Journal / Phenomenal Women

Amy Cuevas Schroeder, founder The Midst

9 Aug, 2021

First, tell us a little bit about you and the founding of Jumble & Flow. What motivated you to start the business? What principles drive its evolution?

9 Aug, 2021

My mission — and The Midst mission — is to empower women 40 and older, and basically overhaul the traditional connotations of midlife. We cover perimenopause and overcoming all kinds of life jumbles, ranging from career changes, friendships, modern parenting, empty nesting, and no nesting at all. Our writers are women supporting women — we’re all going through the ups and downs of this prime time of our lives.

I grew up thinking that once people — women in particular — reach 40, they’re “over the hill,” less relevant, and old. Now that people are living much longer lives, I know that hitting 40 is a major milestone — one that should be celebrated, not frowned upon. I believe our 40s and 50s can be a prime time of life, an opportunity to really come into our own, shed the aspects that no longer serve us, and leverage everything we’ve learned so far.

Of course, celebrating your 40s is easier said than done. I’ve been working for tech startups for the last decade and the industry officially considers people “old” once they hit 41. I’m working tirelessly to dispel this myth.

Reaching 40 also often comes with its own set of health changes and life responsibility challenges, which was true for me. I started going through perimenopause at 40 but didn’t realize it, even though I was going through the common symptoms, including severe night sweats, mood changes, fatigue, and bloating. I chalked it up to having twins — but I’d had twins at age 38, two years prior.

After struggling to find support, information, and a diagnosis for perimenopause for at least a year, I finally found a hormone specialist who diagnosed me and eventually prescribed a low dosage of hormone replacement therapy. And thanks to MPowder and other like-minded women, I’ve found community in the menopause experience. Perimenopause was the main thing that inspired me to found Jumble & Flow.


How has your own peri/menopause transition influenced your outlook towards work and life?

Going through perimenopause has made me realize the vast lack of awareness about this major milestone in women’s lives and how it can affect us on so many fronts. There’s so much work to be done to help millions of women understand this life phase. The U.S. is behind the U.K. when it comes to awareness, and soon many Millennials — the generation larger than mine, Gen X — will experience perimenopause. The oldest Millennial turns 40 this year, in 2021.

The lack of perimenopause awareness and education in medical schools is what drives me every day to build The Midst. My personal experience with perimenopause and the demands of being in the prime of my life affect me daily — I’ve become very protective of my time and energy.

In addition to building The Midst, I work full time as a writer-editor for Unusual Ventures, and I’m raising twin girls — one of whom has special needs. In order to keep this all going, I committed to my routine of getting at least eight hours of sleep (and, yes, it’s often interrupted by insomnia), eating well, and spending quality time with my family.


How do you define success for your business and yourself individually?

At this point in my life, I define success as embracing my penchant to build and create, the fruitful learnings of past mistakes, and willingness to lean into possibilities of the future.

I’ve long admired Gloria Steinem, who said, “The art of life is not controlling what happens to us, but using what happens to us.” I try to embrace the mistakes I’ve made and channel them into decisions that move me and The Midst forward.

The Midst is not my first rodeo in entrepreneurship. I started my first business, a magazine called Venus, in my dorm room at 19, and after building it into an internationally distributed publication for more than a decade, sold the company. That might sound lovely, but it was a rocky experience, one that I learned so, so much from.

I’m currently taking the slow-and-steady approach to building The Midst and have bootstrapped the last year and a half. But! In order to scale I know we’ll soon need to raise VC and I’m taking steps toward doing just that.


Has your definition of success changed over time as an entrepreneur and individual?

Definitely, and every day I “talk to myself” a little bit about evolving my vision, focusing on the right things, and not taking on more than I can chew.


What correlation, if any, do you see between age and ambition?

For me personally, my ambition has always been a mix of what I call “compassionate drive” and creative fire. My confidence has evolved in unique ways as I’ve aged, shifting with the highs and lows of life.

I still sometimes struggle with feeling like I need to make everyone happy but I’m trying to not let it get the best of me. As a shy kid who moved a lot growing up, I often just wanted to hide in the corner. But after coming out of my shell and realizing my entrepreneurial ambitions in my late teens and early 20s, I continually remind myself to honor my roots as a self-made woman but set my sights on a bigger, brighter future.

I’m hopeful that with age, I’m going to become even more focused on doing only what I want to do — not necessarily what other people want me to do.


What are your aspirations for your business over the next 24 months?

Now that we’ve laid a solid foundation for our brand, which is about owning the jumbles of life and finding your flow — we’ll scale our editorial content. The next big project will be developing a sustainable business model.

I want to develop a women’s health database to help women find doctors, alternative medicine specialists, and other health resources. I’ll focus at first on developing resources for women in perimenopause and then will expand to cover other women’s health topics, such as fertility and pelvic health.


What do you wish your younger self had known about:

Life: I wish I’d never been exposed to messages that told me that women are no longer cool, interesting, or as relevant after 40. In my 30s, I wish I’d really listened when women decades older said, “You’re still young — you have so much good stuff ahead of you.” Though I wanted to believe them, a built-in mental blocker said, “Amy, you need to step on the gas! Hurry up and accomplish as much as possible before 40! Get married! Get pregnant before it’s too late! Figure out your dream job and life’s path!”

I understand now that life should not be a rush, and I’m working on savouring it and shaping it to my liking.

Love: I could write a book on this one. I wish I’d realised that love is not about pining — I “wasted” so much mental energy pining over the wrong dudes. I mean, everything seems to make sense in retrospect, but I over-agonized finding “the one.”

And the cliché is true: When true love is meant to happen, it’ll happen. Don’t force finding your “one.” After dating like it was a sport for several years, I met my husband at 35 in Brooklyn, and we got married within three months of knowing each other. We’ve been together for a decade now and “through thick and thin” is very real for us.

Health: Do whatever you can to kill your vices or at least replace them with a healthier vice. For me, it was smoking, which I’ve replaced with coffee, and I have to keep that in check. Also, dieting leads to disaster. Just eat healthy and in moderation. Easier said than done, I know.

Work: Although you always try to treat others the way you wish to be treated, this will not always be the case in the work world. Especially in competitive environments, people can be cruel — DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY.


What would be your key advice to women transitioning through menopause today?

If your doctor says, “You’re too young to be in perimenopause,” they might not be correct. Unfortunately, at this moment in time, we still have to advocate for our hormone health. Menopause is an under-understood and under-studied by the traditional medical world.

Every woman is different, and so are their hormones.


Is there anything else you’d like to share with the MPowder community about our second spring?

I recommend taking a nod from Oprah, who in 2019 described menopause as an 𝐨𝐩𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐮𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐲 to focus on herself — 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐚 𝐝𝐨𝐰𝐧𝐟𝐚𝐥𝐥. I’m doing my best to lean into perimenopause — I’ve been going through it for a couple of years and wouldn’t be surprised if it continues for a few more, so I’ve got to make the most of it. I now pay close attention to my body and where I’m at in my monthly cycle; whereas, before perimenopause I didn’t really think twice about how hormone fluctuations affect our mental and physical health.

In the Oprah Magazine, Oprah wrote, “I’ve discovered that this is your moment to reinvent yourself after years of focusing on the needs of everyone else. For two years I didn’t sleep well. Never a full night. No peace. Restlessness and heart palpitations were my steady companions at nightfall. This was back when I was 48 to 50. I went to see a cardiologist. Took medication. Wore a heart monitor for weeks. And then one day, walking through the offices of The Oprah Winfrey Show, I picked up a copy of The Wisdom of Menopause, Dr. Christiane Northrup’s book, and the pages fell open to the heading ‘Palpitations: Your Heart’s Wake-Up Call.’ I took it as a sign.

“Contained in that book was the answer I’d been going doctor to doctor trying to figure out,” she continued. “Until that point in my adult life, I don’t recall one serious conversation with another woman about what to expect.”


Finally, we all know that stress can exacerbate menopause symptoms and we’re all living with a constant underlying anxiety - from the pandemic, from the disproportionate impact it has had on women, from political upheaval…from unprecedented job insecurity. What have you done to better support yourself in the last 16 months? What have you learned. And what will you carry with you as the world once again shape shifts?

I’ve learned that the divide between people who believe in vaccination and those who don’t is very real and problematic.

On the plus side, I’ve become a fan of transcendental meditation and ideally I’d meditate twice per day, for 20 minutes each time. Honestly, I only meditate about three times a week but should really do it daily because it makes a world of difference in staying motivated, calming my monkey mind, and maintaining focused energy throughout the day.

I’m allowing myself to fully lean into and embrace remote work. As a writer, I need a lot of focused concentration time to, well, write and am grateful that so many companies are now allowing employees to work remotely. I get so much more done when I work from home. Before the pandemic, I worked for a company that strongly disliked remote workers and was treated like a black sheep for working remotely from Chicago for the San Francisco–based company. In order to afford to put my husband through grad school and provide specialized care for my daughter with a rare syndrome, we weren’t able to relocate to San Francisco, though we wanted to. My career stagnated during that four-year period and I’m glad I’ve since left that company to work for remote-friendly organizations.

I’ve skimmed the fat on expenses that I didn’t need to blow money on (expensive manicures, for example) and invested that money toward building The Midst.

I decided that it’s totally cool to wear my uniform of choice: I want to wear head-to-toe-black cotton stretchy clothing.

Editor's note: Amy's journey documenting and celebrating midlife continues at The Midst. Check out her new venture HERE now.

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