“One knows what one has lost, but not what one may find.”


    photo by Jules: our front door and sunflowers




A week and a half ago I started my first class for my PhD program at Capella University, which is also my employer.  In my work I counsel others who are thinking of enrolling in higher education and who share their stories of a lifetime of dreaming about what a doctoral degree may mean for them. I ask about their “why” and what brought them on the journey.  So it’s not surprising that over the last 15 years of my Capella University journey I have been inspired to start my own doctoral journey. 


I took a couple of PhD classes around 2008 or 2009, and decided I wasn’t ready to pursue that journey. It was too much of a time commitment and I felt I didn’t “need” a doctorate since I had just graduated with my MFA in Writing and Literature (Poetry) from Bennington College in 2007. I didn’t see myself a full time professor in academia. I had my life as an artist and poet to live, I moved to New Mexico, kept my position by telecommuting, found new poet family friends, founded Jules’ Poetry Playhouse and its many incarnations and locations, met my husband and got married, and settled into our adobe house in the Sandia Foothills of Placitas.  When the pandemic found us, I dove into my art and collage projects, wrote some poetry and thought about where I wanted to be after I retired. Some of my colleagues took the voluntary early separation from employment buyout option and I seriously thought about it, and then decided that I really like my work and my colleagues, in spite of the sometimes rough ups and downs, that is part of the adventure.  I help change lives every day in my conversations.  I decided it was time to change my life with my longtime dream. My supervisor Victoria said, start out with one class, you can always stop. So I did. The choice of a PhD or an EdD was a bit agonizing, and I feel that the PhD approach is a better fit for where I am now in my life and career. It's online and flexible. My husband John has his PhD in English from many decades ago.... and what will I focus on?  I thought of poetry and play, and higher education, and how do we as adults go through this life with more of an attitude of creativity and fearlessness, to not get caught up in the grinding academic system we have created? It may seem hypocritical, to jump into the very institutional dogma of research that I have tried to avoid by creating Jules’ Poetry Playhouse. It’s a personal journey. If I make it through, I will have another way to be prepared after retirement to teach, or to do my own thing with more credibility. It won’t be easy. I’ve found a new way to challenge myself, to enter the world of the scholar, from a poet’s point of view.


I’ve been attending a lot of Zoom readings lately and the poets remind me what it already here. “Love what you have,” says Ray Gonzalez. “The poems are always yours.”  The poet in me will guide me through the academic rigor.  Right now I am at the stage of discovering the library and the many databases to look up three peer-reviewed sources for a short intro paper on a topic of my choice.  Poetry and play. Adult learning OR creative process. Adult education AND play. Using paramaters to pare down and limit the results. A bit like choosing the exact words for a poem.


                                                                photo by Jules: my backyard labyrinth



I am exploring my support system, my new routine, the early morning and late at night study times before and after work, and at the very least I will be able to help others in my role and I know the system, up to a point. I didn’t want to “announce” that I was in this program until I was sure that I would continue. Or at least continue this class! I will never know the results of this journey until I start.   At this point, I’m in. I spoke to my academic coach last week and he said, “you can’t fake a doctorate.”  It’s not about the gpa, it’s about how you are learning and growing. That goes back to my idea of being fearless, being playful, jumping in to learn what I need to know to take the baby steps to get through this ten-week class. From there, I will focus on research and will see if it’s right for me. 


I have a favorite quote on my Poetry Playhouse website (www.poetryplayhouse.com):


 “One knows what one has lost, but not what one may find.”  

 -- French writer George Sand (Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin)



  1. I am so excited you are on this journey, Jules! You are doing great things.


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