The best part of my job is the people I get to meet. But talking to strangers isn’t just a hobby for me, it’s my secret-weapon. I realize that the way I do things isn’t necessarily the right way–it’s just my way–based on my life experiences. To create truly useful, versatile products I have to understand how other people do things. That involves talking to strangers and asking a lot of questions. (If you dated one of my sisters or friends, you have first-hand knowledge of just how many questions I ask.) As I listen to the answers, I am continually amazed and inspired.
I’ve invited one of those women, Laura Marshall, to share her perspective with you. Although I have been a stay-at-home mom with young kids, I am currently a working mom with children in college, high school and grade school. The See Jane Work blog is for all woman, no matter what stage of life. As new, unique voices join the blog, my hope is that you will find a Jane, a voice, that resonates with you.
To get to know Laura and her family, click here for a short video, or you can read through a conversation we had……
Holly Bohn (HB): What did you do before you had kids? Wait—let me preface that. I’m not insinuating life before kids was more important. I’m asking because it speaks to your interests.
Laura Marshall (LM): I have a master’s degree in psychology, and I did some counseling work, but I also sold real estate and worked in the merchandising department at an art studio. I’ve done a lot of different things.
HB: I didn’t know about the degree. Are you psychoanalyzing me right now?
LM: [Laughing] No, everyone asks me that. For me, it’s more about hearing other people’s stories. Understanding their perspective and trying to help them. Growing up, my sister and I would play a problem solver game. We took turns being the counselor and the one with the problem.
HB: My sisters and I also played a counselor game, but we grew up watching Carol Burnett, so you can imagine how that went. We were not really solving problems, just performing silly therapist skits to make my mom laugh. So, when I hear the word analyze, it seems negative, but in reality it can be positive. You are seeking to understand, not critique. I like that perspective. What’s it like being a mom to 4 girls?
LM: I have very little margins of time and my memory (which used to be good) is gone.
HB: [sigh of relief] Oh, that’s good, so you’re not perfect. I like that in a person. Your girls are 10, 7, 5 and 2. Were you working when you had them?
LM: I worked during the first 2, but by the 3rd I chose to take a break. Growing up, I was more career-minded. Then I had the girls and had to figure out how/if I could do both. I actually didn’t plan any of my pregnancies. My third, Luciana, was adopted through the foster system. I simply found out how many children were in foster care in my community and my husband and I felt like we could help, so then came Lucy.
HB: You didn’t sit around thinking how sad the situation was, you took action—amazing. You mentioned that you didn’t plan your pregnancies or the adoption. Did you plan your blog?
LM: I purchased this terrible house and created the blog so that I could share the story of restoring it. A blog seemed like the best way to do that. I knew at least my extended family would be interested. Then other people started reading it, sharing it and asking me to write similar content for them.
HB: So how do you stay organized, writing part-time, blogging and taking care of 4 kids?
LM: I’m not always organized, I struggle in some areas. I will say that the important things are organized.
HB: I love that. It’s such a great way to look at being organized, focusing on what’s important. Your closet may look amazing, but if your finances aren’t organized, it’s a problem. I’ve heard you use the phrase “intentional living,” what do you mean by that?
LM: I’m deliberate with my choices. That means we do our best to build relationships and have adventures as a family. In regard to our daughters, we want to build a meaningful culture in our home. It’s also about being intentional in the day-to-day stuff, like where I shop and what I buy. We try to keep the big picture in mind and not get distracted by what everyone else is doing.
HB: You make choices, not to impress others, but to reflect the beliefs of your family?
LM: Yes, some of my intentional choices might seem like bad decisions to someone else. We bought a run-down house in a questionable neighborhood; some people may have thought we were being careless and putting our children in a bad situation. In reality, we were breathing life into a community and that community has changed our lives for the better.
HB: I can’t imagine anyone calling you careless, your life is a testimony of how much you do care. It could be said you’re not a planner, is that true? You must have long-term goals.
LM: I don’t look too far ahead. There’s a lot of things I would like to do, and I take small steps toward them. A goal with the blog is to provide an example of real life. I don’t always get things right, but I want to share my story because I know a lot of people can relate to being busy and pulled in many directions.
HB: And that is why I’ve asked you to do some writing for the blog. It’s important to me that women are real with each other. Let’s share our messes and successes.