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It’s been 3 years. 156 weeks. 1,095 days. 26,280 hours. 1,576,800 minutes… since my dad left his physical body.

Interestingly enough, in one of the the Facebook groups I belong to, someone posted about grieving the loss of her mother his past Summer, and wanting to feel “normal” again.

In commenting on that post, I was reminded of how it felt to me, to say goodbye to the most important man in my life.

This will be a short post. But if you are struggling with grief, I urge you to read it. Maybe it an bring you some comfort. I hope it does.

The first 2-3 months are impossibly hard. The memories are too fresh and your mind plays tricks on you. For example, sometimes I’d wake up and not remember that he was gone. It took time for that fact to settle in. There was also a lot of regret. I was tortured with the what-ifs. That was hard.

Then the edges get less and less sharp as time goes along. There’s their first birthday when you won’t get to talk to them, or sing them happy birthday. Then YOUR first birthday when they won’t be there to celebrate it. First Easter. First Christmas. And so on.

Once that first anniversary comes around, it feels lighter. To me, personally, I felt that life was slowly returning to normal, whatever normal is. I was slowly able to find joy in his memories, and not only the pain of his absence.

There’s something to be said about the practice of some cultures, where folks mourn someone’s loss for exactly a year by wearing only black (we call it “luto” in Portuguese), and moving on after that. That year mark is indeed very powerful.

However, time alone doesn’t do all this. There’s a level of acceptance that must come from within. Accepting life (and death) on their own terms. For me, there was a lot of reflection, of trying to face the reality of his health condition straight on, and accepting the outcome. His quality of life wouldn’t be promising. I’d never want to see someone I love suffering just to give me the selfish knowledge that he’s still alive.

In my case, on top of acceptance, there was also forgiveness. I had to constantly work on forgiving myself for the things I didn’t do or the things I didn’t do perfectly. That played a huge role in my ability to move on and find peace again. I had the choice to keep beating myself up – I chose not to.

This past year has brought so much loss and pain. Lots of us lost loved ones in 2020. So, today, this message is not for my dad. I talk to him all the time through my prayers, in my dreams. He’s always with me, and he’ll always be. This message, instead, is for YOU who is mourning. I hear you. I understand you. And I am here to say: there is a way out. Allow yourself to see it, when the time is right.

As we say in Yoga, the only way out is through. So get through your grief, feel every feeling, allow yourself to navigate through that dark, winding, twisted tunnel that never seems to end. But don’t hang on, keep walking, keep moving. There’s an end to it, I promise you. If you just keep moving, at your own pace, but do it. One step at a time.

In loving memory of Luiz B. Dornellas, my beloved father.

Theresa Conlon

Theresa is a Yoga Alliance certified instructor (200-hour RYT) who has been teaching since 2013. She is skilled in various yoga styles including Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa Flow, Restorative, and Meditation. Theresa also brings an extensive dance background to her yoga practice, which includes teaching both modern dance and ballet. She has over 40 years of dance/theater performing experience and currently showcases her choreography as part of Bergen Dance Makers, a dance collective in northern New Jersey. Theresa’s yoga classes offer a calming mix of traditional asana postures and creative movement flows, supported by energy-moving breath. Students of all skill levels are invited to find ease and peace in their bodies/minds/spirits through the joyful bliss of yoga movement.

Carrie Parker Gastelu

Carrie Parker Gastelu, E-500 RYT, has been teaching yoga since 1993. Carrie began her journey when Yogi Raj Mani Finger initiated Carrie into the ISHTA Yoga lineage after training with Mani’s son, Yogi Raj Alan Finger. In addition, she has studied many other yoga traditions as well as anatomy, physiology, movement, and awareness practices to create an eclectic style all her own. She is known for her honest, non-dogmatic yet passionate approach.

Carrie is a regular speaker and contributor at conferences, websites, and print publications and has been featured in Fit Magazine, the Yoga Zone Book, and in the Yoga Zone Video, “Flexibility and Stress Release.”

Lisa Podesta-Coombs

When Lisa found yoga in 2008, she started to find herself again and it set her on a path of health and healing. She received her 200HR RYT certification from Raji Thron of Yoga Synthesis, and her 30HR Chakra Yoga Teacher Training certificate with Anodea Judith and holds a Y12SR (Yoga of 12 Step Recovery) certification. She is also a Holistic Health Coach (certified through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition). Lisa believes we’re all on a journey of learning how to trust ourselves; she helps her clients build that trust by supporting them in creating better habits for a better life through various functional movement modalities like yoga, barre, Pilates & strength training, mindset, and whole food nutrition.

Forever a student with a passion for people, holistic health, and self-actualization, Lisa is always embracing opportunities to advance her education to better serve; Ayurveda workshops & immersions have been of particular interest as she continues to deepen her knowledge of and experience with food as medicine and she recently completed Unleash Her Power Within, a transformational program of rediscovering our truest selves, powered by Tony Robbins.  

As she continues to give herself space and grace to nourish her natural self and actualize her potential, Lisa continues to share the gift of movement as medicine to inspire authenticity & health in body, mind, and spirit. You can expect mindful, accessible, dynamic, playful, and uplifting classes from Lisa.

Tanisha Sutton

Tanisha’s yoga journey began when she was an undergraduate student studying at university. Changes in her health coupled with anxiety over grades, relationships, and life in general, forced her to search for healthy lifestyle choices she could implement to help manage the stress that she was experiencing as a new adult. A friend of hers suggested that she attend some community yoga classes to help with the anxiety and increase her daily physical activity. Initially, she was reluctant and filled with all these false ideas about yoga and the people who practiced yoga. Like many others, she was concerned that her body type and lack of flexibility automatically excluded her from being a student. Curiously yet hesitantly, she journeyed on to her first class and began laying the foundation for a home and public practice that has supported her over the years.

On this journey, she has discovered that yoga has nothing to do with appearances nor is there anything, but an open mind needed to begin. She intends to provide you with a gentle yoga session that is safe, inclusive, and accessible. Her classes are an expression of self-love and are a deliberate choice to tend to ALL the parts of our being that are neglected, ignored, or disregarded during the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Through meditation, deep breathing, and gentle movement we will collectively share space to observe, rest and re-set. Tanisha is honored to share her practice with you and looks forward to seeing you on the mat!