For Tangled Minds

A couple of months ago, at around 8:00 in the morning, I grabbed my phone and hastily updated my Facebook status. It was a simple status – a short phrase, repeated three times.

“I will not scream. I will not scream. I will not scream.”

It had already been one of *those* mornings getting my daughter ready for school, and while I knew that updating my Facebook status would do little to help my situation, I needed an outlet. I needed an outlet badly, and if I could let someone else into my struggle, all the better.

I never did scream (a minor miracle). I didn’t yell at her that day (another miracle). After returning home from dropping my girl off at school, though, I sat down and did this:

Another day, I needed to write. I knew I needed to write not only because I had a deadline to meet, but because writing is how I process the world and figure out what it is I think. That day, though, I couldn’t focus. My mind was not in a place to write, even though it was exactly what I needed. When my mind wouldn’t be corralled, I stepped away from my computer and – instead of forcing the words – did this:

These are examples of Zentangle, a fairly systematic (yet abstract) form of drawing by putting one stroke at a time on paper. When a friend introduced me to the idea, I was skeptical. I am not, nor have I ever been, a visual artist. I can concoct pretty things with words, but have never been able to produce things that are pretty to look at. Knowing my history and comfortable with my skill set (which does not include drawing), I didn’t think Zentangle would be anything for me. I loved the way the finished products looked, but figured I’d never be able to do it.

I was wrong.

My friend showed me more about it. I did some research. (Yay, Pinterest!) I got a book for Christmas. Through all of that, I’ve come to love Zentangle. I’m not a purist, using the right paper cut into the perfectly-sized tiles and drawing with the recommended pens. I’m not even sure I’m doing some of the patterns right. (Yes, there are certain patterns – thousands of them! – that you learn to draw, one stroke at a time.) No, I’m not great at it…..but I like it and it helps me.

It helps me to relax. It helps me to focus. It even helps me to pray, as my restless hands are occupied while my mind and heart are focused on God.

It’s not for everybody, but Zentangle is something I would recommend if you – like me – have extreme emotions and *sometimes* have a hard time keeping up with your racing mind. Look into it. I’m listing some of my resources below, and would be glad to point you toward my friend, who is a certified Zentangle instructor. And if you decide to give it a try, I’d love to see some of your creations!

Recommended resources:

My Zentangle Pinterest board – patterns I’ve found, things I’ve tried, and Zentangle-inspired art.

One Zentangle A Day – the book I got for Christmas that has taught me so much and made me confident enough to share my art with you!

The Official Zentangle website – learn more from the creative folks who thought it up.

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