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One Stroke at a Time...

One Stroke at a Time...

Julie writes...

I often find when writing a blog post, the underlying theme is how the characteristics and philosophies of the Zentangle Method have made their way off my tiles and into my everyday life. Things such as gratitude and appreciation come easy to me, but the “No Mistakes” took a little more time to embrace (and I am still working on it!), but the one that I think has affected me most is “anything is possible, one stroke at a time.”

I’ve always had a flare for the dramatics and for as long as I can remember, my first instinct when faced with an unknown situation was to get all worked up and try to figure out how to solve the whole problem or situation all at once. While in the end, things usually worked out how they were supposed to, it was not without some unnecessary self-induced stress.

However, that is not how the Zentangle Method works. When you sit down to begin a tile, you don’t know what the end result will be. Perhaps, you have an idea of where you want to take your tangles, but as you begin to tangle, you take things one stroke at a time. You can’t finish a tile without first putting down the first stroke, and then the second and so on. This is one of the greatest lessons that practicing the Zentangle Method gives us. It creates a path for us to take things, one stroke at a time.

When I first began working at Zentangle HQ, I came in one morning to begin processing and printing orders only to find that a clock had fallen off the wall, landing on the computer and ultimately damaging it and making it unusable. If I remember correctly, we had just released a new product, so it was a busier day that usual and my first instinct was panic. I distinctly remember though how Rick and Maria handled the situation. It was unfortunate, of course, but they very much took a one stroke at a time approach, which was calm and productive. Over the years, that small incident has stuck with me and is always a reminder to take things, one stroke at a time.

Fast forward, and my husband and I find ourselves on an exciting, new chapter of life. While we are more than thrilled, we are faced with many unknowns. Unknowns and uncertainties can lead to fear and panic if you let them, but the good news is you don’t have to. In the beginning of this journey, my husband and I began to discuss preparations and decisions we would have to make and all of sudden everything felt very overwhelming and I just wanted all of the answers all at once. That is not how life works though, so I took a deep breath and told him we were going to take this one step at a time. We looked at what decisions needed to be made first and figured out what did we need to know to begin and then focused on those things first.

We have repeatedly reminded ourselves of this mindset over the past six months and will continue to do so whenever necessary, all while being grateful for this wonderful and exciting adventure full of unknowns and opportunities.

I was inspired to write this blog before recent world events, I just had not gotten around to putting my thoughts into words yet. Given all the uncertainty in the world right now, I think these principals are important to remember. We cannot solve every problem all at once and there are going to be things out of our control, so now it is as important as ever to take things one stroke at a time. Updated May 27... Reading through this blog again, I can feel all of those feelings of excitement, anticipation, worry of the unknown, uncertainty all over again. I have a very clear memory of sitting at my dining room table writing this blog. Even then, I did know how much the “anything is possible, one stroke at a time,” mantra would become a part of me over the next two years.

Updated May 27...

At the time of writing, I was pregnant with my first child and my husband and I were planning and preparing the best that we could. That is what I do, I plan, and I prepare. My default mode is not “one stroke at a time” it is, “all the strokes, all at once.” Well, motherhood has tested all of my abilities to plan and prepare (it is very humbling in that way). For the past two years I have been forced (in the best way possible) to take things, one step at a time, one day at a time, one minute at a time. I sit down on Sunday, and I plan my week, full of work, chores, errands, exercise and such. What I can’t plan for is cleaning the crayon off the wall, the toddler tantrums (being 2 can be tough), the extra load of laundry because he will only wear that one shirt with the dinosaur on it, or a horrific tragedy that makes you just want to sit down and hold him tight and not let go.

It is in these moments that I lean on the “one stroke at a time” philosophy. I push all of the lists and plans out of my mind and focus on the moment that I am in. A feeling that is still a bit foreign to me but one that is both calming and energizing at the same time.

Yesterday I pulled out a tile and I began to tangle. I had no plan. No list of tangles to use or things to accomplish. I was not even sure I was going to finish the tile so there was no use in wondering what it would look like when it was completed. I sat, and I tangled one slow and deliberate, good for the soul, stroke at a time.

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Leave us your thoughts on taking things one stroke at a time and we will select a commenter at random to receive an “Anything is Possible…One Stroke at a time” Zentangle MantraBand.

Julie Willand


  • Julie, Thank you for the reminder I always need, especially during these times. A lot of people say, “it will only get harder.”. My response is, “one day at a time, or, one moment at a time.”. Easier said than done, but Zentangle is the best reminder of, One Step at a Time.

    Joanne Erhartic on

  • True and inspiring. Looking forward for more mind blowing ideas n thoughts

    Mahalakshmi on

  • One day at a time, one step at a time. Thank you for sharing!

    Nancy D. CZT18 on

  • Very inspiring and so true!

    MKay B B Watson CZT17 on

  • Just wanted to tell Maria I did two Mysaics, one with all tiles and one with Bijous. Received many links on FB. Great idea!

    Carol MArkel on

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