Welcome to today’s blog: mistakes. We’ve all made them, suffered through them, regretted them, and obsessed over them. And, I trust, learned from them, even laughed at them.


Thanks to mistake1.gif
Thanks to mistake1.gif


I made another one last week when this post launched early.  Who noticed?




Accidents, blunders, errors, faux pas, gaffes, messes, mishaps, or slip-ups: we hate them all. Of course we do.


Thanks to TheBookDesigner.com More‑mistakes.jpg mariamurnane.com
Thanks to TheBookDesigner.com


How embarrassing! 
What’s your usual reaction when you realize you’ve made a mistake?  Do you want to run and hide?  Do you blame?  Who was the comedian who’s line was “The devil made me do it.”  Do you laugh?


There are many ways to make mistakes. Here are some of my favorites: 

Recipe mistakes “take the cake.” More than other types, the results can be in rather bad taste. (Sorry).

Years ago there was the dinner to introduce my fiancé to my visiting family. I decided to make his favorite pie, pumpkin chiffon, for dessert. I’d never made it, so I got the recipe from his mother, bought the necessary ingredients, and spent an afternoon putting the pie together. How hard could it be? I had no idea, since I’d never made any chiffon pie before.

Unfathomably, I confused egg yolks with egg whites. Dessert time came and gooey blobs of pumpkin chiffon plopped onto each plate. When he laughed and asked incredulously, “What’s this?” I ran from the table in tears, unable to see any humor in my mortification. Mistakes for me back then came automatically packaged with shame and humiliation.

A few years later, I made a cake for a neighbor who was ill. I learned only after she recovered that I’d misread SALT for SUGAR. She’d been unable to eat it. By then I’d matured to feeling merely embarrassed.

Other recipe mistakes I’ve heard about include the young man who used the entire garlic bulb when the recipe called for one garlic clove. 

Or the new wife who left the innards inside the turkey for her first Thanksgiving as hostess. Can you envision these? Do you chuckle?  I do.

Of course it’s easier for me chuckle since these were not my mistakes.

Auto accidents
are another common mishap category. One afternoon I thought I had enough room to back up my brand new car. Another time I thought I’d take a shortcut out of a parking lot and instead turned my car into a cement block.  These were expensive mistakes. I’ve never forgotten.


Decisions. Some mistakes are more expensive than others. One week in 2007, just before the housing bubble burst, my husband and I decided not to sell our Virginia house — the offer was a little less than its 2006 appraised value. Boy, what I’d give to have that offer today!  And, just last spring, I moved our ducks to the barn a month earlier than usual and the eggs they produced that season got caught in a late spring freeze and froze. These are decisions I’d make differently today.

Language mistakes 
are legion. When I taught English in Kazakhstan, many of  my students were afraid to speak unless they knew they would speak perfectly. As you might imagine, they were rather quiet. Fear of making a mistake  can be intimidating, especially when you are learning something new, like a new language. And, the ones who were less afraid to make a mistake, wound up learning much more.

The fear of making a mistake is powerful. But you don’t have to give in to it. (Well, marauding mama bears and rabid dogs are the exception.)

You’ll recognize this quote:

To err is human; to forgive, divine.”


It’s from the 18th-century English poet Alexander Pope. I just learned he is the third-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (after Shakespeare and Tennyson, according to Wikipedia).

To err is human. To make a mistake is part of the human experience. But have you ever thought about them?  For example, are mistakes

  •     the price we pay? Or do they just go with the territory?
  •     just excess baggage we humans carry? Or do they have inherent value?
  •    to be feared? Or do we learn from them?

When you stand up to fear, see it for what it really is and stare it down, life is richer. But how to do that.

I’ve found my mistakes happen in (at least) one of the following circumstances:

  • I am tired or sick; I’m “just not myself.”
  • I lack experience or adequate information; I’m “in over my head.”
  • I lack the patience it demands, or the attention it deserves; I’m in a hurry.

If I can identify which of these are at play, I can learn.


cov mistakes poster


Mistakes can also be gifts. They teach us, help us to grow, and give life a little spice (particularly if you confuse a bulb of garlic with a clove!)  I greet my mistakes with affection these days. At least I try to.

Experience, after all, is not only the best teacher, it is sometimes the only teacher.

I think of this often as I enter this “brave new world” of cyberspace and blogging and social media. I’ve already made mistakes and I’m sure I’ll make more as I go. I look to you, my readers, to help me learn.
How do you meet your mistakes?
Is it easier to find the mistakes of others than it is your own?
Do you use words of dismissal and scorn?  “I screwed up; what a dummy I am.”
Or, are you gentler, kinder to yourself?  “Oh, look what I did. Isn’t that something?”  I hope the later.

What’s your mistake story?
What banana have you recently slipped on, what recipe botched, what error in judgment cost you something dear?


9 Responses

  1. Belinda Nicoll
    | Reply


    For years, I used to flop the Malva pudding (family recipe), until I found out that two pages of my recipe book were stuck together…guess I must’ve paged through it one day with sticky fingers.

    The family will never let me forget my Malva disasters.

    • Janet
      | Reply

      Yum. Homemade pudding is my favorite comfort food.
      I’m so glad you swung by, Belinda. Thanks. And, btw, I’m loving your book, Out of Sync. Wish I could figure out how to link to it here. Did you know you can link to your own blog here? See Diana’s comment below. Come back and leave us a link if you want.

  2. Diana Beebe
    | Reply

    Great post, Janet! Goodness knows, I’ve made my share of mistakes, especially in the kitchen. I wish I hadn’t been so terrified of speaking French–I was thisclose to fluency after 6 years of studying it. I should have kept at it. Oh, well.

    • Janet
      | Reply

      Hi Diana. Always good to have you visit. And thank you for your kind comment. I hope you’re also laughing more with each mistake. I know I am.

  3. Kathleen Pooler
    | Reply

    What a great post, Janet! You’ve certainly covered all the bases when it comes to being human. My mistakes have lost their potency with age. What used to seem like the end of the world is now just a blip on the screen. My main question: “what’s the worst thing that can happen if…” Of course, mistakes do move along a continuum of severity…i,e, from marrying the wrong guy(disastrous) to forgetting to put the bananas in the banana bread recipe. But, even if you do make a disastrous mistake, there’s always a powerful lesson to learn. Thanks for a fun post!

    • Janet
      | Reply

      Hi Kathy. What a wonderful way to phrase it: have lost their potency with age. Indeed. Thanks for stopping by. I always enjoy what you have to say.

  4. Isabella
    | Reply

    I thought that Mistakes was a very good article because it’s putting it out there that everyone makes mistakes an that you should just learn from them.

    • Janet
      | Reply

      Hi Bella, it’s so good to have you visit my Blog site.
      Thank you for your comment on Mistakes. You are so right: we do just need to learn from them. Did you know the day after I posted this, I backed my car into Grandpa Woody’s toe hitch? I did. I broke a tail light. Some lessons are harder to learn than others.

  5. gulzhahan
    | Reply

    It’s very interesting. I remember our discussions about students’ mistakes that we do not have to correct them. I also remember you saying that it’s like a todler who is going to walk and he falls. We do not correct him. He falls but he learns to walk at the end. We learn from our own mistakes

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