Everyone is Beautiful


Here are some Katherine Center quotes–gathered from around the web.  For more, come on over to Pinterest!


From essays:


You are writing the story of your only life every single minute of every day.

–Katherine Center, What I Would Tell Her (Mom 2.0 Video)


“Nothing that doesn’t push you past your limits can change your life. It’s true of work, it’s true of parenting, and it’s true — a hundred times over — of love.”

–Katherine Center, Nothing Worthwhile is Ever Easy


There is an entire universe of things my mother knows that I don’t.

–Katherine Center, Things To Remember Not to Forget


We all carry our mothers inside us.

–Katherine Center, Things to Remember Not to Forget

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Maybe the past is supposed to fade—and that’s actually a kindness of human memory.

–Katherine Center, Things to Remember Not to Forget


You can’t know what you know now and feel the way you did then.

–Katherine Center, Things to Remember Not to Forget

That’s what just hit me:  How you really can’t have everything.  You have to give up the old to get the new.  You can’t be the child and the mom at the same time.  You can’t be your young self and your old self at the same time.  You can’t know what you know now and feel the way you did then.  You can’t, you can’t, you can’t.

–Katherine Center, Things to Remember Not to Forget


Our lives disappear, even as we live them.

—Katherine Center


We build our lives in moments, and even the ones we can’t remember become the story of who we are.

—Katherine Center


The human race has a lot to answer for, and it’s not as easy to feel hopeful as it should be—but you make it more important to try.

—Katherine Center


The way that I love you makes me a better person.

—Katherine Center


The way that I love you makes me a better person, and the way that you love me back makes every sorrow worth it.

—Katherine Center


Don’t let anyone convince you that love doesn’t matter.

—Katherine Center


We are at our finest when we take care of each other.

—Katherine Center


And so my hope for you, good boy, as you grow taller every day, is that you will learn to take good care of yourself, and you will learn to take good care of others—and, someday, you’ll see how those two things are exactly the same.

—Katherine Center

It’s so easy to think that your strengths don’t matter.

—Katherine Center


Look for beauty in everything.

—Katherine Center


The best things about womanhood might possibly even be the conversations.  The chatting.  The gabbing. The whispering.  The hands-on-hips eye-rolling.  The yukking-it up.

–Katherine Center,  Kirtsy Video


We’re looking for stories that speak to us.  We’re looking for stories that connect us with something true.  But, instead, a lot of the time we get strippers.  All I’m saying is, when boys are writing the stories, the percentage of strippers is bound to go up.  And real stories about real women kinda don’t get written at all.

–Katherine Center,  Kirtsy Video


And despite everything I know now, I still believe, as I did when I was little, that there is an entire universe of things that my mother knows that I don’t.  I still believe that nothing truly bad can ever happen if my mother is around.  I know it’s not true.  But still.  It is true.

–Katherine Center, Things to Remember Not to Forget


I worry constantly about carpool and whether or not I’ve forgotten a carload of weeping children at the school gate.  How on earth does anyone do it?  How did she make it look so easy?  Or maybe time makes everything seem easy.  Or maybe I am really terrified that I’ll never become enough like her to keep her with me. I know that we all carry our mothers inside us.  But somehow that doesn’t seem like enough.

–Katherine Center, Things to Remember Not to Forget


From various interviews:

I guess that’s the upside of not being young anymore . . .   You know from experience that the struggle always leads, in some way, to something better.

–Katherine Center


I like to write about people who are real and likeable.  I like to write about people who tell their stories in that close and intimate voice we use with best friends. I love the closeness and honesty and vulnerability that come from characters who can talk that way.

–Katherine Center


All my main characters are people I’d love to sit around having coffee with. They are people who will tell you honestly about the things that scare them and worry them and trouble them.  Because those moments of connection between women–when they really decide to be honest with each other about their lives–are some of the best things in life.

–Katherine Center


Some of the greatest ideas we have come from making do.

–Katherine Center


What matters most is how you respond to your heartbreaks and your disappointments and your fears.  What matters most is who you become in response to them.

–Katherine Center


Writing a novel is a lot like reading one.

–Katherine Center


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Success is doing the right thing for who you are.

–Katherine Center


My goal is to try to be as happy as I can — going through every day just as it is.

–Katherine Center


If you feel lucky, then you are.

–Katherine Center


Look for the good stuff.

–Katherine Center


You don’t have to be perfect to be awesome.

–Katherine Center


From Novels:

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People are always beautiful when you love them.

–Katherine Center, Everyone Is Beautiful


In fiction, you can be as true as you want.  Real life is a different story.

–Katherine Center, interview


Sometimes there is no way to hold your life together. Sometimes things just have to fall apart.

–Katherine Center, Get Lucky


There is no tenderness without bravery.

–Katherine Center, Get Lucky


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It’s vital to learn how to make the best of things.

–Katherine Center, Get Lucky


Beauty comes from tenderness.

–Katherine Center, Everyone Is Beautiful


It’s always better to have what you have than to get what you wanted.

–Katherine Center, Get Lucky


I suddenly understood what it was, exactly, people longed for when they longed for their youth.

–Katherine Center, Everyone Is Beautiful

The eyes see everything through the heart.

–Katherine Center, Everyone Is Beautiful


When you love someone, she becomes beautiful to you.

–Katherine Center, Everyone Is Beautiful


It’s more important to be interesting, to be vivid, and to be adventurous than to sit pretty for pictures.

–Katherine Center, Everyone Is Beautiful


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“Here’s what I tell myself now. That it’s vital to learn how to make the best of things. That there is no tenderness without bravery. That if things hadn’t been so bad they could never have gotten so good. And that it’s always better to have what you have than to get what you wanted. Except for this: Every now and then, when you are impossibly lucky you rise above yourself-and get both.”

–Katherine Center, Get Lucky


I believe women are too hard on themselves. I believe that when you love someone, she becomes beautiful to you. I believe the eyes see everything through the heart–and nothing in the world feels as good as resting them on someone you love.

–Katherine Center, Everyone Is Beautiful

Laughter is beautiful. Kindness is beautiful. Cellulite is beautiful. Softness and plumpness and roundness are beautiful. It’s more important to be interesting, to be vivid, and to be adventurous than to sit for pictures. A woman’s soft tummy is a miracle of nature. Beauty comes from tenderness. Beauty comes from variety, from specificity, from the fact that no person in the world looks exactly like anyone else. Beauty comes from the tragedy that each person’s life is destined to be lost to time. I believe women are too hard on themselves. I believe that when you love someone, she becomes beautiful to you. I believe the eyes see everything through the heart–and nothing in the world feels as good as resting them on someone you love. I have trained my eyes to look for beauty, and I’ve gotten very good at finding it.

–Katherine Center, Everyone Is Beautiful


Text from the Mom 2.o Video:


What I Would Tell Her (If I Knew What To Say)

You are a miracle.

And I have to love you this fiercely:  So that you can feel it even after you leave for school, or even while you are asleep, or even after your childhood becomes a memory.

You’ll forget all this when you grow up.  But it’s okay.

Being a mother means having your heart broken.

And it means loving and losing and falling apart and coming back together.

And it’s the best there is.  And also, sometimes, the worst.

Sometimes you won’t have anyone to talk to.

Sometimes you’ll wonder if you’ve forgotten who you are.

But you must remember this:  What you’re doing matters.

And you have to be brave with your life so that others can be brave with theirs.

The truth is, being a woman is a gift.

Tenderness is a gift.

Intimacy is a gift.

And nurturing the good in this world is a nothing short of a privilege.

That’s why I have to love you this way.  So I can give what I have to you.  So that you can carry it in your body and pass it on.

I have watched you sleep.  I’ve kissed you a million times.  And I know something that you don’t, yet:

You are writing the story of your ONLY life every single minute of every day.

And my greatest hope for you, sweet child, is that I can teach you how to write a good one.

book trailer for Get Lucky

Get Lucky is a novel about many different things, but one of them is sisters.

I have two sisters, myself–I’m the middle one–and so I know a lot about the subject.

Here’s a book trailer I made using my mom’s Super 8 home movies of us as children.  The redhead who’s working so hard on her cartwheels is my big sister.  The blondie scampering all around is me.  And that sweet little baby with those gorgeous big eyes is my little sister.

I cannot watch this video without tears coming to my eyes.


And I have written quite a bit about these videos–both in essays and fiction.  Here’s an excerpt from Everyone Is Beautiful when the main character’s mother sends her their old family home movies in the mail:

I was mesmerized by the movies, there in the living room.  Sam was still on my hip, and the boys were still in the kitchen.  I suspected they’d found the boxes of maxi-pads and panty liners that I’d bought at the store and were now sticking them to every surface in the kitchen.  But it was okay.  Wasteful, but okay.  Sometimes I was willing to shell out a box of maxi pads for a few minutes to myself.

I watched the DVDs for almost fifteen minutes.  I saw my parents bringing me home from the hospital, my mother cradling me in a yellow blanket, my father holding me on his lap and reading the paper.  I watched our first cat, Liberace—a pet I only remembered from pictures.  I hadn’t seen these movies in years.  When we were younger, back before the Super 8 projector broke, we used to make popcorn and watch them on the wall of my parents’ bedroom.  I don’t remember once ever feeling sad or melancholy or lost during those movie nights.  Back then, it was just fun. We’d tease each other and throw popcorn at our old selves.

Now, the movies had me in tears.  Of course, the timing wasn’t great.  And the company that had transferred the reels to the DVDs had added a wistful musical score that really emphasized the passage of time and how all things fade and die.  And the flickering, ethereal quality of the images made it my childhood seem so dated, so vintage—it was as if it existed in a past so distant that I’d never be able to reach it again.  Which, of course, was true.

–Katherine Center, Everyone Is Beautiful

It really is amazing how the past disappears.  I can remember what it felt like to be that little person, but I can’t, of course, be that person anymore.

And the tension between what you lose as you leave your childhood behind and what you gain as you grow up and become your own person really captures my imagination.

And as for my sisters, the close childhood I spent with them remains to this day the standard I use to judge all closeness.


Last spring, the amazing Mary Swenson took these photos for me in response to a quote I sent her from Everyone Is Beautiful.  She broke the quote down by sentences, and took a photo for each one.  Then we ran the photos in sequence and made a video.  But the photos are so amazing, they deserve a place of their own.

In the video, they disappear fast and it’s on to the next image.  I’ve been meaning to put up these luscious stills for months, and now that I’m finally doing it, I am completely knocked over — again — by the rich colors, the movement of the light, and the variety of tones in each picture — and how they enrich and play off the words.














And here is the video.  Somehow, the photos lost their crispness in translation.  But it’s fun to see them in action…


Favorite quotes from Everyone is Beautiful

A reporter asked me last week to put together some of my favorite quotes from Everyone Is Beautiful for a story she’s doing.  And so I did.  I’ve been writing new stuff, and blogging, and goofing off with my kids this summer–and it had been a while since I’d spent any time with Everyone Is Beautiful.  It was fun to go back and visit all those characters again and sift through the story to find some favorite moments.


So here are some of my favorite passages from Everyone Is Beautiful:


People are always beautiful when you love them.


Taking Amanda’s card, I knew that within twenty-four hours Baby Sam would find it in my purse, put it in his mouth, chew on it until it looked like a wad of gum, and then leave it on the floor where I’d step on it in bare feet many hours water on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  But it was okay.  I wouldn’t have called her anyway.


Here’s what I need to confess about Peter and me:  We were not exactly in love anymore.  After fifteen years and three children together, we were often other places besides in it.  We were under it, sometimes.  Or above it.  Or against it. Or in arm’s reach of it. Or in shouting distance of it.  Or rubbing shoulders with it.  But not in it.  Not lately.  Not since Baby Sam was born.  Baby Sam was, you might say, the straw that broke the Love Camel’s back.  And now that camel was lying in the baking sun. All alone and very thirsty.


At the end of the evaluation we had learned many things about me:  I had a strong back, biceps and calves.  My “areas for improvement” included my triceps, hamstrings, nonexistent stomach muscles, and pretty much everything else.  We had also learned that I had a tendency to become sarcastic in the face of intimidating physical challenges, and that my positive attitude was questionable.


She did not know what it felt like to be challenged by a child, or overwhelmed, or unsure of what do to next.  It’s easy to be smug when you’ve had it easy.  I would much rather have been judged by a mom who’d had some challenges.  But, of course, a mom who’d had challenges would know better.


Within a certain range of acceptability, we were all just doing the best we could—and, really, given a basic foundation of love and some Richard Scarry books, kids would be okay.


I suddenly understood what it was, exactly, people longed for when they longed for their youth.


Years ago, in college, I remember reading a statistic about women.  Asked if they’d rather gain thirty pounds or be hit by a bus, 75 percent of them chose the bus.  I was one of them, for sure.  I remember thinking that, truly, if I gained thirty pounds, I might as well be run over anyway.  Because I’d have no reason to live.


It couldn’t be love, I told her.  It was too horrible.

“That’s exactly love!” she said.  “Love is exactly that horrible.”


It was so easy to come up with solutions to other people’s problems.  To watch them struggle through parenting and believe in a self-satisfied way that if you were in their shoes, you’d have it all figured out.


“I’m not interested in taking your picture when you’re acting beautiful,” I said.  “I want to take your picture when you’re being beautiful by accident.”

“Nothing beautiful is an accident,” she said.


It only hit me at this moment:  It had been a tough five months for my mother.  She needed to do some things for herself.  And I could relate to that.  I could really relate to that.


At that moment, I suddenly loved us all the more for our flaws–for being broken and human, for being embarrassed and lonely, for being hopeful or tired or disappointed or sick or brave or angry.  For being who we were, for making the world interesting.  It was a good reminder that the human condition is imperfection.  And that’s how it’s supposed to be.

Everyone is Beautiful – video excerpt

Just got a Flip video camera, and this video documents the first time I ever used it!  This is me, after a reading, pretty late at night, at my desk.  I’d intended to read an entire chapter–the chapter I’d read just a few hours earlier at a lovely and breezy Inprint Houston event, but the phone rang halfway through.  And it turns out it’s plenty long as it is.  Note the suitcase in the background–still out from my last book tour trip two weeks ago!  My voice is pretty hoarse, too.  I’ve had many book events lately and done a whole heck of a lot of talking.


the awesomest thing ever, ever, ever

My friend Mary Swenson and I made a trailer for Everyone Is Beautiful.  I contributed the idea and the text (it’s from the book), and she contributed the photography and the design and the fabulousness.

And here it is!!!  Hope you love it as much as I do.


Thanks also to Laurie Smithwick for putting it together and making it happen!

first week roundup!


Emails and responses are starting to roll in for Everyone Is Beautiful, and I thought it would be fun to share some of the things people are saying:

I just read Everyone Is Beautiful and it was such pure joy!  I was so tired and ready for a nap but picked it up to read a chapter or two and ended up finishing that night.  I could not put it down!


I found myself laughing out loud just as I did in the first book and “noodle” has become new terminology in my household.


I just today finished reading it and I loved it !!!


I hear your book is taking off in big ways – one of my nearest & dearest cried in the first 12 pages. That’s…a good sign!

Gwen Bell

I already finished Beautiful and loved it!!!!  You capture the life of a stay-at-home Mom so eloquently and again, I loved the characters and was rooting for Lanie!


Loved everyone is beautiful!  What a lovely, nitty-gritty, poignant, hilarious description of the madness family life can be–with a lovely love story to boot!


Your book makes my life feel important.


fantastic review from a college professor!

ascensionAn Ohio college professor just gave Everyone Is Beautiful a great review on her blog, calling it a “feel-good book for oldyweds.”

The review starts out this way:

“I need a feel-good book in February, and this one did the job starting with the title: Everyone Is Beautiful. As a bonus, the cover has a picture of an iced chocolate cupcake. The author, Katherine Center, has apparently been getting attention from the mommyblogs, but she deserves some from book bloggers, too, before the novel comes out on Feb. 17, because not only is the description of dealing with small children realistic, but the novel is well-written and wry and it earns its title and its ending, much like you have to earn the benefits of a long-lasting marriage.”

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