Reviewed by Susan Stanicek, Director, QualSights, Chicago, Illinois, firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you ever felt you needed a change in your life? Or that the corporate treadmill is not really serving you? Or that you’re just feeling stuck? If so, then this book is for you. Reading Soulbbatical has inspired me to be more courageous and to stop “SHOULD-ING all over myself.”
Soulbbatical is a memoir that comes straight from the heart and soul of Shelley Paxton. The author takes readers on a journey of her life, which from the outside, looks wonderful. She was a senior level executive and marketing goddess for some of the most iconic brands, including Visa and McDonald’s. She landed her dream job as the global head of marketing for Harley-Davidson. She traveled the world and made the kind of money that many can only dream of. But, for much of her career, she felt something was missing. Though she was troubled by the thought of feeling unfulfilled when she had so much, she continued to avoid these feelings in hopes that the void would diminish once she reached the next higher title or obtained the bigger salary. Throughout her story, Paxton shares deep personal feelings and experiences, including loss, illness, addiction, and the nightmare that went on nightly for nearly a year that finally woke her up.
In this “awakening” to uncover the true reason for this recurring nightmare, Paxton realized that in order to find the purposeful life that she was seeking and deserved, she needed to listen to her soul that was screaming for attention, and fuel it with what it was longing for. Approaching the age of 50, and at the height of her twenty-six-year career, Paxton makes a bold and courageous move and walks away from her career to take what she cleverly names a Soulbbatical—to discover her true purpose, to become her most authentic badass self, and to be the Chief Soul Officer of her own life.
Paxton’s storytelling is as raw and vulnerable as much as it is hilarious and entertaining. It’s so authentic that you feel like you are sitting with a close friend as she pours her unfiltered heart out to you. She had me hooked right in the introduction where she asks readers that, before they continue reading, to agree to be “vulnerable, honest, and nonjudgmental to ourselves and one another.” She also warns that she speaks raw, from the heart, and with a fondness for F-bombs, among other swear words. In the first eight pages, I was already experiencing a full range of emotions, from laughing out loud to a deep feeling of empathy in my gut.
The pillars of Soulbbatical are living and leading with more authenticity, more courage, and more purpose—a mantra that could not have landed in our laps at a better time. Soulbbatical is split up into four sections: fulfillment, authenticity, courage, and purpose. Each section ends with “soul search” reflection questions. This gives readers the opportunity to “carve out soul time with yourself” and reflect on what insights are surfacing. She developed a framework to help the reader move forward with any new truths that emerge during reflections: S.O.U.L.—Show up, Own it, Unleash it, Live it.
She does not sugarcoat the effort it will take to make a change, to take the leap in your personal and business lives. She gives readers a front-row seat to the struggles and pain she went through in hopes to inspire others. She hopes to be the “soul guide” for others, to help people pay attention to what their soul is trying to tell them so they can make a change before they are in an unfortunate forced position. Paxton’s story is one that you won’t want to put down, all the while wishing for it not to end.
For many, this past year has afforded time for reflection, to maybe listen to your soul and be more mindful of what will serve you to lead a more purposeful and joy-filled life. Just think of how much more creative, thoughtful, and productive you could be if given the time to reflect, rest, and step off the fast track of all work and no self-care. We can all takes steps toward being the “agents of change—the ripples that cause the wave” in hopes that our dreams will become reality.