April 16, 2017

A Mother’s Journey [Part 42]: The accidental perspective

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Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one. During her journey to establish and grow her nonprofit tutoring collaborative she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.

Giselle Rivera-Flores

Entrepreneurs need motivation.

Motivation to continue with our mission. Motivation to wake up in the morning and face our challenges. Motivation to move past an obstacle even when everyone says we can’t.

Entrepreneur, best-selling author and speaker Gary Vaynerchuk has been tabbed by some with saying the “most motivational statement ever.” In a direct effort to wake people up from a monotonous life filled with complaints about unhappiness and regret, Vaynerchuk strikes a chord by hitting a note most people don’t want to hear: “You’re gonna die.”

Life is precious – no doubt about it – but there is nothing that validates your existence more than a near-death experience. To see the fragility of life firsthand is more than an eye-opener. At times, it is a life-awakener.

Growing up, I was always the adventurous girl in my group of friends. Always riding on the back pegs of bikes without a helmet, rollerblading through traffic down the middle of the New York City streets during a rainstorm. I even consistently found myself a part of car racing groups.

I was fearless then, and nothing seemed dangerous. My mom would plead with me to wear helmets and kneepads. I would sigh and roll my eyes. All I wanted was the feeling of freedom as I raced down the streets and watched the city come to life around me.

I always just thought that she didn’t get me.

Recently on the rainiest of days, my little sister was on her way to New York to enjoy time with friends. As she was driving down I-95 South, she flipped her Ford Explorer and was rushed to the hospital.

Read Giselle’s previous chapter, The place to start, or scroll down to explore more of her story

Nothing prepares you for that dreadful phone call from the police or the hospital saying your loved one has been in a major accident. Your heart stops. Your ears go deaf. Your body freezes. Words seem meaningless and actions seem helpless.

My sister, though still in pain and shaken up, escaped with minor injuries. Nurses and doctors, surrounding her in the hospital, said over and over how lucky she was to be alive. They said it was “a miracle” and that she should feel extraordinarily happy to be in that condition at that moment.

I have always said that the main reason I decided to take the plunge into entrepreneurship was to help my family. To see my sister lying in the hospital room reinforced how precious family truly is. It confirmed my deep desires to spend as much time with my family as humanly possible and it gave both my sister and me a new appreciation for the life we live.

We’ve always joked that she is like my firstborn.

My sister, 25, who works in catering at WPI, means the world to me and I protect her like my mom protects me. I can’t imagine a world without her. Saturdays are usually “sister days” when we go out and explore with Brook and Evie — those are the times I look forward to every week.

We talk almost every day, and I help her with whatever she needs, everything from filling out college applications to advice about work. I am there for her every step of the way, and to know that was almost taken away from us makes me understand that, no matter how bad things seem, they could always be worse.

I felt, in one moment, what my mom felt all those years I made her worry about my safety.

As a born entrepreneur, I have always leaned toward the fast pace of life. Always searching for the next best thing and now, more than ever, I realize, the best thing has been with me all along: Family.

Follow Giselle’s inspiring story from the beginning:

Part 1 — The Brooklyn trip

Part 2 — The playbook

Part 3 — The space race

Part 4 — The unsettling score

Part 5 — The point of no return

Part 6 — The poetry of motion

Part 7 — The keys to success

Part 8 — The stumbling block

Part 9 — The Learning Hubby

Part 10 — The next breath

Part 11 — The imperfect storm

Part 12 — The defining moment

Part 13 — The balancing act

Part 14 — The right turn on Pleasant?

Part 15 — The exploration within

Part 16 — The long way home

Part 17 — The road to empowerment

Part 18 — The new direction

Part 19 — The social club

Part 20 — The way forward

Part 21 — The momentum conundrum

Part 22 — The Pleasant Street exit

Part 23 — The stemming of the tide

Part 24 — The starting line, finally

Part 25 — The full head of steam

Part 26 — The kernels of wisdom

Part 27 — The Book of Hub

Part 28 — The great debate

Part 29 The girls are all right

Part 30 — The movement keeps moving

Part 31 — The picture of serenity?

Part 32 — The network effect

Part 33 — The original Woopreneur

Part 34 — The gift of reflection

Part 35 — The resolution revolution

Part 36 — The model students

Part 37 — The growing pains

Part 38 — The time trials

Part 39 — The parent trap

Part 40 — The stress test

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