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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


  • I love this!! Being appreciative for the many things in our lives that keep us so busy is a wonderful way to embrace our to do list! Thank you!!

    Linda Hunter on

  • Julie thank you so much for this blog! I know what you mean by being so very busy, there doesn’t seem to be any time left in the day! For me, I settle down it could be morning, afternoon, or evening, and create tangles on my Zentangle Calendar a day page. This calms me down with meditative music and renews me, and gives me energy to continue on. Fresh! funny how it works.

    Mary Illana Perrin CZT On May 12 on

  • Julie, your ability to convey calm and express joy (even when you must not always be feeling that way) is clear and appreciated. Through blog posts, you tube tutorials, social media conversations, in trainings, you radiate your intentions of gratitude and appreciation. I have noticed and appreciate this.

    Jessica M on

  • Beautifully written Julie.

    Molly on

  • One of my loyal Zentanglers, who also happens to be a mental health counselor, comes to class weekly and the first words out of her mouth when she walks in the door, even before saying hello: “I’m here for my therapy”. An artist, weaver, and potter in her own right, she never hesitates to tell everyone in her circle of artists and friends that she comes to weekly “therapy” at her Zentangle class at the Community Center. Our local Community Center allows us to use the lovely, sun-filled facility as long as we do not charge for classes. I am most happy to use the facility under that restriction because I feel that I am filling a need for my fellow Tanglers, through Zentangle. We have developed a circle of tanglers who not only enjoy the Zentangle method for creative and artistic reasons, but for the mental health benefits that are an unexpected and most welcomed “side-effect”.

    Roberta Strickland on

  • Thank you Julie! This post was such a timely one for me and a great reminder of how grateful I am to have found the Zentangle method. Before I read your post, my mind was spinning with all of my to-dos. I am going to pause, breathe, get a tile and take a few minutes to tangle. Thank you 💕

    Kim on

  • Julie, as always your posts are inspiring and beautiful 🥰 Thank you.

    Kathy Y. on

  • I haven’t had time to art as I have been working to clean out my garage and other areas that were filled up with “stuff” since I moved. And a lot of new stuff got put into my new small studio that I call Lou-C. As I walk by Lou-C I see piles that have to be sorted and put away. After reading this blog I realized I needed to find a tile, yes, a bijou, my pen, and spend a few minutes just for me to refocus and change my perspective. After a long relaxing shower, listening ton wonderful flute music, I picked up my pen and started drawing. The tension left and a sense of gratitude came over me. By the time I finished all was well within me and I was ready to tackle my day with gratitude and love!

    Barbara Fritz-Elliott on

  • This was spot on right now in my life. Thank you for putting pen to paper and making it real! Vitamin Z for the win!

    Kris Christen on

  • Terrific reminder. Thank you!

    LaJuania on

  • I had the same experience yesterday afternoon. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and stressed having to deal with both my mother and mother-in-law, both 92 years old and in Long Term Care Facilities. A care giver for both of them as well as dealing with my husbands illness, I was drained and depressed. A little angel must have whispered to me….. I took myself down to the studio and tangled (promised myself just a few minutes before supper!). By the time I finished my tile, I felt lighter and my mood had shifted. I’m looking forward to CZT37 Training on Friday which will be more of a RETREAT and TREAT for me. Thank goodness for Zentangle.

    Diane Krompart on

  • It’s so humbling when we take our own advice and realize that it works. So many times we are so busy helping others that we forget to listen to ourselves. Good job, Julie!

    Barb Gill, CZT 7 on

  • Well done Julie!

    Sandy Kelley-Jones CZT on

  • Again, great words of wisdom. Everyone at Zentangle seems to have it. Did they bring the wisdom to Zentangle or did Zentangle create the wisdom – the old chicken and egg question. Hmmm. I’m just grateful to be on the receiving end of such wisdom and art form that is so much more than I could have ever imagined. Thank you all.

    Claire W on

  • I taught marasu to my after school class this week. I could not help sharing how much you like this tile and what it means to have a “Mac and cheese” tangle. I love knowing what your favorites are and that my zentangle buddies know how much I love n’zepple.

    Suzanne Bessin on

  • Thank you reminding me to slow down and enjoy each task on my list one step at a time. Reminding me that even when not tangling, I can appreciate, be thankful and enjoy each task.

    Janet on

  • I love your Mac and cheese tangle you did to relieve your stress. Looking at it reminds me of those walking “mazes” you can walk to relieve stress. It seemed perfect for the article 😊

    Missy Keller on

  • Well said Julie😇

    Vitamin Z works wonders!!!

    Shobha Mistry on

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