Creative Careers Interviews : Anne Bennett Interview
Creative Careers in the Arts Interviews
SoulCollage® Workshop Facilitator Anne Bennett
By Molly Anderson-Childers
This month, I interviewed Anne Marie Bennett, a SoulCollage® workshop facilitator. SoulCollage® cards were originally invented by Seena Frost in the 1980s for use in her psychotherapy practice. Today, people all over the world create their own cards to work with, thanks to workshop facilitators like Ms. Bennett. Based on the teachings of Carl Jung, Jean Houston and others, these cards allow anyone to create and work with a set of personally meaningful symbols and images.
Q: What was your first job as a young woman?
When I was 16 I got a job as a page at our local library. I worked at the front desk. This job was total heaven for me; I have been passionate about books since I first held one in my hands at the tender age of two.
Q: What led you to begin working with SoulCollage® cards?
I had been working as a Customer Service Representative, and then Assistant Manager, in the busy box office of a large music theatre in Massachusetts for ten years. The last two years of those 10 years, I was feeling more and more led in another direction, but I didn't know what that direction would be.
In 2005, I attended the Art and Soul Retreat in Portland, Oregon. At that time, I wanted to satisfy my artist self and planned on taking workshops in mixed media collage, watercolor, and altered books. I took a one-day SoulCollage® workshop there with Noelle Remington, and it was "love at first card!" The very first card I created made a significant difference in my inner and outer worlds.
This card, featured here, spoke very clearly to me. The little girl in that image said, "I am the one who doesn't want to go where the woman is pulling me. I am the one who hears another voice calling me, and I am looking over my shoulder to hear what it is saying. I am the one who notices that the woman pulling me doesn't really care a lot if I go with her or not. I am the one who has a choice."
I still get goose bumps when I remember this! Everything suddenly clicked into focus for me. I realized that I didn't have to keep working at a job that no longer served me. I realized that my artist and writer selves were the "other voices" that were calling me. I realized that I could let go of that "hand" that was dragging me along, and go my own way.
Q: Do you have any advice for young people hoping to break into the arts?
Simply this: follow your intuition. There is a Rumi quotation that I love, and I offer here as the best advice for anyone really: "Let yourself be drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray."
Q: How did you make the leap from your day job to this fascinating and fabulous career?
It wasn't easy. After working at the theatre for ten years, the place had become my home away from home. The people in that office were like family to me But within a month of returning to Massachusetts, the universe sent me a clear message that things had to change. My husband found a new job, and received a significant salary increase. Soon afterwards, my boss at the theatre demoted me, for no apparent reason. I tried the new position but it felt completely wrong, so I resigned. Some people might call all of this merely a coincidence, but I call it divine timing.
Next, I gathered together several friends and led them in their first SoulCollage® experience. I now knew for certain that I wanted to become a SoulCollage® facilitator, so I signed up for Seena Frost's next training that fall.
I created a website, KaleidoSoul.com. It's a supportive place for people who have taken one of my SoulCollage® workshops. Then, I began contacting holistic book shops and learning centers in my area in order to set up Introductory SoulCollage® workshops.
This website has come to be so much more than a local resource for my workshop participants. People from all over the world use my site, and learn about the extraordinary process of SoulCollage® through my online e-courses and e-books, as well as the Yahoo Community Group.
Q: Please give us a quick overview of the process of creating a deck of SoulCollage® cards
There are two different ways to create your own SoulCollage® deck.
You begin by making cards completely intuitively. This involves gathering hundreds of images from magazines, and then grouping them together by theme, color or idea, Creating a sense of what you want to put with what. Then you do a writing or partner exercise with the card where you imaginatively enter the image on the card and speak from it using the first person (I am the one who... My gift to you is... What I want/need from you is ).
Another way to create cards for your deck is to make them intentionally. There are four basic suits in a SoulCollage® deck: Committee (inner voices), Community (family & friends), Companions (animal totems), and Council (spirit guide & archetypes). Community Suit cards are usually created intentionally. Decide who you want to honor with a card, then set about finding images and photos that capture that person's essence. The same thing happens with the Companions Suit. You can also create Committee and Council cards intentionally if you already work with an inner voice or an archetype that you want to honor with a card.
One of the real beauties about SoulCollage® is that you can be as creative as you want to be, and you can go as deeply as you want to go with the whole process. You can create additional suits if you want; you can ignore a suit completely. There are lots of guidelines and suggestions when it comes to creating your own SoulCollage® deck, but the only rule is that we don't sell, trade, or barter our cards in any way, shape or form.
Q: What type of training, education or resources are needed to become a SoulCollage® facilitator?
In order to become a SoulCollage® facilitator, you need to attend a weekend training session with Seena Frost, who created the SoulCollage® process. Please see the notes at the end of this article for more information about upcoming training sessions. It isn't required, but strongly suggested that you start creating your own deck before you attend the SoulCollage® Facilitator Training.
Q: How has becoming a SoulCollage® facilitator enriched your life? How have you helped others with this training?
My life is immeasurably enriched as a SoulCollage® facilitator because I can see others' lives changing right before my eyes. My tagline for KaleidoSoul is, "spinning the fragments of your world into wholeness and beauty through SoulCollage®."
In working with my clients, I can actually see evidence of fragmented lives spinning into wholeness. My first indication of this was an email I received from a woman in Europe last fall. She was going through a horrendous divorce when she stumbled upon SoulCollage® through my website. She had been in danger of losing her self and her sanity, but working with this process gave her back to herself. She is now a SoulCollage® facilitator, leading groups overseas.
My most inspirational moments occur when someone creates a card that depicts a dark and shadowy part of their personality and discovers that even that darker part has something special to give them. I love hearing from people who have used SoulCollage® to help them grieve a major loss in their lives, or who have used the process to change their lives in a positive way. Clients have told me that using SoulCollage® has helped them during times of transition. The process helps them to answer some really big questions, such as how to be a better parent, how to deal with eating issues, how to maintain balance in their lives, and how to feel their way through the grieving process, to name a few.
Q: What is the most challenging aspect of this type of work?
For me, the challenging part is the logistics of getting it all going. For example, in order to lead a workshop there are several steps that have to happen first: contacting a site, choosing a date, writing copy, creating flyers, contacting newspapers, collecting magazines, making sure I have the right supplies, etc. It's not difficult, but I find myself dragging my feet sometimes over these seemingly mundane (but equally important) tasks.
Q: Please share your schedule; describe a typical day at work for our readers.
In the mornings I usually spend a few hours doing my own soul work. This might include meditation, journaling, and/or creating and interpreting some SoulCollage® cards for my own deck. Or it might be taking a walk or reading quietly with my favorite cat, Sasha, on my lap. These hours are just as important as the time I spend answering email and creating newsletters and e-courses for my website.
After that I spend anywhere from 3-8 hours working on my website-based business. This type of work varies from day to day, and can include contacting sites and planning SoulCollage® workshops; writing the KaleidoSoul monthly newsletter, Soul Songs, writing an e-book or an e-course; creating entries for the website's Inner Surprises Blog; and answering email. I also write articles for Creativity Portal® and other sites in order to spread the word about SoulCollage®, create new pages for my website, and maintain our KaleidoSoul Kindred Spirits Membership. Right now we have over 100 members, and it is growing rapidly week by week. We offer free monthly tele-classes, a weekly newsletter, big discounts on items in the KaleidoSoul Shop, plus other benefits as well.
I love what I'm doing because my hours are so flexible. I can plan my days however I choose. I may put in an 8 or 10 hour day, but seldom do it all in one sitting. This leaves lots of time for playing with my two cats, traveling with my husband Jeff, reading, art projects, swimming, and walking.
Q: Any inspirational stories you'd like to share?
One woman at my weekend retreat last summer had made a card intuitively for her deck with a fierce looking animal on it. I think it was a wolf with its mouth wide open and ready to snap. She told the group that the card/image initially frightened her, but when she spent some time dialoguing with the animal, she discovered that his role in her life wasn't to hurt or destroy her, but to protect her. This is now one of her favorite and most significant cards.
Q: What are your favorite materials and images to work with? Do you find that certain themes recur in your work?
I've really learned to trust the process and let the images choose me, as Seena likes to say. I go through magazines by the dozen with no preconceived notion of what I'm looking for and sure enough, the images DO choose me! I do find certain images butterflies, and open windows and doors showing up on several of my cards. This is not conscious or intentional, it just happens. It's this mystical aspect of the process that I love best.
Magazines are my favorite places to find source material for the cards. I also like to use colored mat board for my cards, and color copy machines come in handy just about every week!
Q: Where can readers find more detailed instructions for creating their own SoulCollage® cards?
Please check out my article on Creativity Portal titled Fall in Love with Yourself with SoulCollage.
For more information about card readings, related projects, resources, a free newsletter and Anne's Inner Surprises Blog, visit her website at www.KaleidoSoul.com. For information about upcoming training sessions to become a workshop facilitator, please visit Seena Frost's website.
Anne Marie asked me to share the following statement with my loyal readers: "SoulCollage® cards are made for personal use only. They are not meant to be sold, traded, or bartered. A special thank you to all of the wonderfully creative photographers, artists, and graphic designers whose images have inspired us to recreate and discover our inner and outer worlds!"
A Final Note: After creating your first card, you may wish to do a little writing about your experience with this process. Try to create a poem, song or story to go with your card. Or do a little free-writing using the images on the card for inspiration, jot down whatever comes to mind. Do not stop to check your spelling, or worry about grammar and punctuation. Keep writing... Break through your resistance Find the true heart of what you wish to say, alive and beating, keeping its' own time. •
© 2007 Molly J. Anderson-Childers. All rights reserved.
Molly Anderson-Childers is a a highly creative writer and artist from Durango, Colorado. More »