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Pulling at My Heartstrings

Pulling at My Heartstrings

Molly writes:

Does the Zentangle Method tug at our heartstrings?


The heart is a universal symbol. It transcends most all human languages. It seems to be a recognizable symbol we learn from very early age. The heart of course is full of love. It’s both gentle and powerful. It’s warm and nurturing. Its simple and expressive.

As a symbol it represents a part of the human soul. The part that fuels courage, enthusiasm, feelings, inclinations, passion, emotions, and more. Our hearts guide us to feel the things that are not physical. The word heart is also used to describe the central part of any system or the most essential part of something. We often use it to describe the most vital part of the object or group. The thing that keeps something operating or living. If you think about it, might there be a direct connection between loving and living. Do they, perhaps, need the other to survive? No matter how you look at it, the heart plays a very important role in our world.

In our very modern technology filled world we use hearts to communicate positive feelings toward someone or something. The red heart emoji is consistently one of the most used emojis in the world. The act of manually filling a heart is how we have come to share that we like or love something on many social media platforms.

One of the things I love about the Zentangle method is the community it attracts. It is by far one of the most loving groups of humans I have ever encountered. It is beyond magical to see the amazing things that happen at Zentangle classes and events. I get emotional every time I witness something beautiful or hear a new story. Our Zentangle community is supportive, nurturing, inspiring, caring, loving, and full of heart.

I regularly visit the Zentangle Mosiac App. It is a happy place for me to see amazing Zentangle art, but my favorite part about it is reading all the comments and exchanges back and forth between artists. Every word is thoughtful and full of love. The same goes on this blog and every Zentangle class I have ever been to. There is just simply no space for negativity or criticism. I find it magical how we never made that a request on the app but instead it happened naturally. Within the practice of Zentangle we learn the power of love. A Zentangle practice encourages us see the love in ourselves, our art, and other’s art just as we would in all humankind.

When I sat down to write something about heart this Valentine’s Day, I had a bit of writer’s block, so decided to tangle a bit first. I thought, why not start with a simple heart string. Not too long after the pen hit the tile did my thoughts start racing. Heartstrings, I pondered. That’s it. “To tug at one’s heartstrings,” is an idiom that Merriam Webster’s defines as: to stir one’s emotions. Heartstring itself is first defined as an actual physical nerve once thought to be attached to the human heart, but then also defined as: the deepest emotions or affections. I cannot speak for everyone, but I think perhaps that Zentangle does pull at our heartstrings.

So, if you’re up for it. Create tile with a heartstring and share the love with us using #heartstring. We would love to see it.

If you have a heart filled Zentangle story you would like to share with us please do so in the comments below. We will send a heart filled gift to one contributor, randomly chosen.

Molly Hollibaugh


  • My heart filled Zentangle story was a text message.
    A participant wrote me directly from the hospital. She had anxiety about a surprise upcoming surgery and had managed to reduce it through Zentangle. She thanked me for opening up this opportunity for her. She also thanked me for existing. That was so special to me.

    Claudia F. on

  • Zentangle soothes and nurtures my heart like nothing else does. In january I told my mother about it and showed her some of my tiles. When she reacted quite reluctantly I was a bit disappointed. Can you imagine my joy when she sent me a tangled heart as a Valentine gift? Zentangle is real magic! Thanks, Molly, for this blog! ❤️❤️

    Ulrike on

  • 요즘 하트를 많이 그리고 실험하고 있습니다. 많은 사람들이 집중하는 하트를 해체하고 싶은 마음이 있어서 하트의

    여러 각도와 종류를 실험하고 있지만 이상하게도 하트는 분해해도 주변에 또 하트가 생성되는 신비한 경험을 하고있습니다.

    Mi Kyeong Lee on

  • There were a couple of people who I thought I was close to, have really hurt me in the last few weeks. But, all those feelings get washed away with extremely loving, generous, encouraging comments from fellow Czts and tanglers. These are strangers whom I have never met or even spoken to in my life. This love simply fills my heart so much that there is no place for anything else. Very grateful for our Zentangle community 🤗

    Rashmi on

  • A story from the heart….Zentangle came into my life when pain, grief, loss was the atmosphere I breathed every day … it filled my days and nights with light, harmony, peace and hope Thanks for this post, it’s very nice!!!!

    carmela on

  • A story from the heart….Zentangle came into my life when pain, grief, loss was the atmosphere I breathed every day … it filled my days and nights with light, harmony, peace and hope Thanks for this post, it’s very nice!!!!

    carmela on

  • I am amazed at all the Veterans (PTSD unit) I have taught the last three plus years. They really tug at my heartstring every week. I have seen this Zentangle method calm the most nervous, bring out the artist in ones who thought they had no talent, and reach them in ways I never thought possible. Not only is this helping them, but it continues to teach me! We just used two grid patterns yesterday (Valentine Day). We used a heart string with ’NZeppel inside, and Flukes on the outside of the heart, with amazing results for them. Thank you Molly for your thoughtful article.

    Mary Kay Cass, C.Z.T. on

  • Today I read this blog before heading to school. Zentangle saved the day!

    Another art teacher called in sick and I was asked to teach her four classes when I finished my two … Six classes! I decided to let it be a Zentangle moment and just melt into it, calmly handing out tiles and going through the the steps with each class.

    It was a long day day, but it was worth it … Nearly 40 students tangled for the first time! It was so heartwarming, on Valentine’s Day, to share my love of tangling with new young artists. I’m never disappointed by the revelations, questions, and delight on their faces.

    Thank you for creating the Zentangle Method as a way to teach art so effectively and consistently to my students. The response had been overwhelmingly positive.

    Ann Baum on

  • Last weekend I took the youth from our church to our diocesan camp for 2days/nights. It was wonderful and exhausting – I am reminded again that I am no longer a kid chronologically (I am a huge kid in my heart❤️). While at camp, we filled a poster-sized Zentangle string heart for one of our youth who was in a horrific car accident in late October. We have all witnessed one miracle after another as she not only survived the accident but is making brave progress as she continues to recover. I delivered the poster to her yesterday and I cannot describe the beautiful smile she gave me. The kids were so tender and deliberate as they filled the heart with their love, prayers, and tangles.

    Rosemary Bogan on

  • Molly, I couldn’t agree more with you about the Zentangle community. Your reflection about the heart rings so true with all of my many life experiences. The past few years have been personally challenging for me. I haven’t posted much on Mosaic or anywhere else, for that matter. I attended the ZenAgain gathering, Zentomology, last November in Providence. I met new friends and made some real connections with several people there. I always feel at home and in a very loving, accepting, and encouraging place when I am with other CZTs. Several times descriptions were made that identified us as a family. Family has always represented “love” and “heart” to me. I feel so at home in this wonderful community I also call my family. I am so grateful to have you all. I feel that my heart has many strings that connect me to so many different people around the world thanks to my Zentangle family. I look forward to extending my strings.

    Kathy Wright-Starr/StarrSongTangler, CZT12 on

  • I found Zentangle shortly after losing my husband, and just before the loss of my son. Tangling not only helped me grieve their loss, but more importantly, it brought many new friends and fellow artists into my life. My new tangling friends wrapped me in a safety net of “heartstrings” that sustains me to this day. This web of heartstrings stretches far beyond geographical borders, transcends cultural and language barriers, defies political, religious, or ideological differences, and connects us at the most basic human level, our hearts. I tangle everyday, and will be forever grateful I responded to the “pull” of Zentangle’s heartstrings! What a difference it has made in my life!

    JessicaDykesCZT39 on

  • My heartfelt story begins with my late Mom’s friend, Anita. After my mom passed away, Anita stepped in to become a listening ear, my support and now my friend. I created and presented her with a tangled heart – she immediately smiled n said ‘I’m gonna frame this one’. Every tangle I have sent her – she has either framed or displayed in her special home areas. I’m grateful to Zentangle for giving me the opportunity to learn, live and share.

    Nanc Needler on

  • I adore Hearts ♥️. I even included one in the “Chop” I sign my ZIA with.
    Thank you Mollie for your thoughtful Valentine Blog. Christi Marie

    Christi G-CZT on

  • Eyes opened! Hearts DO appear hiding in many of my tangles…totally unintended at the time. Today all my tangles will either be or contain hearts! Thanks for a wonderful post.

    Viv on

  • For last Valentine’s Day I took a “self love” class for a group of ladies who created a heart stringed tangle and added their own initials in embedded letters. Many of them were mothers of young kids and they were making time for themselves after a long time! I could see the self love flowing through their tiles 🥰

    Suchitra Komandur on

  • I have many wonderful and happy memories, and I love celebrating the day now with my grand daughters. I am gradually getting them interested in learning how Zentangle is a fun way express their feelings and a way to fill some quiet time. But this day, my heart is full of sadness and goes out to the parents and families who have been affected by the tragedy in Michigan. My hearts for the day represent my love for my wonderful family, friends, who mean so much to me, but also for the children in Michigan.

    Carolina on

  • For me, Zentangle both pulls and loosens my heart strings. It is the calm that comes with tangling that I love. ❤️

    Jane on

  • Zentangle makes my ♥️ sing! Thank you Molly for your thoughtful words. ♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

    Ginny Sones on

  • Thank you for this blog. It’s always tender, inspiring, and appreciated, especially today. It was like getting a Valentine!

    Happy Valentine’s Day to all my sister and brother tanglers, wherever life finds you today, from the depths of my heart to the beauty in your creation of your art. Love and Zentangle are synonymous!

    Anna Vermillion-Hoss on

  • Heart-styled strings are often found in my tiles. Sometimes you may need to ponder it for a minute, but you’ll see them. I often do cards for family or friends, a reminder of how they are part of my heart! “Hear” is part of heart, and I listen closely to those feelings of belonging to our Zentangle community. My dad passed long before I became a Zentangler, but I know he would be happy to see me thriving like this.

    Ginger White CZT 34 on

  • When my little 96 year old mom died this past fall, I found among her things a Tangled Valentine I’d made her with a heartstring. It made my heartstring sing.

    Molly Siddoway King, CZT on

  • Once I teached a 2. grade school class ( 7 years old) and it happend that the lessons were in April and May. So I told the children to draw a heartstring of their own and tangle insinde of it. Afterwards they cut it out and glued them on top of a slightly bigger heart of red paper. All of the hearts were so wonderful as the children had put their own full hearts into their works .Afterwards they gave them away to their moms as a mothersday gift. It was so much fun.

    Martina Fegeler CZT -EU6 on

  • Zentangle definitely pulls at my Heart strings! I can no longer imagine what my life would be without drawing tangles. I draw daily…It came to me at a rough time and lifted me up, still does. LOVE Zentangle.

    Dianne on

  • Always make my family & friend’s Valentines’s cards ❤️ . They love receiving my art work on the day we celebrate LOVE , friendship, and everything good on earth ….especially chocolate!

    Penny on

  • Valentine’s Day it was always a special day for me, it was my dad‘s birthday! He would’ve been 103 years old today. My mom had a heart shaped cake pan, and always made my dad a two layer birthday cake filled with banana slices and dark chocolate frosting. Such a beautiful memory. My valentine memories.

    Zentangle memories: The first time I used a heart string was when I tried to fill it with N’zeppel and I loved it. Especially like it with white gellyroll pen on a red valentine card envelope for my husband. I also like to fill the hard string with Tipple and Scena! Whatever you fill, your heart string with, do it with love!

    Mary Illana Perrin CZT on

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