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Embrace Being a Beginner

Last spring I went back to school. The last time I was in college full time was in the late 1980’s. Those were the days of the library card catalog, microfiche, and over-permed hair. There were no computers, cell phones, or Netflix to distract me. Going back to college after all these years has been frustrating for me at times, mainly because I do not have much computer knowledge. I have had to learn new skills and have been frustrated more times that I can count because I do not know how to do something.

I have called my adult kids on numerous occasions and asked them how to do something. I also make big sweeping statements like, "When I was in college we did it this way.” (Uh that was 35 years ago; I should not be surprised that things have progressed and changed.) I commiserate with them about college life. One day I was so frustrated I cried (it was a computer class and all they wanted me to do was program a little red ball to jump up and down). When am I ever going to need that skill in life?

I kept asking myself, why am I so easily frustrated?

It is because I am a beginner.

I do not like being a beginner.

I like being good at things. In many other areas of my life, I am experienced at what I do. So not knowing how to do something well is hard for me.

I had to learn to embrace being a beginner again.

In his book "On the Brink of Everything", Parker Palmer says:

“Clinging to what you already know is the path of an unlived life:

So cultivate a beginner’s mind, walk straight into your not knowing, and take the risk of falling and falling again and again, then getting up to learn again and again.

That’s the path of life lived large in the service of love, truth, and justice."

Maybe you feel the same way.

Are you a beginner at something right now and it makes you uncomfortable?

As special needs moms we are always confronted with new things to learn: about our children, their diagnoses, and how to navigate the world with them and for them.

Have you had a new diagnosis and you don't know where to start?

Are you a beginner at homeschooling and you are worried they will be less intelligent when it is all over (they won't, I promise!)?

Are you feeling like a beginner as you try to advocate for your child in an IEP?

Whatever it is, here are three steps to embracing being a beginner.

1. Admit your limitations: it is ok not to know everything. It is also okay to realize that you need more time to process, and to take that time.

2. Ask questions: I know it is hard, but it is okay to call the doctor back and ask more questions, to be brave in the IEP meeting, and to ask them to explain further.

3. Give yourself grace and time to figure things out on your own pace. Eventually, you will figure things out. You won't be a beginner forever.

I finally figured out how to make the ball bounce. But this week I have to make a virtual tree dance (ugh) here is to embracing being a beginner together, in whatever we are beginning!

How can you embrace being a beginner this week? I would love to know.

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