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A Fresh Start

A Fresh Start

Julie writes...

January 2020.

A new year. A new decade.

I have always loved the start of a new year. I love the idea of a fresh, clean start. A new beginning. Most importantly, a new, pristine planner.

Like many people, I usually start off the year with a list of resolutions and goals I want to accomplish in the year. Sometimes I kept those resolutions and reached those goals, sometimes they rolled over into the next year.

This year though, it’s a little different. I still got my shiny new day planner, but I decided I was not going to make a list of resolutions. I still have goals I want to achieve and things I want to do, but I the only resolution I have is to take things one stroke at a time.

Starting a new year is much like starting a new Zentangle tile. You have this crisp, clean, untouched surface. The possibilities are endless, but so are the choices. Will you use the dot, border and string to help you guide your choices or will you skip the string and just see how your tangles grow with one another?

No matter what choice you make or what you want to accomplish, you can’t get there without making that first, deliberate stroke. Too often in life we metaphorically sit in front of that blank sheet of paper waiting for the perfect moment, the perfect first stroke, the best idea, the most eloquent meaning. When in reality, the beginnings of some of the most wonderful things are often rough, awkward, and imperfect. It does not mean that they are not purposeful or deliberate. Learning to dive into a project or an adventure is many times the most difficult part. But once you are in, you can then only add to the experience. There is no need to redo that first dive, retake that first step, or redraw that initial stroke, once it is done, it becomes part of your journey. When is the last time you looked at a Zentangle tile and narrowed in on the first pen stoke and critiqued it? Most likely, never. That initial pen stroke is usually unrecognizable and intertwined into the workings of so many other strokes. Worrying about perfecting your first stroke, is only a barrier.

Creating Zentangle art is a practice. It is a beautiful place to metaphorically work through life skills that are often difficult. I love to use my Zentangle practice as a place to work through such things. Many times, once I work through it on my tile, I have a different perspective and more confidence moving forward.

The intimidation of the blank piece of paper is nothing new. It has stopped artists in their tracks for centuries. However, within the steps of the Zentangle method itself, we are able to ease through this process. It is such a powerful thing to let go of that pressure and just carry on with the process.

So here we are embarking on a new year. With the first days already behind us.  As we make our way through 2020 we will be faced with many firsts. Shall we embrace the opportunities and remember that most firsts, follow with seconds, and thirds and so on.

Happy New Year Zentangle friends. Take the plunge. One stroke at a time, of course.

Julie Willand


  • Your message is perfectly wonderful. I love the idea of new beginnings and that includes efforts at drawing new designs or tangles. I was looking at some of my very first tangles, made from the lovely zentangle kit. I have improved on my strokes a lot and have to say I am very pleased. It really is a constant learning experience with each stroke made. Thanks to all involved with Zentangle. You are all an inspiration.


    Bonnie on

  • Julie, this blog came at such an opportune time for me. Dealing with chronic pain, and at the moment, a pinched nerve in my spine, makes me appreciate that not just each year is a new beginning, but each and every day. My Zentangle practice is such an important part of my life! Thank you!!!! Hugs from Ontario, Canada!

    Brenda Shaver on

  • Each day is a new one for me; and sometimes I have to remind myself that when I have ‘skipped’ a morning tangle session, it doesn’t mean I can’t Begin Again tomorrow… I love how the Process has helped me to take one day at a time, one week at a time, until suddenly, as I review 2019, I find I have done more than 365 tangle meditations! That is huge! I have many hopes for my new year, but your posting is a reminder that I will reach any goals I set by doing it step by step, one line at a time. Thanks, Julie!

    Annie Sargent, CZT 33 on

  • Hi Julie, beautiful writings for a new year. I am a czt 34 ( fairly new) . I am a cancer survivor & have limitations after two shoulder surgeries. I am so interested in teaching Zentangle at our senior center but need some instructions on how Rick & Maria use their phone or whatever at class. I thought I saw Rick’s instructions online but can’t find it anywhere. Thanks so much. Zentangle rocks!

    Jane Franco on

  • This is a woncderful (and timely!) reminder, Julie! I have begun a year-long process that I hope will lead to greater things, but I hadn’t thought of it as my first stroke. We’ll see how the rest of it develops!

    Margaret Bremner on

  • Beautifull wroting, I enjoyed reading this post very much. Thank you Julie!

    MatheussenRia on

  • One stroke at a time. One breath at a time. One minute, one hour, one day. All will add up to a year of “ones”. And it will be right as it is supposed to be. Small movements added together make a marvelous dance.

    Ginger White CZT#34 on

  • This is wonderful! Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I will definitely apply one “stroke at a time” practice to my projects this year.

    Susan Talbot on

  • Yihaa, that’s how I begin every year / month / day: blank. No worries to reach certain goals, just experience how the day / month / year rolls out and do everything ‘one stroke at a time’ :-D

    ArjadL on

  • Thanks a lot Julie. I read this in the early morning and realized that my year is already 15 days ‘old’. Did I spoiled it already? 😉 But every day starts a new year, so I decided to start all over again and put my pencil on a new white tile to draw a new stroke. That feels good! Happy new year (to you and to myself! 🎆)

    With love, Ellen

    Ellen on

  • You are wise beyond your years — must be all that tangling you do at work!

    Bette Abdu on

  • Great message and great insight. Zentangle has made it possible to begin painting again, after over 40 years! I’ve had one of my paintings in a juried show, and I’ve even taken a couple of workshops, really out of my comfort zone. I don’t even remember how I found out about Zentangle. I prefer to think that the Universe guided me there because it was just what I needed at the time! No judgement, no expectations! SPECTACULAR results!

    Fran Isaac on

  • Perfect message Julie. Happy New Year!

    Kim Kohler on

  • Thank you for a great message for the new year! A quote I read recently is “Whatever you practice becomes stronger.” Tara Brach, author and meditation teacher. My thought is 10 minutes here, 10 minutes a day! Whatever I want to grow stronger. Including Zentangle!

    Paulette Kirschensteiner on

  • Great inspiration for beginning our new year. Very thoughtful and well said Julie. Thank you.

    Sandy Kelley-Jones on

  • This year I’ve decided I’m going to put my own well being at the top of the list – whatever form that takes. I’m excited to attend CZT 35 and look forward to meeting other like minded artists and learning everything I can soak up.

    Gail Jarrard on

  • My Zentangle intention this year is to incorporate one new tangle into each tile. That will not only totally change the look of my tangling, it will make each tile a new adventure. 😊

    Kathy Y on

  • January is always one of the worst months of the year because we all get sick. This year I have bronchitis and my better half is carrying dormant TB and will have to take serious meds for months to get rid of it. We both have compromised immune systems due to the medications we take to fight our autoimmune diseases.

    It is also a joyful month since so many of my closest heart family are Capricorns (including myself) and we celebrate one big birthday.

    I have lots on my plate this year which I am not going to mention in depth here – let’s just say new health issues have risen, my mother had to go into assisted living, her house has to be gutted and sold…

    BUT this year I will be attending CZT36 so I look ahead to the first mark on the first tile I will do there in RI!

    I rejoice in the fact I am finally meeting the people who have helped heal my pain, stress, anxiety, AND brought back to me my absolute LOVE of drawing with pen, ink, pencil, and paper (with a little bit of GellyRoll thrown in)!


    Debbie (bakayaro onna) Smith on

  • I like the way the sports company says it……Just Do It!

    MKay B B Watson CZT17 on

  • No resolutions for 2020, maybe a goal or two but not even too sure about that either. Most of all, it’s take it ‘one stroke at a time’ and let the year unfold any way it decides it wants to. A smile on my face and happiness in my heart.

    Sue Leslie on

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