Online Teaching Blog

Best practices, tips & tricks, and career advice—served up fresh

Why This Path?

Why This Path?

by Carolyn Burgess, Macc, Ba
July 13, 2016

Have you ever wondered why you picked the path you’re on? Reflection is good. It lets us know if we should stay the course or pick a different path. In life, we are often given many choices and they are not always easy ones. When we make our decisions, we don’t always know immediately if they are the best ones. Sometimes when we reminisce, it’s clear which ones were good choices and which were not. Others are somewhere in the middle. Nonetheless, choices are so important. They can open up worlds of opportunity or lead you down a broken, blocked, unmanaged path. So, as I look back at the paths I’ve taken in my life, I’ve definitely had some curves and a few circles. I’ve even stopped, turned around, and gotten off the path completely.


In life, there always seems to be at least two, sometimes many more, paths. As far back as high school, these paths popped up for me. Do I pick that nice easy job that’s five minutes from school working for the county administer; or do I travel 25 miles one-way for the Federal position making the same pay? The Federal position sounds more interesting, could offer more opportunities, and definitely looks better on a resume. So yes, the Federal position choice snowballed into my career, and into many more paths.

So how did that get me to this path moving towards online education? Well, this too began with many different paths along the way. It first began with a passion for teaching, training, and mentoring, which has been rooted in me from early childhood. It then continued into my career as I learned to hone those skills to aid the adult learner, as I trained and mentored. I often considered teaching part-time in the evenings after my son was older, but then that path changed.

Around 2011, I began to have shoulder pain. I am an avid gym rat, so I assumed I tweaked it while working out. I went easy on the upper body the next few weeks. This continued for many months until I finally carried myself in to see a doctor. Unfortunately, the doctor checked my shoulder and sent me to therapy for several weeks. The therapist believed my shoulder pain, in fact, was neck-related. Well, nevertheless, it started to feel better and I went back to my busy life.

Eventually, this shoulder pain was back and it began to radiate to the arm and hand. Then, one day in May 2013, while working, the fingers on my right hand went numb and I was in excruciating pain. I had ruptured a cervical disc in my neck and was in surgery a few days later. This had been the culprit of my shoulder issue the whole time. I was able to return to work within eight weeks, but continued to have pain and numbness. Unfortunately, within 11 months, another cervical disc ruptured.

Well, this was a wake-up call and it put me on another path, a slower path. I began to look for better ways to utilize my skills, education, and experience. So the question I asked myself – what do I love? Well, I love to teach others and share what I know. I love feeling that, even in a small way, I’m helping someone reach their goals. That really means something. With some research, and many other paths, I found The Babb Group. Well, we know that was a good path.

Today, I’m on several paths simultaneously. I’m completing my Federal career until retirement later this year. I’m also working hard to transition into higher education, which currently involves some course development work, networking, and applications, applications, and more applications. It’s not easy, but I’m walking these paths and I’m hoping they will become less curvy and less bumpy as time continues. As I wait for one career path to end, I’m working hard to flourish another. It’s a difficult path to follow. It’s often lonely, scary, and frustrating, but on the flip-side, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to teach each day and share a lifetime of real-world experiences with others. I have received scores of valuable information from educators and colleagues during my lifetime and I can’t wait to pay that forward.