In the the northern hemisphere, it’s getting to that time of year.
Even if you love winter (as I do), the mid-winter drearies can strike and your creative spirit heads south, with or without you.
When it starts, somehow, some way, it’s time to shake things up!
This year, as luck would have it, I was already registered for a Zentangle/Zendala class.
What is a Zentangle®?
I love it when I see evidence that the Universe is taking care me.
I had to register a couple of months ago, to guarantee my spot. I decided to go for it out of curiosity and for the off chance of meeting some new people in my new area, but little did I know that the workshop would happen smack in the middle of my mid-winter drearies.
A day before the workshop, on a particularly dreary day, I received the reminder email and did a little research. And, what do you know … it turns out the workshop is just what the doctor ordered! Here’s how founders Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas define Zentangles®:
“Zentangle is an easy to learn and relaxing method of creating beautiful images from repetitive patterns. It is a fascinating new art form that increases focus and creativity. Zentangle provides artistic satisfaction and an increased sense of personal well being. … And it’s fun!” (Bolding mine.)
What could be better when you get mired in the mid-winter drearies?! It gets better …
What is a Zendala?
Most of us know what mandalas are: circular spiritual symbols found in many religious traditions. They are often used to help focus attention for meditation and/or prayer.
Carl Jung, in his exploration of our universal symbols, popularized the word in the west. In his own personal sketches, he saw the pattern emerging and observed:
“The mandala serves a conservative purpose–namely, to restore a previously existing order. But it also serves the creative purpose of giving expression and form to something that does not yet exist, something new and unique …” (Bolding mine.)
Again, there’s that link to creativity.
I’m familiar with Jung’s theories and his exploration of universal symbols. The logo for this blog is one of them: a variation of the ancient ouroboros, a circular symbol of the cycle of destruction and creation. (That’s how I see reinvention: a release of what was for what can be.) Basically then, the logo is my mandala for new beginnings.
So I assumed that a Zendala would be a Zentangle in the shape of a mandala. But, with that, comes the additional layer of meaning (don’t you love universal symbols for that?!):
“Mandala meets Zentangle in a harmonious union that will positively inspire you to put pen to paper.” ~ Linda Farmer, CZT
Now that was music to my mid-winter drearies-afflicted writing brain!!
Fun and Connection
It was really fun! That alone is something we writers often forget about: we need to have fun.
We also need to connect with others. I struggle with that one a little. It’s not just that I’m an introvert, but I also work alone from home, in very rural surroundings.
It’s beautiful. It’s peaceful. It’s inspirational. And it can also be a little crazy-making if you don’t get out every once in a while.
I met some super-nice women and I hope to meet up with them again. One of them was an artist—Karen Richardson—and I’m giving her a little plug here because she does such beautiful work.
Go and take a look. Not only does she sell her art, but she also offers workshops. Painting in watercolor is something I’ve always wanted to learn so I’ll be making plans.
Pause and Reflection
New activities, new people, new surroundings. They all fuel reflection. Here’s some of what I thought about afterward …
#1: Perfectionism is still the elephant on my shoulders. Sitting beside an accomplished artist while learning to draw a Zendala is a great way to trigger that demon! But, as we all know, none of us are perfect and expecting it to be otherwise is a sure-fire way to squelch our creative confidence.
#2: We are like snowflakes. See that picture above? We all received the same tools and the same instruction and yet no two drawings are the same.
#3: Comparison is good … and bad. If you’re doing it to learn (like I did when I kept looking at Karen’s handiwork), that’s okay. We need good models. But, if we’re doing it to find fault with our own work it’s just bad and, yes, I did that too. (Loop back to #1.)
#4: Get out more. Working from home presents challenges, one of which is isolation … especially after you move to a new town. I miss face-to-face contact with intelligent and engaging people (aside from my husband). I’m super excited for things like BAM 2016 in Vegas (yay!!), but I have to find some ‘real people’ close to home as well. How nice it would be to talk over tea, share a walk or wander through some shops.
#5: Cut computer time. My work, my network, my courses, my research … they’re all on the computer, so I don’t want to walk away from it all together. However, my creative soul and my mental health are nagging at me: “writers cannot live on screen alone”. I’m not sure how I’m going to do it, but I must try or burnout will surely follow. To start: two days a week, I’m going offline. (I’ll let you know how that goes.) I’ll even do more drawing.
#6: Loosen up! When you’re drawing tangles, the lines and designs improve dramatically when your hand is relaxed. Forget about keeping a firm grip on the pen, and pushing down too hard on the paper is a sure way to wreck it.
#7: Breathe. As I wrote a couple of months ago on Kathy Gottberg’s SMART living website, breath is our constant companion. It calms. It revitalizes. And I found myself holding mine when I started to draw. The more I remembered to breathe, the better my experience of “tangling” became.
#8: Do one thing at a time. I know, sometimes we feel like we have to multitask if we’re ever going to get everything done. But, really, with just “one stroke at a time”, you will create something more wonderful than you can imagine.
If you’re curious and want to learn more, here’s a few online places to check out:
Maria Thomas (co-founder of the Zentangle® practice.)
The Book of Zentangle
YouTube Video: “Zendalas-How to Draw a Mandala Zentangle Style”
News article: “Zentangle draws on her inner peace”
As you know, I love to hear from you …
Do you “tangle”? Or do you have another creative outlet that inspires and rejuvenates you?
We may be writers, but sometimes we need more than words to spark our creativity. Do you agree?