Ridgefield author and podcaster cannonballs into midlife

Amy Schmidt realized she was entering a new phase in her life as she neared age 50. She was anxious about reaching the milestone but not scared. She also was motivated.

“I knew part of me had to do more,” Schmidt said.

The Ridgefield resident decided to launch a website called “Fearlessly Facing Fifty” and start a podcast with the same name, attracting guests such as former “Good Morning America” co-host Joan Lunden, Covergirl model Maye Musk, and Julie Moran of “Entertainment Tonight” and “ABC’s Wide World of Sports” fame.

Schmidt is a former journalist herself, having worked for radio, television and print media outlets before focusing on raising her three children. She’s now published her first book entitled “Cannonball! Fearlessly Facing Midlife and Beyond.”

The book is a collection of her personal experiences and other women’s stories intended “to empower women to take charge of their lives and overcome feeling invisible,” according to publicity material.

“I’m very honest about my life and journey,” Schmidt said during a recent phone interview.

The book’s title comes from how most people will freely do a cannonball dive as a youngster but then become intimidated about doing the same as an adult.

She tells women to cast those fears aside, refuse to be judged and just jump in the water.

“You make the biggest splash possible,” Schmidt encourages readers in the book. “You truly don’t have those insecurities around pleasing everyone or, quite honestly, caring about what people think. You exude confidence.”

The book has eight chapters, with titles such as “The Water Looks Cold,” “Judges are Everywhere” and “Thirty Shades of Gray.”

It covers everything from dying parents to menopause. Readers will even find out where she would hide a pack of cigarettes (the ice cream sandwich box in her freezer).

Schmidt said women too often undervalue themselves and look for validation from others. “We underestimate what we do as women,” she said.

She suggested women “close your eyes and look at the highlight reel of what you’ve accomplished through the years.”

In midlife, a woman’s most important relationships change because her role as a wife, mother, daughter and sister evolves. Women often become nervous of change and uncertainty and “fear beginning again,” she said.

But women shouldn’t be afraid to start the next phase of their lives. “Give yourself permission to explore new things,” Schmidt said.

“We reach the age where it doesn’t matter what others think,” she explained. “It doesn’t have to be perfect and we don’t need to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s.”

The book has received praise from Laurie Gelman, a television personality known for her humorous novels “Class Mom” and “You’ve Been Volunteered.”

“Amy Schmidt has nailed it,” Gelman says of Schmidt’s book. “It’s as though she got inside my head (and really every woman’s head) and pulled out all the voices that stop us from trying something new or even giving ourselves a pat on the back.”

Schmidt’s website includes advice, podcast and article links, blog posts, details on her background and other information.

She’s recorded 40 podcasts since last fall, with a new one available weekly on the website and popular podcast platforms.

“I’ve always had the ability to connect with people,” she said. “I’m a natural conversationalist.”

Launching the website and podcast was a challenge, partly due to all the technology she had to learn. “I’m going to figure this out,” Schmidt told herself as she began the process.

She received guidance from a young Ridgefield resident, took classes and spent a lot of time asking questions at a computer store. “It’s not an easy thing,” she said. “There’s a lot of steps to get there.”

Schmidt moved forward at a fast pace. “I pushed the record button and didn’t know if anyone would be listening,” said Schmidt, adding she’s been pleased with the podcast’s audience size.

She also hosts workshops on starting a podcast and to assist women in midlife with issues such as relationships, health, body issues and careers. Recently, she’s been doing these virtually due to the pandemic. In addition, she coordinates an online Facebook group.

Schmidt grew up in Wisconsin and married her college sweetheart. She worked as a journalist in Wisconsin, Washington, D.C. and Indiana as her husband Tim’s career in the pharmaceutical industry compelled frequent family moves. “I took on the role of traveling spouse,” she said.

She was a competitive swimmer from age 6 through her college years. “That was my identity as a kid — between the black lines” in the pool, she said. She later coached youth and college swim teams.

Her family moved back to Connecticut five years ago after spending six years in Germany. They picked Ridgefield because it had a small-town atmosphere with “a European feel.”

Her children are now ages 23, 20 and 16. Her book is available on Amazon and in bookstores.

For more information about Schmidt’s book and podcast, visit fearlesslyfacingfifty.com.