Amy Schmidt has a mission: that every middle-aged woman learns to ‘cannonball with confidence’, just as she did. “Getting out of your comfort zone might not be cozy or very graceful, but the important thing is you do it with determination”, she admits. “Whether you are thinking of going back to work, changing career, finishing a project you started a while ago, booking an adventurous trip, or rekindling a relationship – take that first step and go forward with confidence.”
Podcaster and author in her 50s, Amy speaks from her own experience. Five years ago, she had just moved back to the US, to a new state, after several years of living in Germany. In a very short time, she had lost both her parents and all of sudden had to get used to a completely new life-setting, without their support. Her three children were growing older and needed her less. She also didn’t know many people on the East Coast where they had moved. She felt lost and without purpose. Thanks to the support and encouragement of other women her age, she got involved in the local community, started in direct selling and took up writing again. Little by little, she gained confidence and got her life spark back.
Fearlessly Facing Fifty
Like many women at this life phase, Amy found that most of her conversations with friends and the new community she was involved with were revolving around the same topics – menopause and health issues, ageing parents, career and relationship changes and emptying nests. Instead of just chatting about them in private, Amy decided to take action and open a public dialogue. She looked into different formats and found podcasting to be most suitable. Six months before turning fifty, she launched Fearlessly Facing Fifty™, weekly conversations with ordinary people who share extraordinary life stories. “I remember the day I pushed record for the first time; it was scary and exhilarating all at once. I have never regretted starting on this adventure”, she gladly admits. After each interview she conducts, Amy takes a moment to reflect on the story or advice her guest shared and how it will hopefully inspire someone to take action, in a reality that can present many challenges.
Amy feels proud of what she’s accomplished so far. Her authenticity and consistency with content are appreciated by her followers. “I feel that if I can make a difference in the life of a listener, I have done my job. It feels incredible when I receive a message from a guest or listener saying that I’ve encouraged them to be brave”, she shares. “It is one of the best things I’ve ever done and like I always say, I haven’t peaked yet, I’m only just getting started.”
Upping the Game through New Challenges
Every new adventure comes with challenges, and Amy’s trials had to do with technology. She is not embarrassed to admit she had no idea of how to produce a podcast: the simple button she thought she’d have to press was nowhere to be found. She realized producing and editing podcasts was a whole new ball game and sat down in her home office one afternoon, with a tech-savvy millennial who walked her through the equipment she needed to get started. From there, true to her life-long learning spirit, she researched, learned and thrived. “If you embrace the challenges, you may stumble and be off-kilter for a bit, but you’ll soon recalibrate and continue to forge ahead”, she states.
In only six months Amy has built enough confidence in podcasting to hosting workshops for other women who want to start in the field. Even though the topics might include technical aspects, the workshops and talks are really geared towards women becoming fearless and finding their confidence. Amy has received immensely positive feedback and gets goosebumps when women her age thank her for inspiring them to take the first step. Phrases such as “I had put others’ needs ahead of mine for so many years, I had lost my voice. I found it again, thanks to you” are framed in her mind forever and give her the strength to go forward.
Another long-time dream of Amy’s was to publish a book. She had started and stopped the writing process more times than she could count, but as the big 5-0 drew nearer, she made it her full-time job to finish the manuscript. The book Cannonball! Fearlessly Facing Midlife and Beyond (out on the 7th of June) portrays her own life-story together with stories of other inspiring women, and at the end of each chapter, there are reflections the reader can apply to her own life. “I would love for every woman to pick up the book and read it, as it’s all about climbing to the very top of the high dive, and cannonballing off, with confidence”, Amy says.
Letting Life Unravel
The years leading up to her 50th birthday were daunting until Amy flipped the lens and looked at all that was to come. She is now embracing 50 and beyond and can’t wait to see what this never decade brings. Amy believes that life is made of highs and lows and every event happens for a reason, just as a full puzzle is made of small pieces.
Midlife and menopause are traditionally words with a negative connotation, but Amy is confident this is slowly changing. “Women have earned this time in their lives to cherish what they have and enjoy themselves. They just need to give themselves permission to create and be inspired”. Amy also wants to set a positive example for the generation of her daughter so that they see ageing as a natural, joyous and playful part of life.
According to Amy’s experience, most women are social creatures who thrive in communities and through connection. Amy herself never leaves an event or a room full of new people without having made bonds, exchanged contact information and even forged friendships. She loves the visual of a horseshoe that is a circle of sharing, yet open to let others in. “A tight full circle might be hard to penetrate, but if you form a horseshoe, you allow others to enter”, she explains.
Another important midlife lesson for Amy was to learn to let go of perfection and controlling everything. After learning to let things unravel at times, life has become much easier for her. “It is important to realize that we don’t have to wait for things to be perfect or everything to be aligned. It is more important to simply get started, armed with determination and confidence”.