Recovering The SelfA Journal of Hope and Healing


Searching for the Right Words

by Jo Elizabeth Pinto

My seventh grader has a good friend who lives on the next block. The friend forgot a book at our house last week. We went out of town for the holiday weekend, and then my daughter’s friend got herself grounded. So she hasn’t been able to retrieve her book, which my kid told me she’d been reading with great suspense the last time she was at our house.

“Poor girl!” I sympathized. “You should take the book to her. Nobody ought to be left without her book for a whole week.”

My daughter, who isn’t a particularly avid reader, shrugged. “She won’t die or anything.”

“No, but I bet it’s driving her bananas, not knowing what’s going to happen next in the story.”

My daughter let out a dramatic sigh like only a thirteen-year-old can. “Okaaaaay. I’ll take it to her tomorrow. It’s not like I don’t have a subconscious or anything.”

When I could catch my breath, I had to explain to my slightly miffed teenager why I had burst out laughing in spite of my best efforts to keep a straight face.

“I don’t think ‘subconscious’ is the word you’re looking for,” I said, still smiling. “You probably mean ‘conscience,’ don’t you? The thing that tells you right from wrong? Your subconscious is the part of your mind you aren’t aware of.”


I hope my kid eventually develops at least some sense of precision about words. Although her mistake was amusing this time, the way I hear words getting tossed around haphazardly these days by both professionals and casual speakers, with no regard for their proper use, saddens me to no end.

About the Author

Jo Elizabeth Pinto was among the first blind students to integrate the public schools in the 1970’s. In 1992, she received a degree in Human Services from the University of Northern Colorado. While teaching students how to use adaptive technology, she earned a second degree in 2004 from the Metropolitan State College of Denver in Nonprofit Management. She freelances as an editor and a braille proofreader. As an author, Pinto entertains her readers while giving them food for thought. In her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, she draws on personal experience to illustrate that hope is always an action away. Pinto lives in Colorado with her husband, her preteen daughter, and their pets. Visit her website at


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One thought on “Searching for the Right Words”

  1. Barbara Spencer says:

    Shared on Twitter – and agree 100%. Our use of English is now about 100 words per person, most of which begin with an f…!

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