Monday, December 13, 2010


I've never been very good at saying the right thing or even knowing what to say in sad or awkward situations. But a lot of you knew Shelley through Totally Tangled, this blog, or through Wingdoodle. When I asked for Zentangles for her - I couldn't believe how many of you responded. So, you deserve to know that Shelley passed away this morning.

I saw her last on Thanksgiving. I felt guilty when I learned that she was back in the hospital and I hadn't known. I keep getting distracted by... myself. :-( I was also reluctant to visit a hospital - they terrify me. But my mother and I spent a few hours chatting with her and then ate our Thanksgiving Dinner in the hospital cafeteria. She was very swollen from chemo and drugs and I had to stifle my shock when I saw her. But she was still Shelley and she made jokes and was her usual optimistic self. She related, with some pride, the "episode" she'd had the night before which involved her heart and a lot of chaos. I had been worried about what we could talk about, but she was eager to hear stories about the store and my soap opera tales of divorce. I was shocked at one point, that we were actually having fun!

When she talked about her plans to take classes and how she wanted to go to Art & Soul this spring to help me teach - I almost burst into tears. The only thing that seemed to disappoint Shelley about her situation was that the hospital wouldn't let her go home for Thanksgiving. As we left, my mom said that Shelley was in heart failure, and denial. I argued that being positive is not the same as denial. I couldn't argue the heart failure.

She didn't get to go home. But I did hear from a friend that on her good days, Shelley was teaching the nurses and patients how to create Zentangles!!

I can't quite get my head around the fact that she is gone. Just not HERE anymore. I'm glad she is in the book. That sounds so stupid, I know. But Shelley was like a big sister to me - she even scolded me sometimes! She never thought of herself as an artist, but took to Zentangle like a fiend. She pushed me to teach classes... she pushed me into a lot of things! But when she saw her tangles and her artwork in Totally Tangled, she said she'd never expected to be published. That was a knock to the side of the head. Have you ever had a hand in making someone else's dream come true? It's a confidence booster, sure, but it's also extremely humbling.

I  had been thinking of doing a little book, like AlphaTangle, called Tangles for Shelley, with the art that you all sent in. The profits would go to buy Zentangle supplies to use at the hospital. But it seems a little... pointless now that she is gone. I have to do something. That's just my way. But maybe doing a little workbook that the hospitals could actually use with patients...? I have to think on it. But I do welcome input and ideas. I know you all have experience with cancers, hospitals, loss - and recovery too. It is easy to forget when you are steeping in it - that life isn't always about loss.

I DO know that Shelley would have liked to have an art party in her honor. She wouldn't want everyone sitting in pews crying over her. She'd want people making things (Zentangles!) and eating fantastically delicious food and... lots of laughter. Hmmm...

Read more and see some photos here and here.


  1. I think your idea to make a little book in honor of Shelley is wonderful- and since she was teaching Zentangling in the hospital, it would be a way for her to "carry on". To have those supplies in the hospital, would be a great way to take patients' mind off their troubles - particularly in the children's ward.I will definitely buy one. I follow her blog, but have been behind in my blog surfing for quite a while - so was not aware. Thank you for letting us know........

  2. It's been said that when the form is gone, the light of the formless shines on. Allowing Shelley's energy and connections to be a light for others is a beautiful gesture to Shelley and to those it may touch. Just even the idea of it, whether it happens or not, is the natural flow of Shelley's light. Thanks, Sandy.

  3. I'm so sorry for your loss. I wish I'd known Shelley - she sounds like a great person to be around.

    I like the idea of something for patients very much. It can be so boring in a hospital and one can feel like such a "patient." What a treat it would be to still create and engage others in what you're doing.

    Take care and may your memories comfort you during this difficult time.

  4. I too love the idea of a little book in Shelley's honor and memory; I will put my thinking cap on; I would love to be a part of whatever you/we come up with. I just sent SherRee some photos this morning of Shelley that I took at your book signing back in May- I had my suspicions at that time that they might be my last photos of her looking happy and relatively healthy, despite having just endured her first round of chemo- what I didn't realize at the time was that it would also be the last time I would ever see her. Big hugs to you as we remember our "sister".
    xoxo gretchen

  5. So sorry for your loss, Sandra. Your hospital workbook idea in her honor sounds like a winner and something I suspect she'd be very proud of too.

  6. I am really sorry to hear of your loss. Anything you do as a memorial to Shelly will help you with the healing process. The book and Zentangle supplies for the hospital is a really neat idea for helping others going through a hard time, patients and families. The right thing will come you to you and you will know what to do. In the meantime, may your memories of her be filled with love. Take care, Sue.

  7. Oh, Sandy - I'm so very sorry to hear about Shelly - she was the one who gave me the Zen-T-Bug. Bless her and her lovely tangles. How about a wee book about the healing powers of Zentangle? A workbook of sorts... for someone to have in the treatment rooms while sitting there on a chemo chair. ten pages or so, with little boxes for them to try a few patterns on their own, then a whole bunch of blank pages for them to merge those little wonders. the inside and outside covers could be shelly's work. shelly's. how she would love that!

    just a thought. sending hugs - susie.

  8. Sandy, I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend. I want to thank you for sharing Shelley with us. Take care.

  9. The hardest thing we do is to say goodbye to someone we love. It is our huge hearts that betray us in the end. The more we fill it with love, the bigger the hole. I think a small book in her memory would be such a gem. I encourage you to continue with this idea. What a great way to remember her.

    Shelly has moved on, is healthy again, laughing again and they are learning to zentangle in heaven.

    Take care.

  10. We have lost a gentle soul. Shelly's passion for Zentangle was inspiring. I visited her the week after Thanksgiving and brought some of my recent Zentangle work to show her. She was so enthusiastic and encouraging. I knew she didn't have time to pack supplies so I brought a small kit of supplies -Zentangle tiles, pencil and pen, she was so happy to be able to tangle again. I'm so sad....... Bette

  11. Good things often come from bad so hopefully Shelley's star will shine in a special way and help the many new artists in the world who have found Zentangles to be an amazing creative experience.

  12. I didn't know Shelley, but I can only imagine how much she meant to you. I think both of your ideas sound like an excellent idea. We will back you 100%. I'm so sorry to hear that she lost the fight. *Hugs*

  13. So sad. So difficult, indeed, to get one's mind around. I think the idea of Zantangle kits for hospitals is a wonderful idea. I too have a phobia about them and anything that can take your mind off of being in one when you have to be is a good thing.

  14. Oh man that is soooo very upsetting. I am at a loss for words. I'm just finding out now that she was ill and now she's gone. She was a great person and a wonderful saleswoman! She sold me my first Zen journal and my second....I really enjoyed her spirit at the store. She's in my prayers.


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