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An Attitude of Gratitude

An Attitude of Gratitude

One of the things I love most about CZT Seminars are the conversations that I get to have with tanglers from all over the world. There is something special about people from all different backgrounds with all different experiences coming together for a shared passion.  

One of the comments I hear most often at seminar, or when talking to tanglers in general, is how once they started tangling they started to notice patterns everywhere. Last night at dinner, this topic came up once again and one woman reflected on her walk back to her hotel when she was noticing patterns all around Providence and she said something that really resonated with me. She said, “...even the sewer covers, they were beautiful!”

Sewer covers? Beautiful? Really?....

One of the magical parts of practicing the Zentangle Method is that it really does change your perspective. Not only do you start to notice patterns everywhere, but you start to notice beauty in places you would of never before – like the sewer cover. You begin to admire and draw inspiration from things you would have normally overlooked and the world around you suddenly becomes a much more beautiful place.

As time goes on, you realize that finding beauty and joy in the small things fills you with gratitude for those small things. It is no coincidence that Gratitude is the first step in the Zentangle Method. Practicing gratitude is a small thing you can do each day that has immense benefits.

Starting your Zentangle practice with an appreciation for the time you get to sit and tangle and the materials that you are using, sets the tone for that tile. But, don’t stop there – start your day with gratitude and appreciation and take the time to notice and appreciate your cup of coffee, your morning commute and the tangled sewer covers on the street and see what happens to your mood.

After I wrote this blog, I went outside to take a picture of the sewer cover to include in this post. I stopped at the first one and snapped a picture…


But then, I noticed few feet down the sidewalk a different one…


I realized I didn’t know which one the woman at dinner was referring to. I then saw one across the street, so I went over and sure enough, it was different. Before I knew it I was going up and down the streets of Providence looking for all the different metal street covers I could find. I must have looked a bit silly, but I was delighted bouncing around taking pictures of the side walks and streets. I’ve walked these streets many times before, but never had I paid attention to a single street cover… much less 7 or 8 different ones.


After my adventure, I went and found Darla, the woman who originally mentioned them to me and told her about this blog and the photos. I needed to know which one she had noticed. Turns out it was this cover that caught her eye, although we both agreed we have a new fond appreciation for all the beautiful metal street covers.




Thank you to everyone who commented on last week's blog post about what you do with all your Zentangle tiles! It was so fun to read through all of the ideas! We have randomly selected Paulette Kirschensteiner as our winner! Please email your snail mail address so we can send you a gift!


Julie Willand


  • Hello, All, (esp. Maria and Rick), A few nights ago, when I could not fall asleep, I got up and looked at (almost ) all my photographs on 2 of my devices. I collect photos of beautiful objects, too. I have been captivated by the zentangle method and was wondering why it appealed to me so much. Then it dawned on me how my interest in patterns is pervasive and ubiquitous in my photographs and collection…The next day a serendipitous event happened when I found and watched this movie. You all would just love it, too.

    Thank you, Holy Spirit, Universe, Akasha, Love, et al….one and the same.

    Sylvan Adams on

  • I’ve been aware of patterns since I was a child. I too take pics of unexpected, or previously unnoticed patterns: textile designs, architecture, artwork, quilt patterns, illustration art, calligraphy, furniture, silverware, ceramic tile, frames, fences, furniture, rugs, sculpture, embroidery patterns and stitches, basket weaving, trellises, scrollwork, and yes…even “manhole” covers.I think these might have evolved out of the Arts & Crafts movement (including Art Nouveau and Art Deco) when ironworkers, and other craftsmen, were artisans who took pride in creating beauty in even the most utilitarian items. The sources for inspiration are endless and everywhere! Even when tbere is no deliberate or obvious pattern, the human eye and brain will often “fill in the blanks” between light and shadow, or random dots and other marks, to create something out of nothing! I think it’s part of what makes us human. Just look at prehistoric cave paintings, glyphs, runes, pottery, jewelry, needlework, weaponry, etc. Patterns are not new. Humans have been creating beautiful things since the dawn of mankind. We are hardwired to notice our surroundings because our survival depends on it. These observation skills can also inspire us to create beauty, invent tools and or methods to enable us to solve problems, or modify our environments. Why not do it with pride, flair, style and beauty? Zentangle gives me a an outlet for using the myriad patterns and designs that surround and bombard me everyday, and I’m so grateful for having found it! I love this newsletter, and reading everyone’s comments. Grateful too, for my cell phone camera! I’m going to keep looking up, down, and around, and snapping photos of what strikes my fancy or feeds my soul! Happy tangling!

    Jessica L Dykes on

  • I have taken pictures of sewer covers for at least 15 years in NYCity. Especially the onex by the NYPublic

    Library and 42nd Street. Many of them I had made into postcards.
    I have taken patterns of staircases , cement urns, and and and shadows made my leaves.
    What a wonderful world…..
    In gratitude

    Antje Landanno on

  • There is an art collective in Germany that prints textiles like t-shirts and totes directly off the manhole covers and other city fixtures on the street. It’s both beautiful and an amazing way to connect with a municipality’s culture and history. I was in love at first sight. It’s called “raubdruckerin” if you care to look them up!

    Jessica Trantham on

  • I have collected patterns for over 40 yrs! I see “designs” whenever I go out! Since my first phone with camera abilities, I take pictures of “lots of things”. In 2008-09, My eye caught the attention of a car hubcap! I have been taking pictures of them for the last 10-11 years! (I did not get introduced to Zentangle until June 2011). I probably have close to nearly 300 of them, and am finally deconstructing them, as they are perfect fragments for the Tripoli reticula! It really is a BEAUTIFUL world!

    Marie Vaculik (mouse) on

  • I have collected patterns for over 40 yrs! I see “designs” whenever I go out! Since my first phone with camera abilities, I take pictures of “lots of things”. In 2008-09, My eye caught the attention of a car hubcap! I have been taking pictures of them for the last 10-11 years! (I did not get introduced to Zentangle until June 2011). I probably have close to nearly 300 of them, and am finally deconstructing them, as they are perfect fragments for the Tripoli reticula! It really is a BEAUTIFUL world! (Addendum: I am using my sister’s email, as my phone died 9/18, and have not been able to replace. Hard times!)

    Marie Vaculik (mouse) on

  • Great fun! A real eye opener. I chuckled at the 6th image, counting from the last one up. Seemed to me that it captures that Zentangle philosophy…“no mistakes…”

    The white lane marker is askew, or for those of us with OCD tendencies, it was placed back without being lined up properly.
    With the street line. Hahaha.

    Judith R. Shamp on

  • It’s amazing how much beauty surrounds us, and sad how little we notice. But now that we are alert…

    Beth on

  • The attitude of gratitude is inherent in Zentangle, which is why is resonates so much with me! Yay for sewer covers!

    Katie Crommett on

  • I read this while waiting for my dentist appt. Located in NYC across from St Patrick’s Cathedral side street. The office has wide open windows and for two years couldn’t see anything due to scaffolding. I had forgotten how the beauty of the outside with so many patterns. Noticed the patterns when I looked up. Gratitude and thankfulness for sure.

    Deborah Williams on

  • thanks julie for your sharing. you make my day starting with a gratitude mind.

    mi on

  • What a fantastic article!!!!! ’made me smile :)

    Debbie CollinsCZT33 on

  • Thank you for sharing these – they are indeed beautiful. I have just done a Google search on manhole covers and, oh my goodness, who’d have thought such beauty exists underfoot – especially in Japan! They really are exquisite little works of art. I have noticed that when I am in the tangle zone I see patterns everywhere but when I don’t tangle for a while I lose this ability and awareness – there’s a lesson in there somewhere! Maybe another blog post could focus on why we don’t tangle each day despite loving Zentangle and knowing the benefits it can bring – I have a constant battle with this!

    Gloria King on

  • Thanks for sharing. This afternoon I will cross Paris and look down to find tangled sewage covers!! 😉

    Frédérique CARMINATI on

  • … hadn’t quite finished my thought about appreciating the beauty of life patterns everywhere! In nature, objects, roads, signs,

    Sewer covers are fascinatingly designed!

    Thank you, Zentangle, for helping me to observe, respect, honor and slow down my drawings

    Joanne Erhartic on

  • We’ve discussed this “noticing of patterns” many times when a group of us get together to tangle. But we’ve looked at blouses, carpets, wallpaper, paintings, etc. We’ve never talked about manhole covers – who knew… Thanks for following through with looking for the differing covers.

    Jo Diamantes on

  • It is true that practicing the Zentangle method makes you so much more aware of the patterns around you in the built and natural world. It is rare for me to go out these days, and come home without a few new photos of ‘tangles to be’ on my phone. Even just a trip to the supermarket can provide such inspiration. Even familiar places will provide moments of ‘wow – how could I not have noticed that before!’ Unfortunately, most of the photos are still waiting to be deconstructed (which is no mean feat), but that doesn’t stop me collecting more – I just can’t help myself. I run a regular home-ed group, and have been meaning to take them on a tangle hunt, this article has just served as a great reminder, thanks.

    Lucy Farran on

  • I appreciated the way you tied zentangle “gratitude” into the appreciation of today’s blog! I can easily overlook the beauty there is in the ordinary. Your pictures highlighted that reality. I have recently found many zentangle inspirations in the fabric designs of blouses and Tshirts. I look forward to the blog…..

    many thanks.

    Cec Beresford on

  • Appreciated tying the Zentangle "gratitude " with the subject of this blog … I can forget the beauty of the ordinary; zentangle has pushed this to the forefront for me and helped me be grateful for things I could easily overlook. I have discovered blouses and Tshirts are a rich source of zentangle

    Cec Beresford,csj on

  • Love the pics and patterns. Paying attention is rewarding in so many ways! Noticing patterns, whether covers like these or clouds in the sky is time well spent as well as soothing to the soul. Now…..I must go for a walk of discovery.

    Carolyn Thomas CZT on

  • What a delightful collection of photographs! I am grateful to you for sharing them. :-)

    Margaret Bremner on

  • The most beautiful manhole covers in the world, and I have been photographing them all over the world for over twenty years, are in Japan. Each prefecture has its own beautiful design and some of the towns and cities within each prefecture (province) also may have their own designs. Always look down! You never know what you will find! I’m going back to Japan in September and will try and find more designs.

    Jan Zatzman Orlansky CZT on

  • Thank you for this wonderful reminder about gratitude and looking for the beauty that is all around us!

    Laurel Davis on

  • I discovered Zentangle in December and have drawn almost every day since. I see patterns and take photos of wallpaper, carpet, clothing, crockery and lots and lots of art. I’ve always loved art but never drew before and had zero training. Zentangle has inspired and empowered me and the community is invaluable on FB, Instagram and Mosaic. I’m sure seminars are amazing, but until I can afford it I’ll be finding inspiration and encouragement online and everywhere I go!

    Sally Reynolds on

  • I love this blog! I love looking for letterheads I travel…now I will need to start looking down :) !

    Lisa Anderson on

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