“You are wrong.” 

I could not believe that those words were leaving my mouth! After 90 minutes of teaching and sharing the Zentangle method and philosophy…

  • Zentangle — It’s about consistency not perfection. 
  • No mistakes — Every line is an opportunity, we embrace every mark that is ours as artists.
  • There is elegance in limits.
  • My place in the circle, everyone’s place in the circle, is a unique perspective. No one else can see the same view.

I had been working with the participants to leave their inner critic “at the door”/outside the room and to develop a calm presence with a relaxed focus. Emphasizing the number of ways there are to use shadow (this isn’t art class), combine patterns or create their “chops”/signatures, underscored the flexible nature of this art form that has a handful of guidelines.

But in fact, the participant was wrong. 

When is the last time you were in a situation in which you needed to deliver the message that something was seriously amiss? What was the context? How did you prepare to deliver the words that feel like a bucket of cold water to the person receiving your message? How did you get back to a place where the conversation could move forward with each person feeling heard and understood? 

At the end of every class, we gather up everyone’s work to create a mosaic. We make time to appreciate the beauty of the individual tiles and the work of the entire group. The participants always remark on the similarities across the tiles and marvel at the differences they created, as each piece is unique.  

Everyone has the:

  • same instructions
  • same materials
  • same process

and yet everyone’s tile is different!

Yesterday, in organizing the tiles on the table, some of the folks in the group were particularly interested in ensuring that everyone’s tile was at the same orientation. Orientation can be discovered through where people put their chop on the tile. As we look at this nonrepresentational art, we search for clues as to how to interpret it, and the chop gives us the clue to the artist’s thinking. 

I never mention anything about how we might organize the tiles, I seek to understand what people want. I embrace whatever arises in the sharing of their work. To me, it’s really the cacophony of the styles and orientations in the mosaic that adds to its beauty. That’s my perspective!

Well, it was almost pistols at dawn! 

The tiles were organized as you see them here, with the chops at the bottom of all the tiles—which was (perhaps) easily understood if you were standing at either the top or the bottom of the mosaic. A woman standing next to me, on one side, was adamant that the tiles were not facing in the same direction and started to move a few around. There was a bit of back and forth about it. The air got prickly! I could sense the energy shift. I was surprised because this was the second set of tiles we were making into a beautiful gathering and the first time had been like butter. 

I felt the need to intervene quickly. And, while I was shocked and amazed—and I did think before saying it— I told the woman who was agitated, “I hate to say this (pause) you are wrong.” She was stunned! It took her back. And that led her to look differently at the tiles. I explained the reasoning again, and this time she was able to hear and see it. I sought to break the tension by pointing to Zentangle philosophy, about how this process helps us to shift and take a different perspective. Happily, everyone just started talking again and all was well. 

The event ended on a high note with people feeling energized and amazed at their own abilities. As I was packing up, one woman said, “I can’t believe I did this! I am not an artist” to which I replied, “You are now.” Then one of the men came up to me and told me this was the fourth time he was tangling with me—having taken classes with me over the years. In spite of our wearing masks, I had recognized him—though I didn’t remember that I had seen him three times previously. I was delighted that he continued to find joy in tangling!

I feel this when I am tangling…

“Fill the paper with the breathings of your heart.”

William Wordsworth


 Just in case you want to try your hand at tangling…

On June 14th, you can discover the joy of Zentangle (or take your tangling skills to the next level) in my free session. Bring a friend to support you in continuing to tangle after our class together!

Learn to tangle!

Begin the journey by exploring the roots of this art and the steps to follow to draw your own beautiful patterns. In the very first class, working with creamy white tiles, a black Micron pen, pencil, and a tortillon/smudger*, you will learn how to create your own beautiful Zentangle tiles and leave with a hunger to learn even more!

6.14 at 8 pm EST/7 pm CST/6 pm MST/5 pm PST

Register here.

*When you register you will receive information about the Zentangle materials to have on hand. I also provide a list of alternate materials that everyone has around the house. 


A deep dive into tangling!

If you’re ready to explore more deeply, join me for Zentangle Project Pack No. 14, a special tangling event to recognize the importance of Mental Heath Awareness. Look here to discover more! It’s going to be amazing!

I hope you will join me!

Just a few ideas about finding and maintaining equanimity…

May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the US…

How are you taking good care of your mental well-being?

While it’s always been important, the past few years have highlighted the need for giving consistent attention to our own self-care. The direction to, “Put on your oxygen mask first” is critical for us and all those around us. (I don’t even need to draw that visual right?) If we do not take care of ourselves we cannot work with the challenges in our own lives, much less care for and help others. 

In the early summer of 2013, I discovered Zentangle during my search for resources for high school students engaged in the college admissions process. My coaching clients wanted and needed tools to support them in moving through their feelings of anxiousness, confusion, and overwhelm. I wanted to provide methods that would help them feel agency in their lives— something they could do on their own, developing their confidence, giving them pleasure, and engaging their creativity.

The Zentangle Method is a way to find calm and focus using simple steps and basic strokes to create beautiful designs. 

In November of 2013, I became a Certified Zentangle Teacher. Since then I have taught over a thousand students around the world — in Australia, Canada, India, Nepal, Singapore, South America, and the United States, in person and online (even before the pandemic). It is a practice that brings me, and my students joy, and nurtures relaxation.

What do you do that nurtures your well-being?

Okay, maybe walking and resting…

There are so many possibilities! I love the idea of a vacation—really getting away from the daily routine. And yet what supports me consistently is the small actions I take on a daily basis.  Enjoying a cup of coffee and reading for 20 minutes or so before walking Gus in the early morning, making art of some kind—tangling, watercolor, painting with acrylics. Getting out and walking a mile every day, in all kinds of weather, or working with crafts—knitting, quilting or slow stitching. And, there are those weekly “musts” of connecting with friends around the world over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.

I’d love to hear what you’re doing to find equanimity. I hope you will share your methods and resources with me.

 Just in case you want to try your hand at tangling…

On June 16th, you can discover the joy of Zentangle (or take your tangling skills to the next level) in my free session. Bring a friend to support you in continuing to tangle after our class together!

Learn to tangle!

Begin the journey by exploring the roots of this art and the steps to follow to draw your own beautiful patterns. In the very first class, working with creamy white tiles, a black Micron pen, pencil, and a tortillon/smudger*, you will learn how to create your own beautiful Zentangle tiles and leave with a hunger to learn even more!

6.14 at 8 pm EST/7 pm CST/6 pm MST/5 pm PST

Register here.

*When you register you will receive information about the Zentangle materials to have on hand. I also provide a list of alternate materials that everyone has around the house. 

I hope you will join me!

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—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.