Liz Garcia, of Monticello, Iowa, led a busy life with her husband, Matt, even before they had children.
“It was very busy,” said Garcia, 33, who is a corporate sales rep for a book publisher. “We would be on the go at work and do a lot of outside activities with friends and family. On the weekends, we’d go out to eat and do a lot of social things.”
When daughter Zoey, now 4, came along, life didn’t slow down for Garcia as she shifted into the busy role of working mother.
“We did slow down a bit with the social side of things with friends,” she said. “But we still had a pretty hectic life.”
In June of 2021, Garcia was working full-time, taking care of a toddler and was seven months pregnant with son Luka. Then, Matt was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
“It was stage 1, and he had surgery that July to have the tumor removed,” she said. “Things moved really fast.”
In August, Garcia delivered son Luka in the back of an ambulance. Two weeks later, Matt started chemotherapy.
“It was a lot,” she said. “Matt had a follow-up scan in February (2022), and it was confirmed that everything was clear. But in January and February, I hit a real rough patch. Trying to navigate the emotions of Matt’s cancer diagnosis and still being post-partum, I was at a really low point.”
Garcia, who often travels for her job, was in a hotel room in Ames, Iowa, when she resolved to change the depressing mindset she had been dealing with for months.
“I decided I was done throwing a pity party for myself,” she said. “I was going to slow down and be more present. I was going to take more time for myself and my family. I was on the road a lot traveling to clients, and I started binging motivational podcasts. That was really the catalyst to getting me out of this rut.”
Garcia discovered “Empower Her,” a popular podcast hosted by podcaster and speaker Kacia Ghetmiri, and it soon became a part of her regular playlist.
“Kacia was hosting a four-week introduction to podcasting course,” she said. “I’m a life-long learner, and I just wanted to learn something new. So I signed up for it, and two weeks after I completed the course, I launched my own podcast.”
“Light Your Fire!” Garcia’s weekly podcast, is meant to inspire and motivate women, and let them know they’re not alone.
Along with motivational episodes, like “Schedule Joy into Your Life” and “Who are you BEYOND Being a Mom?” there also are light-hearted installments with a lesson, like “My Son Threw Up on Me and the Couch and My Daughter Flooded the Bathroom Giving Her Doll a Bath: Don’t Take Life Too Seriously.”
“You know that saying, ‘The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,'” she said. “I look at it as the grass is always greener right where you water it.”
Alycia Kidwell lives in Galena, Ill., with her husband, Jeremy, and daughters Genevieve, 12, and Gwendolyn, 7. She has become an avid listener of “Light Your Fire!”
“(Liz) and I both worked for the same company, but I don’t know her personally,” she said. “A co-worker recommended Liz’s podcast to me.”
Kidwell said while true crime podcasts, a genre that ranks first worldwide in the podcast arena, are her favorites, she regularly listens to “Light Your Fire!”
“I think Liz’s energy is contagious, and there have been episodes that have really resonated with me,” she said. “It’s been a good reminder to give yourself grace, to make small changes to improve your mood and your lifestyle. It’s easy to put yourself on the back burner, and Liz’s podcast is a good reminder to take care of yourself.”
That is exactly the kind of listener Garcia was hoping to reach when she launched “Light Your Fire!”
“The big focus for me was that if podcasts could help me get out of a rut, maybe I could be an inspiration for others,” she said. “Knowing that I’m having a positive influence on other people is what makes it all worthwhile for me.”
Podcasts have become immensely popular since the first one, “IT Conversations,” launched in 2003. According to Infinite Dial, a survey conducted by Edison Research, 104 million Americans listen to podcasts regularly, and of those listeners, 21% listen to an average of five episodes per week.
“It’s a nice alternative to listening to the radio,” Kidwell said. “You can customize your playlist to your interests. It’s on demand, so you have that instant gratification. I listen in my car a lot, and Apple CarPlay will notify me whenever there’s a new episode.”
Garcia’s plans include expanding her reach and increasing the number of episodes she drops every week. She said she often is energized by attending live events, so she hopes to parlay her podcast host role into motivational speaking, where she can inspire others.
“I really wanted this to be a passion project,” she said. “Now that I’ve gotten my feet wet, I love what I’m doing. I love that I’m inspiring people, and I’m ready to move to that next step.”
Michelle London writes for the Telegraph Herald.