Travel Activity: Zentangle (Meditative Doodling Art)

zentangle airplane

A few months ago I posted about Zentangle when I first learned about it and tried it, and since the beginning, I thought it would be a great travel activity for airports, airplanes, and even in-hotel/hostel downtime. Let’s do a refresher:

What is Zentangle?

zentangle 3

“Zentangles are pieces of unplanned, abstract, black and white art created through a very specific Method from an ensemble of simple, structured patterns on a 3.5-inch (89 mm) square paper tile.”

That is the technical definition by the creators but I describe it as: meditative, stress-relieving, time-passing awesome doodling art.

I’ve always been a doodler, so when I learned about Zentangle it quickly caught my attention as my doodles have always been unstructured repetitive patterns. With Zentangle I learned how to make my doodles more artistic.

How to make a Zentangle in 7 steps

1. Use a 3.5 inch square paper called a “tile.” (The purpose of the tile is so that the artist is able to rotate the tile and allow the patterns to be taken in different directions.)

2. With a pencil, draw four points inside the square.

3. Connect the points. (Lines don’t have to be straight)

4. Divide the new area into sections with lines called a “string.”

5. With a permanent pen (Micron pens recommended) fill each section with a different pattern called a “tangle.”

“Asian Fans” tangle.

6. Add shading with a pencil. (Optional but it adds depth)

See the difference between the middle one and the far right one with and without shading. source

7. Sign and date. (In a corner or at the back of the tile)

These steps are open for interpretation. Feel free to use them as an inspiration guideline. Don’t feel like the tile needs to be 3.5 inches, I started making zentangles in a notebook. Don’t feel that you need to fill all the white space, either. You can make zentangles out of specific shapes like an animal’s silhouette or a flower, it doesn’t have to be a square. And finally, feel free to use color!

  owl zentangles: source


Why is Zentangle a perfect travel activity?

In my most recent trip, I tried zentangle as a travel activity for the first time and it was great. I started a zentangle mid-flight of my first 3-hour flight and finished it in my second 3-hour flight (I’m a slow zentangler). Here is why it was great:

  1. Doing Zentangle increases focus and creativity while relaxing your mind at the same time. Traveling may be stressful for some and zentangling helps keep the stress away.
  2. An obvious but important reason, it keeps you occupied during those boring flying times.
  3. Zentangle tools are extremely portable and TSA hassle-free. The tiles, pens, and pencils are lightweight and don’t take up much space which makes them perfect travel companions.
  4. It provides artistic satisfaction and confidence. It lets you be creative whether you are an artist or not. The magic of this comes from the unpredictable and unplanned nature of a zentangle. You may have a silhouette to begin with but the outcome of the piece is completely unknown and without expectation until you finish it, allowing you to go with the flow of the pen and preventing the kind of disappointment that an artist encounters when a painting looks different to what was pictured in their mind.

I bought this zentangle 9-piece set on amazon that comes with 3 micron pens, 1 pencil and 5 small original tiles. They also have the 3-piece and 11-piece sets.

This was my travel creation.

This was my travel creation.

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Sharing My World – Growing Up and Age

The Share Your World –  writing challenge is brought to us each week by Cee via her Photography Blog. It consists of 4 questions she makes to get to know each other in the blogsphere.

These are this weeks’s questions:

For your blog do you basically use Windows or Mac, laptop, desktop, pad, or phone?

Macbook Air.

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to have a music band with 12 songs in my album. Then, around 10 years old, an uncle’s girlfriend instilled in me the interest of studying hospitality & hotel management because she taught me how to fold napkins like swans and I decided I wanted to work in the ice hotel in Finland.

I also wanted to be a dancer, and finally in High School, I decided I wanted to work in the film industry (as an editor or director of photography).

I did study film but I became none of those things.

Did you grow up in a small or big town? Did you like it?

mexico city view

The view from my old apartment in Mexico City.

BIG. I grew up in Mexico City, which has about 8.8 million people in technical Mexico City, and about 21 million people in the Greater Mexico City, which includes a metropolitan area surrounding D.F.

I did like it. I loved it. The only things that I didn’t like so much were the traffic and the pollution, but overall it was a great place to grow up and I still enjoy visiting.

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

If I woke up with amnesia and I didn’t know my age, my guess would depend if I looked at myself in the mirror or not. If I did, then I would think I’m 15-18 years old even though I’m about to turn a quarter of a century old. I have always looked younger than my actual age, and I know people are just being nice, but I’m getting tired of the words “you will love it when you’re older”. I haven’t liked looking younger because it makes many people underestimate me and not take me seriously, and I’m also getting tired of getting carded all the time. Plus, I don’t need to look young, I’m already happily married and my husband is older than me by quite a few years.

If I did not look myself in the mirror I’d go for 30-35 years old. Even this silky quiz agrees with me. I consider myself more mature than my actual age, I guess getting married young adds to that. I have no interest in going out and getting wasted anymore, I rather go watch a movie and have a glass of wine. But I’m still up for adventure and I would hop on a plane to explore a new country on a budget without hesitation, just give me a week’s notice hehe. I also still love Pixar movies, I wonder how old do you have to be to stop enjoying those? I bet there isn’t a limit.

I’m curious, how old would you think you are if you didn’t know? And what did you get in the quiz?

7 Practical Tips For Stress-Free Travel

Arriving to Pheonix

I love traveling. I love airports. I don’t remember ever a time when I didn’t want to go on a trip. I am not afraid of flying and I am not afraid to travel alone, however, for some strange reason my body always stresses out before a travel day.

When I stress out, I get back pain because my muscles become tense. I always get stress-related back pain when I have an upcoming trip, especially the day before. I don’t understand why this happens because of the reasons above (not afraid, love traveling, etc). So why do I stress out? I may not be consciously stressed out or worried or afraid, but I guess my body and my consciousness tune in to a fight or flight situation, it is aware that so many things could go wrong when you travel.

Traveling always has an element of surprise, no matter how much or how well you plan your trip, almost always things will go differently than planned (but this is what makes travel exciting!). I am a lover of adventure, but I also love planning. I don’t like change, but I adapt extremely well to it. These combinations may be why I love traveling but stress out about it too. Everyone has their own reasons to stress about, but no matter what they are there are many things one can do to reduce travel stress…

airplane window view

Here are 7 practical tips:

1. Pack ahead of time

Packing a day before or the same day of your trip will significantly increase stress because whenever we leave things to the last-minute we feel like we are running out of time, and if we feel that we are running out of time, we stress out and become more prone to forgetting things.

I am guilty of many times packing a day before; it is certainly possible, but not a good stress reliever.

Pack everything you can starting at least a week before your trip and make a list of anything that you will have to pack on the day of the trip (chargers, electronics, toiletries, etc). Keep valuables with you too, you don’t want to stress about them getting lost in airportland.

2. Online check-in

Most airlines now allow you to check in online 24 hours before your flight. I always like using this option whenever possible. If you are checking in bags or if you have to be checked for visas or residencies you might not be able to check in online, but you can fill out information and choose your plane seats to make the process faster at the airport. You may be able to print your tickets at home or even get a code to scan with your phone as your ticket at the security line.

3. Check the baggage allowance

Every airline is different. Some allow you to check-in two bags for free, some charge you for checking-in any bags. It all depends on the airline and your flight (domestic, in continent, transatlantic). I encourage you to check the bag allowance of your airline even before you buy tickets because a flight might be $250 but they charge you $50 to check in bags, and another flight might be $300 but they don’t charge you for bags. By knowing the baggage allowance, you can avoid the stress of the surprise at the airport of having to pay for bags. Continue reading

Monuments Around The World

You know, they are kind of everywhere: buildings, statues and structures that commemorate people or events. Here are a few I have recollected in the past, some are well known and some not so much:

King Ahmed Basu's Tomb in India

King Ahmed Basu’s Tomb in India

Saint Basil's Cathedral, Moscow, Russia

Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow, Russia

Berlin Wall, Germany (taken in 2008)

Berlin Wall, Germany (taken in 2008)

Colosseum, Rome, Italy

Colosseum, Rome, Italy

Meher Baba's Samadhi, India

Meher Baba’s Samadhi, India

The Beatle's "Strawberry Fields" were actually based on the ones in this picture. Liverpool, UK

The Beatle’s “Strawberry Fields” were actually based on the ones in this picture. Liverpool, UK

Winter Palace, Saint Petersburg, Russia (A monument to the Russian Monarchs)

Winter Palace, Saint Petersburg, Russia (A monument to the Russian Monarchs)

This is my response to the Weekly Photo Challenge – Monument 
Which one of these was your favorite?

Friday Roundup! Awesome Parents, An Awesome Prank, An Awesome World Record, and More

Photo of the day: Penguins wearing sweaters.

This week, I have been loving the nice weather and experiencing Spring in the Pacific Northwest for the first time. I also decided I love graham crackers and realized I might be a bit of a messy clean freak. Have a wonderful weekend! Please enjoy this week’s links:

A series of cats acting hilariuosly stupid

Because we all want to know, Quiz: Which Toy Story Character Are You?

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are making another movie together

Just how terrifying can a story be in only two sentences?

Funny planter pots for black thumbs.

Have you noticed that limes are suddenly crazy expensive? Here’s why.

This dad creates art each day as he’s creating his daughter’s lunch.

Did you hear a 100-year-old Message In A Bottle was plucked from the Baltic Sea?

Even in the midst of war, a group of Syrian artists have used remnants of their broken capital city to construct a multimedia work of art in Damascus that set a new Guinness World Record for largest mural. How awesome is that?

With Google’s nutrition comparison tool, it’s finally possible to compare apples to oranges.

Super awesome prank

Moments from the past that will not happen again.

15 people who didn’t know the Titanic was actually real.

Mother Handmakes Amazing Disney Costumes for Daughter

Why Does Airline Food Taste So Bad?

And What One Airline’s Doing to Make Your In-Flight Meal Taste Better

10 Awesome Floating Things

Creative VS. Artistic (And Debunking The Right-Brain VS. Left-Brain Myth)

For the longest time I used to consider myself  a “right-brain” person. I came to this conclusion because to my knowledge the right side of the brain is best at expressive and creative tasks while the left side is best at logical and analytical thinking. Since always, my main interests have always involved art. I have done it all: painting, dancing, photography, music, filmmaking… and I love all of it. My focus has always been an artistic focus and would never consider any kind of career in say, economics, political science, or math. It’s just not me. Therefore, I am a “right-brain” thinker, right? Wrong.

It is time that we spread the word about the popular idea that people are more right or left brain thinkers. Fact is, science has never supported this notion, and in fact has proved it wrong.

This is how it all started:

“The right brain – left brain theory originated in the work of Roger W. Sperry. In the 1960s, while studying the effects of epilepsy, Sperry discovered that cutting the corpus callosum could reduce or eliminate seizures.

Because the corpus callosum connects the two hemispheres of the brain, the left and right sides of these patients’ brains could no longer communicate. Many split-brain patients found themselves unable to name objects that were processed by the right side of the brain, but were able to name objects that were processed by the left-side of the brain. Based on this information, Sperry suggested that language was controlled by the left-side of the brain.”

The truth is, everyone uses both sides of their brain equally, and this has been proven by recent studies and research, like this study proving that math is strongest when both sides are used.

It is true that some brain functions take place in one or the other side of the brain, but people don’t really have a stronger side. Carl Zimmer explains with an example:

“No matter how lateralized the brain can get, though, the two sides still work together. The pop psychology notion of a left brain and a right brain doesn’t capture their intimate working relationship. The left hemisphere specializes in picking out the sounds that form words and working out the syntax of the words, for example, but it does not have a monopoly on language processing. The right hemisphere is actually more sensitive to the emotional features of language, tuning in to the slow rhythms of speech that carry intonation and stress.”

The myth has been officially debunked

Scientists at the University of Utah have analyzed more than 1,000 brains. They found no evidence that people make more use of their left or right brain. All of the participants showed that their entire brain was used equally throughout the course of the experiment.

Regardless, I don’t think it is totally wrong to describe yourself as right or left brain to tell others a little about yourself.

Creative VS Artistic

To me, it made sense that it turned out to be a myth as I always struggled with the fact that I wasn’t very creative being an artist. It has been always hard for me to come up with ideas out of nowhere, make up stories and be inventive (one of the reasons why I am a bad liar); but I am highly artistic as I mentioned at the beginning of the post.

I think of myself as a “technical artist”. I love recreating things and putting my spin on them, I love taking photographs of “reality” but editing them for an artistic feel, I love filmmaking but I am terrible at scriptwriting fiction. I love dancing, I am great at it and I love getting lost in the music, but I need someone to provide me the choreography. With all of these thoughts, plus finding out about the left and right brain myth, I came to the conclusion that one can be artistic but not necessarily creative. Like I am. Continue reading

Different Types of Indian Women Clothing

indian women clothing triveni collage

One of the first things you will notice when traveling to India, is the spectacular patterns and colors of women clothing in India. Women’s clothing in this country varies widely depending on climate, local culture, and religion, as well as urban or rural settings.

In urban settings, western clothing is becoming more common, as well as the combination of western and eastern clothing. For example a kurti (or kurta) with jeans is a common sight in Mumbai and Pune. In rural areas, more traditional clothing is worn; women always wear a saree.

India has a great diversity of fabrics, weaves, and colors that make every piece of clothing unique.

“Colour codes are followed in clothing based on the religion and ritual concerned. For instance, Hindu ladies wear white clothes to indicate mourning, while Parsis and Christians wear white to weddings.” source

Four Types of Indian Women Clothing:

Sari (or saree)

Me in a beautiful sari that belonged to a friend's mom.

Me in a beautiful sari that belonged to a friend’s mom.

The saree (sari) is a long unstitched cloth, usually patterned, which drapes over the body, worn with a tailored blouse and usually over a petticoat. This garment ranges from 4 to 9 meters in length and it is used widely across India in urban and rural areas. I would consider this to be the staple of Indian women clothing.

The draping style varies depending on the area of the country. The most common style is when the fabric is wrapped around the waist with one end then draped over the shoulder. Sari blouses are often “backless” with a halter style string drape.


Salwar Kameez

This type of dress is mostly worn in Northern parts of India like Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. It consists of the salwar (loose trousers that are narrow at the ankles), and the kameez (a long shirt or tunic). In Southern India, this style is called the “Punjabi suit” or simply “shalwar“. This dress is worn a lot by teenage girls and many Bollywood actresses.

A dupatta is usually worn with a salwar kameez. A dupatta is a scarf that is traditionally used to cover the head and the shoulders, or used drawn over the shoulders and drawn back over the bosom, but nowadays it is widely used as a fashion accessory. The material depends on the one used for the suit and varies between cotton, georgette, silk, chiffon, and others.

Lehenga Choli (or Ghagra Choli)

Contrast Colored Embroidered Lehenga Choli (from Triveni Sarees)

The Lehenga Choli (or Ghagra Choli) is the traditional dress in Northen India like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh.

The lehenga is a long skirt which is embroidered and pleated. A choli is a midriff-bearing blouse worn also with a sari; it is tailored to tightly fit the body with short sleeves and a low neck. Finally, a dupatta is worn to finish the look, being tucked into the skirt then wrapped at the waist and then draped over the shoulder similar to a sari. Continue reading