Sunday, June 16, 2019

On Forgiveness, Father's Day and The Five Pennies



I tend to skip over Father's Day as a holiday especially since our children are now 31 years old. I would acknowledge that my biological father seared me with scars but that I am strong and resilient and have overcome the odds of thriving after paralytic polio and severe trauma at the hands of my father and other family members.

From "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953":
The deck was stacked against me. Without warning, on June 3, 1959, I dropped to the ground in Kindergarten class. Three years after contracting paralytic polio, shortly after coming out of my leg brace, my father became alcoholic. Nine years of emotional, physical and sexual assaults followed until he died by suicide when I was 17 years old. In December of 2006 I was diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome and told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair.

In many ways, my life has been like an adventure movie. I battled evil, and fought for my life. Every time somebody told me I shouldn't or couldn't do something, I turned around and said, "Watch me now."

Never tell me the odds!

“Out of our deepest wounds we find our greatest strength, our most beautiful treasures and the knowledge that love is far greater, and more powerful than any experience we endure.” ~Mary McManus


I have been blessed with wonderful loving and supportive dads through the years. My first earth angel dad, at the age of 10, was one of my camp counselors at Badger Day Camp, Joseph Stetz:


I opened the car door at CVS yesterday and saw a penny on the ground.

"Look what's here," I said to Tom.

"Wait there's more."

There were Five Pennies!


We couldn't decipher the dates on most of them but 1963 and 2007 stood out. I was 10 years old in 1963. In 2007, I took a leap of faith leaving my award winning career as a VA social worker at the height of my career to heal my life.

But I knew it was more than the dates that held symbolism; it was The Five Pennies.

I was incredulous as I remembered the movie "The Five Pennies" with Danny Kaye. It's a semi-biographical story about a jazz musician Red Nichols who had a band, "The Five Pennies" because five pennies equal a nickel and his name was Nichols. He was at the top of his professional game when "disaster struck". His daughter contracted polio.



We watched the movie together and my father sobbed! I remember sitting in the theater next to him. It was incredible to see the soft and tender side of him again that I had seen during the early days of when I contracted paralytic polio before he became alcoholic. Because my mother was addicted to prescription pain medication, she was unable to care for me. He would take care of me and got me to the best rehab doctor in New York. Yet when I was 8 years old, alcohol turned him into a madman. When he emerged from his alcoholic stupor he would always apologize to me.

The first line of his suicide note read, "Please forgive me for what I am about to do but the prospect of prison doesn't appeal to me and I don't think I could survive it."

Shortly after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome, I began a journal practice of forgiveness and gratitude. Gratitude came easily to me even in the midst of having been told I "had" a progressive neuromuscular disease with the help of my Chosen Dad, Bernie Siegel, MD. Forgiveness was more of a challenge for me yet I knew that I needed to experience forgiveness in order for my body to heal the wounds from my past.

Shortly after his death, I had a dream about him but have felt no connection with him on the other side until yesterday.

I was dreading another Father's Day with all the social media posts and pictures of fathers that had already begun on Friday.

I knew I would be able to just get through it as I get through Mother's Day every year but then The Five Pennies happened ... and as evening drew near, I looked out my office window and captured this photo:


The Five Pennies movie release date was 6/18/1959 just two weeks after I contracted paralytic polio. Back in the day, movies stayed around in theaters and we went to see it once I was able to get around with the help of crutches and a long metal leg brace.

On 6/15/2019, 60 years later, my father gave me a nudge and reminded me about the power of forgiveness, The Five Pennies and to heal my heart this Father's Day.

Thank you dad for all the blessings and lessons you brought into my life.

Thank you Bernie Siegel for being my chosen dad and helping to coach me back to health and wellness.

Thank you to all the wonderful mentors I had who believed in me and helped me become the woman I am today.

From my heart to yours
In Health and Wellness,
Mary

Be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com

Hear my interview with Kendra Petrone on Magic 106.7's Exceptional Women Show by following this link

My books are available on Amazon and "Feel the Heal" and "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953" are available in Natick Center Cultural District at Paula Romero Dunbar's Celebration Boutique Paper Fiesta coincidentally located on Mile 10 of the Boston Marathon Route.

Friday, June 14, 2019

A Trilogy of Transformation + An Anthology of Poems



Twelve years ago, after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease, I quit my award winning career as a VA social worker and set out on a quest to heal my life.

I sailed away from safe harbor, to quote Mark Twain:


I knew I had to let the winds of my faith carry me after I began writing poetry in which I imagined a future for myself very different from my past and a future very different from what the doctors predicted for me.

I always loved to write and I was a Public Relations major at Boston University's College of Communication. When I wrote I literally felt no pain anywhere in my body and experienced joy and freedom.

A year and a half after my diagnosis, in February of 2008, I knew I was being called on a mission when the words, "And I want to run the 2009 Boston Marathon" bypassed any logical thinking and came from the depths of my soul.

I kept journals and chronicled my journey on the road to Boston through poetry and prose, starting a blog, Healing, Hope and Possibility, on October 22, 2008 with the help of PR interns from Boston University. I didn't know a thing about writing in the world of technology. At BU School of Public Communication as it was known back in the day, we used typewriters and rolls of paper towel along with an egg timer in my journalism class. The interns helped me to get the word out about my 2009 Boston Marathon run and the spark was lit for me to write my memoir.



"Wait, I have one more goal," Mary McManus told her personal trainer in February of 2008 shortly after coming out of her toe up leg brace. "I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital." Mary traded in her polio shoes for running shoes and embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Mary McManus was at the height of her career as a VA social worker when she was told by her team at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s International Rehab Center for Polio in December of 2006 that she needed to quit her job if she had any hope of preventing the progression of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. In “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility” Mary takes you on her seven year healing odyssey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma from her diagnosis, to taking a leap of faith to leave her award winning career at the VA to heal her life and follow her passion as a poet and writer. You’ll experience her trials, tribulations and triumphs as she trains for and crosses the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and discovers the opportunity for healing in the wake of new trauma: the suicide of her nephew in 2011, and the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. This is Mary's journey of coming home to her human form free from the influences of the ghastly ghostly invaders who had invaded her sacred earthly home. Her memoir includes journals and blog posts from her seven year healing odyssey. This is her journey of transformation and her message of healing, hope and possibility.


In 2015, I published "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life":


In December of 2006, Mary McManus’ mind, body and soul were crying out for healing. She was diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease as Western medicine defines it. It was her wake up call to find a path for healing. In February of 2007, she discovered the healing power of writing poetry, foreshadowing her 2009 Boston Marathon run while using a cane, a leg brace and at times a wheelchair for mobility with the first poem she wrote, "Running the Race." She calls her pen her divining rod for healing that inspires healing mind, body and Spirit from childhood paralytic polio and sexual, physical and emotional abuse from the time she was 8 years old until her dad’s suicide when she was 17 years old. When we bypass our analytical minds and are able to see beyond appearances, magic and miracles happen. Mary’s hope and intention is that as you read these poems, you too will feel the heal, experience possibility and be inspired to open your heart to a world beyond what we see and know.

I thought my memoir was a once and done but life and my journey went on! I knew I needed to share my ongoing healing journey and viewing the past through a different, wiser lens.

In January of 2017, I released, "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance".


Mary McManus knew challenges since she was five years old beginning with contracting polio followed by enduring nine years of violence at the hands of family members. Those early challenges prepared her for taking on the challenge of the diagnosis of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease in December 2006 when she was at the height of her award winning career as a social worker at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Asking for Divine Guidance as she had throughout her trials and tribulations, she discovered the gift of poetry in her soul. Her first poem, “Running the Race,” foreshadowed her 2009 Boston Marathon run. “Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance,” chronicles Mary’s journey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma, as a runner and a woman who refused to quit. Eight years after her diagnosis, she was finally able to get traction on her healing journey to go the distance, a woman transformed who embodies the power of endurance. With a Foreword by Jacqueline Hansen

To quote the Cat in the Hat, "But that is not all oh no that is not all..."

After writing "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance," I was sure that I was not going to write another memoir or publish another book.

The Universe had other plans and I felt the stirrings to write one more book that took a broad brush look at my quest to heal my life, bring my readers up to date on overcoming the challenge of a serious knee injury in December of 2014 and finding the courage to test my healing and my mettle by running 3 Bermuda Half Marathons in as many years.

“The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953” takes you on Mary McManus’ healing odyssey from a wheelchair to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond. After the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome in December 2006, Mary got still and asked for Divine Guidance tapping into the powerful connection she experienced to the Divine from an early age. She harnessed the power of her mind to heal her body, feverishly writing poetry in which she imagined herself healthy, whole and free from the shackles of her youth. Mary’s quest to heal her life led her to the sport of running. Her story is one that will leave you cheering for the underdog, discovering the meaning of different ability and experiencing the stunning view from the back of the pack of a race. You will have the privilege of bearing witness to how Mary overcame every challenge that life presented to her. The sport of running provides the backdrop for her journey and shines the spotlight on the very fabric that weaves together the running community. Through the redemptive power of running, Mary transformed from a survivor of childhood paralytic polio and severe trauma at the hands of family members to a woman who embodies faith, grace under fire, courage, determination, endurance and resilience. Running became a way of life for Mary that tested her mettle while forging friendships to last a lifetime. As you’ll discover in “The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953” nothing, not even a serious knee injury in December of 2014 could stop her on the roads or in her life.




Twelve years - a trilogy of transformation and an anthology of poems to heal your life .... bringing a powerful message of healing, hope and possibility to those with open hearts and open minds.

It's a perfect time to purchase my books for summer beach reading and to support a great cause!

For the months of June and July, all book proceeds are being donated to my husband Tom's Falmouth Road Race Run for the Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation. In "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953", I share how the stars aligned to guide us to this incredible Foundation and the circle of runner love that surrounds.

My books are available on Amazon and "Feel the Heal" and "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953" are available in Natick Center Cultural District at Paula Romero Dunbar's Celebration Boutique Paper Fiesta coincidentally located on Mile 10 of the Boston Marathon Route.

From my heart to yours
In Health and Wellness,
Mary

Be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com

Hear my interview with Kendra Petrone on Magic 106.7's Exceptional Women Show by following this link

My books are available on Amazon and "Feel the Heal" and "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953" are available in Natick Center Cultural District at Paula Romero Dunbar's Celebration Boutique Paper Fiesta coincidentally located on Mile 10 of the Boston Marathon Route.







Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Exercise - Do It For You!



Before the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease {Here is a photo of me in December 2007 a year after the diagnosis}:


I was a stranger to exercise. My body was a stranger to me.

I had to dissociate mind from body in order to survive the ordeal of childhood paralytic polio and severe trauma at the hands of family members, but I paid a steep price for this adaptive way to cope.

Once the diagnosis was made, I went back into a leg brace only rather than the long metal leg brace I needed as a child, this was a toe up leg brace to give my left leg support to diminish the limp as I walked:


I was told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair, adapt our Cape house or move to a Ranch.

I was also told that if I used it, I would lose it! Yes ... you read that right!

Fortunately, I was led to an earth angel of a physical therapist, Allison Lamarre-Poole who did not subscribe to that philosophy for the treatment of Post-Polio Syndrome.

From "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953":
“I have your records from the Framingham clinic Mary but I am going to need to do an assessment that specifically focuses on your upper body,” Allison told me during our first appointment.

She had a warm smile. There was something compelling about her presence that let me know I was not destined to be on a course of a progressive illness. She inspired a desire to heal within me. As she massaged my cervical spine, her cool hands were in sharp contrast to the heat of the pain I experienced for the past 10 years. We moved through passive range of motion exercises. She wrapped an ice collar around my neck, and sat with me. She asked questions about how I was functioning in different areas of my life. She told me about adaptive equipment we could order to ease the stress on my already overtaxed muscles. After the session we set up 3 times a week therapy sessions.

“Take a deep breath and lift your hips,” Allison cued as I lay on the physical therapy table.

“Now slowly lower down vertebrae by vertebrae. I want you to really concentrate on making that connection to your spinal column. Can you feel it? Move slowly. How does it feel?”

I lost my connection to my body after collapsing from paralytic polio. I had to dissociate from my body to survive years of abuse and torture. It was a strange experience to reconnect with my body, yet one that I hungered for. I wanted to find my way home and Allison was my first tour guide as she provided the map I needed to reconnect with myself.

The first day I walked into the outpatient gym and saw all of the equipment and machines I thought to myself, “I’m going to be able to do this. I can get stronger. I know it’s not going to be easy. I know it’s going to take time and I have to be extremely patient with myself.”

I wanted to feel better and I wanted to feel whole. Three times a week we worked together using Pilates, isometrics, weight training and cardiovascular exercise to bring my body out of its withered state.


At my last session with her she said, "You're going to keep working at your rehab right? You don't ever want to go back to where you were do you?" I emphatically said, "NO!"

In October of 2007, I hired a personal trainer wondering if she could help me build on the home program Allison gave me. Her response was:


I couldn't even do the initial assessment with her but after working with her for 6 months, having decided that if I were going to experience pain, I'd prefer to feel pain on the side of recovery rather than the pain of decline, I passed the assessment and I was on a path to healing, health and wellness!

I went on to run the 2009 Boston Marathon and exercise became a way of life for me.


After running 3 consecutive Bermuda Half Marathons in 2016, 2017 and 2018, my health and fitness goals focused on recovery from the grueling rigors of training for an endurance event and to enjoy my workouts and running again.

Since January of 2018, I have consistently worked out or ran 5 days a week and had no goal races.

I ran a comeback race at The Becca Pizzi 5K and Kids Fun Run and will be running The Finish at the 50 5K in just a few weeks.

I am very excited to be doing a race where there is no time pressure yet I get to push myself to be the very best I can be on race day.

I must share with you that occasionally, not very often, I have to motivate myself to get my workout in, Yesterday was one of those days.

The alarm went off. I meditated and it took everything I had to clear the energy of stress anticipating our daughter's discharge from her 9th psychiatric hospitalization since January of 2018. I knew that once I started moving, cranking up my playlist and Tom and I encouraging each other as we worked out, I would begin to feel better.

I countered the thoughts of "I can skip one workout. It's no big deal." with knowing how important it is to be consistent loving myself enough to maintain my health and wellness regimen.

This morning I was energized after meditation eager to go to the BU FitRec Center to get in an early morning swim in their Recreation Pool.

Today, this article came into my inbox, "Ten Ways to Make Exercise a Daily Habit."

If you struggle with making exercise a regular part of your life or just need a boost of ideas to ensure that you stay on course for your exercise regimen, be sure to take a few moments to read it.

And please...make sure you take time to exercise ... do it for you!

From my heart to yours
In Health and Wellness,
Mary

Be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com

Hear my interview with Kendra Petrone on Magic 106.7's Exceptional Women Show by following this link

My books are available on Amazon and at Paper Fiesta in Natick on Mile 10 of the Boston Marathon route. Proceeds of book sales for May through July are going to Tom McManus's Falmouth Road Race run for the Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation. You can also make a direct donation by following this link.


Monday, June 10, 2019

Running is my Monastery!



This morning's run provided Tom and me with a time of spiritual and psychological renewal.

We'd been blessed to have a respite in Bermuda from our responsibilities as caregivers. We notified key supports in our community (and we are truly blessed with our village) that we were going away and a dear friend of ours took care of Jamie our cat and checked in on Ruth Anne.

On our way home from the airport we received a text that she was in the ER.

She was inpatient for the past two weeks and discharge is scheduled for tomorrow. Even though we limit phone contact to ensure that Ruth Anne talks with staff and lets them know what is going on with her, we experienced a few, very challenging and difficult conversations.

We set the alarm for 5:45 to ensure that Tom had plenty of time to get ready for work for a 9am meeting, stretched and did a brief core work out and set out on our run. Tom said that after many training runs at race pace for the Falmouth Road Race in August for The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation when we'd run in opposite directions or he'd go out on a solo run, that he would like to stay with me at my pace this morning.

Ordinarily we would use that time to anticipate and talk about Ruth Anne's discharge but this morning, we focused on the scenery around us.

We felt the serenity of a late Spring/early summer's day run when the sun is already up and we can walk out the door with only one layer. To support the Boston Bruins, Tom wore his shirt from last year's Bourque Family Foundation 7.7K.

At this time of year until the cooler weather sets in, I give a special intention of gratitude for the beautiful weather where I can walk out the door feeling footloose and fancy free with a singlet and shorts!

We immersed ourselves in the lush green foliage, the brilliant sunshine and the cute baby geese who I remarked are growing up so fast!

We listened to the lapping of the waves along the water's edge, listened to bird songs, and spotted a new rock sculpture out in the middle of the Reservoir.

We ran at a comfortable pace and yet the run absolutely flew by!

We both felt renewed and recharged ready to take on a new day and a new week fueled by these spectacular scenes:



What a gift and a blessing to wake up early on a Monday morning and experience a feast for the senses!

Running is my monastery, my medicine for mind, body and soul and precious unplugged time with my life and running partner.

From my heart to yours
In Health and Wellness,
Mary

Be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com

Hear my interview with Kendra Petrone on Magic 106.7's Exceptional Women Show by following this link

My books are available on Amazon and at Paper Fiesta in Natick on Mile 10 of the Boston Marathon route. Proceeds of book sales for May through July are going to Tom McManus's Falmouth Road Race run for the Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation. You can also make a direct donation by following this link.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Strength and Courage



Yesterday Team McManus running for Team Big Heart went to Jamaica Pond to get in our training run. It was a spectacular late Spring day with sunshine and low humidity. Jamaica Pond is one of my favorite places to run and one that holds many treasured memories of training for the Boston Marathon.

Tom and I run in opposite directions so he can run at his pace and I can run at mine which is slower than his. Yet he is always quick to remind me that for somebody who was supposed to be in a wheelchair, I run pretty fast! Running alone lets my mind wander and sort and sift through thoughts while also experiencing the beauty of the present moment.

As I ran by the rocks along the wall, I remembered how those once snow covered rocks in the winter of 2009 inspired me to write this poem:

Courage from "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life":

The fear of ice and snow and slush embedded in my soul
a training run in winter - the path to Being whole.
A winter scene - Jamaica Pond - a feast for eyes' delight
to witness nature's splendor and behold this glorious sight.

A leaf - a tiny dancer - skating free without a sound
God's breath directs her movementsnas She guides her twirling 'round.
Families of ducks decide to walk or take a dip
a comedy of errors into icy water slip.

Branches now bejeweled though bare bend with loving Grace
sparkling diamonds' anchor water's surface hold in place.
God's hand a glove of glistening snow hugs rocks along the wall
their heads peek out reminding me I'm answering God's call.

A scene I'd never witness if I let my fear take hold
courage triumphed, steppin' out with footsteps sure and bold.
Knowing that the pain subsides and Spirit can prevail
the Marathon is beckoning - through those miles I shall sail.


Training for a marathon, especially the Boston Marathon takes tremendous strength and courage. Add in that I had been diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease in December of 2006 and was told if I used it I would use it, it took tremendous strength and courage to defy medical advice. I was also told to be very careful in winter and carry a cane with an ice grip. One slip on the ice and I was a recipe for a hip fracture!

I defied medical advice again in January of 2015. In December of 2014 I sustained a serious left knee injury. MRI indicated that the knee was beyond repair and I should prepare for a total knee replacement in a few years. Oh and I should stop running or cap my distance at a 5K.

I once again harnessed the power of my mind/body connection, sought out chiropractic, incorporated strength training and cross training into my health and wellness reginmen and went on to run three consecutive Bermdua Half Marathons. I grew new cartilage, dissolved bone spurs and grew a new gastroc muscle that had atrophied from childhood paralytic polio.

It took strength and courage to start at the beginning after the knee injury but since I needed strength and courage to face adversity since the time I was 5 years old, I had a solid foundation from which to draw what I needed to heal.

I have 3 weeks to go until the Finish at the 50 5K at Gillette Stadium. I pushed my pace yesterday visualizing how it is going to feel to be a part of a big race again. I have not been part of a big field since Bermuda Half Marathon 2018.

I imagined the course and steadied myself to run from the inside out while taking in the magnificent scenes along the way:


Tom and I took our traditional end of run selfie:


On our ride home, Tom and I reminisced about our training runs around Jamaica Pond including this precious memory from "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance":
We have many fond memories of our Jamaica Pond training runs like the day that Tom lost me on our training run:

And who could EVER forget us losing each other around, emphasize the word a-round Jamaica Pond. Tom had stopped at the car to fill up the water bottles and get some snacks. He had his iPod on really loud. I was in the zone and ran by him. I saw him looking for me in the opposite direction and yelled to him that I was over here. I felt so great and the weather was wonderful that I did not want to interrupt my rhythm. Tom thought that since I had to go to the bathroom (and the bathrooms were not open yet) that I went off the trail and went to pee in the woods. We finally caught up with each other and laughed so hard at the irony of losing each other around Jamaica Pond.


From the Foreword of "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance" by Jacqueline Hansen:
Foreword

Eleanor Roosevelt once said “Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.”
I have found this to be true throughout my life.

I have also found that I am attracted to strong women friends, who are strong willed, strong minded, with lots of endurance. At least once a day I must tell myself, “thank goodness I’m a marathoner.” I am guessing that Mary McManus tells herself the same thing. She is certainly someone who has left indelible footprints in my heart. I have rarely met anyone with so many life-threatening challenges who portrays such an onward thinking attitude.

In fact, another Eleanor Roosevelt quotation reminds me of Mary: “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

When you read about Mary’s life experiences you will wonder how does she not only endure, but lives her life with positivity in abundance. My closest friend in life lives by the motto “Be relentlessly positive,” which is written on her office door. Mary exudes this same attitude. You will not encounter a more positive person than Mary, despite all the challenges she has endured in life.

Try to imagine what it must have been like to be diagnosed with paralytic polio as a child. Try to imagine suffering child abuse at the hands of those very family members who are charged with your upbringing. Try to imagine them together. It’s unbearable to think about. Then imagine surviving the unthinkable, and in adulthood being diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome. This is a story that needs to be told. This is a story of challenge, of resiliency, and a story of heart, tremendous heart.

I am fond of using the word “heart.” When coaching young athletes, which I have done my entire adult life, I often tell them to “run with heart.” As I explain to them, I can coach them on skills, on running form, on race strategy, on everything to do with their running, except I cannot create “heart.” This is something that only they can produce from within. I go on to say that “you have to want this (running or racing) more than I do – more than I want it for you.” “Always run with heart.” I am here to tell you that Mary McManus always runs with all her heart.

Just for a moment, let’s ponder the word “heart.” The Latin word for heart is “cor.” Cor is also the root of the word “courage.” I would attribute both heart and courage to Mary. Even Mary herself has said that “It takes incredible courage to heal trauma . . . healing both paralytic polio and trauma.” Author Parker Palmer wrote that “The heart is where we integrate what we know in our mind with what we know in our bones, the place where our knowledge can become more fully human. When all that we understand of self and world comes together in the center place called the heart, we are more likely to find the courage to act humanely on what we know.”

Besides being a former record-holding runner who became a coach, I am also an educator. I teach teachers about health education, so in turn they will teach the youth. One of the most important lessons we impart is how to build resilient young persons. In brief, I can tell you there are no apparent factors in Mary’s childhood that would lead to her developing into a resilient young adult and woman. Yet, none-theless, she became so. When faced with the prognosis of spending her life in a wheelchair, she did not “settle.” She chose to reclaim her life with fervor.

A musician and poet, Patti Smith, wrote the book, “M Train,” for which she was described as having the rare gift of projecting radiance despite experiencing melancholy and grief in her life. Patti Smith once said “If we walk the victim, we’re perceived as the victim. And if we enter glowing and receptive . . . if we maintain our radiance and enter a situation with radiance, often radiance will come our way.”

In my heart, I believe our author Mary McManus has mastered overcoming challenges, maintaining positivity, possessing resiliency, portraying radiance; and in doing so, she provides great inspiration for others.

Jacqueline Hansen, M.Ed.
University Course Instructor, Health Education for Teachers
Track & Field, Cross Country Coaching Education
Instructor
Author
January 2017


From my heart to yours
In Health and Wellness,
Mary

Be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com

Hear my interview with Kendra Petrone on Magic 106.7's Exceptional Women Show by following this link

My books are available on Amazon and at Paper Fiesta in Natick on Mile 10 of the Boston Marathon route. Proceeds of book sales for May through July are going to Tom McManus's Falmouth Road Race run for the Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation. You can also make a direct donation by following this link.





Friday, June 7, 2019

Fundraising Friday: Kindness Rocks! (for Joey)



There was magic all around at the 6th Annual Joseph Middlenmiss Celebrity ScoopFest!

The community came out in droves to Shaw Farm for the Celebrity ScoopFest and the Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation gave out the most scholarships to children in martial arts, dance and music.



As educators, Kate and Scott wanted to include scholarships that would empower and inspire children having scholarship recipients enjoy what Joseph loved most in his 6 years of being with us.

From their website:
Dance instruction can boost a child's academic performance while transforming his/her character and strengthening the self-concept. Current research not only supports this but also shows how the arts enhance cognitive, behavorial, and social/emotional growth as well. Skills such as working in teams, communication, self-esteem, creative thinking, a calm and positive attitude, imagination, and self-discipline are developed and enhanced through the study of dance. Our goal is to provide this opportunity so as to enhance the lives of young students, empowering them to be leaders and to help other as they interact in their schools and communities at large.

The recipient of the "Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation" Dance Scholarship will receive a scholarship in the amount of $1,000.00 to be used for dance lessons at a mutually agreeable location. Upon selection, the recipient (and family) may select a dance center in a convenient location within the United States. A member of our board of directors will contact the center to confirm authenticity. The payment will be made directly to the dance center of the recipient's choice. ...




Joe's affinity for music began when he was just an infant. He listened to classical music his stay in the neonatal intensive care unit and everyone noticed how the melodies calmed him. As he transitioned home from the hospital at 3 months of age, his musical repertoire continued to expand. The only thing that would soothe him during typical infant tantrums was a favorite song from Johnny Cash, The Eagles, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, or The Beatles. By his second birthday, he began to show a strong preference for the Beatles and began to tap out the beat to many songs with his foot or whatever household item he could transform into an instrument. Throughout his toddler years, his favorite blue ukulele seemed to be attached to him and he couldn't travel anywhere without it.

Shortly after he turned three, we enrolled him in the Musical Voyagers Program at the Music Academy of Chelmsford. Each week, he was invited to learn about and experiment with a different instrument. His love of instruments and all music just exploded. We explored many instruments at home, but Joe chose to focus on his drumming skills through private lessons at the academy. He established a wonderful bond with his instructor, and his Saturday morning lessons became the highlight of his week. Joseph grew to become quite an accomplished drummer and entertained family and friends at his home, during group recitals, and through homemade videos. He was so proud of his accomplishments.

As educators, we believe in teaching the whole child. Music has always been linked to academic success. Current research not only supports this but also shows how it enhances cognitive, behavorial, and social/emotional growth as well. Music is such a powerful force. Skills such as working in teams, communication, self-esteem, creative thinking, calm, positive attitude, imagination, discipline, study skills, and invention are developed and enhanced through the study of music.

Our son's passion for music-combined with this research-has moved us to create a music scholarship in Joe's name. Our goal is to give "the gift of music" in an effort to enhance the lives of young students, empowering them to be instruments of peace as they interact in their schools and communities at large.

The recipient of the "Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation" Music Scholarship will receive one year of private (weekly) music lessons at the Music Academy of Chelmsford (73 Princeton Street, Chelmsford, MA 01863). Upon selection, scheduling can be done directly with the music academy.


It is now our greatest desire to carry on Joe's legacy by continuing to touch others' lives and opening hearts just our son did with such ease and perfection. As a result, we founded The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation. One key goal of the foundation is to assist children in exploring one of his passions: Martial Arts.

Even though Joey only got to attend one martial art lesson he loved it ...
and we want to share that love!

Joe's afffinity for the martial arts started at about the same time he discovered the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He loved everything about the show, had every action figure, costume, and play weapon you could imagine. And, he would put on shows re-enacting some of Leonardo's, Raphael's, Donataello's, or Michaleangelo's moves from the most recent episode. He often times made his parents a bit nervous with his jumping spin kicks that started from the couch and ended on the floor. But, he always landed on his feet, and gave his parents a big laugh.

As a result of his cardiac condition, Joseph was unable to participate in many of the organized sports that so many young boys and girls participate in every weekend. But, Joe (and his parents) were finally able to convince his cardiologist to participate in martial arts. Two weeks before his untimely passing, Joseph participated in his first and only martial arts lesson. He LOVED every second of it. He was so excited to order his gi. Unfortunatley, he never had the chance to wear it. But, we are so grateful that he had the opportunity to participate in this one lesson. It was such a happy day for him!

As educators, we believe in teaching the whole child. The martial arts can boost a child's academic performance whilst transforming his/her character. Current research not only supports this but also shows how the martial arts enhance cognitive, behavioral, and social/emotional growth as well. Skills such as working in teams, communication, self-esteem, creative thinking, a calm and positive attitude, imagination, and self-discipline are developed and enhanced through the study of the martial arts.

Our son's passion for the martial arts- combined with this research- has moved us to create a martial arts scholarship in Joe's name. Our goal is to provide this opportunity so as to enhance the lives of young students, empowering them to be leaders and to help others as they interact in their schools and communities at large.



Before the Awards Ceremony, Tom and I walked around and were stopped in our tracks by the Kindness Rocks for Joey table:


Will and Joey were best friends in kindergarten. I instantly made the connection about Will from The Foundation's informational video:


In first grade, Will came up with the idea to create Kindness Rocks For Joey. He donates all of the proceeds to the Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation! Last year, on Joseph's birthday, the proceeds funded a taco party on the 8th floor of Boston Children's Hospital.

Tom and I bought two Kindness Rocks for Joey and felt the love that went into each creation. Will is now in 6th grade.

When we did a video giveaway to thank our donors for Tom's Falmouth Road Race run to benefit The Foundation, and gave Will a shout out showing his Kindness Rocks, he reached out to us saying that he'd like to design special kindness rocks for a giveaway to help us raise money for the Foundation!

In addition to Scholarships, Kindness Awards are given out at the Celebrity ScoopFest!

It's heart warming to see what big hearts children in our communities have and the acts of kindness they perform in their communities that ripples out into the world at large.



One of the recipients of last year's Kindness award, Ellie Blumberg, made cookies and sold them for her Mitzvah project. She raised over $5700 from the sales of her cookies. She designated $1000 of that money to go to a Dance Scholarship for Ava, one of Joseph's heart warrior friends who recently underwent a procedure in Philadelphia. Ava and the Blumbergs knew each other from Temple and the JCC; Ava and Ellie attended the same dance school. The Middlemiss' knew Ava through Joseph's journey as a heart warrior and met the Blumbergs through the Bersons. It's amazing how connections are made through this amazing angel!



While local celebrities like Kendra Petrone of Magic 106.7 and Jeremy Reiner of Channel 7 News scoop ice cream, there were celebrities like Kevin LaCoste, Principal of Colonel John Robinson School and Team Babsie, Beth Singleton Craig and her mom who have an incredible story that is connected to the Middlemiss Susperhero 5K!



With our hearts full, we said our goodbyes and took these photos of Grace and Scott:


We hope you will consider a donation to Tom's fundraising page by following this link and practicing acts of kindness carrying on Joseph Middlemiss' legacy of love and kindness. It's an honor and a privilege to fund raise for this incredible Foundation that changes lives around the world.

Kindness rocks for Joey and the world!


From my heart to yours
In Health and Wellness,
Mary

Be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com

Hear my interview with Kendra Petrone on Magic 106.7's Exceptional Women Show by following this link

My books are available on Amazon and at Paper Fiesta in Natick on Mile 10 of the Boston Marathon route. Proceeds of book sales for May through July are going to Tom McManus's Falmouth Road Race run for the Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation. You can also make a direct donation by following this link.