Saturday, July 13, 2013

Mistakes Are Often How We Learn...

"This life is a test.  It is only a test.  Had this been a real life, you would have received further instructions on where to go and what to do.  Remember, this life is only a test."

-Jack Kornfield, Buddhist Teacher

I was so excited to receive the author's copy of my recent book, Messages from Children and What They Can Teach Grown-ups (Balboa Press 2013).  The foreword is by Gerry Gavin, Author, Messages from Margaret, Down to Earth Angelic Advice for the world and you (Hay House 2012)

It's an amazing feeling to see your writing in print and hold it in your hands.  I will forever be grateful to all who continue to be a part of this incredible journey.

When I turned to page 5 where I quoted the Dalai Lama, my excitement turned into a test of inner peace. I misspelled the Dalai Lama's name.   Seriously!  All the time spent re-reading my manuscript and I never caught this one.  

Maybe no one will notice, I try to tell myself.  

I read the message, Live With Compassion and my excitement returns, my sense of peace restored. But for weeks, I continued to think of this misspelling.  Be gentle with yourself, my inner being whispers. Focus on the message, not the mistake.  So, I was able to move past this.

Then, I write a blog for and one of my readers writes this comment:

"Well written and very inspiring .Would like to point one spelling i.e Gandhi and not Ghandi"

I open my book to where I had shared the same Gandhi quote.  Sure enough, another misspelled name of someone I greatly respect. Okay Universe, not so funny

What's the message?

I hear the words, "Remember, life is only a test."  Every experience holds a gift and a lesson.  Why the struggle in letting this go?

You see, I began reading at the age of three I've been told.  One of my mom's youngest twin sisters still lived at home where I was being cared for by my grandparents and she assisted at the local preschool.  She read to me all the time and I was blessed with an amazing memory and I grew to love words.  When I officially started school, my teachers were amazed at my reading ability.

Then came the fifth grade spelling bee.  The word was "barren."  

"Can you repeat the word, please?"
"Definition please."
"Sentence please."  
"Barren, D-O-O-R-J-A-M-B ?"

"Why did you do that," Mrs. P later asked?  "Why didn't you sound out the word?"

Well, that's because no one taught me how to.  I learned to read through memorization.  So of course if I'd seen a word before, I remembered it.  I got all A's on spelling tests because I studied the list of words.  But as hard as I searched my memory bank for the word, barren, I couldn't find it.  So I spelled the first word that came to mind.  I knew I was in a bit of a jam, but I also knew I needed a two syllable word. 

The blessing.  Mrs. P taught me phonics in the fifth grade.  I spelled C-A-L-I-S-T-H-E-N-I-C-S and won the 7th grade spelling bee.  (Okay, I just googled calisthenics to make sure I can still spell it correctly.)  I'm still sensitive when it comes to this subject.  Like everything else, I'm working on it.  

So what's the message I'm meant to share with all of you?  Message 46 in my book, Mistakes Are Often How We Learn.

When we ignore our mistakes or hope no one notices them, it steals our inner peace. When we're honest about our mistakes and choose to learn and grow from them, we take back our power.  And if we never take risks for fear of failing or making a spectacle of ourselves, we grow resistant to change and risk passing up great opportunities.  Some of these opportunities are teaching ones.  Maybe someone else could learn from our mistake.  

Another practical lesson--If you are an aspiring writer, a professional editor is a great idea.  At the very least, print your work and read it.  As I've learned, it always helps to see it on paper. :-)

Thanks for reading.

If you live locally, I'll be speaking at Tatnuck Bookseller in Westborough, MA next Saturday, July 20th, 10am-12pm.  Would love to connect in person.  

Love and blessings,

Kathleen O'Malley


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