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Bijou Speaks: Slow Down

Bijou Speaks: Slow Down

In 2014, we were thrilled to announce a new member of the Zentangle Community. It was a celebratory time when Bijou the snail slowly and lovingly glided his way into our hearts and lives. We immediately fell in love with the unique character Bijou shared with us, and most of all we all, we embraced the stories and messages Bijou has told us that align with the Zentangle Method.

As we move along on this tangled journey we have learned, when Bijou speaks, we listen.

In this Blog series we explore some of our favorite thoughts, quotes, stories and Bijou-isms. Enjoy!


Julie writes...

Of all of Bijou’s Bijouisms, “Slow Down” is the one that I probably need tattooed on the back of my hand as a constant reminder. Not just when it comes to the Zentangle Method, but when it comes to life.  I talk too fast, I drive too fast, I like to constantly be on the go.

I have always liked to be busy. I have often prided myself on being busy. I think deep down I believed some notion that busy means productive, successful, or notable. Or, Maybe it was a fear that if I slow down just a little bit.. I will fall behind.

I have always kept a detailed planner. If I noticed a lot of “free time,” I was quick to schedule something to fill the void. Everything was scheduled to make sure I was staying busy – a load of laundry, mopping the floors, running errands, walking the dog. Even activities that were supposed to be relaxing were scheduled as tasks; going for a run, reading a book, going to yoga and tangling. Not only did I need to stay busy, I needed the visual confirmation that yes – I was busy.

Almost two years ago I closed a chapter of my life that kept me very busy. It was a passion project that took up all of my free time, and then some. Once that door was closed, I found myself with a lot more free time. At first, I was not quite sure what to do with myself. I remember being out to dinner with my husband talking about this and saying that I needed to take something else on to fill the void and he said to me, “why don’t you just slow down?”

I think one of the reason’s that the Zentangle Method has been so beneficial to me is that it has taught me the art of slowing down. When I first began diving into my Zentangle practice, I would start a tile and just want to hurry up and be done with it, so I could check that off my list. When I realized that the method is about the process of creating art and not only the finished product, I realized I had to learn to slow down, and to take things One Stroke At A Time.

I consider Slow Down a pre-requisite for many of the other Bijouisms. Before you can take a deep breath, put down deliberate strokes, or savor the moment, you need to slow down.

Much like many of the philosophies behind the Zentangle Method, this one started to seep into my everyday life. I still keep a detailed planner and I make lists and lists of my lists, but those chunks of free time don’t scare me anymore. There is no competition to see whose “to do” lists are longer, so I don’t feel obliged to fill them with tasks. Instead, I can fill them with tangles!


What is truly special is that once you slow down, you really start to appreciate …. Oh, wait, Molly already wrote about that one!

Julie Willand


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  • Julie. As I began reading your post, I was reading very fast as you explained your hectic, stressful life. I noticed as you continued and started talking about slowing down, my reading started slowing down as well. “Slow Down” is such an important part of Zentangle and I am more aware about taking time for me to slow down.

    Lianne on

  • I have never had a problem slowing down. As an artist I had the opposite problem most artists do, I never used to finish my artwork because I was alway taking my time to finish it before I discovered Zentangle. I don’t rush my artwork I take my time (except when I have a deadline for an art show) but for the most part I enjoy taking my time creating. Whether it is Zentangle, a coloured pencil drawing or painting, I cherish the time I spend just making art. I find when I am not taking the time to create art because life does get busy with my family I need to slow down and sit down to create something, usually Zentangle art. I even emphasize in my Zentangle classes that students need to tangle at their own pace and not try to compete with anyone else, create their own style in their own way. I have left the stress of deadlines as a writer and photographer behind when I quit my freelance job as a journalist for the local newspaper almost two years ago. If I find I would like to take photos or write a story, I do it in my own time and submit it as a member of the community. No stress, no deadlines, just joy writing or taking photos of a subject matter I prefer. In my life previously I have been really busy volunteering and I have also left most of that behind. I don’t even know how I did all the volunteering I used to do but I still have a hand in some art groups, helping out where and when I can. However, I have realized that I need to take care of myself so I can take care of others. My health comes first and I believe that I need to create art to stay healthy and happy! I love to just enjoy all life has to offer at my own pace, I appreciate the opportunity to teach Zentangle as a CZT! Bijou is right we all need to slow down!

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  • Absolutely spot on. You just gave me a great idea for my weekly class at the clinic. I’ve been sitting here thinking, what I am going to do this I know. I’m going to focus on a Bijou’ism each week! Thanks Julie, week 1 ‘Slow Down’ :)

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  • I’m bad at slowing down. Always have been. Despite the fact that slow living really suits me. Zentangle has really helped me. If I ever need a reminder I watch a video where Rick tangles, each line laid with such care and slow flow.

    Jem Miller on

  • This is my biggest Zentangle sin! LOL Sr. Ann was constantly telling me to slow down in class as i hurried to be the first one finished with my tangle pattern. I think it sunk in during the training, and now I am the one who preaches it! Full circle!


  • Oh, yes, yes, yes, Julie!
    Learning to slow down is something many of us need to embrace.
    An open, heartfelt and beautifully written piece that reminds us that Zentangle is about the process and not the end result.
    Embracing the moment, THIS moment, and not rushing from thing to thing, taking our time to slow down and enjoy…..something I wish I had started doing a lot sooner in my life.
    I have recently started a Mindfulness Practice course and I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to reduce the speed of their life…. Because by doing so you actually get to see and do things in a more productive and satisfying way.

    Joanna Quincey CZT29 on

  • Aren’t we all too busy? And if there is a “free” moment, don’t we just fill it up like an empty cupboard? I have always gone too fast too, Julie! But tangling is one of the few times that I can actually slow down and enjoy it! The more I slow down, the better I feel, and the more satisfying. After 5 years (!) retirement has finally found it’s own pace and I can actually NOT feel stressed if the calendar is empty. I stop to notice and smell and observe and enjoy so many wonderful things that I passed in a blur before. And I never have empty time because I can always pick up my pen and draw one stroke at a time! Thanks for the reminder Julie:)

    Lise Orwig CZT12 on

  • too true, my dear Julie! ah, the joy of “slowing down”. it seems to be my endless struggle. even my drawing class finds me finishing first before all others have begun. sometimes i think it’s fear of not getting started – blank pages staring, ink flowing – one big rush to attack from some direction and get something on the page. zentangle practice has certainly helped with slowing down but reading your words reminds me to appreciate little bijou even more. a snails pace is ok today – no need to rush off and be so far ahead that i don’t see what’s right here in front of me! of course then i could start worrying about not finishing. ;-)

    Mary Ellen Ziegler czt33 on

  • Wise words, Julie, wise words! An antidote to the American cultural false belief, “I am productive—therefore, I am.”

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  • This is why my email starts with Flash. Not because I’m fast but because I’m always moving too fast however, a deep breath when I pick up my Micron really helps.

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  • Oh Julie! I remember when I, too, was a wife, mother, and had a career. Whew! Like you, my days were packed! Never had a moment for ‘me time’. Life has had many chapters since then, but these days I have much more down time and I can’t begin to tell you what it’s done for my mental health. I offer you this advice: try not to be busy for the sake of being busy. Rather focus on tasks that are the most important to you and your family and make sure you give them the time they deserve. A task is much better done when you slow down and truly focus on getting it done well and completely. Avoid being busy just because it fills up your planner and cherish those times when you don’t have anything scheduled. They are the most precious 🥰🙇🏻‍♀️✍🏻

    LovelyRita, CZT on

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