The survey of literature for my Creative Action Plan (CAP), similar to much of how I have lived my life, has not been created nor can it be written about linearly. I took a personality test years ago. The name of it escapes me. In any case, the results were that my preferred method of starting a project was to jump in, I was in the “Quickstart” category. Any personality indicator tests I’ve taken align. I tend to trust my first instincts, take decisive action and then figure things out from there. Since the CAP required a review of the literature and since books have always been crucial to my wellbeing, and I have (my family groan when we move) an abundant personal library it would seem obvious for me to start with the literature. Reading for knowledge is one of my life pleasures. I could not imagine a world without books or as Horace Mann said, “A house without books is like a room without windows.”
Conversely, in the design and implementation of The Soul Project: Evoking an Ensouled Life did not start at the library stacks. Except for the non-disposable workshop through the Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning (CIEL), I took before creating my CAP, new comma I put together my CAP, realized after the fact, from personal and professional experience and expertise. In fact, many experts contributed to my CAP such as James Hillman, Thomas Moore, Robert Sardello, Jean Houston, Peggy Rubin and others. Reading and learning about these expert’s theories and life’s work, as well as the required reading for my courses or those books offered by classmates and professors, have seeped into my heart and mind and assisted me albeit unconsciously throughout the design of my CAP.
My mother would often remind her children to stop “navel gazing” as she called it, a term which meant we were becoming too self-absorbed or not taking action. It is interesting that many of us, perhaps not immobilized or focused on ourselves, do feel a constant pressing; seeking the perfect job, partner, house etc., which can arrest our professional development and affect the life we are meant to live. Then, when we find what feels right or brings a sense of relief inevitably the insistent calling begins again; to move, to quit our jobs, to paint and more. This internal nudging is the soul at work. Being no different than anyone else, I too, have experienced the sometimes challenging, more often, fulfilling lifelong journey of discovering my purpose and for me, always with a daily prayer, ‘Allow my work be of service.’
Years of self-exploration, taking risks, and learning to listen to my inner voice has led me to understand that this awakening or knowing I have tapped into, is available to everyone. I have also found that by participating in a regular practice of meditation that my spirituality or, professional development, kindness, service, etc., has deepened my consciousness and assisted me in finding purpose and meaning in both my personal and professional life. A fundamental proponent as we search for meaning and purpose as Jean Houston reminds us that we take “creative action,” i.e., we do something, “one thing” something small, anything, to activate the soul and invite our lives purpose to enter into our field of possibility. I have taken Houston’s and my mother’s advice, and it has served me well.
As described above, true to my nature, I took creative action on my CAP from an intuitive place, and now I will double back and conduct a survey of the literature to explore outside my inner wisdom. The review of literature examined within three conversational enclaves. These enclaves are areas that I have either been studying for years or brought to my attention within courses in my doctoral program. Finding ones’ purpose with the soul and spiritual that includes quantum physics and exercises that may or may not discuss the workings of the soul and spirituality directly, but for which have a direct linkage, will be the first enclave, because it is the overarching topical area of my CAP. The second enclave will Archetypical Psychology and Archetypes as a way to embody the imaginal to find ones’ path in life. Finally, since all of the participants either work or worked or have a graduate degree, as well, the last enclave fed into my impending dissertation and included a review of how, or if, or where the soul is alive within a higher education context.
For the past 30 years, I have had a relatively successful career. Being of service and approaching my work with the attitude of adding value–but the yearning for something more, something else, never ceased. As mentioned throughout The Soul Project: Evoking an Ensouled Life blog, I came to, if possible, further treasure the work of Thomas Moore. His work was my first introduction to the workings of the soul, but the extent to which it would affect my life has become increasingly clear–the reverence is palatable. It wasn’t until I entered my doctoral program that others work on the soul was recommended or part of our required reading list. Some of these names are Jean Houston, Peggy Rubin, Robert Sardello, Parker Palmer and others. Entering my doctoral program, I had a reasonably strong sense looking over the requirements of the program, that my Creative Action Project (CAP) and dissertation would be on the soul; and that the CAP would support my dissertation. It wasn’t until I was at least a year into my coursework when my professor Melissa Swartz shared that when the CAP was first designed that hope was (not expected) that the CAP would in some way feed or assist our dissertations–I felt aligned with the original goal for the CAP.
What has not been captured, which I intend to gather and learn from, is the work of Aftab Omer and his life’s work as it relates to the soul within an organizational context. There are others namely the work on integral leadership and spirituality Ken Wilbur has produced.
There is, it seems to me, a constant feeling I suspect most doctoral students experience that of not having learned enough, read enough, or sufficiently explored the topic of their study, or fear they have retained little if anything at all. This feeling not lost on me, for my research is on the soul which never ceases to call and beckon us further along our roads of discovery.
I feel both incredible gratitude for this unanticipated journey of my doctoral studies and remind myself to stay open to the learning yet to come.