When I Grow Up

Many years ago, when my twins—who turned eighteen in January—first discovered The Magic School Bus series, I remember thinking, “When I grow up, I want to be Ms. Frizzle.” Ms. Frizzle is the hilarious, knowledgeable science teacher who makes learning fun and takes her students on fabulous adventures (to the ocean floor, inside the human body, and inside a beehive, to name a few). She also wears eclectic clothing, but her wardrobe choices had no bearing on my desire to become her (though I do own a skeleton dress). I simply wanted to inspire my students as effortlessly as she always seemed to.

Fast forward a few years to when the girls began playing in the orchestra. Music has always been able to move me, to conjure emotions that I never knew existed. But I’d never been a part of any orchestra, and my visits to the symphony had been limited. So, with rapt attention, I’d sit in the school auditorium, smiling from ear to ear as the notes washed over me. And from time to time, goose bumps would rise along my skin, fade away, and then rise again. When my other two children chose to enroll in orchestra, too, my heart smiled. It didn’t take me long to realize that part of the reason I loved to watch the orchestra had to do with the orchestra teachers, namely Mr. Wright. Much like Ms. Frizzle, he bubbled with enthusiasm, and that passion for educating kids was contagious. Again, I remember thinking, “When I grow up, I want to be Mr. Wright.” Would my science students ever love me as much?

Life moves on and people change, and despite my enthusiasm for the human body and my natural inclination toward teaching, one question seemed to linger at the edges of my mind: Why am I doing something I no longer love? If I truly wanted to become like Ms. Frizzle or Mr. Wright, I needed to follow my passion. And that passion? Writing and editing.

So, I plunged myself into the craft of both, and for the last eight years, I’ve been practicing. Books on writing and editing sit on my shelves, and in addition to a novel that releases in March 2021, I also lead “How to Edit Your Own Work” seminars and freelance edit. Tough work, yes. But despite the long hours in front of a computer, no matter how many times I double-check the style guide regarding bulleted lists, it’s work that I love diving into each day.

How does this wrap back around to Ms. Frizzle and Mr. Wright?

I didn’t think much about them until I continually ran across one name in my quest to become a better editor: Tiffany Yates Martin. This woman is the superhero of freelance editors like me. Her clients have nothing but complimentary (and gushing) words to say about her, and—most importantly—she loves what she does (and her recent book on editing is magnificent!). One webinar with her had goosebumps running down my arms; a second webinar made me consider how appropriate a “Tiffany Yates Martin” T-shirt would be. A third online encounter had me thinking, “When I grow up, I want to be Tiffany Yates Martin.” (Mind you, she probably thinks I’m a stalker at this point, but I swear I’m not.)

I’m old enough to realize, though, that in order to be truly happy, I need to be myself. So, the plan is to take all the energy, enthusiasm, and goodness from all three of these considerate, generous, wonderful teachers and apply them to my own life and passions. At the end of the day, with role models like them, I certainly can’t go wrong.

Image of candy heart by Mabelle Imago at Pixabay.com.

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