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Caring for Caregivers

Caring for Caregivers

Jen writes...

It is the middle of the night, bleary eyed, I am double checking my spreadsheet to make sure I am giving the right medicines at the right time.

It is the middle of the night, I am holding her hand, trying to say goodbye but trying to hold on.

It is the middle of the night, I am weeping softly into my pillow, because alone, in the middle of the night, is the only time I can empty some of the bucket of tears inside me.

These are snapshots of times in my life. I am a caregiver, not as a profession, but as a person who is blessed to love deeply. Caregiving is fueled by love, but most of the time when we are caught up in the needs of the other person, we do not realize the toll it is taking. We do not realize that we are running on empty. That saying, “You cannot pour from an empty cup”, is very true.

It is important to recognize that caregivers, whether it be caregiving professionally or personally, can be experiencing high levels of stress, anxiety, and potentially depression. The need for self-care and moments of reprieve are crucial to replenishing the energy, positive mindset, and balance back into their lives.

Today we invite you to read letters from two CZTs. The first is from Katrina Thiebaut, who used her tangling practice to help her through her journey with her mom who lived with Alzheimer’s disease. It is a beautifully written letter sent several years ago titled, “My Mother Lost and Found by Tangles”.

The second is from Ali Cada, Director of the Adult Day and Creative Programs for Club 36, Alzheimer Society of Calgary. Club 36 was a recipient of a grant from the Zentangle Foundation. Ali’s program shared the Zentangle Method with the staff, clients, and their families.

Read: Zentangle:  Creativity & Confidence Builder and Mental Health Booster

Finally, we invite you to take some time for yourself and fill your cup.
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Thank you to everyone who commented on our last blog,
Bijou's Be Well Bundle: a 21-Day Tangling Journey. We have randomly selected Pam Meeks to receive a tinful of Translucen-Z Bijou Tiles. Please send your snail mail address to

Jennifer Sumner


  • I visit with a senior who is blind and hard of hear three days of week she lives in a nursing home, but I do a lot for her as well as another friend, but I am a chronic patient so, who took care of my Alzheimer’s father and cancer mother. So I know it from both sides, I don’t have the squares or kit, but I use my art book, I have doodles the Zentangle since I was a child art and doodle was my distresser. I love my art I also pocket socket, but Zentangle gets me through the bad days. And I have many of them, both taking care of and texting Ms Thel (very negative and stressed) there is nothing worse than macular degenerate. Even though she’s only in her 80s according to her, her life is over. I haven’t known her that long my neighbor introduced me. She used to live in our neighborhood so I started visiting her one or two days a week at first now it’s three days a week and I do different things to help her besides straightening up the apartment when I’m there Put in hearing aid batteries, anything that she needs. I love her very much and I would do anything to help her. I know it’s not the same thing as a 24 hour caregiver because I’ve been that to. But as I said, I’m also taking care of myself Because I’m a chronic critical care patient myself. And then tango has been a very integral part of my care I loves entangle. I’m going to need to order the squares one of these days to see how it looks on them and not bullet journal paper. I did find an art store one time in our town. Well a town about half hour away that does carry it but I don’t go shopping that much. It’s not good for me so I don’t get that very often but when I do, it’s glorious, then when I found entangle was so excited, but unfortunately I was on my way out. They didn’t carry much just a couple of things, but they carried it. Well I get what everybody’s going through. They said I’m on both sides of the aisle and have been for years. I’m sorry but don’t run yourselves down. It’s too important to keep yourself hydrated. Drink 24 seven water if you have to flavor it, but most important hydrate, pray, meditate, but take time a couple times a day for time out, get some kind of exercise, preferably outside, but something just a little breathing and chair exercises a little, walking something just to stimulate the body in the brain, it’s important and Zentangle or some thing that you enjoy reading some thing. As I said, take it from somebody who’s been on both sides of the aisle very important. Have a great day everybody

    Joan on

  • Oh My God, I feel gratitude for having some free time to read these. I wish I had had Zentangle in my Life back in 1993 when my father fell down sick with cancer. It took all the family a great effort to reconstruct a home, a family and obviously our thoughts and minds. I LOVE the touching but strong way you, ladies, decided to write about how valuable the presence of Zentangle has been. This is what this community is about, this is what sharing is about. THANK YOU AND THANKS TO ZENTANGLE for being part of my life now.

    Os Burbano on

  • Wow Katrina, what a beautiful and sad story. When my parents passed, I feel lucky that neither one had Alzheimers but it was difficult because I had a close bond with both of them. Luckily, they were not alive when I found out that I had an incurable cancer but I wish they had been around when I started on my Zentangle journey. I know that they would/are very proud of what I have accomplished since I started tangling back in 2011. Thank you so much for telling your story!

    Barb B. CZT on

  • Jen, Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I have lots of love going out to you as you have written of your challenges as a caregiver. I also am honored that you felt my writing had a potential to help others. Thank you for sharing it here. And to those who have said kind things to me in the comments, I want to say I appreciate your words. Sharing this is sharing a very personal journey and your words are soothing. And lastly, I can’t thank Rick and Maria enough for what they have given the world with this method of drawing. You continue to spread joy, peace, and calm to many who have a Zentangle practice. Thank you for sending so many CZTs into the world to share your method.

    Katrina Thiebaut on

  • Just read Katrina’s powerful and evocative essay! Wow!

    Susan Pundt on

  • Thank You, Katrina and Ali, for sharing how important Zentangle has been in your caregiving efforts! I didn’t know about Zentangle when caring for my Mother during the months after her stroke. She has been gone thirteen years now. Fortunately, I learned about Zentangle before my daughter was diagnosed with cancer last December. It has been a busy six months of surgeries, doctor’s visits, physical therapy, and chemotherapy. I have taken my Zentangle along with me and have been blessed to share it with others along the way. Lessons from Zentangle also help with my other drawing efforts. drawing behind, shading, and filling areas with patterns are becoming more natural and I can see progress. Thank you again for helping me to fill my cup!

    LLS on

  • I am in ALL of your stories! With gratitude for Zentangle, czt’s, the fellowship, the never ending inspiration & awe!

    MaryEllen Ziegler on

  • I cannot tell you how timely Bijous Be Well journey has been for me. As I’m struggling with watching my own Mother lose her mind A Day at a Time. I realized—I needed to take care of my own mental health, in order to be ‘Present’ and able to meet the challenge of being available to her each day. So I found my Zentangle supplies, and started drawing little lines and orbs…kinda mindlessly, and how Refreshing that has been! I treated myself to a project pack, and then 2 more to help me stay on the path that is before us. Thank you to the entire Zentangle family, both at HQ, and tanglers around the world.

    Your Art inspires me, and I’m just going to keep on drawing those little orbs till it’s better!

    Andrea on

  • So excited! Thank you! (And as primary Caregiver to a young adult with intellectual disabilities, this post spoke to me. ❤️)

    Pam Meeks on

  • What a coincidence reading this article at the middle of the night because I’m emotionally drained out and confused. Came to see my mum staying in a different city as we learnt about her cancer relapse. Trying to help out as much as possible but she is struggling with the illness and her emotions too and is not necessarily very pleasant all the time. Leaving my family behind at home isn’t easy either. Tangling daily is the only thing that keep me going, Thank you all for that!!

    Rashmi Agarwal on

  • I was introduced to the Zentangle Method by my mother. At the time we were also caring for my father as he fought leukemia. Being able to tangle throughout chemotherapy and transfusion treatments allowed us to escape into our art and appreciate our time together

    Josephine Wood on

  • Thank you. I’m a caregiver for my 91 yr. old mother, who has dementia. She lives with me. This is not an easy task. Zentangling gives me a space for me, deep breaths, and a reminder to take a moment to worship God’s patterns every day. Thank you for remembering caregivers. This can be a lonely task.

    Lorene on

  • Love you Katrina! See you next time!

    Sandy Kelley-Jones CZT on

  • Thank you Ali and Katrina for sharing two very different journeys linked by the calm passion of Zentangling. The benefits of tangling in everyday life is the excitement of creating something so unexpectedly beautiful. At the same time it can be a way stop the madness when things in daily life get too complicated.

    After my husbands untimely death in 2013 I returned to my hometown expecting to stay a few months with family to collect myself before moving on with my life. That was nine years ago …

    Eventually I found myself living with my parents as their health declined. It was never intended to be caregiving, more of a happy accident. I was looking for a purpose in life and they needed a little help around the house. Now, with my mom on dialysis and my dad receiving hospice care, I find respite in Zentangling. It’s remarkably refreshing, and my parents love the tangles that are on display everywhere in the house. My dad especially likes the gel pen tangles that glow under UV light.

    I am currently tangling on squares of fabric that I will sew together, combining quiltmaking and tangling into one comforting work of art.

    Ann Baum on

  • Katrina’s letter is an astonishingly eloquent and moving inspiration. Her appreciation of Zentangle and the way its principles were woven in to her mother’s care will stay with me for a long time. Thank you.

    Sooz on

  • Whew, this takes my breath away. Thank you for sharing. ❤️

    Kathy Y. on

  • An hour ago, we received the news of one of our brightest team members passing suddenly. She was our caregiver, always greeting everyone every single day with a smile. Two weeks ago she was dancing at the annual Team lunch. I have been posting my Be Well tiles to the common Team chat during this project pack. Now I see it is even more important to do so, in honour of our friend who was taken away from us before we expected.

    Debbie Smith on

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