Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sandi Martin: Finances Can Be Creative (MamaTalk: Creativity)

Sandi says: "This is what creativity looks like to me."
When I was just getting started as a blogger, Sandi Martin was an encourager and a great source of information. I loved following her blog, The Mrs., and enjoying her tongue-in-cheek humor and good-heartedness. Oh, and we shared a really big appreciation for the virtues of butter. Sandi's big area is finances and I really wanted to include her in a discussion of creativity to show that one size does not fit all when it comes to what makes us moms feel alive. After all, if we were all the same, that wouldn't be very creative, now would it? Without further ado, here's what Sandi has to say:
 
What are your primary outlets for creativity?  Tell us a little about your background and how you developed these creative skills.
I’m creative at entrepreneurship. I started a one-woman financial planning practice in January of this year, and have been website-building, blog-writing, tweeting, Google-plussing, and--most importantly--planning my face off since my client acquisition efforts gained momentum about five months in. Every day I’m either working with money or writing about money, and that fact alone is enough to make me do a happy dance...when I’m not at my wit’s end trying to be a full-time mother of three and full-time businesswoman using overlapping hours of the exact same day.

Do you think creativity is important as a mom?  Why or why not?
Creativity is as important as you let it be. If on one of my more stressed-out, stretched-to-my-limit days someone collared me and told me that if only I was more creative it would solve everything, well...there’d be trouble. But on good days, when I have enough mental capital to spend some on navel-gazing, I’m rational enough to realize that when I’ve made time to do what I love, it’s easier to love what I do in the rest of the time, even if it’s just climbing Mount Laundry.
 
What is a time in your life when you felt most fulfilled creatively?
Now. Without a doubt, I’ve never felt more creatively fulfilled than I do right now. I’m building a business around my family, according to my rules. I’m producing a service that has the potential to change lives, and--get this--people are paying me for what’s already in my brain. It’s given me the opportunity to write for multiple publications, and--because I’ve recognized my limits--it’s allowed me to slow down my posting schedule at The Mrs and relax into my true writing voice (which is High Nonsense, for those of you unfamiliar with my cherished alter-ego.)

How did time or energy for creativity change after you became a mom?
It disappeared, although I wasn’t using it much before I became a mother anyway. Oh, I painted and organized and gardened, but mostly I read. I used to walk around in downtown Toronto for hours with my face buried in a book, or spend an entire lazy Saturday on the couch with two or three favourite re-reads, only pausing for a few minutes to pee or get more junk food. There wasn’t anything else I really wanted to do with my time anyway.
 
Do you ever feel guilty about making time for creativity?  How do you cope with that?
No, I never do, and there are two very precise reasons for that:
1. The business I’m building is built around family time, meaning: I wake up at five to get a solid hour and a half of work in before the rest of the family wakes up. I take forty-five minues of Sesame Street time while my two youngest are having a snack to get some more work done. Nap time gives me another hour and a half - two, if I’m lucky. The kids go to bed between seven and seven-thirty, which gives me another two concentrated hours of evening work before I close the laptop and watch Dr. Who with my husband.
2. My version of creativity happens to make money. I’m bringing in a full-time income without having to pay for daycare. Who’s going to argue with that?
 
Have you ever felt pressured to express creativity in exactly the same way as some other mom (maybe a friend or a mom on Pinterest or a blog)?  In what way?  Have you found any ways to get past these pressures?  How?
I have a very dear friend who is the most mind-blowingly creative person I know. Everything she touches is beautiful, modern, clever, or cute (most things are all four.) There was a very long span of time during which I was very, very jealous of her abilities, but--fortunately for me, because she’s one of my best friends now--that was many years of self-reflection and tough honesty ago. It took a long time, and some purposeful self-denial before I could enjoy her creativity without worrying about my own, but these days I just sit back and reap the rewards of having such an extraordinarily gifted friend.
 
"Other people in my house being creative."
Have you found any ways to use your creative skills with your kids?
Heh. Unless you’re talking about my ability to make anything into a (badly sung) song, then no. As much as I’d love to pat myself on the back and talk about what a good example of a working woman I am to my daughters and son, that would make me barf. I’m pretty sure that they truly believe that my work involves sitting in front of computers and typing gibberish (some days I’m pretty sure of that myself). There are lots of other things we do together that are classically “creative,” but my own unique brand of creativity is hard to share with three kids under five.
 
Tell us what you love about the unique ways you express creativity. 
Honestly, I love that my version of creativity creates money. What a classic money-nerd answer, eh? My personality is one that craves approval (functional first-borns in the room, raise your hands), so the fact that complete strangers want to quote me, or publish my writing, or even--gasp!--pay me to wade through their financial lives and make sense of it all? I get to do what I love and be approved while I do it? Sign me up.
 
What advice would you give to a mom who feels that since having kids, she has “lost herself”?
My short answer is a financial planning joke:
Q. What’s the one answer that’s guaranteed to be right one-hundred percent of the time?
A. It depends.
(Wild laughter)
The longer answer is this, and I’m agreeing to give advice only because we all know that most advice applies only to the person giving it: 

Get up early in the morning - at least an hour before anyone else. Brew some coffee (tea, if you must, but in the full knowledge that I’m judging you for it), take a walk, read a book. Don’t make any noise--not just because you don’t want to wake up the kids, but so you can be alone inside your own head for a while. Do it for a couple of days a week and see what kind of creativity starts to coalesce in your mind. Repeat. If you can’t create more time for yourself in the morning, find ways to decrease your workload, either by hiring a housecleaner for three hours every other week, getting someone to babysit for an hour every Wednesday, or just letting the Cheerios sit on the floor and the laundry pile up (higher) for a while. Fill that space up with something that you love, even if it’s just reading a book. (Dusts off hands, happy to have fixed the universe)

Sandi has been writing nonsense at The Mrs(http://www.themrs.ca) since 2010 and less nonsense at Spring Personal Finance(http://blog.springpersonalfinance.com) since January 1st, 2013 (she likes tidy fiscal years). She has three kids, no cats, and one husband.

1 comment:

  1. I hope 2014 proves to be a good year for you and yours!

    ReplyDelete

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