The Entrepreneurial Journey and Setting Boundaries

On this episode of The Fire Inside Her, host Diane Schroeder dives into the importance of self-care and creating boundaries with her guest Brittany Miller, owner of Brittany Miller Socials. They discuss their experiences with social media, entrepreneurship, and parenting while prioritizing their mental and emotional health. Diane shares her journey of leaving the male-dominated fire service to start her own business and the role this podcast, and its focus on leadership, equity, and self-care, has been part of that. She also touches on the impact of setting boundaries when you’re a people-pleaser, and how it’s a continuous journey.

The episode closes with a conversation about the balance between personal and professional sharing on social media and protecting your brand and reputation. Listen in for inspiring insights and tips on creating a sustainable, fulfilling life, with boundaries that have the right amount of flex to fit your life.

Brittany is a mom, mystery buff, bookworm, home decor DIY enthusiast, and owner of Brittany Miller Socials. She grew up dreaming of the day she would become an entrepreneur, and studied business but took a safe job working for someone else. 9-5 work became challenging when she became a mom and with a lack of daycare, she was thrown into entrepreneurship overnight to support her family. She started with what she did best, growing entrepreneurs’ online presence, but quickly found that business owners needed more than regular content, they needed support. Through consultations and coaching, she began helping women ignite their business growth and share the passion that started it all. One year later, she’s been able to support over 20 businesses, launch a podcast and start introducing DIY products and courses to help women go from dreamer to entrepreneur and entrepreneur to ambitious CEO.

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Diane Schroeder [00:00:00]:

Welcome to The Fire Inside her podcast, a safe space for leadership, selfcare and community. I'm your host Diane Schroeder, and it is my privilege to be your guide on the journey to authenticity. An area in my life that I have really be struggled with for most of my life and have been very intentional about. Working with is setting boundaries and it is a lot harder than it sounds easy. In practice, you just tell people what you need and what's not okay and how you want to be treated, and yet it's really hard. I think for me personally, part of the struggle is because I'm a people pleaser and I want to make people happy and I want to be everything to everyone and take care of everyone. Part of it is also being the professional firefighter that I was for over half of my life. I fixed people's problems and what I've learned is when you start setting boundaries, not everyone is going to be super supportive or accepting. And the biggest lesson in that is that's not a you thing, that's a them thing. You have every right to set a boundary for yourself and whether that's not answering phone calls after 05:00 or speaking up and saying, hey, that doesn't really feel good when you talk to me that way. Some boundaries can be flexible and the best way that I can describe that is the ocean and how the sand is always there, the shoreline is there and the water is always there, yet sometimes the tide is higher than others, but you always know that the boundary is there. This week we talk a lot about boundaries with my guest and it was a great conversation. We also talk about parenting and we talk about a little bit social media and it was just really nice to speak with someone younger who is just an amazing human and really is working hard to do great things. Brittany is a mom, a mystery buff, bookworm, a home decor, DIY enthusiast and owner of Brittany Miller Socials. She grew up dreaming of the day she would become an entrepreneur, studied business, but took a safe job working for someone else. Nine to five. Work became challenging when she became a mom and didn't have daycare, she was thrown into being an entrepreneur overnight. To support her family, she started with what she did best growing entrepreneurs online presence, but quickly found that business owners needed more than regular content. They needed support. Through consultations and coaching, she began helping women ignite their business growth and share the passion that started it all. One year later, she's been able to support over 20 businesses, launch a podcast and start introducing DIY products and courses to help women go from dreamer to entrepreneur, an entrepreneur to ambitious CEO. If you're ready to unite your passion and business goals, I hope you will connect with Brittany soon. Hi, how are you? I always start with that or a random question.

Brittany Miller [00:03:49]:

Okay, let's do that. That sounds fun.

Diane Schroeder [00:03:51]:

My random question today is would you rather be a pizza tester and eat pizza all the time, never gain any weight as your full time job or a puppy photographer and take pictures of puppies all the time?

Brittany Miller [00:04:09]:

I think I would go with puppy photographer. What about you?

Diane Schroeder [00:04:12]:

I always go back and forth. It really depends. I think puppy photographer, I always get so giddy and happy with puppies. I love pizza, but sometimes I feel yucky after I eat it.

Brittany Miller [00:04:24]:

That is fair. Me too. And I feel like there's only so much variety with pizza. Whereas like, with puppies, you have new people bringing puppies all the time for pictures. So there's like a huge social element there. Also they're just like so stink and adorable. And I know my little ones are not going to be little forever and I'm going to have perpetual baby fever, but my partner is kind of at that point where he's not sure he wants more and I was like, okay, well, I'll take it like pseudo through puppies?

Diane Schroeder [00:04:51]:

Yes, puppies are good. They give the ovaries a nice, like, oh, okay, look puppies. Very nice. Are you impacted by the Canadian wildfires at all?

Brittany Miller [00:05:04]:

No, that's not my section of Ontario or Canada. I guess I'm in Ontario. I think those are out westmore.

Diane Schroeder [00:05:10]:

Okay. I wasn't sure because we had some horrible weather. It really impacted our air quality a few weeks ago and now it's really impacting the air quality on the East Coast. So I wasn't sure. I don't watch the news. I get snippets of it, like, oh, the air is really bad. Okay. Yeah, I stopped watching the news years ago. It was the best thing for my mental health.

Brittany Miller [00:05:31]:

Yeah, me too. Mom's, like, don't you want to know what's going on? I was like, no, ignorance is bliss in this case. I'm just going to live in my own world and do my own thing.

Diane Schroeder [00:05:40]:

Exactly. I want to know about social media and kind of what you do and all the stuff with your socials because it's fascinating to me as someone. I hate social media. I mean, hate is probably a strong word. I'm not very good at it because I'm not consistent and I don't feel like I can keep up with it. And it really to me, like my ego is like, it's because you're old and you're out of date and I should just stay on Facebook or whatever. I joke. My mom is more social media literate than I am. So how did you get to where you are to be your entrepreneur self for a year now?

Brittany Miller [00:06:14]:

It was kind of one of those coincidental entrepreneurial journeys. I just started it as like a hobby last year while I was on maternity leave, and then I found out I wasn't able to go back to my job. So I very quickly pivoted, and it became, like, my full time thing. Overnight, when my mat leave was running out, I kind of started social media, I guess, coincidentally, too. So I went to school for business, and then being the youngest employee at a few different places that I worked at after, they're just like, Here you go, you're young, you get it. Dude, I don't even have an Instagram profile. I was very much not one that was on social media, so I'm very self taught, but my employers kept asking me to do this stuff, so I was like, Well, I guess I better figure out how to do it. So I learned a lot that way. And then when I went on maternity leave with my first so she's turning four in September, so this was a little bit ago. I decided I wanted some human connection because she was born three months before the pandemic started. And then I was like, I am missing my family. Like, I'm really big on family, and I didn't have anyone to talk to. My partner was working nights and sleeping all day, so it was rough. So I started blogging because I love to write, and that was great, but then I very quickly realized that no one will read a blog they don't know exists. So I was like, okay, well, I guess I'm going to have to figure out how to promote myself on social media so that people will read my blog and then I can start having conversations and meet some really awesome human. So I did that, and I learned so much about social media. So I was talking with a friend, looking for some volunteer work with my second pregnancy. So about a year and a half later, and she's like, you're actually really good at this, and there's a lot of entrepreneurs in our city that need help, and we don't have anyone that's local. Would you be interested in helping out with this? So I said, sure, why not? It's kind of gone from there. So it's been a very roller coaster journey, but I love it, and I like social media because it's community focused and different. So I feel like that's why you, like, many other people feel like they struggle with social media or that they're not good at it. It's not because you're bad at it. It's just because they like to keep changing the rules. Not fair to any of us, but.

Diane Schroeder [00:08:15]:

I'm a rule follower. After most of my life in a paramilitary organization, I'm just like, tell me what to do and I'll do it. And I need a schedule and a routine and consistency. So when I get like, okay, I need to do X, Y, and Z however many times on these social media platforms, and you're right, then the rules change, and it's like, no, you need to do more of A, B, and C, a little less of Y, but maybe think of Z occasionally. And it's just very overwhelming because it's always changing. It takes a lot of time and I feel like for me, it just takes away from time of things that I want to be working on.

Brittany Miller [00:08:53]:

Absolutely, I get that 100%, which is why I enjoy what I'm doing. If I can help provide some clarity for other entrepreneurs, a suggestion from me to you is focus less on what the algorithms are doing and focus more on how you can provide value for your audience and create content that they're going to want to engage with. So as someone who has a podcast, you're in a fantastic position to just be sharing more about your podcast. So I was actually sitting down and thinking through this the other day for myself and my podcast. And I have a separate Instagram page for it that I want to do more with but in a realistic or in an unrealistic world. I would like to because I don't have time for this, but I would like to do a bio of my guest on Monday. Tuesdays my episode goes live, so I would do like a teaser of it. Wednesday I probably wouldn't post. Thursday I would probably do my favorite quote from the episode, and Friday I would post like the top three things that I found most interesting or relevant from the episode we talked about. That's four relatively easy social media posts to make just to promote my podcast, because it's content that I'm already creating and people are interested in it. They listen to my podcast, they follow me on social media. So that's something that you could look at doing too, if you wanted, and then throw in a couple of sales posts if you've got something that you're trying to promote to generate some income, and you're good to go.

Diane Schroeder [00:10:09]:

Wow, just like that. Thank you. I feel like I just got a very great social media tutorial.

Brittany Miller [00:10:17]:

Most people just overthink it, I think is the really big thing. And they're like, I need to be like a multimedia production manager and put out like, Hallmark movies every time I create a reel. I was like, no, for the most part, yes, that will look good and you might get okay results with it. But the people that really, really like you and want to stick around don't care about the production quality. They just want to learn from you and they want to get to know you.

Diane Schroeder [00:10:39]:

That is a really good point. I will be honest. I don't even know really how to do a reel. My sister in law does them and I see them, so that's a whole separate sidebar conversation that I need to figure out. But I'm like, I try to get the cool captions to pop up and I don't even know how to do that. So it's very much learning, I guess, for me, what I love about it, it's pushing me beyond my boundaries and stretching me into a completely different world. And I think that really tests my ability for leadership and just my capacity of learning something new and really pushes my boundaries. How do you with two littles? I'm curious and how do you find time for yourself?

Brittany Miller [00:11:21]:

That's a fabulous question. I actually have three littles, so my oldest will be I still consider her little, but she'll be four. And then I have a two and a half year old and then my son Rhett is four months now.

Diane Schroeder [00:11:31]:

How do you take care of yourself? Like, how do you find time for you and running a business? And I'm exhausted just hearing three under four.

Brittany Miller [00:11:39]:

It's a lot some days, and some days it does not feel like I take care of myself or that I have good balance, but a lot of it is just being aware. And I had to do a lot of rewriting for things that I was doing for myself. So I'm still kind of ramping back up after my pregnancy. But while I was even expecting still, I was still working out two or three days a week. And I went from doing, oh, I have to work out, to, you know what, I get to work out and I usually get to do it without my kids around. And that is self care. And it took me a little while to realize that and kind of appreciate that. Well, that's one of the big things that I do and that's part of my morning routine. So that is really huge for me. I try and look after myself first thing in the morning. So I do get up a little bit before my kids, so I have some quiet time, do some journaling, some reflecting, and then my workout, and then my partner watches them for a little bit before he goes to sleep in the morning. And then I try and take little bit of time after the kids go to bed for myself. So sometimes it's like a shower, shouldn't be self care, but I take what I can get some days and other days it's like a date night or going out with friends. It's just making a conscious effort to keep myself on the list because I have gone through periods of time where I was like, you know what? No, I need to put my head down and I need to hustle. And those times I feel like I was actually less productive than the times where I am looking after myself because my creativity was drained and it took me like two or three times longer to do something than if I had just taken the break and then come back to it an hour later.

Diane Schroeder [00:13:03]:

That is so profound. And I think it's really important to realize that it's not always about what's on your schedule and how you manage your time, it's how you manage your energy. And there are just some times where you don't have the energy to do what is on your schedule, and that is okay for all the reasons you just said. I find now that I'm trying to figure out how to manage my time and all that, I've been focused on sleep for 24 years of not getting great sleep. I'm like, I need a sleep routine. So that's my foundation. And we've been getting up at, like, between 530 and six, the same thing going to work out, meditate, do all my morning stuff. And then by 839 o'clock, I feel like, all right, I can tackle the day, but by two or 03:00, I'm like, all right, I've hit my peak, and now I'm on the Backhill slide of the curve, so I don't do any huge brain tasking at that point. And it's hard, it's getting better, but like this guilt of, oh, am I doing enough?

Brittany Miller [00:14:04]:

Yes, absolutely. I mean, you're doing a lot better than a lot of people that you're aware of. Kind of those things, you know, I look after myself in the morning, then I have really good energy and I can really work through things, and then I kind of take the afternoons and evenings slower and hopefully to look after yourself more. And I feel like a lot of people just aren't aware of that because I feel like somewhere they know that, but they're trying to fight against those natural instincts. And I was one of those people. I was like, it doesn't matter what time of day it is or what my energy level is. I should be working because I need income for my family, and it takes a lot of time to kind of move past that. So good for you there. And also, kudos for a sleep routine because I know, again, my productivity is like, zero when I'm tired.

Diane Schroeder [00:14:46]:

I'm sure you're tired all the time. I'm at a different phase of life, so thank God. My son, he prefers to sleep, really, than do anything else right now at this phase in his life. It's a bittersweet transition because he doesn't need me as much, and he wants to play video games and everything else. And I think that awareness is learning from being open and learning from other people and a little bit of being old, the beauty of that, and doing some work on myself, like, oh, wait a minute. And when I talk to people about creating a self care strategy and what works best for them, I'm like, I have to follow my own advice, or I'm kind of a hypocrite.

Brittany Miller [00:15:25]:

Yes, I feel like that's huge for a lot of things, so I call that personal integrity. And that's kind of one of my key words or phrases that I set for myself at the beginning of the year is I want to be better at practicing what I preach. As a social media manager, I often do for my clients before I do for myself. So there'll be like two weeks where I don't post anything on social media. Sometimes I'm okay with that because it's just the phase that I'm in in my business. And other times I was like, you know what? No, I really need to put my business first too, because it reflects on me and the potential people that are working for me. Like, what kind of social media manager is she going to be if she can't even manage to make a social media post every two weeks? And I do a lot of email marketing in my business as well, so I really try and send my emails out regularly and create new lead magnets and get sequences in place to like, welcome people to my list and all of those things because I know that they're good for businesses. But money sometimes comes first and your clients get put ahead of you. So I'm really trying to kind of work on fixing that paradigm. So it's a bit more of an even balance this year.

Diane Schroeder [00:16:25]:

Good for you for recognizing that. I was given this really great words of wisdom a couple of months ago and it was, don't set yourself on fire to keep other people warm. And that is just rattling around in my head so much because I feel like I've done that. I'm like, give, give, put everyone else first and then, like you just said, not bringing your authentic self or being worn out. And then now you can't do what you need to do to keep your business going. Have you found the community that you've built? Does that fill that void that you were looking for during the pandemic and when you started doing it as a hobby? And do you still love doing the social media? Because a lot of times I think people think, oh, this is a great hobby. I'm going to make money out of it. And then they're like, oh man, I don't even like it anymore.

Brittany Miller [00:17:12]:

I started doing it so that I could promote my blog and then I got a bit of traction and I tried to do the influencing thing for a while and have people pay me to promote their products. And then I started to feel kind of icky about that because I didn't like that I was constantly more or less trend topping. So I stopped about the same time that I started working on my business. So there are times where I don't necessarily enjoy creating content for my own business because it does feel a little bit more forced and scheduled and planned. But my personal page, which is separate from my business page, I still like putting content up there, I just don't always have the time for it. But it's more like fun family stuff, things that I'm doing just in general life and workouts. I talk a lot about my health and my nutrition, so it's very much like my personal page. And I still enjoy that aspect of it a lot. Especially now that I kind of took out the demand feeling I had to continue growing and promoting other people's stuff. Now I literally just do it because I enjoy it.

Diane Schroeder [00:18:06]:

That's a good boundary that you've set.

Brittany Miller [00:18:08]:

I find that so interesting for you to say because I feel like everyone I talk to is like, you need to set better boundaries. And then I talk to some people and they're like, wow, you're so good at it. So it really all just is about perception, I guess.

Diane Schroeder [00:18:20]:

I guess. Well, boundaries is a popular word right now. I've heard it, I feel like a lot lately and talking about it, and I think it's as women, definitely it's something that we aren't given that skill or even talked about. At least my mom never talked to me about setting boundaries because she was so busy doing everything for everyone else. I think she didn't recognize it. And especially as moms, as entrepreneurs, as really industrious women that are not afraid to just keep going and going and going, boundaries are a little weird. And I describe boundaries a lot of times as the ocean and the sand because they're fluid. And I think just like the moon controls the tide and sometimes the ocean comes further up, those are boundaries. Sometimes your boundaries can be a little less firm or a little more narrow, and then sometimes they're a little wider and they're fluid and depending on what's going on in life. And I think that makes it a little trickier because it's that gray area that really we all live in. And some people try to still live in a black and white world where it's very sequential and that's just not the way life works.

Brittany Miller [00:19:33]:

That is the best explanation I have ever heard about boundaries. And I love it. I really resonate with that. Yeah, there are certain times where I was like, okay, maybe my personal health it sounds bad to say, but is less of a priority because I don't know how familiar you are with the Canadian financial landscape. But as of yesterday, they announced yet another mortgage rate increase. So as a family on a variable rate, that is a huge blow for us. Our mortgage payments doubled in the last twelve months. And as someone who left their job assuming that my business would cover the expenses, that's been a very eye opening experience.

Diane Schroeder [00:20:12]:

That's scary. The financial landscape mortgage crisis in the US is slightly a mess too, for similar reasons. Our rates keep going up, but that would be very challenging if my mortgage payment doubled in a year.

Brittany Miller [00:20:29]:

All the things.

Diane Schroeder [00:20:30]:

Oh, man, like just a little more pressure. So yeah, it's that finding that balance of taking care of yourself. And I always think about that too. Balance is great. We talk about work life balance, and I don't believe in that. I believe that when you're at work, you should be at work and focused on work. And it's not so much balancing it it's about having a stable foundation. Not everything is burning at the same time. If I have a stable home life, I'm a lot more focused when I'm working on my work stuff and vice versa. If I know I'm doing the best I can and producing and not sitting on the internet all day while I'm trying to grow my business, then I feel better unplugging at night. And I think a lot of times people misconstrue balance and stability. But you've got to be stable before you can be balanced.

Brittany Miller [00:21:17]:

It's true. Yeah. And just like they say, I always remember this back from university. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs so you say the basic human needs is like food, shelter and water, and then you kind of go into relationship with yourself and then relationship with others. And I feel like the majority of the population right now is struggling with the bottom tier of our pyramid because it is such a crisis now with the rising cost of housing, and there's hardly places to rent either. Just in general, food got more expensive. So even if you were stable, the shift in the landscape, like you said in the last twelve months, has caused a lot of people to get knocked back to the bottom rung of their ladder. So everyone's like, why is the world unhappy? And why are we overweight? And XYZ. I hear politicians, I don't really follow politics, but I have heard a few politicians lately say those things and I was like, well, there's a really easy explanation for that, and it's because you more than ate through all of our disposable income and now we are struggling to make ends meet. So yeah, of course we're not really worried about opening businesses and traveling and doing all these things that support the economy because we can't even support our own families.

Diane Schroeder [00:22:23]:

Yeah, that's very profound. I couldn't agree more. And I think we forget about that because you're trying to put food on the table and take care of yourself and yet then unintended consequence, I think sometimes of social media can be but everyone seems to be doing fine and it seems perfect out there and what's wrong with me? And it becomes this spiral of shame and doubt and lack and mindset that becomes hard to get out of, but you need to get out of it so you can provide food and shelter. It becomes this just a mess.

Brittany Miller [00:22:58]:

And I feel like it's super hard as an entrepreneur, especially because your business is your perception. And I'm not advocating that anyone should ever be fake or things like that online, but it's really hard because you want to show that your business is doing well and that you're getting good results for your clients and things like that so that more people work with you. But at the same time, sometimes behind the scenes, you're like, oh, my goodness, what am I doing? How am I going to make this work long term? Because income is very fluctuating, at least for most entrepreneurs in their first three years of business. Let's say it's kind of a balance of how can we be real and authentic online while still also doing well for our business and providing for our family.

Diane Schroeder [00:23:38]:

Yeah. So how do you do that?

Brittany Miller [00:23:40]:

It's a great question, and I'm not sure that I have a perfect answer here, but I do try and talk a lot about kind of the struggles of entrepreneurship. And I probably don't talk about this as much as I would like to, but social media again, hard to do for myself when I'm trying to do for others, but just kind of being aware, yeah, I can't get these great results for my clients, but there's a limited amount of me to go around, and I just try and be authentic while still also promoting my business. And I feel like that's kind of why I have so many different social media accounts. So I have my personal account where I really talk more about the struggles of motherhood and being an entrepreneur and kind of those things, and then my business account where I'm talking a little bit more about business. So if people want to see what life for me is like behind the curtain, then they follow me on both accounts. And if they just want to learn how to grow their business, then they just stay kind of on my business profile.

Diane Schroeder [00:24:29]:

I've done that too. I have two separate profiles. I had a really great profile, and then I got locked out of it from Instagram a couple of years ago. That was the whole thing. But I took that as an invitation to just start fresh and build really slowly. But I do the same thing. I try to remember work is work. And I found that it takes a lot of stress and pressure off me if I don't get so hung up on it, if I'm just posting to my personal page or personal sites, because I don't even think I posted about my retirement, to be quite honest, on my main social media pages just because I didn't. It was more of a I get to decide what I share and what I don't share. Yes, and it doesn't have to be everything, let alone it doesn't have to be perfect. No one needs all the details. Some of it I feel like it's almost like I've gone backwards of no, I just want to keep some things personal for me. And maybe that's part of the entrepreneur journey of like, I don't want my whole world to be on display. And it was funny because I have a weekly email that I send out, and last week I talked about how sleep has really kind of restored my intimacy in my relationship a little bit, and my partner was like, that's pretty public. And I was like, oh, yeah. Okay. I mean, I didn't give any more details than that. Intimacy is a pretty wide topic to talk about, but I do feel like I have to be aware of that now. Like, okay, my brand is me and my reputation and all that and what I share and don't share. And I don't know if people think a lot about that in the entrepreneurial journey.

Brittany Miller [00:26:02]:

I don't think so. I feel like it's kind of one spectrum of the other. You either get the people that are totally open and will talk very actively about the details of that intimacy you were just talking about, and then you get people on the other end and they're like, you know what? My life is my life, and I don't want to talk about it on my business profiles. And I feel like there's few of us in the middle because it is such a gray area. And we're like, well, what is appropriate to talk about as a personal brand and what is too much and unrelated for those people that want to follow us for entrepreneurial stuff? So it's difficult. I think that comes back to what we were talking about earlier with boundaries in the gray area. And there's times in our business where we are comfortable sharing more of our personal life and then times where we want to just be more private.

Diane Schroeder [00:26:44]:

That's a good point. And also what comes to my mind when you talk about that is it's a lot about kind of that authenticity, right? Like, it's that gray area of I profess authenticity. I think it's important to just be genuine and real. And I think sometimes you can confuse authenticity with over sharing, and you can still be authentic and genuine and real and not share every finite detail you don't feel comfortable with because that's not authentic to you. And I also think about it comes to that gray area. It's leadership too. And I always go back to that's how I led, that's how I lead. It's kind of a gray area because I care so much about the people and the things that I do, and it involves what I'm in charge of. That makes it really difficult and challenging sometimes to have hard conversations. Or I am personally attached now. And now we have to have this really uncomfortable conversation and coming from a place of love and authenticity to do that.

Brittany Miller [00:27:37]:

Yeah, absolutely. And I feel like the same can be said even just in motherhood. There are a lot of times now that I'm kind of more aware of these things, that I'm coming to the realization that my parenting style is very different and that I'm really trying to break some of those generational habits and traditions, and it's having those hard conversations with my mom while still loving her. But it's like, we really need to talk about this because we're kind of blurring lines here and it's causing frustrations in our relationship.

Diane Schroeder [00:28:05]:

That is really tough, and that's so wise of you. I mean, I know we talked about age a little earlier, but that takes a lot of courage to do, to say, look, I love you, and this is how I'm going to parent moving forward. And I've struggled a lot with the same. Like I told my son a long time ago, it stops here. I'm not passing a lot of this stuff on to you. I want to set you up for success. And that's so easy to say when they're asleep, snuggled up in the crib yet then when they're hormonally melting down and having a moment and automatically following back to what would have happened to me at that age, in that moment, I'd be like, no, take a deep breath. Do this differently.

Brittany Miller [00:28:49]:

Yes, absolutely. The big thing for me right now in my relationship with my mom is all about self care. So I was talking to her a week or so ago, and I was like, you know what? I'm really burnt out at the time. We were going away for the night because my friend was getting married and my partner was doing the photography, so we had a hotel room. He was like, I'm really excited to kind of have a night away from the kids. Like, it's been a long time, and the just kind of need to regroup and recenter I need some self care because I'm feeling burnt out. And she just kind of went on this rant about how our generation is so selfish, that self care is not a thing and we shouldn't need to do this, and we're just looking for an excuse not to parent our kids. And I was like, okay, I'm done with this conversation now because I respect that that's your opinion, but I disagree. And I want to do things differently because I don't remember a lot of being little. And I know that my mom loved me and she was always there. But as a mom now, I can imagine how draining and stressful that was. My dad traveled for construction all the time, and she was, like, literally looking after me and my brother by herself most of the time. I can't even imagine that. And I know that she obviously made it through it, but it had to have been difficult. And I want to do things differently so that any frustration that I might have seen and not remembered isn't there for my kids.

Diane Schroeder [00:30:00]:

That's really beautiful. And I remember having similar conversations with my mom and I've had her as a guest on my podcast a couple of times now because she just turned 80 and her life has really changed since my dad passed away about three and a half years ago. And she really started to pick herself and she started to choose herself and really care about her health and her longevity and just what she likes and what she wants, and she's never done that before. So I feel like it's really come full circle that she is all about self care and being selfish with her time and what she wants and drawing boundaries, which gives me hope, because if she can figure it out at 80, I feel like, all right, this is something that I can do. And I would offer to you as well the same thing. It's hard to say it's not about you when it comes to our parents and our moms and all that stuff, because it's their stuff they need to work out. And by saying, look, you work on you, you do, you boo. I'm going to do me, and I'm going to try to change the cycle moving forward for my kiddos. And I think that's brave.

Brittany Miller [00:31:12]:

Hard to put into practice. I need my mom, and sometimes it's the case that I will. Okay, I'm just going to bite my tongue on this one and let it go because I really need her to watch my kids this week, and I don't want her to be angry. And other times it's like, no, mom, this has been a reoccurring thing that we've disagreed on, and we need to have a conversation about this now.

Diane Schroeder [00:31:27]:

Right? And good for you for having, like I said, those courageous conversations. That's really brave to do. And that is also a form of self care, to be quite honest, because it goes back to standing up for yourself, and there's nothing selfish about that. That's the brainwashing, I think, all of our generations. But since you're younger by a lot, I can say thank God for you guys for embracing that. And I always say we're the problem. The older generations, gen X, the baby boomers and some millennials are the problem. It's not the younger generations. You guys are much more open to taking care of yourself and doing what feels good for you and what's best for you and your choices and your family, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. It's beautiful.

Brittany Miller [00:32:10]:

I so appreciate you saying that, because it does not feel that way most days. It feels like we get a lot of shade.

Diane Schroeder [00:32:17]:

Well, yeah, and I think every generation does. And that's the hard part, too, right? I was the new kid in the fire service. I'm like, oh, you young kids, this, this and this. I'm like, Wait a minute. You all raised us, first of all, so how can you be angry at how I behave when it was your generation that raised me?

Brittany Miller [00:32:36]:

Speaking of which, I'd love for you to share some of your background because I feel like we've talked about me quite a bit, but my listeners won't know anything about you by the end of this.

Diane Schroeder [00:32:43]:

All right, so I spent 24 years in the fire service, grew up my dad even longer than that, really, because my dad was in the fire service my whole childhood. So there wasn't a moment in my life that I wasn't involved in the fire service. I was going to go away to do something different. And my grandma got sick and she really was pivotal in raising me because both of my parents worked and I didn't want to leave her. So I was like, I'll just become a firefighter. And I did, and I had no idea. I was pretty naive when I got into it. I thought it'd be really cool job, and it was. It was a good job. And then as I kind of promoted up the ranks in more leadership roles, I really saw the difference of it was 4% women, 96% men, so very male dominated, and I lost a lot of myself in the process, especially the first ten years. I just wanted to fit in. I wanted to be liked. I didn't make any female friends. I just really was heavy on the masculine energy because that's what I was surrounded by. I had a lot of trauma from my childhood that I just didn't really ever process, and then a lot of trauma from the job that I was not prepared for, to see so much hurt and suffering and just all the things. But when I really started to focus on leadership, it was really hard to make that shift of, well, no, this is really who I am. This is what I like. And then I went through a pretty dark period where I just went through a really messy, high conflict divorce, and I left the organization where I spent almost 20 years at to go to a different fire department, which is really rare in the fire service. Usually you stay from the time you get hired. I mean, it's a 30 year career. No one leaves. You stay the entire time. So to leave with almost 20 years in was pretty crazy. And I went to a new department that was much smaller, and it was really great and a lot of fantastic opportunities. And then I still just had this feeling of I want to do something different. I had started a blog in 2017, similar to you, but I had no idea how to promote it. And I just loved to write. Like, writing soothed my soul. And then I really found that I liked to speak and kind of talk about topics that weren't being talked about, whether it was ethics, equity, leadership, how to take care of yourself. And so the universe kept giving me different breadcrumbs to follow that trail. And I made the intention, I talked about it for probably the last three or four years, that if I leave, it's going to be for a laptop and an Internet connection. I thought I wanted to be a fire chief, and then I'm like, no, I don't want to be a fire chief. I really want to work for myself. I want that freedom, and I want to help the bigger collective. I want to help people learn how to take care of themselves in a way that works for them because there's not a one size fits all. It's really more of a framework and taking those concepts of building capacity in your life and what works for you because it's very different. And then ultimately creating a community of women who are work in male dominated professions and really need some of that feminine energy that's there. And I say it's kind of buried, right? They need to find the fire inside of them to just find that place. And I think for me and being in a male dominated profession, I found that groups of women were intimidating and scary and foreign because there just wasn't a lot of women. And I was always a tomboy. And to be girly was like, really a weird thing. And so to just embrace that femininity and I'm like, I'm sure I'm not the only one that works in a male dominated profession or that struggles with female relationships or wants more of that collaboration over competition. And so that's really what I'm setting off to do now, is create that community for women to do that. And the podcast has been a lot of fun to create that, because I just talked to amazing women like yourself that offer inspiration and just different perspectives, and it's just been a lot of fun. So I've really found a lot more joy than I ever found working in the fire service. And that was a really good job, just figuring out the other things.

Brittany Miller [00:37:00]:

Wow. Well, congratulations to you, for starters, because we talked about this before we were recording, but you have actually left now, and you are a full time entrepreneur, kind of doing your podcast and your blog, I assume. So good for you for kind of taking that leap.

Diane Schroeder [00:37:14]:

Yes, it is scary and probably the definition of insanity of leaving a very secure, stable job in this financial times. And it was a big leap of faith so far. I love it.

Brittany Miller [00:37:29]:

That's great. I am curious, though, because you said you kind of went through kind of almost a decade at the beginning of your career where you were kind of just so focused on fitting in. So what triggered you to kind of realize that it was time to change that paradigm and start looking after yourself?

Diane Schroeder [00:37:44]:

That is a wonderful question. I think a few things happened. I was really struggling in my personal life. I don't know. The best way to describe it is there was just something inside me that felt off. And I had a conversation with my grandmother. She was almost 100 at the time, and she was a very tough woman. She was very hard. She had a hard life. And she said she's like, I don't understand just be you. Be yourself. You have a lot to offer this world. There's no competition. Just do your own thing. And I was like, wow, okay, so I'm enough. And that's something that I just never really believed or even had the awareness of. And so when I started like, okay, I am enough. I can be more feminine at work, whatever that looks like, in a very unflattering uniform kind of world. And so I just trying to find different ways to express myself was kind of the beginning of it. And then I started to do the work on myself and really move some of those boulders and limiting beliefs that I'd had and healing a lot of the trauma that I've had throughout my life. And it was a slow, freaking messy, painful process that was really hard and still is at times, but that was kind of the triggering event. Like it was just kind of everything. And then when I went through the divorce, what I realized is it was really hard to go through a messy divorce in an organization that I grew up in, basically. So I'd been part of the organization since I was in my early twenties. And I worked really hard to have a good reputation and I always kept my personal and professional life very separate. And then when my life imploded, it was no longer separate. And what hurt the most was people were saying things about me and believing things about me that I was like, you know me, you know that's not true. No one cared what I had to say, so I just stopped because it didn't matter. Don't let a good story get in the way of the truth. And I just was like, it doesn't matter. I'm trying to fit in to be part of this organization that doesn't care, so I might as well just be me.

Brittany Miller [00:39:50]:

And I'm so sorry that you went through that, but I appreciate that you are seeing kind of the bright side of what was a very unfortunate situation. And then you're kind of in a better place now.

Diane Schroeder [00:40:01]:

Oh, absolutely. And this has been years, so it's probably been the last eight years, seven to eight years. So I can talk about it pretty easily now. And I'm grateful for it. I can look back and say, man, had that not happened, I wouldn't be where I am today. And the medicine in that was the universe gives you a whisper and then it gives you like a tap on the shoulder and then if you don't listen, sometimes it just cold cocks you right across the face and takes you out. And that's kind of what happened. But I'm grateful for it now.

Brittany Miller [00:40:34]:

Good, well, hopefully you've learned all the lessons the universe has to give you and you can just kind of enjoy it for a while.

Diane Schroeder [00:40:41]:

I feel like yes. And then something will happen. I'm like, okay, we're still not done yet. Awesome. I always tell that to my therapist. I'm like, God damn it, can we just stop? Can I just have like, a pass for a little bit? And he's like, It's really not how life works, but yes, to your point. I feel like maybe some of them are just little bumps, not like huge ravines that I have to cross over.

Brittany Miller [00:41:02]:

Being in such a male dominated industry. How different is it for you now, being a solopreneur? Because you are very much on your own, you get to be you. Is it bad if I say you look very feminine today?

Diane Schroeder [00:41:17]:

No, not at all. Thank you. I love it. I absolutely love it. It's been great. The first thing I did after I retired, I got my nose pierced. Like, nurturing the inner child in me and just really finding what I feel comfortable doing and who I am becoming, and it's evolving. And it's just been really fun to just be like, no, I can wear my hair down or I can put makeup, and then there are some days where I'm like, I'm not getting out of my pajamas and that's okay too. Instead of this impossible standard of I have to look this certain way or be this certain way, now I'm just kind of whatever I feel like in the morning when I wake up.

Brittany Miller [00:41:55]:

And it's very empowering to have that choice. Whereas before you would go to work and you had a very, I imagine, very strict uniform about what you had to wear even when you were not out in the fire truck, right?

Diane Schroeder [00:42:06]:

Yes, it was navy blue pants, navy blue T shirt, a bad shirt if I was in public. And towards the end, it was awful. I'd wear silly socks because that was kind of a way to express myself where I'd wear silly underwear, but that's a whole different but it made me feel good about myself because I'm like funny underwear on. So, yeah, it was really hard to be an individual, and I think it was always inside of me. And expressing myself has been a lot easier in the last four weeks than in the last 24 years, for sure.

Brittany Miller [00:42:37]:

Yeah, I bet. Tell me a little bit more about your podcast, which is yet another form of self expression that you stepped into.

Diane Schroeder [00:42:45]:

Yes. I started the fire inside her podcast in February. As you know, only 27% of podcasts are hosted by women, so the odds are stacked against us again. So it was bringing that voice into a very noisy, male dominated world of hearing stories about women who are on their journey to authenticity and how through leadership and self care and community, they share who they are and some of the decisions they've made. And it's been so much fun to meet people like yourself and just expand. My circle has been amazing and just really fun to do. I really enjoy it.

Brittany Miller [00:43:26]:

That's amazing. I remember when we were first chatting, I was like, man, I really like the name of your podcast. That's so cool. And it's so very fitting since you come from a background in the fire industry.

Diane Schroeder [00:43:35]:

I came up with that name almost ten years ago now, and I got the domain, and I was like, the Fire Inside Her. That's what I named my Ted Talk. I'm not sure the community. I feel like the community that I'm creating. I haven't decided on a name for that yet, but it probably won't be The Fire Insider. It might be something about the kitchen table. So, yeah, it's finding that fire inside of you. It just seems to be a constant in my life that I can fall back on.

Brittany Miller [00:43:59]:

Yeah, that's so cool. And it's kind of that piece of your identity that you still bring with you, even though you're kind of still evolving.

Diane Schroeder [00:44:06]:

Yes, well, and we're always still evolving, right? We should be we shouldn't be the same person as we were 20 years ago or five years ago or ten years ago. We should be changing and growing. And I think learning that has been really a powerful tool or powerful pill to take. Like, oh, I don't have to be the same person I was last year. I can keep changing and growing. Awesome. And the people who don't like it or who aren't comfortable, that's on them, that's their journey. So, yes, thank you for asking. Tell me a little bit more about your podcast.

Brittany Miller [00:44:36]:

So it's called Go Get Great with Brittany Miller Socials. It's very me. It's a mix of business, so I do some full episodes where I'm like, here are the social media platforms you need to use. And then I do a lot of episodes like this where I'm connecting with other women and entrepreneurs and we're sharing stories and things that we've learned in life and in business and kind of talking about how we can kind of make them all work together. Because I feel like that's the biggest struggle for all of us, just figuring out how we do this. Because there are so many expectations about you have to be a mom full time, but you also have to work full time and support your family. And when you have to do both, how do you do it? Because there are a fixed number of hours in the day, no matter how much we wish there weren't.

Diane Schroeder [00:45:14]:

I love that idea, and I appreciate the conversation because it's very real and there's no one size fits all.

Brittany Miller [00:45:20]:

So how do you make life and business work together?

Diane Schroeder [00:45:23]:

I'm still trying to figure that out. Well, the first thing is giving myself a lot of grace that I am not going to get it right all the time. And right now, I consider it a win. If I get it right a fraction of the time, I look ahead at my schedule and I try to prioritize what it looks like based on taking care of myself first thing in the morning and getting those needs met and just looking at my parenting time with my son and so really trying to frontload a couple of those days while honoring my energy and then being open and just continuing to do what I love and being open to invitations as they come and sticking my neck out there. And I'm so grateful to have an amazing, supportive partner who just he believes in me. And it's really nice to have someone else to believe in myself besides myself. To be like, hey, yeah, you're doing okay. No pressure, and really just trying to figure it out. I think grace is the biggest thing I'm learning right now, is that I know that this is a priority and I need to do this. And also just from studying and taking classes and all the things I also want to do it right from the beginning as far as foundationally, not necessarily success wise, but if I can create a schedule now to be in the lifestyle I want three years from now. But if I can act and function that way now I'm in my logic brain. I'm like, okay, then I build that system now instead of waiting for three years to try to pivot and change it.

Brittany Miller [00:47:01]:

You know what? That is sage advice, let me tell you. Because when you first start a business, you like, go hardcore 24/7 all the time. It is all you do because you feel like that's what you're supposed to. But then eventually you realize you've now taken on so much that in order to keep that capacity, you have to keep those hours, which is the exact opposite reason why anyone starts a business. So that's kind of where I'm at in mine right now. Like, I need to keep going. I need to make money, but also I'm not willing to sacrifice another year of my life still working 24/7, been and there, done that and it's not working.

Diane Schroeder [00:47:32]:

Yeah, so I see that with people and I hear that from courses and everything else and trying to find that balance because it's so alluring to be like, oh, but I can just do this this time doesn't work for you. How about we record at 09:00 at night? And just not doing that and being okay with that person, it's just not a good time right now, and it's not going to work out. For example, like us, right? Like, we were supposed to record this a couple of months ago and then life happened and everything else, and yet now here we are. And I feel like having faith in the universe with that has been really another hard thing to learn. But it seems to be working. I was stressed out about getting guests for my season three podcast. I was like, oh no, how am I going to find guests. And sure enough, now I'm getting people requesting, like, hey, I'd like to be a guest on your podcast. So it does work out, and I believe that the universe conspires to help you if you let it.

Brittany Miller [00:48:31]:

Nice. That's good. I agree. I'm also still learning to trust the universe. It's hard when you need money in the bank account, and the universe doesn't always do money.

Diane Schroeder [00:48:41]:

Yes. I can talk a good game now because I prepared for this before I left my job. And six months from now, I might be in a very different space. I will have to relisten to this and be like, okay, just calm down. It'll all work out.

Brittany Miller [00:48:57]:

Yeah, good. One of the other questions that I really like asking my guests, if you're open to it, is what is one of the big failures that you've had and what have you learned from it since? Because I'm trying to learn, even for myself, to reframe failure as a stepping stone towards what we're working towards instead of when I was younger, failure felt like the be all and end all.

Diane Schroeder [00:49:18]:

That is a really powerful question. The first thing that comes to mind, and this is what I have to remind myself and I tell my son all the time, is people are not failures. So it's, first of all, separating the incidents that happened that didn't go as planned, that's the failure. I am not a failure. You are not a failure. My son is not a failure. What happened was the failure. So I think really processing that and realizing that I'm not a failure when things go wrong is the first part of the answer. And oh, God. Just one. I feel like there's so many probably one of the biggest failures that totally changed the trajectory of my life was not getting a promotion. One of my organizations that I worked for, my first organization, I had tried several times to promote to a different spot, and there are a lot of reasons that it didn't happen. You know, I tried three times, and the last time I was you know, I had all the right education, I had checked all the boxes, and there weren't a lot of people competing for the one spot. So the standards were lowered, and they got rid of an education requirement and stuff like that. So I was already in this victim mindset like, this is not right. It's not fair. One of the people that were evaluating shouldn't have been in the room, and I had made that to the chief. I was like, I don't think this is really fair to put this person in the room with me because of events that were going on. And he's like, oh, don't worry about it. It's not going to impact your chance of getting promoted. Long story longer. I didn't get promoted. I was not selected. And I was, like, crushed because what did I do wrong? I've done everything right. Me, me. Poor me. Poor me. And then finally, I was like, you know what? I've got options. I can leave. It was that moment, and it was probably six months before I actually left the organization, but it just changed my mindset. And it gave me the courage to leap to a different organization. And then building on that, gave me the courage to leave again after four and a half years, to not go anywhere else but to pick me. I think that was probably a really defining moment in the last several years.

Brittany Miller [00:51:41]:

Wow. Good for you. Again, unfortunate circumstances, but good for you.

Diane Schroeder [00:51:47]:

Yeah, I mean, it was really messy, and it was really hard, and it was really emotional and sad and all the feels. It was a huge boundary that picked me, and it's worked out pretty good. But my question to you would be if you could give one or two pieces of advice on how choosing yourself has really created a foundational change in who you are and how you come to the world, what would that be? What advice would you give to that? Why it's not selfish to take care of yourself?

Brittany Miller [00:52:24]:

Really good question. I have to give a little bit of background info to answer this. So my partner Grayson and I got together probably a little over five years ago. So we were together for a while. It was like a whirlwind. We got a house probably a little sooner than we should have, did a lot of renovations, got pregnant with our first child unexpectedly, COVID hit, and things were hard. His work shifted him from, like, a straight days position to an overnight position because he took time off, because I had all the COVID symptoms. Turns out I was expecting our second. But we didn't know that for two weeks until the test came back positive. The pregnancy test, not the COVID test. And it caused a lot of issues in our relationship, and we were really struggling. And I was like, you know what? We need to go to therapy. We need help. We're not communicating well, and we're just beating the same bush, and we need to stop. And he didn't. And eventually, I was tired of asking, and I said, this is the ultimatum. We do this or we're done. He was like, all right, okay. So then we separated and lived with my parents for a while, and then I needed out of my mom's house. I love her. So we purchased a house together, which, in the world of normal, is not normal. Like, you don't buy a house with your ex. And then we were living together. He was in the basement, and I was upstairs. And then I decided I wanted another child. And my attempts at dating in the middle of a pandemic while we weren't together were not going well. So I was like, you know what? If I'm going to have another child, I'd rather be with the same one as my last two. Parent wise, it makes life easier. So will you help me? So we did and I did that and that was very unusual. But kind of the long story short for this is that we're actually back together now. So I'm really glad that I listened to my own instincts about what was good for me and my family and not have some random stranger in the basement. Because if he wasn't here and around and supporting me throughout a very difficult time financially for us as I switched to this new career and leaving my other job and just COVID, ongoing COVID in general, we would not be back together and very happy right now because I probably wouldn't have bought a house with them. And we would have had so much distance between us that there would never have been an opportunity to reconcile. So really just kind of doing what I knew was best for me and ignoring everybody else has had such a wonderful impact for myself and my happiness and also for my family. Like my kids got their dad back, which not many people can say.

Diane Schroeder [00:54:42]:

Wow. That's a very vulnerable and courageous story to tell. So thank you for that. That's awesome. And I can tell you seem very happy, like I can see your smile and took care of what's important to you and I love that. I think it's awesome.

Brittany Miller [00:54:56]:

Thank you. Did you wanna ask anything else before we wrap up? I feel like we've been talking for a while, this is going to be a long episode.

Diane Schroeder [00:54:46]:

Yeah, I feel like I'm good. How about you?

Brittany Miller [00:54:48]:

No, I feel like that's everything.

Diane Schroeder [00:54:49]:

Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to listen to this episode. Curious on what to do next? Go ahead and follow wherever you're listening to this podcast so you can get updates each week when new episodes are released. And head on over to audio for a free audio to help you get started on your self-care journey. Until next time, remember you are a badass and you are not alone.