Flotilla, Drozda 2001
mixed on recycled wood
Several days ago Alyson asking me to address my blog name Merci 33.
Here's what has come to share.
Once upon a time 3 miscreants set me up in an entrapment situation, traumatized me severely and left me for dead. You can connect with the storyline where I created a graphic memoir last summer and posted it here on the blog from June through August. A post can be found here. You can imagine how physically, emotionally and psychically bereft the experience left me. One aspect of my recovery involved working diligently for 16 years to move beyond debilitating Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. I lived in relative solitude for much of that time and devoted every day to inner repair working in studio and garden. It took time to learn to trust that life wouldn't brutally harm me again. I learned, and continue to enlist, unbroken focus; taking active measures to reclaim and rebirth myself, to walk in balance.
Alyson was curious and interested to know where the name Merci33 comes from and if I had ever explained that to my readers. In a follow-up email she went further and suggested that I tell the story of Donna Iona Drozda.
I'll be brief.
I love how the words we use and the way we communicate sends energy out into the world. Pain/pleasure, gain/loss, praise/blame, fame/disgrace. The list goes on and on. Some words help us feel hopeful and uplifted other words suck our lifeforce away and break our spirit.
Since 1991 the Lifecycle department of my studio outreach has been devoted to assisting us in walking in creative balance. The mantra for Lifecycle is paraphrased from Thoreau and states 'To affect the quality of the day is the highest of arts.' For Lifecycle I enlist a variety of well developed tools. I have a love affair with the work of walking through the world in a state of balance.
Merci 33: of course Merci means thank you. Thank you for every blessed moment. And 33 is an auspicious number that relates to 'All is Well'.
Therefore Merci 33 is a code for my life that reminds me 'Thank you. All is well.'
my plates remind me daily
My given name is Donna Jean Drozda. When I was violently attacked I could have been lost to myself for all time. However very quickly an artist/mentor came into my life and her lifestyle served as an example and helped me to immerse in the study of first Raja yoga and when my mind was able to calm a bit Hatha yoga. I was simultaneoulsy introduced to the Tao Te Ching. I have studied these daily for decades.
As part of the ongoing healing process I opened my studio to monthly 'Creativity Salons'. The monthly Salons were like protected circles, a gathering of artists who also shared like-minded souls. A core group of twelve of us engaged in a kind of 'collective creating' using the phases of the moon to circumnavigate the year. For more than five years we invested in the Salon environment where we were free to creatively invent ourselves anew.
We were a very playful group and one of the first things we did was give ourselves permission to choose a 'name for the day'. Instinctively I knew I needed my true 'Artist Name'...my own soul name. A name that belonged to me. What came is Iona. As in I own a Drozda...I own myself. Iona. No one anywhere, under any circumstance, has the power to take me from me. Not ever. It's been tested. It's been proven.
The Fields of Dewachen, Drozda 2001
Acrylic on canvas
I feel very fortunate that circumstances came together to form a scar tissue that has made me stronger and more flexible as a result of what I have endured. I am a bona fide member of the 'Scar Clan' as outlined in the magnificent book Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
I am well aware that we are each stronger than we can ever possibly imagine. Often it is not until, or unless, we find ourselves faced with a true test of our inner strengths and resources that we discover just how Merci 33 life truly is.
So there you have it Alyson, in short form.
Thank you so much for stopping by... may you always in all ways:
~Sing the day