Ep 16: Kirbee Miller on Passion and Purpose

Ep 16: Kirbee Miller on Passion and Purpose

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Kirbee Miller on Passion and Purpose

Entrepreneur Kirbee Miller joins Lorilee to discuss how she navigates life as a creative, caregiver, partner, and founder. Kirbee runs Nashville-based lifestyle brand KiNiMi Kitchen, where she channels her culinary expertise and love of cooking to foster community and connection. She also holds degrees in biology and chemistry as well as a Masters in healthcare informatics. The two connect over their respective paths toward authentic self-discovery — and how those journeys are rarely linear!

Highlights: 

  • On Kirbee’s playlist: “I Am Light” – India.Arie
  • Kirbee’s path from healthcare to launching her own brand
  • Food as a powerful connector of people
  • Finding the safety to just be human
  • Embracing the nonlinear journey
  • Her relationship with gratitude
  • Finding balance in life 
  • One tool for our G&G toolbox

Sponsored by Her-Bank.com

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Episode 16 – Kirbee Miller Transcript

[00:00:00] Lorilee Rager: Hi, I’m Lorilee Rager and this is Ground and Gratitude. It’s a podcast about designing the life you want, one that not only grows but also gives.

Before we start the show, I want to tell you about our sponsor, Her Bank. Her Bank by Legends Bank goes well beyond banking. For me, they have filled in the gaps in areas like financial literacy and helped my own confidence when it comes to banking and business decisions. Trust and relationship are really first and foremost for Her Bank. Visit Her-Bank.com to learn more about banking from a woman’s perspective. Her Bank is a brand of Legends Bank, and Legends Bank is member FDIC equal housing lender. Now onto the show.

My guest today is the incredible Kirbee Miller. Kirbee is an entrepreneur with degrees in biology and chemistry, a master’s in healthcare informatics, and a heart in the kitchen. Her business is a lifestyle brand that offers people the chance to connect through food. She provides culinary experiences, events, community recipes, plus her own brand of popcorn. She has such a warm energy and passion for connection, not only in the kitchen, but across the table in authentic conversation. She is a creative, a caregiver, and someone I have been so fortunate to connect with.

Welcome Kirbee. Thank you so much for joining me today. 

[00:01:56] Kirbee Miller: Thank you for having me. I just love a good conversation with people that, it’s meaningful, you get little nuggets out of it. So I’m excited to spend some time with you today. 

[00:02:09] Lorilee Rager: Well, thank you, thank you. I agree with the nuggets. There is not a time that we haven’t talked, or a podcast or something or TV show that I’ve seen you on, that there’s not been a nugget and a takeaway. So it really does mean a lot for you to be here and give me a little bit of your precious time today.

[00:02:28] Kirbee Miller: I appreciate that. And I think, who knows if this will make it to the final version, but I think it would be helpful if people knew how long we’ve been trying to do this. It just normalizes real life. You know, real life comes up and there are curve balls, but one thing that I trust, even when I encounter barriers or it seems like, why is this just not connecting? I trust the timing. If life has taught me nothing else, it has taught me to trust the timing of my life, trust those connections. And so what I hope and what my intention is for this is that the timing is just right. And the people who will hear this when it comes out, it’s perfectly aligned. But if any of you are listening and you have felt like the pieces just are not matching up in your life, just know this has been months in the making. 

[00:03:21] Lorilee Rager: Yes, amen to that. Absolutely. Because it, and it was really important to me to continuously, to hopefully communicate to you that it’s like, I want this to be something that’s not done painstakingly or feels like an agenda item or difficult or, yeah if time and energy doesn’t allow, yeah, it’s just not the right time. Or if things happen or 

[00:03:49] Kirbee Miller: Things happen. But then when you finally get to connect, it’s like, ha, okay, let’s go. Because this is something that I’ve wanted to do since our mutual friend Brittany told me about you. And from the first time that we had a conversation, there’s just those connection points with people where you’re just like, huh, we have not walked the same life path, but I know that you can understand. I know that you can see me. I know that we can connect and have real conversation. And so I’ve been looking forward to this. 

[00:04:23] Lorilee Rager: Well, thank you. And it is, there’s a, there’s a gut feeling that I know a lot of, I feel like creatives, entrepreneurs, um, what I call HSPs, highly sensitive people, who, who feel things a little deeper, we just know, we have this gut feeling, when somebody is real and safe and in good to connect with. And I, I did get that vibe from you day one. And Brittany did back it up. She did, she was in the amen corner there backing it up.

[00:04:55] Kirbee Miller: I love it, I love a good amen crowd. 

[00:05:00] Lorilee Rager: That’s right. That’s right. So it’s worked out very well, very well. So, okay. One of the things, the first question, which I genuinely love music and I think it’s really important to healing. I think what you, even the music I work to, even the music, if I work out, uh, or walk or meditate, whatever it may be, music is important, I feel like. And so I wanted to know what song is on repeat on your playlist today. 

[00:05:31] Kirbee Miller: I love that question. So, a song that’s on repeat often, including today, is a song by India.Arie, and it’s called I Am Light. And I loved that song for the very first time that I heard it. You know, There are certain sounds and tastes and conversations that can transcend time, they kind of take you out of the moment. And that’s what that song did for me. And it really just articulated what I think a lot of us go through. It’s like, I’m not any of the things that have happened to me in life, none of the things that I have discarded, none of the negative feelings, none of the weight of generational things that I inherited, that I didn’t ask for. Like, I’m really none of those things. And I declare that I’m light, and I know that, I hold onto that. And that song has been on as I’m jamming out on the interstate, smiling singing it. Um, it’s come on and, you know, had a sing along with it in the shower through some really heavy tears, during some of the hardest moments where life threatened that definition of who I was. So one that’s on repeat often is I Am Light by India.Arie. 

And another one, uh, because I like choices, um, there’s another song that’s a little bit more fun. And it’s called, um, I’ve Got Money Everywhere, and it’s a very fun song. So if you’ve never heard that song, Google it, jam out to it. But it really, as I’m on a journey and many other people may be on a journey, just healing your relationship with money and abundance and what you deserve and all the things that we’re unpacking in your journey to evolve on this path. It’s just like kind of a fun song that just reminds you that if you work hard and you are aligned, that financial abundance isn’t a bad thing, and it’s okay to have money everywhere because, um, when you do well, and that includes financially, you can do even more good. So those are two of my fun songs that are often on repeat.

[00:07:49] Lorilee Rager: Those are wonderful jewels. I mean, just in the titles alone, but when you think of money, you think of abundance, and light, very strong words. Very, very good energy from it. And it’s interesting, it made me think of, again, I go back in my own experience as creative, as a creative, as an entrepreneur, you know, money is a major stressor. I mean, a major stressor, and it’s a vulnerable thing to talk about sometimes. And, and, uh, it’s probably what sparked my worst ER-level panic attack 

[00:08:24] Kirbee Miller: Wow. 

[00:08:24] Lorilee Rager: was trying to make payroll for my business, and living in scarcity and alone and secret and, and things like that, um. 

[00:08:35] Kirbee Miller: You said something there with that scarcity and secret. Um, so because many of us, myself included sometimes, are just imploding in plain sight, uh, cause we have this veneer up, but we’ve got all these chaotic thoughts and these insecurities, but because we feel like we don’t deserve help or that we should know better. Or if we speak up and give voice to what we’re experiencing, it invalidates all the hard work that we’ve put in. And you don’t want someone to see you as less than, so you just really suffer in silence. And it’s such an odd visual, because it’s almost like we’re close to each other in proximity, or have easy access to people by Instagram or text message, but you really have no idea what’s going on behind the scenes. So, um, I just love your vulnerability and sharing that story. Because in that same moment people were like, oh my gosh, you’ve got a business, you’ve got employees, you’ve got this. And you’re just like, wow, yes, that’s true, and I’m really having a hard time. 

[00:09:41] Lorilee Rager: Exactly. You feel like you’re in this, like you said, the silo. You could be in a room full of people and you, you really think you’re the only one. And, um, and there’s so much goodness in this fear and scary time of when you’ll let it out and when you will confide. You really only need one person. I’m lucky enough to have, you know, two or three, but you really only need one person. It doesn’t take the whole village and not everyone has to know, you have someone that you can trust.

[00:10:12] Kirbee Miller: That’s one of those tricks of adulthood is learning how to navigate finding those people, because all of us have been in those situations where someone has not been safe or they haven’t been a good steward. So you’re just like, well, I’m not doing that again. But the way that we’re designed, and that is on my post-it note to ask God about, I have a running list. But the way that we’re designed is that we need connection. We need people. And when we try to do it alone, we’re going to hit those roadblocks. I’ve tried it, still try it. Because you just feel like if I could just get this neat, in order, and I learn something else, or if I work harder, if I pull another all-nighter, then I can have it figured out. And tomorrow will be a fresh day and I’ll feel how I want to feel. Well, how is that working out after two decades, you know? 

[00:11:07] Lorilee Rager: That’s right. Yeah, you’ve tried that again, and again, and again, kind of getting the same results. Yes. Maybe, maybe listen to that little voice inside. That’s whispering sometimes, it’s not even screaming. It’s just whispering. So, uh, beautiful stuff. Okay. So, I wanted to ask, um, my topics here, I called “degrees and desserts” because I want people to know your story. I want, there’s so much goodness in everything that I’ve learned about you, and, um, I would love it if you would, if you wouldn’t mind to tell us a little bit about your story, because you have this love of learning and this love of food. And, um, tell me a little bit about that. 

[00:11:58] Kirbee Miller: Yes. So I have always been with kind of a collection of varied interests from the time that I was very, very young. And I’ve learned to fall in love with it now as an adult. When you’re younger and you’re trying to put yourself into a box, that can kind of be a, a chaotic world to live in. Like, wait, why do all these things interest me? And when people are telling you, you got to focus on one thing. Uh, so my story really, I’ve just kind of been that person that’s always loved details and the analytics and figuring out the “why” behind things, the real and concrete things, what dots can we connect. And then I equally have been a lover of creativity, coloring all the way outside the lines, and pulling together things that seem seemingly unconnected. And so that took me on a journey as a kid where I would take my sister, who was 10 years older than me, her science books, and study those. And then I would also go and take the large boxes from deliveries at our house and paint them and turn them into like a palace. 

So I always had this mixed bag of things going on. And fast forward into adulthood, when you’re starting to make those concrete choices about your life, I pursued degrees in biology and chemistry, uh, with a focus on healthcare and medicine. And I spent a lot of time in that space and I decided instead of going on into, um, medical practice as a clinician, I went on to get my master’s in informatics, which is really the intersection between technology and people, and really helping to advance how we take care of people with the aid of technology. That’s always been something that I’ve loved. How can we do this better? If we’re going to spend our time, how can we do this better? 

And I had a love affair with helping people be the best version of themselves, always. Um, I was thrust into helping to caregive for my father, my biological father, when I was seven years old. And so I’ve just kinda been hardwired to say, here’s what we’re dealing with. How do we do this better? And so when I was thinking about my corporate career and pivoting from being a clinician, I was like, hmm, how can I use my natural skills and abilities to make sure that we’re doing the right thing, the smart thing to help more patients and help clinicians? So that was my, my career that I was building in healthcare technology for a large medical center here in Nashville. 

Alongside that, I like people. And so when you work in technology, there aren’t many females, there aren’t many young females, and there aren’t many brown people. Oftentimes you will find a lot of people in check shirts and khakis who prefer to stay in their cubicle and not talk to folks. That just wasn’t me. So alongside that technology career, I really gave life to something I’ve been doing all along. I gave it more of a formal sense and created a lifestyle brand, kiNiMi Kitchen. And really the intention behind that was to meaningfully connect people through food. Because food is a powerful equalizer. And I’d seen that my whole life. I started cooking when I was five years old and I’d see how my invention in the kitchen would pull people together and then be like, you did this? Absolutely. And then I also saw how food allowed people a space where they didn’t have to qualify for each other’s time. You didn’t have to say, well, this is why this is important. This is why I really need you to pay attention to me. When you got around food, it was really just, oh my gosh, that’s delicious. Pass this, can I have some more of that, what is that special thing? And I noticed that very early on. So then, in launching that brand that was my intention, to create spaces where people could simply be human. 

Because uh, going through multiple childhood traumas and trying to cobble together the pieces of me while I was trying to still discover what me was, I learned the importance of really paying attention to who people are past the veneer that they present. And so for me, it was really important to create spaces that were inclusive and where people can really see that that puzzle piece that you might be missing may rest in the person that you would never talk to because of how they look or their age or their career, or because you didn’t feel as though you are worthy to talk to them, or maybe because you felt you were too good to talk to them. I wanted to create spaces where we kind of left all of that at the door. 

And so in that, that took me in so many different directions that I, I would say that I couldn’t imagine, but I really did imagine. And I feel as though that quote that says “imagination is the preview life’s coming attractions” is absolutely true. Imagination isn’t just something that we visit to escape our reality, I think if you’re really open to it, your imagination gives you a highlight to who you actually are outside of everything. So for me, that’s kind of the story of creating this corporate career and then a lifestyle brand that really gave life to this, this vision that really started germinating when I was very young. Just, how can I connect to people? How can I guide conversations that are transformational and meaningful and medicinal? And for me, the gateway to that was gathering people around food. And that since has evolved into other things that I’m passionate about as far as speaking and hosting events where people get to show up. And my goal is that we leave better, all of us, than when we entered the room. So that’s been my journey so far, and I hope someone listening to is encouraged. If you don’t fit into a singular box check, all of them. Color outside of them. Because giving life to that passion, giving voice to something that was somewhat nebulous and people are like, wait, you have these degrees and you’re doing what? Uh, has literally taken me around the globe to share what I love and to connect with people. And that theory has proven true that food is a powerful connector and, uh, we, we need each other more than we probably realize. 

[00:18:31] Lorilee Rager: Yes, we really, really do. And, you know, in, in my story with recovery, um, connection and community is really the key core way to, to live a clear and sober life. And you have to have that authentic connection. And I wanted to ask, is there, do you think, um, do you, do you notice, or it sounds like you literally picked up on this when you were five years old, but how people let their guard down when they sit at a table and have this food to share? 

[00:19:08] Kirbee Miller: Yes, 100%. I noticed that and I fell in love with that. Because being a person who is multihyphenate, multi-passionate, and feeling like maybe I didn’t always fit in completely anywhere, I craved that feeling where I could take a deep breath and where I could, um, show myself without careful editing. And so for me, being able to see people realize that you don’t have to be anything else other than you, and how just relief washes over them, it’s powerful. 

But I didn’t, I have learned to appeal to our conditioning. And here’s what I mean by that. When I host virtual culinary experiences for corporations, or if I host an in person event that has the intention of gathering people around good food and then guiding the conversation, I appeal to, appeal to our conditioning. I say, okay, before we get started, there are two very important things to make sure that you’re in the right place. You kind of see people stiffen up, and they’re like, I knew it was coming. You kind of came in here like, I know it’s not me, I’m a bad cook, what question is she going to ask? Like, how do you mince? Like, you just see them like ready to count themselves out. And I say, okay, you know, get kind of serious and okay, this is what we need before we can get started. Before we can move forward. And I say, are you human? And they kind of chuckle like, yes. And i say, do you get hungry? Yes. Okay, good. 

[00:20:49] Lorilee Rager: Good. 

[00:20:49] Kirbee Miller: And you just kind of see, because that’s all you need. I don’t care how many degrees you have, how many commas you have in your bank account, how many relationships that have failed, how many dreams are still on the vine, how many accomplishments. We all get hungry, on a few different levels, both physically and spiritually. And so for me, when you know that you belong, and those are the only qualifiers you, your guard does come down. And I’ve noticed that from events that I hosted in some of the most affluent neighborhoods, all the way to an event that I used to put on in east. Nashville, um, that was a community brunch. I would just go and I set up, someone had a venue there, and I would invite people in from the neighborhood, the people who had been there for awhile, and the people who were kind of coming in with that wave of gentrification, and people you kind of see and be like, well how much does it cost? Like, I didn’t sign up. I’m like, no, you’re here, just get in here. Like literally recruit different people. And the conversations that happened, um, were just so powerful and so beautiful. And it was just really highlighting that this is what I was designed to do, is to help people realize that we can connect in this way. And anything else that has been playing in my head, that’s counted me out, maybe I can question that, maybe it’s not true and that can be developed and explored over some good food. 

[00:22:25] Lorilee Rager: Ooh, that is so important. I love how you just said, maybe, maybe what is not true, that you, you could question that and you can really let your guard down because right now we’re just, we’re just here to be human and hungry.

[00:22:39] Kirbee Miller: That’s it. That’s it. 

[00:22:41] Lorilee Rager: That’s the only agenda. 

[00:22:42] Kirbee Miller: That’s right. 

[00:22:44] Lorilee Rager: And that’s a beautiful common thread no matter what zip code you come from. So it’s really powerful. And I can see the connections, um, from your journey from five years old to now. And, and you you’ve used the word humans so much, even when you were talking about technology and healthcare, and then human again with your childhood, and human again, with, with feeding and nourishing people. It’s, it’s a common thread, no matter laptops or napkins.

[00:23:23] Kirbee Miller: That’s right. That’s right. It’s a common thread. And for me, I had a complicated journey with being human. And here’s, here’s what I mean by that. We won’t, we won’t take a total deep dive into all of it, um, but, um, perhaps you can identify with this, perhaps someone listening can identify with this. When you have a complicated childhood where sometimes you bear the burdens of your parents’ unhealed trauma, uh, and it’s not safe to just be human. 

[00:23:58] Lorilee Rager: No. 

[00:23:59] Kirbee Miller: In order to have safety and acceptance and sometimes a very tattered version of peace, you have to almost be super human. You know, everything had to be perfect. Things weren’t good enough, and when they weren’t good enough there were severe consequences. And so for me, I had a very complicated relationship with just being a kid, and being human, and what did that mean, and making mistakes. And that just was not safe. And so for me, I do realize that that, that’s not healthy and you don’t get to explore and become the full version of yourself if you can’t just be human. If you are playing a role or looking to other people to find that glimmer of acceptance, or the cooling of their anger to make sure that you can be safe for another couple of hours, you just can’t, um, you can’t be the fullest expression of yourself. And I know that’s what we’re here to do. And so for me, I am so thankful for tools and resources. I’m so thankful for community. I’m so thankful for self discovery and self love and self healing, to be able to look back at those experiences through a different lens. And I think our number one priority is to become the highest expression of ourselves. 

But then I also do believe that we’re here to have a ripple effect to, to those that are within our sphere of influence. So for me, as I’m on this journey and I’m like, oh, it’s safe to be human, it’s it’s okay, I’m still good even if not perfect, I want to invite other people into that experience. I want other people to know that maybe sooner than I did. Or, you know, I work with people across all different ages, races, backgrounds. And so even if they’re older than me, I want them to know it’s not too late and you deserve to be human and safe and seen too. 

So, you’re right. That human element is a resounding theme because you know what, I didn’t ask for it, but we’re all kind of here in this form, so why not get a little bit more comfortable with what that actually means and embrace that. So, yeah, that is something that, that is a resounding thing for me. 

[00:26:14] Lorilee Rager: Yeah. It’s really, really beautiful. And I resonate with everything you’ve said, from, uh, a rocky childhood and walking on eggshells and, and trying to assume the troubles from my parents and the generational trauma. And, and then, and the now learning, because of community and because of, uh, opening up, realizing that I am enough and that I’m not the only one. Even though our stories are very different, there are some themes, there are some common threads that connect us. And, um, and, uh, I just love every word you said. I, we will replay it in slow motion because it’s so, it’s so important. And it’s, it’s why I started the podcast. And it’s why I wanted you on here as well, because I think it’s important now that we have figured these things out, that it’s okay to be us. It’s okay to be comfortable in our skin. That, how can we help someone else better to understand that. Not be better as in get more clients or get more money or get more projects, it’s no, no, how can, how can you just be okay with who you are and be the best version of who you were born and, you know, authentically meant to be? I, I get that so much from, from your, you know, from, I was going to say from your brand, because you, as a person have developed this with your entrepreneurship and put all of your, all of your energy in it. Um, and, and through a global pandemic, I even virtually get it from your Instagram stories to your interviews, um, to, to your travels. And I love it. And, and I would love to know if, if you can answer, how does your, how do you think your energy and this outlook has helped your business? Because I know at the end of the day, we all are still needing to work and have a business, but you have aligned this so beautifully. So how, how does your energy help? 

[00:28:29] Kirbee Miller: Thank you. And that’s a journey. That’s a journey. I know that this discovery and understanding that being your real self, your authentic self, not only is okay and acceptable, but it, it’s a gift of a lifetime and that’s your highest service. And it sounds corny and all of those things, but when you really experienced some hard things in life, and when you realize at the end of the day, no matter how bumped that you are, it was you, whatever version of you, that persistent through that time, and that means something. And you have to give yourself credit for that. And I had to start doing that, and stop and being so much at what I lacked and really give honest gratitude and whole hearted understanding and love and care for the list of who I actually am. And be okay with that distance between perhaps where I am and where I want to be, but give credit to what I’ve come through, where I am. And that journey in life has definitely translated into business. 

So, in developing a brand, a more multi-dimensional brand, that wasn’t necessarily the goal at the onset. And that can be challenging when people want to put it into a box. Like, is it catering, is it TV, is it popcorn? And it’s like, it’s so much bigger than. Because it being aligned with, uh, my life’s purpose, having that journey and that energy has helped me take more risks that perhaps I would have been paralyzed in fear of rejection, or who am I to do it, or if this is perceived this way and I’m on television, or I’m over in this other country, who’s going to try to diminish that or take that away or highlight other cracks and imperfections to bring me back down to size. Those were thoughts that really kept me playing small for, for a long time.

And I will not say that they don’t still rear their head. As you mentioned earlier, in entrepreneurship, and then. Especially when you wear a lot of different hats, it can be challenging to give voice to those areas where you’re like, SOS, I need help, I don’t know what I’m doing here. Maybe I feel like I know what I’m doing, but I really could use some reinforcements. So for me, that’s been helpful in this journey, just being able to open up and be a little bit more transparent with people and saying, hey, I need some help. I need someone to come alongside. Um, and I’m still not great at that. Um, so just like you mentioned that. Some of that, like, try and figure it out in silence kind of thing, i, I still am a victim of that sometimes. What helps me move the needle though is, um, even though the brand, a lot of it is me-involved, I know from the experiences that I’ve had with people, I know from the tears that have been shed I know from the conversations, I know from the transformation that’s come on the other side of experiences or interviews, it is not me. It’s not me. So for me, I know for my time here, and this is what I was designed to do. And if getting vulnerable or having that energy of abundance and all of the things that I’m exploring in my personal life are applied to my business life, if that helps to amplify a message or a movement that can heal other people, then that’s my responsibility to do that. 

And to answer your question, I just think it having a brand and a company, and then we’re all tangled up together, that energy is pervasive and the most beautiful way. And for me, I hope that my journey does help people understand that it’s not perfect, it’s not linear, you’re going to fall down. You’re going to maybe get yourself out in the wilderness a little bit and be like, wow, I didn’t drop breadcrumbs, but maybe I’m gonna build something really beautiful out here and invite other folks out to the wilderness, that’s what I’m doing. So that’s kind, kinda my thought on that, that combination of the energy and how that impacts my journey in life and entrpreneurship. 

[00:32:59] Lorilee Rager: Oh, yes. Yes. Well, there’s, there’s two beautiful things. There’s many, but I thought of one of the things you said was. Instead of looking at what you’re lacking, which is such, I think it’s, I think it’s a learned belief. I think it’s, it comes from, from our childhood in history and the people that maybe we were around that maybe pointed out the negative or that lacking and that fear and that scarcity, and I loved how you said that you no longer do that. And I know it took a lot of work to get there.

[00:33:29] Kirbee Miller: I don’t do this often.

[00:33:31] Lorilee Rager: Right. Yeah. We all, we all, it’s, you know, it’s an ongoing, I will say none of this, that we are doing this, this human living life thing is, okay, here’s steps one through eight, and when you get to eight, you’re done and you can go take a nap and it’s all over. It’s more like, you’ll repeat those steps tomorrow, and repeat those steps six months from now, and somebody will remind you of step seven again. You know, and 

[00:33:58] Kirbee Miller: I love what you said about like in alphabetical order, instead of it being this nice linear alphabet, think of it more like alphabet soup. Because an A may be next to a Y and the lessons just keep blending, but they’re all in there.

[00:34:15] Lorilee Rager: Yeah. 

[00:34:16] Kirbee Miller: We need to hear people talk about this because it’s not like this graduation to another level. It’s like, hopefully you don’t repeat the same mistakes or same scenarios for as long as you did before, but sometimes they do come back around. 

[00:34:32] Lorilee Rager: Yeah, they really do. Um, again, in recovery meetings they’ll talk about, you know, you may find yourself in that same pothole on the path you’re walking, but the difference is this time you realize you’re in it, when you maybe before weren’t even self-aware, and you maybe while you’re in it can look around and go, ah, now I know how I got in here. You can look back and you, again, still may be in the pothole.

[00:34:58] Kirbee Miller: Yes. 

[00:35:00] Lorilee Rager: But there’s a little bit of self-awareness. But it’s because I think you got honest with yourself and, and lived your truth. And the other part of, of what you were saying about energy is that you aligned it. It was no longer, you know, I just grew up, you, you acted one way in church and you acted one way at school and totally different way you told no one about behind closed doors at home. And so I built my business on one way acting, and home was completely different, and friendships I tried to fake it. You know, because I just wanted everyone to like me. 

[00:35:35] Kirbee Miller: Exactly. What version of me is required for this? 

[00:35:38] Lorilee Rager: Right. And it was exhausting. But when you aligned your energy, just like you were saying, with all of that, you were doing the degrees and the entrepreneurship and the sitting at a table. I didn’t realize until we just started talking about it, I think that’s a major key to getting unstuck or out of your kind of pothole, I guess, situation. 

[00:36:00] Kirbee Miller: I agree with that. I agree with that. And it’s like, let’s abandon labels a little bit, of what you should be because you’re this age, or because you have this degree, or you’ve been in a relationship this long, or you’ve been trying to bring on like a dream to live for this long. Who said, like somebody show me the real blueprint. Oh, you don’t have one? Then like, let’s abandon the labels and be present, be where you are, have gratitude for that, and real gratitude. Um, and I say that because it’s so buzzwordy now and people are like, I think seeking, but sometimes we can dilute what gratitude is. And for me, I was raised, um, you know, we’re at church every Sunday and Wednesday and Sunday night. But to your point, there are different versions of people and that misalignment is so disturbing. But then you get this, you know, fake confidence that, you know, but you don’t really have a deep relationship. 

And I would say during this whole journey, I have really deepened my own personal relationship with the gratitude and really noticing. When you’re not safe or you feel unaccepted or you feel like you’re just seconds away from having to shape shift again for survival, you can’t soak in things. You can’t really be grateful because you are surviving. You’re in fight or flight. And for me, I had to develop, what does it feel like just to be in this moment and really make this thing. The good, the bad, the ugly, and be thankful for them all. That was a major transition. 

And I would say there was a rebirth of my gratitude practice from the bedside in the ICU. I, from my parents were in a terrible car accident. And that’s not where you would think a gratitude practice would be reborn. But when you’re stripped down to your most bare ingredients, if you will, you have a choice. How are you going to rebuild? How are you going to hold on? Do you go back to some of those old habits to try to survive? And I did that. But then you get broken down again and you realize that the foundation of it all is grattitude and being open. So even when my mom was in a coma and I’m, through tears, begging her to wake up and I’m walking across the hall to make decisions for my stepdad that feel like life or death, and I haven’t slept in days, I can be grateful that they’re still here and we’ll still have a chance. I could be grateful for being able to walk outside and just take a deep breath and be able to feel it. And it was really when those micro level things started to accumulate and I allowed myself to feel and to be grateful, I believe that was a huge turning points, that one of the most challenging parts of my life was actually one of the most beautiful parts. There’s, as people say, beauty in the breaking. And who I am on the other side of it, can’t go back. I might run into some of those lessons again, but I’m not the same version of me. And I know that this version is designed to help other people cross, cross that, that bridge into a life of just more or meeting and connectivity and purpose. That’s, that’s my goal. 

So I, I just love being able to have this conversation with someone like yourself who is transparent and vulnerable. And when you talk about those recovery meetings where, I don’t know how it feels to sit in a recovery meeting, but I’m sure at some point it has to feel like you’re, I am, again with that pothole example, where it’s just like, how do I, how do I go forward? How do you have the energy to re-imagine my pieces? But it was like, okay, well, how do I pull myself into the moment? And then you’re like, yep, I’m in the pothole. I can learn, I can learn from this and I have that hope to move forward. And I think a lot of that does come down to, um, gratitude and acceptance. 

[00:40:15] Lorilee Rager: Yes. Yes. It really, really does. And that was, that became a really important part of my study in grad school, was this gratitude thing that just kept coming up. It just, I mean, it was, you know, it was beating me over the head, but I realized that as a child in fight or flight mode and in and out of church, it was a toxic level of, of gratitude and toxic positivity. You just should be more thankful. And you just should be thankful that we, you know, have food on the table. Or you should just be more thankful that you have a father that works hard no matter what he says to you or does to you. Or, and then I began to see how I would numb with gratitude, like in a toxic way. And, and then drink away the real feelings. And so, yeah, now I am so grateful for recovery and grateful for the hangovers I suffered through. Which, it sounds like an oxymoron or a paradox. 

[00:41:22] Kirbee Miller: I can hear what you’re saying though, because you getting to that point ushered you across a line into your more authentic and real self and those very shallow prescriptions that were written when we were younger, like just pray, or just be grateful, or somebody else has it worse than you, that taught you that you weren’t a whole person. It’s in the shallow end and the rest of that is disposable, and in fact it makes you a burden, so don’t talk about that. And so in adulthood, as you’re unpacking that, you’re like actually having to sit with these things and I’m going to learn from them. 

[00:42:04] Lorilee Rager: Yes, yes. And then began to teach myself, what am I really grateful for? Not what I was told to be grateful for. What am I grateful for? I am grateful that I’m a bad speller, and, with a funny sense of humor. Like I, the things that were maybe taught to me as faults and things you should hide or ways you, shouldn’t behave, do the shoulds and should-ing on myself. Yeah. So I get it. I get it. Oh, it’s beautiful stuff. Okay. All right. We can talk all day, but I’m going to, I’m bringing it, bringing it in to the last two things I wanted to talk about a little bit is creativity and charisma. Um, and one of the questions is, to ask you, I think a lot of people, I know they ask me all the time and there’s not a clear-cut answer. I’d love to hear your thoughts, is, you know, you hear the, oh, as a business owner and a woman and a daughter and a wife, you know, how do you, how do you juggle it all? You know, the cliche and how do you, how do you be creative and a writer and a cook and all the things that you are in the daily daily duties of life? 

[00:43:34] Kirbee Miller: The honest answer is I’m still figuring that out. And that’s how I do it, is being open to figuring it out. And that sounds paradoxical, but when we think that there has to be this clear cut plan before you can do it, do it, which is our life it’s paralyzing. And as a recovering perfectionist, I am just open to what the day brings. I know for 100% sure that I’m here on purpose with a purpose and that doesn’t look the same every day. And I know that for me, one of my, my goals in life for myself and then my intention for other people is to help fortify my mind and my spirit and let that creativity shine, help develop me so that where I encounter those hard moments, I can feel it, and I know I’ll survive. When I encounter those really beautiful moments, that I can feel it and being grateful for it and know that I deserve it. And when I’m in those quiet moments and those are those, those are the most important. For myself and what I hope for other people, and I hope through my message and the brand and the things I do, I hope that I can support people that in those quiet, moments where the titles don’t matter, that bank account can’t touch or do anything, for those moments, the people that you love and maybe think you can count on, might be asleep, those quiet moments, that I can have peace, and then I can feel as though I’m on the right path. 

And so the way that I try to live my life, um, I think it’s really illustrated by this quote that Oprah says, and it says, “nourish what makes you feel confident, connected, contented,” so confident, connected, contented, “and opportunity will rise to meet you.” So when I feel as though, how, how do I reconcile someone who worked really, really hard in college to graduate with honors in biology and chemistry and a master’s and work at a premier medical center, you know, all the accomplishments, things that, you know, you’re told to clean to for your identity, and I’m really proud of, how do I reconcile that in a lifestyle brand that is evolving. And how do I reconcile that with I am married and took on a responsibility and a partnership that I said that I would honor to really help and support that person in life when I’m trying to help and support myself through life. And then being thrust into a full-time caregiver position for someone who’s paralyzed out of a traumatic event, how do I reconcile all of those responsibilities, and sometimes I would just like to go back to that little girl who wanted to paint a box and turn it into a palace. Like, how do I do all that? And then how do you like keep up with taxes and oil changes? Like there’s a lot, there’s a lot going on. 

So with that in mind, I have that true north. I have that barometer of nourishing whatever it makes me feel confident, connected, and contented. And I know that the right opportunities will rise to meet me. So for that day, I try to tune in and sometimes it takes getting quiet, or meditating, or crying in your car. Whatever you want to cleanse the way to say for today, what helps me feel connected? What helps me feel confident? What will help me feel content in this moment? And maybe it’s too much of a commitment for the day. I have people say, I have good days and bad days. I like to take the pressure off. We can have good day, good 20 minutes and bad 20 minutes. It’s kind of episodic. So I like to ask myself, for this, for this next period, what helps to nourish me in one of these ways? And I’ll know for sure in that opportunity or rise to meet me, I don’t have to figure it all out. My responsibility is to lean into those things. So whether that’s taking the time to turn off the phone and care solely for my mom, whether that’s to try to make time for my husband to say, okay, you know, we’ve been ships passing in the night, how do we actually connect and have a real conversation. Because beyond marriage, I’ve never been much of a romantic, beyond that I care about you as a human and I want your journey to be good. So you don’t let me slow down and have this conversation and shut everything else out. Or is that, I’m going to take 45 minutes and go to a store and explore some new ingredients because tonight I’m just going to make something completely new because that’s what my brain needs to wander. So the way that I do at all is to be able to have a removal of some of the structure. And I know that might make some of my type A friends cringe, a removal of some of the structure, and really just have that foundation of nourishment. And nourishment isn’t something that you can just fly by night and do. Nourishment is intention and time and love and grace. So when it says nourish what makes you feel confident, contented, and connected, that means I got to pay attention to it. I got to cultivate that. And I have a certain trust that opportunity will rise to me. You know, it is, it’s magnetizing toward me. I don’t have to have it all figured out. So that’s, that’s how I choose to navigate this crazy life path that I’m on right now.

[00:49:19] Lorilee Rager: Yes, yes, yes. Yes. So nourish is my word for 2022. So, first of all, that was beautifully stated and said. And, and you, you literally trust the process and again, in recovery, they tell us, you just take it one day at a time. And yes, sometimes it is one minute, one hour, sometimes you’re white, knuckling it through it, and sometimes you’re completely in this pink cloud of happiness. And that’s life. And we get to live it. 

[00:49:52] Kirbee Miller: That’s the human experience. 

[00:49:54] Lorilee Rager: Yes. Yes. And feel it all feel it all. So, beautiful to just, it’s simple but not easy, but to just nourish.

[00:50:05] Kirbee Miller: Ooh. Simple but not easy. I love that. 

[00:50:08] Lorilee Rager: Yeah, really beautiful. Really, really beautiful. Thank you so much for that answer. Goodness, goodness gracious. Okay. The end, the question, the end question. All right. Really this entire episode is this, but I’m going to ask for one more takeaway, if you have it in you. What tool would you leave in our ground and gratitude toolbox for others?

[00:50:39] Kirbee Miller: I would leave the simple truth that you are enough. And you need that in your toolkit. And I know that sounds really simple. But when I feel consumed by failure, when I feel like I’m on a slippery slope to nowhere, you know, those weird thoughts come up sometimes. And I don’t know what everyone’s belief system is, you know, I hope that all of us, ours are evolving. What I know for sure is that there is something much bigger than us, and there’s an order to things, and we were all designed and created. So take the pressure off yourself that you could somehow distort or destroy that. You were designed, therefore you’re enough inherently. So your responsibility is really just to fall in love and discover that design and the life that you’re meant to live will unfold before you. And to your point, that sounds so simple. And you might say, kirbee you don’t know the spouse that I’m dealing with, Kirbee you don’t know the debt I’m dealing with, Kirbee you don’t know the diagnosis that I just got or someone that I love just got. I can tell you, I can check all those boxes right along with you. But in that process, you have to have that core knowing that you are enough, even without another accomplishment, even with everything else that has been put on your back, or maybe through your choices you put on your own back, that you’re enough. And I think that’s something that we need to have in our toolkit when the moments feel heavy, we need to be able to reach in and say, if nothing else changes about me, I’m enough. That’s what I would say. Put that in the toolkit and don’t lose it. 

[00:52:41] Lorilee Rager: That’s right. That’s absolutely just, it’s just golden and it is so simple. But you’ve got to learn to believe it. And your subconscious has to 

[00:52:52] Kirbee Miller: There’s saying it and there’s internalizing it. 

[00:52:54] Lorilee Rager: Yes. Your subconscious has to hear it and believe it and know that right here, right now, right where your toes are, you’re enough. Absolutely. It’s beautiful. Yes. So, so good. Ah, thank you so very much. This hour literally flew by.

[00:53:15] Kirbee Miller: I looked at the time, I was like, wow, Kirbee you talk a lot. But I am so thankful for this time together. And that infinity loop, that’s one of my favorite symbols, of just nourishment and acknowledgement of this human experience. And it’s just beautiful to talk with you and, and to talk to someone who had walked through fire and is willing to tell other people about their journey. I respect that about you, I love that about you. And like I said, when we started this, I trust that the timing of this is perfect. And those who needed to hear it now will hear it. And that’s my intention and that’s my hope. So thank you so much for inviting me and allowing us to spend this time together.

[00:54:04] Lorilee Rager: Absolutely. I could not have said it better myself. I respect and love you so much. Thank you for your time friend. 

[00:54:13] Kirbee Miller: Thank you. 

[00:54:18] Lorilee Rager: Alright, yay!

Thank you again to Kirbee for being so open with her story and sharing her perspective on life and that human connection. And thank you for tuning into Ground and Gratitude. You can find previous episodes and more information about the show at GroundAndGratitude.com. Join me next time for more honest conversations exploring what it means to truly live a life grounded in gratitude. I’d also love to hear from you. We’re on Instagram. Our handle is @GroundAndGratitude. And you can leave us a review on Apple Podcasts. 

Ground and Gratitude is produced by Kelly Drake and AO McClain LLC.