In 2006, I discovered the joy of collage. As is typical for me when finding a new activity, I wanted to find a way to express Spirit through it. I went to trusty Google and typed in words like soul, spirit and collage. It was the beginning of a whole new world. From the day I heard about SoulCollage®, everything changed for me.
If you delve into SoulCollage® at all, you no doubt know the amazing woman in the picture above. One of the wonderful things about SoulCollage is the community that seems to naturally spring up around it. Anne Marie Bennett makes it seem natural anyway. She is the keeper of KaleidoSoul,
a website that is invaluable if you have an interest in SoulCollage®. She assisted Seena in training me to be a Facilitator and it was a joy to meet her in person.
Anne Marie is a 7-year breast cancer survivor and she has written a truly wonderful book about her journey through diagnosis and on to healing. Her writing is so true and raw that you might think you are actually feeling some of what she went through. It's not all sadness, though. As the title Bright Side of the Road might indicate, there are so many spots of light and pure laughter throughout her journey and she takes us right along with her.
I didn't mean to write so much. After all, I still have the interview to post below, but I just want to say that it's an amazing book. If you or someone you love has breast cancer, I would highly recommend this book. But I would also recommend it even if you don't know anyone with breast cancer because the wisdom found in its pages would be welcome comfort through any difficult time, even every day life stuff.
Be sure to check out Anne Marie's new website at www.annemariebennett.com for details on ordering the book. It's incredibly inexpensive.
Ok, now the interview.
1. It seems that from the beginning, you were always reaching for a happier thought and using visualization. What in your background, do you think, prepared you for that sort of attitude and insight?
I think that I have always been this way, but I never thought about it much until I looked back on my journal entries to shape them into this book. It was interesting to see this pattern in myself. Perhaps there is some larger archetype at work in my life around this concept.
I remember my parents instilling in me (from a very early age) the idea of being grateful for what we had, for trying to help people who had less than we did. There was always this idea of “things could be worse” no matter what happened to me or anyone in my family.
In my senior year of college I remember getting a ticket for running a red light one night when I was in a hurry, driving from one meeting to another. I remember being annoyed with myself for getting the ticket, not to mention aggravated because I was going to be late for my next meeting. But when the policeman was writing up my paperwork, I had a few moments of peace and silence in my car and I realized that I was actually grateful that I hadn’t been in an accident. I realized that I hadn’t had any quiet, peaceful, non-doing moments in many months. So I actually thanked the policeman for giving me the ticket. Boy was he surprised! And I was amazed at how just changing my thinking about the situation made a difference in my health and mental well-being.
2. I love the way you write about your husband, Jeff, in Bright Side of the Road. Has he read the completed book and, if he has, what does he have to say about it?
Yes, Jeff has read the finished manuscript and he is proud of it (and of me). Family members and friends who have read the book always comment to him about how special his role in my journey was, but he is pretty modest about it all, because he was”just doing what needed to be done.” It came naturally to him, the way he supported me, and I feel incredibly blessed to be his wife. He teaches me a lot, even now, about what I call the Bright Side way of life.
3. Affirmations were such an important part of your recovery. Do you continue to use affirmations? What is currently your favorite?
I do use affirmations nowadays, although not as extensively as I did during my surgeries and treatments. My favorite affirmation today (and maybe for always) is the Julian of Norwich quote, “And all shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” A friend of mine recently gave me a beautiful silver bracelet with those words engraved on it and I love wearing it as a reminder of the deep truth of this statement. My cancer journey really gave me deeper understanding of the real meaning of “all shall be well.” At first I thought it meant that everything was going to turn out okay, that all I would need was one small surgery and I would be spared the chemotherapy and radiation treatments, then go back to life as usual. But of course, that didn’t happen. It really is about a much deeper understanding of what “all is well” really means.
4. I know that collage was important during your healing. Was collage helpful in the same way that SoulCollage® has since become a healing activity or are they two different things for you?
The collage that I write about in Bright Side of the Road was mixed-media collage combined with rubber stamp art. I find it relaxing and it really feeds my creative self to make art like this. It also makes my inner child happy!
For me, SoulCollage® takes that collage work to a whole other level. With SoulCollage® I am activating my soul’s intuition as well as my imagination, and getting to know myself and my spirit guides/archetypes on a much deeper level. The beauty of SoulCollage® is that it brings into my consciousness parts of me that have been lost or isolated. It gives voice to parts of me that have been longing to speak even though I have forgotten about them.
I wish that I had known about SoulCollage® when I was going through my cancer treatments. It would have really helped me to embrace my fears and give voice to the different parts of myself that I shut off during that time. But we get what we need, when we need it, I guess! After I started practicing SoulCollage® three years after my treatments ended, I made several cards about my breast cancer journey. You can see them and read what they “said” to me here: http://www.kaleidosoul.com/breastcancer.html
Thank you, Anne Marie, for this wonderful interview and for allowing Groggy Froggy to be the first stop on your Bright Side of the Road blog tour!
Anne Marie Bennett is a writer, self-taught collage artist, website goddess, cancer survivor and SoulCollage® Facilitator. She received a BS degree in Education from Southern Connecticut State University and has taught people of all ages throughout the East Coast. She has also worked as a bookseller, sheet presser, library assistant, computer consultant, and in theatre management. Anne Marie lives in eastern Massachusetts with her middle-aged husband, two elderly cats and one very youthful dog who keeps all of them young-at-heart. She is happiest when she is reading, writing, breathing salt air, dancing, and hugging her beautiful grandchildren.
For more information about Anne Marie’s book, Bright Side of the Road, please visit this page: www.annemariebennett.com To purchase the book, please visit this page: www.annemariebennett.com/how-to-purchase Bright Side of the Road is also available on Amazon.com For more information about SoulCollage® please visit www.KaleidoSoul.com and www.SoulCollage.com