McHappy Day – Golden Arches to Joy


Just Be… Good Enough

When the shapes aren’t touching, I prayed for boundaries. When they are, I prayed for family. When they switch colours, I prayed to be encouraged. I chose a tangle I struggle with to pray that I would remember the experiences God has given to prepare me for each day and that I would trust Him with tomorrow.

Maybe you as a reader need to read today that you are good enough already. No need to prove it… just be.

Exploring Alcohol Markers

I needed to buy some alcohol markers in the gray scale for a Zentangle class in April…little did I know that it would open the door to a lot of exploration!

The first thing I had to do, yes had to, was organize the set I ordered into their numerical order. I may not put things back where I get them from but I love alphabetical and numerical ordering. It feels secure and safe. I had to get over that numbers were missing… And eventually I did.

I have since jumped in with two feet and am doing a Skillshare class to learn how to use these markers to their fullest. The image below is me trying to tackle the most difficult of the three shapes that were demonstrated – the sphere. Since my 4YO loves space and was sitting beside me, it was easy to figure out what to attempt. He was my art director with choosing colours and making sure I had every detail captured for the different planets and dwarf planets.

Stay tuned for more of my journey as an artist. I would love it of you commented on projects you have done using alcohol markers or a new media to you!

Learning How to Teach

One of the most interesting aspects of being a Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT) is that you get to learn in order to teach. The journey of exploring Zentangle techniques is a wonder in itself… but as a CZT, I CAN translate my exploration into classes for others. Sometimes it works and sometimes it really does not.

One of the first group classes I taught, I had far too many tangles to teach in the time allotted, I was not at a strong level with the technology I was using, and I found myself impacted by the facial expressions of my students. It was not ideal, but the learning experience of it was exactly what I needed. From this experience, I learned that I do better with a whiteboard demonstration, adventurous students, and a flow-style class. I also learned that I need to set my students up for success by being confident, clear, and by sharing my heart and mind intentions. That brings me to the most recent class experience I wanted to share about – Maptangling with Fragments.

Class prep and demonstration pieces

You are allowed to say “Thank You”

I started by sharing my hopes for the time together, my appreciation for each student, and my rule. Golden Rule of a Tangled Artist Class: “You are allowed to say thank you. You are not allowed to put down your work.” I remind students that we often hear a compliment and our gut reaction is “But I could have… ” or “I should have this…” or “I wish it was…” Like in the scene from Wayne’s World shown below. Terry tells people he loves them all through the movie… Garth knows best – “Just say, ‘thank you'”.

210 WAYNE`S WORLD by Sullivan ideas | wayne, wayne's world, world

Terry – “I love you man.”
Russel (Driver) – “I love you.”
Terry – “No you don’t man. I LOVE you man!”
Garth – “Just say ‘thank you.'”
Terry – “I love you man”
Russel (Driver) – “Thank you.”

Terry hugs Russel

For the record, I am the Terry in the above scene. During the pandemic, I have told more people that I love them than I have in my entire life! What I add to my golden rule is that the students can trust that I am genuine and honest with what I say. I will not compliment someone’s tangling or drawing in a fake way. In order to do this though, I need to treat myself the same way (the well-known golden rule).

From the rule and intentions I move into what they can expect from our time together in terms of instruction, technology, and learning outcome. This sounds dry but I have seen rest come over the student’s faces as I share what journey they are on with me. It also gives me a nudge to follow my schedule.

When you “just be” as an artist, beauty is found….

In this class I recently did, each student asked for what they needed throughout the time, I did multiple demonstrations on the whiteboard so they could choose their own colours and approach. As you can see below, the results were beautiful!

I had no idea while I was teaching what splash each student started with or what colours they were going to choose. For supplies I only encouraged that the pen choice be a darker version of the splash laid down.

The top image shows a student playing with three partnering colours on the wheel: yellow, green, blue

The bottom image shows a student letting the splash dictate what pen they chose to ensure that the original background colour choice was not lost.

Both show how unique each of us are and how beauty is created when we take a leap and “just be” as artists.

Consider taking a look at my class offerings and sign up here! Your leap towards seeing what beauty appears will be worth it!

Back to Journaling… transforming my mental health.

Just completed my first journal entry from the prompts I received from @chrissiemurphydesigns  through her Expressive List challege.

Transformation led to trauma which led to me looking up some verses which led to @youversion verse of the day which reminded me that God has been with me through every transformative trauma… as a place of safety in times of trouble. Psalm 59:16.

Woah. That was a lot to take in for me… but I’m grateful for the stone thrown into the pond of my mind and heart and the grace to see the ripples of pursuit.

I hope to continue journaling and need to remind myself that each time does not need to go deep, but it can. Below is a transcription in case you have trouble reading my writing

Transformation means becoming something or someone else at the end of the journey. It doesn’t have to be physical… it can be spiritual, emotional, or social. It means there is a clear difference. I find trauma to be one of the biggest triggers to transformation. I can’t be the same person I was before the trauma… I have been through something that transformed my world view, my self view, my God view… No matter how I long to go back, I can’t. I carry the experience forward and it is part of me… sometimes it hurts the new me, sometimes it blesses.
Romans 12:2b… “but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”
1 Corinthians 13:12 “for now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully, but as I also have been fully known”

Hospitality – June 13, 2021

When hearing some of the definitions of hospitality this morning… “to pursue…” and “befriending strangers”, I realized that these are some of the philosophies that shape me as a Certified Zentangle Teacher and ultimately who I am as a person.

It was in my college days when a friend told me I was a “pursuer”. She gave a word to fit the boldness that seemed to flow through me as I continuously got to know anyone who would make eye contact with me. Sometimes the pursuit would be reciprocated, but either way I pressed forward whether rejection was in my path or not.

This month is a minefield for me in terms of grief triggers. June captures the anniversary of when my father passed away, his birthday, and Father’s Day. This year, I am trying to intentionally remember good things and joyful rippling effects of my Dad’s life as a way to fill my tank for the possible onslaught of grief in the coming weeks.

This “befriending strangers” concept put my Dad’s face and life on my mind – I believe for a reason. He modeled for me regularly the same patterns I see in myself of talking to strangers with no fear of rejection and how to treat people. He treated anyone serving him as if they were the most important person in that moment. This is something I have done from a young age also and is something that has made Covid-19 restrictions difficult to walk through. Lately, I have been grateful that my husband and I have gone into grocery stores versus curbside pick-up so I can talk to cashiers and thank them for working so I could get what I needed. I had an awesome conversation with someone the other day about how the store was supporting McMaster Children’s hospital and why I wanted to donate. She was amazingly receptive to my chatter and even shared a small amount of her journey. Being honest, I stuttered as I am still re-learning how to talk to people outside of screen, but seeing the smile in her eyes and hearing her amusment, made the momentary pursuit absolutely worth it.

In the realm of teaching Zentangle, I think of the pursuit part as putting classes out into the world and seeing who needs them and then taking that opportunity to help people befriend strangers. Recently, I was able to teach my first “Broken Fragements” class with a completely random set of people. It was great to see what they had in common as we learned and tangled together. Though spread across the ocean and North America, we were united for 2 hours in the joy of each other’s company, individual inspiration, and the awareness that we may not have ever met if not for the pandemic pushing things to a virtual state.

I hope I can continue to see much more joy and rest in showing hospitality as a Certified Zentangle Teacher while continuing to see who is placed in my path as a person.

40 Days of Writing Round 2: Day 1 – A little more conversation…

There is something about inter-generational learning that fascinates me, especially when it comes out of conversation. As a child, I never shied away from talking and interacting with those older or younger than me one-on-one. I think it comes from a deep desire to learn from other people and to encourage others through life.

Have you ever left a conversation feeling like you can take on the world or get through the next few moments? Have you ever started a conversation with no intention of depth only to finish it feeling like you never want to do small talk again?

I have learned to see when to sneak in depth into every day life and let people join or stay close to the surface…but mostly I have learned to listen. It never ceases to amaze me what wisdom and truth and love and grace can be found by engaging others in conversation.

My Dad taught me that boldness matched with talking is an amazing platform to meet people and be changed by them. As I sometimes rode along in his cab as a kid, I witnessed his ability to change what could be a mundane trip across the city into an adventure by asking that right question or sharing that particular story.

So, the next time you’re in line or waiting for the muffler to be fixed or sitting in the caf at lunch, why not strike up a conversation with someone? Why not ask that person what they think about life, the universe and everything? If they only say 42, you’ll have an excellent segway into figuring out if they really do speak nerd…but you’ll learn something.

November 6, 2014 – Day 30 Reflection on Writing Challenge… an excuse to write about him (40 Days of Writing Challenge)

I made it so far and yet did not get to my 40 day goal. That being said, I’m happy with reaching 29 days given the real life priority shift I encountered in September and October. Sometimes writing takes a back seat to living and I’m quite ok with that. And so to end this season of writing I’m going to use my blog as an excuse to share about the real life priority shift that I cannot seem to not talk about. Brace yourselves, this could get cheesy, sappy, romantic… well, in the words of a great man, “get over it.”

It started with coffee…

I often do not see God’s faithfulness in the present but rather in hindsight. I had no idea that asking to tag along for what I knew to be a typical mid-morning coffee routine at work would be a new beginning. My only thought was, “he’s interesting, I’d like to see why” or something along those lines. One day became two, two became five, and so on.

I once met with my pastor and asked a simple dating question, “Got any dating advice?” “Just be.” he said. What do you mean “just be”? How on earth am I supposed to do that?!!! I was sitting there in my at the time insecure state wondering what he was talking about. By God’s grace, the work of the Holy Spirit, and the restful presence of a good man, and I think it has clicked. Identity in Christ at the foundation of being, and layered with who God has made me and who He is shaping me to become moment by moment. Without confidence in Christ and recognizing God as the true Pursuer, dating would not work for me. Moment by moment.

With the man I’m speaking of, I can honestly “just be” with and wowzers, it is the craziest feeling. What do you mean I can be me: no holds bar, bold and open and vulnerable me? Really? Are you sure? You don’t want to take back the offer? No. (I can hear him saying it even as I write these questions). NO! Be the woman that you are, cause that’s who I thought “she’s interesting, I’d like to see why.”

I think perhaps my favourite aspect of getting to know him better has been watching prayers being answered in who he is and the way he expresses his intentions. I can see how God is using him to redeem and break down walls and speak truth into lies for me. I am seeing what rest, joy, contentment, and encouragement look like in a dating relationship versus some of my past experiences of fear, insecurity, and confusion. And I see a lived out theology, love for God and love for others. What an example of Christ he is as he seeks the best in others and draws it out with acts of service, care and being present.

I once chatted with a friend about how hard it can be to just rest in what God has planned when you have a big imagination. You feel like you can imagine all the possible scenarios or situations and so do you really need God? And then God gives you the un-imagineable and you wonder how you thought you knew so much. You look to the heavens with tears of joy at the way He has provided what you didn’t even know you needed. You anticipate what is coming next as you get to know such a wonderful man… wondering, if he is this great already, Lord, what more are you going to reveal? And I hear, “Wait and be faithful. I got this one covered.”

I know you’re reading this, my dear one, and there is a smile on your face as you read my heart expressed so publicly in regards to you. “Just be”… because that’s exactly what I love: that you’re you and no one else.

October 20, 2014: Day 29 – The Top Five Things I Have Learned About Life and Myself in the Last Twelve Months (40 Days of Writing Challenge)

IMG_0712.JPG Mentoring is organic. A year ago today I started volunteering with the Pathways to Education Mentoring program. I wanted to rekindle the desire to mentor youth and thought this program would be a good idea. At first, I could see that I was trying to force connections…as I started to be myself more and more, certain grade nines would come and connect with me. I didn’t have to pursue them or try too hard. It was awesome. I just had to let it happen, organically.

IMG_0713.JPG“Just be”. Best advice I have received in a long time. The context was when I was asking my pastor for dating advice, but I realized it could be applied in general to life and myself. As a friend, just be. Rather than over analyzing too much, just be. Someone special has given me the surreal freedom to just be, and he’s amazing. The best part of this learning is that as I have settled into living out just being me as God made me, I am finding the blessing of rest. I please people less and I explore who God made me more. I can only be me, no one else can, might as well live it out to the fullest (Psalm 139:14).

Wait, and be faithful. Learning to wait when all I want is instant gratification has been a difficult concept to grasp. And once you do finally start waiting, being faithful to God while wanting an answer is tough. For work, I was working a temporary contract that seemed to be the right fit. I felt God saying, “wait, and be faithful”, so, persevere, work hard, keep trying no matter what outcome. It was easier at the beginning of the set time frame…but when you don’t know the timing of the end result…you struggle with waiting. I want what I desire now Lord! “Wait, and be faithful,” He says, “I have everything under control.”

Let go. As I have watched a best friend learn what it means to let go, I have been trying to identify the areas in my life where I need to do likewise. There is hurt, resentment, fear, and insecurity to let go. There are relationships that were not beneficial to let go. There is the letting go of physically seeing my Dad as I grieve that loss. On a basic level, it is moving on from a frustrations, or disappointment knowing that letting go keeps me sane and chill.

IMG_0707-0.JPG Identity in Christ. Having identity in Christ at the centre of my life and who I am has brought moment by moment grace. By focusing on what Christ has done on my behalf in showing the Father’s love, I feel more confident and free. I can rest in the knowledge that I am being completed by the work of the Holy Spirit. I have hope in the midst of life’s suffering and uncertainty.

Well, I wonder what I would write about in another twelve months. Perhaps these revelations will just be built upon and strengthened.


October 16, 2014: Day 28 – Season of Life (40 Days of Writing Challenge)

I loved that I was given this topic because it is a great reminder of how we often try to fit life choices and experiences into a societal blueprint rather than focusing on what the Master Architect is designing moment by moment. I was recently in conversation with a couple of co-workers regarding getting my second level driver’s licence and wanting to get a car at age thirty-one. As we were talking, one co-worker said, “My Mom says that you do things at the right time because it will make them easier”. I got instantly defensive and retorted with, “What is the “right” time? As if the timing I find myself in is “wrong”?”.

For many years of life, I have looked at circumstances through a lens that says I should have done things in a certain order to be successful as an adult. You know what I mean, the North American dream – get your license, finish high school, go to college, get married, have kids, retire… so your kids can, get their license, finish high school… etc. Ironically, at the “proper” or “normal” ages, I didn’t even give it a second thought that I missed something. I just kept on going perhaps because of being really laid back or even better due to a certain amount of resilience. Sometimes, I needed to ignore the “right” or “traditional” ways of doing things because I had other priorities to focus on. I could go into detail as to different small and big life traumas, but I won’t, I will just say that God orchestrates things in His way and His timing. Instead, I would like to share a couple of analogies come to mind as I have tried to navigate growing up and discerning what being an adult means.

puzzle-piecesOne analogy is the idea that we make choices as an adult like putting pieces into a jigsaw puzzle. Only God sees the big picture but He gives us pieces that need to be put into place. If we jam a piece in like a child pounding our fist onto the table, the overall picture looks distorted. Sometimes we have to take a piece out and try it somewhere else. Without stretching the analogy too far, it’s about taking leaps of faith and making wise decisions. I simply couldn’t focus on certain expected life things while God was teaching me about others.

sheet music Another analogy that I learned is about growing up spiritually as an adult relates to God being a composer who puts the music in front of us (His Word) and gives us a wonderful Conductor (Holy Spirit) to guide us while we play the instrument we have (our gifts, personality, life experiences). If we go off the music in front of us, the sound is distorted and the Conductor has to redirect us back to what is true. Practically, I need to be in the Word and seeking God’s direction for how to live as I am being made more like Christ (the Perfect musician).

archerLastly and perhaps the most recent analogy to come to me through a friend, we are the arrow in God’s bow. Sometimes in life we feel like we are being held back… like there is a tension between where we are and where we feel God is leading us or directing us. If you imagine an arrow in a bow and in the hands of an archer, you see that the bowstring is pulled back to the mouth of the archer. While we are being pulled back and held in tension, waiting to be released to the intended target, God is preparing us and teaching us so we are sure to hit the mark. It is usually in hindsight that we see God’s faithfulness as we are blinded by the present struggle or dissatisfaction or misdirected focus. Typically after we hit the target do we realize what He was planning all along.

Ecclesiastes 3:3-8 (NASB)

A Time for Everything

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—

A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.