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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


  • Another part of the Zentangle method: look at it from another perspective. I love your new perspective on all the to-do’s and responsibilities; I could use it too!

    Margaret Bremner on

  • Thank for reminding me, as I sit here with heart racing because of my to do list, that those few short moments of gratitude while following a pen’s path on a tile, fuel the tank and bring perspective to the day. Yummmm! We’re so blessed to have these tools and encouragement from each other. “A tangle a day keeps the monkeys at bay!” 🙂

    Susan Talbot on

  • Julie, what a timely message! My to-do list has been very long for over a month, but you reminded me that being able to have such a to-do list is a cause for gratitude. My daughter graduates from university this Sunday and I have house guests for the first time since the pandemic started. I am so grateful for my daughter and family and friends — and for Zentangle — and I will be sitting down with a tile to bring calm.

    Joyce Marie Rosenberger on

  • Thanks Julie for the words of wisdom.

    Rimona Gale on

  • I have come to realize Zentangle is my meditation therapy daily! When I am in that zen flow zone I bring my gratitude and PMA (positive mental attitude) to the surface and all will be ✅! Thank you all for this amazing art form and inspiring community. I love Zentangle‼️

    Norma Jean Peterson on

  • Thank you for another great post…love Vitamin Z!

    Dianne Riva Cambrin on

  • True, true, true. That’s all I’m sayin’! Thanks.

    Devin on

  • Beautiful thoughts, Julie. A good reminder about what’s important. Thank you.♥️

    Roseanne Sabol on

  • Zentangle has been helping me get through a most difficult time. The tangles and the process of tangling are very calming. Once, at work, I found my brain going round and round like the blue circle in Windows, then I tangled on a Bijou tile which rebooted my brain!

    Catherine Gisby on

  • Excellent advice and well said…thank you Julie!

    Carol Roenbaugh on

  • Thanks for nourishing my soul today!

    Jean K on

  • A really refreshing post takes us back to basics and reminds us of why tangling is so important for our overall well being. Thank you

    Sulbha on

  • It’s easy to get wrapped up in the “list” and not in the opportunities. I’m sure we all do that. It was a good reminder for us. Thanks Julie. I was just thinking of you lately and how it is to balance a baby, work and all the other things during this season. Enjoy every moment. It goes too too fast. Xoxox.

    Deborah Bowyer on

  • Perfect for me today, Julie!!! And so beautifully written. Thanks so much.

    Molly Siddoway King, CZT on

  • Thanks Julie for reminding us to slow down. At this point of time we are living in so much of anxiety and stress that we sometimes forget to remind ourselves to slow down. Breathe 🧘‍♀️ slowdown .

    Thanks once again.

    SeemaSangar on

  • Amen!

    Mary Ellen Zieglerczt33 on

  • I too have developed a rather daunting “to do” list since I was diagnosed with cancer in January. (That`s going well, by the way.) I`ve been tangling for almost six years now, but I still need reminding that I am grateful for all kinds of things, even the challenges. Tangling definitely gives me respite from my busy days and I am grateful that I only have myself to look after as I`m not in a position to help too many others except by listening to them when they need it. So thank you, Julie, for your well-crafted words and reminders to relax, breathe, appreciate and practise tangles on most days!

    Rosemary Turpin on

  • Oh my! I just went through the same type of thing and now I wish I had thought of that! Thank you for the reminder to just stop, take a moment and just tangle! It’s funny. I know it helps. I’ve experienced it yet sometimes I just completely forget that I always have that outlet. This blog post came at the perfect time for me. Thank you!!!

    Jenifer Farrell on

  • Wonderful tangles, peace and bliss…I incorporate prayer into this formula as well, This outlook brings so much gratitude and appreciation to me. Recently I had an injury to my knee which has made me sedentary most of the time. What a perfect way to spend my empty hours! For me, unable to pursue my usual busy physical activities, Zentangle has been a great gift.

    Thanks to all my Zentangle friends and creators!

    Lesley Noble on

  • Ahhhh… just reading this is giving me some zen. Well said Julie!

    Heather toswell on

  • I loved this and needed it TODAY! THANK YOU Julie. So true!

    Heidi Woody on

  • As I begin a busy day I am reminded of all that Zentangle has brought me by your lovely words.

    Deb Murray on

  • This is so true, Julie! It gives you a much needed change in perspective!

    Melinda Butcher on

  • Thanks, Julie! Like many have said in these comments, your notes today are very timely. It’s that time of year when I’m trying to clean up and prep my yard, and re-organize things in my closets and cupboards, etc. I’ve told several friends I want to get all of those things done so that every morning I can just get up, sit at my desk, and tangle to my heart’s content!

    Ruth Osborn CZT on

  • Hi Julie,
    Thank you for taking the time to write this blog. I can relate.
    It reminds me of the old and worn out question: “How do you eat an elephant?”
    I’ve asked myself this question often lately and the answer is always the same:
    “one bite at a time”. And that one bite can be tangling a Bijou tile. Thanks, again.

    Sandra on

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