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Starting Over At Any Age In Your Career | Ep #111

November 28, 2023

Starting Over At Any Age In Your Career | Ep #111 Age is just a number. Despite what some people may think, you CAN start over in your career at any age! Maria Schenker joins host Shannon Russell on Episode #111 of the Second Act Success Career Podcast to discuss how she began discovering her true self and the […]

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Starting Over At Any Age In Your Career | Ep #111

Age is just a number. Despite what some people may think, you CAN start over in your career at any age! Maria Schenker joins host Shannon Russell on Episode #111 of the Second Act Success Career Podcast to discuss how she began discovering her true self and the career field she was meant to be in as she neared the age of 60. 

Maria has worked as a flight attendant, a pharmaceutical sales rep, and she has run a medical practice. She is a also a mom and a Cancer survivor.  While she learned about health through her Cancer diagnosis and being diagnosed with Celiac, she studied nutrition and became a certified health and wellness coach. While trying to get back into the workforce after her divorce, Maria fought age-discrimination and frustration along the way.  As she neared her 60th birthday, Maria decided to change everything and open her own business called Empowering You. 

Listen in as Maria and Shannon discuss finding your life’s purpose on Episode #111 of the Second Act Success Career Podcast.


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Second Act Success Career Podcast
Season 1 - ​​Starting Over At Any Age In Your Career and Life | Ep #111
Episode - #111
Host: Shannon Russell
Guest: Maria Schenker
Transcription (*created by Descript and may not be perfectly accurate)

[00:00:00] Maria Schenker: I turned 60 and I started sending out my resume. Ah! Wow. Talk about a reality check, I had many instances where, I was told you are the perfect person. Waiting and waiting and waiting,

I was told in one interview that I appeared as if I didn't need to work and that I should come across Differently in an interview so they know I need a paycheck I had to have applied. Number wise to how many different jobs.

I don't know 75. Finally at the end of it all. Felt nothing but paralyzing sadness. I felt rejected. I felt like I wasn't good enough I felt like I was being judged by people who were so much younger than me that have zero reference with regards to life experience and all of my Professional experience.

I felt I wasn't relevant anymore. Like it was that whole feeling of you're this age now to be told, thank you so much for applying, but we've decided to go in a different direction. We're like nightmarish, I couldn't get those words out of my head.


Welcome back my friend to a new episode of the podcast.

I can't wait to introduce you to my guest today. Her name is Maria Schenker. Maria is not only an incredible success story, she is one of my coaching clients. As we were speaking one day, I realized that I really needed her to come on the show and share her experience and starting a second act. Maria has been a flight attendant, a pharmaceutical sales rep, she has run a medical practice. She is a mom. She is a [00:02:00] cancer survivor. And Maria is a certified health and wellness coach. at the age of 60, she decided to change everything and open her own business. She Is here to share her experience later in life, trying to get back into the workforce after a divorce. Only to find barriers at every stop.

Let me tell you she has overcome those obstacles and she is here today to tell us her story. Let me introduce you to Maria Schenker of. Of Empowering You.

[00:02:31] Shannon Russell: Maria. podcast. I'm so excited to have you here and go through your incredible life and career journey.

[00:02:40] Maria Schenker: Thank you. I'm excited too.

I can't wait to share. Well, let's start back

[00:02:45] Shannon Russell: where your career began. What did you think you were going to be when you grew up? And where did you start your educational and career

[00:02:52] Maria Schenker: path? , my parents had divorced when I was 16.

So when I was 18, I went to school for cosmetology. Because that was [00:03:00] something my family had in lineage. It was something everyone always did. My uncle's had barber shops in Valesburg, Newark. So I thought, okay, that seems natural and I enjoy doing it. It's creative. but that became something that I used to actually go to school as money.

It became my side hustle, my job while I was in school. And I went to school for initially psychology, which I think everyone does because I came from a broken place and I needed to fix.

and then let me think, I mean, as time went on, I stopped school for a while. I had sort of a start stop relationship with college. but in between doing that, I did some pretty incredible career stuff. I was a pharmaceutical sales rep, which was a lot of fun. I was. Dared to apply to American Airlines to become a flight attendant because back then this is so 1990 American was taking about 42, 000 applications a year and hiring 2, 000 flight attendants.

So someone said oh, it's so hard You'll never be [00:04:00] able to do it and I went well, okay now I have to try this. So of course paper application. It was a book, you know, they do a five year background check. We don't have the days of internet and computers like we do now. So inevitably I heard from them and they sent me a first class ticket down to Dallas, for the interview.

in the process before going though, of course I went to the library because again, we were back in the book days and pulled out the history of American airlines and studied them and understood everything about them. and went to the interview in a Navy suit because their uniforms are Navy. Mm hmm.

and knew that I would be interviewed in groups. so there were 100 people there and they broke us into groups of 10 and we sat sort of semi circle with the interviewer in the center. And I knew some of the questions they'd be asking, like name one word to describe yourself.

So I, my word was, I'm very intuitive and I feel that way just as a human. So I said, I'm intuitive. I tend to feel and or sense when someone needs something or if something's wrong and that sort of [00:05:00] thing. Because there were all sorts of words coming out and I was like, Oh my gosh, these people are crazy.

or why do you want to be a flight attendant? Well, of course you get the, I'm a people person and I didn't use any of these answers. I was completely opposite of everyone because I just was so prepared. Anyway, the end of the interview, myself and one other girl was asked to stay, they weighed us and did our heights because back then you had to be within a certain parameter of height and weight and we were hired.

And about a month later, I left for Dallas for eight weeks for what I called Barbie boot camp, which really was, it was training. it's all the first aid and all the different pieces of equipment and how to evacuate and all the emergency stuff.

But in between the emergency stuff, of course, is the fluff because we really don't. Thank goodness have to use the emergency stuff, right? Right. So it was, you know, lips and tips. Your nails had to match your lipstick.

You couldn't gain weight while you were in training. They would continue with the weight checks. If you did, they'd say you need to lose X amount of weight. So I did that for three years. I ended up being based here in New York. So I flew out of Newark, LaGuardia and [00:06:00] Kennedy. And I got very burnt out on the commute because I was flying out of Kennedy.

So I was driving from Tom's river to Kennedy airport for Orlando turns, which was going to Disney with a DC 10 full of screaming kids, which at the time that was not in the realm of my thought process and coming home and going back and doing it again.

[00:06:17] Shannon Russell: All on a dare, Maria.

I was meant to have the experience.

[00:06:21] Maria Schenker: Even though it was definitely not going to be my career for life, it was definitely something that I needed to do. And... I had a lot of fun doing it. I met a lot of movie stars and you know, I went to some really great places and while it lasted, it was definitely fun, but it had an expiration date for me.

And that was it. After three years, I went, okay, this is finished. I enjoyed it, but now I need to go back to pharmaceutical sales, which is, I went back to doing, I did wholesale generic. contracting for the defense department in formulation. So we would get bids and I would reach out to the manufacturers and have the bid fulfilled and sell millions of dollars worth of medications and stuff.

That was a lot of fun. All in your 20s. This is all in my 20s. Yes.

[00:07:00] I want to say that when 30 turned around, Oh my gosh. I met my husband and your career took a different path. I basically stopped my career completely, and had babies. I had my first child at 32, and my second child at 35. And in between having my children, I had cancer.

Diagnosed 6 weeks after the birth of my first child, with adeno and carcinoma of the cervix. and had a wonderful oncologist who said you're very lucky it's in site two. We can do surgery and cut out a chunk of your cervix, stitch it back up and watch it, which I did for almost two years after. I was going almost once a month for biopsies.

It was. pretty horrible. with a newborn,

Well, I literally said, you cannot let me die. I have a baby. I baby was six weeks old when I was diagnosed. So yeah, I had it through the pregnancy and just, you know, different things.

When I look back now, I lost part of my plug during the pregnancy early and she was born a month early. So that explains a lot So, this guy was great though, but he said to me no, I got you. I'm gonna take care of this and Literally the [00:08:00] last biopsy I got a phone call from him and he said you're clean.

It's gone. You can go get pregnant and five weeks later I got pregnant with my son my second child. It was amazing what an experience, but had great pregnancy with Zachary and my postpartum checkup was fine, but my six month postpartum checkup, the cancer was back. And at that point it wasn't just cervical cancer.

I had cervical and it was in the lower portion of my uterus. So it was a matter of now just time and removing it. So I scheduled it around my clock because I had a new baby at home again and all. This sort of stuff. So I had hysterectomy and I had everything removed. I'm completely clean. I have been cancer free now for completely nine years. So it's, yeah, it's all good. I'm so happy.

But that leads to my health journey and how I've changed everything in my life, which affected it. the timing

[00:08:50] Shannon Russell: was really. meant to be because you were able to have your first child.

You got your diagnosis, you got cleared, had your second, and then it [00:09:00] came back again. That's a miracle in itself. Don't you think? I

[00:09:02] Maria Schenker: was so lucky. I saved my kids, saved my life. Because had I not been pregnant with my first one, I wouldn't have gone for a pap for another year. So I wouldn't have known that the cancer was the adenocarcinoma.

I wouldn't have known until it was more invasive. And who knows what that would have been. So yeah, I definitely feel like they were my, uh, yeah. Yeah. Wow.

[00:09:24] Shannon Russell: And then when it came back again, how many years

[00:09:27] Maria Schenker: later? in December of 13, it came back again, and it was due to stress.

I had a lot of stuff going on in my life at the time, and I was in the midst of the marriage falling apart, is what, that was sort of the catalyst, and started around 10, and then it sort of lingered for 5 more years, but in 13, I just physically was, I guess, very stressed out. I was, for that period of time, running the practice, my, ex husband's a physician, and I, I say everyone that I wore every hat in the office that there was from janitor to manager to accountant to everything I did everything literally in the office and [00:10:00] yeah It was definitely stressful time and then I was going through the stress with him and I guess my body my doctor said to me Your immune system is definitely responding what's going on And there it was.

That's what was going on.

[00:10:11] Shannon Russell: So you left pharmaceuticals, you had your two children, and you went in to help your husband run his practice. You were taking care of everything else.

And your two little

[00:10:22] Maria Schenker: ones.

Oh, and I went back to school. I forgot to mention the big piece. I had 18 credits when I was pregnant with my second child. I was back in school finishing my degree. Which degree was this? I did social work. I changed it off to social work. Yeah.

[00:10:36] Shannon Russell: Okay. So, so many things. And then the cancer comes back.

And this might have been what really catapulted your second act. And your health journey.

[00:10:49] Maria Schenker:

my mom had lupus when I was a child and was in the hospital for nine months when I was nine years old and was dying.

And, I feel like our psyches, it's so interesting how we are imprinted with [00:11:00] things that we don't realize the effects that they have on us. She spent three months in the hospital and came out, was on very, very high doses of prednisone, which is ultimately what saved her. but my mom being Miss Italian Newark was yet on the same side, like this sort of holistic hippie ish kind of person, which was a really weird.

balance because it made no sense. And she sought out this Dr. Sam Getland who was in Mercer County, Trenton at the time. So we're talking

1972. It may have been even 73 when she actually went to him. And I never will forget this simply because she came home from seeing this doctor. And I remember she had a box filled with supplements. And when I say a box, she was on 75 different supplements. And I remember even as a kid saying like what's going on here and this stuff smelled, you know, it was all weird stuff and he did which now we look at functional medicine or osteopathic doctors or people who do this sort of stuff.

He did hair, nail and blood samples and found out [00:12:00] exactly what a functional medicine doctor would do now, what her body was missing and prescribe these medications and she went into a remission with the lupus for almost 30 years. And that really stayed with me because this was something, that was sort of my first introduction to health.

Right? Yeah. She passed away in 2007. she had, mitral valve replacement surgery. And because of all the prednisone she had been on for so many years, her body went into organ failure. And it took 30 days. It was a very slow, horrible thing to experience. But ultimately, she would never have had quality of life.

And she was only 62. So she was young. And it was, horrible. During that time though, thank you. I was also inflammation. We talked about body and inflammation and stress.

Again, I was diagnosed with celiac, had no idea what was going on. I was going through a month of living at university of Pennsylvania hospital, eating whatever was in their cafeteria and doubling over in pain and not feeling well myself.

So that started me on my journey of. so it's kind of like the pre story, my journey of baking [00:13:00] and cooking gluten free because now I was at a point where I had young kids at home at that time, they were eight and 10 and I'm like, Oh crap, now what do I do? Right? So I go out and I start educating myself on flowers, different flowers to bake with and different things that I could eat and taking things out of my diet.

And I started introducing that stuff into the house and that's where I started baking. So that long ago I started baking gluten free. That's when it all started and it was nothing more than just for myself and my family. end of story.

Fast forward to 2013, I'm diagnosed again with, you know, having, squamous vaginal cancer cells, which was really scary because now that's more invasive and you can't just go cutting things out, right?

So being me, I do research again and I find, a doctor that was working at a baler who was doing a protocol and she was prescribing these, mushrooms, it's called AHCC active hexose correlated compound. They're an immune boosting supplement and she was using them in a protocol for women with cervical cancer. Who had cervical cancer because of [00:14:00] HPV Which I was one of those people I had no symptoms and I had no idea that I even had it until I had cancer Anyway, very nice doctor because she called us back and gave me the protocol and in January 8th On the 8th of 2014, I started taking the AHCC.

My doctor kept saying, you're gonna go back to the oncologist, and I'm like, no I'm not. I refuse. Nine months later, my PAPs were normal, and they have been ever since. And I still take it every single day, along with probably about 20 or so other supplements that I take every single day.

[00:14:35] Shannon Russell: Oh, I'm so glad that you are well, and that you had doctors looking out for you. I want to know, how did this affect you wanting to learn more about your health and to use this knowledge, to help others?

[00:14:47] Maria Schenker: Aside from my eating and everything that I do and, well, going back to school in 2011 to become a health coach.

And then from there, I went for gut health. I went for hormone health. I became certified in plant based [00:15:00] nutrition at Cornell University. I became certified in diseases of affluence, heart disease, and food and then, of course, just recently, I just finished the chef program from Harvard Medical School because I want to teach healthy eating.

[00:15:10] Shannon Russell: we know just from working together too, I've been coaching you along to get your business, up and running even more. I always talk about threads through people's careers and their journeys and the fact that you kind of got pushed into this medical profession through your ex husband.

And then when you had your own health issues. You discovered your love of healthy eating and really diving into the medical side of food and Taking care of yourself and nutrition. It's kind of amazing how it's all come together

but before you began your health coaching business, , after your ex-husband and you split, you sold your medical practice and you wanted to get back into the workforce.

Tell us how that experience was.

Even prior to my reaching out to you, which I feel is so significant, I turned 60 like a week ago, and what I found, we sold the practice in [00:16:00] May of 2022. I took off that summer and did some traveling, went to London and went to Spain and went to Moravia, Spain.

[00:16:08] Maria Schenker: And then in September I decided in 22 to start applying for positions. So, I updated my resume and I started sending out my resume. Ah! Wow. That was, talk about a reality check, I had many instances where, I was told you are the perfect person. I did four or five Zoom interviews and I'm waiting and waiting and waiting, ultimately to have to reach out to them again over a span of months to find out, I'm sorry, we decided to hire from within.

I was told in one interview that I appeared as if I didn't need to work and that I should come across Differently in an interview so they know I need a paycheck and i'm like wow I want to say that I had to have applied. I mean just Thinking like number wise to how many different jobs. Oh gosh.

I don't know 75. Yeah So let's talk about what that felt like because I finally at [00:17:00] the end of it all. Felt nothing but paralyzing sadness. I felt rejected. I felt like I wasn't good enough I felt like I was being judged by people who were so much younger than me that didn't have zero reference with regards to life experience and all of my Professional experience.

I felt I wasn't relevant anymore. Like it was that whole feeling of you're this age now And also, I'm sorry, I'm not some poor looking individual who's like desperate for work. I'm somebody who genuinely wants work, taking the time to put the energy into saying, You know what?

I want to speak with you about this stuff. I want this job to be told, thank you so much for applying, but we've decided to go in a different direction. We're like nightmarish, I couldn't get those words out of my head. Yeah.


[00:17:45] Shannon Russell: just trying to pick yourself up, Maria, after your divorce and say, okay, I've been getting all this extra education. I've helped run this practice for years. Now my kids are older. I am ready to get back out there and work [00:18:00] just to be told. These ridiculous

[00:18:02] Maria Schenker: excuses, ridiculous excuses, especially I was applying as practice administrator.

This is something I ran a business for 25 years and I was told, I'm sorry, you don't have the right experience and I knew so many times I'm thinking, Oh my gosh, they're looking at me and going, well, she's 59. How long is she going to work for? I'm a very young 60 and I'm a very healthy, active 60.

Way better than some of the 30 year olds I've seen out there. So sorry, don't judge me based on my age Judge me based on me and what I'm bringing to you That's valuable not because you're looking at my numbers and I will say this almost all of my interviewers were way younger than me

[00:18:44] Shannon Russell: Oh, I'm sure they're just here to check the boxes, but they're not looking at the whole person.

And that's what always happens. And it's so incredibly frustrating and I've seen this with numerous clients and I saw it myself when I would be applying for work [00:19:00] that when you have so much experience, that is a detriment sometimes. They look at you like you're going to be too opinionated.

You're going to want it your way because you have all this experience and yet they'd rather take someone who has less experience. Just because it's easier

[00:19:14] Maria Schenker: And the funny thing is I can't even tell you on how many of these jobs I've seen on indeed over and over for the same position because there's no one that's going to stay simply because they're not hiring the right person because whoever, again, is doing the hiring.

Listen, I know from doing it, I've hired and I fired. I did it for. Over two decades. I mean, hello. unfortunate but at the same time, it's a blessing because it has brought me to where I am now. It brought me to you who have, you've been so helpful and just, you know, helping me sort of guide my way into doing this.

[00:19:41] Shannon Russell: And I feel like this is Truthfully, this is what I'm meant to do. I just relinquished all control and said, okay, like lead me in the direction. And that's where I feel like I am now, You're working towards all of your extra credentials and going back to school and It's all coming to this point of what you really are meant to be [00:20:00] doing.

So let's talk about Empowering You, your business, and what your vision of it is and what you're creating right now.

[00:20:07] Maria Schenker: Oh, my gosh. So a little brief history again, because I feel like again, I feel like all of our life experience leads us to sort of where we are now.

In 2018, I did my DNA and I found out that the dad that raised me was not my biological father. Now, with that being said, I was shocked and in tears. And yet relieved because it made sense. I found out that I am 92 percent Southern Italian and 7 percent Egyptian, which goes back to Sicily. So I'm a Sicilian girl.

My mom was Calabrian and my biological father's family is from Agrigento and Messina in Sicily, so knowing that you go, okay, so there's your ethnicity, but here's the interesting thing to all that. So my love for cooking and baking my grandmother, my mom's mom was known for her baking to the point where not just.

basic stuff. I mean, very complex baking and people would order stuff from her. [00:21:00] I found out after I discovered my family with the DNA that my grandfather on my dad's side, had a restaurant. My mother's dad had an Italian store, so I'm second generation. Italian here. but I think my passion and my love for what I do is without question innate.

It's just something that's in the genes that I never thought of before like this until that sort of came full circle. So Empowering You, so I did have a health coach practice while I was with my ex husband in the office, but my focus was on, you know, helping people with food and that sort of stuff.

It wasn't until I, Went back to school some more, did some more certifications that I realized. I love baking, I love the science of baking, the chemistry of baking, and I have sort of, over the years now, I have a cookbook worth of recipes that I have made that I have taken a regular basic recipe and translated it into a sugar free, a vegan, or a gluten free recipe.

[00:22:00] Empowering You came from what I went through as a female trying to make my place back into this world at this age and how many other women that I'd spoken to that sort of felt like they just didn't have that within them. we rely too much upon everybody else's opinion of us or how they see us and that's how we rate ourselves and we can't do that.

So Empowering You came out of the fact that. I have a cheerleader mentality in that I believe that we need to support each other and I want to help and show people how to not give up on, you know, if you're diagnosed with type two diabetes, I'm not coming out there saying I'm your nutritionist and I'm going to give you that medical piece of it.

I'm telling you that I'm a foodie cook and that I'm going to give you the piece that's going to help you sustain and have a happy life still eating and living and being a normal person. And that's the part that I love and I get very passionate about it. If I'm in a grocery store and I start talking to somebody about food, I'm like, Oh dear, I can't do this because I'll never leave because I just love it so much.

And I have so much knowledge about it in my head that I just love [00:23:00] sharing it. And there are so many simple tricks and things that people don't realize. It's just from egg substitutes to different kinds of flours to, baking sugar free and using wet ingredients, but things that you need to do to help a recipe maintain its integrity when you're swapping it out.

So this is the stuff that I know and this is the stuff that I want to really, oh my gosh, I love it. I love teaching it. I love the whole idea of it. That's what led me to go to the Harvard course because I wanted to even further my education with that. Right.

[00:23:26] Shannon Russell: And help empower people to know that they don't have to stop their lives when they get a diagnosis.

You and I have spoken about this and how doctors will say, okay, well, this is what you have now. Good luck. You need to stop eating X, Y, and Z. And then they leave and they continue on that same path because they don't have the tools to get them into that healthier lifestyle.

[00:23:47] Maria Schenker: Absolutely. They hand them a pamphlet and they go, Oh, Harry, you are borderline. Your a one C is 5. 8. So you're just about there to having type two diabetes. We need to watch your sugar intake. So what does that translate to for someone? Well, so they [00:24:00] cut out sugar, but maybe they're eating a lot of carbs.

Well, carbs also. Right. The way we metabolize. And so that's the problem. People don't know and they don't know what to buy and they're buying stuff that's just not healthy. It's crappy quality products. And so yeah, that's kind of what I do. I'm a label reader. Nobody wants to go shopping with me because I stand there and read every label before I buy it because I want to know what I'm putting in my body.

And I feel like it's really important. and my whole thing with, food particularly is. It needs to be fun and you know, health starts in our kitchen. I don't care what anyone says. Most of the lifestyle diseases that we see right now in this world are due to how we live, what we eat, our inactivity, what habits we have, and I feel like as simple as just your own kitchen, because kitchens are, in my Italian world, this is family, this is love.

This is what you do. You come into the kitchen and you eat and you cook and you have a great time. So if you can do that and do it. in a healthier way that's benefiting you, then, oh my gosh, that's the best thing I could teach somebody [00:25:00] without question.

[00:25:00] Shannon Russell: How do you think that you changing your own personal health and the way that you eat has sustained your health since your third cancer diagnosis and getting into turning 60?

I mean, happy birthday again, because that's so tremendous.

[00:25:15] Maria Schenker: Oh my gosh, that's a great question because I'm the Energizer Bunny. I'm Tigger is what I'm often calledI wake up in a great mood every single day and I'm like, okay, let's go.

Let's start the day. I am high energy. Exercise is huge, right? I mean whether you're playing pickleball or tennis or running or yoga or whatever it is that you're doing do something for sure but for me food my house is fruits and vegetables and I do eat eggs. I go once a year into the city and I have a steak at this beautiful steakhouse because that's my treat to myself.

and as far as snacking, I have yogurt bars in the. freezer if I desire, I want something ice cream or, you know, I bake. There's always something in the house for me to snack on because that's the other thing that I do. I'm not a big sweets person [00:26:00] so I don't eat sugar per se.

But, you know, listen, in Sicily, they were handing me a croissant filled with pistachio cream. Yes, I did. That was like, oh my goodness. Like, you have to do this. This is what life's about. It's not, depriving yourself completely. It's about living that 90 percent of the time in the positive and saying, you know what, I'm human and I'm allowed to have these other things.

Right? You just can't take it all away. Because if you take it all away, what are you enjoying? You can't enjoy it.

[00:26:26] Shannon Russell: Maria, I want to encourage, and I'll link to it in the show notes too, for listeners to follow you on Instagram or Facebook, because you post the most delicious looking desserts that you bake.

And it's amazing to think that they're sugar free vegan, it's

[00:26:41] Maria Schenker: incredible. You know, I don't tell people sometimes when they eat my baked goods until after they've tasted it. And then I'm like, oh, by the way, did you know that's gluten free? Did you know that's vegan? Did you know that's sugar free?

And they're like, get out!

[00:26:50] Shannon Russell: you just seem like you're in such a great place and that, those interviews, those rejections, they all led you here.

Think about it? If [00:27:00] you were in an office job now being told how to coach people in health or running an office, how would that life compare to where you are now running your own business and helping people with their

[00:27:11] Maria Schenker: nutrition? I wouldn't be happy and you know in retrospect at the time I was feeling because of the rejection because of everyone sort of saying you need to get a job, you need to get a job.

I was feeling like, okay, I have to do this. It was when I said, I'm not doing this anymore. I completely am giving into. sort of the world and saying, okay, lead me in the direction that I need to be in because I need to do something that's going to fulfill me. And what I love nothing more than helping people.

So there is nothing more gratifying for me or that just warms my heart more than knowing, even if it's a client that I've done something that helps them that I can see the positive in it, or they're saying to me, thank you so much.

I feel so much better or look what's happening because of what we've discussed. There's nothing better nothing. There's no other reason to do this except that if that's just [00:28:00] joy It's just pure joy, and I genuinely love baking I get in the kitchen and put my apron on and put my headset in and I could be on another planet and never speak to anyone. And I'm like, okay, bye bye. I'm baking. And when my creation comes out, I'm like, Oh my God, I love it. It's just so exciting.

It's very gratifying. And I could never imagine working for someone now. Oh my gosh. No, having them tell me how I have to think or respond would be a bigger problem. So

[00:28:23] Shannon Russell: no, you belong in the kitchen, not in an office. That is very, very clear.

You're starting to speak for groups and organizations and speak to women and men about how they can live an empowering life and work on their nutrition and their health. Absolutely.

[00:28:40] Maria Schenker: I feel like, listen, my story, I mean, and there's so much more to it, my life story, my DNA story, all of these things are cumulative to where I am now, but all of these life experiences, everybody at some point has experienced something similar.

So, if there is just one little tidbit of whatever it is that I've [00:29:00] done that can help someone, Oh my gosh, there's nothing greater and I love sharing my story. Clearly I'm not shy. yeah, yeah. I'm doing a talk next week it's on fall baking.

We're coming into the holidays with Thanksgiving. And so. I'm going to bring baked goods for them to have. I'm going to share recipes and I'm going to share tips on baking healthy. And in the midst of that, though, I want them to know who I am, what I do and, you know, just.

At this age, don't let anyone tell you you can't do anything. I mean, I think I mentioned to you the things that I've learned over this last year are so powerful that they've become sort of my own mantras. And when I practice gratitude every single night before I go to sleep, it's one of the things that I think, you know, Had I not gone through that last year of sitting here miserable, crying through the winter, feeling sort of like, you know, there were days when I didn't want to get off the couch.

I just wanted to watch Friends, like reruns that I've seen 150 times, over and over again because I just felt so icky, like just terrible. So

Donna, you, [00:30:00] I mean, you guys were sort ofmy light that brought me. Yeah.

[00:30:04] Shannon Russell: it's been such a wonderful experience to work with you too, because you have such a light and you really have so much to share. You are that beacon that saying that you don't have to stop life as you get older.

I think a lot of people think, well, I could have done that. You're doing it. You are doing

[00:30:21] Maria Schenker: it.

here's my six takeaways and I have six of them and I wrote them down simply because. I sat one day and I thought, okay, what has this last year taught me?

What has happened? So these are the things.

Give yourself permission to feel badly, cry, be sad, but process it and do not live in that space. Do not let it become who you are. It's a moment in time. Cause tomorrow could be something else, right?

Take a breath. That's my big thing. And I used to say it. I even have a necklace that says breathe because most people hold their breath when they're stressed or in a certain situation and we don't realize it.

Take a breath and go for it because that's the biggest thing that I finally [00:31:00] allowed myself to do

Be whatever or whoever you'd like to be. Please do not let anyone else give you any sort of confinement. Don't go by somebody else's image of you. Go by your own feelings.

Realize that the word no is just a word and move on. Because I heard no, like, I should have a necklace that says no. Because I feel like that was my other last year's mantra. But I refuse to take no for an answer. I am not allowing that to happen.

Never describe yourself as just.

So there's something that I was doing. Well, I was just an office manager, and I was just a wife, and I'm just a mother. You are not one dimensional, and you have so much more than just a label or a title. Right? I'm not just in anything. So, no, there's never just.

Just will not cut it. most importantly to me, is

do not label yourself. Women, we do this. So, ladies, listen to me. Do not consider yourself just a woman, just a mom, just a [00:32:00] sister, just a wife, just a friend, or just somebody what you do for a living. Oh, I'm a blank. People say, oh, hi, how are you?

And you basically come out with what you do for a living as opposed to who you are. Right? Crazy. We are not those labels. So what I say is, and you ultimately have to find this. And this took some time, but I got there. You have to tap into that part of yourself right in there, that beautiful part of yourself and stand tall and do not let society or anyone make you feel like you are not enough.

No one has the right to do that. And if someone is doing that to you, it's because maybe they're in a place where they feel less than and they feel like they need to bring you to their level. Don't let them. Because I've experienced it. I have, oh my gosh, I think about all the things I've listened to over the last year and I'm like, I have more education than this person.

I have more life experience. And they just diminished me down to almost nothing. And I did buy it for a while. No more. And lastly, this is the biggest thing that I do. Gratitude. Gosh, I can't go to sleep at night. We're saying, you know what? Thank you, God, for this day. Whatever the day was. And for the [00:33:00] people in my life, and for the simple things, if I did something that was, you know, fun, like I baked something that turned out well, I'm like, you know what, thank you, that actually turned out better than I thought.

Silly as that may sound, it really does matter. And appreciate who you are. Love yourself. Appreciate yourself. Stop judging yourself. We do this. We are our own worst critics. I had an inner critic that was, she was screaming at me all the time, and I finally had to say, you know what, get out. Because you are no longer welcome here.

and the very last thing which I found most important, and this is the part that was the scariest, embrace uncertainty. We have no guarantees, we have no idea what's going to happen, but if we do not take that chance on ourselves, most importantly, no one else is going to do that for us. So you have to, all those little things that I just mentioned prior, build down to embrace the uncertainty and go for it.

Go for it. Get out there. Because it's the truth. if you don't go for it, you'll never know. And again, nobody wants regret. You don't want to sit back some day and [00:34:00] say, I wish I had done that. Even if you fail, what is failure, right? It's silly.

[00:34:07] Shannon Russell: It's the fear you have in your head that you're, that story that you're making up and

[00:34:11] Maria Schenker: you were making that up for a little while, right?

Oh, I was writing the book, I was living it. I really was living it. And it took, you know what, and reach out to other people, people like me, people like you, you know, because we're the people that are going to say to you, you know what, you're not seeing yourself for your true self. You're seeing yourself for what everyone else has told you.

So let's tap into that piece of you. That's, And let's help that grow and that's why I want to empower and while yes, I teach baking and I also do the cooking and all of that stuff, you know, at the end of the day, I'm a board certified health coach and I like helping people find that piece of themselves on whatever that is.

to guide them, let them find themselves, their own authentic self and move with life with that.

[00:34:53] Shannon Russell: it's so inspiring. You're not only talking the talk, you walked it. You've walked the walk. You've seen your mother go through [00:35:00] health issues. You've had your health issues. You've gone through. Various family issues over

[00:35:04] Maria Schenker: the years people give into these sort of things and I refuse to do that.

Don't apologize for being who you are or what your life has been because that's what makes us unique. You know, we all think we're so much better or different than someone else when the reality is we're probably exactly the same.

[00:35:19] Shannon Russell: It's how you wake up every day and how you look at your story.

you know what this. Bad year of yours was leading up to you

[00:35:26] Maria Schenker: turning 60. Okay. That's nice to hear. Yes.

[00:35:32] Shannon Russell: Like that's magical in my eyes to think like, what a better way to truly come into this business of empowering people, you're getting out there to speak. You are just growing in so many different ways.

And it really is proof that age is just a number and you need to take life.

[00:35:50] Maria Schenker: Oh my gosh, please do not allow a number to be the identifying factor. I've been on this planet for 60 years and I'd like to be on this planet for another 60 [00:36:00] more because I have so much more that I want to do.

But do not box yourself in and think that, you know, just because you hit a certain age.

. I mean, listen, there's just so much more to do.

It's not over. Not by a long shot.

what is one piece of advice that you would give to someone who's trying to start their second

Oh, that's a good question.

Okay, so here's what I would say to somebody because I did write this down also once before. Authenticity is not a destination. It is a way of being. It is made up of contentment, joy, realization in a vision, contentment with yourself, As you are without labels, enjoy in the everyday moments that arise in your life.

Know that your true self is always and will always remain inside of you. You need to allow yourself to be you and to go truly out into the world let everyone see this, all your fantastic flaws as a gift that make you unique and fabulous. Do your thing most importantly.

And again, the second act is do your thing. Whatever your heart is telling you, do your thing and do it unapologetically. Do [00:37:00] not apologize for being you do not be discouraged by criticism and hold your head high. Live in the moment. That is something that is so huge. We tend to not do that and breathe. Do not pay attention to the fear of failure.

Take ownership, take chances and have fun with it because my God, we are at this age where we can, we don't have to worry about what our friends are going to say. Who cares? Let them go off and be miserable somewhere else. I could care less. And I've heard it all from my friends, believe me. And I'm like, okay, you go sit over there.

I'm still going to go do my own thing. But most importantly, know this life is short. We have no crystal ball, right? Don't stop being yourself. Don't stop doing what makes you happy. And at the end of the day, this is the most important thing that I think, the only person you have to answer to is you.

That's it. Take that chance. Do your second act. Do your third act if that's what it requires, if that's where you are, but just do it. Don't let society or anyone else tell you who you ought to be. Absolutely not. That's

[00:37:59] Shannon Russell: beautiful. [00:38:00] Do your thing. I love it.

So where can our audience connect with you? So definitely,

[00:38:06] Maria Schenker: Empowering You on Facebook. and Instagram, it's

@mariaschenker and either one of those places, I have an email, maria@empoweringyouhwc. Com.


[00:38:16] Maria Schenker: Maria, thank

[00:38:17] Shannon Russell: you so much for being on the show.

And I will link to everything and I encourage everyone to connect with you on social and you have so many great things to share with people and your story is

[00:38:29] Maria Schenker: just so incredible. Thank you so much. Thank you. It was so much fun. I really enjoyed doing this. Thank you.



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