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Boreal Community Media

Meet your Cook County neighbor: Hartley Newell-Acero

Apr 01, 2023 05:50AM ● By Editor
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A Boreal Community Media Exclusive - April 1, 2023

First of all, congratulations on your new business!  You left your position at Sawtooth Mountain Clinic a few months ago.  Tell us a little about your new adventure in life and your new business.

Thank you!  In February, I passed the baton of my position as Outreach Coordinator at SMC, and now I'm excited to be launching ReNewell Resources Health & Wellness Coaching. People often truly want to make changes that would help them to lead happier and healthier lives but are overwhelmed and confused by information or feel all alone in the process.  That’s where coaching can help. It’s an intentional form of conversation that helps you move through the process of clarifying goals, values, strengths, and resources.  You can then use those to explore methods for transforming them into lasting behaviors.  

I offer private and small group meeting options, and hope to soon have classes and workshops available.  I've got a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a master's degree in Behavioral Science/Fitness & Human Performance.  I’m a Mayo Clinic trained and certified Wellness Coach, as well as a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach.  ReNewell Resources is an opportunity for me to help others by putting my education and training to full use!

Did the pandemic lead you, like so many others, to make the decision to make big changes in your life?

The pandemic certainly played a role in this change. This has been a time of massive upheaval, but, if we’re lucky, disruption can lead to discovery.  During the early part of the pandemic, I learned about the "Phases of Disaster" response.  As it turns out, I moved through each phase like clockwork:  

  1. the pre-disaster phase.  I was just doing my regular job as an Outreach Coordinator, getting information from the clinic out to our community.

  2. the heroic phase.  The “Pandemic Panic” hit, and it was all hands on deck!  I started churning out infographics and videos.

  3. the honeymoon phase.  I felt honored and proud to be part of our community’s dedicated, effective response. (Just a reminder - we are amazing together!)

  4. the disillusionment phase.  Then…it just kept going, one variant after another.  I got worn down filtering and funneling information, and so very tired of feeling afraid of other people.

  5. the reconstruction phase.  During this last phase, many people (including me) have been asking themselves, "What now?  Who am I and what do I really want?  What do I have to offer?"  My answer is that I'm a coach and teacher.  This is what I most enjoy and where I can best be of service to others.  

How did you "land" in Cook County many years ago?  What drew you to this area?

My father’s parents were both born and raised in Duluth.  During the Great Depression, my grandfather found work in Texas, and that’s where my father was born.  My grandmother was a school teacher, and during her summer breaks, she would bring him and his sisters back to Duluth.  One of his favorite parts of summer was coming with his cousins to Hovland to stay with their grandfather.

Even as a young boy, the North Shore stole his heart.  He told me that when he was 10 years old, he stood on a rock in Chicago Bay and announced, "When I'm grown up, I'm going to live here."  Fast forward a couple of decades.  When my sister and I were kids, we'd pile into a caravan of cars with our dad, his sisters, and their families, and make the long, sweaty drive from Texas to Minnesota - first to Duluth to see our relatives, then to Grand Marais, and then up the Gunflint Trail to camp.  The big lake and the forest were almost more beautiful than I could stand.  As a child, I believed this place was magic.

It took him a while, but Daddy made good on his boyhood promise.  When he retired, he bought a home here, and when my kids were little, we would come from Texas to spend summers with him.  My mother died in 2009.  Soon after, the whisperings in my soul to go north got louder.  Daddy had worked overseas a lot of my life and all of my childrens'.  Mom's passing slammed home the brevity of our time with the people we love.  We decided to come be with my dad so the kids could get to know him in a deeper way and so that they could have the experience of living in another part of the country.  Our original plan was to stay only a year.  It's been almost 13 years now, and I no longer just believe this place is magic - I know it.  

How do you practice your own self-care and find peace when you devote so much of your time helping others?

The most obvious answer is probably exactly what you'd expect:  I eat healthy food.  I'm active.  I get enough sleep.  I nurture relationships with loving people that care about me.  The less obvious answer:  I cut myself some slack.  

“Wellness” is a vague word that can mean whatever somebody decides it means, and the wellness industry can be a sick place.  There's always pressure to do more, be better, ever striving to hit the moving target of wellness perfection.  However, I subscribe to the “good enough” wellness model.  It requires two things: First asking oneself, “Since perfection is impossible, is my current   <fill in the blank>   behavior sufficient for me to be healthy and happy now, and to carry that with me as I age?”  Secondly, it requires complete honesty in answering that question!  If the answer is “Yes,” then, if I want, I can choose to quit focusing on that and move on to something more important or interesting.

So, how does this form of self-care show up in my life?  I recently enjoyed eating my way across New Orleans, and I’m back to my usual plant-centric menu now that I’m home.  I try to walk 4-6 miles a day, but, during the pandemic, I got out of my regular weight lifting routine.  Reigniting that habit is happening in fits and starts, but that's okay, because I know I’ll get there.  For me, and for my clients, it’s about priorities and progress, not perfection.

Everyone has words of wisdom that they were given by someone in their life.  What advice or words of wisdom stand out in your mind, and why?

There is a quote by Maya Anglou that, since I first heard it, has shaped everything I’ve done, as a teacher, a parent, an outreach coordinator, and now as a coach.  “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  My hope has always been that when I’m with someone, they feel seen, heard, and valued, that they feel capable and supported, and that they feel hopeful about their ability to build a healthy life. 

If someone wants to contact you, what is your website and the best way to reach you?

My website is  There you can learn more about health and wellness coaching, learn more about my background and experience, book an appointment or buy a discounted package of appointments, or just ask a question!  There’s a contact form on the website that folks are welcome to use, or they can call me at 218-353-1442.

Thank you for this opportunity to introduce myself to more of my neighbors!

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