Saturday, October 10, 2020

It's a Sign - Signing Off On My Blog After 12 Years


On October 22, 2008 I wrote my first blog post on Healing, Hope and Possibility.

 Two interns from the Boston Unversity School of Public Communication taught me about social media and how to start a blog.

 Healing, Hope and Possibility transformed into Going the Distance   which eventually morphed into The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953.

My blog chronicles my journey on the road to the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond. I harnessed the power of the mind/body connection to heal my life from the effects of paralytic polio and severe childhood trauma. My blog takes you on my incredible journey from shortly after the diagnosis of Post Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease to training for and crossing the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and along the many twists and turns that life takes us on.

I experienced set backs and come backs and been both an observer and participant in chronicling the world around us. I have been absolutely delighted to share them all with you and am so deeply grateful for the readership and feedback I received through the years.

When I signed on to write yesterday's blog, there was a new format and a text editor that was unwieldy to use. There was no way to revert to the old blogger. I went into a discussion group about the changes to see if I was missing something and everyone was imploring google to bring back the old blogger but we were told that due to the infrastructure of Google and blogspot we would have to use the new format.

I have been tapering how often I blog for about a year now and have been wondering if perhaps it was time to end my blog.

It took me several hours to get yesterday's blog finished and posted.

It was a sign that it was time to sign off of my blog for now.

I am writing my next book, "Hope: A Collection of Poems and Essays From the Pandemic of 2020" and will of course be continuing to inspire and uplift with my Facebook posts. You can stay up to date on News and Events and the latest information I have to share by visiting my website at www.marymcmanus.com and my books are available on Amazon

Thank you all for your love and support through these 12 years!

From my heart to yours

In health and wellness,

Mary                                                                                                                                 

Friday, October 9, 2020

Poetry in Motion

 

October 1st was National Poetry Day. I discovered the gift of poetry in my soul in February of 2007 after the diagnosis of the progressive neuromuscular disease Post Polio Syndrome in December of 2006.

 

I got still and asked for Divine Guidance seeking the answer to the question what's next in my life? I knew I was at a crossroads and had no idea what would be next for me in my life's journey. I was at the height of my award winning career as a VA social worker and was told that if I had any hope of maintaining the progression of symptoms where they were, I needed to leave work. I was told that I should prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair and expect a rapid decline in functioning as I aged. I was given a list of resources to consider either making my Cape home handicapped accessible or move to a ranch style house.

 

I was scared, depressed, anxious and yet oddly enough hopeful that somehow a new path would be made clear to me if I allowed the Divine to guide me.

 

As I sat in a leg brace using a cane, a toe up leg brace and at times a wheelchair for mobility, this poem flowed out of me:


Running the Race

 

Early summer 1959 my kindergarten year

Everyone around me filled with nervous fear

Despite the Salk vaccine hope polio would disappear

The polio virus crept right up and knocked me in the rear.

Dancing all around the gym feeling free just like a bird

I dropped to the ground just like a stone

and no one said a word.

The pain it was so searing-the diagnosis even worse

"It's polio" the doctor said...he was abrupt and terse.

Called one of the 'lucky ones' I had a 'mild case'

But with the other athletes I could never keep their pace.

Miss Holly physical therapist,

curly hair and a warm, broad smile

It tempered the pain of being apart - to walk I'd take awhile.

 

I always wore those 'special' shoes

the kids they poked and teased

With no support and much abuse

with childhood I wasn't pleased.

But put nose to the grindstone and learned all that I could

I couldn't kick a ball but my grades were always good.

Years went by and no more thought to polio did I give

I accepted the limp and everything else

and decided my life I would live.

But symptoms of weakness and muscle pain did grow

I kept a stoic face hoping no one else would know.

 

Life no longer was my own I struggled through each day

Suffered in silence, isolated from friends-

trying to keep depression at bay.

And with the grace of glorious God my world it opened wide

I discovered there was a Post Polio team

and they were on my side.

 

Using wheelchair to travel, set limits on what I could do,

Resulted in joy to realize I could live life anew.

Celebrated my body- creaks, groans and need for a brace

While in my mind I focused on winning a 10K race.

Sought out paths for healing and my spirit flew free

For the first time in life, I could truly be me.

The chains are gone and possibilities abound

I'm a tree with my roots planted firmly in ground.

I'm now off the sidelines, no need to sit and whine

So much gratitude fills my heart and love and beauty shine.

After all these years I can join the loving human race

I exceed all expectations and now I set the pace.

 

Poems flowed out of me as if a spigot turned on in my soul. I was healing the past through poems of forgiveness, gratitude and embracing the challenges of paralytic polio and trauma from my childhood while creating a future very different from the ones the doctors predicted for me. My pen became my divining rod for healing!

 

This collection of poems can be found in "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life".

 


 

 

Through the sport of running and crossing the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon, I became a woman transformed from victim of my past to a thriver experiencing the fullness of life free from the shackles of my past. My life became poetry in motion.

 

This past March, with the onset of the pandemic in the US, I once again turned to my divining rod for healing. I am creating my next book Hope: A Collection of Poems and Essays from the Pandemic of 2020. I open my heart and soul to receive messages that will uplift and inspire others noting how creation can help us navigate the most challenging times in our lives.

 

May we all move through life as poetry in motion.

 

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

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Foliage, Flowers, and Family on a Fun Run



Running is an integral part of Team McManus' life. We cannot imagine a Saturday morning without filling up the water bottles, putting on our fuel belts and choosing a route to enjoy together unplugged and tuning into the rhythm of life.

We get to experience the change of seasons embracing the beauty and the challenges that each season in New England has to offer. While the transition from Winter to Spring is my favorite change of season, I have come to celebrate and find the joy in every season.

We chose Heartbreak Hill for Saturday's 5K run.

There is a house right before Center Street and Commonwealth Avenue on the Carriage Road that has the most beautiful gardens.



We saw an older woman, the keeper of her beautiful gardens lovingly tend her flowers. What a wonderful start to our run!

The trees are just beginning to change colors and many leaves lined the carriage road.


We paused to take our selfie:


We bantered about what foods we are looking forward to preparing this Autumn and Winter and had to pause to take this picture:


We cherished our time together expressing what we are grateful for as we get ready to embrace the season of Thanksgiving.

We shared our feelings about the pandemic and how so much has changed. There is no Heartbreak Hill Run Club with runners conquering the Newton Hills and then gathering in the store celebrating runs and plans for upcoming races. There are no high fives and great job as we'd pass familiar faces or just smile at runners passing by. We talked about the upcoming election and our energy shifted from sadness to optimism and hope.

While there may be so much sadness and heartache in the world, through running, we are able to find our way to celebrate life and appreciate the beauty of the season with foliage, flowers and family fun time.

To learn more about my journey from being told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair in December of 2006 to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond, be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com

My books are available on Amazon

To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours
Mary

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Let's Be Adventurous!



Before the diagnosis of Post Polio Syndrome in December of 2006, I would not be described as an adventurous person. I clung to safety and to routine which was no easy feat after giving birth to twins in 1987. Having grown up in a violent household, taking risks and being bold were not a way of life that I could embrace. I lived on the edge for far too many years.

But after the diagnosis of a progressive neuromuscular disease, I was at a crossroads in my life. The old ways were challenged as the walls of my past came crumbling down as I wrote poetry and opened my heart to forgiveness, gratitude, healing, hope and possibilities!

As the howling wind rustled the trees outside and rain pelted against my window in yesterday's early morning hours, I hoped that the weather would subside enough so we could get in our morning 5K.

We vowed that unless there were a blizzard outside, we would not run on a treadmill.

The rain and wind miraculously stopped at 9am when the forecast predicted it would!

The clouds were breaking as the sun tried to peek through the grey overcast day.

As we were getting ready to head out on our run, we had the great debate.

"Should we bring our jackets?"

"No I think it's going to clear!"

"What does the forecast say?"

I finally declared, 'Let's be adventurous and go without our jackets.'

It was unseasonably warm for the last day in September. We expressed our gratitude for being able to still go out in shorts and a t shirt.

When we arrived at The Reservoir, Ruth Anne commented on how mysterious the water looked after the storm.



The wind left gentle waves on the water in its wake with a blue green hue to the water.

We savored these moments together and being together in nature:


Geese lined the path and we played dodge the geese and the puddles on our run.

"Hey mom..look we have the whole place to ourselves."

"That's because people were afraid of the forecast."

"But not us."

We took our mid run selfie:


As we finished our lap around the Reservoir, Ruth Anne spotted ominous looking clouds in the sky. Being the eternal optimist I said, "Oh don't worry. They are moving out."

And that is why I am not a meteorologist!

A few raindrops quickly turned into a deluge about a half mile from the end of our run at our house.

The only thing to do was to laugh and splash in the puddles that quickly formed around our feet.

Ruth Anne was quick to remind me, as she does whenever we get caught in a downpour, "Well you had that image of splashing in the puddles after you were diagnosed."

Ruth Anne referenced the poem, "Come Out and Play" from "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life":

One night I had a dream that I came out of my leg brace and was splashing around in the rain much like Gene Kelly did in Singin’ in the Rain. When I woke up, I penned this poem:

Come Out and Play

Arms flung open wide dancing in the rain
pure abiding joy to feel alive again
healing tears fall and blend in God’s puddle
no time to sit in a corner and huddle
all the old rules driven by fears
washed away now by God’s loving tears
the imprint dad left no longer remains
rain washes away all of the stains
baptized with love, Truth lights my way
the sun shines through on this rainy day
splashing and laughing my heart opens wide
embracing and flowing I’m one with the tide
God takes my hand release the old way
bathe in my glory come out and play!


I was happy we didn't bring jackets or hats. I loved experiencing the delightful feeling or running through the rain, of getting soaked to the skin; a simple pleasure that I never knew as a child. I had never run a day in my life before the age of 53. The medical community would have me believe that, as a survivor of paralytic polio, I was fragile and needed to take special precautions avoiding the elements lest I end up with a fracture or pneumonia.

But for me...that's not living! As Helen Keller said, "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all."

Here is our post we are soaked to the skin selfie:


Intrigued by my journey to health and wellness after the diagnosis of Post Polio Syndrome? Be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com

My books are available on Amazon

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness
To great adventures in living
Mary






Monday, September 28, 2020

A Recap of Catie's Closet Virtual 5K



and when you run Catie's Closet Virtual 5K, your running shoes have the magic to purchase a new pair of running shoes for a child in need in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

The motto for Catie's Closet Virtual 5K is Step Into Their Shoes. They created the race as a way to raise money to purchase new sneakers for children in need especially during these unprecedented times where economic challenges and services to those in need are great.

The organizers were hoping for 100 participants but are currently at 261 runners/walkers. They extended the race to October 7th with registration closing on 9/30th.

Schools equipped with a Catie’s Closet give students living in poverty the ability to discreetly pick and choose the clothing and basic necessities they need, and are proud to wear. Lack of access to basic necessities is one of the top reasons for absenteeism.

By meeting students’ needs, Catie’s Closet boosts self esteem and motivates students to attend school and focus on their education.


Our daughter volunteered for Catie's Closet last year. A few weeks ago one of my dear friends posted on Facebook about Catie's Closet and their dire need for in kind and cash donations. We went to their website to see how we could help and signed up for the 5K along with purchasing items from their wish list on Amazon.

It was a beautiful weather day for a 5K supporting a great cause knowing that because we laced up our running shoes, kids in need would be able to lace up a new pair of sneakers.

Here we are at the "starting line":


Scenes along the way:


Mid-run photos:


At the finish line:


Our hearts overflowed with gratitude that we could support a great cause during our Saturday morning 5K.

Organizations like Catie's Closet need our support more than ever at a time when need far exceeds what agencies are receiving during these challenging times.

You can give the gift of exercise to yourself while giving the gift of a new pair of sneakers to children in need when you run or walk the Catie's Closet Virtual 5K. You can also go to Amazon to shop using their Wish List or make direct in kind or cash donations via their website.



From my heart to yours
In health and wellness
Mary

To learn about my journey from having been told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond, be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com</b>

My books are available on Amazon

Friday, September 25, 2020

Reflections on Virtual Races



The collective hearts of the running community ache for live races. We yearn for those pre-race hugs and high fives, seeing people we stay in contact with on Facebook but often only see in person at starting lines and post-race celebrations. We love to test our mettle racing against ourselves and the clock.

But as Amby Burfoot said:


The pandemic has tested our mettle in ways we could never have imagined. We yearn for a sense of normalcy to return to our lives and the lives of those we love. This morning's Boston Globe had a great article, "As we adjust to a new normal, lessons in grief and gratitude."

While we continue to mourn live events and all the joy that accompanies live events, I feel deeply grateful for the opportunity to participate in virtual events, support great causes and honor traditions for annual events. As Kara Baskin points out, it's okay to mourn whatever we are missing in our lives right now from that mocha latte you grab on the morning commute to loved ones who lost their lives in the pandemic.

Here's our line up of Virtual Races:

Tomorrow we pin on our bibs for Catie's Closet.

Our daughter volunteered with Catie's Closet to help sort clothes and toiletries that provide dignity to school age children living in poverty. With COVID-19, their needs are even greater this year. While there is no on site sorting of clothes, we discovered their Virtual 5K. The entry fee provides a new pair of sneakers to children living in poverty in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The Virtual Event continues through September 30th. Be sure to visit their website and consider making a cash or in kind donation. Lace up your sneakers so kids can lace up theirs!

The first 10K race Ruth Anne and I ran was the Tufts 10K for women now named the Boston 10K For Women. What great memories we hold in our heart from October 2009 when we ran our fastest time on the road to the 2009 Boston Marathon and celebrated the 10K distance. Since 2009, I paced a friend to the finish line of her first 10K and ran my own PR in 2014.

Ruth Anne will be running her Virtual Boston 10K for Women on Columbus Day.

While she won't be running the route that features spectacular views of the Charles River and Boston as it loops around Cambridge and goes back into Boston, we will embrace the tradition of a race that holds many cherished memories for us.

Tom and I will loop the Reservoir in the opposite direction from Ruth Anne to run out Run for Ruth-We Dissent 5K.



Ruth Anne will use the 10K miles to log as part of her 87 mile challenge that will end on 11/3.

As part of Run for Ruth, runners get to donate to a charity that supports women's rights.

On 11/1, Tom and Ruth Anne will take to the 2nd half of the Boston Marathon course to run the Harvest Half Virtual Marathon.

Rather than do the Cape Cod Half Marathon as a Virtual Race, they deferred their race entries to 2021.

But they were psyched for a fall marathon. We did a search for Virtual Half Marathons. Ruth Anne was so excited to have the opportunity to support the Brentwood YMCA in Middle Tennessee where she attended Middle Tennessee State University as an undergrad.

The YMCA Race Series benefits the YMCA of Middle Tennessee. As a leading nonprofit committed to youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, the Y nurtures the potential of children and teens, improves community health and well-being and supports people in need right in our own neighborhood.

By participating in the race, you're making an enduring, lasting impact in your community by giving everyone, regardless of age, income or background, the opportunities they need to learn, grow and thrive.


One of our favorite Thanksgiving Day traditions is running or volunteering at the Feaster Five 5K/5 Mile race hosted by the Merrimack Valley Striders.

There would be a 3 day Expo leading up to race day where we would experience the festivities of giving thanks and celebrating the holiday season with runner friends who are like family.

We are registered for the 5K which we will run in our neighborhood while the Thanksgiving turkey cooks. We will gather in social media to share our photos and give thanks for the gift of running in our lives.

There will be no live Jingle Bell Run events this year. This is the first year since 2015, that we are not training to travel to and run in Bermuda. I presume there will be no Camp Hyannis aka Hyannis Marathon Weekend this year and even the 2021 Boston Marathon is in question. We are hopeful that the Falmouth Road Race and Cape Cod Marathon Weekends will be able to return next year.

Yet, for the foreseeable future, Virtual Races will be the order of the day and Team McManus will continue to be a part of the Virtual Races community supporting great causes and using them to keep our passion and deep gratitude and appreciation for the sport alive and well!

To learn more about my journey to the sport of running after having been diagnosed with a progressive neuromuscular disease, be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com

My books are available on Amazon

To your health and well being
From my heart to yours
Mary





Thursday, September 24, 2020

"They said..."



Yesterday my most liked photo from 2016 popped up in my memories!



"They" said I never should have started running as a survivor of paralytic polio and the diagnosis of Post Polio Syndrome even though I crossed the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon. "They" said, after a serious knee injury in December of 2014 that I needed to stop running and prepare for a total knee replacement. "They" were wrong and I went on to run Bermuda Half Marathons 2016, 2017 and 2018. Here I am at mile 11 in 2016.


I feel compassion for physicians and allied health professions who profess what is and is not possible. I was blessed to have had a physical therapist who did not subscribe to the conventional wisdom of "If you use it you will lose it" as a survivor of paralytic polio and the diagnosis of Post Polio Syndrome. She told me through her treatment plan for and with me, in her words and actions that I was not destined to spend my life in a wheelchair as was the message I received from the treatment team at the International Rehab Center for Polio and Post Polio 13 years ago.

In Dr. Joe Dispenza's book, You Are the Placebo, and in Dr. David Hamilton's' book, "How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body" they cite examples of how the power of the mind influences the body. In Dr. Joe's book, he gives numerous examples of how a diagnosis and prognosis were given for a terminal illness and the body responded to their timetable. However upon autopsy there was no disease found! They also share the science behind the power of belief and imagination in being able to heal the body.

After that knee injury in December of 2014, I returned to the physiatrist who treated me initially for Post Polio to see what needed to be healed but quickly asked for Divine Guidance for healing. I was blessed to find my way to a chiropractor who believed as I did in the body's tremendous capacity for healing. We partnered together to get me back on the roads using chiropractic, KT taping to support the knee during healing and in growing a new gastroc muscle that had atrophied during the initial bout of paralytic polio. I learned about the atrophied gastroc muscle from the MRI and while "they said" there was nothing I could do about it, my chiropractor and I said "Let's give it a go."

I understand where those who say with such conviction a diagnosis and prognosis are coming from. Until my nurse at the Brigham and Women's Hospital introduced me to Dr. Bernie Siegel I believed what "they said".



So here's to those who say that they may be able to open their hearts, minds and eyes to see what is possible.

And here's to those who have believed what "they said"...may you be open to healing, hope and possibilities!

To learn more about my inspiring journey and to explore healing resources be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com

My books are available on Amazon

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