Thursday, April 2, 2020

Weathering The Storm



It's a stormy time in everyone's life across the Globe. I am deeply grateful for the gift of poetry in my heart and soul that helps me to stay anchored in my faith and bring calm and joy as the storm swirls around me.

I have experienced many storms in my life and experiences that have turned my life topsy turvy.

I have been blessed to build up a reservoir of strength and resilience through those stormy times that is holding me in good stead as I surf the waves of fear, anxiety, healing old traumas that are getting triggered while also enjoying a more leisurely pace of life with my daughter and husband.

I limit my exposure to the news and our newspaper goes right into the recycling bin these days. We are finding ways to be of service to others in our neighborhood and Ruth Anne is doing phone outreach to seniors in the City of Boston in a phone bank organized by City Councillor Matt O'Malley of District 6 which neighbors our town of Brookline. We support local businesses and order on line and do take out once a week from our favorite restaurants. Because of Ruth Anne's health and wellness journey recovering from Brain Injury secondary to an untreated infection, we have lots of games, puzzles and activities.

Last weekend Ruth Anne and Tom made a bird house:


We are so incredibly blessed and grateful for our abundance and for Tom being able to work from home. I am deeply grateful for the gift of poetry in my soul. If I have trouble falling asleep, I open my heart to see what message Source would like me to channel. The start of the poem I finished this morning began to percolate before I fell into a deep sleep:

Weathering The Storm

Huddled clutching covers barely breathing thoughts of dread
flooded with what ifs and worries echoing in head.
Thunder claps and lightning strikes paralyzed with fear
piercing through the darkness Love's Voice resounding clear.

"Waiting for the storm to pass is not the way to be
trembling feel your courage - come out and be with Me."

Splashing in My puddles remember you're my Child
joyous raucous dancing free let yourself be wild.
Delight as raindrops falling tickle nose and face
cup your hands together as I shower you with Grace.

Storms may blow uncertainty arms flung open wide
trust have faith and confidence I am always by your side.
No trial or tribulation fares greater than my Power
Presence palpability in each being, wind and flower.

Faith restored and strengthened as skies transform to blue
Staying close to Source of all will always see you through.


Everyone is finding their way to weather the storm. The Insight Meditation Society is offering daily meditations on their YouTube page.

Pause in Joy/Patti Penn
has dedicated her YouTube channel to specific meditations and messages to help us weather the storm.

I have a list of Healing Resources on my website that includes meditations, visualization, information about the mind/body connection and how to manage life's stresses and strains.

I meditate at least 3 times a day and sometimes take a pause during the day if there is a Facebook Live meditation that resonates with me. We maintain our regular exercise regimen with strength training and running. We are blessed that we have running routes around our neighborhood that allow for social distancing.

All storms pass and this too shall pass. We will experience a new normal once the pandemic subsides. But for now let's focus on weathering the storm with wisdom, grace, grit, faith, humor, determination, confidence and courage, gratitude, Love, connection and kindness.

From my heart to yours
to your health and well being
With love
Mary

My website is www.marymcmanus.com

My books are available on Amazon



Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Topsy Turvy and The Gift of Polio



In December of 2006, life as I had come to know it came to a screeching halt. I had symptoms for about 10 years before finally waking up and paying attention to my mind, body and soul crying out for healing. The diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease was the Universe hitting me with a 2 x 4. I was told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair, adapt my Cape style home or move to a ranch, quit my award winning career as a VA social worker just 3 years shy of when I was eligible for retirement, prepare to possibly need a feeding tube, a sleep apnea machine and that, because I had contracted paralytic polio at the age of 5, expect to have a rapid period of decline as I aged.

Whoa! Talk about a topsy turvy moment!

In the 1980's I was hospitalized with a staph infection in my shoulder. I met an earth angel of a nurse who taught me about the work of Dr. Bernie Siegel.

He teaches about the power of love and self love in healing and how important it is to "be grateful for your troubles."



I got still asking for Divine Guidance and discovered the gift of poetry in my soul.

One of my early poems was:
The Gift of Polio
Thank you God for the gift of polio that brought me so close to you
while paralyzed I saw your face no matter what I’d do
Many wonderful healers you sent them to me at age 5
perseverance and triumph life’s lessons learned
but my Spirit could not yet thrive.

At age 53 the gift was sent to me a second time
having time to sit and feel to heal I started to rhyme.
The second time felt worse than the first
yet your love and wisdom I found
out of pain and weakness and fatigue a remarkable spirit rebound.

Reliving all the trauma of special shoes and such
I discovered remarkable healers who brought a loving touch.
I had no clue I had such strength and the ability to grow
no matter what the outcome deep gratitude I show.

This gift so precious I live a new life gratitude flows from me
my heart and soul are filled with grace each day’s a gift from thee.


During these times of having our lives turned upside down with the pandemic, it can be challenging to find the gifts, the blessings and the treasures. It's almost like we are looking at one of those Highlights for Children puzzles where we have to find items hidden in a picture or a word puzzle where you have to find words among the letters.

But once we get still, pause and take a deep breath, we get clarity. Blessings and goodness abound in every situation. Gratitude is the order of the day whether we are under a stay at home order and especially when we return to life after the pandemic subsides. I keep a daily gratitude journal and I've already anticipated the renewed appreciation I will experience when I can:
Go for a run and not be concerned with social distancing
Hug a neighbor when we pass on the street
Shop wherever/whenever I would like
Go out for a meal
Run or spectate races
Well stocked shelves at the grocery store without stressed grocery store workers
Get my hair styled
Anticipate the Boston Marathon
Take my daughter for her OT appointments
See my chiropractor
Experience joy and being able to celebrate special occasions with loved ones
Take Ruth Anne for volunteering
Lunch with friends
Seeing relief from my friends who are medical personnel

While the news and prognostication of what's to come is certainly bleak, won't you consider joining me in experiencing a new perspective and awakening in our hearts and in our lives?

From my heart to yours
to your health and well being
With love
Mary

My website is www.marymcmanus.com

My books are available on Amazon


Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Miracles of Healing



When I posted our Monday morning run on Facebook, I wrote, "3.4 magnificent miraculous Monday miles! Took to the Hills around our neighborhood and 264’ of elevation got the heart pumping and endorphins kicking in! Spring is in bloom!"


Why miraculous miles you may ask?



In December of 2006, I was diagnosed with Post Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease by Western Medicine Standards. I decided I was not going to take the diagnosis sitting down but at the time could not know that I was on the threshold of a miracle of healing. I got still and asked for Divine Guidance. I had known about Bernie Siegel's work since a nurse brought me his cassette talk on Love, Medicine and Miracles and knew the role that the power of faith and the mind/body connection along with self-love play in healing. I knew the story of Evy McDonald, also a polio survivor who healed her life from the diagnosis of ALS.

As I sat in a leg brace using a cane and at times a wheelchair for mobility, the gift of poetry sprung forth from my soul. After contracting paralytic polio, I had an angel of a physical therapist, Miss Holly who read Dr. Seuss to me before every painful physical therapy session and then would have me recite the book back to her in tandem while she coaxed my muscles and nerves back to health. As part of my miracle of healing, I started writing poetry and the first poem I wrote, Running the Race, was in the cadence of Dr. Seuss. It foreshadowed my 2009 Boston Marathon run. Here I am 14 years after the diagnosis working out 5 days a week and running 3 days a week! But that is not all oh no that is not all to quote The Cat in the Hat.

In December of 2014, I sustained a very serious knee injury. By all appearances it looked as though I would need to stop running and require a total knee replacement in a few years. It was beyond repair and the fact that I had an atrophied gastroc muscle from the polio would contribute to further degeneration of the knee. "Well there's nothing you can do about that" the doctor told me as he wrote a prescription for physical therapy with the caveat that I should not run but since he knew I was going to run anyway that I needed to cap my distance. I was blessed to have a physical therapist from hell and the Universe led me to a healer/chiropractor who led me to new and wondrous healing resources. I went on to run the Bermuda Half Marathon in 2016, 2017 and 2018!

For 3 years, Ruth Anne suffered with a complex of symptoms that confounded medical professionals. She endured 14 hospitalizations from January of 2018 til August of 2019 and was given every behavioral health diagnosis in the book. I was able to put the pieces of the puzzle together and was blessed that her primary care doctor and psychiatrist were on board with the diagnosis and implemented a treatment plan. She is a miracle! Many times she was on the precipice of the end of her life. It was a miracle that she was able to hold on until we were able to figure things out. Often times we prayed for a miracle and released the outcome to the Universe. We had to live in a space of just not knowing what would happen.

Yesterday on a drizzly gray day in Brookline, we experienced the miracles of healing and the glorious rebirth that happens every year in New England.

“It’s not a problem that fear is here. Fear is a portal for spiritual awakening. If, instead of running away, you meet fear with presence, you will discover right in its midst, a timeless and healing love.” ~Tara Brach

Be Love

When sirens shrill shrieks ear piercing fear
Be Love
Let light and love Shine
Intelligence divine
Love greater than fear
believe
in Love's great power

Love fills the cells
prison walls crumble
cells open wide
at Love song's first refrain
Be light
feel ease
delight in beauty surrounding

Refrain from fear's beckoning
as thoughts race with worry
bathe them with Love
potent healing balm
extinguishes fear
restores one to calm
Fear or Love
grow still and listen
veil of fear shredded
revealing reveling
Be Love.




From my heart to yours
to your health and well being
With love
Mary

My website is www.marymcmanus.com

My books are available on Amazon

Monday, March 30, 2020

Ode to A New Decade: On Resilience and Faith



Ode to a New Decade

A new decade new year anticipation such good cheer
hugs and celebrations 2020 is now here.
Vision boards and dreaming big hearts filled with so much hope
no one dreamed on horizon we'd be challenged with how to cope.
Auld lang syne 2019 we said goodbye to terrible year
The Universe responded.."Hang on.. "Hold my beer."
We learned to adapt somehow finding our way
despite rapid changes that came with each day.
Working remotely from all across globe
who knew we could spend a whole day in our robe?

Anger and rancor blaming judging and greed
softened our hearts tell me what do you need.
Singing together giving thanks for our health
those with abundance sharing their wealth.
Closets decluttered we'd sort and we'd sift
while slowly but surely the world made a shift.

We cursed and we struggled cuz that's what humans do
until we surrendered as One knowing we'll make it through.
Grieving losses of how life used to be
caterpillars must die to transform and fly free.
Sidewalks were chalked messages for neighbors to share
finding ways to communicate how much we all care.
Bonds of kinship grew stronger though physically apart
we discovered what's important real and true in our heart.
A running boom happened distant waves smiles so bright
projects new interests focus on healing, love and light.

The first quarter of our decade spent much time in quarantine
soul lessons learned much remains to be seen.
When this year is over and we open our hearts to new year ahead
strength, courage and resilience knowing nothing now to dread.




No one had any of this on their vision board for sure but here we are in the first quarter of a new year and a new decade experiencing situations that we were totally unprepared for.

The Universe hit the entire world with a giant 2 x 4 to create an awakening and a shift on an individual, family, community and global level. We discovered that what happens in one part of the world affects every one of us.

It reminds me of the Butterfly Effect:


My heart aches for families who have experienced devastating losses. My heart grieves for those who are unemployed, for my friends who own small business, for the unprecedented economic toll this has taken across the globe. I pray that people will be able to tap into our tremendous resilience and to experience the power of the Spirit during these challenging times.

Yet my heart is also filled with hope, gratitude and love and I am reminded of my resilience and our resilience as a community in Boston and beyond.

I contracted paralytic polio at the age of 5 and endured years of child abuse at the hands of family members. I went on to become valedictorian of my high school class and had an award winning career as a social worker at the VA. I connected with Source and my guardian angel from an early age.

In December of 2006, I was given the diagnosis of Post Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease and told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair. I got still and asked for Divine Guidance. A whole new world opened before me as I transformed from a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma to an endurance runner and motivational speaker.

After that diagnosis I had complete and utter faith that the diagnosis was not an ending but a new beginning for me. I harnessed the power of my imagination through the power of my pen, what I call my Divining Rod for healing, and through the mind/body connection and feeling as if my wonderful future had already happened, created a new life.

As a country we made it through 9/11 and as a city we became Boston Strong after 4/15/13.

As I surf the waves of fear that we are all experiencing at this time, I am experiencing many many more moments of clarity and calm. I meditate throughout the day and if I wake up in the middle of the night, rather than fueling and feeding my fears, I am focused on affirmations and a vision for life for after the pandemic subsides. There are many wonderful healing resources available specifically designed to help us navigate these turbulent times and I've added them to the Healing Resources page on my website.

I know that with resilience, faith, connection while being physically apart and experiencing a shift, we will not only survive but thrive!

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness
Mary

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

My books are available on Amazon

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Conspiracy of Hope - It's a Sign!



A friend of mine once nicknamed me The Empress of Enthusiasm. I must admit that, at times, it's been a challenge to maintain that level of enthusiasm during these challenging times. Yet, having that nickname and knowing that many look to me for my positive posts, optimism and enthusiasm especially during challenging times helps me to stay in a stream of positive energy.

I am so blessed to have like hearted friends who are sharing positive posts during this time.

One friend who I met at the Harvard Pilgrim Finish at the 50 last year shared this beautiful photo with the caption, "First time in 3 years we had one that bloomed!"


I commented, 'It's a sign' and Erin replied, 'for sure! Glimmer of hope!'

My friend Kelly who I know through running posted one flower photo yesterday and one today noting, "Normally I would be rushing out of the house for work or something else.

Took a nice walk this morning to try to get the focus off of the negativity and anxiety with COVID.

Stop, look and listen to the beauty happening in front of us"



Another runner friend Kevin shared this post: "It is so nice out I put out Mom's geraniums."


One of my favorite posts came from Andrew who I also met through running:
"WARNING

This is a happy, non virus, non political post.

First sign of spring today just popped up in our front yard. These are from the pile of bulbs my father gave me a few years ago with the proviso that he did not know what they were or what color they were, but to just plant them. And they have kept coming back year after year ever since."



There are signs of hope, signs of Spring and so much beauty to surround. It all depends on where we place our focus.

The other day I was Spring Cleaning. I had to wait to change our linens and make our bed because our beloved cat Jamie was so comfortable that I did not have the heart to ask her to leave. When it was her dinner time she left her cozy nest. I quickly stripped the bed and seemingly, out of nowhere, a nickel appeared on the mattress cover.

A 1964 nickel....


As I remade our bed I pondered on the significance of finding a nickel. I knew in every fiber of my being that it was a sign.

And then it dawned on me...The Five Pennies!

In this film based on a true story, Red Nichols (Danny Kaye) moves from his small town to New York City to become a jazz musician. Although he experiences culture shock, he soon becomes well respected in the clubs, even forming a friendship with Louis Armstrong (Louis Armstrong). After marrying Willa (Barbara Bel Geddes) and having a daughter, Dorothy (Susan Gordon), Red still tours constantly. But, when he learns that Dorothy has polio, he realizes he must rethink his priorities.


This past Father's Day I wrote a blog post about The Five Pennies after finding five pennies outside of CVS.

I knew the Universe was sending me a message and giving me a message to share.

I contracted paralytic polio in one of the last epidemics in the US in 1959. I wondered why we haven't been hearing more about polio in the context of our current pandemic and then lo and behold I found this article from WBUR that says:

“What we can learn is that our predecessors have met these contagious crises with far less armaments and tools in their tool box,” he says. “And they came through on the other end. And we can do this and we will do this with COVID-19.”

There is hope. We are all in this together and we will not only survive but we will thrive!

The Gardener

Conspiracy of hope
kneeling at sacred space
confidently pregnant with faith

Spade sifts soil
sensuous scent of Spring
tender preparation in mother earth’s womb

This tiny seed
how does it know?
Possessing wisdom beyond what eye can behold
expectant miracle

Divine Intelligence slowly unfurls
ease and grace
beautiful ballet
sunlight's spotlight center stage
bees and butterflies surrounding
serenading rebirth
behold its beauty.


Be safe!
Be well!

From my heart to yours
Mary

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

My books are available on Amazon



Friday, March 27, 2020

Blogger Spotlight: M and A Farm



Today's blog is brought to you by guest blogger Ruth Anne McManus.

My brother Autumn and his partner Michelle Todd own M and A Farm. I have tasted their delicious chicken, bacon and eggs. They are two of the hardest working people I know. Both Autumn and Michelle have their roots in social justice and sustainability. They did farm internships to learn about farming and continued their education on their own. They recently created their website. They are a small-scale, diversified farm, and produce an array of products including fruits, vegetables, soap, eggs, pork, chicken, and flowers. They will soon be opening for the season at The Berry Patch Store located in Stephentown New York.

All produce grown by M and A is certified naturally grown. They recognize the importance of tending to their surrounding ecosystems as a whole - using only natural inputs, and rebuilding soil with compost and organic matter. Anything less is unsustainable.



Last Christmas, Michele and Autumn sent me a gift bag that included their homemade goat soap.


Do you have dry skin and who doesn't from all of our hand washing these days. Try a bar of their small batch goats' milk soap made with milk from their very own goats!

Michelle and Autumn boast that they have the happiest hens on earth. The chickens don't practice social distancing but they roam freely on the farm.



They are making farm fresh food available during this time of crisis. For the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, M and A Farm will be offering delivery services to the Troy and Albany areas! Products include pasture-raised meat, greens, and eggs!

When it is finally safe for Farmers Markets to reopen be sure to consider supporting your local farmers. Many take SNAP benefits and participate in a program where people receive money back on their benefits when they shop at Farmers Markets.

When I first wrote this blog, it was for a call to action to support our farmers as part of the Stimulus Relief Package. I am happy to report this from the Farmers Market Coalition website:

Washington, D.C., March 25, 2020 – After an all-night negotiation, the Senate today passed a two trillion-dollar stimulus package; the third COVID-19 stimulus package to date. The bill includes $9.5 billion to support “agricultural producers impacted by coronavirus, including producers of specialty crops, producers that supply local food systems, including farmers markets, restaurants, and schools, and livestock producers, including dairy producers.” In response to the Senate’s publication of their third stimulus bill, the Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) issued the following statement:

“We are grateful that the Senate put in the overtime work to get this bill out the door,” said FMC Executive Director Ben Feldman. “Farmers markets and direct market farmers and ranchers across the country have been in a state of limbo for weeks now this package gives them a path forward. While there is more yet to do, we want to thank in particular Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT) for their tireless advocacy and support of the local/regional food economy.

We urge the House to take the Senate’s lead and move swiftly to pass this next stimulus package. We also urge both chambers to direct the CDC to clarify that farmers markets are essential services, and to direct the USDA to provide flexibility on deadlines and matching requirements for current grant opportunities. At this time, Congress should be doing everything they can to make sure these essential food and farm businesses can stay in operation throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”

FMC will continue to work with our market members and our champions in Congress to ensure that farmers markets and direct market farmers receive the support they need to stay in business and keep feeding their communities. We will be following this legislation closely as it moves through Congress and monitoring the implementation of any funds issued to ensure they support the local markets and family farm businesses that need them most.


For more information about Farmers Markets visit the Farmers Market Coalition website.

Be safe!
Be well!

From my heart to yours
Ruth Anne

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

My books are available on Amazon



Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Looking forward to....




From the Introduction of "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953":
“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” ~Abraham Lincoln

Once I received the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome, a disease deemed by Western Medicine Standards to be a progressive neuromuscular disease, I worked hard to live by Abraham Lincoln’s philosophy and the philosophy of many luminaries of the New Age. In December of 2006 life as I had come to know it came to a screeching halt. I was not going to take the diagnosis sitting down.

Sometimes it feels as though life is going to crush us but then we have the opportunity to turn around and crush goals in life! At first I was afraid - very afraid and then I got still and asked for Divine Guidance. The answers came through my pen, what I came to call my divining rod for healing in the form of inspirational poetry; powerful words that inspired mind, body and soul to heal. I was creating my future; a future very different than the one the doctors predicted for me harnessing the power of my imagination to heal. I was told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair, and to anticipate an accelerated decline in functioning as I aged.

I traded in my wheelchair, leg brace and cane for a pair of running shoes. I went on to become an endurance runner. My adventures as runner girl 1953 (the year I was born) launched when I was 54 years old.


I could have easily gotten pulled into the vortex of fear paralyzed by what I was being told. No one would have or could have judged or blamed me for accepting the diagnosis and prognosis. What we hear from the 'experts' can have a powerful effect on our minds which then affects our bodies.

Despite all appearances to the contrary, I created my future through the power of my imagination that flowed through my pen. I had a yellow legal pad with me at all times writing the poems that flowed from Source. I kept a journal for my future. Yes you read that right. Every day I would take 30 minutes out of my day to create a day in my life for after I left the VA. I felt the feelings of joy, gratitude, wholeness, health, well being as though they were happening right then and there. I created an environment of healing through my imagination while working in outpatient physical therapy and then with a personal trainer.



While I acknowledge feelings of anxiety and fear that wash over me, I am also looking for ways to feel good while navigating these days of uncharted territory. I feel incredibly blessed that the portal to writing poetry has once again opened to me.

Spring Cleaning
Scrubbing out the corners of my cluttered fretting mind
cobwebbed covered fear and doubt seek and ye shall find.

Cleansing breaths transform the dark no longer can they rule

lightness ease and joy and Truth my journey now they fuel.
Planting seeds of possibility rebirth burst forth with life

rooted in my faith of Source weeding out the worry strife.

Shake off the chill of seasons past Loving warmth must now prevail

whatever the adversity trust through it we can sail.

Time for moments of transition transform embrace new day
thoughts of healing health well being are here to light the way.

Heart and soul's delight now blossom path clear for flying free

take off and soar unlimited Being all we're meant to be!


I am looking to the future and bringing it into my present by imagining how great it is going to feel to:
Go grocery shopping and experience ease and calm (and toilet paper on the shelves)
Go on a shopping spree at Paper Fiesta with the gift certificate we purchased
Meet our friend and her son for lunch in Natick Center Cultural District
Enjoy soup, sandwiches and salads from New England Soup Factory
Lunch with friends at Legal Seafood Chestnut Hill
Be a part of rescheduled races
Dining in at Golden Temple
Run with friends with hugs and high fives
Appointments with my chiropractor Dr. Lizzie Sobel
Taking Ruth Anne for her acupuncture appointments with George Leung and for her OT appointments at Spaulding Rehab
Seeing Spring in full bloom and having picnics outdoors
Give high fives and hugs for runners training on Heartbreak Hill
Experience Boston Marathon Weekend
- Speaking at the Expo as part of the Runner Seminar Series
- Welcoming friends from near and far
- Being outside for HOURS with more cowbell

I imagine all of these wonderful experiences with exquisite detail to savor the sensations right down to the peanut butter sandwiches with carrots and chips we eat while cheering on the runners at the Boston Marathon.

The subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between what is being imagined and what is real and so I have the same feelings happening in my body as though these experiences were happening right now. It's a wonderful way to transform the grief, worry and fear that is pervasive at this time. Instead of looking to the news for when we will receive the "all clear" and waiting to celebrate and experience all that joy and relief, I choose to look forward to that time right now.

To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours
With love
Mary

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

My books are available on Amazon