Learning,  Life,  Process

Ten Years in the Making: How Fear (Eventually) Led to Flying from Educator to Small Biz Owner

My journey to today began in 2011, late 2010 really. But who’s counting?

I shared how it all began over on my About page… but wanted to share how it all turned out…. in case my twists and turns might help you realize fear is a speed bump that often slows us down but is 100% “overcomeable.” (And so darn worth it!)

A quick recap in case you missed the first part of my story….

In 2011, I worked in my school district’s main office in an Instructional Support Teacher (IST) role. Bored, I wanted to leave my 17-year career in public Education to become a small business owner. After diving into blogging in 2009, I began reading everything I could about business in early 2010. I was – and still am – passionate about learning as a process and teaching as a process (different processes but intimately intertwined).

By most standards, I suppose I was fairly successful. Honorably served in the U.S. Navy, attended college and earned multiple degrees, and served Florida students and their families for 17 years to date…. Looked great on paper. Enjoyed a stellar career until things began to change a few years before. Looking back, I now know (in 2020) when the shift began. But that’s for another day and another post….

Despite a solid career path, I was bored and frustrated.

Working for someone else was definitely no longer part of my changing game plan.

Sound familiar? Have you ever wanted to ditch the boss?

Playing by their rules, on their schedule, and for their outcomes made my always-thinking brain want to go numb. And my resourceful self resentful that I had to be tied to a location doing someone else’s tasks for 7 1/2 hours a day when I could get the work done in 3 hours and be-on-my-way-thank-you-very-much. I chafed at the time suck a “9 – 5” created. (I believe Tim Ferriss would understand!)

*Note: I’m currently reading this book (Nov 2020), ten years after experiencing the heaviness of being stuck in a 9 – 5. Think of the years I could’ve saved if I’d had read this book and had the confidence to overcome my fear back then!

And the meetings… Oh my gawwwd! Don’t get me started. Am I the only one who hates meetings that go on and on and on…. ?!?! No room for efficiency in a bloated, outdated system. Just sayin’ ….

On paper, I had it all and had it all together. I was, as Jennifer Allwood describes, an SRP (a Super Responsible Person). I had the safe job with good insurance and lots of benefits, a decent paycheck (it’s a teacher’s salary… you decide). But I was miserable by late 2010… An insane supervisor (no, really – insane – and illegal) didn’t make things any easier. Eventually, one of us had to go.

I wanted to JUMP by 2011. I thought I was ready.

Turns out, I wasn’t.

Nope.

MIA? A KEY ingredient to this thing called LEAPING.

Despite my professional training and skills, I lacked the self-confidence (and other skills, I’d later determine) to make the leap.

So I did what many of us do – I gave up. Yep. Retreated farther into my daily uninspired life – to go through the motions, collect a paycheck, and have insurance. I let fear win.

I needed guidance and had none.

I needed skills but didn’t know where to start.

I needed a plan but didn’t know how to create it.

I felt defeated.

Frustrated.

Deeply sad.

And absolutely, off-the-charts, flipping angry.

Turns out, without confidence and someone to guide me through the process of figuring out my what, why and how to get where I wanted to go, I was paralyzed by fear.

I would’ve told you then that I lacked resources, too. But truth is – if I had had the confidence and understood the power in resources, I would’ve found them! But I didn’t. I didn’t leap. Ironic. I’m known for my resourcefulness.

Business was waaaayyyyy outside mine.

….. So I didn’t leap. Instead, I dug deep. Took a breath. Okay a LOT of breaths. Cried a lot. Pulled my Big Girl pants up a bit higher, and found my resolve. I returned to the classroom to teach high school students for what would be 4 more years. It was September 2011. I had been out of my own classroom – with my own students – for six years.

I may as well have been a first-year teacher. I immediately and simultaneously dug into my arsenal of teaching skills and headed to the wine aisle at our local Publix. Commence Survival Mode.

Kidding. Not kidding.

September 2011: Day One ~ Arriving in my new classroom six weeks into the school year. Only half the desks were delivered. No supplies. No curriculum. A few TEs (Teacher Editions). So many unknowns. The room looked as empty as I felt…. but the classroom and I would slowly change. Thank gawwwd I had 17 years to pull from…. somewhat.

I struggled most days – physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted. But I learned so much more about learning, teaching, and coaching during that time. My life experience gave me new perspective. It was – looking back – where I was supposed to be during that time. And those kiddos…. oh my goodness, the impression they made on me.

It was – looking back – where I was supposed to be during that time.

But in the fourth school year of my return, five words changed everything: Sisters, I found a lump.

Our youngest sister’s diagnosis rocked our world. Aggressive breast cancer. Mom of three. 34 years old. Everything was wrong with this picture.

woman's feet in socks

It was the life-defining, stop-in-your-tracks thing that turned out to be That Moment. You know the one – when your life changes and you forever describe life events as Before and After that time.

It was late 2014. I wanted to leave the classroom for the final time. I needed to cope, but wasn’t. Life at home was challenging. Overwhelmed, exhausted, angry and depressed, I didn’t know how to help our baby sister. I didn’t know (yet) how to help myself.

My writing voice fell silent and I stumbled into mixed-media art.

Thankfully, I discovered that “playing” with words + colors could be a healing tool – giving me space to feel the feelings and to focus – while not asking anything of me in return.

(I’d later realize the words + colors also helped me figure out LOTS of other things in my life…. a creative way to work through questions that kept me awake at night, vent angrily after a particularly trying day at work, find solutions, handle uncertainty and make a plan.

picture of painted hands in the art studio
Yes, believe. always.

In 2015 as I discovered mixed-media art was an approachable way to express myself with colors (no formal training needed, no right or wrong ways to make art… nothing ‘fine’ about the techniques or the outcomes), I established RobinLK Studios, my home-based studio…. a move toward my dream that was unfolding and putting me on my (next) path toward helping/teaching others, though I didn’t know it yet.

My writing voice began to return.

While I was discovering art and its influence on my writing, I also left the classroom but stayed in Education – becoming an Instructional Coach and Lead Mentor on a technical college campus – working with men and women transitioning from their first-chosen profession (often after 30+ years) into teaching. Imagine a construction guy, hairdresser, dental hygienist, electrician, barber, HVAC tech, or cross country truck driver who decides he or she wants to teach his/her trade.

These are my people. Since spring 2015, they have been (unknowingly) preparing me for my next season as we settle them into theirs. For this, I am eternally grateful.

During our daily talks, we’d often share our thoughts on:

  • life changes
  • expectations vs. reality
  • the struggles that come with making a HUGE life shift

Their questions became my answers as we talked, reflected, and made their plans together. While quietly, I was thinking about my own plan, too….

Do you ever find yourself supporting a friend or coworker and realizing you’re finding clarity, too?

Outside of the school day, I continued to make art and discovered creative journaling in 2018.
Through words + colors and Creative Journaling, I figured out what mattered to me, why, and just as importantly – what held me back & what I needed to learn (and do!to reach my goals.

#GameChanger

In January 2019, I made a commitment to finding the resources and learning what I needed to know. I had a plan and was ready to develop my skills AND my confidence. Courage, I knew, would come with the skills and its cousin, confidence. Since then, I’ve logged 2,000+ hours that helped me address four areas I identified as the limits to my growth:

  • lack of business knowledge + skills
  • lack of financial discipline
  • lack of confidence
  • lack of clarity

So, let’s pause for a minute….

What do you need to know and do to reach your goals and dreams?

Do you know what your goals are?

Do you know what your limits are?

How can you find out?

Grab my free Goal Setting, Life Planning Reflection Guide. It’s a great start!

Coming late November 2020!

In 2020, as I continued to learn and grow on the business side, I made the decision to retire (early) from public Education. Holy heck!! While COVID helped me make the decision, it was still a sleepless-night, gut-wrenching, can I really do this?!?? decision.

It’s hard to give up the security of what you’ve done nearly all of your adult life… especially if you’ve always been an SRP! But what if there’s something MORE for you out there? How will you know if you don’t take the leap?

Now, I’m teaching the steps I took to gain clarity, fill my skills gaps, and develop the confidence + courage to follow my heart and reach my goals…. in the hopes I can save others (like you and me) years(!) of self-doubt, feeling ‘stuck’, and uncertainty.

What do you still want to do?

I’m cheering you on & ready to help you FLY!

Bio:

I’m Robin Le Roy-Kyle – RobinLK for short – a coffee-drinking, question-asking educator and U.S. Navy veteran who stumbled into mixed-media art in 2015 and never looked back. I write original stories – almost always from “found words,” ask lots of questions – because I’m as curious as a five-year-old – and have never met a mess I didn’t like (also like a five-year-old??). They just seem to find me!

I established RobinLK Studios in 2015 after discovering the quiet but mighty power of words and colors, often blended with textures, layers, and marks. What I do is neither formal nor fancy… neither complicated nor complex… just approachable words and colors on a page… or a box, a canvas, a board….. whatever I can find. Vintage books are my favorite!

As an educator and coach, I’ve served students and peers for 27 years – teaching and nurturing by asking purposeful questions. I’ve used writing for 30+ years – both personally and professionally – to teach, inform, and make a difference in the world. To tell stories and encourage others to tell theirs. I continue to teach, train, and coach academically and privately. 

As a facilitator, I teach and coach women and girls how to use the Creative Process to tap into wishes, dreams, goals, strengths and struggles. 

As a self-taught mixed-media artist, when I’m not teaching or training I spend many quiet hours in my Florida studio, creating original art and handcrafted journals designed to inspire and empower.

Often, my creative style spills over into my online writing and online course development, too – as I build content and develop training & professional development materials for teachers and gals building skills and knowledge.

Wishing you creative curiosity and soul-smiling messiness,

signature Robin

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