Shannon Ivey is a story/theatre artist and the founder of the #whatshesaidproject podcast.
I met Shannon at an event for the Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network. She was a facilitator and participant in the WREN Story Corps for Columbia women last summer. It was a free event I saw publicized on my Facebook feed, and I took advantage. I even almost followed through on that podcasting 101 training I received.
Shannon stuck out during those events. She’s vibrant. Fully engaged when either talking or listening. But mostly I kept noticing that she had brought her daughter along. And that may be why I’ve continued to follow her story through social media. She’s a mom. And it shows in all the things.
Isn’t that just like all of us? Motherhood shows in all the things.
It’s not just our hearts and minds, it’s our pocketbooks and our daily schedules too. A pandemic has enmeshed us even further. In many cases, we are all at home together, battling school and jobs and competing hobbies.
Shannon appeared to be succeeding in that tight space. So I asked her to share with us and she kindly agreed. (This is a Shannon characteristic. She does kindness well.)
Q. Shannon, first things first. I’d love to know how motherhood has shaped your career path. Any patterns there that come quickly to mind?
Actually, my first career in theatre was halted by motherhood. And then, my divorce put the nail in that coffin. A theatre schedule did not mix with solo parenting duties. But I did begin to weave things in, like storytelling and story slams. Parenting made myself shift.
Q. Well, life has continued to change with this pandemic. What’s your creative life update today?
I was let go because of COVID, so I had to assess. How can I be home and make a living? I finally launched my podcast during this pandemic. I moved from wanting to do it, to trying to do it. I gave myself permission to be brave and to be OK with being messy. My podcast led to interviews with black and indigenous women of color who are leaders. They have energized me and I’m now looking at two partnership opportunities.
Q. How did you balance your solo parenting with that work?
I am an artist. I am raising an artist. Her father is an artist. I take great care of my daughter’s artistic self. But I am learning to value my own artist too, and while I’ve had to adapt my own creativity into new areas, my confidence is expanding. I remember that parenting was a choice that I made. I do a lot of bargaining at home. For instance, she gives me time during the week and knows that we will get a smoothie together on Fridays. (She still interrupts some.)
Q. That word bargaining makes me think of a Facebook post I saw about your daughter and a haircut…
Yes. She had been asking me for two years to cut her hair and we did that together recently.
Q. I felt like you were teaching me something when I read those posts. You seek to empower women and I felt like this was your own experience of releasing power to your daughter. Is that true?
She has beautiful hair. And I guess I was attached to it. But I realized that it was her choice. She could choose to express her femininity, or not express it, in any way she chose. And she loves it! A part of saying YES to her about her hair and doing it (cutting it) with her made me think that if we can talk about and do this together then we can talk about and do hard things together.
Q. That’s huge! I want that same relationship with my son. Now, switching focus a bit. I know that you are teaching some online classes that can give us moms some confidence as we work from home. Can you give us a couple of ZOOM confidence building tips?
Working from home is so different! It’s unusual to bring our husband or child or pet or laundry to work with us. Isn’t it? And that’s what happens in our home when we turn on a live meeting. First I would say to anyone, check your background. Is there something there that you don’t want people to see? You don’t have to invite them. Push things to the side or use an app that allows you to upload a picture behind you.
Second, don’t feel bad about bargaining with your family members (or pets!) There’s a lot of give and take required during this time.
Shannon, so many thanks for sharing with us.
Moms to See in the 803 is a series highlighting local moms who are making a difference in our community or in business. Want to tell us about an inspiring mom who is doing something great? Tag us on social media @ColumbiaSCMoms with the hashtag #Momstoseeinthe803 or send us an email!