Member of the Week: Debby Strenkofsky

My current full name is: 

Deborah Marie Strenkofsky, please call me Debby!

What was your favorite activity as a child?

My favorite activity as a kid in the 60’s was riding my Schwinn Stingray bicycle all over Marin County.  My little brother Danny and my older brother Kevin and I would ride from East Corte Madera, where we lived, to Stinson Beach, Camp Taylor State Park, on bikes that had no hand brakes, and one speed!  There were 8 kids in our family, and our parents had no idea where we were, and that was the standard back then.  As long as you made it home in time for dinner, that was all that mattered.  

What job did you have in high school?

My Dad was raised in a Jewish Orphanage in San Francisco during the Depression, and my Mom was raised Baptist in Ft. Collins, Colorado.  When they met and married, they decided to be Catholic- it was the thing to do in the 50’s.  My Mom loved music, and she demanded that all of us play a musical instrument, starting with piano at 5 years old, then any musical instrument until we were 18 years old.  We attended St. Anselms Catholic Church (my Mom didn’t like the Priest at St. Patricks in Larkspur) and when the guitar mass became hip in the 60’s, my mom was all over it.  She had us singing and playing our guitars every weekend in church, as well as doing funerals and weddings (we were paid cash for the weddings!!!).  I did that all through high school, whether we liked it or not!

What is your most embarrassing memory?

Soooooo many!  When I first graduated from nursing school, I got a job, nights, in a nursing home in Terra Linda.  At about 2am in the morning, on Day 2 of my nursing career, the daughter of an elderly patient came to the nurses station and reported that she thought that her Mom was dying, so I followed her into the patient’s room and we sat and observed her Mom.  The patient was a DNR (do not resuscitate), the death was expected, so we watched as she took in great lungfuls of air, with long pauses in between breaths.  The daughter was alone, no other family for support.  Then her mom expelled her breath with an enormous sigh and appeared to deflate, and no other breath came.  The daughter, in tears, asked “is she gone?”  And I, in my newly minted lack of infinite wisdom, declared, “yes, she is gone”.  We held hands, and I gave her a hug.
20 seconds later, her Mom took in a sudden loud forceful inhale, and both nurse and daughter jumped our of our skin and shrieked!  That, was her last breath.  I was embarrassed, but I learned a very valuable lesson about dying, and living.  Daughter and I looked at each other and cracked up, laughing so hard WE had trouble breathing.
I then listened for a heartbeat with my stethoscope, finding none, we made the calls that had to be made.

What is the best vacation you have ever taken?

Last year I took two weeks off and stayed home.  I read books, took leisurely walks with my husband and dogs, ate at wonderful restaurants.  THAT was my best vacation ever.

What makes you laugh out loud?

Late night talk show hosts crack me up, and keep me sane.  During this tumultuous political time, Seth Myers, Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah keep it real, and keep me laughing!

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

Definitely graduating from college.  I started college when I was 30 years old, taking basic math at College of Marin, taking all the ‘bonehead’ high school classes that I failed to pass as a teenager, then worked my way through college classes, then pre-requisite nursing classes, then finally nursing school, all while working at the Kaiser Pharmacy as a technician, and managing a severely brain damaged daughter and 2 younger children as a single mom.  I had to maintain a 3.8 GPA to keep my full scholarship to Dominican College, which I did, graduating Summa cum laude.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Be Here Now

What would you like people to remember about you?

I don’t much care if anyone remembers me, but rather the lessons I have learned that have helped me cope – which is why I tattooed BE HERE NOW to my arm – I forget it is there, but when someone notices it, it reminds me to practice it!

Why do you practice at Marin Power Yoga?

I started yoga at 57 years old, 3 years ago.  I was a runner, but after jogging for 40 years, the body started to break down.  Yoga seemed like a good idea, but I’m kinda a ‘tomboy’ type of person, yoga seemed too ‘froo froo ‘ to me.  I checked out a couple other studios, and felt out of place.  I landed at MPY, and it clicked.  Jamie and Amy are really, really nice, down to earth people.  I felt instantly at home.  The teachers are all fantastic.  The members are a kind, family minded bunch.  I wish I had found a place like this when my kids were young, if I had, I would have started Yoga at 27 rather than 57.  Thank you MPY owners, teachers, and fellow yogis, you help make me a better person, and as each person become the best version of themselves, our community becomes more resilient 

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