Finding Purpose as Praxis

It’s been a while since I’ve been here. Sorry blog. It’s me, not you. I have been regularly blogging on here since 2008 (according to my #tbt Blog Survey). I’m not sure why I dropped off from posting last year, but know you’re not the only digital practice (e.g. launching podcast episodes, posting photos, or even tweeting much — if that’s even a thing anymore) that was ignored in 2022. You are not alone.

I miss the art of noticing, documenting, and writing on this blog. This is what brought me to my blog space in the first place. I often blogged to share what I was learning. I blogged to ask questions and get other perspectives. I blogged to share my research findings. I blogged to document milestones and events. I blogged to respond to ideas and to other bloggers. I blogged to bring community and professionals together. I blogged to share my reflections and perspective. All this to say… I’M BACK!

Over the winter holidays I spent some down time on the coast in Mexico. This much needed RnR was paired with reading, writing, and of course, listening to podcasts. One Hello Monday episode caught ear where Jessi Hempl was talking about PURPOSE with the Mighty Networks founder Gina Bianchini. Maybe it was the crashing waves on the beach or the turbulent ride of the previous year, but I was feeling a bit rudderless towards the end of 2022.

Find something more important than you are.”

Dan Dennet

Now, I am not on a quest for purpose + passion at work — as doing what you love is NOT always sound advice. But I’ve noticed lately that I’ve been lacking some sort of north star in my life, i.e. purpose. The act of meaning-making, specifically with a community is missing. In the past, I’ve been part of communities, teams, and groups who have formed with a clear purpose, specific goals, and designed to impact/influence/help others. I miss being rooted by something more than just my own plans, goals, and ideas. So, I’ve decided to make my word of the year (or at least Q1): PURPOSE.

After learning about the “Purpose 30” (30 days ~ 30 minutes/day ~ 6 questions + journal + favorite beverage) I picked up a copy of Gina’s book: PURPOSE: Design a community and change your life to draft my own “future story” with these questions in mind:

  1. What are 3 things that you are able to do in the future that you are not able to do today?
  2. What are 3 things you’ve accomplished?
  3. What are 3 things you have taken a stand for?
  4. What has changed in your world for the better in the most unexpected or surprising way?
  5. Who are the people you have brought together?
  6. What are 3 things they are able to do in the future that they aren’t able to do today?

Finding purpose is my new praxis. I’m going to take it day-by-day to see how it goes. Maybe it will lead to my future story, or even writing my ten-year plan (thanks for the exercise Debbie Millman + The Remarkable Life Deck) — who knows? For now, it’s being present with my thoughts and being honest with my reflections to see where it will take me. Into this PURPOSE journey I go!

What ways are you reflecting on your future?

How are you exploring your purpose?


What’s Your “Ideal” Job?

What career conversations have you had lately? This week I’m grateful for a conversation I had with my boss who asked: What I might be interested in working towards? How do I want to build my professional path? And what areas am I interested in as I develop my own career growth plan?

I decided to go back to the digital logs to see if and how I might have answered these questions in the past.This post from circa 2016, seems to resonate with my own work interests and what I love to work on (sans the higher education domain).

Here are the things I love and what sparks joy in my daily work life:

  • The opportunity to research the challenges/barriers facing our learning landscapes…i.e. new ideas of learning, learning delivery, and approaches to educational models impacting us now and in the future…
  • The ability to apply research into practice...emerging ideas for learning and research is exciting to me.
  • The opportunity for community building and network development to enhance the work... a broader vision that can offer an avenue for social sharing/learning; considering these contributions beyond a space or place (i.e. conference, event, etc.) to allow for on-going dialogues; being a central hub to cross-pollinate ideas…
  • Being encouraged to collaborate and support design thinking as a process for innovation within a team…

What brings you joy at work? What actions and verbs do you want to lead with in your job?


Have you ever been asked to describe your “ideal” job? Sometimes this comes up in a traditional job interview. Or perhaps you had someone (a teacher, family member, or friend) just ask you about your career goals. Have you thought about what sort of work drives you? Do you know what sort of “job” you are looking for in your field that best fits you? How does work design impact what you do daily? What inspires you in your day-to-day work? How do you prefer to function and perform?
These are questions I have asked for years. We spend a lot of time in the world of work. So, it’s a natural to want to know about goals and purpose as a student discusses courses in an academic advising appointment. And it is even more intentional as I have worked with undecided majors and first-year students (undergraduate and graduate)…

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20-Twenty-Won: Reflections & Reset

The start of the winter solstice flags a time to rest, renew, and reflect. I don’t know about y’all but 2021 has been quite a year. I’m going to spend some time quiet time at home (thanks, Omicron) to chill out of and recharge before the new year.

“Let’s Stay Home” Candle

Here are a few coaching questions I’ll be reflecting on by the fire with care:

  • What are you grateful for?
  • What did you learn? How have you grown?
  • What did you fail at?
  • What challenges did you overcome?
  • What were your small & big wins?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • What do you need to let go of?
  • What do you need to table for next year?
  • What opportunities lie ahead for 2022?
  • What are you leaving behind in 2021?
  • How will you reset/recharge before the new year?
  • What ways will you #treatyoself?
  • How will you give yourself grace?
  • What would you like to make space for?
  • How can you nurture new connections?
  • What ways will you build & create ideas marinating in your head?

What questions help you take a beat to think on? Let me know.


Thank YOU for the #OEAward2021, @YearsEd Community!

Last week, I learned that a podcast project I helped to produce won an award from the Open Education (OE) Global community. Clint and I shared a thank you message (in audio format, of course) for awarding the 25 Years of EdTech: The Serialized Audio Version project a 2021 Open Education Award of Excellence for Reuse/ Remix/ Adaptation.

2021 OE Global Award of Excellence for Reuse/ Remix/ Adaptation

Here’s a bit about the award from the OE Global Awards site:

The Open Education Awards for Excellence provide annual recognition of outstanding contributions in the Open Education community, recognizing exemplary leaders, distinctive Open Educational Resources, and Open Practices from around the world.

OE Global Awards

The award was given to the project in the “Open Reuse/Remix/Adaptation” category and, according to the adjudicators, the project is an outstanding example of the power of OER reuse for the following reasons;

  • Remixing the physical book into an audiobook has increased accessibility by providing the text in an alternate format.
  • Drawing together the open education community around the reading of the text sparked the companion “Between the Chapters” podcast, providing a deeper dive and critical analysis by experts into the topic of each chapter. This has added an additional layer of richness to the original book. 
  • The weekly podcast release schedule, and accompanying critical analysis created a fundamentally new way to experience the book – slower and in bitesize chunks. 
  • Each episode of the main recording or the companion podcast also now exists as an OER available for future use / reuse.

Although I am honored and delighted to receive this award, I share similar sentiments with my audio project partner-in-crime, Clint Lalonde. We are grateful for the nomination and award; however, the real motivation and “win” was getting to be in community and conversation with all of you. From chats with guests on the “Between the Chapters” episodes, Twitter threads/banter, and reading/hearing your reflections on the topics for each chapter — I was overwhelmed by the interaction, engagement, and offering a space for others to give voice to these issues and ideas. I hope this remixed project inspires others to continue the conversation, as we have learned that ed tech history often repeats itself.

As Clint shared, we could not create an audiobook without the generous contributions from the ed tech and open ed community. I’m so grateful for those of you who were willing to participate in this pandemic podcast project, as your stories and thoughts about this book helped bring new ideas and perspectives for the podcast episodes. It was such a lovely time talking, editing, and producing the “book club chat” aspect of the project. Many thanks to my the “Between the Chapters” guests for your candid conversation and willingness to share:

Lorna M. Campbell, Phil Barker, Lee Skallerup Bessette, Catherine Cronin, Sukaina Walji, Grant Potter, Brenna Clarke Gray, Maha Bali , Caroline Kuhn, Anne-Marie Scott, Alan Levine, Jim Groom, Mark Brown, Clare Thompson, Jessie Stommel Mark Guzdial, Kelvin Bentley, John Robertson, D’Arcy Norman, Laura Gibbs, Bonnie Stewart, Maren Deepwell, Judith Pete, Virginia Rodés, Bryan Alexander, Alexandra Pickett, Sarah Frick, Orna Farrell, David Wicks, Sue Beckingham, Chrissi Nerantzi, Tanis Morgan Autumm Caines, Rebecca Hogue, Christian Frierich, Helen DeWaard, Dave Cormier, Rolin Moe, Amanda Coolidge, Dragan Gasevic, Joyce Seitzinger, Chris Gilliard, David Kernohan, Audrey Watters, sava sahali singh, Clint Lalonde, & (of course) Martin Weller.

If you’re just learning about this audio project, know that you can still find the 25 Years of Ed Tech: The Serialized Audio Version wherever you catch your podcasts [p.s. thanks Athabasca University Press for your support & sharing too!]. All episodes are archived and available on a number of podcast platforms. You can subscribe to listen to both the book chapters and the “Between the Chapters” conversation episodes now have detailed show notes and transcripts (new!) now available from our discussions.

Follow @YearsEd & Subscribe/Listen: https://25years.opened.ca/



Getting Sparked: Group Coaching

Much of the work I do as coach is to help clients align their interests and values with how they want to work, lead, and live their own life. I know the last 18+ months have brought new experiences, ideas, and questions of — what do I really want to do now?

In my past academic life, I directed my students to the MyNextMove website (a branch of the O*NET Online) if they wanted to understand occupational pathways and how their academic majors might impact their career direction(s). For those who were “not really sure,” I recommended the O*NET Interest Profiler to allow folks to learn more about their interests and help direct their own career exploration. I hoped these resources would anchor to some self-assessment and research for what is available. Many learners who were early and mid-career, found these tools helpful if they needed a starting point or felt completely unsure. Although, I’m still a fan of identifying interests and skills — I’m reminded how important it is to NOT narrow your options during the self-discovery phase. If we jump to filtering these interests based on occupational roles, organizations, or even industries — there seems to be limitations placed on the “what’s next?” and this removes any openness towards possibilities for “what if…?” instead.

After listening to a recent Hello Monday episode, I picked up Jonathan Field’s new book Sparked: Discover Your Unique Imprint for Work that Makes You Come Alive and joined a virtual workshop to learn more about this what it means to be “Sparked.” As a career coach, I appreciate how this book wraps around these central questions:

  • What could I do with my life?
  • How do I want to grow and develop in my career?
  • What work fills you with meaning and purpose?
  • What do you want to do to feel alive and absorbed daily?
Sparked the Book

What you learn about each type from the assessment results — your primary, shadow, and anti-type — is organized to help move us towards work that let’s us be our best, true self. The five domains shared in this book identifies how you “come alive” or are “sparked” both personally and professionally with regards to your:

  1. Purpose: Knowing you’re moving toward something you believe in.
  2. Engagement: Excitement, energy, & enthusiasm for the pursuit of that something
  3. Meaningfulness: The feeling that what you do and who you are matters.
  4. Expressed Potential: The sensation of being fully you and not having to hide, bringing all of your potential to the experience, and leaving nothing untapped.
  5. Flow: The blissful experience of getting lost in an activity, losing time, and becoming absorbed in the task.

As I ponder my own primary (Maven) and shadow (Maker) Sparketypes, I am thinking more about what is possible for how I use this resource with coaching clients or in my L&D work. For those who are connected to me and follow my work, you can see how and where these two Sparketypes align with my own practice and process:

  • Maven: Slogan: I live to learn. Daily Mantra: “I want to learn more than I knew when I first woke up.”
  • Maker: Slogan: I make ideas manifest. Daily Mantra: “I want to make something that did not exist before.”

The other piece of this book I am fascinated with that syncs with my coaching practice are examining and assessing the four categories of work:

  1. Paid Work: part-time, full-time, contract, freelance, consulting, etc.
  2. Leisure/Fun/Craft: hobbies, sports, activities, and joy in your “time off”
  3. Roles You’ve Played: the “hats you wear” – caregiver, volunteer, leadership, etc.
  4. Classes/Courses of Study: edu., workshops, retreats, webinars, training, etc.

Most people might not consider everything on this list to be “work.” But I love the idea of thinking about work that is paid, volunteer, and based around our interests. To unpack these categories further, I would encourage you to reflect on both your professional AND personal life to answer:

  • What groups or communities are you connected to?
  • What personal interests or hobbies help you grow?
  • What projects are you most proud of?
  • How did you contribute to a team, org, or interest group?
  • What tasks put you in the “flow” when you work?
  • How does “fun” enter into your daily life?
  • What topics or subjects get your attention?
  • What tools, technologies, or platforms do you find fun?
  • What processes or experiences do you look fondly back on? (not the end project/product)

You should not be surprised this book has #sparked what I am thinking about for my next project. I think this resource could be fruitful for working 1:1 with clients, but now I wonder how I can scale some of my coaching practice to reach others. More people are reaching out to ask and reflect on working more meaningfully, so I am starting to design a group coaching program for anyone interested in career wayfinding, e.g. pivots, transitions, and transformations.

As a Maven/Maker — I want to bring you along with my in this “process” as I “manifest” these ideas out loud (e.g. blog, podcasts, IG, etc.). I’m currently thinking about a 4 week pilot program end of 2021 or beginning of 2022 to support career discovery and exploration. This coaching program would be targeted at folks mid- to late career who are looking to transition to something new outside their professional domain, industry or role. If you might be interested in this, let me know — and please help me answer some questions as I design this pilot program:

  • How are you thinking about your LIFEwork?
  • What are the career questions you want to dig into?
  • What blockers or challenges are you facing in this transition?
  • What would you want to walk away with from a group coaching program on this topic?

I will continue to ponder these questions and share what I develop + launch with y’all. Thanks for any inputs, comments, DMs, or messages in advance!