Introduction to Dzenita
by Virginia Masson, Musea Co-Curator
The more I connect with other women, hear their stories, watch their eyes flash and feel the pounding of their hearts the more I recognize myself. Their joy and anguish is mine, their struggles and triumphs, heartache and unrelenting hope are a mirror to my life.
Dzenita’s beautiful article was written by her, in her own words and voice. She tells a story that is poignant, sweet, and feels so familiar to me. I laughed with the women, threw back my shoulders and stood with her as she found her voice and felt as though I had spent a day in her kitchen, sipping coffee at the table.
Dzenita practices and teaches Intentional Creativity in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She lives in a world that is healing from the ravages of war and struggling with the challenges of this new way of life we are all living in. She uses her creativity and beautiful heart to help those around her heal, listening to the wisdom that comes from the surrounding countryside, her ancestors through the neolithic artwork in her area and traditional songs, like Sevdalinka – based on the Turkish word love, a poem, a lyrical poetic record of love grief and joy.
She witnesses the struggles of her neighbors and the wave of homeless migrants just trying to stay alive. She sees the children struggling with self-esteem in an age of disconnection and social media. All this informs her compassionate offerings.
I hope you enjoy Dzenita’s lovely sharing as much as I did and are warmed by how beautifully similar and richly unique we women truly are.
My Intentional Creativity Journey
For International Women’s Day, in honor of all Women from the Balkans. And my Grandmother.
by Dzenita Delic
I come from a lineage of very strong women who took care of everything, the household, the children, the husband, the neighbor’s fence, even the neighbors’ personal life more than her own.
Because of the wars in my country (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and our neighboring countries (ex-Yugoslavia) and the traditional values in raising children, where emotions were a sign of weakness, men in my family were either not here, literally, having been killed in the war, or metaphorically, by escaping real-life through addiction or by being emotionally unavailable.
So, the wife/mother took all the burdens on her shoulders. Always in her nicest dress, always smelling beautiful, with a perfect hairstyle and wearing bright, red lipstick.
The archetype of the Balkan Mother is, and always has been, the red thread that wove the family together and the foundation that supports the whole house. She is a very wise woman and a seductress with very delicious food being her main superpower. That is how she entices all her grown-up children and their families and the family of their families to come to visit her once they’ve left the nest.
This is the story of my grandmother as well. She had “only” three children and does not like to cook anymore, but everything else is as it has always been for her.
On top of all that, if any woman from the neighborhood had some issues, they all would come to her and she would find time and energy to provide space for those women, to listen to them and to advise them.
They would drink coffee in tiny, elegant mugs with milk and sugar, eat a traditional sweet as Rahatlokum, Tufahije, Baklava and drink some rose lemonade, made from a specific kind of rose from her garden called Dulbesecer roses (Rosa Damascena), a rose that needs a lot of space and freedom to grow.
The preparation of coffee was a ritual. Coffee beans were ground in a traditional coffee grinder embellished with ornamentation, brewed in a specific way and served in special mugs on silver or gold-colored trays which also had engraved ornamentation. The trays were set on a table with crocheted tablecloths that were, of course, all handmade by my grandmother.
Traditional customs say that the way a women brews and serves coffee influences whether a potential groom will marry her.
The rose lemonade was made from roses in my grandmother’s garden. All the women in my family have a huge, inexplicable love and connection to roses. My grandmother told me that she has loved them since she was a little girl. The seductive smell of the Dulbesecer rose would call her to pick them from the garden which always made her mother angry. She said you can smell the roses without picking them, but she just could not stop herself from sneaking some inside with her.
Everyone who knows my grandmother also knows that she’s a storyteller. She can tell one story for hours, often forgetting some details and then remembering again. My mother says that most of the stories she’s telling didn’t happen, but wouldn’t that make her a myth teller then?
Even more magical, I say.
My Mother, on the other hand, loved to write enchanting stories and as a child I always admired her for that. Sadly, one day she stopped writing and picked up a pen only if my sister or I needed help in school.
No surprise then that I was born a storyteller too, amongst many other loves. I wrote my first poem in elementary school and became known as “the one who writes “, As a 14-year-old, I entered a very abusive relationship that lasted for five years. In high school, writing stories, poems and journaling became a remedy for my anxiety and the only place that made me feel safe.
Among all the wonderful, magical gifts I inherited from my maternal lineage I also inherited the less wonderful side of the Balkan mother archetype. The side of not knowing her worth, always putting others before her and loving “too much “as Robin Norwood would say.
In time I found myself in a very empty and sad place and decided it was time to change myself instead of always blaming others for “my fate “. I took a break from the monsters of the world and looked in the eyes of the monsters inside of me – the collective pain of a culture divided by war, the pain and resentment of my ancestors, and my personal pain.
Then one day, behind the veils, a shining being appeared, covered in glitter.
I am your Muse – she said.
What a weird being and too bright for my taste, I thought.
Follow the word creativity – she whispered.
Me? Creative? I am not creative!
Or am I? – I answered surprised.
I had been unemployed for five years at that time and swimming in self-despair, anger, and shame, seeking for a way to get out of my “situation”. I had already tried everything I could, so I decided to follow the strange advice of my Muse – to be on the lookout for the word creativity.
I entered a competition for the most creative project and won it, signed up for a course in graphic design although I had a Law Degree, because they wrote that they were seeking CREATIVEs. I finished the Make it Design online training for surface pattern designers, got a one-year scholarship from Textile Design Labs and improved my surface pattern and textile design skills, followed Bonnie Christine on Skillshare and then, one by one, the breadcrumbs led me to HER, to Shiloh Sophia, talking about Color of Woman applications on Women Unleashed.
I handed my newborn baby to my dad, a very traditional husband and father, and wrote my application for three hours. He was furious at being left alone for so long with a child, but I didn’t care. I was more excited than I had ever been in my life.
I just knew.
It was then my Muse appeared in all her glory and magnificence and she has never left my side since.
I finished Color of Woman in 2019 and have been teaching for about two years. I started painting for the first time in my life and my paintings had messages for me. I started writing stories and poems again. Even my mother started writing again. I am teaching my daughter to paint, draw faces, do collage, love herself and know her worth. Love started expanding everywhere. By healing myself enough to just live and enjoy life I contributed to the healing of others too.
I accomplished all of that with Intentional Creativity as my main guide.
Intentional Creativity is not “just “teaching and painting for me. It is a philosophy, my core value, the way I live every day of my life, and my spiritual practice. My morning ritual, the way I raise my daughter, how I spend time with her at home every day, the way I love my husband, how I connect with others, the way I treat my whole SELF, is infused with Intentional Creativity.
I am a stay-at-home mom who made her living room into a temple of prayer, love, peace, art, yoga, and dance.
My souls work is to be love and make that love visible (using the words of Elisabeth Lesser).
Guided by intuition, intention, and devotion and using creativity as my main tool, I want to help all women and children, across the world, to feel safe from harm and safe to be themselves. For women and girls to know their worth, to be aware of their own wisdom and use that wisdom to live a life filled with love.
The focus of my work (teachings, paintings, poems) is to provide an alternative for the mother and women archetype my ancestors lived within, by using creativity in my mother-tongue. Figuring out and living an alternative way of BEING. The way of the rainbow mother, the way of the creative woman, the way of the Artist.
I write and paint about love, compassion, and value of others and of ones self. I teach self-sufficiency and care and work to spread the divine mother love both inside myself and to others. I explore the mess of life, the magical and not-so-magical things, women, the feminine way, self-healing, and my thoughts and feelings on that journey.
I do all of this in my nicest dress, smelling lovely, with perfect hair and wearing bright red lipstick or…
maybe not so perfect at all.
I express Intentional Creativity specifically to my cultural context first by listening to others, to their authentic stories of love, intention, mindfulness, ancestry.
I let myself be informed by my surroundings. The land I live on, the trees, the forest, the flowers, the animals specific to my neighborhood, by all the people I meet, all the stories I hear, all the issues they have.
I let myself be inspired by their creative sparks, devotion to a thing or project, and by their joy. Then I paint, journal, or write a poem about that including them in my body of work and sending healing and love back to them.
I follow the thread that weaves all our cultures together.
I investigate the land I live on, the myths, the poems, artwork from the past and present (the traditional song Sevdalinka – named based on the Turkish word love, a poem, a lyrical poetic record of love grief, enthusiasm, or joy https://sevdalinka.info/en/about-sevdalinka/, findings from Neolithic period (for example: https://www.zemaljskimuzej.ba/en/archaeology/prehistory/figurine-woman), the overall local history, the similarities with our neighboring countries with whom we were once in conflict.
There are many more similarities than differences between us once one changes focus and starts looking for love and magic.
My painting Samodiva, Wildalone (https://falchionpub.com/mythological-woman-samodiva/) is inspired by a myth that is told in my country and at least five other surrounding countries.
It is the tale of a fairy with a dress made of moon beams. When she dances, she takes her dress off and she can only be caught that way. One day, a man took her dress and she became his wife. If it reminds you of the Selkie woman – it is the same story, only she is a fairy and dances oro or kolo, our traditional dance and has a dress made of moon light.
For me personally, she carries the message of reclaiming my power and sense of identity, embracing my culture as a part of myself, and finding comfort in it. And the power of the moon. That’s always a theme in my work.
This is a work in progress but the dress is inspired by a crochet pattern from my grandmothers’ tablecloth. I am someone who grew up in a foreign country, in Germany to be specific, so I lost touch with my culture. I kind of even disclaimed it. I also was never good at crocheting, never had the patience I guess.
So in this painting, I tried to think about the crocheting, to meditate about it, to think of my grandmother and all the other women from our past of what they were thinking while weaving those mandala-patterned crochets. To feel them and to feel their love and their pain. And to receive wisdom.
This painting is very important for me for a couple of reasons and the latter only one of them. My intention for this painting is part of my activism. Because after Color of Woman and practicing Intentional Creativity for a couple of years, I now again have the strength for facing the monsters outside of myself.
There are a couple of issues the people of my region and/or my country are facing at this moment (except COVID, unfortunately) – the old known fight for existence and providing a normal life, safety, and financial freedom for themselves and their family, survival, (about half a million people, mostly youth migrated from Bosnia in the last 8 years), a place where men, women, and children in move (mostly migrating from even poorer countries to the EU) are stuck and met with a harsh winter, no shelter or shelter with very poor conditions (hundreds of people in one place, sleeping one on another even during this whole COVID time, with no water, and normal conditions for a human being), facing violence and discrimination.
We also had an opening of Pandora’s box situation where one young actress reported a well-known teacher for sexual abuse which resulted in the appearance of hundreds of stories of abuse in the schools and colleges all over the region, accompanied with even more stories from other places and young girls being sexually abused in their apartment buildings and elementary school teachers that were never told before. (https://www.rferl.org/a/serbia-harvey-weinstein–metoo-rape-accusations-film-director/31074366.html).
And top of all that, young girls being harassed in the digital world because of how they pronounce particular words and a couple of young boys committing suicide in a short time span.
So I painted. I asked myself what can I do? And suddenly an angel of love appeared. The message was clear. For the first time in my life I not only have the gut and strength to face these issues, but I also know what to do.
Be love, share love – she says.
If you want to provide support to the victims of sexual abuse explore the hashtag #nisisama. Read their stories, send a message of support to the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NisamTrazila/
Read and talk about people on the move coming from Palestina, Syria, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and other countries. Don’t use only mainstream media as a source. Look at them. Please see them. They are dying here and now on their way to their dream. Whatever it is and whoever they are, they are still people. Men, women, and children.
Or if you want to support me doing my soul work as an artist, storyteller, innervist and activist in Bosnia and Herzegovina send me a prayer, some love or words of encouragement and support.
If you work with or know people from a different background, country or culture, or in general any different view than yours, or just different in any other way, listen to them, talk to them.
And most of all. Paint. Write. Dance.
For yourself, for me, for them.
Pray. Tug on the red thread. Send love. Be love. Do your part of the work, because only so we can one day create a better future for all of us.
Dzenita Delic, also known as Jenny D
You can find out more about myself or my work at my website: https://jennydelicart.wordpress.com/
You can find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/icradionice or Instagram:@jennyd.art
If you want to buy a painting, schedule and individual Intentional Creativity session or Red Thread Circle, you can visit my website https://jennydelicart.wordpress.com/paintings/
My current soulwork project and offering is Moon journal (translation to English in progress) – a combination of art journal/diary for self-reflection, self-exploration (who am I, what is my authentic truth?), growth, self-coaching, and reclaiming our inner wisdom by connecting to either the lunar cycle or our menstrual cycle and using Intentional Creativity, stream of consciousness writing and intuitive collage as main tools. I use it also as a way of working, a container, a structure that provides me with at least one authentic teaching, one poem, and one painting every month to share with my community
Artist Interview and Content organized by Virginia Masson. Virginia is Musea’s Guild Member Coordinator, own and operates a Musea Center in the Great Lakes Area, and is a member of our Co-Curator Discovery Team. She writes with heart and soul and has a gift for expressing the heart of women.