I don't even really know where to begin. I'm having trouble writing this blog post because of all of my own crazy self doubt and worry that somehow people I thought are my friends will be mad at me, or tell me what I can't do, so stay with me.
I've told you all that I was taking a year off to explore different projects. This summer the different projects came together under one roof ... in the form of a small business.
It's hard to write about, or even talk about, because it still seems strange to me. Who am I to think I can have my own small business? Who am I to think people will actually hire me to work with their children? I mean, forget that the school system hired me to work with lots of children, the idea of parents personally hiring me seems absolutely crazy.
So, while I've been busy this summer connecting with parents, teachers, independent school representatives, and different therapists to talk about what families need and different possibilities I can offer, I've been somewhat quiet about all of this, especially as my different projects started to come together into the form of a business. I think most of me wanted to be able to do this without talking about it, ever. I've blogged anonymously for over 9 years now, so whose to say I couldn't run an anonymous business, right?
BUT, a good friend said I needed to stop apologizing for what I'm doing, so I'm trying hard to talk about it without looking at the floor.
Admitting what I'm doing is the first step.
So how did I get here?
Someone over a year ago asked me what I wanted out of life. I couldn't get that question out of my head. I wasn't really happy with my current job, even though I couldn't put my finger on exactly why. In some ways it was the perfect job, a good mix of working with kids and getting to help parents. But it still wasn't what I wanted. I didn't want to become an administrator in a school system. I wanted to work with kids, have the time to be on a constant search for knowledge to become better at working with kids, and I wanted to support families with children with special needs. I thought I'd find that if I could find the perfect PhD program, but I didn't want to dive into a PhD program without first seeing what I wanted to do with that program when it ended. So I took the coming year off to start new projects and see what sticks and what doesn't.
So that's what this is. A project in the form of a small business, that lets me explore possibilities, hopefully will help lots of families and let my own family not starve in the process.
It's funny when you tell people you are starting your own business. They either become ridiculously excited for you and tell you their own future business dreams, or they look at you like you have three heads and say, "Wow, really? Good luck with that!" I don't take that personally because I have those same thoughts myself. Really? WHAT? That's crazy town. I'm just kidding. I totally didn't mean a small business. You totally misunderstood me. I meant small hobby.
I am terrified. This might be the scariest thing I've done in my whole life. And yet, so far I'm loving it. I love connecting with families and working with their kids. I love putting together learning kits for the children and helping people understand how to use them. I love collaborating with other professionals. And surprisingly, I'm enjoying learning about the business side of things. So maybe one day I'll make money doing this. Until then, I'm learning a lot. And if it doesn't stick? If it doesn't work? It's OK. I'll have learned a lot in my year off and figured out more about what I want out of life.
So, what are these small projects that came together into one business?
I'm doing private tutoring, but really it's more than just tutoring. I'm providing support and materials to families. Kind of like a private special education teacher who can design personalized behavior plans and lessons for the home environment. I have book kits I loan families for a week (or more) and personalize plans to match their child's goals.
I've teamed up with an incredible counselor and we're offering 'drop in' social groups this fall. (Announcement about dates and topics coming soon...)
I'm putting on book clubs for home schooled 4th and 5th graders in Arlington, Virginia. Interested? Let me know.
I'm doing presentations and professional development, and supporting independent schools and community groups in become more inclusive.
I hope to offer adapted music classes with an amazing music teacher I know, as well as different social groups.
All of these projects have bounded together into a small business, Lipsett Learning Connection.
I am still working with my school one day a week, and because I am still employed by the school system I cannot work with any children within my school's boundaries. I also will not sit in any IEPs or eligibility meetings as an advocate for the parent. I want to be very careful in not crossing professional boundaries. From my experience as a teacher it always felt like private therapists were somehow against us in the school. That's not good for the family or the child. I want to help families coordinate their care so that everyone serving the child is working toward the same end.
I've never done anything this scary before. It feels very much like jumping off a cliff without being able to see the bottom. So stay with me and my family on this journey as they support me from going from a household with two incomes, to a household with one income and one absolutely crazy person.