Addressing Zentangle Criticism

I’ve come across a fair amount of Zentangle criticism since I started tangling, and I’d like to address some of it.

Bold Zentangle featuring drama tangles on s Zentangle string created by HQ for CZT training

Sometimes people who’d like to give it a try are discouraged from exploration when they see others’ misgivings. I’m compelled to offer my perspective and a few rebuttals in the event anyone cares what I think.

Some people genuinely don’t like Zentangle, and that’s absolutely fair. If everyone liked the same things, what would even be the point? I’ve not met every CZT on the planet, but the ones I do know are perfectly fine not force-feeding people patterns and making everyone draw.

Different strokes (pun intended) and all.

Zentangle Patterns are just things I doodled in high school.

Yes, that is almost entirely the point. If Zentangle Patterns were overly complicated people might give up, the practice wouldn’t be enjoyable, and CZTs would throw up their hands in exasperation and be like, “Screw this. I’m out.”

Those who want a Lamborghini don’t tend to find them at Ford dealerships. People who want an advanced art class will probably have to look elsewhere.

Zentangle is accessible for kids, adults, and seniors. Heck maybe your cat can do it too. Enjoy Zentangle. Or don’t. It’s your decision, and we all want you to find something you enjoy (if for no reason than you might be distracted and leave us alone.)

Zentangle Pattern Molygon from CZT training day 3

I don’t like that CZT.

When I first started making YouTube videos, I criticized Trump and got blowback from a Trumper in the comments. A few people also leave cranky-pants feedback because I don’t make content tailored specifically to their preferences, without knowing at all how hard it is for me to make a video while simultaneously drawing and brain tumoring.

Seriously. Internet strangers have had problems with me since 1995, and I don’t anticipate that changing. Ever.

But however personable I am (or am not) and whatever my politics, I want everyone to know loathing me is not a sound reason to refuse to explore something as enjoyable as Zentangling.

Passing on Zentangle because a specific CZT turns you off is like not eating because you don’t like broccoli. In Zentangle, as in life, find your people.

Supplies cost too much.

I’m no stranger to the unaffordable, but I try to think about it like this: small businesses need to turn a profit to pay themselves and employees. If that means I can’t afford it, I can’t. It’s not a personal insult when something is out of my price range or feels like an unjustifiable splurge.

I mean, I think people who spend $50 to get their nails done when they could be buying a Project Pack are missing out on a bargain. That’s just me, though. You do you.

Zentangle Pattern Tripoli on White Zentangle Tile

The Zentangle Method feels religious.

Confession time. I don’t always take time out to do the gratitude thing when I Zentangle. If it makes you squirm, skip the part of the video that feels like woo to you. Zone out if you’re in a class at the library. Or decide that Zentangle isn’t your thing. As long as you’re not stealing someone else’s moment of Zen, we all just want you to be happy.

Bottom line is if you want to try it, I hope you will. Despite any criticism. Decide for yourself if you like it or you don’t.

9 Easy Zentangle Patterns

10 Zentangle Benefits for Cancer Patients

10 Zentangle Benefits for Cancer Patients

As a brain tumor survivor, I want everyone I know to try meditative art. It’s fun, but there’s even more to it. I mean, if oncology nurses reported Zentangle’s a good stress reliever in a pilot study, there must be Zentangle benefits for cancer patients too. And what about caregivers? Maybe we all need a little Zentangle in our lives.

Zentangle Pattern Molygon from CZT training day 3
Molygon pattern from CZT training

Calms Anxiety

Focusing on learning new Zentangle patterns is a way to take a break from worry. You deserve that respite, and when you Zentangle your mind just naturally drifts away from the things that cause you to dwell on your anxietes.

Distracts from the Pain

No matter if your pain is caused by the cancer itself or the treatment, concentrating on your Zentangle can distract from the stuff that hurts. Giving you something pleasing to focus on is one of the greatest benefits of Zentangle.

Passes Time

Having cancer can be lonely. Sometimes you just need to pass the time and Zentangling is a great way to do that. Plus at the end you have something nice to look at that you created. You can hang on to your art, or you can give it away.

Increases Gratitude

Taking a little time to appreciate our supplies—and the practice of Zentangle itself—is good for the soul. It’s easy to get caught up thinking about how terrible everything is while forgetting the good stuff is still there too. 

String taught by Sandhya Manne

Strengthens Family Bonds

Like a tabletop game, Zentangle gives you the opportunity to bond with the ones you love. When you’re done you can appreciate what each of you have created and there’s no age limit—kids, parents, and grandparents can all participate. 

Connects You with Patients

If you’re looking for something social to do at the infusion clinic, why not try Zentangle? You can learn new patterns or try a YouTube tutorial while you wait on that IV bag to empty.

Reduces Stress

Every part of having cancer is stressful. From commuting to treatments to wondering how you’re going to pay the bills, Zentangle can give you a break from all of that. It’s like, as the book is aptly titled, Yoga for Your Brain.

Bijou Zentangle Pattern Arukas
Arukas Zentangle Pattern

Provides Enjoyment

Drawing and doodling are two very therapeutic and enjoyable activities. The brain naturally relaxes when you do something creative like Zentangle.

Flexes Creativity

The human brain needs to be creative,  but cancer fatigue and chemo brain can make that difficult. Zentangle doesn’t require elaborate sketching or planning. You just go with it and see where each Zentangle pattern takes you.

Combats Insomnia

Whether your meds, the nausea, or the worry are keeping you up at night, you can occupy your time with meditative art. And because you don’t need an elaborate studio or fancy supplies, you can Zentangle in bed or from the comfort of your favorite chair.

I’m a huge fan of Zentangle obviously, and I recommend it to almost everyone I know. It’s great for cancer patients or anyone who needs a little break from the stress of life.

Get started now

Free videos: 9 Easy Zentangle Patterns

The Death of OJ Simpson and Other Stuff

The Death of OJ Simpson and Other Stuff

Seeing how it’s Friday and I’ve had a very responsible amount of iced coffee (for someone who suffers intermittent bouts of insomnia), I thought I’d do a roundup post of stuff I did or saw this week, starting with news of the death of OJ Simpson.

Generally, I see the world divided into two groups when it comes to cracking jokes about celebrity death: those who have accepted their own mortality and those who haven’t. 

Knowing I have brain cancer and am not fond of murderers, you might guess I belong to the former group, which means I don’t really buy into the concept of not speaking ill of OJ Simpson. Which means the internet jokes about expired juice are cracking me up.

The jokes about Simpson’s coffin being a juice box are also pretty funny.

Remember, kids: live your life in such a way that people are sad when you die. Don’t do domestic violence and murder.

***

Despite being an exhausted bundle of histamines this week, I managed to make more progress building up and improving this website.

I wrote a long-form article, Ultimate Guide: Helping a Loved One with Brain Cancer, in the hopes the search engine gods will smile on me.

I also fixed my contact form, tweaked my menu links, and tried to glean as much information about my (pretty low) site traffic as I could during my free 30-day trial of StatCounter. Maybe one day I’ll be able to afford being sick.

***

Speaking of, I’m doing the GoFundMe thing again. I got another bill from the hospital, noting I still owe them about $280. 

$16,000 in charges (not all out of pocket, thank dog, but not including charges from the surgeon, pathology lab, and anesthesiologist) makes me feel like I should at least have a diagnosis for these damn lymph nodes, but that’s not how this works.

That’s not how any of this works.

So until this website of extremely niche weed, cancer, and Zentangle content gets noticed (I am hopeful about that, actually) and starts raking in the big bucks (I am not delusional about that actually), I guess I’ll just keep updating my GoFundMe goal.

GoFundMe QR code
Tap, click, or scan to view.

***

Speaking of medical bills and GoFundMe, the Corolla has a car doctor appointment next week. Pray for it.

***

While we’re here might as well end with a couple of good jokes about the death of OJ Simpson that I saw on social media.

OJ can rest in peace, knowing his ex-wife’s murderer is finally dead.

Now that OJ Simpson’s dead, get ready for the woke police to dig up something shady he did.

It’s poetic Ford announced a recall on Broncos the same day Satan announced a recall on OJ Simpson.

I’ll see myself out. Have a good weekend, my friends.

One Zentangle Page a Day

One Zentangle Page a Day

I spent the entirety of this weekend working on my website. Things went well until I broke a couple of pages, including my How to Draw Zentangles: One Zentangle a Day page.

Luckily (or not) I had a single small cup of coffee yesterday morning and was awake all freaking night anyway. So I fixed it.

And by fixed it, I mean I started over from scratch. I’m slow and inefficient, but I didn’t want the page to be down longer than necessary. I’m trying to pay bills, and I need search engines to send traffic my way.

Hopefully How to Draw Zentangles: One Zentangle a Day (yes, that’s a clunky sentence but I need the keyword and my brain is mush) is slightly better now. It was really getting bogged down while trying to load far too many embedded Zentangle videos from YouTube.

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Plus, it was probably just time for a refresh. No one needs all 42 series videos on my site. It is literally YouTube’s job to host them.

I’m doing all these refreshes and tweaks and updates from my phone because I am still struggling to use my right (dominant hand) to control and click a computer mouse. Yes, my muscles are that weak.

It’s not ideal, but it’s possible. So I’m rolling with it.

I hope to revamp some more Zentangle webpages here soon, but some of the ideas I have are too big to implement without help, and I don’t think I can explain what I want or how to do it without utterly exhausting myself. And, at that point, why not just do it myself?

That’s the story of my life. The inability to delegate. So I’ll take it slow and maybe try to update One Zentangle page a day. Wish me luck or something.

Zentangles and Other Signs of Life

Zentangles and Other Signs of Life

One of the ways I can tell I’m feeling better is that I am getting things done again. That includes posting a new Zentangle video that went live this morning. Also I’m already thinking about new ones to create. Signs of life.

My hands are unsteady and my grip feels weird, but I did it. Taking a few minutes to watch this helps my channel, especially after a long hiatus like I took following my dad’s death and then doing more chemo a few months later. So, if you like Zentangles or just want to help a girl out, here you go:

These are actually the first nine patterns in the Project Pack 10, L5 spread. Sometimes what I need to do is go back to the basics. Anyway, if you’d like to take a look at the original videos from Zentangle HQ, you can find them here: Zentangle YouTube Channel.

I plan to film Part 2 soon, but I have to make sure I take some time off to take care of me and ordinary life things, and that requires being very intentional about how I spend my time. So check back here or subscribe to my YouTube channel if you want to know when the next video drops.

Thanks for supporting me and my channel.

More later, kids!

Learn to Zentangle for free!

Moving Right Along

Moving Right Along

Less than three weeks to the big move, and I have so much to do I can’t think straight. So, naturally, I picked today to start making some minor updates to this website. And even more naturally, I found out that somewhere along the way, I totally screwed up chapter numbering on my memoir. I don’t have the brain juice to figure out exactly what’s wrong let alone fix it right now.

The upshot is that I have an unpolished Chapter 25 that only exists as a draft and isn’t linked in the Table of Contents, and then in September I posted new content for Patrons as Chapter 26. And all I can say is, IDK? Maybe at some point I tried to publish Chapter 25 and forgot what I was doing?

The good news is that despite not having a clue what I was thinking or when I was thinking it, Chapter 26 was published and nothing happened. It was one of those things I had to post, even though the events were out of sequence and sort of didn’t deserve to be dropped in the middle of a very chronological retelling of my post-2006 life. But that’s just how things go when your brain cells have been irradiated and you’re writing a webserial memoir, I guess.

Anyway, it’s good news that nothing happened when my patrons read Chapter 26 because I desperately needed to see that I was indeed past my past. I’ve spent a long time in my head thinking that if I wrote or spoke out loud about being abused as an adolescent, I’d have to relive that trauma. And now I know for certain that talking about it is a separate thing than being in the midst of it. It only took me 25-ish years to figure that out. I’m used to bad and traumatic things leading to more bad and traumatic things, and that is one reason why I’ve been living in a constant state of hyper-vigilant catastrophizing.

(I know just enough psychological jargon to be dangerous. These words are the best I have, but by reading them, you agree to hold me blameless if I’m misusing them.)

My point is, I think, that writing about my abuser without any gaslighting—and without anyone treating me as a different person for having been (further) abused—it broke the cycle of fear that kept my anxiety cranked up to eleven all the freaking time. When nothing happened, my body was like, “Oh, stuff can happen without it necessarily being the end of the world.”

Mind. Blown.

For those who aren’t Patrons and are reading this like, “WTF are you on about, Emily?” I apologize. I tend to roll my eyes when people write vaguely about potentially intriguing goings on, but, just…sometimes it’s necessary, OK? Gosh!

Moving right along. It’s Inktober, and somehow the YouTube algorithm figured out that I wanted to watch ALL THE INKTOBER CONTENT. At first I was feeling a little bummed because I wasn’t participating in the Zentangle challenge this year, and then I was just enjoying watching everyone else while feeling literally zero pressure to post videos every day for an entire month. Coming off of CZT training last month, I definitely don’t need to be throwing in ridiculously difficult self-imposed challenges with a move on the horizon.

Speaking of. We didn’t hit the goal for the GoFundMe by October 1, but we got a helluva lot closer than I had anticipated when I set up the campaign. The GFM page remains open, and can still receive donations, but I’m not hyping it anymore. I need to switch my focus to getting things packed and sorted, if only in my mind. At least now that Chapter 26 has come and gone, there’s a little more brain space for organizing my life and my belongings.

I’m rambling at this point when I really need to be doing other stuff. So I’ll sign off for now. Enjoy your Monday like I enjoyed my caramel frappe this morning.

CZT Training Day 4

CZT Training Day 4

I’m a CZT (certified Zentangle teacher) now after completing CZT training day 4!

The past four days were harder than four years of writing papers in college in terms of perceived effort. I’m not complaining—just the opposite. I’m pretty damn proud of myself.

Saturday (Day 3) was the hardest day. The second full day of webinar-ing, and I worked on a lot of tiles. Toward the end of the day, my dominant hand went pins and needles on me. My lines got really wonky, and I started getting super cranky with myself—the truest sign of my fatigue is how grumpy I am.

That’s why yesterday’s blog post was so short. In fact, I’m not even close to recovered from the fatigue and exhaustion, so I should probably cut this short too. Here are the Zentangle tiles from today’s training:

I will definitely have to write about my other thoughts later about the online training courses later. For now I’m delighted to have made it through CZT training day 4.

You might also like:

How to Draw Zentangles: One Zentangle a Day

Are you a Certified Zentangle Teacher? Let’s connect!

CZT Training Day 3

CZT Training Day 3

Much tired. So weather. Words hurting. CZT training day 3.

I do not plan to write much for today’s blog post, because I need to save some energy to make it through tomorrow’s seminar. It’s the fourth and final day of training.

It’s so rewarding but also so difficult for someone with brain cancer and extremely high chemo-enhanced fatigue.

You might also like: Certified Zentangle Teacher

If you are interested in becoming a Certified Zentangle Teacher, checkout how at Zentangle HQ.

CZT Training Day 2

CZT Training Day 2

Today was a full day of CZT training. (Yesterday was just a half day.) I started off pretty strong considering Dan had to wake me up at the buzzer this morning. Thank Gandalf I can just drop into my chair without getting dressed or eating breakfast first, because oof!

Zentangle pattern Verdigogh

However, by lunchtime I was fading fast. I made it through nine tiles today, but my body was ready to lie down and my hand was getting shaky towards the end.

It was so worth the effort though, and I would never do so many Zentangle tiles in one day on my own. Which just shows me I am still capable of doing this at my own pace. I had been away from drawing for so long that I was having my doubts. You know how it is.

Anyway, it was a good day. Dan made sure I was fed, I liked some of my tangles, and—this huge—a wonderful friend made a donation to our GoFundMe that covered all of our moving expenses. I am so grateful to announce we are 90% funded!

I’d love to connect with you if you’re on the Mosaic App, whether yo are part of webinar 39 or not: EmilySuessCZT39

CZT Training Day 1

CZT Training Day 1

Today was the first day of CZT training. I had fun and learned some lovely stuff. But I am beat. (Drawing Zentangles is only exhausting when I’m trying to keep up.)

No spoliers of training to follow in this post. Promise. Just a recap of what I’m feeling and where my head is at.

I frequently tell myself I’m capable of doing hard things after I’ve completed something and am feeling accomplished. However, this webinar is going to be one of those experiences where I need to tell myself repeatedly during the thing to get me through. I ache from head to toe, and my brain is mush.

Sometimes sitting in a chair is incredibly difficult for me. Particularly when that chair is my desk chair. I bought it about 7 years ago off Amazon and picked affordability over comfort at the time because I was absolutely clueless about what the future held, and it is nothing short of brutal on my broken body.

But. BUT. I should sleep very well tonight. What I need to remember from now through Monday is that I can have all the ice cream I want when the the day is done.

Whether you’re completing the online CZT training right now or you’ve been on the Mosaic App for years, I’d love to connect with you there: EmilySuessCZT39

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