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A Language All My Own

A Language All My Own

Julie writes...
I remember as a little girl keeping diaries and taking great care to make sure I hid them from prying eyes (my older sister). Horrified by the idea that she would learn my inner most thoughts – which less face it, at that age, it was probably me complaining about her or being the forgotten middle child (I will get over it someday…).
As an adult, I still keep a journal. I keep multiple journals, actually. I keep a journal to document memories that one day I might want to look back on. I keep a gratitude journal. For the past 9 months, I’ve kept a journal about my first pregnancy and last, but certainly not least, I keep a Zentangle journal.
I wish I had my Zentangle journals back when I was hiding my diaries from my sister because I’ve learned over the years that they are written in a language that only I understand. I can leave my Zentangle journal out for the world to see, I’ve included photos here and I share on the Zentangle Mosaic app and while you all see art, I see stories. Each deliberate stroke is a line in a chapter that only I can decipher.
I have written about this before in a blog post called Tangled Memories, and reflected on how looking back through old journals brought me back to all sorts of moments in life – happy, sad and everything in between. This is not a new revelation for me, but it is not something I am consciously aware of at all times.
When I write in my other journals, I think about the words I am using. That one day, I will reopen these pages and read them back to myself. When I am tangling in my Zentangle journal, I am not thinking about what story these pages will tell, that is not why I am tangling. So, it is always a pleasant surprise to open a page in my journal and have a certain memory, a certain story, spill across the page, in a language that belongs just to me. Lines, and dots and curves all interwoven in ways that may look familiar to other tanglers, you may recognize the tangles, but you can’t read the pages like I can.
My Zentangle journal is also a different kind of story telling because it doesn’t happen in chronological order. This is especially true for my current Shades journal because I am constantly jumping from page to page, exploring different shades of paper and different pens. These decisions dictated by my mood sometimes, a personal preference, or maybe a current trend in the tangling world. So, all of my memories and stories are scattered across the pages, intertwined and are what makes the pages complete, much like our memories and stories are what make us who we are.
What stories do the pages of your journal or your tiles say to you?
Perhaps some exciting news that you have been waiting for…
Or, maybe a warm spring day listening to the birds sing…

Or perhaps the forgotten middle child, I mean, tangle… (PS. Mom – You know I am kidding!)

Julie Willand


  • Есть три варианта створок: Кава, Классик, Рондо, что позволяет не нарушать дизайнерской задумки по оформлению и обустройству интерьера.Собственная оконная фурнитура Variotec с возможностью использования скрытых петель отличается надежностью и плавностью хода и выгодно отличает продукцию Schuco от конкурентов,что является одним из преимуществ при выборе пластиковых окон Шуко.

    Мы давно знакомы с продукцией Шуко, знаем, как она устроена, работает и какие сложности с ней могут возникнуть. Если у вас установлены окна Шуко, и их следует отремонтировать или продиагностировать, то мы с радостью возьмемся за работу. Нам хорошо известен данный производитель, так что при проведении ремонтных работ никаких трудностей не возникнет. Все будет сделано качественно и надежно. Вы останетесь довольны конечным результатом.

    Juliobep on

  • From time to time, I hear people ask “But I don’t know what TO DO with all of my tiles.” In a word, I would say, “journaling.” For me, that means illustrating published journal entries, poetry, Scripture, and letters. Even the most abstract tile that were not tangled with a specific image in mind, take on new meaning for me after they have “cooked” for a time. Thank you for your insight, Julie.

    Linda Dochter on

  • This reminds me of ’waaayyy back in my early Zentangle days when it was suggested that the lines on the back of a tile could be used to record the date and a note or two about the circumstances around the creation of the tile.

    (And I finally HAVE to ask: what are all the crazy alphabet soup comments that constantly show up in great quantity???)

    Margaret Bremner on

  • Thanks Julie for sharing your experience with journal writing/tangling. One thing I would insist on when teaching art, or presenting Art as Prayer experiences is dating the art work. I am always disappointed when I forget to do so. It really does become more of a journal when I do that. Like when I was looking through some original tiles I did after getting the Zentangle Kit for Christmas, I found out I have been on this journey since 2015. Looking forward to my first Zentangle Teacher Training in the Fall.

    I am really looking forward to July 19th with Pocket Project 10! Thanks for helping me think and act in a new way!

    Paulette Kirschensteiner on

  • Very lovely thoughts Julie. Thank you for sharing. I had not considered my Zentangle journal in that light. I will now!

    Tracie on

  • I am a sporadic, non-sequentia, journaler. I found a journal I sometimes write in (I have several, who knows why?). Anyway, I was charmed to remember what was going on. There was swirling string with loose organic tangles and I had written Pope Francis the first. I love Pope Francis and his accepting style and remember how happy I felt.

    There was another of a sad bunny with dark tangles where I wrote Come home Clover. When she was a little bunny she tried to escape quite often because she could get out of anything! It made me laugh because someone left the crate door open and Clover let us pick her up and put her back in rather than try to escape!
    These memories make happy and I am glad to have. As your life gets busier and more hectic you will be glad for the quick tangle and note!
    Best Wishes!

    Betsey Youngs on

  • Love you and your tangles! ♥️

    Judi aka Mom on

  • Love your thoughts here, Julie. I, too, have several journals, including a Zentangle Journal. My Zentangle Journal is my space to try out different things, tangles, color ways, etc, before they go on a tile. It is my space of no mistakes and many experiments. I love the paper that the Zentangle journal is made from and it also include sketches because the paper is so nice. Thank you for sharing.

    Leslie Hancock on

  • i have been consistently tangling as part of #monsoonzenindia2020 event of ZentangleIndia facebook group. I have started writing stories and these are naturally occuring to me. Can’t agree less with Julie.

    Mudita on

  • Hello Julie! I look back at my actual journal. I’ve got tangles inspired by Zebedee Dee, Os BurSan, Maria and Rick last KTT and lots of Zentangle Club Ireland. Angelina told us about your child. So Congratulations. Oh! and I’ve got a small blue journal to draw tangles in it to practice (from Tomàs Padros, Mind & Tangle and from So I,m very happy! I can go see other journal too. In 22 days I will celbrate my first year of tangling so lots of tangles to look back and appreciate! Bye! Nathalie from Québec city.

    Nathalie Paré on

  • Hi Again Julie, I should have shopped before I asked the question, but I see the rather expensive Shades journal on the Zentangle website.

    July 7, 2020

    Jan Orlansky on

  • Hi Julie, Thanks for your thoughts! What exactly is a Shades journal and where do you purchase it?

    Jan Orlansky on

  • how timely and kind miss julie. i have multiple journals going too, and my zentangle journals are also prayer journals ‘in written ink’… in fact, when i first started i used my bible for tangling and crafting and learning about nibs and surfaces and pencils…and mediums…i.e. clear gesso and when to use it. thank you for sharing your inside track.

    judy morgan on

  • Love this, Julie! As the youngest of three women, I do get it, though I daresay our middle sister was never forgotten (spoken as youngest brat!)

    I do so love your sentiments, journaling and the fact of zentangle’s privaye/secret language. Each of us remember in what we were feeling at the time but others who view interpreting from their perspective and enjoying every stroke and tangle, perhaps in isolation, more likely as composite.

    Pamela Sauerwald on

  • Julie, I love your blogs. Yes a Zentangle journal is great and I finally collected my sketches and such into one. They do tell a story of thoughts , moods and events in our lives. Thank you for opening up our thinking again. ❣️

    Carole on

  • As always Julie you write from your heart. ❤️

    Kathy Y. on

  • Julie, I love how you write your thoughts out. I, too, keep a gratitude journal every day. But for Zentangle , it is the Tangle a day calendar book, which I’ve been keeping for three years now. It is so valuable to me. Different colored pens, different colored pencils, dual brush markers all add to the pleasure of the journey. Each fresh new day I have the opportunity to tangle. and I look back fondly on my pages as a resource and as comfort. My calendar book is my Zentangle journal. and I enjoy sharing it on Facebook with the community. Occasionally, I’ll even post to page on the official Zentangle mosaic! and I like the permanence of having the pages bound together. also, it’s very mobile. Who know I would go from keeping a diary as a child to my Zentangle renderings?

    Mary Illana Perrin CZT on

  • I like the idea of a using a book in addition to tiles. Can you tell us what brand of journals you buy? Or what to look for to ensure the paper is of sufficient quality?

    nm on

  • My journal is not in chronological order either. I pick a page on color and what my theme will be at the time. I usually don’t date them. I just go with the flow. Thanks for your thoughts on journaling. I like them !

    Jackie on

  • Sorry if this is a repeat. My computer screen hiccupped and I lost my first comment attempt. I wish I had been a lifelong journaler, but I was not. However, I do have a few notebooks from HS, college and other classes over the years. I keep them, not because of the classroom content, but for the notes, poems, and doodles written or drawn in the margins. They tell a story about where my mind really was that day. Stories only I can read between the lines. I also doodle and tangle and sketch on envelopes, random scraps of paper, whatever is handy when I get an idea. I keep those too. I take photos of my tangles, and other artwork, so I can revisit them, long after I’ve given them away. I do have a sketchbook, and like yours, I jump around and experiment. I also keep loose pages in document protectors in a 3 ring binder. So maybe I am a visual journaler, however sporadic and unorganized I am. Thanks for your lovely, inspirational post…so very mindful of the gift Zentangle offers us, if we just take a moment to listen.

    Jake on

  • Your thoughts linking memories and tangles resonated for me. I am a life long “scribbler” as my Mom affectionately called my efforts. I often look back at my tiles and can re-live exactly where I was and how my life was progressing at the time. Since I frequently use the art form to distract me from indulging in anxiety the journey back is not always comfortable. Never the less, they are a good tool to measure progress.

    Mary D'Angelo, CZT on

  • This is an interesting angle. I never thought of my tangles as being a memory journal. I will have to go back and look at them with new eyes. I’ll be more aware when I’m tangling now what’s going on around me and what my mood or motivation to tangle is. Thankyou for a new perspective.

    Cynthia on

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