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CZT Family Tree: Bette Abdu

CZT Family Tree: Bette Abdu

We always say that the Zentangle Method attracts really awesome people. We have had the pleasure of working with wonderful Certified Zentangle Teachers (CZT) all over the world and we are excited to share these wonderful people with the entire Zentangle Community. Through our series, CZT Family Tree, we will introduce individual CZTs.

Today, we are excited to introduce Bette Abdu! Bette is a Zentangle enthusiast from early on and a Certified Zentangle Teacher from the very first class!

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Name: Bette Abdu 

CZT#: 1, 4 & 28  

Other Zentangle HQ sponsored events:  Master Class Aug 2010, ZenAgain 2016 & 2018 

Bette also ran the first CZT-only retreat in July 2011, and subsequently three more. 

Hometown: Brockton, Massachusetts USA. Currently resides in New Hampton, New Hampshire in the summer and in San Carlos, Panama in the winter.  

Favorite tangle: Poke Leaf 

Favorite place to tangle: at my art desk 

How I use the Zentangle Method in my life: 

It fulfills my desire to create beautiful images and calms my soul. Teaching is a very rewarding experience for me. 

My favorite story or memory about teaching the Zentangle Method is: 

Two poignant memories that come to mind: 

At a class planned for adults, a mother brought her two children. A few minutes before the starting time the mother informed me privately that her daughter had Tourette syndrome. She asked that I ignore any tics or verbal outbursts and continue with the lesson. Quite to the contrary, her daughter became hyper-focused, her tiles were beautiful, and there wasn’t a single outburst. After class, that mother told me that Zentangle was a miracle for her daughter with tears in her eyes. 

Another experience was at a day-long annual meeting for women who volunteer to assist abused women navigate their emotional, legal, and safety issues. Many of these volunteers are survivors of abuse themselves. After the morning business meeting, they could choose two seminars: yoga, knitting, creative writing, and Zentangle. I taught a morning and afternoon seminar. In the morning session, I had about 15 participants. One lady arrived late (car trouble) and was quite flustered. I worked with her one-on-one while the rest of the class worked on the first tangle—all good. At lunchtime, this same lady went from table to table singing the praises of Zentangle and me! My afternoon workshop was double the size (luckily, I had planned for up to 50 - the total in the conference). This lady came up to me and asked if she could hug me. She enveloped me in a bear hug. Then she proclaimed that Zentangle had changed her life.  

Through my experiences as a CZT, I have learned: 

That the motto “Anything is possible, one stroke at a time,” is as true in life as it is on a Zentangle tile. 

My connection to Zentangle: 

It was fate that I learned about Zentangle online in 2007. I ordered the kit from Zentangle HQ - there were no CZTs at this time. I was immediately smitten with everything about Zentangle. It was love at first tile. 

As members of the New Hampshire chapter of WCA (Women’s Caucus for Art), Sandy Bartholomew, CZT 1,2 et al and I were asked to teach Zentangle at the semi-annual meeting in April 2008.  We both declined out of respect for the trademarked Zentangle. Still, I wanted my fabulous discovery to be shared with this group. So, I contacted Rick and Maria and persuaded them to teach us. To my delight they agreed. We had about 30 members attend, in a room designed for 20-ish people. Some members had to peak around the doorways of the repurposed old home of the historical society where our meeting was held.  Everyone was excited to learn Zentangle. Many purchased Zentangle Kits to continue their journey with Zentangle and five of us were fortunate to attend the first Certified Zentangle Teacher training in February of 2009.  

Maria writes...

Rick and I remember that day well. It was a wonderful event and it was an honor to be asked to teach. We remember the attendees overflowing out of the room and the enthusiasm for the Zentangle Method. Talking with Bette and the other people there, we realized that, by ourselves, we would not be able to teach the Zentangle Method to everyone in the world. We needed to teach others how to teach it.

Shortly after that event, we organized our first Certified Zentangle Teacher seminar. Five from that New Hampshire Zentangle workshop attended.

CZT Seminar #1 February 2009  
New Hampshire graduates with Rick and Maria 

L to R Sandy Bartholomew, Bette Abdu, Maria Thomas,  
Catherine Rogers, Rick Roberts, Donna Conroy, Kathy Freeburn 


If I’m not tangling, you will find me . . .  Walking, traveling, biking, doing charity work or hanging with my friends in person or on Zoom 

In addition to many Zentangle tiles, I’ve tangled on: Shoes, clothing, aprons, tote bags, a piano, a life-sized fiberglass gnu (see Zentangle newsletter) polymer clay, shrink plastic, rocks, clam shells - well you get the idea - anything goes. 

Mosaic Name: BetteAbduCZT

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We did not give you all a comment prompt to win a Zentangle surprise last week, but we have been having so much fun picking winners for a special gift (that we will reveal soon!), we went ahead and randomly picked a commenter anyways. Jane E Laine, congratulations! Please send your snail mail address to!

Leave us a comment below and who knows.. you may get picked next!



  • I have learned a lot from Bette. Wonderful artist and CZT. I first met her at ZenAgain in 2016 and have been friends ever since! Why just this morning we were together sharing information and laughing! Wonderful stories that keep giving us all the inspiration to keep on truckin’! Hope to see you again at ZenAgain 2021!

    Terri Young, CZT 16 on

  • Hi Bette, all that you shared is beautiful, and let’s not forget that your enthusiasm and gift of teaching led to my journey of becoming a CZT as well. Zentangle is one of the most peaceful things in my life…Thank you!

    Laurie Felgate on

  • A wonderful story about the beginnings of zentangle!

    Susan Lysik on

  • Great stories! Inspirational!

    Jennifer Matthaei Cottrell on

  • Loved reading this, Bette. I was lucky enough to sit next to you at zenAgain 2018 and so enjoyed getting to know you a bit. Hearing this history made it even better—I’d no idea that you and Sandy B nudged Rick & Maria into teaching teachers. Thank you thank you!

    Devin on

  • Love to hear stories about how Zentangle touched people’s lives. I attended seminar with my daughter Sara Mudge in 2015.We team taught for a few wonderful years. Sara was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago and passed away last year. Zentangle got us through the chemo,surgeries and hospital stays.Sara did her final tile about 6 days before she died while in hospital. Since then Zentangle has been with me,getting me through my grief. I feel closer to her sitting every evening doing a tile.

    Elaine Palbiski CZT 21 on

  • Thank you for sharing your Zentangle story, Bette. It’s a pleasure to get to know you a bit, even though we’ve not yet met. Your story about the little girl with Tourette’s reminds me of sharing Zentangle in my inclusive first grade classroom. Adults were always skeptical, but Zentangle always prevailed peaceful and positive.

    Danielle DeRome on

  • A very inspirational story about the girl with toutrettes.

    Myra on

  • I’ve been smitten by Zentangle since I took a class five years ago when I retired to Florida. It has been a lifesaver for me in dealing with this Pandemic and the recent passing of my sister. Thank you for teaching Zentangle and spreading the word!

    Helaine R on

  • I loved reading your story!

    Clara A Brunk on

  • Betty’s memories of the two standout highlights of teaching remind me that Zentangle is such a life-changer! For me, it is more important that ever to ground myself in the gratitude and calm of pen to paper.

    Ginger White CZT34 on

  • Bette!!! What a wonderful honor and you truly deserve it! So good to hear your story.

    MaryAnn Scheblein-Dawson on

  • Bette, I remember you well from the tangle event held in Regina, Saskatchewan….think 2013? It was great fun. You helped me with a booklet project that the group was working on. Still have it!

    Cathrine Nicols on

  • Bette, I remember you well from the tangle event held in Regina, Saskatchewan….think 2013? It was great fun. You helped me with a booklet project that the group was working on. Still have it!

    Cathrine Nicols on

  • Zentangle has saved my life during the months of lockdown. I had taken classes at the local adult ed center and didn’t feel that I was much of an artist. During the time at home, I’ve developed my own style, which I call “Jazz Tangles” in honor of my husband, who was a jazz pianist. It reminds me of how he played. I never know what will come out, and neither did he. Our life motto was: Life is like jazz: you gotta swing; you gotta improvise, and there are no wrong notes!!

    Deborah Alborell on

  • Nice to meet you, Bette! Fun to hear how you got started. I need to return to Zentangle, I’ve fallen away for a bit. Thanks for getting me excited about starting up again!

    Maryellen Ackroyd on

  • It is truly a pleasure to hear your story. I am so glad that I have gotten to meet you and tangle with you.

    You are an inspiration. Thank you

    Priscilla DeConti on

  • Nice to meet you, Bette! Fun to hear how you got started. I need to return to Zentangle, I’ve fallen away for a bit. Thanks for getting me excited about starting up again!

    Maryellen Ackroyd on

  • Thank you Bette!

    Molly on

  • I enjoyed your inspirational stories. Zentangling soothes and reassures, while it delights people of all ages and abilities.

    Ann Baum on

  • Dear Bette, I love your “from the ground up” and out and all over story! I also love that photo! You’ve truly embraced, in all facets, the simple aspect of Zentangle.

    Linda Elkin on

  • What a wonderful story. You have really make a difference in some peoples lives. It is so inspiring what different have done with Zentangle.

    Debbie Murphy on

  • It’s so interesting to learn how individual artists discovered Zentangle as well as the teaching to teach aspect! I love your two stories Bette, you are a Zentangle rockstar!

    Norma Jean Peterson on

  • Nice to meet you Bette!

    Carol Roenbaugh on

  • Nice to meet you Bette!

    Carol Roenbaugh on

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