I interviewed Anna Sanders, a Montana Scientologist whom I first met (curiously) when my family was moving cross-country to Oregon. She’s a mother of two, living on a frankly gorgeous spot near Flathead Lake, where’s she’s able to raise her family, as well as a number of horses. The photo above is from a trail ride she took with my wife around her “front yard”. Here’s what she had to say:
Where do you live – and what do you do for work?
I live in Polson, Montana. I am a stay at home mom, and also do administrative and finance work for my husband who works from home as a website programmer & designer.
I’ve also worked a lot with horses. I started riding when I was around 9 years old after my mom bought her first horse. I didn’t really get hooked until my mom bought me my first horse when I was 15. His name was Top Priority which was how I came up with the name of my horse breeding business Top Priority Trakehners (a Trakehner is a specific breed of horse). I started with jumping but after several close calls of horses bucking & sending me flying, I switched riding disciplines to Dressage. I soon joined a junior Quadrille team with 3 other young girls, 2 of them are Scientologists and are now mothers as well. (Tkeisha Wydro & Julianne Sherman). We were the National Young Rider champions in 2001 which was a huge accomplishment for us. I can’t tell you how hard it is to get 4 teenage girls and 4 horses to stay happy & healthy for that many practices and shows! After that amazing year we all went our own ways and I moved to Montana to pursue my dream to breed & sell horses. I continued to show in Dressage with the 1st baby that I bred & raised. I am out of the breeding business now that I have a family of my own, but I did manage to breed & sell 8 babies over the years and enjoyed the experience immensely.
How has Scientology affected your family, and your dealings with extended family?
I was born and raised in Scientology, and am a 3rd-generation Scientologist actually as my grandmother helped start the first Scientology mission in New Zealand. I did the Purification Rundown and received my first Scientology Auditing when I was about 12, which was fantastic. Then, after finishing my high school education, I became a staff member at the Church of Scientology in Los Angeles which, honestly, was the most amazing learning experience. I worked on Church dissemination and marketing campaigns, and along the way became much more responsible, massively improved my communication skills, learned how to manage the finances of a large organization, and acquired a holistic and workable knowledge of how organizations work that you simply can’t get any other way.
My extended family, unfortunately is peppered around England and New Zealand, so they’re even more remote than I am. As such, I don’t end up with too many interactions with them. However, my husband’s extended family is here in the States, and we get along great with them – both Scientologists and non-Scientologists alike.
How do you and your family participate in your church’s activities?
Unfortunately, at this point, there are no Churches of Scientology in the entire state of Montana, though we have helped put on seminars locally in our area. So, most of our study we do at home, studying Scientology books & lectures on our own. Then during the winter we generally make trips down south to Florida to do services at the Scientology Church in Clearwater.
How do you like being a Scientologist? What do you like about it?
I love it! It’s so empowering and uplifting, especially when you don’t live around any Scientologists on a daily basis other than family.
One key part of Scientology I love to use is the Emotional Tone Scale. It’s a fantastic tool. Particularly, I love that I don’t have to become adversely affected by toxic personalities, as after specific courses of study I’ve taken in Scientology I find I can now rapidly spot them on the Tone Scale. Being able to do this allows me to know whether or not I can trust them, and allows me to better predict their reactions and intentions. It’s fantastic.
The spiritual nature of Scientology is one I also really appreciate, as – among other things – it’s made it easier to deal with loss. I know that if someone passes, I don’t have to cave into total despair, as it’s real to me that they are an immortal being and will go on to play another great game in a new body.
I feel like I have all these little (quite useful) secrets to life, and I am able to stay much more happy and causative in life as a result of it.
What positive changes in your family relationships have you seen as a result of Scientology?
The largest change I’ve seen is my being able to communicate better as an adult. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a great relationship with my sisters while I was growing up. So, learning and practicing good communication skills really changed things for us. Also, whenever any of us do any services in Scientology, it always seems to increase how well we get along, and how much we like each other.
I also simply love being able to use simple Scientology tools to help myself and others with everyday problems in life. I love being able to help my friends when they are having trouble – it’s so satisfying to me.
Tell me about a recent Scientology service you’ve done. What did you get out of it?
The most recent was a program of Dianetics Assists after having my 2 babies. After running engrams associated with these births, I came to a sense that I really was over the whole experience, and could move on. It was extremely satisfying. As a note, I had done a Dianetics assist before the first child was born which (in hindsight) is probably why I didn’t end up being terribly affected and emotionally distressed by the birth in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, giving birth was a tough and painful experience both times – but I was able to stay focused and make sane decisions through the whole thing both times.