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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


  • Love your post today. I wonder if this is a regional thing. I have used “traisping” all my life and I live in the Midwest in USA. I hope Webster’s accepts your new definition. It is perfect.

    Thank you and all at headquarters for the love and work you do.

    Georgi Klein on

  • Perfect timing Maria! This morning I teach my first online class to 13 home schooled children. I am going to quote you, if I may.

    Ann Baum on

  • We always used the word traipsing when I was growing up and I still use it today. I think it is a very colorful word that nothing else could say it like using traipsing.

    Leslee on

  • Maybe it’s used more in England? It is a word I use quite often – especially for ‘traipsing round the shops’ (not something we are allowed to do at the current time of course!). Interesting analogy to Zentangle though!

    Gloria King on

  • Traipsing Reminds Me Of My Mom. Traipsing Was One Of Her Favourite Words From Long Long Ago. It Does Describe Zentangle Perfectly! I Will Be Using this Phrase When Teaching My Students As They Traipse Around A Tile With Their Pen. Thank you Maria! Your Thoughts Are Always A Delight!

    Brenda Shaver Shahin CZT 8 on

  • This tile might represent one’s brain pattern as thoughts traipse and trip (as in tripoli) through the process :). Each little white dot is an aha moment. This really is a spectacular tile and your lines are so fluid, always. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and creations.


  • In the European CZT-meeting there was another expression for it. Unfortunately I forgot it. I just asked the CZT’s in the European CZT (facebook) group, maybe we will come up with the right frase … ;-) :-D

    ArjadLH on

  • What a perfectly imperfect way to describe your trips around tiles. I love the way your words bring us along for the ride.

    Bette Abdu on

  • Reading this, I found myself singing “Traipsing Maria” to the tune of the Australian folk song “Waltzing Matilda,” which my grandmother used to sing with me when we played with her doll, Matilda. I believe my Australian friend told me that the phrase “waltzing matilda” refers to something like wandering or traipsing, and I’ve always loved the tune. Thanks for giving me a pleasant earworm for what is going to be a very challenging day today!

    Laura on

  • Traipsing. Good word. Never really thought about it like that. I do consciously think I do a lot of “meandering” in my drawings. Traipsing sounds like fun, too. Thanks for sharing.

    Mary Kay Watson on

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