December 18, 2016

A Mother’s Journey [Part 34]: The gift of reflection

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Courtesy Giselle Rivera-Flores

Evian, front, and Brooklyn take in Chicago during the family's last New Year's trip.

Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials, tribulations 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, a full-fledged director of a nonprofit tutoring collaborative that began officially in late January but has transformed considerably since. During her journey she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.

Giselle Rivera-Flores

Giselle Rivera-Flores

The holidays are officially here, and while many people are out enjoying their gift shopping and hot cocoa sipping, maybe even relaxing by the fireplace after a long day at work, I am frantically wondering, “How the hell am I going to get this all done?”

Work has become life. It gets harder and harder to turn off that Woopreneur switch inside. Finding a balance between work and life has been a struggle from the beginning of this journey, and while I often do well fitting both business and leisure time into my day, it’s becoming increasingly hard to do.

The struggle, though, helps remind me that above all, family comes first. I try to remember that to achieve professionally, we must achieve personally. Creating memories and building upon the foundations of what is important to our family is an essential part of happy success.

Considering the time of year, I want to give my fellow entrepreneurs some friendly advice about surviving the holidays and getting work done before it’s time to put on that ugly sweater.

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


For entrepreneurs, schedules are always an important part of the day. But during busy times, like the holiday season, they must be stricter than ever. Give yourself daily deadlines to separate the workday from, say, a gift-wrapping session or homework time with the kids. Plan your vacations and personal days first, then work around those time slots.


I am a big believer in setting goals. Goals are about making your path clear and concise. I personally use a combination of whiteboards and notepads to keep my goals and deadlines visible and top of mind. Along with the holiday season comes the end of the year, which makes for a good time to look back on what you’ve accomplished and reassess your goals.

Is your brand where you want it to be? Are you on track to meet your top goals or should you consider reprioritizing? Now is the time to decide.

Contacts and clients

There is no bigger annoyance for me than being up against a deadline, only to find out that my point of contact is on vacation — and I had no idea! Give your clients, customers and business associates advance warning about your schedule changes. Not only is it courteous to respect other people’s time, but it also allows you to stay on track with, and prioritize, your own work.

Sending off a “Happy Holidays” email with a message detailing your new hours and vacation days is a great way to let people know that although you may be a Woopreneur, you still have a family, and family time is important.


Just stop!

Sometimes, you just need to take a break. While I am normally boosting the “just start” philosophy, at this time of year, stopping can often be the best possible action for an entrepreneur. This is the best time to reflect, reorganize and reinvigorate yourself and your business.

We need to take into consideration that as an entrepreneur – no matter how much energy you think you have – we can burn out. Overworking is a red flag and can cause actual damage to your business and ultimately your own health. Taking time to reflect and get back to being a regular person is necessary to rejuvenate your creativity, stamina and strength. It is what will eventually give your career longevity. So, over the next few weeks, take some time to just stop.


Every year, my husband, the girls and I take as many out-of-state weekend trips as we can afford, and the one trip that means the most to us is for New Year’s Eve. It is our personal way of ringing in a clean slate for the new year.

We spent Jan. 1, 2016, in Chicago and it was amazing. Right after starting as a freelance writer with the Worcester Sun and embarking on my journey of entrepreneurship, the Chicago trip was perfect timing.

It allowed me to get away and enjoy my family by creating great memories — but it also gave me inspiration. It inspired me to include arts in The Learning Hub curriculum and opened my eyes to the possibility of branching out to other cities. It was the trip that solidified my ability to be an entrepreneur and showed me how much I valued my time with my family. It ultimately led me to withdraw Brooklyn from public school and gave me the overall courage to say, “I can do this.”

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

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