Variant Title has been added to your shopping cart.    View Cart   or   Checkout Now


Molly writes...

I was driven into thought by my Mom’s recent blog post about childhood play. I ponder the value of play quite often. I have small children and I am enamored and warmed by their practice of constant play. I recently attended a lecture by the author Peter Gray and was very much inspired by his work illuminating the power of play for children. And while I continue to agree passionately with the importance of “play” during childhood, my thoughts today are concerned with us grown up folks.   
I looked up the definition of play in the dictionary and found it defined as: to engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.
What happens when we grow up? Why do we lose sight of the doing of things just for the sake of contentment? We are driven by society to have a reason, a purpose, or a validation for everything we do. There is this overwhelming assumption that everything we do should be for advancement or to get a certificate or have a practical application. We have lost sight of having things in our lives that we do just because …
I believe this is where I found my connection to the Zentangle Method. That place of “connection” for each of us that practices the Zentangle Method is different. I have heard so many stories and they all inspire me. For me, my connection was about rediscovering something I had lost.
I have been an artist as far as my memory serves. It came easy to me. It has always been my happy place. I love art. I love crafts. I love to make stuff. I went to art school. That was a dream come true. And while art school was amazing there was a shift that happened while I was there. All of my creations became assignments. They were all graded and put through a series of critiques.  There was always a question of why I did this or how would I market it or what is its function or what is the meaning behind this? It was challenging and exhausting. I thrived and stood to the challenge.

Over time, I lost sight of making things just for the fun of it. Just for the pure enjoyment of creating. I was programed to judge and examine everything. After school I continued with art as a profession and it was wonderful but there was something missing … something I had not realized I lost. A few years later Zentangle appeared in my life. I did not get it at first. As someone who had spent endless hours of my life drawing, I struggled with it at first. It wasn’t until I was able to completely let go of all the questioning and judgment that I was able to sink into my practice. I realized that it didn’t matter how long it took, what the end result was going to be, if anyone else liked it, what the deeper meaning of the composition was, or if I could sell it. I started to see that it was “drawing for drawing’s sake” and that it was for the pure enjoyment of it. It was playtime. It was “me” time. And it was then that I found that thing that I had lost. I had rediscovered that love for creating things just for the pure enjoyment of it.

I love the phrase, “labor of love”. It really does take work and effort to do these acts. It takes courage to make these things a priority in our busy lives. Once we set that time aside and put value on the importance of them, these acts that we are so connected and attracted to are done so with love. That love seems to change the work part into something that we enjoy. A practice that truly nurtures our well-being.
It’s kind of funny because later on Zentangle became my job. How was I to preserve my “playtime” and keep it separate from my work? So far I have managed pretty well. My Zentangle practice is still sacred and remains to be one of my most accessible playtime activities.
I put value on the time that my children need for unstructured play, daydreaming and whatever else their hearts are seeking. And I know now that I too need specified time to play. It calms and nourishes my being.
Whether it is gardening, baking, crosswords, fishing, swimming, hiking, needlepoint or Zentangle, I encourage you to take joy in your playtime. Wallow in these things for the sake of the doing and the pure enjoyment. Let go of needing to define, measure or answer to any of the specifics and get comfortable in the “just because”. Remind yourself the next time you say, “I don’t have the time” … that you, too, need playtime.


Subscribe to our blog and never miss a post!



  • I have recently started to use Zentangle to get away. Tune in and turn off.

    I am not even “good” compared to all of the wonderful examples I see. But I
    love being engaged for the “fun” of it.
    I also have made paper beads for bracelets, just because I LOVE the doing of
    the craft. Color, cut, roll, glue etc. Never knowing exactly how a bead or bracelet
    will turn out. LOVE that and then I mostly give the bracelets away. And THAT is
    the real satisfaction. The wonder and amazement observed by others on how
    I have the patience and persistence to make these treasures. Now I want to come
    to this new interest and get to the total enjoyment of doing Zenangle. Think it will
    come but take time to get there. I’m fine with that.

    Barbara on

  • A good reminder to us all to spend some time playing, whatever that is! I need a bit more of this in my life so this is a timely post for me.

    Kate Ahrens CZT IX on

  • Thanks Molly for the depth of meaning that you have shared. When I had this realization the words to describe it did not come to me but the beauty and depth of meaning that we all have come to realize through Zentangle permeates our lives and beliefs allowing us to accept and appreciate our own unique artistic talents and those of others without judgement making us better people in other ways as well. This tiny little technique is pretty powerful, IMHO.

    Kathy young on

  • What a lovely and timely post. THANK YOU.

    Devin on

  • I love my play time. It’s ‘me time’ and it is something I find time for every day. ‘Me time’ is so important for my mental health. When I first found Zentangle and started giving myself ‘me time’ that critical voice inside always kept nagging about all the things that I should be doing. Over time, and my Zentangle practice, that voice has now quieted.

    Lianne on

  • Such a delight to read this post and all the comments following what a beautiful zentangle community we have in each other 😘😊

    christine maskaly on

  • I think everyone should read this post. You put into words exactly how I (and probably many people) feel about Zentangle. What it means, how it feels and mostly how it makes me feel when I’m drawing. My mom often asks me what I do with all of the tiles I draw. That I should ‘do’ something with them. I try to explain to her it isn’t what I do with the tiles, it’s what they do to me. Brilliant Molly..thank you.

    Jody Genovese on

  • How true this post is. I’ve arrived at this same revelation, but in another way. Creating had become all consuming for me, I was into everything. I was wanting to try every type of activity, do it well and then Blog about it. All I did was spread myself so thin that I began to focus on my weaknesses in so many of these areas. Someone prayed for me a few weeks ago and in it, the Lord said to me to look at my strengths. And since then I have. I’ve come back to where I truly enjoy creating, zentangling. Now that i’m creating out of enjoyment, I feel like my creative neutrons are on fire! It’s so good for us to create for enjoyment sake, or in your words, to play, verses getting caught up in the never ending achievement mindset.

    Chrissie on

  • I, too, like the idea of having play time. And Zentangle can provide some quality play for an adult. But I also love the meditative aspect of the Zentangle method. When you combine both aspects, it becomes dynamic and fulfilling. I am very grateful to Maria, Rick, and now others who have taken leadership roles in their fervor to introduce these concepts and methodologies to the world!

    Paula Schneider on

  • It was GREAT reading thru your post, Molly. ‘activity for enjoyment’ indeed! I cannot find/express how much I appreciate belonging with this group of like-minded artists who tangle, play, ‘do’ — for the fun of it ; )

    Lelia on

  • Molly, another well-timed post! Like several others, I get questioned about my Zentangle practice. In my work life the world was about specific boundaries and rules to follow. Zentangle is so different from that; it frees my mind and brings me peace. We all need the freedom and the play that Zentangle can brings to us. And like others, I have been way too critical of my tiles, courtesy of left brain activity. A natural left-hander, I need to just let that right brain have its way!

    Ginger White on

  • I love this post, Molly! Yes … playtime … tangle time … they mean the same to me now. At 65, I am still directed, by default, by my father’s frequent admonition to work first, play later. Zentangle came into my life about 6 years ago and began to whisper, “Work is never done! Play now. Work later.” I am so much happier now that I’ve acknowledged the truth of that whisper! Teaching the Zentangle Method for the last 5 years has allowed me to share my revelation with almost 200 people. Noticing each student’s gradual acceptance of the value of play time brings me such joy! And now I have a wonderful group of playmates (my Zentangle Club) who enrich my life as much as they tell me I’ve enriched theirs. ❤

    Jan Brandt, CZT 12 on

  • Beautifully written post that resonates. I’m typically asked: “What are you going to do with your Zentangles? Sell them or make practical things?” The value that this practice serves as play, as well as mindful relaxation, is entirely missed by many. Additionally, tangling is simply just for me, a gift to myself which IS purpose in and of itself.

    deb, CZT23 on

  • Wonderful post Molly. Whenever I see someone worrying, doubting or self-criticising their Zentangle work I remind them of the important of fun and play. These tiles gives us the space to let go of so much baggage. We can free ourselves from expectation, from meaning – we can get messy (even just a little bit of graphite on the finger!), we can suspend interpretation – all of which somehow inevitably seems to unlock my imagination and let me leave the tile a little lighter and more inspired than when I arrived.

    Jem Miller on

  • I related to your mum’s post and to this one. My mum was a potter and we always had art in our home. We sold our little macrame owl necklaces and little paintings, along side her pottery at craft shows, when we we’re very young. Fortunately, I didn’t get my degree in art, I got it in something else. Art has always been fun in my life. But I never wanted to teach until I discovered Zentangle. It translates all of that fun I already knew into a teaching method that guarantees every student I teach will catch that fever to create. I can’t say enough good things about it or the joy I get seeing others feeling happy about what they’ve done. I can draw anything, been doing it for 60 years. And it makes me proud. But teaching someone else that they can draw? Wow! That’s real joy! I never would have found that kind of happiness and pride without Zentangle. I thank you for that.

    MKay B B Watson CZT17 on

  • So true! Wonderful blog that I can convey to my future students! 🍀

    Henriëtte Robben on

  • Amen! and amen!

    Amy Gill on

  • Loved reading this today. I Zentangle at least 5 days a week. This gives me play time just for me and keeps me balanced & centered. My partner has triplet grandsons (7 in March) They tangle with me. One if them really loves it more than the others. I love seeing what they create. They love saying “there are no mistakes in Zentangles” I so love this practice!

    Wendy Irene Ingham on

  • Loved reading this today. I Zentangle at least 5 days a week. This gives me play time just for me and keeps me balanced & centered. My partner has triplet grandsons (7 in March) They tangle with me. One if them really loves it more than the others. I love seeing what they create. They love saying “there are no mistakes in Zentangles” I so love this practice!

    Wendy Irene Ingham on

  • YES!!!!

    Sandy Kelley-Jones on

  • Molly, I definitely consider Zentangle as play. When I was working a corporate job as a computer programmer (creative) I would get a new assignment and say to my manager, “Ok, I’ll go play with this.” Because I enjoyed my work so much. But he told me, “Don’t let anyone hear you say that. They won’t value you.” I didn’t agree, but I did stop saying it at work. Now I’m retired from the corporate world and teach about 7 yoga classes a week. At the end of some of the classes I say “Thank you for playing yoga with me.” I recently became a CZT and have taught 2 Zentangle classes and feel the same way, we play Zentangle together.

    Mary Lou Minard, CZT on

  • Wonderful post, Molly! When I first started with Zentangle, people who I shared my drawings with always asked What’s it for? What are you going to do with it? They didn’t understand, and some still don’t, that this is just something for me…it doesn’t need to be something or do something for anyone else. It does something for me! It’s my form of play and I look forward to it’s every day!

    Sandy on

  • A few weekends ago I visited my grandnephew. We sat at the bottom of the stairs and colored for a long time. It was such a joy to “just color” —no rhyme or reason or color choice. This is what I found in Zentangle — a joy to not plan and still create a beautiful work of art. It fills my soul with peace!

    Beth on

  • This brings to mind a favorite saying: We are human beings, not human doings.

    When I lose myself in tangling I am being me, not trying to meet thhe expectations of others. Thank you Molly for the reminder.

    Donna Dastrup on

  • Molly, I love this idea of getting back to play time and creating art or doing something fun for the sake of the doing and the pure enjoyment of doing it! It just makes us feel so much better. :)

    Heather Jackson on

Leave a comment