My mom used to get mad at me for doodling during church. Not really when I was a child, but as soon as I moved up to my tweens and teenage years doodling became disrespectful and no longer allowed. I learned to cope with my wandering mind in other ways during the sermons and such, but I never really stopped doodling in other areas of my life that required long attention spans.
Like school, for example.
I did pretty well in high school. Graduated in the top 10% of my class with a solid GPA. I carried that on through college, though my work load also picked up in college so my GPA wasn’t quite as stellar. But, I never stopped doodling during the lecture classes. All of my notes are filled with random drawings (nothing spectacular, truly just doodles) in amongst the important pieces of information from the talking head at the front of the class. Still, doodling in church remained a no-no in my brain and I never did it.
It happened slowly at first. I’d doodle, but not throughout the entire message. Just here and there when I felt my mind wandering. And what I discovered was that the doodles helped me to stay focused on the message so much better. I think it’s because it helps reign my wandering thoughts in and focus them in one direction which, interestingly enough, opens me up to being able to retain more of what I’m hearing.
Anyway, I decided to embrace the doodling and let it be a tool for me when I need to focus or when I just want to pass some time doing something (sort of) artistic. Around the same time, I happened to stumble upon something called “Zentangles” and I thought I’d just been handed an “Ok” from God to keep doodling. …ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration…but, I was pretty happy to find out about this art form by happenstance.
Zentangles are structured patterns that can be combined to create images. The images can be abstract or concrete, but multiple tangles are generally used to create one image (see pic below of some I’ve done). I’m just starting my Zentangle journey so I’ve got a long way to go and a lot to learn, but I love being able to create something, from scratch, using simple patterns.
And I plan to keep doing them for a long time to come. Even in church.