Nature can bring a measure of peace in a time of grief. Sandra Marquez is leaning on the outdoors to help navigate the loss of her father and two other relatives last year. The Steppenwolf Theatre Company ensemble member (she directs as well as acts) walks most days for 20 to 45 minutes, usually on the Loyola University campus. If the weather’s good, she’ll sit for a while at a grotto near Lake Michigan.
“Being in the outdoors is a lifesaver,” says the California native, who lives in Rogers Park and teaches theater classes at Northwestern University. Yoga is also a fixture in Marquez’s wellness routine. It helps her put one foot in front of the other during trying times, she says.
Marquez will be onstage April 28 to June 12 in Steppenwolf’s Seagull, a comedic adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s classic play. It’s the first production in the company’s 400-seat in-the-round Ensemble Theater. “It’s so beautiful,” Marquez says of the new space.
How do you start your day?
“I find time for quiet in the morning, at least 20 to 30 minutes to pray, meditate, or do spiritual reading. I do this before I do anything else. I may read work by Pema Chödrön, a nun and American Tibetan Buddhist, or by Sister Joan Chittister.”
What are your go-to walking shoes?
“I have a lot of foot issues. My regular walking shoes, when it’s not cold out, are Hoka One Ones. When it’s cold, I wear Merrell boots. I love Merrells.”
How do you unwind?
“Yoga at night — and Netflix. I love watching shows from different countries. Some of my favorites are Marcella, Broadchurch, and Luther from England, Bordertown from Finland, and Suburra from Italy.”
What sort of yoga do you practice?
“I do gentle yoga, plus restorative Pilates, three times a week. I take classes at Chi-Town Shakti. Also, I take a virtual Pilates class that I love on Saturdays.”