Posts Tagged 'inspiration digest'

Weekly Inspiration Digest: movement

To all Weekly Inspiration Digest readers, as you can see from all of the new announcements on this blog, I’m getting pretty busy over here at Blue Bicicletta! With trying to prepare for a transition to art full-time, many new projects, and planning the final details of my wedding in September, I’ve decided to take some time off from this weekly column to give myself more time for other pursuits.

Thanks so much for exploring these ideas with me, and I hope I have inspired you to keep looking for inspiration and appreciating life! Once I return from my honeymoon and start doing art full-time in October, I will reassess my projects and decide on how I want to continue with this topic. For now, please do take a look at all of the Weekly Inspiration Digest posts if you haven’t had a chance to read them yet! Thanks again for your support! Here is Weekly Inspiration Digest #10. Enjoy!

Now that I’ve been making and sharing art for a while, I often get asked questions about inspiration. Where does my inspiration come from to make the art that I do? It’s hard to answer this question specifically—inspiration comes from everywhere and anywhere, but mostly from making art. Basically art leads to more art. It’s through making one thing that you find another, and through constantly placing yourself in a creative mindset that more creative thoughts develop.

But when I begin to think about where and when I get some of my best ideas, it’s not often while sitting at a desk with a pen, or sitting at a desk staring at the wall, waiting for an idea to come. The ideas come when life is happening, most often encouraged by movement.

There’s some amazing dynamic that happens when you make your body busy with one activity, like walking, biking, or swimming. Something slow and meditative, something you don’t have to think about too much. The movement keeps the busy-body part of you occupied, and lets your creative brain wander and roam.

flyingbike

When I first started this blog, I picked the name “blue bicicletta” because I love riding my bike (and I love the Italian word for bike, and the color blue), but I hadn’t fully wrapped my head around how my bike would be an essential tool in my art-making. Now I know, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come up with creative ideas while biking across town. My feet keep pedaling along the same route I take every day, and I relax into the routine movement, letting my brain open wide into thought.

Sometimes a word will come into my head, and then I’ll start matching it with other words and images, and I’ll keep cycling them around in my head, just like my feet are cycling on the pedals. This is how I’ve “written” many of the little bits of poetry for my word drawings—all the way home from work I repeat the words and refine them, my feet on the pedals churning me along, and churning up ideas. It’s like I’ve entered some other realm, and there’s just me moving through space with the words and pictures working themselves out.

Similar things happen to me when I’m walking or swimming. It’s the ultimate multi-tasking, but really, it’s a kind of symbiosis—the repeated movement generates the ideas, and the ideas in my head make the movement feel even more dynamic. These are the moments that I love—I feel like I’m some sort of a receptor, like I’m full of electricity, and I’m able to weave things together to create some meaning that’s bigger than any one idea.

ideaweaving

It’s always funny, but so true how ideas come when you least expect them, when you let go of trying to make them. This is not to say that you should only make art when you have a brilliant idea, because the brilliant ideas come when you’ve been creating regularly. Creating gets your head into a place that generates new thoughts.

There must be some willingness, when all else fails, to sit down and put your pen on the paper and see what comes. When you’ve done that, then you’ll be ready when the lightening strikes some day on a walk or ride. You’ll have opened the door and you’ll know what to do with the lightening. You’ll walk home in a daze, and sit down, and put pen to paper without needing to think.

lightening

So in answer to that first question, “where does my inspiration come from?” I say, it comes from anywhere and everywhere, but mostly it comes from being a working artist. I’m constantly trying to open the door and then allow my brain the time to roam, creating space and place for lightening to strike.

Weekly Inspiration Digest: nature

There are many obvious reasons to be inspired by nature: nature is the original creator, the origin of all things, the most effortless and gigantic inventor. Nature never tries to make anything—it just does—it’s inherent in nature’s definition, and its creations are simply beautiful at their base. You might call this effortless artistry. It is the design at the foundation of the universe, the planet, and every living thing.

But if I ask myself why nature continues to inspire me, day in and day out, it’s something more subtle, or perhaps more mundane—it’s that nature reminds me to pay attention and notice things.

payingattention

No matter how busy you are, it’s hard to ignore the wind. No matter how frantic you are, it’s hard to ignore the rain, even if it makes you more frantic. No matter how depressed you are, it’s difficult to ignore that little spot of sunlight that’s beating down on you through a split in the trees, or the squirrel that keeps circling you on your lunch break.

Maybe we often don’t let the miracle in, but if we’re lucky, we let ourselves stop and listen to the leaves making their paper song in the wind, and in that moment, we can know that there is something happening that is so much bigger than our deadlines and dentist appointments. There’s something gigantic that is so beyond our days or our lives, or even our planet.

listeningtotrees

When I realize this, even subconsciously, I get to stop and smile to myself, and be thankful that I got to come to this moment, this place, and hear the leaves shaking in the breeze. Be thankful that I got to be a part of this giant dance—even if I am one small ant going about my day.

Sometimes I find it refreshing to not be able to control something, and nature is one of those things that will not and cannot be controlled. Even when we think we’re controlling it, there can be surprising effects, as we’re coming to find out with global warming. It’s good to be reminded of our own insignificance sometimes—it takes the pressure off our daily feats and reminds us to sit back and try to appreciate what we’re so humbled to get to experience in this one life.

littleman

I could now launch into all the ways that our neglect and un-appreciation of nature have led us to start abusing things and create problems in a beautiful system. How as individual little ants, we are insignificant, but as an un-caring swarm we have had a damaging effect, but we all know this from listening to the news.

In the end, I’m thankful that nature has made it possible for me to walk through this life and look at all of the wonders and curiosities, including my own body and the brain and fingers that are writing this, and I hope you’re able to experience this too. With issues like global warming looming, it’s hard to know what to do or how to help. I think appreciation and inspiration are good places to start.

Weekly Inspiration Digest: making

The first thing I ever wanted to be was an artist. I can’t remember ever really wanting to be anything else (although I had a lapse for most of college during which I thought it was unrealistic), so no conversation about things that inspire me would be complete without art making.

easel

There’s something about taking an idea, an ethereal notion, and making it into something tangible. Whether it’s a pair of mittens, a dinner, or a drawing, it’s an inherently inspiring process to bring something into existence that has never been made precisely the same way.

For me, it’s images—I don’t quite know what it is that gets me about them exactly—I’ve said it before, but just the white paper drives me wild—it’s an expansive space that asks me to open up.

bristol

When you think about it, art and making are infinite. There are an endless number of options—some people might think there’s nothing new to make, but the new-ness comes from you—each person is new, and honestly, even if you tried to copy someone else, there would always be some detail that only you could create.

Making is the ultimate venue for being yourself—for displaying your unique personality. Work in an office, and you will have to do things according to common policy. Solve equations and your goal is to get the same answer as everyone else. Play sports, and you have to abide by a pre-made set of rules. But make art, and you can do anything. It’s like letting your heart fly up and away into a land that you’re making as you go along—kind of like Herald and the Purple Crayon.

purplecrayon

Art is humbling and powerful at the same time. Sometimes making art can feel like being visited—I say my prayers to the sky every time I get a new idea for a drawing, forgetting where I end and the universe begins, and being thankful for that. At the same time, putting pen to paper is powerful—bringing something to life says what’s in my head is worth creating—I have ideas that are worth sharing.

So many people say that they’re not creative. Excuse me for saying this so bluntly, but that’s just plain wrong. It’s just not true. It’s some lie someone told you, or that you told yourself, thinking it would keep you safe—thinking if you claimed you were not creative, you would never have to make something completely your own.

Now, not all people love art, or drawing, or crafting, but we all put our creative stamp on things. I think creativity comes up in the smallest ways in our lives. My future mother-in-law may not do a craft, but she does an amazing job planning parties and dinner menus, my sister may not paint, but you should see how she talks to children, my future sister-in-law may not draw, but she just planned a beautiful wedding.

creativepursuits

Creativity often comes up in ways we don’t even recognize, in things we do naturally—like picking our clothes in the morning or arranging our homes. I think if most people thought about it, they would realize that some of the things they love to do best are full of creating—people feel freedom in these things because they’re making something new.

This world would be a happier place if we all allowed ourselves to fly up and away more often—to run with crayons—or rearrange the living room. I’ve said it so many times, and I’ll say it again—open up, go forth, and make!

Weekly Inspiration Digest: letting go

Every day more and more I realize that the process of living, or learning how to live and appreciate life, is a process of letting go. Letting go of expectations, former selves, people, places, objects, what you thought you wanted, how you thought things would be. As we grow up, become adults, and grow old, we are in a constant process of changing, and if we aren’t able to let go of the past, we will never allow ourselves to step through into the next part of our lives and enjoy living.

throughdoor

Perhaps a definition of enlightenment could be the ability to let go of anything and everything and just let life flow. The opposite is to be so stuck on how things are, or how you imagined them to be, that you stay in the same place, knuckles white from clutching the railing. I think we all have our moments of both, but the greatest living is inspired by the sensation of flying that comes when you let go of the railing and let yourself blow on the wind. When you follow some whisper of the life you want to live, but give your dream room to change and lead you, appreciating being alive all along the way.

I am a planner and a dreamer—two things that, at least in my personality, lend themselves to holding on. I notice that I get especially hung up on how I think things will turn out and how I thought things would feel. For example, my vision of how adult life would feel was secure. I thought that I would arrive one day and just know what I was doing, and then life would be easy and work out the way I planned, kind of like in the Brady Bunch.

straightahead

Imagine my surprise to arrive here and realize that being an adult is just as much flying by the seat of your pants, just as new and unsure and full of choices as being a teenager, actually more so because now you really can choose anything, and—as a line in a poem by Mary Karr says— “You’re your own idiot now.”

This difference between how I imagined things and how they are, trips me up endlessly. I find my brain gasping, “But this is not how it’s supposed to be” every time I get scared. I start to think I’ve made a wrong turn as more choices and more cliffs appear, when the truth is: this is just life. This is how it is. There are no wrong turns, there are just lots of choices.

youarehere

As I try to pry each finger from the railing of “how I thought it would be,” what keeps me going is the dream of what it would be like to really let go and let things happen. Where would I find myself if I let myself be led? If I took the leap, even when I was scared, even when everyone else was telling me that it was too dangerous? If I could approach my life every day from a place of calm, possibility, acceptance and humor?

Letting go isn’t about jumping off cliffs or taking big risks, it’s about following your own heart in the most truthful way. This means cutting through all of the brain drama and enjoying the process of living, instead of trying to control it. This is different for everyone—one person’s heart might be saying “Relax, take time off, spend the whole day lounging” while another’s might say, “Get up and go, finally take that trip to Thailand,” or on a smaller scale, “just breathe.” The trick is to let go of what you think should be happening and start listening. Let a little bit of light into your heart and let life flow.

Weekly Inspiration Digest: action

This happens every time I start something completely new: there is the exciting honeymoon period when I fantasize about how wonderful it will turn out, followed by the reality that I actually have to do the work, followed by images of all the things that could go wrong or why I can’t do it, which most often ends up in a moment where I try to rationalize not doing this new thing at all. Writer’s block fits neatly into this pattern—it’s called psyching yourself out. It’s called perfectionism. It’s called a fear of failure. It’s called inertia.

When this happens, I often start talking to myself. I start trying to understand why I don’t want to do the work—I might journal about it, whine about it, and commiserate with myself. In general, I throw a pity party, even though I know that none of this helps. The truth is, there’s only one solution: action.

chainsaw

It’s not pretty, and all of those nay-sayers inside and outside of you will argue, but action is the only medicine. Something happens when you throw the junk thoughts aside and actually make a move on things: your brain stops running like a chainsaw, chittering and chattering about how much you suck, and you actually start to produce.

It doesn’t always happen right away, but trust me, it happens. Usually, when I’m in a funk, the last thing I want to do is get to work, but I’ve come to discover that the only way to get out of the bad mood is to get to work.

donotdisturb2

Now I’m not saying that I sit down to my desk, and suddenly angels start singing. Often, it’s like walking through mud. The self-deprecating voices keep talking away, but after a while, you learn to ignore them, and eventually they shut up.

People often want to believe that being creative is some stroke of genius, when in reality, it boils down to one thing: taking the time to create. That’s it. Maybe some people enjoy that process more than others, which makes them more prone to practicing it, but people don’t usually think about it that way. They think, “he’s creative, I’m not.”

moviesandchocolate

I’m not saying this doesn’t take courage—it takes a lot of courage to act—it’s much easier to sit by and watch movies in the dark while eating several candy bars (I have a particular weakness for romantic comedies and milk chocolate), but in the end, we will all be happier people if we actually do something.

This works for all things—I’m not just talking about making art or writing. Beginning anything you want to do starts with one action, one step. It does not mean doing everything today—it means doing one thing today and every day, no matter how small. Once you get the ball rolling, it will be hard to stop. So hop to it, and get to work!

Weekly Inspiration Digest: morning rituals

Morning can be a sacred time. It’s a time of new beginnings every day—a time to decide how you want to live. As we come out of sleep, there’s an opportunity, a choice—either rush into high-gear life, or steal some time quietly in between.

While life in the fast lane pushes and pulls, and occasionally wins, this time has become sacred to me. I wake up and do my daily things—feed the dog, stretch, pack a lunch, tame my crazy hair, but after making breakfast the magic begins: I return to bed.

People talk about breakfast in bed as a periodic luxury, but I have decided to make it an everyday luxury—it hurts no one, costs no money, and is the main consolation to me—after forcing myself out of bed, I get to return.

haven

I cuddle myself up with pillows, a bagel, and a book and read my way through breakfast. This never gets old—every morning when I settle back under the sheets, I feel calm and happy, and like I’m on vacation.

Once I’m finished eating, I turn to my journal where I write three pages, a practice I started while reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron three years ago. These three pages started out as a should, now they’re one of the main parts to starting a good day, or any day for that matter. More often than not, if I start out writing in a frustrated mood, I come out feeling hopeful. It is me talking to myself, counseling myself, inventing new paths of thought, and reinforcing my joy.

talkingtome

Once I’ve done my writing, I yawn, try to delay the inevitable, and eventually force myself into the day, as the clock ticks and it begins to seem unavoidable that I’ll be late to work again. But those 30 or 40 minutes are like a little respite, or a bridge from dreams to reality, during which I often think about trying to make dreams into reality, or reality into dreams. They’re one of the best parts of my day—the part where I am calm, slow, and thoughtful. Every morning they make me realize that anything is possible.

respite

I think everyone has a morning ritual of some sort—whether it’s as simple as the order in which you brush your teeth, take a shower, and eat breakfast, there’s something comforting about the repetition. The word ritual connotes, in addition to meaning a regular order of things, some sort of spiritual element, like a rite of passage or a religious ceremony. However you choose to spend the in between time of morning can become a little ritual where you care for yourself.

selfcare

It’s different for everyone—whatever makes you feel rich and loved, calm and kind, is a good place to start. It’s about choosing yourself and making the time to honor your heart. It’s about starting the day by being the person you want to be, instead of running around the house frantically searching for shoes. It’s about allowing some time and place to be yourself, and think about what that really means.

metime

Whether it’s studying your backyard through the window while drinking a cup of coffee, or just allowing enough time to stretch and shower slowly, it’s so important to give yourself that feeling of abundance regularly. It’s a way of valuing yourself and your life.

Not only does this act honor you, it honors everyone you interact with. If you give yourself this time to think, relax, and prepare for each day, other people will be able to experience the best version of you, and you will be able to give your best self.

Weekly Inspiration Digest: possibility

One of the most magical things about childhood is that anything is possible. Big decisions and “the future” live in some far-off universe, and you are left alone with your imagination. Kids really dream—they haven’t been jaded by life, and for the most part, they haven’t been completely indoctrinated with ideas of what they can’t do. Life is one big possibility where you could be an astronaut and an artist, all in the same breath.

kidsdream

Despite the “no’s” and the “cant’s” I learned growing up, I would have to say that this dream reality stuck with me into college. College was for me the ultimate land of possibilities: I was just on the cusp of being able to really live as an adult, but I was still in the safeguard of school, floating from one class to the next, not having to make any big decisions.

But then came the day when I had to make money and pay bills and actually support myself (without any financial aid from school or parent). This was a rude awakening for me, and can be for anyone—especially dreamy creative types. It feels like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. All of the ideas about “who you should be” and “what adults do” crowd into your head, and it’s hard to remember what you used to dream of.

money

I’ve always loved those movies or stories that talk about that person—the one with the stale office job—and how she had some epiphany on the way to work one day, and all of a sudden she turned her life upside-down and began living her dream—moved to Rome and started writing novels. My heart feeds off of these fairy-tales because they remind me that life is full of possibilities, if you’ll just believe.

I’m lucky to have grown up with parents that are constantly re-defining themselves—they are in the restaurant business—a business that is stereotyped for its unpredictable nature and high risk. While my parents’ lives have been up and down on the security scale, they have never lacked in dreams. New business ventures, doing what they love, and traveling have been priorities of their lives.

Perhaps one of the most inspirational and stereotype-defying things my parents ever did was to move our family to Italy for a year when I was 10 and my sister was 14. This had been a dream for them, and they wanted to make it happen.

allitalia

People thought they were crazy, thought we would be home within a matter of weeks, but that crazy experience turned out to be the most influential experience in my young life. I was exposed to a whole other culture and world that became an essential part of me. I can honestly say that I would be a very different person today if that had not happened.

On a more abstract level, one that I didn’t realize at age 10, this experience also taught me something crucial about being an adult: it is always possible to take a leap and live your dreams.

While I’m not suggesting that we all plan a year sabbatical in a foreign land (although that might be just the right fit for some people), I am suggesting that it’s never too late to think outside the box.

What really is the point of spending your life grounded in the daily grind, doing what everyone else is saying you should? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the only way we can give our full contribution to this world, is by following our own unique path. The minute you try to follow someone else’s, you are selling yourself short and making yourself miserable along the way.

girlwpossibilities

This is why I think possibility is the most inspiring thing in life—to look out on a day, or a year, or a lifetime and know you can create anything you can imagine, is an amazing and freeing thought. It can also be a terrifying thought—it is a lot of responsibility to realize that you are in control of your own destiny, to realize that the only thing that limits you, is your mind.

While I’m no expert, and I know there are difficult circumstances that get in the way, I think that the people who continue to dream and believe in possibility, even in dire situations like terminal illness and war-torn countries, are the ones who really live. I aspire to live my life this way—to keep my dreams vast and possible.

While I know it does require action to make a dream come true, it is the believing that it is possible that makes the real shift towards bringing dreams to life.


Hello there! My name is Nicole K. Docimo, and I am an artist and writer from the U.S.A. but currently residing in Zurich, Switzerand. Thank you for visiting my blog!

Some Thoughts

"Be thirsty for the ultimate water,
and then be ready for what will
come pouring from the spring."
~Rumi

{from "Joy at Sudden Disappointment"
translated by C. Barks.}

~This Work ~

Unless otherwise noted, all images and writings on this blog were created by me, Nicole K. Docimo aka Blue Bicicletta. If you would like to share anything you see here for inspirational purposes online, I just ask that you kindly let folks know where you found it. If you are wanting to share/reproduce any of my work in any other way, or have any questions about how you will be sharing the work in relation to copyright, please contact me directly at nkdocimo {at} gmail {dot} com. Thanks!

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