Posts Tagged 'words'

Life is Messy


Every day when I wake up, I hope for a day filled with light. And every day I go to sleep looking back on a day that was really a mixed bag. My days are filled with Everything—one minute I’m sitting at work completely annoyed by a project that’s becoming tedious and frustrating, the next minute I’m riding my bike home and right there trotting down the path is a coyote. Thirty minutes later, the coyote just a picture in my mind, I’m at home beginning to think about what I’ll have for dinner.

This is real life. It’s nothing like the movies in my head or the movies in the theater. Sometimes it’s boring, crazy, sad, frustrating, awesome, heart-warming, painful. Sometimes I cry, laugh, scream, or sit quietly taking it all in. It’s a jumble of everything, and you never know what’s coming next. Maybe you have a general idea which direction you’re heading, but do you really know what your life will be like next year, next month, or even next week?

I find this hard to accept sometimes—I want to nail things down. I want to pin my future to a board like a moth so I can see what it looks like still, instead of always fluttering out there ahead of me, barely visible in its constant motion. I want every day to be full of light and ease and time well spent—days I can look back on and say, “yes, I really lived the life I meant to live.”

But then the wild beast of reality saunters in and dashes my plans for perfect lightness. It challenges me, pushes my buttons, and in general asks me to wake up from my fantasies of a perfect life and live what’s really happening, live in the raw truth. And the truth is: life is not any one thing—it is everything. It is messy. It is wild. It is all over the place. Some moments are easy, some are really hard. Sometimes you feel like the air, other times you feel like darkness.

In moments of understanding, I can see the richness of this. I can see how the darkness creates deep warmth in me when I look at it with kindness. And that life is just one big rollicking adventure when I let it be. But much of the time I’m just tangled up in the whole mess trying to understand which way is up and which way is down.

And maybe that’s OK. Maybe it’s just the process of life to keep getting lost and found, again and again. Maybe this is the only way to understand that we can never really grasp life. We are a part of life, we are riding the waves of life. Life is sailing through us for the one little flicker of our one little life, but it’s so much bigger and wilder than us. So, of course it’s messy and unmanageable, and we can’t control it. Trying to control life is like trying to control the wind. You just can’t do it.

There is peace in this fact when you can feel it deeply. If you can’t control life, then you don’t have to even try. You can just sit back and enjoy the ride. However hard it may sound to let go of trying, I’m beginning to find that it may be harder to live your whole life trying to get control of something that’s uncontrollable. So, everyday I try and remember to pry my fingers off the steering wheel and see what happens. Sometimes my life opens up wide in front of me. Other times, I spend most of the day slowly lifting each finger, and when I’m finally hands-free, I clutch the wheel again and start the process over. This is reality. This is life. This is the big teacher. Lost and found, again and again.


What You Really Want

What you really want is
not the big-time job
not the overflowing bank account
not the perfect and loving partner,
not even the trip to Paris.

What you really want is
to wake up every day
and feel like light itself,
and then to go about your day

Do not worry if this sounds
too transcendent.
In fact it is the humblest practice;
to sit in the day breathing,
simply being the animal that you are.

{I scribbled these words in my sketchbook some weeks ago and just re-discovered them. I wanted to share them here because they’re something I think about a lot and thought you might too}

Radical Generosity

I woke up this morning, and the same old band was playing (the really loud obnoxious one that has songs about all of my failures). My husband’s off from work because it’s Memorial Day, but I hadn’t quite decided if I would work or take the day off, and this indecision was grating on me. I stood in the bathroom brushing my teeth, and some awkward painful memories from college flashed into my head—me being someone I didn’t want to be. It’s been more than 9 years since these things happened, and they still have the power to make me cringe. I was on the verge of cringing when it occured to me: I will never see any of those people again, and that’s not who I am right now. Quite by surprise I was able to let the thoughts go and move on.

This little win reminded me of something I had thought about days earlier; the idea of radical generosity. You see, we’re kind of like mules—we walk around loaded down with all of our baggage: memories of how we’ve been, things people have said to us, how we’ve perceived ourselves, the things we think we can and cannot do. We carry baggage for other people too: we carry along our memories of how other people have wronged us, irritated us, and generally acted how we wish they wouldn’t. Everyday we walk around carrying all of this, using this baggage as the starting point for how we interact with and react to everything that happens. This baggage comes to us through our thoughts. Sometimes we’re aware of them, a lot of the time they’re bobbing around just at or under the surface of our awareness. And then something happens and the whole weight of all that baggage becomes almost too much to bear and we react, often becoming the person we don’t want to be.

This is where the idea of radical generosity comes in. Imagine a moment when normally you would have let some thought of how things had turned out previously (badly) rule you, so much so that you would have started out anticipating problems and feeling angry and irritated. Now imagine approaching the same situation and assuming nothing; about how you will act, about how things will go, about how other people will act. You wipe the slate clean and allow the situation to be completely new. This is radical generosity.

It is radical because when do we ever do this? It is generous because the most generous thing you can do is give yourself and other people the benefit of the doubt. By not anticipating that things will go badly, you are opening up to the possibility that they could be marvelous. And really you’re so open that even if they did turn out in a way you don’t love, it still wouldn’t be the same because you’re in a different place.

This concept sounds like it would most obviously benefit interactions with other people, but I think it is truly revolutionary when you apply it to yourself. What if you didn’t have to beat yourself up about the times when you acted badly? What if you didn’t expect yourself to act a certain way? What if you could be whoever you want in this moment and the next? It is incredibly radical to allow yourself this freedom, and incredibly generous. in the moments when I really give myself this wide open possibility; my life is changed, I am new, and everything is beautiful. Could it be the key to peace? I think so. That is a beautiful thing.

Things I’m Afraid to Tell You

I just found out about this amazing blogging challenge called Things I’m Afraid to Tell You. I found out about it over on Creature Comforts (via Susannah’s Blog).

It is a blog-writing challenge to break through the mist of this shiny happy pretty blogosphere and tell the real truth about your life—the things you’re afraid to tell because you think they might shatter who people think you are. I have talked about this idea often with my husband—I think the internet is a blessing and a curse—it is amazing to be able to connect with people from all over the world and inspire each other, but it can also be down-right depressing to go around to one blog after another that makes the blogger seem like they have everything all together, and success is literally raining down upon them while they take bubble baths and drink champagne in a beautiful beachfront home. Even though I realize that people are representing only part of the truth (I’m a blogger myself and tend to focus on inspiration), I often find myself feeling depressed and jealous as I make my blog rounds, and tend to avoid reading blogs when I’m in a certain mood.

So, as I just started reading some of the Things I’m Afraid to Tell You posts, I felt such a happy feeling—such a huge weight lifted to see that other people are human and struggling and not wildly perfect. And so I wanted to share this with you so you could head on over and get some real inspiration, and also write a list of my own. Here it goes:


1. I worry about money, constantly. We have enough to get by. This is thanks to my husband who has a stable income. I have worked part-time at random jobs to supplement my art income. I’ve felt guilty to not be contributing a more regular/substantial income to my family. It is because of my husband’s income that I’ve been able to work at an outside job less and do art as part (or all) of my work over the past few years. I have felt resentful/guilty/like a hack for not having made my own way. I have felt guilty for not being more appreciative of being able to do this at all.

2. Some days I get angry and jealous that I have never figured out how to really make a living at art. Some days I get angry at myself for not proving wrong all of the nay-sayers that don’t believe it’s possible to make a living at art. I have recently changed course and decided it doesn’t matter to me whether or not I make a living at art, I just want to make art. Some days I wonder if this is true, or if it’s just something I tell myself to make myself feel better.

3. Sometimes I long so much to be a wild success—to have one million blog readers or write a bestselling book. I struggle with this because on one level I know that as long as you define your worth by what you do you will never be satisfied, but I still crave some outside measurement or reinforcement that I am a worthy human being.

4. I have struggled with body image since I was about 8 years old. I was an overweight kid and teen, and in high school and college I hated my body. I felt so angry and bad about myself to see all the other girls parading around in small clothes I felt I couldn’t wear. I still struggle with this. I have come a long way since then, but I still worry how I look to other people.

5. I like to spend a lot of time alone. Sometimes to a fault. I had a bad time with people as a kid (not fitting in, not having very good friends, being made fun of), and sometimes those experiences still haunt me. I find it easier to spend time by myself and not take social risks. At the same time I struggle with understanding that I like being by myself and that’s OK. I have only a handful of friends. Sometimes I feel embarrassed about that and still feel like I’m 14 and measuring my own value by how many people like me.

6. I have a lot of fear about what other people think of me (do you see a trend here?). I am beginning to learn how to let go of this, but it’s a long road full of prickers and brambles.

If you decide to do your own Things I’m Afraid to Tell You post I’d love to read it! Post your link in the comments here, or feel free to write your Things in a comment.

There is a Field

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’
doesn’t make any sense.”

{Included in The Essential Rumi}

Here We All Are on This Roller Coaster Together

I recently finished reading the book The Great Failure by Natalie Goldberg. The book, as the title suggests, is all about failure; Goldberg’s failures, and the failures of the two most important men in her life (her father and her Zen teacher). Near the end of the book I came across one part that really struck me:

“After I die . . . I wouldn’t want people to say of me only ‘She was a great teacher’ or ‘I loved her writing.’ I would like at least one person to come closer, to add, ‘She was also lonely, she suffered a lot. She was mixed up. She made some big mistakes.’ Then tell those mistakes and sum up: ‘But she was important to me.’ Then I would feel really honored, as though someone had seen and known me” (Goldberg, The Great Failure, p. 190-191).

I loved this firstly because it’s always encouraging to realize that someone whose work you admire is also going through the same struggles. We all are. We can get delusional and imagine that other people (especially people who’ve achieved much outward success) are perfectly aligned and happy and going somewhere smart. But they’re just like the rest of us; they have the same jumble of clear transcendent days, heart-crushing dark days, and in-between hi-ho-type days.

I forget this constantly. What is it about suffering that can feel so lonely? No matter how many friends you have, there’s still the feeling that you have to get through it on your own. And on a certain level—you do—no one else can live your life for you. But to realize that we’re all walking along side-by-side, that someone else somewhere is going through this too—or has made it through and lived to tell about it—that really lightens things up.

Reading this also made me feel relieved—it’s OK to be mixed up and suffering! It’s OK to feel lonely and make mistakes! Sometimes I try so hard to run the other way, I want so badly to stop suffering, to never make another mistake. But that’s not how life is, and it’s OK. In fact, maybe it’s even a little bit beautiful that we will always be a big mess; a jumble of feelings and thoughts and changing moods. Maybe the real beauty of life is not in finding the straight and narrow {the even path} but instead in riding the roller coaster, hands in the air—crazy, wild, beautiful, messy, wet ride that it is.

So here we all are at the amusement park, riding the rides and eating too much cotton candy. That’s life. And wouldn’t you love to be able to look back and see that you let it take you for a ride, instead of trying to have the whole thing on lock-down? Think about how many adventures you would miss if you kept trying to hold on with a death-grip. Let us all take a minute to loosen our hands and let it take us. This magical, unpredictable, joyful, painful, messy, flowing life.

Feeling the Warmth

I have been struggling with a lot of doubt and confusion over the past 3 months. If you read my blog regularly, you may have noticed: I haven’t been posting so much lately. I have taken a big step back from my art business as I try and understand what’s going on. I have had many ups and downs over the past four years of making art and running a creative business, but never during that time have I had such a long period without creative direction. I’ll be honest: it’s been very scary at times. I put my art shop on a break for a while and wondered if I would ever reopen it. I have spent a lot of time asking the question: Is this it? Is this the end of me selling art? I knew I would never turn away from art-making, I love it too much, but selling art and art as a business, maybe this was the end.

Then a couple of days ago after a series of circumstances came up, I reopened my shop on a whim. Right after I reopened it, I visited my shop to make sure everything was up and working. Immediately when I opened the page, I felt this surge of warmth. It was like returning to a warm sunny room I used to love and spend a lot of time in. I felt a simple joy I haven’t felt about many things recently. In a flash I remembered how it felt to make all of the pieces of artwork—like laughing, like playing, and often like being a lightening rod for something bigger than myself. It sounds so cliche, but when I’ve made most of my word drawings, it has felt like the words came flying in from somewhere else {maybe on the wind} and they opened me up.

Then shortly after I reopened my shop, I got an order for a print. Today when I was walking to the post office to put it in the mail, I laughed out loud when I thought more about the specific print that had been ordered. This first print I sold after reopening my shop was the print above: “Get Back on the Horse.”

I wondered, “Is this just a coincidence that out of the 100 items in my shop, this is the first thing I sell after reopening my shop?” Perhaps it is just a coincidence, but it warmed me again and I felt happy.

I still don’t know where I’m headed, or what even next week holds for me. Part of me thinks that this whole experience is happening to teach me a big lesson in accepting the unknown and how to stop trying to control everything. I can feel that I still have a ways to go here, that I’m meant to sit in the unknown for a while longer. And also, after such a big rift in my life, I know that nothing will ever be the same {not my art, not my work-life, not my heart or mind or way of being}. And this is a good thing—even though it’s scary. This is what it takes to expand.

What I have learned most from this most recent part of the lesson is this: feel the warmth. There are certain parts of everyone’s life that open up with simple warmth. Those moments when we feel a surge of simple joy. Art has always opened up that feeling for me, that’s why I’ve kept drawing and making even through the past three months, if only just by spending a few minutes drawing each day.

I think if you want to live your life guided by more than just your logical brain, the best thing to do is feel the warmth, bask in it, and follow it where it will take you. Sometimes it might be hard to make out where it might lead, but you can’t go wrong if you’re feeling the warmth.

Here’s to all of us having the presence and courage to feel the warmth and follow it into the unknown. I wish you so well!

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."

{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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