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My Zentangle Tool Box

My Zentangle Tool Box

Julie writes...


As Zentangle artists, we have more tools in our toolbox (pencil pouch?) than just our pens and paper. It has become abundantly clear over the past few months, that our most valuable tools are the philosophies and lessons we learn practicing the Zentangle Method.
Sometimes when you start a tile, you have no idea where it is headed. You just tangle away, taking things one stroke at a time, free to move this way and that. Other times, when you start a tile, you have a plan. Maybe you were inspired by another tile or had a vision of where it was going. However, as you tangle, plans may change. You may put down a line that doesn’t go quite as expected. Fortunately, though, we have the tools to deal with these situations, and no, I don’t mean an eraser.
We embrace the philosophy of “No Mistakes,” and look for opportunities when things don’t go quite as planned. It is this philosophy that has led to so many new and exciting things in the Zentangle world. “Mistakes” on Zentangle tiles have often led to new tangles, new techniques and new adventures.
We embrace the philosophy of “Anything is Possible One Stroke At A Time…” You can’t finish you tile before putting down that first stroke. Or the second, or third. Taking things one stroke at a time allows us to slow down, to breathe, to reflect and to deliberately take that next stroke to progress on our tile.
We practice gratitude and appreciation from start to finish. In Project Pack No.09, each day we wrote down something we were grateful for on our tile, serving as a constant reminder as we tangled away. When you take a moment to recognize what you are grateful for, no matter how small, it is powerful tool to adjust your attitude, your heart and your peace, no matter the circumstances.
The world, and our lives, have been a little bit like a Zentangle tile lately. I don’t know about you, but my plans for this spring looked a lot different than my current reality. Thankfully, I had some tools in my tool box to help deal with the changes.
I have had to miss family events, birthdays, trips and get togethers. Thankfully, I know how to look for opportunities when things don’t go quite as planned. I know that when one door closes, another one is usually opening and while this may not have my first choice, it is an opportunity to explore things I may have not otherwise.
I know how to take things one stroke at a time. I know the benefits of slowing down, focusing on what is in front of me and blocking out the rest, and making deliberate choices.
I know how important it is to find a moment of gratitude and appreciation in every circumstance. To focus on these things whole heartedly to calm my mind and my heart.
And, when I am having trouble with these things, I have pens and I have paper to sit down and draw. An exercise that reminds me to use all of the tools in my tool box.

Update: May 4, 2022

It has been two years since I wrote this blog post and yet I feel like I have written it every day since. So much has happened since then, life unfolds like a Zentangle tile, with unruly and unexpected strokes going this way and that. When new challenges and opportunities come about, I am always grateful for the tools in my toolbox.

We recently held our first in person seminar since 2019 in Newport, Rhode Island. As I got to know all of the attendees, I came to learn that many of them found the Zentangle method within the past two years during the pandemic and they expressed how it helped them get through this difficult time. Even those who had been tangling long before March of 2020, there was this bond among all of us, that the Zentangle Method was a tool that we had to help us through difficult times.

Let us know in the comments how you use your Zentangle tools both on and off the paper and we will choose a commenter at random to send a "gratitude and appreciation" Zentangle MantraBand.

Julie Willand


  • Perfect time to revisit this insightful blog post. Thanks

    N on

  • Thank you Julie. You expressed what I am experiencing. We’re the lucky ones – we have the nurturing influence of both the Zentangle method and the wonderful Zentangle people, in person and online, to keep us steady during the rough times.

    Linda Friedly on

  • I am so very grateful to have been one of those lucky attendees. Tangling has given me so many ways to step back and reevaluate the things that feel like mistakes in life, and look for new opportunities that may have been revealed in the process. It keeps me more aware and interested in my surroundings, and I both recognize tangles in the world around me and see others that are just waiting to be “discovered” and deconstructed. It has brought a fullness and adaptability that I didn’t know was there.

    Alisa on

  • Thank you, Julie. I have been tangling since I discovered Zentangle in 2015. I experienced this way of drawing as an invitation back into my own joyful creativity, and also as a way to deal with stressful times in my life.

    Since I became a CZT in November 2020, and through these last two years of pandemic changes, I have seen more and more how the life lessons of Zentangle are ones to embrace in all circumstances. And I am grateful for the beauty I can add to the world through drawing and sharing this beautiful practice with others.

    Diane Harpster on

  • I honestly don’t remember exactly when I started doing Zentangle but when I started, I felt a sensation of complete calmness and I have done it every since. There was a time that I took a long break from doing it but now I am going to be getting back into it. I agree with every word you said and I enjoy creating new tiles every time and the mistakes I make only make it more unique.

    Nichelle Marshall on

  • Wonderful thoughts and reminders, Julie! Thank you.

    Jenny Perruzzi on

  • Julie, how lovely. I needed to read this today. Thank you.

    Becky J on

  • Your words are so comforting in this uncertain time, Julie. Thank you for sharing. I always feel peace and joy when I visit the Zentangle family. I feel privileged to belong to a community that lifts me up and helps me to embrace an attitude of gratitude.

    Joan Mailloux on

  • Always glad to read a post. Sometimes I forget the real “Zentanglespirit” (senior moments) but I agree with all you wrote. Thank you very much Julie, it is so true!

    Ria Joris-Matheussen on

  • Hi Julie, Thanks for your words of wisdom. The Zentangle® tool box has certainly helped me over some pretty rough, emotional days since my husband passed. You are spot on with Gratitude, it certainly helps the mindset to remind oneself what one is grateful for. Thanks again for your wise words, it’s much appreciated.

    Sue Douglas - CZT34 on

  • Yes. ❤️❤️❤️

    Sandy Kelley-Jones on

  • Julie, Your sunny attitude will serve you well when your baby comes. It will be a long time befor you have a “firm plan” without making last minute adjustments! The red sweater,,nope suddenly it needs to be changed. I’ll be there at one? Oops, still napping, let’s make it two! It is a lot easier to just accept it and go along, best wishes!

    Betsey Youngs on

  • There are so many things to be grateful for even as we navigate this crazy time we are living in. And practising the Zentangle Method is at the top of my list with family, friends and good health. Thank you Julie for all your wise words. You are a real sweetie! ❤️

    Brenda Shaver on

  • Perfect timely reflection on what we have learned through the Zentangle method! Thank you all for the many blessings one line at a time!

    Mary Ellen Ziegler czt33 on

  • Love your blog. I often wake before dawn and love and feel gratitude for that space where all is quiet and the dark of the morning, like the blank tile, is set before me full of promise of the unknown and waiting for me to take my first step sometimes with a plan and often with no idea of where the day will take me. As always I give thanks to you guys for your philosophy on life through tangles and the mindfullness they create. Stay safe.

    wendy tann on

  • “Gratitude and appreciation in every circumstance” cannot be repeated too often. Zentangle is such a nurturing process…no mistakes implies forgiveness and grace, slowing down…what a glorious concept! Thanks again Julie

    for your timely words of encouragement. Pen and paper fit into any circumstance. Bless you.

    Susie Talbot on

  • Julie, you are a gifted writer and convey your message with the grace and style that is fundamentally the Zentangle way. We are all on the “path less traveled” finding many new byways that we may not have noticed or had time to explore in the past. I hope this new path and direction, becomes the right way of the future!

    Marjorie Emy Goosen on

  • Zentangle has been a go to tool these days at home. I start to tangle then stop when I am not sure what is next. One of my tools is my refrigerator door. I put up what I am working on and suggestions just seem to pop in my head. Thanks Julie. Gratitude is of great importance at this time. I thank you and all the staff at Zentangle.

    Paulette Kirschensteiner on

  • Julie, so well stated. One can never be reminded enough…many thanks.

    Rimona Gale on

  • Julie, thank you for those ever important and true words!!!!

    Betsy on

  • “There are no mistakes.” Julie, your blog post is so timely, another example of that philosophy! I am stretching my comfort zone, and learning more, rekindling that zest for Zentangle that grabbed me a few years ago [thank you, Lisa!]. Finding the balance in a confusing and awkward world we live in these days, would be more difficult without the tools learned by Zentangle practice.

    Ginger White on

  • ❤️ All of what you dedcribe is really true. I’m so thankful of being a part of this fantastic Zentangle community! ❤️ Thank you❣️ 🙏

    Annika AwasthlmCZT on

  • Since being home Zentangle has been my savior! It had been pushed aside as life was busy and complicated. Once the stay at home began I found my tools and began my meditative art again. I had forgotten how much I loved the concentrated effort. I am once again obsessed and tangle many times a day! The tools are “singing” and I am calmer and satisfied.

    Elaine Greene on

  • Thankyou very much. That was a good reminder for me. Very nicely said.

    CYnthia on

  • Beautifully said and so very true, Julie. I must say PP09 really brought the gratitude portion home. I think that’s why it might be MY favorite to date. The first three so readily jumped to mind and then I found so many others in my mind to choose from, that I have a list to incorporate in future works. Such a wonderful reminder in challenging times of how much we all have to be grateful for. The whole Zentangle methodology writ large and each individual step has great meaning and brings beautiful balance and foundation to my life’s tool box.

    PamS on

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