Breast Cancer Awareness Month for 2009.
I am honored to share today's special blog entry with all of you.
In a blog tour interview about Bright Side of the Road with our sweet SoulCollage® sister Cheryl Finley, Cheryl asked Anne Marie "What was the gift […of living through your breast cancer experience]? What an important question! I find that this is one of those queries I put to myself daily, but with slightly altered phrasing: "What is the blessing in this moment?" In many ways this is the same question, one that allows me to see past the suffering in my life to the beauty inherent in a given moment. Asked of myself in this way it keeps me from traveling forward and back to the “what if’s” and “the last time’s” that prevent me from experiencing what is true in this very moment. This is the sort of re-framing that allowed Anne Marie to discover the “bright side” of a road that could have easily been clouded with unrelenting fear and suffering. Anne Marie chose a path of light, despite the pain and anxiety of living with cancer in her body while she was undergoing treatment, a choice that opened a door to even more creativity in her life and a world of new friends when she eventually discovered SoulCollage® and founded www.kaleidosoul.com .
Anne Marie: I was fortunate to be able to take several months off from my customer service job while I was going through my treatments for breast cancer. During those weeks, even though I didn’t feel well most of the time, I was able to remember my innate creativity, which I had put on the back burner for many years. I chose to go back to my customer service (non-creative) job part-time, and that freed up a lot of my time for my art and writing again. Since then, I’ve given my Creative Self lots of room to breathe and grow. It was all a matter of priorities.
Me: "Giving your Creative Self lots of room to breathe and grow", this is advice we all could take to heart, healthy or ill. Sometimes, when we are sick, it feels like we have too much time on our hands, (or the opposite, that time is limited and running out rapidly) and yet, are we allowing ourselves that freedom to "breathe and grow", or are we spending that time lost in anxiety; contracting? What would you like everyone living with a chronic and/or life threatening illness to know about how you discovered the Bright Side of the Road over and over again despite the dark days?
Anne Marie: I think the main thing is that it is a choice. I discovered that I could choose to respond instead of react. I could choose to be grateful. I could choose to see the glass half full. It’s always a choice. Feelings, however, are not chosen. They simply ARE. And it’s really important to give yourself full permission to feel whatever feelings arise, especially while you are going through something difficult. Accept your feelings without judgment, and choose to change your thoughts. That, for me, is the key.
Me: I love what you said about our choices and accepting our feelings without judgment. Sometimes, when we are in the midst of the fear and chaos of an illness (or any difficult situation really), we forget that we do indeed still have some choices; we are not completely powerless. We can use our minds as tools to support us instead of allowing our thoughts to spin out of control and cause us even more suffering. Witnessing and accepting all of our feelings without judgment, ties into the realm of spirit; loving ourselves with authentic compassion.
In regard to tools, I know you were not yet acquainted with the SoulCollage® process when you were going through cancer treatment. Now that SoulCollage® is a big part of your life, can you talk a little about how it is source of healing for you?
Anne Marie: For me, SoulCollage® takes regular collage play 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 more fully 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.
Me: I hope folks will take the time to check out that link. Thank you for allowing us another glimpse into your life. I think healing is a process that never really ends, there's always more stuff that rises up and needs our attention. Like creativity and spirituality, healing can be a practice. Like all practices, we get to do it again and again throughout our lives.
Ok Anne Marie, close your eyes and take a deep breath In...Exhale...
What is the blessing (gift) in this moment?
Anne Marie: Thank you for the reminder, Laura! The blessing in this moment as I am typing this answer is the presence of my loving husband, sleeping dog, and beloved cat Sasha who is sleeping at my feet. The blessing is loving and being loved by these fabulous beings.
Me: Love and presence...two of my favorite presents! One final question: Where can your book be purchased at this time?
Anne Marie: Bright Side of the Road is available at www.annemariebennett.com It’s also available on Amazon.
Me: Thank you dear one for taking the time to stop by and share your wisdom with my readers.
To experience the joy of SoulCollage® check out Anne Marie’s phenomenal website: www.kaleidosoul.com Here's an example of one of Anne Marie's SoulCollage® cards that guided her in integrating her journey through breast cancer treatment and the "I am the one" wisdom that it revealed for her:
I am the one who was held in the arms of a beautiful angel while enduring those harsh, cold treatments.
I am the one who got up and stood on my own two feet and walked away from cancer when the treatments were over.
I am the one who walked away from cancer after being held in the arms of a beautiful angel.
For those of you reading this who are grieving the loss of a loved one to breast cancer or any other illness, accident, tragedy or simply succumbing to age, I offer you the same words:
I cannot end this blog entry without mentioning two more very important people in my life who know a lot about breast cancer, and cancer in general. First I want to honor my Mom a breast cancer thriver (13 years cancer free). My Mom is a private person and did not want me to publish her name here. We all have unique ways of finding the support we need, and my Mom's way was to depend mostly on my Dad (her best friend) and her 4 adult children. Her circle of support was small and loving, it worked for her, and I completely respect and admire her way of surviving her cancer journey on her own terms. She is a spunky, life loving woman; wise, kind and brave. My Dad, a semi-retired physician specializes in Internal Medicine, Hematology, Oncology and Nuclear Medicine. (He also did not want me to publicize his name...my parents possess deep humility and that's part of what I love about them!) I am proud to say that my Dad was one of the first few of a hundred or so physicians to pass the Oncology Boards in the United States when the exam was first offered back in 1970 or '71. He's a pioneer in my mind, one of the docs on the ground who helped bring cancer treatment to the level of excellent care it has reached today. He is certainly a hero to our family and to his many patients and their families over the years. Both of my parents inspire me to be compassionate and courageous in all that I do everyday of my life.
*One additional place to offer a donation for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research is to go to Jungle of Life In return for your donation you will receive the new E-book Blog for a Cause "the collective effort of over 150 writers from throughout the world. Writers uniting together in a race for the cure." One of my recent blog entries is included in this book. I am so honored to be part of this wonderful project!