September 3, 2017

A Mother’s Journey: The gauntlet of transitions

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Courtesy Giselle Rivera-Flores

Giselle's daughter Brooklyn learned quite a bit this summer -- just like her mom.

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

“It’s in transition.” That phrase has become the (mostly) unwritten slogan of my life – both personally and professionally.

Buried in every crevice of growth is the undertone of transition. Its double-sided presence adheres to us as both confidence and anxiety — all while promising a better tomorrow.

Transition is the “process or a period of changing from one state to another,” and while the definition portrays an image of physical change, transition, for me, is truly internal. And it happens every second of the day.

It happens in the depths of chaos and in the bliss of growth. It happens through each human interaction, and lack thereof. Transition is a thin line in the world of entrepreneurship that makes us tiptoe across the tightrope of obstacles while juggling the rest of our lives and carrying what feels like the weight of the world on our shoulders.

As we approach our second year of homeschooling our daughters Brooklyn and Evian, we are accompanied by many transitions: new grade levels, new expectations, new schedules and new changes. Transition is the shadow that never leaves. Unless you have given up on the path of life you’ve chosen – and we have no intention of doing so.

Read Giselle’s previous chapter, The ‘Mini’ Series, or scroll down to explore more of her story.

Summer brought the emergence of a tipping point for our business – where a series of minor changes conspired to effect major changes – and now we’re at the step where we balance our footing for the next level.

I set the stage for The Learning Hub this summer and while it is not complete, it went well. We hosted our first annual STEAM fair at Barnes & Nobles in Millbury (an event with more than 200 attendees); we partnered with the Women of AT&T to provide more than 230 backpacks to the students of the New Citizen School and Catholic Charities of Worcester through Simon Says Give; we found a home for The Learning Hub at C.C. Lowell; we finally launched our Little Free Libraries campaign; and most of all, we stayed in touch with our Hub students over the summer with pop-ups, collaborations with Recreation Worcester and the National Grid Sustainability Hub. Work at The Learning Hub is never done, but the pace of summer made it possible to execute a wide array of projects.

Summer was also a time of self-reflection for our ever-transitioning family. It was time to take a mental break – even, at times, at the expense of the business day – to enjoy the constant importance of family. We grew to understand that while life will always be a work in progress, and while The Learning Hub will always experience the sharp curves of the business cycle, the one thing that remains relevant is our family and how we must work together as a unit to face the uncontrollable conditions of the road ahead.

For Brooklyn — our oldest daughter and the original inspiration behind The Hub — summer served as an evaluation stage of her elementary years. We tested the water of work ethic, and emphasized the importance of accountability.

It was also time to decide if homeschooling truly would be the best fit for all of us. It soon became clear that it is.

As a woman, I deal with the many transitions of entrepreneurship and parenthood, simultaneously, hoping not to miss a beat. When I see my daughter gain perspective through sharing these experiences with me, it gives me a profound sense of pride and a feeling she will be OK, after all.

She worked alongside me all summer and now, as she is a few days away from starting fifth grade, she feels accomplished. She feels that, for the first time, she could balance being a fun-loving 10-year-old and putting her abilities to use, despite her age.

More recent entries from Giselle:

With a litany of events, pop-ups, fairs and open houses, Brooklyn took the summer challenge of learning more about entrepreneurship and created a sort of self-pacing lesson. She learned the value of money in business – especially when the business doesn’t have a consistent flow of it – and she learned that the consumer – in our case, the parents and students of our classes – is the most critical part of building a business, a brand or an organization.

She saw my deep connections with and passions for the community and how it left a positive footprint in areas often labeled as “less desirable,” and she learned how incredibly lucky she is to have the ability to give back to her community.

As I accept my 40 Under 40 award from the Worcester Business Journal next week, I will not take the moment for granted and instead will look at it as one of the greatest moments — a proud transition my daughter helped me achieve.

Between The Learning Hub’s growth and that of Brooklyn, I can say that missing out on a few additional beach days this summer was well worth it.

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

Part 41 — The place to start?

Part 42 — The accidental perspective

Part 43 — The road less traveled

Part 44 — The one dedicated to mom

Part 45 — The collaboration realization

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