The Gifts of a Beginner’s Mind

Posted on July 12, 2020

When I published my first book five years ago, I had no idea where it would take me. I came into it with a clean slate, with no preconceived ideas, plans, or strategies for where I was going. I truly had a beginner’s mind—curious, open, willing to surrender to what would show up. The only promise I made to myself was to enjoy every moment, and, when I didn’t, that would be a cue for me to step back. I guess I had filled my life quota of serial entrepreneurship over the previous 20 years, as my husband and I built our family business and raised our two beautiful children.

Three months after publication, my book caught the eye of our local school district leaders, who hired me to extend the tools in the book into a year-long mindfulness training program customized for their recess staff. That aligned with my higher purpose of serving children through adults who cared, taught, and raised children, so I jumped right in. I spent the next four years writing eight different mindfulness educational programs for recess staff, before- and after-school staff, teachers, administrators, paraeducators, bus drivers, and even junior lifeguards —impacting more than 40,000 children. Meanwhile, my book won four renowned industry awards, was featured in Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal and was translated into Chinese and Korean. Yes, I was exhausted at times, but my personal promise of enjoying every moment was very much alive. Early in 2019, as I started to notice how online education was soaring, I decided to scale back my teaching commitments for the 2019/2020 school year so that I could shift my teaching model online.

I also decided to enroll in MARC UCLA’s Mindful Teacher Training for the whole year. It was a huge commitment, but in retrospect, I couldn’t have chosen a better time to walk the walk of mindfulness personally.

As for the online courses, little did I realize the work that would go into it! Delivering information over a video recording is quite different from in-person teaching. The recordings, the edits, the subtitles, the re-recordings, the educational technology platform, the design and layout—it was all new to me. There I was with my beginner’s mind again! From October 2019 to February 2020, I prepped the courses and the platform, while dealing with unexpected personal events—nursing my mother and my husband through surgeries in December and February. My launch date got pushed a bit but nevertheless looked pretty promising for April 15. I think you all know where I’m going with this.

Yes, the pandemic took over our lives as we knew it. On March 19, stay-at-home orders were issued in Los Angeles. The halt in our personal and professional lives—both at home and with our family business—was huge as we sped up to deal with it. But as far as Tools Of Growth was concerned, literally, everything stopped. It didn’t slow down gradually; it came to a full stop. The most interesting thing was that the team that I had put together to carry me through the online launch disintegrated. POOF! Within two weeks, all three people who were working with me had decided not to continue. I felt like I was stranded on an island watching my family members in speedboats racing around me trying to rescue, support, and meet the needs of front-line workers and hospitals. They would stop to refuel emotionally and then take off again while I just sat there and watched. I was so exhausted from filling their mental and emotional tanks that I often forgot to fill mine.

In April I shared my sense of loss and sadness with a dear friend, wisdom teacher, and mentor. I showed her my white wall, which was covered by a step-by-step launch strategy with nowhere to apply it! She asked me if I was willing to erase it all and just publish what I had completed. She reminded me that with the unchartered territory that the pandemic had presented, we ALL had a beginner’s mind with no clue as to what tomorrow would hold. I did erase my white-wall strategy, and I felt the weight come off of my shoulders. That same evening I spoke with another wise friend who also advised me to finish the open pieces of my program first. However, the fact remained that I needed someone to complete the video editing and clean up the sound—tasks I couldn’t accomplish on my own. I gathered all my courage and reached out to my video editor and begged him to just finish up the project. We were two days away from the end. To my surprise, he agreed, and by mid-May it seemed like my ship was starting to sail once again.

The last two months have been the most trying months of my life. This pandemic has reshaped my go-getter, get-stuff-done personality. I was no longer moving at my preferred pace. I was moving at everyone else’s collective speed. I was at the mercy of the time that independent experts could give me, based on their own family lives and schedules. It has been a time of letting go of expectations and timelines. But with the help of some friends and my kids, slowly but surely, people have started to show up to help me complete the pieces that will lead to the launch of my new online trainings.

This journey of publishing my online courses has reminded me of the beginner’s mind that I had when I first published my book. I have no idea where this new venture is going to take me. I have no idea of how parents and teachers are going to receive this. With three social media flyers, three emails, three promo videos, and a ton of passion in my heart, I’ll be offering my courses on Teachable: my very first online Mindful Relaxed Parenting Workshop and the Mindful Teacher Training.

as I open the doors to my School Of Growth, I promise I will have a special price for you. For those who have been on this journey with me since day one! I’m so grateful for your continued support. For those who are new to my Tools of Growth family, thank you for joining me at a pivotal time. Below is a raw, short clip from my upcoming promo video for the parenting workshop that I shot on my iPhone—in my son’s house, in quarantine last week. Yes, I was! And yes, I’m fine. I just had a slight cold, and I tested negative for COVID-19. What a relief! This is not the professional video that I had planned on, but it delivers my message well considering the current restrictions we all are under.

Please watch for social media announcements and share the love! Most importantly, if you have friends or family who really need support with mindful parenting and are experiencing hardship and are unable to pay, please email me, and I will do my best to work with them personally. My goal is to make this as affordable as possible.

May you all be safe, healthy, and well.

Infinite Love and Gratitude,

Roma