“Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.”

I have taken a lot of time lately to hone my Zentangle skills and will be sharing some new techniques in an upcoming workshop. This class is sponsored by the Louisiana Art and Artists Guild and will be held at their studio in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Here are the details:



I hope to see some of you there!

A few minutes past 8 pm on March 6, 2015 my wonderful Aunt Sue passed away.  My heart is broken for my cousins now left to mourn their mom and all the people she touched in her lifetime.  I can think of no better way to honor her than to repost my tribute to her from 2011.  Love you Aunt Sue!

Everyone should have an Aunt Sue in their life.  I have so many wonderful memories of my Aunt Sue.   She has a big heart and generous spirit that welcomes everyone she meets.  My brother and I spent many childhood summers at her house, getting into mischief with our cousins.   These were lazy times for us.  I’ll forever associate her with endless hours of Yahtzee!, Canasta and a coffee pot that never seemed to empty.  Squabbles with my cousins over dishwashing duties and who was on which team for chores and for games.  While all of these things are treasured memories associated with my favorite aunt, those that seem to capture her best for me are the times I got to watch her do the “wedding ring” trick.  This was something of a rite of passage for the females in our family, though I have no idea how it works or why only Aunt Sue could do it.  Whenever one of the girls would get pregnant, Aunt Sue would get a visit.  She would take the girl’s wedding ring and run a thread through the ring.  Then, while the girl was lying down, she would hold the ring, suspended from the thread, over her usually very pregnant belly.  The motion of the ring – either back and forth or spinning – would determine the sex of the baby.  I was so fascinated by this whole ritual though I can’t remember which means boy or girl.  I would watch so carefully to see if she did anything to influence the outcome, but she never did anything to move the ring.  In fact, she made sure it was not moving in any way when she started.  I was so excited when my turn came and remember everything about it – except what she predicted and if she was right.  Oh well, it was magic to me just the same.

This weeks Diva Challenge, and the first I have finished on schedule, brought my Aunt Sue to mind.  Interestingly, this week’s challenge was issued by Sue Jacobs, CZT – coincidence?  I think not.  Sue’s challenge was to thread a string through a round object and allow it to drop onto the tile to form a random string.  Oh my!  Just like a wedding ring and a thread. I ended up doing three of these – one of which was created using my wedding ring in honor of my Aunt Sue.  It should come as no surprise that this one turned out to be my favorite of the trio.  I just might have to name it Sue – fitting, don’t you agree?


The first two weeks of my Fearless Journal

The first two weeks of my Fearless Journal

“Fear stops a lot of people. Fear of failure, of the unknown, of risk.  And it masks itself as procrastination.”  Lisa Anderson

I’ve been absent from my blog for a very long time.  Many upheavals in our home life over the past 18 months have sidelined my “writing muse.”  To quote John Lennon “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” I’m happy to say we have adjusted to the changes, embraced them and are looking forward to a great year ahead for our family.

Our once empty nest is now pretty full. Our two teenaged grandchildren now live with us and are thriving.  Said children come with pets, so we are now up to five dogs in the house.  Yes, five-three mini-schnauzers and two cairn terriers.  For long time followers who remember our bride, she is now expecting her first child!  A new grandchild after a 14-year gap – we are so excited.  After nearly forty years in his chosen industry, my husband found his dream job and loves what he does.

As for me, I’ve changed job titles a couple of times, but still work for the same great company.  I logged a lot of travel miles for them last year and it looks like more of the same for 2015.  I’ve been teaching around my local area and I’m almost done with my studio – The Wren’s Nest.  I still speak regularly as an advocate for safe driving and spoke to my granddaughter’s classmates this week about the impacts of distracted driving.  I had surgery last May, it went very well and I’m feeling great.  My latest new adventure is to sign on as a consultant for Rodan+Fields.  I’ve used their skin care for quite a while and it’s the best ever for specific skin concerns and anti aging.  I’d love to have you as a preferred customer or business partner.  Take a look.

Through it all, I have been tangling – how else would I relax?  This year, a group of CZT’s decided to select a word of the year.  We would begin a journal for 2015 guided by our word and the prompts posted by the group each week.  My word is FEARLESS, thus the quote for today’s post. When I saw that quote as I was trying to find my word, it resonated with me and I knew that was it.  So many times, when you really look at why you can’t seem to move forward, the very heart of the situation is fear.  I’m a bit behind on the prompts, but should find some time to dedicate to my journal today.  This group has reached its limit, but feel free to find your own word and follow where it leads you.  I want to recommend a great Facebook group started by fellow CZT’s, Chris Titus and Jenny Perruzzi.  They saw a lot of groups for Zentangle, but none that followed the original, purest form of Zentangle.  This would be specific to the materials – 3.5” square white paper, pencil and black ink.  Only pieces adhering to these guidelines are allowed to be posted.  They also add a “challenge” tangle once a week.  This group is so refreshing for me.  So often, we think more is better and can get away from what makes Zentangle so helpful when we really need that mindful meditation. Take a look if you are on FB and join us there if it appeals.

Thank you all for waiting out my dry spell and I hope you enjoy some of the work I’ve done while I’ve been living life outside the plan.

PS: Some images are small and little blurry – they were taken with my iPhone as many were RAZ’s left somewhere after they were completed.


Zentangle Inspired Chair by Blanche Nicols

Zentangle Inspired Chair by Blanche Nichols

“You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room.”  Dr. Seuss

This post is a tribute to a couple of First Chair Awards.  The first is a nod to my grandson, Jack.  I’ve been pushing him to practice his trumpet more at home in the afternoons.  Since he is living with us right now, this involves the sacrifice of the entire family’s ear drums in addition to the nagging from me.  He got confirmation of the value in these solitary moments with his trumpet when he achieved First Chair status for the first time this week.  If you have ever known anyone in band, this is no small accomplishment.  Jack was absolutely beaming with excitement when he got off the bus.  Good job, my buddy!

The second First Chair Award goes to my student, Blanche Nichols.  Blanche embraced Zentangle after taking a basic class from me some time back.  She bravely decided to tangle an upholstered chair.  Blanche had sent photos early in the project and I hadn’t heard from her in several months.  I was thinking about Blanche and her chair when lo and behold, I get this note (shared with her permission):


Finished at last.  My son says it’s his heirloom.  I love the outcome.  I tried not to use all of my favorite zentangles more than once.  It was hard to try to use all different ones, but it pushed me to the next level.  On a whole they are all different.  

Many thanks for all the photos and tutorials from CZT’s posts.  What an inspiration when one sees all the beautiful works of their art, how they used it.  Especially when I took your class and saw the zentangled Fashionista Girl on the tote bag.  Totally hooked.

Even better, she shared some images of her very amazing First Chair project.  I hope you are inspired, as I am, by Blanche and her wonderful chair.  Enjoy!


One of my favorite quotes.  Work in progress or done?

One of my favorite quotes. Work in progress or done?

“The muse is not an angelic voice that sits on your shoulder and sings sweetly. The muse is the most annoying whine. The muse isn’t hard to find, just hard to like – she follows you everywhere, tapping you on the shoulder, demanding that you stop doing whatever else you might be doing and pay attention to her.”  Harlan Coben

This quote resonates with the creative side of my personality.  I would imagine it is true for most people often defined as: creative, artistic, or even right-brained.  It is a piece of who you are and not being able to express your creativity nags at your consciousness like a mosquito.  Buzzing, buzzing, buzzing – never going away and just too fast and erratic to capture.  Most recognize it as a temporary block and trust that if they can quiet themselves it will eventually return.  The elusive muse.

For others, it’s not that their muse has gone on a temporary vacation.  For these people, something often happens that destroys that muse as they know it.  It’s like they have lost something vitally important and are forever trying to find it. Over the past few months, I have had the privilege of meeting two wonderful ladies who have been struggling to find a way to express their artistic side.

I talk a lot about the benefits of Zentangle when teaching a class, sharing various anecdotes throughout the class.  I mentioned that my granddaughter’s neurosurgeon was watching me tangle over an extended period of time and we began to discuss how I started.  He told me the fact that it helped me cope after her accident was really not surprising.  He described it as a “reset” of my brain patterns – well documented with those listening to specific Baroque music.  After a class in which I shared this story, one student came to me with tears in her eyes.  She said she was a singer and had lost her ability to sing with a brain injury several years ago.  The story resonated with her.  While she was tangling, for the first time she felt that artistic “muse” she had lost so long ago.  “I think I needed that reset.  Now I have a way to be creative and express myself again.”

Work in Progress: Journal began at CZT Retreat in Dallas

Work in Progress: Journal began at CZT Retreat in Dallas

The second woman described herself as an artist at the beginning of class.  I was a little surprised to see her struggle with several of the simple beginning tangles.  Clearly getting stressed and frustrated.  We did a little “one on one” and worked through it by the time the class ended.  She was optimistic about moving forward and started looking at some examples of my work after class.  Suddenly, she exclaims “THIS IS ART!”  My student became very excited about the possibilities.  She shared with me that she was getting ready to get rid of all her art supplies.  She hadn’t done anything in years and every time she tried she was stressed and upset.  Explaining that everyone I know who practices Zentangle comes with a unique story about why they do it, her eyes filled with tears.  “Mine is Hurricane Katrina. I haven’t been the same since. But I know this; I’m NOT getting rid of my art supplies now!”

Tiny Tangles from Dallas Retreat

Tiny Tangles from Dallas Retreat

Some people wonder why I teach Zentangle.  After all, I have a very busy and demanding job, full family life and struggle with my own personal health issues.  Every student has a story, some as simple as a bonding activity for mothers and daughters or a break in the day for a new mom staying at home with her baby.  But every one of them is important to me.  Sometimes the gift of Zentangle is a small token and others it is much bigger and harder to define.  I’ve always loved to give gifts and this feeds my need to give and make a difference in my little corner of the world.



“Do not take anything for granted — not one smile or one person or one rainbow or one breath, or one night in your cozy bed.” ~Terri Guillemets

I am happy to be here searching for the words to share my relief and gratitude.  My biopsy results came back negative!  Upon hearing the news, my husband let out a huge breath and with a very shaky voice told me how afraid he had been, but didn’t want me to know.  What a blessing to be able to once again go about the business of living our lives though with a heightened sense of how precious it is once again.

So many of you wrote personal notes, comments and sent thoughts and prayers for me and my family as we waited for the news about how our lives would proceed.  I cannot express how grateful I am for the caring hugs from so many people who only know me through my little blog.  Thank you from the bottom of my tangled heart!

The piece I am sharing today is my Celebration piece.  It is also in response to the Diva Challenge to use something for a stencil to form your string.  I ended up using a huge eraser shield bisected with a French curve that I had forgotten about having.  Since it was so large, this piece is done on 12” x 16” Canson Mi-Teintes Pastel paper.  I added a little stain around the outside to mask my smudgies from left handedness.  You will notice a great new tangle as yet unreleased to the public – contact your local CZT to get the drop on the general public.  Other tangles are Dragonair and Mooka plus the ever-present Tipple I just love to use.

I am thinking this one will be framed and be given a place in our home as a reminder to never take anything for granted and that I am blessed to have so many wonderful, caring people in my world.

Derwent Inktense pencils were used for the color on the pearls

Derwent Inktense pencils were used for the color on the pearls

“I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks.” Daniel Boone

The past few weeks have found me in a bit of a fog as I deal with the uncertainty around my health.  I just can’t seem to concentrate or retain information very well no matter how hard I try.  My visit with the surgeon last week didn’t do much to alleviate my brain fog.  Even the little information he was willing to commit to was a bit fuzzy around the edges.  “Two masses that look like one… Moderately suspicious with elevated risk factors.”  There was some peace of mind to be found though.  I am scheduled for biopsies this week and should have answers early next week.  That’s good concrete information for now.

The good news is you, my faithful readers, will be the benefactors of my brain fog.  I found myself waiting for my husband to return a rental car on a very busy Saturday morning after his first week on his new job.  As time dragged on, I pulled out my portable Zentangle kit (really a portable hard drive case from Office Depot) and started a new tile.  Once I finished the string of pearls, I wanted to try the tangle Leaflet by Helen Williams. I had watched her video last week for how to draw the tangle and thought I had it down.  Ah, not so, not so.  The brain fog you see.  I realized pretty quickly things were not progressing as they should, but in true Zentangle style, I just kept going.  In the end, I like what emerged and I think it may very well be a new tangle.  In that spirit, I recorded the step-outs to share with you.  This is a tangle that looks better if it is a little “wonky.”  Spacing can vary and the curved lines in step 2 do not have to match – don’t you love one like that?  A little bit of Leaflet, a dash of Betweed and a whole lot of my brain fog went into this one.  I call it A-fog.  I hope you enjoy and I would love to see what you do with this one.

Tangle A-Fog

Tangle A-Fog


My Dad and stepmom

My Dad and stepmom

Lost Dog: 3 legs, blind in one eye, missing right ear, tail broken, recently castrated, answers to the name of “Lucky”

It’s an old joke, but it always makes me think of my Dad.  If he were a dog, this would describe him pretty well.  He’s been through a lot and is still here to tell the tale.

Dad was born in 1940 in west Texas.  As he says, only God and the jackrabbits would want the place.  He got a tough start in life, contracting polio when he was just a toddler.  He has a few memories of being in an iron lung at Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas.  His parents were too poor to go with him, so he remembers riding the trains with the soldiers and they would give him nickels and see him safely back and forth to the hospital.  On one trip home, he and some other boys were playing with matches.  His t-shirt caught fire burning up the side of his torso and past the elbow on the inside of his arm.  One of the other children put out the fire with a mop.  Back then, the country doctors didn’t know much about treating burns and would let the burn fuse and then cut it apart.  He eventually went back to Scottish Rite for proper treatment of the burns.  Casts and many skin grafts over several years left him with a massive scar and healthy respect for fire.  At the age of 13, during a surgery to put a plate in his foot affected by the polio, he died on the operating table.  He was revived and refused to have any more surgeries for his leg.  That plate is still in his foot today.

Don’t think all this held him back.  He was forever in trouble and full of mischief.  As the youngest of three boys, he got into everything his older brothers did and a little more on his own.  He and his cousin Alan were particularly prolific.  He tells about convincing Alan that they should give each other Mohawks.  Alan went first – and dad backed out of the deal once he saw the results.  His aunt was not happy with Alan’s new hair style.  In another prank, the boys stuffed some old clothes to make a dummy and put it on the toilet for Alan’s mother to find.  Needless to say, it scared her to death.  She thought a bum had gotten in the house and was using the bathroom.  Or the time the boys found a box of balloons (condoms), blew them up and tied them all over his uncle’s model T.  His teenage years were no better.  I think he had 97 speeding tickets the first time he lost his license.  His mother made the mistake of taking his car to the store and was pulled over before she made it around the block.

If you’ve ever met a polio survivor, one of the things that stand out about them is an incredible drive and strong will.  They were taught that if you don’t move it, you lose it.  My Dad personifies this trait.  Daddy has always been a hard worker and one of my favorite memories of him as a young child had to do with him taking me to work.  He drove a delivery truck all over Texas and would sometimes take me along.  We would sing “Hit the Road Jack” and he would buy me Cracker Jacks and YooHoo to drink.  I would stand on side of him with my arm around his neck and think I was the luckiest little girl in the world.  Always my champion, he still brags about the best “bowl” cake he ever ate.

When I decided to go to college for the first time at age 32, my dad and my husband were my biggest cheerleaders.  Just 2 days after the start of my first semester at LSU, my Dad suffered a massive heart attack.  He barely survived and would have several more over the next few days.  Stints were put in and blockages cleared.  By the time it was done, he had only 1/3 of his heart working, but he was still here and saw me graduate college with honors.  Within a few months of my graduation, he was diagnosed with a massive abdominal aortic aneurysm.  He was a poor candidate for surgery, but came through with flying colors though he says we better never allow him to be put on a machine again.  It’s been nearly 20 years since then.  He was there for both daughters’ weddings, graduations from high school and college, and the birth of both of my grandchildren.  He is a great-grandfather 6 times over.  He’s a master farmer on Farmville and loves doing jigsaw puzzles on his computer.  I get regular calls from my stepmom “tattling” on him for something or other.  The most famous incident was flipping his riding lawnmower and having to wait for the gas to run out to get out from under it – because he disabled the safety feature that would have shut off the engine. Some things never change.

Whenever I want to getaway and truly relax, I go to see my Dad.  When I’m with him, even at the age of 52, I am the luckiest little girl in world.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!  I love you with all my heart.

Dad trying to cut a birthday cake I made for him.  I frosted a cardboard box.

Dad trying to cut a birthday cake I made for him. I frosted a cardboard box.

Dad and my youngest daughter.  I'm sure he was telling about her cheating on computer games.

Dad and my youngest daughter. I’m sure he was telling about her cheating on computer games.

My dad and his brothers - he's the cute one in the middle.

My dad and his brothers – he’s the cute one in the middle.

June 13 _03 “But God really did bless me, you know? He really said, All right. Come on. I’m still waiting for you. Get over here. Get over here.” Liza Minnelli 

It’s been an interesting few weeks filled with travel, work, life, an anniversary and my annual round of medical tests and doctor visits.  Much of it has been pretty ordinary with a few surprises along the way.  More about those surprises in a bit.

My husband and I celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary this year.  It’s hard to believe it’s really been that long.  He was offshore this year and I took some time to put together a nice post for Facebook that day.  As I scrolled through all the photos I have in digital format, I was struck by how few pictures exist of the two of us.  Especially in the early days of our marriage and there’s nothing from when we dated.  Considering the wealth of images available of my daughter and her husband, we seemed like real slackers.  But as I pondered this, I remembered something very important.  We came from the era of FILM.  You had to buy it, usually fairly inexpensive, but then you had to bring it somewhere (or mail it in) to be developed. Developing was always an expensive proposition and we were pretty poor in those early years.  Nor were our families big picture takers either – once again the expense was problematic.  What little money we did have to spare for those things focused on capturing our children.  The other thing that struck me was just much I change my hairstyle.  I tell people all the time that I am a poor candidate for tattoos because I can’t even settle on a hairstyle for longer than a few months.  I now have visible proof of that fact – at least a twenty year span of photos with no hairstyle the same.  A good many of the comments about the photos were about my ever-changing hairstyles.   I believe it’s mostly because I get bored, but maybe I’m really very vain.  After all, I am a Southern woman.  My husband pretty much looks the same.  After all, he’s a Southern man.

Surprises have been good and not so good.  After eight years with the same company, an incredible opportunity for a new job came knocking on my husband’s door.  Within a week, the deal was done and he’s very excited to start on this new adventure next week.  I am so happy to see him this excited about his work.  After 38 years of work in his field, that really is a rare thing. 

On the not so good side of the coin, there was a bit of unexpected news from all those routine medical tests.  Something was found on my mammogram.  Additional tests this week revealed a “cluster” and a referral to a breast surgeon next week.  Nurse daughter doesn’t like what she’s hearing and baby daughter is outraged that there is “no sense of urgency” from anyone. My granddaughter says it’s time to get busy with Zentangle. I’m taking the view that whatever is there won’t change in the next week and if it is bad, it’s very early stage.  I am choosing to embrace my quote for this week and know that God has blessed me, really he has. 

Fairy Garden entered in Tangled Fashionista contest.  Fairy and butterflies are from Tangled Fashionista.

Fairy Garden entered in Tangled Fashionista contest. Fairy and butterflies are from Tangled Fashionista.

I was trying to daydream, but my mind kept wandering.”  ~Steven Wright

It’s a bit of a random thought day.  It seems that every day is some sort of holiday, so I took a look to see what obscure event I might be missing this week.  So…who knew May 3 is Martin Z. Mollusk Day and just WHO is Martin Z. Mollusk?

It appears that M.Z.M. is a famous hermit crab from Ocean City.  For more than 37 years he has been appearing on the beach in Ocean City on May 3.  Why is this significant, you may ask?  Because if he sees his shadow summer will come one week early, of course I knew that.  Or maybe I was thinking about a groundhog with similar duties in February named Phil?  If memory serves correctly, his record was pretty poor this year since many areas around the country had snowstorms this week.  Maybe Martin does better; after all, he is quite old.  He also has a 100% accuracy record, gets annual physicals and lives in an assisted living Crustacean Condo.  To learn more about Martin Z. Mollusk and the special activities planned for May 3, check out the Ocean City, NJ website .

The whimsy associated with Martin Z. Mollusk Day carries through in the Zentangle Inspired Art pieces I am sharing today.  I had a great time at Tangle University, learning quite a few fun techniques from my fellow CZT’s.  Meredith Yuhas taught tangled gardens on toned paper and Marie Browning shared a fun technique with Tombow markers in a workshop she called Dr. Seuss’ Garden.  Sandy Steen Bartholomew sponsored a contest that challenged CZT’s to use images from her book, Tangled Fashionista.  Since my new skills were top of mind, I used them to finish 2 entries for Sandy’s contest.  Wonder of wonders, I was a runner up with my Fairy Garden.  I hope you enjoy the results of my little flight of fancy.

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