When flipping through my mental Rolodex looking for inspiring people, my mind quickly landed on Marcela Rondani, a woman who has not only survived adversity but has thrived as well. To understand what I’m talking about, I’d have to take you back to Sao Paolo, Brazil where she grew up. A city, by the way, whose motto is Non ducor, duco, which means, “I am not led, I lead.”
Growing up, Marcela’s father wanted to provide her with the best possible opportunities, so he would work long and arduous hours just so she would be able to attend the more prestigious private schools.
“What I remember most about the school,” Marcela said. “Is all the other kids were extremely wealthy and I never felt like I fit in.”
Later, Marcela’s mother started experiencing severe mental health issues. Sometimes it got so bad, that Marcela would have to take it upon herself to get her brother up and ready just so they wouldn’t miss school.
At thirteen, Marcela started having debilitating panic attacks herself, to the point she felt like she was dying and she had to be taken to the ER several times. It impacted Marcela’s life to the point that she couldn’t even leave her house or attend school. However, Marcela was determined to find a way to deal with her anxiety and that’s when her progressive, eighty year old grandmother introduced her to yoga.
“My grandmother was a strong, inspiring, woman and as the director of a leading school in Brazil was way ahead of her time. She gave me the ability to believe in my body and have faith in nature,” Marcela said. “I was amazed when I did yoga, it not only brought me back to my body but it gave me the faith I needed to survive.”
Indeed, yoga can be beneficial to all teenagers. Yoga teacher, Carol Krucoff says, “The first stage of massive hormonal changes takes place during the turbulent years of adolescence, when the brain’s neurochemical circuitry is getting established. The fluctuating hormones of puberty can result in impulsive behavior, as the amygdala, a part of the limbic system involved with emotions, is infused with hormonal fuel. And the general hormonal flux can bring on buzzing energy, mood swings and yoga can help teens be more at peace with their bodies.”
Having worked through her own pain with yoga, acupuncture, and therapy, Marcela decided that she wanted to help others as well. In her mid-twenties, after graduating from the University of Sao Paulo, Marcela started working on the front lines as a therapist with the severely mentally ill. But as fate would have it, she unexpectedly met Giancarlo, the man of her dreams. They both fell madly in love and decided to move to the United States. However, unable to speak the language or work, Marcela felt trapped so she decided to go back to school. Aside from working two babysitting jobs, volunteering at a local Rape Crisis Center, she concentrated her energy on getting yet, another Masters in Clinical Psychology.
Today, Marcela, is a wife, a mother of two and the Clinical Director at Polaris, a residential treatment center for adolescents. But while she may have a full life, what is really impressive, is her passion, for she is not only an individual who has overcome obstacles, Marcela is a woman who leads.