I was born in Hollywood, California and grew up just outside Los Angeles. The youngest of three girls, I’ll be 60 this year. I struggled growing up-I was always the tallest and very awkward. From an early age I did not like being told what to do. When I graduated high school I left home and have been on my own ever since. My first job was for an insurance company and I spent the next 35 years in the insurance business. I attended numerous insurance classes and obtained designations for my efforts. I became an independent insurance agent with a nice book of business in the LA area and managed 30 women in the office. I was very busy!

At age 32 I suffered a collapsed lung, which led to the discovery that I had Marfan syndrome, a hereditary disorder of the connective tissue that affects many different systems of the body. My father died of the syndrome, and my sister, son, and granddaughter all have it.

My husband Ron and I moved to Punta Gorda in 1998, both ready to get out of the big city. I continued working in the insurance business until 2008 when I had open heart surgery due to my illness. The surgery went well, but mentally it was difficult. My doctors had told me to stop working long before my surgery, but it took a while for it to sink. My daily routine after all those years had to come to an end. My health seemed to be deteriorating, and I worried about the health of my sister, son, and granddaughter. I was feeling sorry for myself and had no idea where to turn.

The cyst in my spine had gotten worst, my back bothered me due to the cist and scoliosis, and a bulging disk in my neck was worsening. Since my own heart surgery my son has also had heart surgery. And we discovered my granddaughter has the syndrome. My sister suffers major complications from the syndrome, as well: She uses a walker and will soon be in a wheelchair, she takes morphine to control her pain, and can only see out of one eye-all Marfan syndrome-related.

In January of 2009 I drove by The Yoga Sanctuary (which I had done many, many times) and finally decided to stop in and check it out. Bonnie was at the front desk. I asked her about yoga and I wanted to see where the classes were held. Jennifer was doing a private session so I peeked in. Bonnie explained the beginner package to me and something just told me I should do it. I needed something positive in my life and I found it that day.

Yoga has brought so much to me. Physically I feel so much better! My body feels alive. Even more important, I have never felt more accepted and cared for as I do when I am in the studio. I am more peaceful, spiritually and emotionally, which carries into my everyday life. I never thought I would be able to touch my toes, let alone take an Ashtanga class. Now I do both.

I have been reading the book Meditations from the Mat. Reading about vairagya, the practice of non-attachment, has really touched me. T.S. Elliott once said, “By the time we actually arrive at the decision to let go of something, we shall be glad of another death.” Yoga has helped me to come to my truth. I am now grateful every day for the gifts I have in my life and for the things I can do. I will continue to practice yoga and be grateful for what I can as long as I can and not beat myself up for the things I cannot do. When I can no longer physically practice yoga, my spiritual path will continue to grow.

When I am not doing yoga my favorite thing to do is spend time with my husband. We have a boat and spend as much time on the water as possible. I also help him out with his work when he needs me. My favorite quote is from my father: “The best helping hand that you will ever receive is the one at the end of your own arm.”