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What's one to do? Tangle!

What's one to do? Tangle!

Julie writes...

I find myself in a particularly busy season of life at the moment. All that is happening is good and exciting, but busy none the less. There doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day lately and the to do list keeps getting longer and longer.
Last night, I was working on my computer when my eyes started to get heavy. I was closing my computer and getting ready call it a night when I glanced at my to-do list and noticed that I never got around to writing the blog post I meant to for today. I sighed... opened my laptop and started typing. Although I knew what I wanted to write about, the words just were not coming to me. The story felt forced and found I myself pressing the delete button over and over again. The irony was not lost on me that the blog I was trying to write about mental health was doing nothing productive for my own mental health at that moment. I closed my laptop and called it a night.
My mind would not slow down and I laid wide awake trying to plan my next day, trying to figure out how to do all that I needed to do, including the blog I needed to write. I told myself if I was having trouble writing about how tangling can help ease stress and found myself only more stressed, then perhaps I should tangle to ease my stress.  Oh no, I don’t have the time for that. Or, do I?
This morning, I pulled out a Bijou tile. A 2.5” square piece of paper.. surely, I had enough time to tangle that. So, I grabbed a tile and a pen, I was not picky about color, and I tangled my mac and cheese tangle, marasu.

As always, I started with gratitude and appreciation. Gratitude and appreciation for this lovely little tile and my favorite blue Micron PN, for this small moment I was taking for myself to clear my mind and relieve some of the stress I was feeling.
As I began tangling though, my gratitude and appreciation went beyond the tile. I decided that instead of feeling stressed or overwhelmed by that rapidly growing to do list, I would be grateful for all of those tasks. How blessed am I to have all of these opportunities that require my attention. How wonderful is it that I have a job that I love. Each and every item on that list became a privilege.
As I tangled each stroke, one at a time, I was reminded to stop focusing on trying to do everything at once. To stop looking at that list and thinking “how am I going to finish all of this?” and instead focus on one task at a time a time. One task does not feel as overwhelming as a whole list of tasks. By the time I finished my little Bijou Tile, I felt like a weight had lifted off my shoulders. I felt excited to take on the day, thankful for all of the blessings in my life that give me all of these responsibilities.
We hear tanglers all the time tell us how tangling has helped them ease their anxiety and relieve their stress. I think one of the reasons why the Zentangle Method has such an impact on managing our mental health is because there is the method, the act of creating art and the benefits of being creative, but, there is also the philosophy behind the method that permeates into other areas of life. Ideas that help us both on and off the paper.
This morning I was able to find a moment of calm and relaxation through tangling (a dose of Vitamin Z, if you will…). Not only was I able to relieve the stress I was feeling, but I was also able to change my entire perspective on this season I am in.

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Speaking of Vitamin Z, a heartfelt thank you to all who commented on last weeks blog. We have selected three commenters at random to receive a Zentangle Project Pack No. 14. If you see your name below, please send your snail mail address to 
  1. Cheryle Parrish
  2. Jenny Rea
  3. Dianne Riva Cambrin

Julie Willand


  • Julie, I love Vitamin Z! That is exactly what we all need for a little (or big) boost!

    Barbara Burgess on

  • So grateful to be able to catch these moments for myself as well! I just get a pen, some paper and chill!! You also inspired me to have another go at marasu, in blue and greens this time. I just love how one pattern can turn out different everytime! I never plan it, just go step by step. 💕

    Monique on

  • Awwwww …..Vitamin Z, I love it!!
    I will take a Bijou tile and tangle a Bottle of Vitamin Z on it and store it in my medicine cabinet.
    Whenever I feel stressed, I’ll open the cabinet give the Vitamin Z bottle Bijou tile a kiss, and be on my merry way!

    Barbra Gary, CZT26 on

  • Awwwww……Vitamin Z……how cool is that…..I’m going to take a Bijou tile and “Tangle a Bottle of VITAMIN Z”. Thanks for this cool idea! When I’m stressed I will take the “vitamin tile out of my medicine cabinet, give it a kiss, and be on my happy way ❤️👏❤️👏

    Barbra Gary on

  • I just found your blog Julie! How timely for me. I need to remember the good things and that even the long list of “to do’s” can be a reason for gratitude. Thank you for the reminder!

    Sharon Laddusaw on

  • Thanks for all zentangle families ~

    Vitamin Z is true for me.
    The music is better during the breaktime as well. I feel like meditating when I,m drawing.

    yuyu on

  • Thank you SO much for this wonderful blog…I am with you, Julie…thank you for reminding me that slowing down is imperative in accomplishing the goals that are set by one’s self and most often some of them can just WAIT for me to get to them…I really needed this this morning!

    Mary L Stayner on

  • Such a great reminder, Julie! I especially loved how your gratitude extended to each item on your to-do list and you expressed what a blessing and privilege it is to have those tasks. As I tangle today (in CZT 37!) I will open my heart to my list of things to do and revel in that gratitude as well. Thank you!!

    Karen Shirer on

  • Thank you for this. Sometimes I see how much I need to do and become so overwhelmed that I just can not get any of it done. You have given me inspiration to sit down for 15 minutes a day and zentangle and be grateful. Thank you.

    Karen Clark on

  • My latest job is very stressful and incredibly exhausting mentally, to the point when I finish the workday, I shut everything down, including myself, and take a few hours’ nap right after work. Then I have revived enough to watch some short historical YT videos before I start tangling. Historical videos have patterns in the paintings and on the old buildings/ruins, which is inspiring to a tangler.

    FYI: The last Project Pack was great because I had two days to work on a tile until the next project.

    Debbie (bakayaro onna) on

  • Vitamin Z is exactly what I need! I loved reading your post today as it feels like me right now! Thank you for sharing!

    Olga Dendrinou Fink on

  • Well written and timely as I have a huge day including a group exhibition opening tonight, a list a page long to get through and then some z before my next journey of CZT#37 training begins within the next 24 hours, which I am so over the moon about! Thank you Zentangle! Thanks Julie

    Veronica Hodges on

  • Julie, your so very well written thoughts speak directly to my heart!! My to do list is long, ,as yours is and I SHOULD take the time to express gratitude for the opportunities and items on my list!! I do feel blessed to have so many hobbies, a horse, and a corgi pup to spend time with (plus a dear fiancée) I shall look at the list with renewed attitude and find time today to tangle in my tiny book!!! Thank you for your thoughts!!!

    Deanna Williford on

  • Hi Julie, it was so lovely to chat to you recently. Marasu is one of my favourites too! Thank you for sharing and sending much love – babies and life is very much about enjoy the moment, so very glad you took an opportunity to do just that, with some Tangle time for yourself.

    Michelle Dugdale, Australia (CZT37 to be!) on

  • I do respect the calm I feel as I tangle. Unfortunately, sometimes my to do list is so long I feel to guilty to tangle. I’m going to try to keep your post in mind and perhaps place tangling at the top space of my daily list. Thanks for the reminder.

    Lori Riden on

  • I like the idea of vitamin Z!!!! I’ll have to add it to my daily vitamin regime!!! Maybe that’s how I’ll find time to tangle!!!

    MaryAnn Scheblein-Dawson, CZT#1 on

  • Julie -one of my favorites as well ! Yes -with inoculations behind me & SPRING my to do list feels overwhelming also . Always so good to have Zentangle in my tool belt for sure to calm me down ….take a breath & so gratifying to hold a piece of art after to share -or keep 💫

    Penny on

  • Yes, for sure. Thanks for sharing this, Julie! The Zentangle process has informed my life in so many ways beyond the drawing. I love to share it with others as a prayer practice, as it has been for me. It has opened up my creative process again, and there are so many other benefits to it! I’m grateful to have discovered it.

    Diane on

  • Yes, for sure. Thanks for sharing this, Julie! The Zentangle process has informed my life in so many ways beyond the drawing. I love to share it with others as a prayer practice, as it has been for me. It has opened up my creative process again, and there are so many other benefits to it! I’m grateful to have discovered it.

    Diane on

  • Many of my college students were able to incorporate this lesson, “… stop looking at that list and thinking “how am I going to finish all of this?” and instead focus on one task at a time a time. One task does not feel as overwhelming as a whole list of tasks.” This has been a bit of a challenging school year. This is a great reminder to everyone.

    Lynne Bates on

  • Thank you Julie for the wonderful reminder to slow down and enjoy life as you go. After all you can only do one thing at a time so stop stressing. That is what love about Zentangle! The practice brings with it the mesmerizing zone that is so relaxing. It is good for the mind, body and soul.

    Marcia Fasy on

  • Dear Julie, this blog speaks to my heart. This past year has settled on top of me like a misty, foggy day. Unlike you, I do not have a long list in front of me. Just an unwritten list that seems just out of reach. Some tasks feel too big and overwhelming. I move forward a few steps and then stop or move back, because I just can’t find the courage or energy to move past the invisible barrier blocking my way. I have not picked up my pen often enough to get that dose of Vitamin Z that most often brings focus and clarity that reminds me that “I can….” I have been very aware of and grateful for my many blessings. Your story reminds me once again that I need to take one step at a time. So thankful for my Zentangle Family.

    Kathy Wright-Starr on

  • It has been a stretch these many months, hasn’t it? I have trained myself to go for the gratitude and give thanks, understand allowing myself to work on a tile for just a few minutes. No more kvetching about not being able to get it “finished.” that is a new perspective!

    B Cleo Thompson on

  • Oh, this hit the nail on the head. I knew I was in trouble when my to-do list went to two pages.

    Shirley Hewitt CZT36 on

  • Thanks Julie. Exactly what I needed to be reminded of today of all days!

    Linda Close on

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