:48h, 23 March Reply

    Hooray! So proud to be a part of all this goodness!!

  • jane
    Posted at 18:36h, 23 March Reply

    this is unbearably beautiful – i have stolen this idea for the next time my beloved friends and i get together… i will credit you with it 🙂 but anchoring a deeply centering and loving word over one’s heart is powerful beyond words

  • aileen
    Posted at 18:49h, 23 March Reply

    love this. i love the idea of following your gut and being called to do things, following your heart. it’s important to pay attention to those words that come to you.

    wondering about the significance of a painted message that washes off versus the more permanent tattoo. why one over the other; would this urge you to get the permanent; are they completely unrelated and separate things. there is probably a soothing quality to being painted on versus drilled into with a needle. just my random wonderings.

  • Mindy
    Posted at 20:11h, 23 March Reply

    Beautifully written. I think I’ll write my affirmation on myself, but I will use Sharpie, so it lasts longer 🙂 Thank you for this post! It made my day!!

  • Jenny, Bloggess
    Posted at 14:55h, 24 March Reply

    My neck is one of my least favorite things about me. Those wrinkles…ugh. But when I look at this picture I don’t see those wrinkles. I just see love and light. Thank you for that, my friend.

  • Megan
    Posted at 15:02h, 24 March Reply

    Tracy! Thanks so much for this. I really loved it. I did a project with an artist friend where I danced on top of a large canvas….am working on the blogpost. One w photo of me covered in paint and the next one a video. I had always wanted to do that. Now I just want you to WRITE ON ME. (just putting it out there) hearts, Megan

  • Lis
    Posted at 15:03h, 24 March Reply

    I am just finding this group and so grateful for what you are putting together here.

    The phrase: "I am enough" has been a powerful tool in my journey towards wholeness. The fact that I could not embrace this notion in any way has motivated me to do some pretty intense inner/spiritual work. I wrote a little about this topic on my blog : http://dandelionseedsanddreams.blogspot.com/2009/12/abundance.html

    although I am finding the roots of this weed spread deep into my psyche. I look forward to finding more answers here as others explore this topic.

    Namasté – Lis

  • denise
    Posted at 19:09h, 24 March Reply

    Lovely. A unique and powerful tool–and a wonderment what ideas can foster if listened to. Thank you for a lovely moment.
    Denise (www.musingsdemommy.blogspot.com)

  • Deb
    Posted at 19:27h, 24 March Reply

    Love writing on myself. I am enough and wild and precious. with a fushia sharpie. I’m not a great role model to my grandson who copied me. OOPS!

  • Jennifer
    Posted at 03:37h, 25 March Reply

    While I was on the coast of Oregon Andrea and Kelly Rae created this special experience for us at the be present retreat as you had for them. I have always been drawn to words and even before the retreat saw photographs of the beautiful painting you had done on some of these woman. I always wondered what it would feel like to have someone paint a word I really needed to hear and feel on me. To shy to ask a friend to do it I was very happy when Andrea brought your idea with her to the Oregon coast on October when we gathered.

    I choose the word "brave." It was a word that I had been repeating to myself because I wanted to feel it, truly feel it. When the paint brush swept across my skin it was incredibly powerful. Almost like the word was getting ingrained into my soul. I have the picture of my painted self framed and look to it often. And when that picture is not near I put my hand across my chest where the word was painted and am taken back to that moment. The moment that brave became a part of who I am.

  • elk
    Posted at 19:47h, 25 March Reply

    words are so powerful . so gentle . so needed…thank you for your most beautiful ones Katherine

  • trudy
    Posted at 20:19h, 25 March Reply

    in this moment the tears on my cheeks are my words

  • jackie
    Posted at 15:48h, 26 March Reply

    I remember the first time I saw the flickr photo set of yours, and the power of words on skin jumped off of my computer screen. Those images have stuck with me.
    i have been tumbling over and over in my mind the idea of getting a tattoo that says "fearfully and wonderfully made" from Psalm 139 – to remind me that no matter what others may say or have said, that even what my head tells me, that I have been fearfully and wonderfully made.
    So, when my well-intentioned mother says to me "Why on God’s green earth did you get a tattoo?" I can blame you….. : ).

  • Petit Elefant
    Posted at 05:07h, 30 March Reply

    It seems like something of permanence happens when you paint them on you, you have to believe what you’ve accepted to be put on your body. Like a tattoo, a mantra.

    Love every single piece of this.

  • Lookie Lou
    Posted at 17:03h, 30 March Reply

    Stopping by from "The Bloggess". What a great post. I have to pick up a brush and visit here again.

  • Boston Mamas
    Posted at 15:12h, 13 April Reply

    Beautiful Katherine. And I’m so honored to have been written on by you! -Christine

  • best payday loan lenders
    Posted at 02:13h, 01 February Reply

    Besides, the interest fee charged for credit cards is reasonably
    high when compared to other finance options like personal loans http://www.easybestpaydayloansuk.co.uk/ It is quite hard to get the cash cash when
    your credit standing and track record is a lot
    less than pleasing

  • homepage
    Posted at 02:16h, 01 February Reply

  • site
    Posted at 13:20h, 09 February Reply

Post A Comment