An interview with ANNE MARIE BENNETT, author of Bright Side of the Road

Good Morning and welcome to Artfully Yours. This morning I have the wonderful pleasure of interviewing, Anne Marie Bennett, the author of BRIGHT SIDE OF THE ROAD. A book, recounting her journey, with living with breast cancer. If you have been diagnosed with cancer...know someone who is living with cancer...or could use a positive and heart felt journal to clarify your own gratitude...this is the perfect book to read. Anne Marie is open...honest...and loving with herself and her reader. You will walk away from reading this book with a sense of knowing and seeing a warrior. You will get a glimpse into a way to rearrange your own priorities in a loving and meaningful way.
Grab a cup of coffee and sit down for a moment and hear the wisdom of a cancer survivor.

Pattie: Being a caregiver myself, for someone who is living with cancer, what is the one piece of advice you can give a caregiver?

Anne Marie: The most important thing for a caregiver is to keep in mind that cancer patients ARE NOT JUST CANCER PATIENT. They are still the same beautiful interesting, and loving people that they were before their diagnosis. Sometimes on my journey with breast cancer, I got really tired of people asking "how do you feel today?" Because they were referring to my physical symptoms. I really felt most loved and cared for by the people who remembered who I really was beyond the part about being a breast cancer patient. Here are some examples of questions that people asked me that really helped me remember who I was.....
Have you read any good books lately?
Can you recommend a good movie to watch?
Are you planning any trips later this year?
What does it feel like to be away from the theater (my job) for so long?
Do you have any advice to give me about my son?
How is your spirit?
These questions will vary from person to person, of course, depending on what your loved one's interests and passions are. In the presence of questions like these, I was reminded of my best inner essence. I was reminded that I wasn't just a cancer patient. I felt like I was being seen for WHO I really was.

Pattie: Despite all you went through as a person living with cancer, you remained positive. Do you think this helps with the healing/grieving/accepting process? And how can a person gently allow for the negative feelings while staying positive?

Anne Marie: For me, the grieving process had to come FIRST. Not just grieving, but ALL the emotions that came up for me, especially fear and anger. I couldn't walk on the "bright side" without first naming and accepting and hooring all those darker feeling first. I can sum up the essence of my recipe for th Bright Side Living like this: Feel your feelings, and then change your thoughts. First I gave myself PERMISSION to feel whatever I was feeling, and to accept and even embrace my fears and worries and angers and grief. Not an easy thing, because it is very uncomfortable and sometimes messy! I found that if I just kept doing that, I could much more easily hear the negative thoughts in the background of my mind. And once I could hear the negative, self-defeating chatter inside of me, I was in a grounded position to enter that dialogue from a clearer place and change it. So for me, the part about embracing positive thoughts and gratitude was only possible AFTER I allowed myself my feelings. I find that this is true for me even now, seven years later. No matter what the situation, if I allow myself the ebb and flow of my feelings, I am more able to be clearly rooted in the bright side of positive thoughts.

Pattie: We are all programmed since childhood about our appearance. What advice can you give someone who is losing their hair and/or other appearance changes?

Anne Marie: Yes, I can definitely understand this question, Pattie! My journey took me through several physical changes. I gained a lot of weight, lost my hair (and not just on my head!) got catapulted into early menopause and lost my libido. Trust me, I was not happy about ANY of this! For me, my resistance to those physical changes disappeared the day I realized (about halfway through the journey) that I could not do anything about it! I was on this journey, and this is just how things were. I could waste a whole lot of energy bemoaning the fact that I didn't look like I use to, or I could just relax and go with the flow of it all. It really became almost like a game to me, finding the bright side of any situation especially the baldness. What could be good about not having hair? Well, I saved a lot of money at the drug store, not having to buy conditioner and styling products! Also, I saved a lot of time every morning and there was a great freedom in that, not having to purposely "look good" every day. I recently came across a Deepak Chopra quote: " Happiness is a continuation of happenings which are not resisted>" This speaks to me of the magic of acceptance, which was one of the key factors on my bright side journey.

Pattie: What one thing can someone living with cancer do to help them strengthen their spirit during their treatments?

Anne Marie: That "one thing" is going to be different for each person because each of us is so different. For me, that "one thing" was writing in my journal. Also, continuing to sit at my art table and create collage strengthened my spirit immensely during my treatment. But, for someone else, that "one thing" might be listening to NPR or going to synagogue, attending regular prayer meetings, fishing with the guys, continuing to work at a job they love, making birdhouses in the basement...You get the idea! The most important thing is to stay connected to yourself at all times, so that you know what your own personal "one thing" is!

Thank you so much for sharing with us this morning Anne Marie. During this month of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I can't think of a better person to interview....a better book to read. I wish you continued good health and awareness as your life on the BRIGHT SIDE continues to unfold before you.

Artfully Yours,
Pattie

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. For more information about SoulCollage® please visit www.KaleidoSoul.com...

1 comment:

squarepegperson said...

Great review, Pattie - and I agree with what you said here:"During this month of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I can't think of a better person to interview....a better book to read. "!!!!!

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