Advice from a Recovering Academic

It was Valentine’s Day, 2013. I had waited all day in fear, as fellow tenure-bound colleagues celebrated with online posts conveying relief and joy. When I finally got the evening call from the dean of liberal arts, “I’m sorry, there just wasn’t enough,” he said. That was it, a quick and sudden death of my academic career. And, then came the tsunami of self-judgment that ripped through my soul. “I was not enough,” it viciously screamed.

During the previous fall semester, the school of visual and performing arts and the college of liberal arts had approved my petition for tenure. I had lulled myself into false confidence. And, so the university committee’s decision was a shocking end to my academic aspirations. Throughout the difficult year of 2014, I had applied for jobs, interviewed and been rejected. Multiple times. I was still not enough.

The following year, I was in a fog debating my commitment to academia. If only I published a book, I would be enough. But it didn’t feel right. I would present at conferences as an independent scholar. I felt like a player without a team, without a home-base. These foggy days were also full of possibility. I started a blog to help me find my non-academic voice. I volunteered widely. I explored whether I’d like to go to culinary school or high school teaching, all the while wondering whether I could ever find my way back to an academic post. Thanks to my husband, I wasn’t starving during this period of anxious self-exploration, a luxury I’m lucky to enjoy.

At one point, my goal was to become a food writer. So I blogged more regularly, wrote short pieces for a magazine and as an afterthought to soothe my wrung out academic heart I worked through a yoga teacher certification program.

I stopped asking what could I have done more. Instead, I relaxed into the thought that I had done the best I could. I had done enough. But there was still anger and hurt.

It was a month into teaching yoga that my heart’s grip on that lead-heavy pebble of hurt began to loosen. I was thinking and reading about the power of narrative, of being able to notice without attachment or judgment, of being able to cultivate a witness consciousness. I wasn’t trying to apply these thoughts to my tenure hurt that in my mind I had already addressed and contained. But somehow, as I slept, these perspectives traveled through my mind and heart to find and envelope that hard pebble of hurt. I woke up with a new thought. A thought I can’t believe I hadn’t seen before.

There were clues all along. I had been hired to the new position of Design Historian. I was not trained in design history. I came to the post with a Ph.D. in philosophy and an undergraduate in architecture. I taught and developed my curriculum from the perspective of material philosophy. I was an outsider in every way.

Clue #1: The US government, in my application for a work visa, asked for clarification regarding my academic background as it related to design history. To this request, my Ph.D. advisors replied with a defense of philosophical analysis in creative pursuits and my new supervisors reassured them of my ability to teach the classes. Here was my first missed clue from the universe. I was to first defend philosophy, not expand the critical parameters of design history. I had dismissed my commitment to philosophy all too quickly to find a home in design history and in the U.S.

Clue #2: Quite a few years into the position, my department head warned, that I was investing too much time in curriculum development. Focus on research and publishing he encouraged. How was I to split my energy in two different directions? Here was my second missed clue: my teaching and research agendas were already fueling each other if only I had noticed my internal narrative instead of trying to adjust to a misperceived outside agenda.

Clue#3: An editor was interested in my book project comparing the philosophies of two early twentieth-century immigrant designers. It was about difference at the heart of American design. Because much had already been written about one of the two, the editor asked that I focus the book on the one, less discussed designer. Again, instead of listening to my inner narrative, I complied. Ironically, once I had done so, the book was categorized under a different editor, who no longer found the book publishable. My third clue offered by the publishing world exposed the commercial limits of my philosophical pursuits.

There were many other moments, besides political citizenship, academic bureaucracy and commercial demands, when the universe was nudging me to notice my internal narrative. Finally, the unexpected shove, that spun me out of my orbit. As I floated unanchored, searching for a spot to land, I began to notice my own emotional, intellectual and physical landscape. I had told an imaginary other’s story, instead of my own. This change in perspective was the beginning of healing. I was beginning to recover my own narrative beyond the dreaded tenure document.

Here is my advice as a recovering academic, find ways to ruthlessly and courageously defend your inner narrative. Yoga, prayer, meditation, walking, whatever helps you hear the inner voice that leads you to question everything. Do it. Listen to the clues, sit with the anxieties, be slow to react, watch your own responses, notice, notice and notice. Academic, research thyself.

I am still stung by the question, “What do you do?”

“I’m a recovering academic,” I mumble under my breath, as I say, “aspiring social worker with a side of yoga.”

It is enough.

I am Dr. Enuf 🙂 and so are you.


Wobblyogi Fall Schedule


Hot Vinyasa

Join me for a steady, mindful, and warm practice that cultivates a calm heart despite sweat and effort. Let’s burn and detox from what no longer serves us.

12:15 pm – 1:15 pm Tuesday and Thursday

Community Yoga, West Lafayette, Indiana

For more information and to register go to:

“tapah svadhyaya isvara pranidhanani kriya yogah”

concentration- self-reflection-surrender



Gentle Yoga

Join me for a mindful practice that helps develop body awareness, range of motion, and overall mind-body-spirit health. We will use relaxation, breathing, and meditation techniques to help us stay in ease and balance.

Wednesday 10:00 am – 11:15 am

Session 1: September 6th – October 11th (6 weeks)

Theme of Yoga Philosophy (Sutras)

Session 2: October 18th – November 15th (5 weeks)

Theme of Great Questions (What, When, Where, How and Why)


Morton Community Center, West Lafayette, Indiana

For more information and to register go to:


The posture steady and comfortable


Continuing Yoga (Gentle – Intermediate)

Join me for a mindful practice that helps develop body awareness, range of motion, and overall mind-body-spirit health. We will use relaxation, breathing and meditation techniques to help us stay in ease and balance.

Thursday 9:30 am – 10:45 am

Session 1: September 7th – October 12th (6 weeks)

Theme of Yoga Philosophy (Sutras)

Session 2: October 19th  – November 16th (5 weeks)

Theme of Great Questions (What, When, Where, How and Why)


McCallister Community Center, Lafayette, Indiana

For more information and to register go to:

“heyam duhkham-anagatam”

That which is to be overcome is sorrow yet to come.


May I Be Happy Workshop Invitation

Hello Local Yogis,

I’m planning snack boxes for our upcoming yoga book club workshop! You know that I, hungryphil/wobblyogi am super excited about combining my two loves: food and yoga.

Summer is Pitta season. According to Ayurvedic tradition, summer is the time to enjoy bitter, astringent and sweet tastes (eat less sour, pungent or spicy foods). So, I’m looking for tasty afternoon bites that would be cool and light. Please sign up for the workshop ahead of time so I know how many snack boxes to make. Here is more information about the workshop [Saturday, August 12, 2-4].

Let’s try these treats together………………….

Summer Samosas

Baked light and flaky pastry filo- dough filled with potato and cauliflower spiced with summer Pitta-seasoning (includes warm sweet spices like fennel and coriander)

Sweet Coconut Dusted Raisin Almond Balls

Almonds and raisins ground together and rolled in shredded coconut

Cooling Co-Cu-Mint Mocktail

A blend of coconut water, cucumber, mint, and lemon

If you read “May I be Happy” by Cindy Lee, wonderful! Jacqueline will lead an extended asana practice inspired by themes from the book that will be familiar to you. If you haven’t read the book, you’ll enjoy the practice focused on cultivating personal happiness, just as much. The book is not a prerequisite, only an inspiration to ask: How may I be happy?

And, there will be snacks!!! I don’t know about you but that makes me happy 🙂

Enough said.

Hope to see you in a few weeks,

Wishing you a lovely late summer,

the hungry and wobbly yogi

May I Be Happy Workshop Flyer




Wobblyogi Wednesday – Book Club!




Dear Fellow Yogis Near and Far,

I invite you to join the book club hosted by Community Yoga in West Lafayette (and Lafayette) Indiana. I’ll be offering bi-weekly notes and discussion prompts starting January 4th leading up to an April 1st workshop at the studio complete with an asana practice inspired by the reading, as well as a book discussion. Read along, join the open online discussion, the protected group discussion (email for a password at and attend the workshop. Do it all or in part as your schedule allows.

Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life is our first book. I  was inspired by the Patanjali 101 online course I just completed with Judith Lasater. I enjoyed her commitment to cultivating yoga principles both on and off the mat. As a mom, I related to a lot of her stories and struggles. The book is organized in short thematic chapters that are easy to read. I found it a gentle introduction to yoga philosophy that avoids pedantic technical theorizing and perfect for starting conversations.

The main question she prompts me to ask myself is:

If the road to holiness passes through the world of action, what is your road? 

I hope you join the conversation and help me with directions.

Wishing you goodness and ease,

The Wobblyogi

p.s. Look up more information and to sign up for the protected discussion group and/or the workshop.