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By Heart

By Heart

This is a fun word play blog and a perfect fit for our recent “No Mistakes” Project Pack No. 06. There are some unexpected twists and turns in this narrative, but follow along. I think you will enjoy it.

Tile by Molly Hollibaugh

Parkour is “the act of moving from point A to point B using the obstacles in your path to increase your efficiency” according to the World Freerunning Parkour Federation (WFPF) ( Parkour (and freerunning) have many similarities to the Zentangle Method.

After watching this video, I can imagine you saying, “Rick, are you serious? What possible similarities do you see?”


Did you watch it? Yes? Well, take a moment to catch your breath.

Okay, let’s take a closer look at parkour. 

Parkour practitioners see it more as a philosophy and approach to life than as a competition. It is about creative, playful and expressive movement; not just speed. Parkour practitioners see themselves as “artists of motion.” 

It takes a lot of courage to do parkour, or (indulge me as I alter the spelling but not the sound) . . . “Parcour[age]. Is this a time that calls for courage? I think it is. Particularly the courage to create. (Thanks, Lavette!)

Add an “e” and “ParCour[age]” becomes “ParCoeur[Age].” (And with my idea of French pronunciation, it sounds just the same!) “Par Coeur” is French for, “By Heart.” The Zentangle Method is a practice that encourages and empowers a person to create from the heart . . . by heart . . . Par Coeur!

The Zentangle Method does not teach exactly how to duplicate a particular tangle. Nor does parkour teach exactly how to jump a particular barrier. But both approaches share a set of fundamental guidelines that inspire heart based creativity. They both enable you to accomplish something you didn’t think you could. Practitioners in both art forms benefit from unexpected and unplanned events. Both art forms use a set of elegant limits to guide a unique creative response in each moment . . . a response that is necessarily heart inspired and often . . . courageous.

Creativity takes courage.  - Henri Matisse

With the Zentangle Method and with parkour, you learn to see barriers, challenges, and so-called mistakes as opportunities and even as gifts . . . gifts that inspire you to go within, access your imagination, and re-give your unique creative response . . . a response that can bring more beauty and grace into this world. 

Project Pack No 06 journal pages by Maria (L) and Rick (R). 

Maria and I are in our 60s. Like anyone who has lived that long, there are events we wish did not happen. However, neither of us would change a thing because that could risk us not being with our family and with each other . . . and, with this Zentangle community. 

After over 15 years of practicing and speaking about the Zentangle Method, we find that we live each day as parkour freerunners approaching a new course. And each day is a gift that offers us new opportunities to respond “Par Coeur” . . . By Heart . . . to bring beauty and grace to each moment.

Welcome to this age of “By Heart.” It can be empowering, uplifting, healing . . . and fun!

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Thank you to everyone who commented on Molly's blog post, The Dog Days of Summer. The randomly selected commenter picked to receive some Zentangle goodies is Ginger White! Please send your snail mail address to

Rick Roberts


  • thx for sharing.

    Carol Lee Parry on

  • This seems to describe my life in so many ways. Seems fitting that I found Zentangle or should I say Zentangle found me.

    Jeanne on

  • Love this post, especially the word play. Thanks!

    Leslie Hancock on

  • A barrier can be a stopping point, or a stepping stone to a new view of our world as we know it. I choose the latter. Soldier on! Each day a new discovery, a new day of heart-full living.

    Ginger White, CZT 34 on

  • My motto for this year, and maybe forever, is choose joy! Parkour was my joy and antidote throughout my high school years. I just didn’t know there was a name for it.
    I have 73 years of life to reflect on. Talking recently with my grown son, Sam, I learned that he sees my life of one of hardship and struggle. I am baffled by that. I see my life as one rich experience, good or bad. Each a gift of preparation for the next opportunity.
    My mind constantly is joyfully running parkour! Zentangle is such a big part of that for me. I thank all of you from the depths of my heart!

    Mary D'Angelo on

  • Molly, your heart tile is beautiful!

    LaJuania Dorman on

  • Thanks for all the comments and . . . Happy Birthday, Jake!

    Rick Roberts on

  • Rick! I will be 72 in 2 weeks, but I understood your philosophical comparison even before watching the video. My granddaughter introduced me to parkour several years ago. I have been seeing patterns, connections, and links between disparate items, ideas, objects, etc, for years, but no one ever understood me or saw what I was seeing. Until I signed up for a Zentangle class at the local Senior Center. I looked up the term on line, found your newsletter, asked some questions, which you so warmly and graciously answered. Then I went to NMAI for your lecture last summer, was mesmerized, and I have been tangling ever since! You and Maria have helped me realize long deferred dreams, far more than you will ever know, and I am a Zentangle acolyte, devotee, disciple, fan, champion, practitioner for life! Thank you both for your gifts to all of us, all over the world!

    Jake on

  • Great post. Loved all the play on words as well as the playful video.

    When you spoke of living through things you might wish hadn’t happened, but with gratitude that they brought to you where you are, it made me think of the brilliant interview Anderson Cooper recently did with Stephen Colbert. Colbert quotes Tolkien, “what punishments of God are not gifts” in reference to grief. With time, I have come to find gratitude even for terrible sorrows, for they have brought me to profound delights – Zentangle being one of them.
    Ever grateful,

    Leslie Barr on

  • Your comparisons in this article were right on target, Rick. That is a gift you have —reminding us of the process and how you see comparisons with Zentangle everywhere ! I am not finished with

    project 6 and am finding some of the pages more challenging than others. Today’s blog reminds me to work “by the heart” and "all will be well … and …. all will be well! Thanks.

    Cec Beresford on

  • Way to bring it home! Bullseye Rick

    Kathy Young on

  • Dear Rick,

    What a wonderful, thoughtful post. It resonates deeply when I think about the first years of Zentangling, and in some respects still.. Having the courage to learn something new is a challenge, a direct attack on everything that is comfortable and wanting to change..
    At first when I started tangling I was amazed and so happy about drawing again, which I hadn’t done in years.. and love it. However when the new of the new hobby subsided and I wanted to draw more and more I ran into my usual resistance to the white paper, lol. What I have learned in the 5 years I have been tangling, I suppose that all artists have this :), every ‘performance (the tile)’ comes with resistance, and also the fear of chosing.. on the other hand the beauty, the longing and the urge to wanting to draw I need to resist the fears and hesitance and judgements, and do it anyway..

    Love the Matisse Quote.. soooo soo true for me..

    Hilde on

  • I love the link between Parkour and Par Coeur . ❤️
    The fun, joy, freedom and unexpected creativity is in both. Thank you, Rick.

    Joanna Quincey on

  • Hello Rick, Another great article. Thank you🙏. I love how you re-state that Zentangle indeed is a practice from the heart and if you permit I will use your sentence: “The Zentangle method is a practice that empowers and encourages to create from the heart” whenever I want to explain what Zentangle exactly is. It says it all! Every new day is a day to give it your best indeed and the kindness of Zentangle is bliss ❤️ Namasté to all of you 🌈

    Karin Godyns, CZT, Belgium on

  • It is always a pleasure to see the connections to life that Zentangle presents to us.

    Bette Abdu on

  • Love the beautiful heart you did. Still working on the project pack number 6. My mother and sister in law came up from Texas last week so I didn’t have time to complete the pack. My mother in law turned 90 on the 16th. My husband and his sister are in their 60’s, I will be 59 soon. Except for having had a stroke 5 years ago, I don’t feel much more than in my 30’s. Have to use my left hand for drawing but I can still Zentangle-sort of.

    Jan Smith on

  • I LOVE it! Yeah 60’s! Ever grateful for finally making it to Providence and the terrific network of creativity you foster in all of us! I will need you to do that heart video – lol. I’m working on trying to figure out Celtic knot’s also …baby steps. Thank you all so much!

    Mary Ellen Ziegler czt33 on

  • Wonderful observations, Rick! I choose from today to live my life this way. Peace.

    @tcaillouCZT32 on

  • Rick’s metaphor from CZT was that Zentangle is like dancing — you don’t map out the dance floor or plan to end on a certain spot. You just dance.

    With Parkour, they may review the lay of the land more than Zentangle, since they have to know what they’re up against, but their movements are still essentially steps in their dance.

    So get into your Zone, and keep moving!

    Beth Peters on

  • Wowsa!!!! I can feel my body enliven just by watching the video. Also in my 60s, I want to keep moving my body, stepping into the creative process, and staying open to not knowing and risking Par Coeur! Thanks, Rick!

    Molly Siddoway King on

  • Wow Rick. I know you are a great philosopher, but even I didn’t think you could link parkour with Zentangle. Bravo sir 👏🏻!

    Kim Kohler on

  • We should never forget the “zen” part in Zentangle – our place to contemplate and observe, moving into inside in a spiral by our doodling hand but looking outside for repeating patterns

    Vesta on

  • I am a martial artist in my 60s. The ups and downs of the journey is what you look at as a whole piece of art and can say to yourself, “Wow! What a trip! Where will the next strike/stroke take me?”

    Ramona Wickstrom on

  • Love this metaphorical comparison Rick. Awesomeness!

    Molly on

  • Dear Rick,

    This post is timely and has a special meaning for me..I am about to embark on a challenging journey of life for the next year. Thank you for this inspirational lesson. It definately is a gift from the cosmic…🙂

    Sharon Jerkovic on

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