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The Golden Rule

The Golden Rule

Julie writes...

At some point, we have all probably heard The Golden Rule (not to be confused with the Golden Ratio, which is Ricks area of expertise, not mine): treat others as you would like to be treated.

I think that the past few years have really showed us how important it is to follow the Golden Rule. In times of uncertainty, grief, or hardship, a little kindness, patience, and compassion go a long way. Whether it is with your family and friends, or a stranger at the grocery store – we should all be striving to treat others as we want to be treated.

I would even argue that we need to treat ourselves as we would like to be treated. If you had to reread that sentence because it sounded a little awkward, I get it, but hear me out.

What would happen if we used the same kindness and compassion with ourselves that we used with those we love? I think we would find that it makes a huge difference. When I am being particularly hard on myself, I like to pause and ask myself if I would be this critical with my sister or my friend. Most often, I would not, and I choose to give myself a little grace.

What would happen if we admire and appreciate our own artwork the way we admire and appreciate others?

I was having a conversation the other day with a friend, and they said (and I am paraphrasing), “I should tangle more, but I am not good at it.” I told her, “The first step is to stop telling yourself that you are not good at it.” If you tell yourself you are not good at something enough, you will probably start to believe yourself.

I have been thinking about this exchange a lot. We can be our own worst critics and it can really take a toll on our Zentangle practice if we let it. The constant negative self-talk, the criticism, the doubt, and comparison can rob of us of the joy of creativity.

Next time you finish a tile, look at it as if you were looking at a friend’s tile. Ask yourself if you would give them a hard time about a wonky or out of place line. You probably would not even notice those so called “imperfections.” Instead, you may see everything that you love about the tile and how each line interacts with the next, creating a tangled masterpiece.

If you tell yourself your artwork is beautiful enough, you may just start to believe yourself.

Julie Willand


  • It remains a ‘thing’ to self appreciate. I find myself too often in wuauw for anybody elses Zentangle art. And when somebody is in wuauw for mine I look at them to see whether they really mean it 🌞

    Karin Godyns on

  • I appreciate your thoughtful post, Julie! Comparanoia is the artist’s Achilles heel. Tangling is about process, not product. Go forth and tangle!

    Jenny Perruzzi on

  • So much of our culture emphasizes conformity and thus tries to silence our individuality. We all have a unique “Voice” whether spoken or drawn. The chorus of the world needs every voice to contribute. Embracing our creativity is the way to insure our place in this chorus. Zentangle is about learning to sing out loud.

    Susan M Litteral on

  • You are so right Julie. If I’m teaching a group I keep telling them not to worry it wonderful and it does not have to be perfect. But working on my own I do say to myself…well I’m not as creative as others or I’m concerned about my color combinations and other downers. Then when I’m showing others the tile they think it’s great. We have to remember to believe in our self. Thanks for your beautiful words.

    Marilyn Iezzi on

  • Sometimes, especially if I’ve taken several classes in a row from other Tanglers who may have a very different point of view, I will begin to feel inadequate. I don’t have 30 years of art behind me I have 15 maybe well those 15 are important to end I try to stop feeling in adequate. One thing I do is pull out a binder where I’ve stashed all the tiles from the classes I’ve taught over the last several years and after a while the plethora of tiles brings my mood up it’s good to remind yourself how much you do. We all do many many things and we do them well

    Lisa Hoesing on

  • It’s eye-opening to realize just how many of us criticize our own work. Even when others compliment me, I find myself downplaying my ability to draw. So thanks for the message & the reminder, Julie. May we all begin to view & appreciate our work in the same light as we see others.

    Jan ~ Sailandbejoyful~ on

  • What a powerful reminder!

    Suchitra on

  • Beautiful, genuine post, Julie. You always write from your heart.

    Becky on

  • Thanks Julie

    Joanne Pattison on

  • Julie I so needed to hear this today thank you. I am always my own worst critic. Now back to tangling!

    Michele Couture on

  • Julie, this is such a great and important point. I have been thinking this a lot recently as many generous CZTs have been offering online classes (sometimes as fundraisers for good causes) and I have been “meeting” so many new CZTs. Almost to a person, I hear them criticize themselves and/or their tangling and I want to jump through the screen I have such a big reaction. We are socialized so strongly to be critical of ourselves that it becomes almost invisible to us. These same CZTs patiently look at each student’s tile with compliments and kind words of encouragement but don’t extend that to themselves. When a CZT says during a class “I didn’t do that quite right” or “that was a bad attempt” about their own work, I think it undermines their more conscious effort to compliment students work. I can see how hard you work to always assume the best and be kind in all the times to post to facebook and respond to questions and concerns from CZTs.

    Jessica M on

  • Words I needed to hear! Thank you Julie!

    Mary Ellen F. on

  • Such a worthwhile and important topic to explore. Thank you so much for sharing Julie

    Chrissie on

  • I totally agree! Just the other day, my husband and I were eating out with a dear friend, who is always sending out good vibes. I was feeling excited about our visit. As I was ordering my food, she commented and laughed about my meticulous order. I told her I’m very unique and love myself. I then said, “I love you and I love myself”. My husband was there and I said, “And, of course, I love you, too, my dear!” We all cracked up in front of the person taking the order. I wonder what this person was thinking.

    Donna Norton on

  • Thanks for your good word, Julie. By the way, what’s the name of that tangle in the masthead of your article? Very interesting to color and shade.

    Linda Dochter on

  • I tend to put my Zentangles on my refrigerator using tiny magnets. I can see them in all stages as I go along. This gives me an opportunity to see what a tile may need. The other is to appreciate it, even if I don’t like it.

    And to know I need to practice a tangle more if I can’t get it “right”.
    To remain teachable even if I am the teacher. It works! Thanks Julie for the reminder.

    Paulette Kirschensteiner on

  • We should not judge ourselves when we are tired and exhausted. I have a little pile of ‘temporary discards’. As soon as I feel that a Tangle is not going the way I was intending, I set it aside in this special pile that I keep. I revisit later, picking up where I left off, and end up making/reinventing some of them as my best work and feel good when I give as gifts. The reciever doesn’t need to know this.

    CeCe Bushinsky on

  • Thank you Julie! I haven’t been a huge fan of my work lately. This is a great reminder and I sincerely appreciate this post…I really needed this!

    Kim on

  • Julie, thank you so much for this article. I’ve only been tangling since 2017, so I am very critical of my work and seldom do I create something “beautiful” in my opinion. I am actively teaching 3 ladies to tangle and get great satisfaction in their progress! Their artwork is amazing! You are right, I should look at some of my very first tiles and realize that I’ve been on an amazing journey that has brought me so much joy. I am so thankful for every stroke of the pen and the peace within that it brings. We are surrounded by a beautiful group of people who radiate a powerful aura of harmony.

    LaJuania on

  • Timely message… for all the time. I am a lover of other people’s are and such a critic of my own. Thanks for the reminder of a change of perspective.

    Theresa Caillouette on

  • I struggle with a tangle that I like … Hollis. Once again I pulled up the video, listened to Rick and Maria tell me it’s story, and followed along as Rick drew it so beautifully. When it was over I reacted to my tile … I threw it in my tangle trash.

    Next morning I wandered into my drawing room and caught sight of that tile on top of the trash heap. I grabbed it out, did one simple thing and WOW! It’s wonderful.

    Julie is right, look at your tangles again in another light. Whether it’s the next day or as if it’s someone else’s.

    I now have a place for tiles I’m uncertain of … They can have a moment, and I’ll look at them later after my initial reaction wears off.

    I’m trying to do this my life too. Think of people and situations as tangles that just need a little love, sculpting, aura-ing or orbs. Or a Bronx Cheer?

    Ann on

  • So inspiring words. And you are absolutely right. Till we start appreciating ourselves we can’t fully appreciate others either. Even I criticise myself a lot.Now will appreciate myself ❤️

    Preeti Gupta on

  • If only we could see our ART (and ourselves) as others do! This is so timely, Julie, thank you!

    Kim Turmel CZT36 on

  • Julie you pointed out some thing we could all benefit from hearing! Positive self talk is the best thing we can do for ourselves while tangling! We are good enough! Our work is beautiful! After all, we made it! Thanks for the reminder.

    Mary Illana Perrin CZT on

  • Perfect timing for this post. I love Jackie’s note about 66 days! I’m going to try to be kinder to myself.

    Lisa Anderson on

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