Date of Award
This capstone reflects the beginning of a livelong practice of intentional vulnerability and opening to spirit and connection. I built on learnings from my instructors at the University of Vermont (UVM) about relationship protocols, including listening, vulnerability, and honest introductions. I began with a question about how my leadership practices might shift away from unacknowledged privilege in relationships and emotional disengagement to embodied connection, openness to teachers and friends, and creative presence. The methods I used were creative harp music making, sharing harp music with others, mindfulness through harp, emotional awareness training with harp, and harp repair as a practice of exquisite attention and care for non-humans. I began a Vermont Harp Center and have been present to the community who have been drawn to that center. I have tried to listen to their needs and ideas and to hold the space of that community to look any way and to learn from my observation of the growth and movement of that community. I took harp lessons from a master harpist, I gave private lessons and group lessons for the first time in my life, I organized several harp community events, and I did harp repair work. I’ve also had many conversations with harpists and my broader community about presence, music, emotional connection, creative process, and love. I asked for feedback in those conversations, especially in those where I would previously have held an unspoken amount of power (such as when I am a professional helper or music teacher). I practiced noticing shifts in my emotional state and I recorded those shifts. I engaged with feelings of joy or upset with creativity and I practiced using harp playing to increase emotional regulation and awareness.
I have been totally amazed, overwhelmed, and humbled by this capstone. It has transformed my understanding of my role as a leader from envisioning power and expertise to envisioning presence and patience. It has transformed my vision of myself as a helper and teacher into a vision where teachers and helpers are available to me everywhere, in every relationship to which I open myself.
Matt Kolan, Ph.D.
Professional Affiliate Coach
Ramsey Champagne, M.A., LMHC
Your non-Rubenstein School Graduate Faculty Committee Member
Heather Laine Talley, Ph.D.
Forward, Sara G., "MASTER'S PROJECT: FRIENDS OF THE SOUL: A STUDY IN INTENTIONAL OPENING AND MUSIC" (2022). Rubenstein School Leadership for Sustainability Project Publications. 39.