WENDY HOOD, 42
MY MIDLIFE SLUMP "I was a manager at Nordstrom, in charge of supervising 500 employees-a job I loved but one with a very demanding schedule. To keep up my energy, I’d join a gym or start a new workout program, but I was never able to stay consistent or committed. I felt tired and stressed, so I’d wander through nutrition stores looking for whatever I was lacking."
MY "AHA" MOMENT "Eight years ago, my daughter, who was seven, decided she wanted to take tae kwon do, and the rest of us-my husband, our nine-year-old son and I-decided to do it with her. We had a great time and even got our black belts at the same ceremony in 2003. Then, in January 2005, Nordstrom offered me a promotion and the chance to open a new store. Before, I would have been all over that opportunity, but at that point, I really didn’t want to relocate again. I wanted to try something new and also to spend more time with my family. I not only turned down the promotion, I decided to take early retirement."
SIDE BENEFIT: A NEW BUSINESS "I began teaching martial arts at my church and dreaming of having my own studio. My husband, a baseball hitting coach, was thinking of going out on his own too. We were driving home from Disney World during spring break 2005 when inspiration struck, and I suddenly said to my husband, Pull over.’ Right on the spot, I started diagraming a business that would include the Swing Doctor, my husband’s coaching company, and My Health Kick
, a martial arts studio. We found a space the next year, painted and outfitted it in six weeks, and opened our doors in February 2007. These days I wake up at 3:45 to lead a five AM boot camp class. I’ve swapped business suits for sweat suits, and I’m making way less than half of my old six-figure
salary, but it’s all worth it. As a family, we’ve learned to get by on what we need and not what we want. That’s been a great lesson for us all."
THE NEW ME "My strength as an executive was motivating people, and as a
martial arts teacher I still do that-only now I’m helping women become healthier and more empowered, in body, mind and spirit. And I get to spend more time with my family. My oldest daughter works in the studio, my eight-year-old takes my classes, and we’re able to have family dinners most nights, including a weekly picnic in the park."