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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!

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Julie Willand


  • Julie, that’s just what I needed to hear this morning. I completed the tile while watching a Instagram live with Alicia G. Rey CZT from Madrid, Spain. Although she gave us time to appreciate, everything was in Spanish. I don’t remember very much of my Spanish, so I had to imagine what she was saying. I did find myself rushing a little at the end to complete the tile with her. I then realized, after I had posted it that I rushed. I Zentangle is all about the process! I do so enjoy taking time creating my own Tangela day calendar pages, which I never rushed. I feel the lesson from Spain today was more of an event. She had 1552 followers on the Instagram live today I was just so thrilled to be a part of it. However, I do usually take my time when drying any of my tiles or pages! thanks again for the message.

    Mary Illana Perrin CZT 32 on

  • Thank you Julie for such beautiful , right on thoughts. I have been on that same let’s get lots of stuff done since I have the time and although I have worked on projects I wanted to, I am finding the joy of creating rather than focused on finishing! Happy Spring!

    Betsy Smith on

  • With the distance learning with my school students this is a good thing for me to remember! Thanks for reminding me!

    Kate Ahrens on

  • Thank you Julie!

    Della on

  • Oh how I wish I could sit on the deck and just listen to the birds and feel the sun. It’s still full on winter here. But soon. That’s what is keeping my hopes up – knowing I can get out on that deck soon. In the meantime I am tangling, breathing and being deliberate. I’m getting better at not feeling like I have to fill each moment of each day with something. Enjoy these last weeks of your pregnancy and the time to do nothing.

    Deborah Bowyer on

  • I loved the energy of your words. Energ that is slowed down. It reminded me of the song featuring Willy Nelson – Still is Still Moving to Me.


  • Julie, thank you for your blog on slowing down… was just what I needed to hear at this moment in time.

    The 15 min in the sun with the birds and no planes made me realize that is exactly what I need to do. Take
    15 minutes in the sun. Again, thank you for that reminder! Theresa

    Theresa on

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