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A blog post by Mary Moscarello. Photos by Mary Moscarello.

Mid July garden growth

In mid-July I snapped this photo fully intending to express gratitude and maybe humble brag a little about the new fencing we’d put around my li’l patch o’heaven – AKA, my backyard garden… but something (Lord knows what) distracted me in the days following. 

This picture was taken less than a month after Bongo died. Before that, we hadn’t needed a fence around the garden – the “peemail” Bongo left around the perimeter of our property was enough to keep critters at bay. Yet, after Bongo died, our garden came under attack. We have a groundhog living near our house. He has been sighted enough times that my daughter named him Frank. Turns out Frank LOVES collard greens. 

Without the threat of a dog nearby, Frank got brave. And he got bold. He made multiple trips to the garden soon after he learned that the dog was no longer a factor and helped himself several times – decimating my greens, my lettuces, and even eating some of the tomato plants.  

As an animal lover – I’m not about to advocate hurting Frank, but I admit I wanted to hurt him. But rather than abandon all my principles and morals regarding the treatment of other sentient creatures, I petitioned the handy members of my household to help me refrain from violence and put up a fence. It doesn’t keep out the squirrels, which are also emboldened to get their snack on… but it has deterred Frank enough to where my collards are making a comeback.

An anti-Frank fortress?

I am what you would call a lazy gardener. I weed infrequently and usually when I can’t ignore it any longer. This year, I didn’t even do the planting, my daughter did, how’s that for lazy?

Pre-fence install proof I do weed the garden

When I do weed the garden, I usually listen to music or an audio book or a podcast. I don’t recall what I’d chosen to listen to during my most recent weeding session – but what I do remember is the feeling of comfort I got, kneeling in the soft earth. There was also the sense of satisfaction I got from removing the weeds from that soft earth – leaving the soil free to grow the things we’d planted there.

As I worked in the garden, it occurred to me that gardening, like life, asks us to do the work of weeding out the unwanted, to support healthy growth. Ignore the weeds at your garden’s peril. How much is this like our day to day? Ignore the weeds of negativity or stress or anger in your psyche at your well-being’s peril.

A little consistency in weeding the actual garden of life goes a long way. Plants thrive and produce. The same can be said for the metaphorical garden of life. When you pluck out the seeds of discontent, you might come away dirtier than you went in. But thank goodness that skin is washable and so is the soul. Dirt that travels with those “weedy” influences and inhibitors to a productive life can be removed. Consistent tending to the garden or the soul helps both to thrive and produce. I guess what I’m trying to say is, do the work. Do the weeding. Get a little dirt under your nails – it won’t hurt, it most likely will help.

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!