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Why I Need an Editor

In my office, I have a framed quote from Miles Davis: Do not fear mistakes. There are none.

Ahem. Not so fast. Mr. Davis may have reconsidered had he read my latest blog post about Mommy Guilt. I know I have.

Thanks to Tim, a Mindful Dad reader, I’ve learned two basic, and now quite obvious, literary lessons:

  1. Simply because I have never heard of a word, does not mean it doesn’t exist.

  2. Always visit the standard dictionary AND the urban dictionary before you go ahead and so cleverly invent a word.

Tim emailed me this: “Since I go fishing, I recognized this term, and well, just thought you should know…

Milt is the seminal fluid of fish, mollusks, and certain other water-dwelling animals who reproduce by spraying this fluid which contains the sperm, onto roe (fish eggs).

I found this hilarious. Just goes to show my level of talent. Not only did I create a word that already exists, but I managed to choose one with such colorful meaning.

When I arrived home from work and shared this with my husband, an urban middle school teacher, he advised me to also consult urban dictionary.

I’ll let you look that one up yourself. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

I’d best consider adding a U to make it MUILT, no?

According to Shauna Shapiro and Chris White, authors of Mindful Discipline, “ ‘Mistakes’ is our word for things that happen in the territory that lies outside of our visualized ‘ideal,’ but holds enormous opportunity for learning, compassion, and intimacy.”

As a therapist, mom and a fellow human being, I have observed the freedom to be authentic offered to others when I divulge my own fears and mistakes. The power of realizing our shared humanity is what motivates me to reveal my most vulnerable moments. It is also invaluable to model for our children.

Shapiro and White write, “Accepting imperfection as part of life helps remind us that we are dynamic – continually learning and growing- as opposed to static, fixed entities. Responding to messiness and missteps gracefully helps our children see themselves as a process and promotes humility. Through humility, we return to the ground of our being whose fundamental nature is change. Research by Stanford University professor of psychology Carol Dweck shows that it is advantageous for our children to develop a ‘growth mindset’ as opposed to a ‘fixed mindset’ when it comes to learning and becoming more competent. A growth mindset is one where ‘failures’ are seen as unavoidable and necessary part of learning, whereas a fixed mindset sees them as damaging to one’s self-image. Helping our children see themselves clearly – their strengths and their weaknesses – allows them to move toward the thrive-side growth mindset.”

Back to the Miles Davis quote. Granted, there is no need to fear the mistakes, as they usually provide us with a lesson or, minimally, a good belly laugh. In the Jazz world there may be no mistakes, but in the world of writing, I must respectfully disagree. So, until I’ve reached the stage in my literary career where an editor is on the payroll, I am relying on you, dear readers, to correct me when I have erred.

Thanks, Tim, for keeping me on my toes and putting a smile on my face. The check is in the mail.


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