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Heeding Ms. Frizzle

I think I gave my kids some pretty good advice as they were growing up.

But the best advice I ever heard directed at them actually came from the TV, via Ms. Frizzle on PBS's “The Magic School Bus.”

So enamored was I of this message that many years later, when I was being phased out of my newspaper job and looking for next steps, I asked my daughter to write up the message in a fashion suitable for framing. I wanted to look at it every day, to be emboldened by it every day.

Her artistic rendering is in the accompanying photo.

I needed that message because I definitely didn't want to follow it:

1. Take chances. Whaat?! Why take chances now? I had built a good career over many long nights, not leaving until I was sure our stories were the very best. Journalism was my calling.

2. Make mistakes. I wasn't about to make any mistakes! Been there, done that.

3. Get messy. Are you kidding me? I had worked my way up and found a place where I could shine. Why get splattered at this point?

My kids? Now, they were a different story. (Thanks, Ms. Frizzle.)

Oldest son left to sell textbooks in Gun Barrel City, Texas, home to few people but lots of retirees. (It didn't work, but it turned out fine: He decided not to go into sales.)

Younger son left for Los Angeles and decided to stage a kind of street theater performance, although this was unbeknownst to the audience, who were ostensibly coming to hear a (fictional) world-renowned scientist. (It didn't work, but it turned out fine: He went into music.)

Daughter left for NYC, lived in a dump and worked a hot dog stand. (This wasn't sustainable, but it turned out fine: She eventually found a full-time job in her field and moved out of the firetrap.)

As for me, I made the leap from journalism to public relations, and although I took some knocks on the learning curve, it turned out fine: I thrived doing advocacy and ended up loving my new career. I never would have figured that out if I hadn't been (fearfully, reluctantly) willing to fail.

More recently I willingly – though still fearfully – took the leap to see if I could be an author. So far, so good...

I owe ya, Ms. Frizzle.


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