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Let's Go Traipsing

Let's Go Traipsing


I came across this word the other day. I have heard of it. Maybe I saw it on a spelling test in 4th grade, but I'm not so sure that I have ever used it before.

Do you know what it means?  

Traipse.    verb.   (used without an object). traipsed, traipsing

      1.  to walk or go aimlessly or idly or without finding or reaching one's goal;
     "We traipsed all over town looking for a copy of the book." (but not finding it)

It caught my attention while I was looking up something else. It had a rather elegant sound that made me want to know more.

I don't walk a lot (although the kids and Rick are always sweetly suggesting that I do more of it) but I often do "walk or go aimlessly" as I follow an idea, a dream, a vision.  Sometimes it is a spectacular journey. Other times it's a bust. But more often than not, it takes me to magical places, in directions different than what  I started towards.  

I think what made me like this word is that, on first glance, it appears to be a negative thing: wasting time, not getting what you want, doing a lot of something, for nothing. 

But I realized that it's similar to how we talk about the Zentangle Method. Right? We talk about drawing each stroke deliberately, however we have no predetermined destination or goal in mind, other than to enjoy that stroke as we draw it. We don't tangle to get done, or find an answer, or be the first to finish.  We don't tangle to know the most tangles, to hurridly fill the paper, or (heaven forbid) to make it perfect.  

We tangle because tangling feels good. When we tangle we can remember things, and sometimes we can forget things. When we tangle we remember to be grateful. We teach and share that with others. We can appreciate what we have accomplished and what others have accomplished.

(Unless, of course, our goal all along was to remember, to forget, to find comfort, to remind, to teach and share, to appreciate, to accomplish and  be grateful for all things, no matter how small or how big.)

So now,  I don't know.  Are we traipsing or are we not traipsing? Hmmmm. See how tough my job is here at Zentangle HQ? I wonder if I'll be able to sleep tonight wondering about all the traipsing or not traipsing I am doing. Perhaps there should be another definition under the first:

      2.  To draw aimlessly and idly in a Zentangle way that accomplishes the really important goals in life. 
           " I found myself traipsing around a tile with my pen on an absolutely awful day but nevertheless feeling just wonderful for it."
And let's leave it at that. I'll contact our friends at Webster's Dictionary and give them this addendum. I'm sure they will be thrilled to be able to bring their dictionary up to date! 

I love nothing better than to sit down at my desk, grab the first thing that resembles a tile along with and a pencil and pen and then aimlessly "go to town."   Almost never do I have a vision of what I will draw, I only need to make that first mark. And then I'm off.  

On the tile in this blog, a tan Zendala, my first mark was a small square in brown ink. I decided I would do tripoli with squares instead of triangles.  See those biggish squares around the edge? They took me in a direction unanticipated. The shape curved around the edge, forming a spiral shape, so I used triangles to mix in when a square wouldn't do.

(Note to you, dear reader: you can mix tangles up when the need arises. There are no Zentangle monitors looking over your shoulders ready to correct you for not following the rules. Use what you learn and go with the flow.)    

When I felt there were enough squares/triangles, I filled each shape like the tangle bales, with a light touch of my brown pen, drawing those lovely curves from corner to corner.  That in itself was a wonderful journey, creating these magical metapatterns in an almost floral effect. Then the "freshwater pearls" peeked out through all the bales creating a beautiful contrast with all those straight lines.    

But for me, the real delight was the ever so subtle swash of white chalk pencil, that appeared out of nowhere . . .

. . . or more likely from all that "Z-matter" traipsing around in my brain.       

Maria Thomas


  • Definitely needed to read this message today. My ceiling fell into my living room due to leaking roof. Waiting to see if emergency fix by roofers will hold back coming snow and rain. I will go “traipsing” through the neighborhood and try and remain off the Pitty pot…LOL who knows where loosening up controls will lead! Thankyou again…goes great with our new “narfello”….my morning meditation with my coffee before traipsing lol.

    Mary Ellen Ziegler czt33 on

  • I also thought of my Mom using that word, usually in a slightly negative way. I wondered if it was a southern thing, but apparently not, from reading the comments. lollygagging was also a favorite!

    Lynnda Tenpenny on

  • The more I tangle it seems the more I have to be reminded to traipse instead of plan and whine to myself about not producing a finished product with perfectly drawn lines and patterns.

    Thank you for applying this yummy word to the process rather than product-approach Zentangle is all about.

    I must remember gratitude in the midst of chaos and just sit and allow myself the luxury of following my pen as it cruises along on the tile. I will do that today!

    I must remember. Thank you again Maria. ❤️

    Susan Talbot on

  • “Having a walk-about” is another term I love. To me that means… to go on an unhurried, stress-free walk around somewhere close by to just observe, experience, and be open to anything new on our little journey. It’s very similar to how I feel about Zentangle… let’s take the first step and draw this line, add some dots or more lines and just see where we go!

    Laura Joan Larson on

  • I have been wandering with my ink pen on paper for many years, doing Zentangle before it was an official word, people made fun of me and some even thought I was a little crazy. I could not and cannot keep my pen quiet!!! I have carried these drawing items around all of my life. Now I can proudly give my scribbles a name. Someday when I can afford it, I want to attend your seminar to become certified. I would like to teach Zentangle at nursing homes. I think the Student apprentice approach will work for older adults. Thank you for enriching my life, especially during Covid. I am proud to be part of your worldwide community. Love you all Sherie i am placing another order to get brown pens and white for highlights loved your tile!!!

    sherie Falink on

  • While traipsing through a resale shop, I discovered a zentangle pack on sale. On my previous traipsing, I had purposefully ignored anything to do with the “craze”. Being a fan of the micron pens, I bought the kit for a song!!! That was shortly before Thanksgiving, 2020. Now I can traipse through my 6 zentangle books, with my assorted tiles, pens, pencils, and tortillons with the 5 friends that I have encouraged to traipse along with me. On a serious note: My friend Marla and her husband died of Covid in September. During Marla’s hospitalization, her daughter Jennifer and I became friends. Jennifer is trying to raise her sons alone now. Zentangle is helping not only Jennifer and I work through our grief, but also John (5 years old), David (7 years old), and Daniel (9 years old). Traipsing with tangles with my daughter, Carrie, has brought us closer together and helped us to face the separation that Covid has caused. Thank you for sharing this wonderfully aimless, but definitely on target traipse with you! May the Lord bless you richly! PS. I love traipsing with Bijou! I have drawn several of your Bijouisms and have them posted on my desk for encouragement!

    linda Stephens on

  • I think of this as meandering. “To follow a winding and turning course.” or “Circuitous windings or sinuosity’s, a journey.”

    Mary C D'Angelo, CZT 32 on

  • I love this post. You are a great teacher, Maria! Thank you.

    Peyton on

  • Traipsing is such an appropriate word for Zentangle and a good reminder that it is ok to draw without any definitive direction. Always a good reminder to trust the process and await to see where you end up! Thank you, Maria

    Pattie Grove on

  • Traipsing is such a good word. I love traipsing through the bush & just looking at everything around me. It’s amazing what you discover when you take the time to look. Zentangle is the same. When taking the time to tangle ‘one stroke at a time’, you can discover many exciting possibilities.

    Lianne on

  • I immediately thought of my mom! She often used this word, often with a negative connotation of aimless wandering— something moms don’t always appreciate!— but we loved to hear her say it! Reading your post brought great joy, and recollections of the word “flaner” ( flaneurs, flaneries) in French, and its association with walking with no expectations, just joyful discoveries!

    Jennifer Sparrow on

  • Yes found it! Maria Vennekens, CZT3, came withe the right word. I guess she replied the newsletter instead of this blog. In the CZT Europe group she writes:

    " Do you mean this one? I commented it already to the blog. Coddiwomple (v.) Origin: English Slang Word. Definition: To travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination. "

    I love the wiggly-feeling this word gives me :-D

    ArjadLH on

  • I think I need a pair of ruby slippers so that I can click my heels together when I tangle whilst chanting “there are no Zentangle monitors, there are no Zentangle monitors, there are no…”. It’s something I still need to learn when I get critical of my tangling. Thanks for the reminder.

    Sabra Steinsiek on

  • I’m very guilty of traipsing, sauntering, moseying, lallygagging, meandering, and simply wandering around. Whether on foot, or with a pen in hand, it is always a new and wonderful exploration. Thank you, Maria, for helping us to wander about!

    Jane Rhea on

  • Maybe ArjadLH referred to coddiwomple. It has a slightly different meaning though.

    Coddiwomple (v.) Origin: English Slang Word. Definition: To travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination. But like traipsing it is about traveling without knowing what the destiny will be, the journey is more important than the destination.
    I like to coddiwomple and from today to traipse and to saunter.

    Maria Vennekens on

  • We used that word a lot in my childhood and it’s still in my vocabulary because of all its nuances. I love it. And I love that you’ve associated it with traipsing around inside a tangle, an association i wouldn’t have made on my own but it makes me smile now that I’ve heard it! Thanks.

    Devin on

  • I love to traipse about – either in my town or if I find myself in a new place. It’s a lovely way to discover new things and rediscover old favorites. I love that you’ve tethered a good traipse to Zentangle. Hmmm… is that even possible? Yo tether a traipse?
    Laura: if I’m not mistaken, Matilda is slang for a backpack or rucksack, and yes waltzing is taking a long walk with your backpack or Matilda. What a lovely journey we’re on in this post!

    Helen on

  • Truer words do not exist! Finally a word and a definition for something I felt true for a long time – in my Zentangle practice or when I teach.
    I am all in to add it to the dictionary. The funny thing is that when I looked up the definition in French, it translated to a word I use all the time… :) Thank you for this lovely blog post and letting us traipse with you for a moment!

    Juliette- CZT on

  • Your outer line, traipsing around the tile caught my eye right off. I love it.

    jill maxwell czt 19 on

  • I do like to walk aimlessly. I like to tangle that way too.
    This reminds me of when I was younger and had lots of time to wander, and my husband would refer my adventures as mollygagging … playfully changing the word lollygagging.

    Molly on

  • Yes! Traipsing is a wonderful way to draw a tile. Thanks.

    Lisa Hoesing on

  • My mind often traipses around, flitting like a hungry butterfly, as it seeks for something to settle on for a while. Zentangle practice never ceases to corral me in and help focus my thoughts on a design, giving free rein to express what may be going on internally, in a visible setting. Thank you for this post!

    Ginger White CZT34 on

  • In addition to the Webster’s dictionary folks, please let Hallmark know we’d like an International Day of Traipsing.

    Nancy D. CZT18 on

  • Saunter is another similar word that I feel could apply here. In a quote from John Muir about hiking he says “ Hiking – “I don’t like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains – not hike! Do you know the origin of that word ‘saunter?’ It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, ‘A la sainte terre,’ ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them.”
    - John Muir
    I like to think of sauntering through the Zentangle process: choosing a medium (classic, 3Z, Bijou, zendala), a pen, a tangle or two or three, a string…..letting our muses show the path to our Holy Land.

    Deb Murray CZT 30 on

  • Well, in the South (where I was raised), we used the verb, to mosey. We moseyed around town. It means to take your time—go slow. Occasionally we would saunter. My husband and I use both those verbs often. Both apply to tangling quite well.

    Paula Schneider on

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