Category Archives: commonplace book

Make Mistakes and Roll With Them

“Weren’t you worried you would make a mistake?” I ask.

“Made two of ‘em. No one seemed to notice.”

I nearly choke on my carrot stick. “What? You made two mistakes?”

“Acting’s like real life, Mon. You make a mistake, you keep going. Everyone adapts. It’s no big deal.” He hurries to say hello to Mr. Jurzek while I stand in the wake of his words.

He made a mistake in front of hundreds of people and he doesn’t care? Better yet, no one even noticed? How is it possible that Dad got to me more as a fictional character that he ever has as a father? Maybe he should concentrate on what he loves to do rather than orchestrating lame heart-to-heart talks in pet stores. I smile across the room at him and he gives a goofy wave back. I guess he’s just muddling through like the rest of us.”
– from Janet Tashjian’s novel “Multiple Choice” pg 164-165

What an inspirational passage!

Making mistakes is a part of life. You can’t be worried about making one. And if you do make a mistake, you need to just keep going. You can let a small error stop you in your tracks. Obsessing over your past mistakes also doesn’t erase them, doesn’t fix them, and just expends needless energy.

I try to encourage my students to make mistakes and to learn from them. There is no way to do something perfect the first time. Everything we do is a learning experience. And sometimes the mistakes themselves can fade away into the performance as long as you keep rolling with it. That is one of the messages I got from this book.

I love how you can learn things through fiction. I hope you have found this passage as inspiring as I have. 

The Truth is Hidden Within Us

Remember when I used to feature a quotation on this blog every week?

That was a long time ago.

Today, I thought I’d share a nice quote with you all here.
I really like this one. It shows a connection that I feel is present among us all. It speaks a truth. And yes, it is from fiction. Just one of the reasons I love writing and reading fiction.

“Maybe there is a universal truth embedded in everyone’s soul.

Maybe we all have the same story hiding inside
like a shared constant in our DNA.

Maybe this collective truth is responsible for the similarity in all our stories.

Truth has a power
and if we all gravitate towards similar ideas,
maybe we do so because those ideas are true,
written deep within is
and when we hear the truth,
even if we don’t understand it,
we fell that truth resonate within us,
vibrating with our unconscious wisdom.

Perhaps the truth is not learned by us,
but rather




as that which is already inside us.”

– transcribed from the audio book presentation of “The Lost Symbol” by Dan Brown

What started as a weekly feature on this blog, quickly spun into a separate blog at the start of 2008. If you love quotations, please visit Thoughtful Cacophony to view my ever-growing Commonplace Book Blog.


Collected Wisdom This Week

I’ve come across a few really cool jewels of wisdom in my online travels this week. I wanted to share them with you.
This week’s contributers are,
Reverend Run (of Run-DMC.) – he posts inspirational Tweets each and every day.
Calvin – runs a great blog where he shares what he finds online.
Nothing Profound – doesn’t post often but his posts are filled with great aphorisms.
Bubbabrain – shares useful links and resources for teachers


“When you end a hurtful relationship, throw away the key! We have a tendency to re-open doors that need to remain SHUT!”

“A man went in search of one perfect moment. The price he had to pay was the rest of his life.”

“News used to come too late; now it comes too early.”

via Calvin’s Canadian Cave of Coolness

“You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.” – Jessica, age 8

“Great teachers tend to set big goals for their students. They also perpetually look for ways to improve their effectiveness.”
I really need to start adding these collected jewels into my commonplace book. I haven’t been doing so because I have been sharing them on Twitter. However posts on Twitter get quickly buried and they don’t seem to be easily searchable. So perhaps once a week or so, I can quickly collect my favourite tweets into a post here. Sounds like a solution.

Quotations of the Week

I thought I’d share with you some of the quotes I’ve been posting this week from my commonplace blog. If you like what you read, check out Thoughtful Cacophony.

Motivational Monday – I always start out the week with a motivational quote.

“It is through cooperation, rather than conflict, from which your greatest successes be derived.”

– Ralph Charell

Tube Tuesday – Wisdom pulled from movies or television

“There’s nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer.”

Pearl Harbour movie dialogue spoken by Colonel James H. Doolittle.

This film strived to be an accurate account of the Pearl Harbor disaster. The above quotation is not just mere dialogue but the words from this brave Colonel.

What!?! Wednesday – Song lyrics that make me stop and think.

“There are no role models
It’s up to the parents to teach the kids
to understand the music they’re hearing
cause hip hop was created for social awareness.”

DL Icognito “Make a Difference” lyrics from the album Organic Music For A Digital World.

Storied Thursday – Quotes about story and reality

“Stories are the most helpful tools a child has for sorting this all out. Stories have authority. Stories normalize. Stories model behaviour and feeling. Stories model the power to make stories – a power that children must develop in order to manage their own particular individual worlds, the ones seen through their own unique eyes.”

Joseph Gold. Read For Your Life: Literature as a Life Support System. Fitzhenry and Whiteside: Markham, 1990. pg 153

Anything Goes Fridays – I pick a quote from my extensive collection to post up on any topic on Fridays.

“Women tended to get married before they knew themselves, before they’d made contact with their inviolate selves. Another fact: it takes ages, years and years, to train a man to be even moderately sensitive and to equip him with the expertise to carry out ordinary household tasks. By the time all the information has been dispensed and processed, the trainer is worn out.”

Jane Hamilton. Disobedience. Anchor Books. 2000. pg 75.

Well, that’s a sample of what you can expect from my sister blog Thoughtful Cacophony. If you love quotations go check it out. I run these features every week. Enjoy!

What’s It Mean?

I’ve picked up a few stock phrases that my dad always used to use when I was a kid. I’ve done the same thing with my some of my grandpa’s phrases. I never thought twice about what some of those phrases meant. They just sounded cool and it spewed them out with pride.

When I was a teenager, I realized that some phrases that people say all the time are offensive. Like my grandpa used to say,

“Wait a cotton-picking moment.”

This is a racist slur. It goes back to the slaves working in the fields. Fortunately this phrase has fallen out of common usage and I only used it a few times when I was younger before I realized that it was not appropriate.

My dad used to say.

“For crying out loud!”

I still say this one all the time. I don’t even know what it really means. So I just looked it up.

This is what I found,

“for crying out loud: An ejaculation,usually indicating complaint or astonishment. Many of the users of this expression would be shocked to learn that it is in the category known as a minced oath; that is,a substitute based on, but slightly different from a profanity.”

– from the book “Heavens to Betsy” that has curious sayings in them.

It seems that this saying is also based on a bad word.

I think that there is a place for euphemisms, but not all of them. We need to understand when a phrase is hurtful of based on something hurtful. We should try to stop using these phrases.

I know that I try not to swear. I don’t take the Lords name in vain. I don’t say cotton-picking anymore but I still say for crying out loud. I think that one is tame and harmless these days, but maybe I am wrong there too.

How about you, what phrases do you find yourself saying that you don’t really know what they mean. Please share them in the comments. I will try to find the etymology of them for all of us.

Happy Halloween

“In the face of all the horror, the small-minded stupidity, the endless bloody wars, and inevitable death, people have gone on and on constructing things of beauty.”

– Kieran Egan. Teaching as Story Telling. The Althouse Press: London, 1986 pg 109

Have a safe and Happy Halloween Everyone!

Kids Aren’t China Dolls

I don’t know why some parents treat their children like they are precious and breakable items that need to be constantly looking their best.

It’s okay for children to get muddy. It’s alright if they come home with a grass stain. Bumps and bruises are part of childhood. A little scratch or bruise is not a big deal. In fact, these things are pretty much an essential part of anyone’s childhood.

Children need to take risks and try new things. They need to try a jump on their bike or attempt to ride a skateboard. They need to try rolling down a hill one day. They need to explore the world around them, interact with it, and learn all sorts of things in the process. Without these things, kids lose out on what life is all about.

I know parents only want to protect their children. No one wants to see a kid fall down and cry. But the important thing to remember is that the crying, bruise, or scratch doesn’t last long. It heals.

But if you teach a kid that they shouldn’t try something because they might get hurt, that lesson will stay with them. They will always be afraid to try things. And life is about trying, falling down, and trying again. Everyone need to learn this lesson. And childhood is the best thing to do it.

So let your kids explore. Let them get dirty. Don’t freak out over a little bruise, cut, or scratch. Children are not nearly as fragile as we might think them to be. They are not collectible toys that need to just be put on a shelf and admired.

I leave you with some lyrics from Kelly Clarkson’s “Because of You.” This song speaks some great truths about this topic. Check out the video on YouTube. There is also a great duet version of this song that I had never seen before with Reba. Check them both out. I love this song. Both versions.

“Because of you
I never stray too far from the sidewalk
Because of you
I learned to play on the safe side so I don’t get hurt.
Because of you
I find it hard to trust not only me but everyone around me
Because of you
I am afraid.”

– Kelly Clarkson “Because of You” from the album “Breakaway.”

Dragons Can Be Defeated

“The important thing about any story where you fight a dragon is not that you’re telling people that dragons are real. But that you’re telling people that dragons can be defeated. And that is a huge, true thing. And something that should never be forgotten.”
– Neil Gaiman, writer Beowulf from the DVD bonus feature “Beasts of Burden”

I thought I’d go back to the Commonplace Tuesday feature I used to run on this blog today. I really like this quote. It shows us the great power of metaphor.

If you love quotations as much as I do, then please stop by Thoughtful Cacophony to see my collection. I post up a different quote every weekday. On Tuesdays I post an quote that I have collected from the television or movies.

This is today’s post on my sister blog. I hope by posting it here as well that I have not broken any blogging protocols. I just really like this quote. And the movie really surprised me. I watched it on DVD this weekend. It was good.

Never Think

As you know, I like to collect quotations. Often when I am reading, I stop at a passage that speaks to me and underline it. If it’s a library book, I keep a paper bookmark where I can write down something short and simple so that when I finish the book, I can go back and record the quote in my computer Commonplace Book file.

I have been sharing my collection daily over at Thoughtful Cacophony. I hope you’ve had a chance to visit my sister blog. It’s coming along nicely.

Over the past few weeks, I have been toggling back and forth between a novel and a couple works of non-fiction. One of the books was a collection of essays from a variety of authors. The book was entitled Constructing a Life Philosophy.

This what my paper bookmark looked like after I had finished reading

pg 43 “Life’s Purpose” quote
pg 181 3rd P. “Never Think…” – blog about running w/o music
pg 205 2nd P. “I would like to say that man should live for loving, for understanding, and for creating.”
pg 206 2nd P. “True Love…”
pg 209 1st & Last P

I find that I can make little notes like this as I read and it doesn’t take away from my reading. I used to just read a book without pausing to take any notes and then I tried to go back and find a thought that stuck with me. I’d often lose it or be unable to find it again with just a cursory search. I would then have to reread the entire book or just move on. Often I did the latter and never recorded that tidbit of wisdom.

I like this system I have developed. I get to enjoy a book and take notes as I go. When I am done with it, I then comb through the book and collect my favourite passages. Sometimes these even inspire a blog post. The first passage I took from this book has already inspired a post and the second passage made me immediately think of another one. You can see my thought process there, and tomorrow you will see that blog post, “Never Think Pt 2.” Stay tuned.