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Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur reviews Joel Stepanek's new book, Beginning Well: 7 Spiritual Practices for the First Year of Almost Anything.

I do not like change. It doesn’t matter if it is positive change or negative change, I prefer to stay in my comfort zone. Unfortunately for me, life is full of change, and so I have had to learn to adapt. I grudgingly accept change (often looking backward with wistfulness) until it becomes my new normal, and then life has a way of changing again.

Motherhood, especially, is full of change. Children are constantly growing and changing. As soon as you think you might have figured out how to best relate to a particular child, they hit an emotional growth spurt and you need to reevaluate. In addition, there are the many outside things that change—schools, activities, family dynamics, friends, routines, and so on. We ourselves, also, are changing as we age. It can be a struggle to keep up and move forward in a positive way.

Joel Stepanek has a new book to help with that. Beginning Well: 7 Spiritual Practices for the First Year of Almost Anything isn’t geared especially for parents, but the tools Stepanek provides can certainly help in whatever change you might be facing.


Beginning Well


In the Introduction, Stepanek offers a positive take on change:

Our beginnings present opportunities to transform us for better or for worse. What that change looks like is determined by how we embrace and navigate them. . . If we lean into our beginnings and recognize the ways God is present in every moment, journeying with us, we can be transformed emotionally, physically, and spiritually.


So, how do we “lean into” those beginnings, those moments of change, whether positive or negative? Stepanek offers 7 habits or tools to help us embrace these times and move forward in a spiritually healthy way.

  • Look forward rather than back
  • Leverage a skills toolbox
  • Ask good questions
  • Create rituals
  • Evaluate and reflect
  • Find mentors
  • Embrace joy

Beginning Well explores each of these tools in detail, providing practical ways to put them into practice. While a good portion of the book does pertain to work life (an important locus of change in the author’s life), the skills are easily applied to other situations.

This is a book well worth reading. Even if you only apply a couple of the tools Stepanek suggests, you will be able to embrace change with a better outlook. It can also help you provide your children with a toolbox for adjusting to change. My only regret is that this book wasn’t around when I was much younger!



Copyright 2022 Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur
Images: Canva
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