Monday, December 9, 2019

Word for 2020 - Simplicity



Two weeks from Wednesday I turn 66 years old. In 3 weeks we say goodbye to 2019.

I have endured many challenging years in my life but I must say 2019 brought angst and challenges that brought me to my knees. The year is ending on a positive note however as we finally found the missing piece of the puzzle for our daughter's condition that wreaked havoc in her mind, body and soul and in our lives.

We learned so many lessons as we rode the tumultuous waves of a misdiagnosed condition and fought a broken medical and mental health system. I learned patience, compassion, how to endure the most searing emotional pain, the power of my village and prayers and how much strength I had within me when I felt as though I could not endure one more day of watching our daughter suffer.

With 2019 almost in the rear view mirror, and as I get ready to blow out the candles on my cake, I have chosen my word for 2020: Simplicity.

Instead of grabbing my iPhone after I meditate in the morning, I am taking time to stay connected to Source and to connect in real life in real time with my family. I'll take time during the day to hop on social media and I am making a concerted effort to use my laptop instead of my iPhone for social media. I am giving myself the gift of the present and experiencing presence.

From "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life":
The Art of Being Present

Each moment is a blank canvas
smudges and splotches only in mind's eye
raindrops from the heart
wash away the past.
Each moment is an opportunity
overflowing with possibility.

How shall I paint this moment?

My portrait once a still life
now
in stillness
life force leaps

dancer
lover of life
a geyser of joy
a river of happiness
gratitude flows
fragrant flowers sweetness
strong roots
lit with softness of sun's tender embrace
back from the edge
the ledge between life and death
creating the masterpiece of my life
one breath at a time.


I deactivated my Twitter account. The new format was dizzying and needed to go to create simplicity in my life.

I left many Facebook groups that I no longer need to be a part of and ask myself the question, "Is this necessary" when approaching tasks, requests from others and prioritizing my to do lists. When I say yes to something or someone I want to make sure that it is something necessary in my life or those I hold near and dear to my heart.



I want to ensure that I have the time and energy to do the things that bring me joy and nourish me mind, body and soul and ensure that I have an abundance of energy to share my incredibly inspirational story inspiring others to know what is possible despite all appearances to the contrary.

I am looking forward to a year filled with simplicity yet elegance, peace, joy, love, laughter and gratitude.

To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours
Mary

To learn more about my journey from a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma to the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond, visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com

Looking for great gift ideas? Give the gift of inspiration with my books available on Amazon....

and/or the gift of healing choosing from suggestions on my website's "Healing Resources" page.

Be sure to listen to my interview with Kendra Petrone on the Award Winning Exceptional Women Show by following this link


Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Memories of Marathon Training




In February of 2008, I declared to my personal trainer that I was going to run the 2009 Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital where I took the first tentative steps on the road back to life after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome. I had just come out of a toe up short leg brace



and had never run a day in my life yet something deep within my soul stirred as I blurted out that goal to Janine after partnering with her for 6 months.

We trained through one of the worst brutal New England Winters. Two of our favorite spots to train were Heartbreak Hill and Jamaica Pond. The Carriage Road on Heartbreak Hill and the path around Jamaica Pond were usually well treated for runners.

Heavy snow and rain was in the forecast for Monday and Tuesday. We decided to run on both Saturday and Sunday and take to our favorite Boston Marathon training places.

On Saturday we ran on Heartbreak Hill. Despite the frosty air, the sunshine through the bare trees provided enough warmth to inspire our run. There were a few other runners out on the hills and we warmly greeted each other as we passed. Tom and Ruth Anne are getting ready for the Bill Rodgers Somerville Jingle Bell 5K happening on December 15th. I am running for the joy, health and well being that running gives me.



The temperatures continued to plummet on Sunday and the skies looked ominous. Ruth Anne suggested we go to Jamaica Pond to change things up a bit. They had been renovating Jamaica Pond and as good fortune would have it reopened on 11/23! Our breath caught as we saw all the work they had done to create a new space worthy of Frederick Law Olmstead who originally designed The Emerald Necklace. Jamaica Pond is one of the gems in the necklace. Since Tom and Ruth Anne did their tempo run on Saturday, we decided to stay together enjoying our time together outdoors savoring the sights and sounds of nature.

As we ran by the rock wall, I remembered a poem I was inspired to write early on in our Boston Marathon training:

Courage

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 movements as 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.


I had been warned by physical therapists and several physicians to avoid going out in the snow and ice. I "had" osteoporosis and was at risk for fractures if I fell. When I was training for the 2016 Bermuda Half Marathon, I had a major fall and the only thing that broke was a piece off of my front tooth. I've had a few falls since then and I am strong and resilient!

We enjoyed sharing memories of our Jamaica Pond training runs like this one from "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance" with a Foreword by Jacqueline Hansen:
Something happens to me when I run around Jamaica Pond. Perhaps it is feeling the energy of Bill Rodgers. When we trained for Boston in 2009, I didn't know that’s where he trained. Our trainer would take us to Jamaica Pond for speed work and hills. We would do our long runs around Jamaica Pond because it was one of the few places with a clear path during winter. 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.


While the trees were bare and the sky was grey foreboding the coming snowstorm, there was a beauty and majesty to our run that Tom captured in these photos including a selfie in front of the Boat House:


After twice around the Pond, we blasted the heater in the car for our drive home. I fondly recalled how I used to imagine warm lava flowing through my extremities when we trained for the 2009 Boston Marathon.

It's a warm and wonderful feeling to return to the places where we ran our miles leading up to our arrival at Hopkinton on 4/20/2009



to begin our 26.2 mile run to the finish line on Boylston Street.



Give the gift of inspiration this season with my Trilogy of Transformation books and "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life" available on Amazon.

To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours,
Mary

You can read all about my journey of transformation from the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond in my Trilogy of Transformation available on Amazon and feel the heal in my anthology of inspirational poetry.

I was featured in a Wellness Warrior blog by Meghan Khalei of Lovely Bones Physical Therapy. To read the blog follow this link.

Be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com to learn more about my inspirational journey and for healing resources.

Kendra Petrone and I talked about my healing journey before the 2019 Boston Marathon on her award winning Exceptional Women Show. Listen by following this link.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

In Thanksgiving....



As I climbed the stairs to my office after a busy morning of baking and preparing sides for tomorrow's Thanksgiving Dinner, my breath caught. Thirteen years ago I clung to the banister for dear life as my weakened muscles and withering spirit were crying out for healing.

I was in the dark night of my soul being worked up for any number of possible diagnoses but in the end, I was given the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease.

I prayed and I cried. I knew in my gut that I was at a crossroads in my life.

By January, the diagnosis was confirmed and I went back into a toe up leg brace and used a cane and at times a wheelchair for mobility. I was told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair.



I got still and asked for Divine Guidance. It came in the form of a poem, "Running the Race" followed by many many many poems in which I imagined myself free in my body, running and dancing in the rain, whole and healed from my past of paralytic polio and a childhood rife with violence.

I remember when:
I couldn't climb the stairs in my house and was told to adapt my home or move to a ranch.
I had to take a dry swallow and chin tuck when I ate unable to hold a conversation during meals, and drink liquids through a straw.
I had to take several time outs during the day to rest and meditate due to chronic fatigue and pain all over.
I couldn't do grocery shopping, use public transportation, do the laundry and everything was an effort.
I couldn't enjoy the change in seasons, go for a walk, maintain body warmth in winter and overheat in summer.
We white knuckled our finances because I took a leap of faith leaving my career and salary to heal my life.

As I wrote poetry, went through intensive outpatient treatment at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital followed by working with a personal trainer, my life transformed.

I keep a gratitude journal and every day I write down what I am grateful for. I thank my body for all it allows me to do and for the miracle of healing in my life.

I went from clutching the staircase in my home to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond harnessing the power of the mind/body connection and my fiery spirit to go beyond limits.



We live an abundant life physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially. I am blessed to workout and/or run 5 days a week.

Since the diagnosis, I appreciate and cherish my blessings great and small:



It was not that long ago that I prayed for the things I now have in my life.

In Thanksgiving...I am so deeply grateful and blessed.

Happy Thanksgiving from my heart to yours.
With love,
Mary

You can read all about my journey of transformation from the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond in my Trilogy of Transformation available on Amazon and feel the heal in my anthology of inspirational poetry.

I was featured in a Wellness Warrior blog by Meghan Khalei of Lovely Bones Physical Therapy. To read the blog follow this link.

Be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com to learn more about my inspirational journey and for healing resources.

Kendra Petrone and I talked about my healing journey before the 2019 Boston Marathon on her award winning Exceptional Women Show. Listen by following this link.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

The Magic on Heartbreak Hill



It was another grey and chilly day in November in Boston. Tom and Ruth Anne are training for the Bill Rodgers Somerville Jingle Bell 5K happening in a few weeks. I'm in my off season and continue to recover from a fall I had in late September.

"Why don't we go to Heartbreak Hill?" I suggested for our Sunday morning run.

It was a unanimous "Yes" from Team McManus.

From "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953:"
Two weeks before our first run on Heartbreak Hill, we returned from Puerto Rico, after a brief hiatus from the never ending brutal New England cold weather. On the plane ride home, we met Tom Kelley and his wife, Dottie. We shared the story of Team McManus not knowing the names of the people with whom we shared pleasant conversation to pass the time on the flight back to a snowstorm in Boston.

“Hi there…my name is Tom Kelley. My uncle was Johnny Kelley.”

“I’m Dottie.” “It’s so nice to meet you.”

“Johnny Kelley” I thought to myself. “As in the Johnny Kelley. Olympian and Boston Marathon champion through the decades?!”

Dottie shared with me that Tommy lives with Parkinson’s Disease but he keeps on running as best he can. Running is his therapy. She asked for our mailing address. They had something they wanted to send to us. I had goosebumps all over.

As we parted ways heading to baggage claim, Dottie said, ‘Good luck with the rest of your training! Come see us at the Expo at Packet Pick up. Remember, Johnny will be watching over you.”

“Thank you. Get home safely and we’ll definitely come see you at Packet Pick Up. You sure made my day!” I said with a broad smile and a full heart.

A week later a package came in the mail with a note written in Dottie’s perfect cursive handwriting dictated by Tommy:

This is a poster created by Adidas for the 2004 BAA Marathon. I had Johnny sign a few when we roomed together at the Copley Plaza that week, and I know he would have gladly signed one for your family if he were here. Perhaps it will inspire you to run a good race, especially the last 6 miles. Johnny was an inspiration to many of us amateur runners and he lives on in the memories of countless runners. You can get a copy of his book Young at Heart on Amazon I believe. You'll note that his forefathers came over to the USA on the SS Marathon!!! Keep on running as I do. We loved your website and maybe some day we can meet again.




I always feel Johnny's presence on Heartbreak Hill, especially when we are running the part of Heartbreak Hill that has his statue:


There were a few runners out on Heartbreak Hill. It's the calm before the storm when runners training for the 2020 Boston Marathon will be out running in droves.



I enjoyed the quiet and solitude and thought back to our 2009 Boston Marathon run.

From 'The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953':
After turning from Route 16 to Commonwealth Avenue, I looked for my friends, the Reillys in front of the famous fire station. I thought that perhaps with the cold and wind and their two little ones, they needed to go home. Shortly after we turned onto Commonwealth Avenue to begin our ascent through the famed hills, Sharon called me on my cell phone. Everyone on Twitter was frantic because we could not be tracked. As one of my dear friends, Nicole Shuman said, God works in creative ways. Sharon got on Twitter and messaged my friend Nicole to let her know we were almost at mile 20 and going strong.

At mile 20, we saw Domenick just as he had promised us. He had tears in his eyes as he embraced Team McManus.

He put his hands on my shoulders and said, “You're gonna qualify - go finish. I'm so proud of you.”

In 2009 if you ran the Boston Marathon in under 8 hours as a mobility impaired runner, you qualified to run Boston again.

My cell phone rang. It was Janine checking in with us. As I saw her in the distance standing atop one of the inclines on Heartbreak Hill with her Spaulding Rehab t-shirt and a white long sleeve shirt underneath, I saw an angel who was going to take us to the finish line.

“I’m amazed at how great you guys look,” she said.

“We went out slowly and ran steady so we could finish. But I’m sorry about the pace….”

She cut me off and said, “Did you know that the guy who won last year had to be taken off the course? You need to leave those thoughts and all of your baggage out on the roads. Just look at how great you are doing!”

At Cleveland Circle, my son, and Johannes Hirnes, a BU photojournalism grad student were patiently waiting for us to come down Chestnut Hill Avenue. Johannes was given the assignment to capture someone’s Boston Marathon journey. He inquired at Brookline Marathon Sports if they knew of anyone who would make a good story and they told him about us. He followed us on our last training run and throughout the day on Marathon Monday.

As we crossed to the Dunkin' Donuts on Beacon Street, our neighbors were waiting with a sign to cheer us on to the finish.


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

Ode to Marathon Training

Blisters, black toes, aches and pains, a change in my routine
Long training runs, the hills, the sprints running clothes fresh and clean.
Carbo load and plan each meal power gels and gatorade
no matter what the weather no time to be afraid.
Humid - hot or freezing cold snow against the face
wind or sun or raining those running shoes I must lace.
What mile is this how long we been out check heart rate drink H20
meltdowns joys and triumphs only a few more weeks to go.
Heartbreak Hill won't break my heart this year has been the best
found myself and made new friends I feel incredibly blessed.


Tom and Ruth Anne drew me out of my reverie as they caught up with me on their tempo run. I was thrilled we met up just before the Johnny Kelly statue so we could take our selfie:


We all agreed that Sunday's run was the best run we had in a very long time. They were exhilarated, as I was, remembering our training runs on Heartbreak Hill and the exhilaration of taking that turn onto Commonwealth Avenue on Marathon Monday.

We look forward to many more runs there this Winter and Spring. As the sun shines brightly through the bare trees, there is a warmth that blankets Heartbreak Hill. It is my favorite spot to watch the seasons transform from Winter to Spring and to feel the rush of anticipation for the 2020 Boston Marathon.

There IS magic on Heartbreak Hill.

To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours
Mary

You can read all about my journey of transformation from the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond in my Trilogy of Transformation available on Amazon and feel the heal in my anthology of inspirational poetry.

Be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com to learn more about my inspirational journey and for healing resources.

Kendra Petrone and I talked about my healing journey before the 2019 Boston Marathon on her award winning Exceptional Women Show. Listen by following this link.







Thursday, November 14, 2019

Running is...



Thirteen years ago I could barely climb the stairs in my house, experienced chronic fatigue and pain, and had no idea what was going on with me mind, body and soul. The limp from when I contracted paralytic polio at the age of 5 returned. I felt as though my life was spiraling out of control despite being at the top of my career as an award winning social worker at the VA.

I found the courage to google Post Polio Syndrome and reached out to the International Rehab Center for Polio and Post-Polio at Spaulding Rehab. I underwent a series of tests since Post-Polio Syndrome is a diagnosis of exclusion. In December the diagnosis was confirmed and in January of 2007 I met a physical therapist who was an angel in my life. She believed in the body's tremendous capacity to heal and told me that I was NOT destined to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair as the medical community understood would happen with Post-Polio Syndrome at the time.

In October of 2007 I was led to another earth angel, personal trainer Janine Hightower, who quoted Henry Ford. "Whether you think you can or you think you can't you're right."

I thought that I could run the 2009 Boston Marathon despite never having run a day in my life! She agreed and in April of 2008 I discovered the sport of running.

Running is so much more than lacing up a pair of shoes and going outside to put in miles.

Running is a way to leave stress behind:


Running is a great way to forge friendships that last through the decades:



We celebrate our triumphs and uplift each other through the inevitable trials and tribulations of life.

Running is my therapy that fueled my journey of transformation from being a survivor of paralytic polio to a woman who discovered her strength, resilience and beauty on the roads and in my life:



Running is getting up early to have together time unplugged savoring the seasons in New England even on a gray foggy day:


Running is a way to challenge myself and exceed all limitations opening the door to possibilities having comeback after comeback:


Running is a way to move forward on the roads and in life:


Running is a magnificent way to be a part of a larger community:


and is a way to be celebrated as though you finished first even though you're last:


Running is a way to experience magic:


The obsession with running is, as Dr. George Sheehan said:






Running is finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow-a spectacular scene from one of our early morning runs a few weeks ago:


Running is...you fill in the blank!

You can read all about my journey of transformation from the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond in my Trilogy of Transformation available on Amazon and feel the heal in my anthology of inspirational poetry.

To your health and wellness - from my heart to yours
Mary

Be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com to learn more about my inspirational journey and for healing resources.

Kendra Petrone and I talked about my healing journey before the 2019 Boston Marathon on her award winning Exceptional Women Show. Listen by following this link.