Time for You
It’s not about being self-centered, it’s all about self-care
Summer’s ending, kids are back to school, a sense of normalcy sets in. Now what?
Not everyone has a contemplative clearing space this time of year, but this is a good time to reassess how we’ve been living and loving our lives.
We feature Cotrenia Hood, an accomplished businesswoman who, faced with a life-threatening condition, made significant lifestyle and self-care changes that positively affected not only her, but the loved ones around her.
Celebrated speaker, author and three-time Navy SEAL platoon commander Alden Mills presents “controllables” — mindsets we can harness as we seek greater peace in this shifting world.
Dr. Kiran Gill offers a lesson in dermal anatomy, aging skin and repair to help you look your best, and alchemist Adora Winquist sheds light on feng shui and things to avoid as you plan harmonious living spaces.
“When I loved myself enough,” says author Kim McMillen, “I began leaving whatever wasn’t healthy. This meant people, jobs, my own beliefs and habits — anything that kept me small.
“My judgment called it disloyal. Now I see it as self-loving.”
Cotrenia Hood’s successful life underwent a full reset — for the better
by Kathy Grey
A business and economic development careerist, Cotrenia Hood founded Steel Bleu, a consulting firm that focuses on the entrepreneurial journey.
“I decided to live on purpose,” she says, “waking up loving what I do for the rest of my life.”
She learned the ins and outs of raising capital for non- and for-profit businesses, sharing methods for launching other people’s dreams and how her purpose-driven work can provide opportunities to diversify businesses in Southwest Florida, drawing from the area’s existing infrastructure to bring about equity.
But with the “good stress” of Hood’s achievements came the bad — and the emergence of an underlying condition that could have killed her last year.
Today, at age 47, Hood — mother of two, wife and entrepreneur — reflects on the whole-life reset made necessary by a surgical procedure that saved her life.
For years, Hood had been living with supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), an irregularly fast heartbeat. Two years ago, she says, SVT episodes started happening every day and, eventually, she couldn’t get them to stop.
Hood shared her story on social media, which has been edited for truncation.
“A year ago I had heart surgery, a cardiac ablation. I suffered periodically with a racing heart. It was over 200 beats per minute, nonstop, sometimes for hours. It would take my breath away. It would make me feel faint.
“It was crippling, but I pressed through. I pressed through for my children, for my family, for my friends and my clients. I ignored the signs to slow down. I ignored the times that loved ones said I was overcommitted. I thought with the help of medicine, I will just keep going. But eventually, the medicine stopped working. I could barely walk down my driveway without losing my breath. I had ignored the signs so long that when I tried to employ the strategies the doctor gave, it was too late.
“It all came to a head when I blacked out in a hotel in December 2020 and had to be rushed to the ER, where there were a dozen or more healthcare workers and a defibrillator standing between me and seeing my children have children.”
“I was at the point of no return,” she tells us. “I scheduled the operation to get it fixed.”
And then, she thought to herself, “I’ve got to make some changes. I have to set boundaries. People who love you and want the best for you will stay within the boundaries you draw. So, I had to redraw my boundaries.”
The Life You Deserve
She started turning down extra errands and spontaneous calls for meetings so she could take care of herself, saying, “You want to help, but you’ve already overextended yourself.”
Calling it faith over fear, Hood says, “God loves you and it’s all going to be OK. Fear can suffocate and paralyze you, keeping you from living and having the life you deserve. I’m shifting because my life is important, and I have to treasure it as much as God does.
“Prioritizing and self-preservation are the greatest gifts to give anyone connected to you. That way, I can be a gift to them, and they can get the best version of me so I can give them 100% of myself.”
• I bought an elliptical machine, and I walk the greenway twice a week. Baker Park is the most amazing place to get in exercise.
• I cut protein choices to chicken and fish.
• I cut down on caffeine, something I used when I was overworked. I had to shift because I was not resting well.
• I moved my phone from the nightstand. And there’s less urgency answering the phone.
• I assigned cooking days to others in my household. (They’re quite capable!)
• I’m committed to the work hours I’ve set.
• I started a garden and decided I was going to slow the pace of my life. There’s peace in putting seeds in the ground and producing food to feed my family. Knowing patience through gardening has slowed me down so I can focus on the things that really matter.
• Self-care is not selfish. It’s the best gift you can give to yourself — and others.
• Self-care is not expensive. I don’t need a massage, spa treatments or international travel to care for myself. All I need is my book, my music and 15 minutes of transition time to decompress and set my boundaries.
• The journey started with my heart and my life. I knew it was time to reset and make changes.
• I don’t want vacation or the weekend to be an escape. I want it to be an extension of the life God has given me.
Hood chooses to live day by day.
“I’m as present as I can be in my life. Grace is what I walk in right now. I’m present in every single moment I’m on this Earth. I want to be present and tell my story. My story matters and, hopefully, it will help someone in the future.”