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“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” ― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
A few weeks ago, a lovely woman recommended I watch Brené Brown’s TED talk on Vulnerability. This is powerful stuff and inspired me to purchase the audio version of The Gifts of Imperfection. So, why am I sharing this with you? The two played a significant role in the way I chose to share myself and my art with others this week.
A couple of weeks ago, I was asked by several of my team leaders to share Zentangle with our wider group – 50+ professional colleagues. I was excited to be asked as I feel Zentangle dovetails very well with some of our wider research on wellbeing, mindfulness and brain function. I got all the supplies, packed up my doc camera and a few other things I use for teaching and boarded the plane for Austin – easy, peasy. While on the plane and driving to the resort, I began listening to my audio book. The more I listened and thought about my upcoming classes, the more I realized I would have to expose my imperfections to all my team mates to truly allow them to understand the power of Zentangle and what it does for me. Anything less would be dishonest and completely inauthentic. Up until this week, I’ve held much of the full story closely guarded – especially from my professional network. The more I thought about it, the more certain and terrified I became.
So, on Tuesday of this week, I gathered my courage to tell my story three times to people I admire and respect. I taught them the value of Zentangle and the little bit of Zen that comes from putting pen to paper and making one stroke at a time. As always, there were wonderful surprises along the way for all of us. The best for me was when a team mate came to me to say how much he loved the lesson but the story behind it even more.
Somehow the lesson followed me to Friday. This time I was speaking to high school students about the dangers of distracted driving for the Sudden Impact program. My presentation centers around my experiences as the family member trying to take care of loved ones after they are involved in an accident. This was THE reason I started tangling, got my certification and now teach Zentangle. I’ve been speaking for this program since 2011, a few months after my family’s accident and I’ve learned to distance myself a bit as I tell the story. Even now, the emotions can be very raw. This time, I allowed some of that to show, bringing myself and several others to tears. One of the state troopers told me that was by far my most powerful presentation.
Saturday morning found me in an excellent workshop by Leslie Zann. Leslie is a powerful speaker and my Rodan+Fields team mates brought her to New Orleans to help us in our professional development. Her message was around courage to live your best life. Leslie shared her own story and I was struck by the parallels I saw in my own experiences over the past week. I was now on the receiving side of another person’s willingness to be imperfect and vulnerable. When she talked about courage, attitude, gratitude and overcoming fear, every one of us understood that she had lived it and come out the other side to help us do the same.
Think about it a bit, as will I, and step out of hiding. Even if it’s just a tiny stretch outside your comfort zone. None of us are alone in this life and sometimes we need to share our authentic self to remind ourselves and everyone else we are wonderful and perfect in our imperfection.
“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 couple of years has 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 gifted us with a new granddaughter in May! A new baby 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 2016. I’ve been teaching around my local area. Sadly, my studio, The Wren’s Nest, was a casualty of the personal upheavals. It now shares space with my work office, but I still think of it as the Wren’s Nest. I still speak regularly as an advocate for safe driving and spoke to my granddaughter’s classmates recently about the impacts of distracted driving. 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. My face went from super dry with cystic acne breakouts to completely foundation free in about 6 months. 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? Last year, a group of CZT’s decided to select a word of the year. The idea was to create a journal for 2015 guided by our word and the prompts posted by the group each week. My word was and still 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. The journal languishes unfinished, but the word remains with me. I would encourage you to find your own word and follow where it leads you
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.
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?
“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.
“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!
“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.”
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!”
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.
“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.
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.
“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.
Quandary: a state of perplexity or uncertainty, especially as to what to do; dilemma. From Dictionary.com
A fitting word and tangle to describe the past week for me. No matter which way I turned, I was confronted with another quandary as I tried to meet a big deadline. By Friday, my shoulders felt as though they were touching my ears from the stress. Time to tangle and see if I could relax a little.
I haven’t done the Diva Challenge in a while, so I thought it would be nice to work on the latest from Laura Harms. Quandary again! This time it was in the form of the new tangle, Quandary, from Zentangle. As I tackled Quandary in my Tangle-A-Day calendar, I quickly understood how it came to be named. It reminded me of another tangle, Tripoli, which has always been a struggle for me. With Quandary, your eye bounces back and forth with the need to create the triangles and the flowers that emerge as you build the triangles. I got lost several times with less than stellar results. For me, it seems the secret is in the scale. I do much better with the larger scale. I tell my students all the time to play with scale when learning a tangle that they seem to struggle to master but sometimes forget to do this myself. With my new awareness, it may be time to try Tripoli and Assunta, but much larger in scale.
I also took some time to “finish” a few things. When teaching, as I did last weekend, I often start a tile or demo a tangle on one and move on. What’s left is a pile of really random tiles, some with only a tangle and no strings, others resembling most of the tiles I do in a basic class since I keep the string and tangles fairly simple. These are a challenge to complete and I’ll tackle a few from time to time just to see what I can do with them. While working on my Diva Challenge, I realized a previous page in my calendar had never been shaded so I thought it might be interesting to share the before and after on my blog. Shading really is a personal preference and there are tangles that I never shade, and others that change dramatically with a little bit of pencil strategically applied. To really learn more about shading, take a look at Made in the Shade by Cris Letourneau. Cris earned her CZT along with me in 2011. This book is a deep dive into the world of shading specific to Zentangle and is well worth the investment. You can see more of Cris’ work here.
Give Quandary a try and I hope you enjoy the fruits of my various dilemmas.