Member of the Week: Elizabeth Hill Prussia

1. What is your full name?

Elizabeth (Lisa) Hill Prussia

2. What was your favorite activity as a child?

During summer vacations, my family would go camping for two weeks with other families to Millerton Lake or the Eastern Sierras. We had a small pop-up trailer for sleeping and cooking meals. My friends and I would spend hours at the beach swimming out to small islands. I also enjoyed the ranger talks in the evening around the campfire.

3. What job did you have in high school?

I had several jobs in high school. I started working when I was 15 years old. The first job I had in high school was in a big mall in Santa Monica, California. I had been taking dance classes for several years and would go to class right after school at a local dance academy. One day my locker at school was broken into and all my dance clothes and shoes were stolen. A friend of mine knew the owner of a local dance wear shop and she offered me a job working there after school. I worked there for one year and then got a job closer to home at the first Pottery Barn.

4. What is your most embarrassing memory?

Like many of us, I have a lot of embarrassing moments. However, the first memories that came to mind occurred at work. I was a Ranger Naturalist for East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) for 24 years. I worked in the Sierra Foothills for 9 years and in the East Bay for 15 years. One day in 1996, we were carrying lumber to a site we were rehabilitating and I stumbled and fell flat on my face right in front of my supervisor and coworkers. They all laughed, but in a friendly sort of way. However, at the time, I was the first full time female ranger on the crew. There was pressure to perform and meet certain expectations that women could do the work. This made the situation more embarrassing for me. However, I recovered over the years and was able to promote later in my career.

5. What is the best vacation you have ever taken?

After college, I worked for the Marin Conservation Corps as a crew leader for three years. In the summer of 1991, I was selected, along with 25 other corps members, to participate in a work exchange in Russia. They sent over a small group of people to work with us and then we went to Moscow for five weeks to work in the city doing conservation work in a city park similar to Golden Gate Park. We worked four days a week and traveled locally on the weekends. This was the year the Soviet Union collapsed into fifteen separate countries. It was exciting to work and travel in Russia. We met many nice people and learned a lot about the culture and daily working and living conditions of the Russian people.

6. What makes you laugh out loud?

I met my best friend Anna through work at a consulting firm almost 20 years ago. We shared many funny moments at work. We laughed so much then that our coworkers would just shake their heads and say, “Here we go again”. Since laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, I believe this helped make our work enjoyable and promoted an overall sense of well-being. Not just for the two of us, but our coworkers as well.

7. What accomplishments are you most proud of?

When I was in high school, there were two goals I had for the future. First, I wanted to become a park ranger (non-law enforcement) and second, I wanted to continue taking dance classes and perform. I was able to do both. After college I worked at the Marin Conservation Corps and then at EBMUD. I was promoted in 2002 to Ranger Supervisor. During college, I performed with the Santa Monica College Dance Company and also at San Francisco State University. In addition, some friends and I had a dance company and we performed in Los Angeles, where I grew up.

8. What advice would you give to your younger self?

One of my first yoga classes at MPY, Grace read a quote from Mary Williamson. The part that struck me the most was “…It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” These two sentences have stayed with me since then and when I am in class or running on the trails or in ceramics class, I give myself permission to do my best. If I could go back to my younger self, this is the advice I would have shared. It is okay to be your best, and in that space others can benefit and feel the same way.

9. What would you like people to remember about you?

It was a lot more difficult to put this answer into words than I thought it would be because this is a pretty meaty question. The kind of question that left me in deep thought for hours before writing the answer. A lot of things came to mind, some superficial, some pretty deep. But as I thought, there were really only two things that mattered for me. I want to be remembered for being a kind, compassionate person and I want to be remembered for giving back. I have been able to accomplish the second as a ranger naturalist. I managed conservation and restoration projects for many years. But I want to be remembered not just as someone who is kind, compassionate, and helps others; I want to actually BE someone who is kind, compassionate, and helps others.

10. Why do you practice at Marin Power Yoga?

I grew up in a sports family. My sisters and brother have all played multiple sports since they were young children. My father ran 20 marathons. They all inspired me to be active. I started in dance, then running, cycling and now yoga, TRX, boxing and running. I started taking boxing two years ago and last June decided to add yoga to my practice. MPY offers a wide variety of classes throughout the day. The teachers and other members are very supportive. It is nice to practice in a diverse community of people who are striving for physical and emotional good health, inner peace and harmony.

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