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Turn the Tile of Life

Turn the Tile of Life

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorns have roses.” - Alphonse Karr


Molly writes:

It seems people use the turning of a new year as a gentle nudge to make changes, renew hope and start fresh. A time to look at things differently … from a different angle or perspective perhaps. It is a beautiful and traditional time to set intentions for the year ahead. Some people set goals to learn something new, improve on something or leave behind a bad habit.

This year I was inspired to use the turning of the new year as a reminder to turn my tile as I work … not just in my Zentangle practice, but in my life too.

I was inspired by a letter we received from a CZT about perspective. The letter was one that made me pause and reflect on how this idea played a role in how I see things in my own world. The letter came from CZT, Daria Kreher, and it she tells us a story about a student interaction she had recently: Daria writes: I was suggesting that "it's helpful to turn the tile ...." (As you, at Zentangle have said a million times). When I finished, she (the student) said, "I turn the tile in my life. Last time I was in your class you said the same thing and it struck me – that I can do this with my life! And now, I "turn my tile" when I'm faced with something that is difficult or that I can't figure out. I will always "turn my tile" in my life. Thank you!" I found everything about Daria’s story so beautiful and profound. It also makes me think she must be a wonderful Zentangle teacher.

In my Zentangle practice and my teachings, the act of turning my tile is as constant as breath. “Turn your tile as you work,” I say.

With each stroke, we turn our tile, making little adjustments to make the drawing process comfortable and to enable flow in your process. Turn your tile to see the composition from another angle that might offer inspiration or encouragement. Turn it this way and that to take in what you are creating. Turn your tile and pause. Turn your tile and take a deep breath. Turn your tile to see something, you had not before. Turn your tile to be guided. Turn it to reconsider your judgments. Turn your tile to be humbled. Turn your tile to understand. Turn your tile to see beauty. Turn your tile to love.

This year I have put out an intention for myself to not only turn my “tile” in my Zentangle practice but to turn my “tile” in my life too. I will turn it to see the situation from another angle that might offer inspiration or encouragement. I will turn it this way and that to take in what is happening around me. I will turn my tile and pause to let things soak in and rest. I will turn my tile and take a deep breath. I will turn my tile to potentially see something I had not before. I will turn my tile to be guided when I don't know where to go. I will turn it to reconsider my judgments and assumptions. I will turn my tile to be humbled. I will turn my tile to understand. I will turn my tile to see the beauty. I will turn it to see love.

Molly Hollibaugh


  • This message is so beautiful and profound, it took me three times to read it and understand that all we need is Turn the Tile, Now! Every moment is an opportunity to turn and see without judgment. Thanks Maria! Demasiado bello!

    Sylvia on

  • Thank you Molly! Your thoughts are like planted seeds… From one thought to many beautiful thoughts and where do they go organically and what becomes of those? My intention for this year is positivity. You’ve made me think of that in a very different way. Peace and joy to everyone in this community and beyond.

    Daria Kreher on

  • What a beautiful concept that has impacted so many readers … ahhh! the beauty of blogs, taking a few minutes of reflection, zentangle … thank you for sharing post and comments! Bless you ALL❣️

    Diane on

  • Que linda reflexión y una bella propuesta, de vivir en consonancia con la vida y sentir a lo ancho y a lo largo de ella. Tal cual siento el Zentangle, como la vida misma, y como decía Ernesto Sabago, por allá en el año 2000: “solo el amor podrá salvarnos”…

    Egleé on

  • Thank you Molly for this beautiful letter and insight

    Marizaan van Beek on

  • These words are so true and inspiring. Life can be hard, but if we allow ourselves to take the time to look step-by-step, to see what is happening, to think what that means to me, turn around and look back, maybe we are able to look at a different angle, we get another perspective. And that’s beautiful. Thank you Molly for these inspiring thoughts 💐

    Irene Lammerse CZTeu1 on

  • What a simple philosophy! And so profound. Thanks for sharing it Molly 😊

    Suchitra Komandur on

  • Thank you Molly for your wise perspective on turning the tiles of our lives. It is often easy to forget that our tiles can, and should, be turned to give us the new beginning that is so desperately needed. Thank you for sharing your heart and the beautiful reminder that so many of us needed today! 🦋

    Bonnie Johnson on

  • Thank you for this beautiful post, Molly. Thank you for sharing Daria Kreher’s story with us.

    A happy new year to all of us.

    Grace Anore on

  • My sincere sympathies to Paula for losing your husband! I have been a widow for 22 years and God has faithfully provided for me and my family. . . I credit God for allowing me to find Zentangle during the COVID shut down. After several months of my daughter trying to find answers to health problems, the Doctors discovered an ovarian tumor and removed it on New Year’s Eve. . . Want time to slow down? Get a diagnosis of Cancer and wait for Doctor appointments, tests, and additional surgeries. This year has been the LONGEST FOUR WEEKS I have ever known. I am very grateful for Zentangle! I can work at it quietly while helping Carrie, and allowing her to rest. If she needs something I can stop what I am doing, and come back to it at a later date. Molly is SO RIGHT! We have to turn the tiles of our lives and work from there. . . It is an important life lesson that I am glad I learned BEFORE Carrie got sick! Another important life lesson , " In a world where you can be anything you want. . . BE KIND!"

    LLS on

  • That’s awesome, how zentangle practice can incorporate in our lives too…. It’s amazing ❤️

    Preeti Gupta on

  • Wow! Such a wonderful and deep teaching. Thank you, Molly.

    Georgianna on

  • Thank you for this, Molly. All the parts of the Zentangle philosophy inform and enrich my life beyond the drawing. And I so appreciate it. This is a good one that I hadn’t thought about. ♥️

    Diane Harpster on

  • Thank you Molly for a simple yet profound suggestion to incorporate into all aspects of life. A year ago I made a huge change of moving from one state to another to be near my family while that is a very positive change, it sent my life tile spinning in adapting to a new location, a change from a small town rural way of life to an urban location. Knowing no one other than my son, daughter-in-law and grandson has been a challenge but I’m starting to take some steps to turn that tile for a new perspective on my life tile. Grateful for the inspiration. ♥️

    Ginny Sones on

  • Beautiful concept!

    Sue Dion on

  • Thank you Daria and Molly for sharing this story about looking at things from another angle.

    Maria Vennekens on

  • How simple and precious. I too have said that phrase many times to students to change perspective as well as to change the angle. Profound!

    Kathy Y. on

  • Ah, isn’t it amazing how we often read the words “meant just for us” only to find out so many others are thinking that same exact thing?! Life, and how we respond to it, is a matter of perspective. “Turn your tile…” indeed! Thank you for three little words that pack an incredible punch.

    Ginger White CZT 34 on

  • Thank you for sharing the story and your reflections, it is a perfect sentiment for me to remember.

    Ellen Weinman on

  • What a beautiful post. Turn my tile. When a day or days are difficult I will remember to turn my tile and teach this to others in the groups I belong to. Thanks you for the inspiration.

    Marilyn Iezzi on

  • “Turn my tile•••” what a gift this blog is!!! I too needed this message, in my way & life, presently. Open mind, trust the process & gratitude. Zentangle~thank you 💛

    Jennifer on

  • Two and a half years ago in June 2020, I was diagnosed with an “incurable, but treatable” blood marrow cancer (multiple myeloma). Between that and the Covid pandemic, our future life plans pretty much evaporated. My husband of 40 years has been a huge support, and obviously my situation has greatly impacted him as well. Before the myeloma was diagnosed, it caused vertebral compression fractures and rib fractures. As a result, I still use a rolling walker outside and for walking extended distances inside. I’ve known I have to “reimagine” my life, but I haven’t been great at doing so. The concept of “turning my tile” feels like a helpful metaphor for the intentional work I need to do. Thank you.

    Suzanne Fluhr on

  • What a wonderful analogy of a ‘tile.’ Turning a tile can give a whole new perspective on the whole picture. As in life, our circumstances can be redefined if we take a moment to see how to ’turn the tile."

    Brenda Jowers, CZT #39 on

  • This is a wonderful blog. I always think about my life and actions as a beautiful tile that can be held out at arms length to see a new perspective but I have yet to turn it this way and that in my thinking. I will now add that to my way of looking at this beautiful life I get to admire. The tiles I see as my life are a collaboration of many artists that have contributed to the tile. I appreciate it all. Thank you Molly and Daria for this new way of appreciating!

    Katrina Thiebaut CZT on

  • Paula Schneider I am sorry for the loss of your husband.

    This turning of our tiles is such a great tool. Bless you on your journey.

    Hope Spencer on

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