Variant Title has been added to your shopping cart.    View Cart   or   Checkout Now
Slow Down... You're Doing Fine

Slow Down... You're Doing Fine

“Slow down, you're doin' fine You can't be everything you wanna be before your time” -Billy Joel

The season of life I am currently in does not allow for much “down time” and it had been a few months since I had time to pick up a micron and put pen to paper. Leading up to our recent seminar (Congrats CZT 41!), I knew I needed to dust off my tangling tools. Thankfully, it was like riding a bike. My strokes were a bit wobbly at first, but after a few minutes, it was like spending time with an old friend.

As many tanglers know, once you start, it is hard to stop. Over the past few weeks, I have had bursts of inspiration and creativity inside my head, but I still do not have a lot of time to tangle. When I did get a moment to draw, I would begin to tangle very quickly. I wanted to get the idea inside my head on paper as quickly as possible while I had the chance. Of course, in all my haste, my ideas were not quite making it to paper like I envisioned. That is when I heard our dear friend Bijou inside my head. Slow downDeliberate strokesBreathe

I decided I was no longer going to rush. I would slow down and be deliberate about my strokes. This meant that sometimes I worked on the same tile over the course of a few days, sneaking in some tangles here and there throughout my day.

Here are a few things I learned from slowing down…..

  1. Perspective. I have not had the chance to sit down and finish a tile in one sitting. This means that I am tangling a bit, walking away, and returning later. Sometimes this is an hour later, sometimes this is two days later. During that time, my perspective sometimes changed. Had I finished the tile in one sitting, I may have continued the path that I originally set out on, but by walking away and returning later, I opened myself up to new ideas and opportunities.

  2. Be deliberate. It sounds a little bit like an oxymoron, but I realized that with less time, I needed to slow down and be deliberate. I had to make each stroke of the pen count. Instead of rushing to tangle as much as I could, I drew each line and orb with intention. I was able to enjoy the process much more by going slowly, deliberately, savoring each line at a time.

  3. It really is about the journey. When I first started, I was so focused on finishing the idea that was in my head. When I slowed down, my focus changed to the physical, mental, and emotional act of tangling and I was not as concerned about what the finished tile would look like (if I finished). The journey is about each of those small moments of tangling filling my cup.

I came to these realizations and then had a moment when I thought to myself, “Duh, Julie.” I am a CZT, a member of the Zentangle team at Zentangle HQ, and have been tangling for more than half of my life and the philosophies of the Zentangle Method are not new to me. Sometimes though, we all need a little reminder (thanks, Bijou).

Julie Willand


  • May I send you a photo? It’s a zentangle tool I bought years ago… pencil shape.. 4" long and 4/5" wide.. it is HEAVY. It’s likely related to shading… Thanks.

    Missy Canada on

  • Julie, your thoughts are exactly what I need to hear from time to time. By the way, Bijou is a pretty smart guy😊. I try to remember his thoughts too. Thanks for a great post.

    Brenda Shaver CZT 8. Ontario, Canada

    Brenda Shaver on

  • Quisiéramos ver nuestros enredos, que siempre son hermosos, terminados en el menor tiempo posible. Pero no debe ser así, porque no lo saboreamos, no los analizamos, no lo disfrutamos tanto. Yo sigo el ejemplo de Rick en los videos que nos ofrece. Cómo su trazo es lento y seguro, cada línea tiene un inicio y un final en una idea preconcebida. Sin afán, me tomo el tiempo destinado para mi y lo disfruto al máximo cuando veo mi enredo terminado, así sea un día después. Inclusive los errores se mimetizan como por arte de magia! Amo el Zentangle, me hace felíz, admiro, sigo y aprendo más cada día de colegas maravillosos.

    Elsa Dueñas CZT26 on

  • Timely…

    Theresa C. on

  • I do quick sketches of my ideas. Sometimes I draw it more fully later, sometimes the idea stays just that. Maybe I’ve lost interest, or changed my mind. Slowing down is a part of expressing ideas.

    Lisa Hoesing on

  • What has worked for me is to leave a tile that I feel isn’t yet complete on my desk. As I look at it over time I see ways to add to it until I’m satisfied with what I’ve created. It’s like taking the time to let the tile “speak to me” in a co-creative process. Often times…Magic can happen this way.

    Christi Guymon on

  • I love it, Julie.


    Heidi on

  • What a pleasant Idea, Thinking process of selfworking.Some time I started tangle in hurry mood and stroks not as expected and at this stage I Stop working and thinking for some period (may be some months) and after that Slow Down I found correct working flow, lines, Stroke!

    Prakash Deshpande on

  • What a pleasant Idea, Thinking process of selfworking.Some time I started tangle in hurry mood and stroks not as expected and at this stage I Stop working and thinking for some period (may be some months) and after that Slow Down I found correct working flow, lines, Stroke!

    Prakash Deshpande on

  • I am in agreement with all you wrote. To me – it IS the journey. What tangle will surprise me next – will I change it just a bit or will familiar muscle memory take over. My favorite event during tangling is when I find myself smiling. I even tangled virtually and had fun (once I learned the system). My journey – I continue to learn, to try to keep practicing my craft and to keep my eyes, perspective and heart open.

    Nancy n on

  • Julie, great blog and timely for me. Was teaching today, only the second session with this new student and I used almost these exact words! She was delighted once she relaxed and I felt myself improving my strokes by slowing down too. Win, win!

    PamS on

  • Such a great reminder to slow down and enjoy the moment you are in. Enjoy what you can and not what you cannot. Enjoy this special time with your babies, they grow so quickly, zentangle is not going anywhere

    Ros Badcock on

  • Slowing down is frequently a challenge for me. After way too many years in a fast-moving, stressful job I either go total sloth mode or scurry around getting things done. I often have to listen to Bijou too! Sometimes I contentedly tangle away a day at a leisurely pace and other times I have to deliberately stop that gradual speeding up. I don’t notice it at first but eventually I catch on that my lines are getting wonky because I’m going too fast. It usually means my mind is wandering… which it does when I lose focus. I’m considering hanging my little Bijou sayings off my dining room light so they catch my eye and remind me over and over and over. I should have bought that mobile with clips when I took my CZT training. It would have been perfect! Thanks for you post and I hope you and yours enjoy your quiet times.

    Holly C on

  • Way to keep it real, Julie! Great reminder! 😘❤️❤️❤️

    Sandy Kelley-Jones CZT on

  • This is just what I need to hear today. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

    Donna L. on

  • Thank You Julie, for sharing your experience. You are very inspirational.

    This morning, while I was working on day 17 of Inktober Tangles, (following @bbl.tangles) my wife jokingly said that I was running with a group of “Zenners”.
    I like the label. It makes me laugh.
    Zen On!

    Becky Smith on

  • Dear Julie,

    this is so true! Sometimes I haven’t got that much tangling time either. Just enough for a few orbs or something like that. So it is perhaps one tile while others do many, but it is my journey and my tile.

    Enjoy every single stroke!

    Cornelia Spevak on

  • Thank you, Julie. Slowing down seems to be one of the most common challenges I hear from people when I share the Zentangle process. I believe this aspect alone makes Zentangle a gift to so many as a way into awareness of and learning how to slow down in daily life!

    Diane Harpster on

  • Hey Julie,

    It’s always such a pleasure to hear from you. I was reminded that this is Inktober so I brought out my kit and Z Journal and began a spread. I find that I’m in my happy place each day and look forward to my slow, peaceful tangling.
    Much love, K. CZT22

    Kathy Y. on

  • Hey Julie, I can relate to your dilemma. Sometimes I get so busy, several days go by without my making the time to create art. The song that popped into my head when I saw the title of your post was the first line of Paul Simon’s “59th Street Bridge Song (feeling groovy…),” which really dates me, I guess. It goes something like this:

    “Slow down, you move too fast, you’ve got to make the morning last…” The lyrics and melody evoke the feeling I remember as a kid without a care in the world, just enjoying the morning, the world, the endless opportunities to be found… and “feeling groovy!” Well, you get the picture…! I just want to say “thanks for the memories!” I’ll carry your inspiration with me the rest of my day and try to share my groovy feeling with everyone I meet!❤

    Jessica L Dykes CZT39 on

  • Wonderful blog Julie. Thank you so much.😊

    Kathy Mcmurtry on

  • Julie, thank you for your thoughts! I happened across a tile that was unfinished….I’m not sure when I started it. I know it was years ago. Something must have happened as I was tangling. I put it aside thinking I would just pitch it, but now I’m thinking differently. Who knows what will appear when I finish it. Thanks for the inspiration and sharing the fact that life can run away uncontrollable—unless we slow down. Thank you for sharing.

    Peggy Robinson, CZT41 on

  • It’s funny how going slowly can actually be faster. This can be proven in traffic … one steady speed and you will hit all the green lights and arrive safe and relaxed. Tangling is the same. Each tile is like a short trip, approach it with confidence, knowing you have the Zentangle Method as your map to wherever it takes you. Thanks Julie.

    Ann Baum on

  • Amen! That’s how I finally found my way into ricks paradox! Slowing down – focus – slowing even more so my mind and eyes could catch up! Took me months of trying – I’m making progress in slowing down! With gratitude!

    MaryEllen Ziegler on

  • Such a powerful reminder to us all! I think we can all relate. I especially appreciate number 1. Until a couple years back, I always finished my tile in one sitting. I couldn’t imagine doing otherwise. But life happened, and I had to give my neck and wrist more breaks. The perspective had time to appear and do its magic.


Leave a comment