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.