What are you observing and thinking about your life?

As I take a moment for reflection, I am struck by four different events in my life that reveal different aspects of who I am. 

When is the last time you paused to engage in self-reflection about what’s happening in your life—professionally, personally, or both? 

I ask that question knowing that there are times such meta-awareness happens spontaneously for me (this morning) and there are times that I plan for space in my schedule, (the beginning and end of the day, week, month, and year).

How are you engaging with your thinking? What are you thinking and learning about your thinking?

Stepping back from being in my everyday reality/busyness enables me to realize how I want to approach what is present for me now:

  • I’m about to head into a two-year training program, which I believe will bring great personal challenges and rewards. 
  • Just yesterday, I accepted an ongoing project that will bring me into new relationships with colleagues. It’s an undertaking that’s founded in the work that I have been doing for decades and yet it is also uncharted territory with the startup.

    This morning’s walk

  • This morning I decided that I needed to engage in a small yet important-to-me project that I’ve been thinking about since 2013.
  • And sitting on the couch with my cup of coffee early this morning, I heard the snow and sleet tapping at the windows. I realized I was not relishing the idea of walking the beloved dog. 

How are these related you might ask? Here’s my thinking:

  • I am so looking forward to my training, and am making time to prepare myself—organizing materials, planning my schedule, and anticipating the mindset about this new adventure.

    My creation—still to be named

  • My project from 2013 is to submit a Zentangle pattern that I created during my Certified Zentangle Teacher training over years ago. That task feels a little bigger than I’d like… it’s not that the individual pieces are difficult, it just feels rather tedious. I have to look forward and yet it does feel like I will be sending my pattern into the void as a process is clear though the possibility of response is uncertain. (And if there’s one thing I know about myself, it’s that I always want feedback about my work.) I think I’ll handle my concern about the length and uncertainty of the process by sharing my work after I have submitted it to www.tanglepatterns.com—so I can be sure it gets out into the world.
  • As I step into this new role in this growing organization, I’ll be using my skills of Appreciative Inquiry to guide my process. That feels like a great foundation. and a new way to utilize my learning.
  • And, as I stepped outside fully prepared for terrible weather in the dark early morning, I discovered that I loved the crunch of the snow and sleet under my feet, dampness in the air, and quiet of the very early morning. I chuckled to myself because I’m not usually a negative anticipator and was delighted with my ability to be present and find ways to enjoy the moment.

All these different experiences (just like all of life) call for meta-awareness (the ability to observe my thoughts, feelings, sensations, and impulses as they are happening) and metacognition (the process of thinking about my own thinking and learning).

What do you think and feel about all of this? How are you supporting yourself through the use of metacognition and meta-awareness?

Would you like to chat about it? If so, shoot me an email and we’ll chat!

Perhaps all of this reflection is being unconsciously supported by my reading in The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff. It’s a delightful and thought-provoking read. I highly recommend it!

What is captivating, challenging, and developing you?

I’m in the midst of a project that captivates me. Drawing and writing a graphic memoir of my recent internship experience is a delight and a challenge on so many levels—intellectually, emotionally, and practically. 

  • What is my purpose in creating this work? 
  • What do I want to share and what will be of service to others’ learning?
  • How will I convey my very visceral experiences?

What are you working on right now? What questions are you wrangling with —whether it’s a work or a personal project?

This project is a labor of love, so it’s not part of my “workday.” I devote 30-60 minutes a day, early in the morning, five days a week to diving back into the experience. (My approach is founded on advice from a colleague and I am grateful to the Graphic Memoir Intensive Group of the Sequential Artists Workshop for their support and encouragement.) The time often flies by… though at times it stands still. 

There are times I recall an experience with a patient, begin to draw and write the essence of our conversation or the situation, and just cry. Being in touch with the experience months later and having time and space to explore it, is both wonderful and demanding. In the weeks that I was in the hospital, during the days there was little time for deep reflection and tapping into strong emotions—there was so much to be done. I was present/having experiences—working with them and through at the time… this feels like a new, deeper adventure.

How do you make time to explore what happens during your days and weeks?

While I made certain I was talking with my supervisor at the hospital, my professor, and classmates about my experiences, I was so in the thick of it, I didn’t step outside it often. I believed that my self-care practices (meditating, walking, tangling, and painting) and connecting with family and friends were enough. Upon reflection, I realize that these are qualitatively different encounters that require a more thoughtful approach.

What methods do you use to give yourself perspective?

This project has become such a rich experience for me—I am learning even more about myself during my reflections and the questions that arise. 

In what ways are you consciously, actively—maybe even formally—supporting your personal or professional development? 

I’d love to know!

What brings you joy?

Almost every week since the beginning of the year I have experienced delight by enabling others to step into their Zentangle practice and to feel joy too. This meditative art form is a place of beauty, peace, and calm.  

What brings you joy?

As I reflected upon my Zentangle practice and teaching, I realized that it truly brings me joy. I feel totally alive and engaged with my pen in hand.

Zentangle for me is…

a simple (though not always easy) way to bring beauty into my life every day with ease

a lens for viewing life, a reminder to see my life with fresh eyes and new perspective(s), understand that I will make mistakes—it’s part of living—because I try new things and I get them both right and wrong. I am sometimes tired, my best efforts are not always my best work, and working through my missteps—by fixing them or making peace, learning, and moving on, is what enables me to grow. 

art & a science… I bring my own special flair to the guidelines for working with the method.

a reminder to step back and gain a new perspective… there’s always at least one more way to view a situation. I’m always thinking to myself and saying to participants, “Hold your tile at arm’s length and rotate it—90, 180, 270, and then 360 degrees. What do you find as you do so? Which view is most interesting or appealing to you?”

a way to recognize any struggles I’m having and choose a different path.

Poke Leaf is the lovely, organic pattern at the top of this piece.

How often do I say to folks, ”If you’re having a challenge with a particular stroke, try rotating the tile for greater ease.” 

about both comforting and challenging myself. I LOVE and work with about two dozen patterns regularly—they feel easy and comforting. The liveliness of Jetties, the wildness of Squid, the energy of Cadent, and the boldness of Knightsbridge delight me. And, I’m always on the lookout for changing up the way I do one of my “go-to” tangles and for new patterns and media, to keep me sharp and humble… aware of my growing edge.

“What if, instead of just shading the leafy part of Poke Leaf, I use my pen to color in the stem, shade the top of the stem and use the tortillon/smudger to move the pencil lead into the body of the leaf?”

These tangles (patterns) span four 12 inch square canvases.



“How might I create in a larger space/literally a canvas—how do I need to adapt to the new dimension? What tools will I use?”

a reminder, that there’s a time to put down the pen and walk away from my work… because I have done enough, and doing more may overwork the tile. 

I  caution myself at times, “There’s a time to pause and reflect. I can choose to pick up the pen or pencil again to continue or leave it for now.”

an opportunity to sink into the process, experience flow, and remain unattached to the result. 

There are times that I enjoy the drawing, learn a lot about the patterns and how they fit together yet don’t love the final look of the work. I counsel myself to walk away and return to the piece the next morning, knowing that I may feel differently about the tile then… or I will have learned from it and take that knowledge forward. 

just like so much of how I live my life.

What is your answer to my question, “What brings you joy?” I’d love to know!

If exploring Zentangle piques your interest, please look on my Calendar page to learn about the free class I offer each month and series that is a deep dive into this beautiful art form.