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Slowing Down

Slowing Down

Julie writes...

Over the past few weeks, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on everything that is going on right now in the world. Reflecting on this new “normal” that has no end in sight (although I know it is coming!). I will admit, in the beginning, it was difficult. I found the uncertainty of it all a bit overwhelming. I wanted an end date to jot down in my planner that I could hurry up and get to.
I knew this mindset wasn’t one that I could sustain. I instead looked for all the opportunities in this unsavory situation (re: No Mistakes!). At first, I decided to fill my time with more things – more reading, more tangling, more baking, more projects. I vowed to "catch up" on everything that I didn't have "enough time" for previously. After a while though, I realized I didn’t need to fill every minute of every day with an activity. As my husband and I settled in to our new “routine,” I started to slow down quite a bit. The more I slowed down, the calmer I became.  I found that all along it was not more time that I needed, it was less tasks and commitments.
Have you ever been rushed to finish a Zentangle tile? Maybe you were in a class that wasn’t quite long enough, or you thought you had more time when you sat down to tangle and all of a sudden you need to run an errand or be somewhere. When you are rushing through a tile, you miss some of the small parts of your practice that really make it whole. When you were finished, how did you feel? Were your strokes deliberate? Did you stop to breathe? To appreciate? Are you calm and relaxed or rushing on to the next thing?
During this time when I have been given the opportunity to slow down, I have pondered what I will take away from all of this. What will my new “normal” be when everything goes back to “normal.” I was collecting my thoughts to write a blog centered about the bijouism “Slow Down,” when I realized I already wrote about that last November. I realized though that I’ve learned a lot about slowing down since then. I’ve learned that slowing down has less to do with time and more to do with capacity.
When faced with more time, you don’t necessarily have to fill it with more things. Whether you have 20 minutes to tangle or two hours to tangle, your tile is still only a 3.5” inch square piece of paper. Instead, take the time to enjoy each deliberate stroke. To breathe. To appreciate. To enjoy the shading, to fill your tile with just the right amount of tangles to leave you calm, relaxed and centered.
A few days ago, we had a warm(ish) spring day with lots of sunshine. In the midst of all I wanted to get done that day, I said to myself “Oh! I have the time to go do some yoga outside.” I grabbed my mat and headed to my back deck. I rolled it out and began my practice. It was only a minute or two though before I found myself laying back on my mat, sun shining in my face, completely still for about 15 minutes. I listened to the bird’s chirp and the ducks swim in the reservoir that meets my yard. I noticed how quiet the sky was. I love near a small regional airport and the flight path goes directly over my house. I don’t tend to notice the planes anymore, but that day I noticed they weren’t there.
What I realized in that moment, and what I will take away from this entire experience, is that although I had the time to do yoga and I enjoy doing yoga, in that moment I didn’t have the capacity to do yoga. We often say that leaving some blank spaces on your tile actually makes it complete. Just because the space is there, does not mean we have to fill it.
Whether you are tangling or baking to cleaning, or simply laying in the sunshine, remember the wise words of Bijou – Slow down, appreciate, deliberate strokes, enjoy the shade (or sunshine)…

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Thank you to everyone who commented on Anu Singh's family tree blog. We have randomly selected Kim G. to receive a new "No Mistakes" tool pouch!

We also randomly selected 4 more commenters from Rick's blog, Passion Gratitude and Family, to receive a print of the stained glass window:

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Julie Willand


  • What a great post. Thank you for sharing. We don’t have to fill every moment of our day. I’ve noticed more birds, and flowers on my daily walks. I’ve noticed the quiet – and it takes me back to 30 years ago when my little town truly was a little town. That part has been quite lovely.

    Gail Jarrard on

  • And lying there, taking in nature and resting is still a form of Yoga – the only form I have yet tried – it is Yoga Nidra, a resting yoga 💖🙏💕

    Heather on

  • I said to my family, “Rest, Relax, Recuperate”. That’s what Zentangle brings to me!

    Catherine Gisby on

  • Thank You! I need to enter into this time with calm and appreciation for THIS moment! Return to the joy and peace of a Zentangle moment! This invitation to return is what I needed! Namaste!

    Grace Sbrissa on

  • I came in from the back yard where I was doing stretches and pondering the beautiful white fluffy clouds floating across the intensely blue Arizona sky to read this blog…I had also stopped stretching to just enjoy the calm in the sky, finding fun shapes in the clouds. Glad to know I was in good company with others slowing down.

    Cherie Scott on

  • Julie, thank you so much for your reminder to slow down. We are now in a situation where we need to slow down. We don’t have to get everything done today. This was such a good reminder for me. I have been spending much more time tangling again. It has been a while since I really have been creative. You have given me permission to do so.

    Joyce on

  • Julie this is beautifully written and reflects my thoughts exactly. I’ve learned to slow down and savor the zen. I struggled with this before and had trouble turning my thoughts off while tangling. I’m now finding myself able to focus on each stroke and just get swallowed up in the process. A silver lining during this tough time.

    Betty CArd on

  • Thank you Julie for your reflection. The words you spoke have such depth and I am challenged to use them wisely. I have found an answer I was looking for in your words. Yes slowing down ironically can reduce my worry and anxiety. It takes me to a place where I am more true to who I really am. I appreciate the slowing down because in that space I learn that I’m not alone. Slowing down and leaving space in my tiles helps me remember to leave spaces in my own life for the unexpected, the surprises and the blessings. Thank you for your inspiration!

    Martha Fauteux on

  • Thank you Julie for your words! I’ll bring them with me into this day!😍💗💗

    Anita A Westin on

  • Thanks Julie for your gift of insight. In the beginning days of self isolation, I was all busy busy. Cleaning kitchen cupboards, deep cleaning bathrooms etc. Then all of a sudden I realized that instead of doing, I should be appreciating my new found time to relax, to Zentangle, create, pet the dogs and walk the dogs, just to sit back and appreciate life in the moment and just be. May you all stay safe, healthy and appreciate the moment!!

    Carol R. on

  • Julie, thank you for a very calming message. I know that, just reading it now, I am more relaxed. Thank you

    Deborah Davis on

  • I appreciate these thoughts. It’s very freeing to not feel rushed or a sense of urgency. We are likely all reinventing ourselves and re evaluating our purpose here through this experience. How exciting!

    Marjorie on

  • Dear Julie – you are always so in touch with the moment it gives us many ways to identify and connect. Thank you for sharing!

    Mary Ellen Ziegler on

  • Always good to hear soothing words in an anxiety -filled time in our lives.

    the Up and Down of this has us all reeling. Worry, isolation, and even anger all enter into it. We feel liked we have been robbed. It is good to be reminded that we CAN do this and we can even learn from it. Thanks for reminding us.

    Ginny Stiles on

  • Thank youfor your wonderful thoughts about capacity. My friends and I are usually very active. We have many projects going at any given moment. Even though we all of a sudden have more time to do it, we found we weren’t doing it. With the stress of COVID-19 our capacity is lower. We have all agreed that that’s OK. We know we will get back to it when we’re ready when we have lower the stress level from red alert.

    LIsa HOesing on

  • I’m a “young” retired person and finally I have found more comfort. Finally there is no more rush of stress but when I’m"busy" it is very difficult to put my pen down. So I still have to learn to slow down, thanks for remember me!

    Ria Joris-Matheussen on

  • the quiet and calm both inside and out is the silver lining

    Susan Goodman on

  • Slowing down and looking for balance are so important. The other day, I replied to a comment on a Facebook page for Zentanglers. The post was from someone new to Zentangle, who posted a photo of her tile and asked whether it was too “crowded.” I replied that on some days I felt like filling the tile and on other days not so much – and that her tile looked great. I’ve found that I need to stay aware of where my body and mind and spirit are and follow. The only way I can do that is by slowing down. Thanks, Julie and Bijou.

    Peyton on

  • Slowing down and looking for balance are so important. The other day, I replied to a comment on a Facebook page for Zentanglers. The post was from someone new to Zentangle, who posted a photo of her tile and asked whether it was too “crowded.” I replied that on some days I felt like filling the tile and on other days not so much – and that her tile looked great. I’ve found that I need to stay aware of where my body and mind and spirit are and follow. The only way I can do that is by slowing down. Thanks, Julie and Bijou.

    Peyton on

  • Julie this was so beautifully written. So wise and so true. Thank you for making me look at this in ways I have and ways I haven’t.

    Jody Genovese on

  • Thank you Julie! What wise words! I relate to your whole post completely. You nailed it for me when you said you had the time but not the capacity. This happens to me often and Im usually feeling guilty about it. Now I think I will just go with whatever the moment is calling me to and let my capacity renew itself. What a precious opportunity this crazy time is to reflect, learn and grow. Zentangle is my happy place and Im so glad I found it 12 months ago and have it to go to at the moment.

    Liz Gatehouse on

  • Thank you for sharing your thoughts which really resonate with me. When the lockdown started my first thoughts were ‘now, finally I can get all those things done that I never have time to do’ but, 10 days in, I have realised that even if we were in lockdown for a year (please no!) many of those things will still be waiting to be done! You are right it is not only about time, but capacity – you need motivation and energy too. I think my body has spent the last 10 days unwinding after a busy period at work and just trying to process the enormity of everything that is happening in the world right now. I know I need to let go of the idea of my perfect lockdown life (clean and tidy house, online seminars/lessons, tangling every day, yoga every day etc) and just go with the flow

    Gloria King on

  • I like Valerie Hayes’ comments. So perfect.

    Wendy Beak on

  • I find myself in a somewhat weird situation… most people are trying to fill their time, and there are all these cool things being offered all over the internet and….but, I am considered an essential personnel so I don’t have all of the extra time to fill and even find myself trying to cram extra things into my day because they are only available for 24 hours (like the instragram live lessons coming out of Spain). I’m finally just realizing that I can’t do everything I would like to do and taking the time for a deep breathe is sometimes better than ‘accomplishing’ something. We are all having to meet this challenge of the new normal and we each just need to find our own new normal 😎

    Jeanie ‘JJ’ James CZT25 on

  • Julie, your insight is wonderful; thank you for taking the time to share your reflections. Your statement, “Just because the space is empty doesn’t mean you have to fill it,” resonates. Often, it seems, we miss the saving grace of “now.”

    Jane Rhea

    Jane Rhea on

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