Friday, May 31, 2019

Fundraising Friday: All You Need is Love - The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation



Today would have been Joseph Scott Middlemiss' 12th Birthday.



From Kate Middlemiss:
Joseph loved to share birthday gifts with others on HIS birthday. The first picture is of him on the morning of his last birthday here on earth. If you look over at his backpack on the ground, you will see a gift in front of it. He brought that gift to share with his kindergarten class on his 6th birthday. I believe it was a puzzle of one of his favorite Mo Willems’ pigeon books.



It looks like Joe still likes to give birthday gifts to others on his special day. This year he gave one to our family a day early. Jack had his regular three month cardiology/transplant appointment today. We are at Boston children’s very regularly for transplant labs and various other appointments but this was the first cardiology appointment he’s had in 3 whole months. It’s unbelievable. For so long after transplant we were in clinic 2 or 3 times a week. Now this... what a gift. If was a long appointment today. Labs, ekg, echo, vitals, meeting with transplant social worker, NP, Nutritionist, and of course his favorite Dr Blume. It’s been three months since he’s had an echocardiogram and I’ve gotten a glimpse of his beautiful heart. It’s impossible not to be nervous about something bad showing up, but as I looked at the echo monitor today, I knew it was ok. I could see his perfectly proportioned heart pumping away on the screen and a sense of gratitude washed over me. It hits me every single time: this tremendous gift of life.
Our appointment with Jack’s team confirmed what I already sensed from my glimpse of the echo: Jack’s new heart continues to work perfectly, fueling his little body with new life and boundless energy. I felt Joseph at this very moment and just knew today’s great cardiac appointment was an early birthday gift from him to our entire family. Another reminder that HE is watching over his little brother just as he promised...That Jack will be ok...That Jack has his own story now.
Jack has had many transplant related hurdles to overcome but that little heart of “his” has worked perfectly since the moment it began beating on its own once placed in his body. It’s function normalized so soon after transplant and has remained that way ever since. Today was just more confirmation.
Joseph’s birthday is probably the most difficult day of the year for me. Even more so than the anniversary of his death. With his birth, I began my most challenging yet rewarding job of all time, that of a MOM. On the eve of his 12th birthday I wonder what he would be like. Who would he be today? What would he be doing to change the world? I can only imagine...
The physical loss of my sweet first born has been more painful than I will ever be able to describe. There’s this deep ache that ebbs and flows but never leaves the depth of my being. Yet, through all this pain, there is a beautiful, bright light that shines through, penetrates that thin veil between the spiritual and physical world, and reaches the surface of my soul. I think it always will. I know it will. Today, I witnessed that bright light shining right on the echocardiogram screen that captured the images of Jack’s new heart, his new life. I know it was a reminder of Joseph’s presence, a message of hope, and an early birthday gift he continues to share with us all. I love you always and forever my little man. Happy birthday eve.


From Scott Middlemiss:

"And can it be that in a world so full and busy, the loss of one weak creature makes a void in any heart, so wide and deep that nothing but the width and depth of eternity can fill it up!" ~Author, Charles Dickens

This day is and will always be one that is so hard for me to get through. The date that once represented the day I became a dad and met my hero, me inspiration, my beautiful boy...is now a date that represents so much sadness, so much pain, so much anger about all that Joseph has missed out on and was never able to do.

He has now missed as many birthdays as he celebrated here with us. Six birthdays have been celebrated in Heaven. Joseph would have been 12 today. I will always have to wonder what he would look like now, how he would be handling middle school, what he would be like as a pre-teen. These are the types of thoughts and questions that wat away at me every day, that bring about the waves of sadness and grief that are still as powerful and painful as they were on September 23, 2013.

But, as is often stated, I know and understand that this overwhelming feeling of grief is the “price we pay” for the powerful love and happiness we were able to experience when Joseph was here with us. I am blessed to be Joe’s dad. I am grateful fir every day I got to spend with him and learn from him...I just wish there had been more of those days!

And, finally, on this difficult day, I am grateful for all of you out there who continue to help us through these difficult days. Joseph lives on through all of you who support his foundation, and allow us to share his legacy of kindness and love with so many. The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation brings about so much peace and joy, and is a reminder that Joseph’s big heart continues to touch the lives of so many. Thanks to all of you, he will never be forgotten.

I love you, Joseph. I hope the other angels in Heaven are hosting a wonderful party to celebrate your special day!


Tom and I feel incredibly honored and blessed to be a part of Team Big Heart. There is a remarkable circle of people that we have met through Joseph and the Foundation.

To celebrate his 12th birthday in heaven, let's practice random acts of kindness remembering Joseph's legacy of light, love, kindness and joy.

Please support The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation by making a $12 donation to Tom's Falmouth Road Race run. You can donate by following this link. Light up the tote board of other Team members with a donation as Joseph's birthday cake would have been ablaze with 12 candles.

Remember any act of kindness and any size donation whether big or small makes a BIG difference!

Every dollar of your donation goes to the Foundation's goals:
{Josephs parents, Scott and Kate Middlemiss, have created this foundation to honor their beautiful son by continuing the kindness and love that Joey shined on everyone.}

To expand "The Joseph Middlemiss All You Need is Love Mission," fostering the spread and documentation of Random Acts of Kindness on local, national and international fronts.


To educate children on the power of kindness by supporting the efforts of schools (creating and leading motivational assemblies, providing books and related resources, buddy benches and kindness libraries), and empowering students through scholarships for music and martial arts.


To contribute to research for and spread awareness of childhood heart conditions while providing financial, social and emotional assistance to families impacted by these (pizza parties, brunches and patient and parent care bags on the 8th floor at Boston Children's Hospital).


All you need is love!

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.





Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Twelve Years Later: Security is a Superstition



We had a Bermudaful sunrise on May 25, 2019.


Twelve years ago I sat in a lawn chair in a toe up leg brace


after I went through the process of 'clearing out' from the Boston VA Healthcare System where I worked for almost 20 years and had an award winning career as a VA social worker.

I remember it was a beautiful sunny day and I asked myself the question, "What had I just done?"

I walked away from a career that paid handsomely but no longer fueled my heart and soul. I needed to heal my life. I didn't have any plan for what was next. I just knew in every fiber of my being I had to make serious changes in my life or I wasn't going to have a life.

I would ask that question on many occasions during my twelve year healing odyssey.

Yet every time I asked that question, the Universe would answer with "You've taken another risk; another leap of faith." Every time I did I found myself inspiring others stepping deeper and deeper into the passion and purpose for my life after the VA.

As we dressed for our 5K run in Bermuda to celebrate twelve years of healing, the birds sang outside our window at the Royal Palms Hotel as if they were celebrating with us.

We wore our Team Big Heart shirts as Tom is running the Falmouth Road Race to fund raise for the Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation. It's so much fun to run "Middlemiss Miles" and spread the word about Joseph's amazing 6 years with us and how his legacy of love, joy and kindness lives on.

We set out early so we could get back and enjoy the hotel's complimentary continental breakfast. We filled up our water bottles and headed to Front Street running a part of the Bermuda Half Marathon course. We ran through a charming neighborhood from the Hotel to Front Street:


It was a nostalgic run as Tom and I reminisced about how we came to fall in love with Bermuda. From "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953":

Have you ever been to Bermuda?" Herb Simmons asked me as I was helping him put together a photo album to write the story of the Sea and Surf Anglers Club of Boston and the Blue Waters Anglers Club of Bermuda.

Herb was the first person of color to be named Chief of Pharmacy at Boston City Hospital when, at the age of 49, he suffered a massive stroke. Initially he was totally blind and then regained some vision. He could see with his eyes but had difficulty processing what he saw as a result of the stroke. I was the Visual Impairment Services Team Coordinator charged with providing social work intervention to the visually impaired veterans at the VA. Herb made it very clear from the beginning he did not want to be a patient. He quickly transitioned from patient to invaluable volunteer. Through the Telefriend Program, Herb kept in touch with other legally blind veterans who were housebound, elderly veterans and veterans considered at risk due to their mental health diagnoses. Together we were blessed to literally save lives. I told Herb we had never been to Bermuda; we hadn't been on a vacation since the twins were born 12 years ago in 1987. He told me we must go to Bermuda for our first after twins vacation. We would take care of the airfare and our stay at the Grotto Bay, a family friendly resort, and he would make sure that his Bermudian friend and fellow angler, Lovintz Cann would be our host.

Lovintz picked us up at the airport and drove us a short distance to the Grotto Bay.

“Enjoy your evening and tomorrow morning at 10:00 am I’ll be here to take you on a tour of the Island and out to lunch. Welcome to Bermuda!”


We ran past the Blue Waters Anglers Club where we spent many happy moments waiting for the boats to come in and being a part of Tournament Weekend as the Sea and Surf Anglers Club of Boston fished against the Blue Waters. The Blue Waters Anglers Club almost always won on their home "surf".



The scenery on our run was spectacular:


After a delicious breakfast, we spent the day by the pool relaxing, reading and soaking up the sunshine.

Twelve years later we showered and dressed for a celebratory dinner at Flanagan's.

We had a table reserved on their patio and a server who truly enjoyed her work.


We had a hummus plate and fish chowder for appetizers:


Tom indulged in a Dark 'n Stormy:


When we couldn't decide on what we were going to eat, our server asked us what we were considering and then suggested we get one catch of the day and one Cottage Pie and share. The catch of the day was Wahoo!



We held hands as we walked leisurely back to the hotel; a walk that would have been nearly impossible for me 12 years ago.

While many thought I was crazy to have done what I did, I'm with Helen Keller's belief that security doesn't exist and so I transformed my life into a daring adventure. Twelve years later I am so happy with the choice I made.

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, May 19, 2019

Sensational Serendipity on a Saturday Morning Run



Isn't it amazing how a seemingly innocent decision such as should we run Heartbreak Hill today or should we go right or left brings you to a moment that takes your breath away?

Since I am getting ready for my comeback race, The Finish at the 50 5K which involves ramps at Gillette Stadium, we decided to go to Heartbreak Hill for our 5K.

Tom is running the Falmouth Road Race for the Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation.

We wore our Team Big Heart shirts.



When we got out of the car, I suggested we take a left instead of the right we usually take.

"You know it will be more challenging," Tom said referring to the big hill known as Heartbreak Hill shortly after Newton Center on the Boston Marathon course.

I was ready!

We paced ourselves going up the hill and made a few brief stops for water. It was a glorious Spring day in Boston and, after many days of rain and gloom, we soaked up the glorious sunshine.



Tom suggested we leave the Carriage Road and run in front of Boston College.

Nike+ chirped "Half way point. 1.56 miles completed. 1.56 miles to go."

Seemingly out of the blue, Tom said, "Let's cross the street here."

We were in between cross walks and, since it's graduation weekend, cars were whizzing by.

"But it's only the first day of your vacation," I chided. "Why do you want me to cross in the middle of the street."

Tom put his hands up and cars seemed to just stop for us much like when Michael the Police Officer in "Make Way for Ducklings" stopped traffic.

"I really wanted to put you through your paces. Wow! Look how you just ran up that grassy knoll." The knoll goes from Commonwealth Avenue to the carriage road on the crest of Heartbreak Hill.

There was a couple who were obviously runners who seemed almost to be waiting for us as we arrived.

"Is there a walk or something today?" they inquired referencing our Team Big Heart shirts.

While Tom went on to explain this was a training run but we wear our Team Big Heart shirts to represent the Middlemiss Foundation, his wife stared intently at my shirt.

I instinctively turned around so she could see the back of my shirt and explained about how The Foundation was started after the death of Joseph Middlemiss.

Tom chimed in to explain about the Foundation's goals (taken here from the Website):

To expand "The Joseph Middlemiss All You Need is Love Mission," fostering the spread and documentation of Random Acts of Kindness on local, national and international fronts.


To educate children on the power of kindness by supporting the efforts of schools (creating and leading motivational assemblies, providing books and related resources, buddy benches and kindness libraries), and empowering students through scholarships for music and martial arts.


To contribute to research for and spread awareness of childhood heart conditions while providing financial, social and emotional assistance to families impacted by these (pizza parties, brunches and patient and parent care bags on the 8th floor at Boston Children's Hospital).


and how Dave McGillivray ran this year's Boston Marathon for the Foundation. They knew about Dave, his recent heart surgery and his loving, philanthropic nature.

We went on to share stories of the special relationship between Jack who received a heart transplant and is thriving, with Dave McGillivray.

As she kept looking at the website for the Foundation on my shirt, she asked more about the research and if it was on a local or national level. Tom explained that they are currently focused on research at Boston Children's Hospital....

She got a faraway look in her eye. "I was all too familiar with Boston Childrens Hospital Cardiac Care Center... 20 years ago..." and her voice trailed off.

"I'm so sorry," I said.

We exchanged names and where we live, and I invited them to the 6th Annual Celebrity ScoopFest happening on June 4th:


She is planning on running the BAA Half in October. We switched the conversation to running, races and Boston running and went on our way.

Shortly after we left them, I saw this and had to stop and take a photo:


We were into the rhythm of running again and Tom said, "Wait!"

At first I couldn't see why he stopped and he pointed:


I felt a surge of energy as we ran our last mile of the day. It was the fastest pace I had averaged in a few years.

Tom was watching his Nike+ and calling out paces that I hadn't seen in at least 5 years! I felt the thrill of swooshing down the hill we had just conquered.

After the run we took a selfie:


Team McManus ran 3.11 Middlemiss Miles for Team Big Heart having the run orchestrated by the Divine through the angel Joseph Middlemiss.

He brought us to meet a couple that continued to feel the deep ache in their heart through the loss of a child yet buoyed by knowing how other parents experiencing the worst loss one can ever endure, transformed their grief into goodness.

We experienced a mound of opportunity on our run on Heartbreak Hill.

He blessed our run with hearts reminding us that all you need is love!

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, May 17, 2019

Twelve Years Later: Leaving Behind an Award Winning Career



I thought I had my life all planned out. I had 3 years until I was "eligible" for retirement. I had an award winning career as a social worker at the VA. Here's my Employee of the Month Award from 1996:


I had received Social Worker of the Year and Certificates of Appreciation from the Blinded Veterans Association and the Ex-Prisoners of War.

I would work until I had the age and years in service to retire.

After the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease, life as I had come to know it came to a screeching halt.

The work of providing care to veterans and their caregivers and support to my multidisciplinary colleagues no longer fueled my soul. I vowed that if the day ever came when I could no longer give my all to my patients, I would walk away. I did not want to be one of those people who just bided their time until retirement. It would not have been fair to me or my patients. Yet I vacillated with my decision and what my end date would be.

Six weeks before May 25, 2007, I gave my notice to my Nurse Manager, my Team and then the social work department.

An abnormal mammogram was repeated in late April. I spent the week leading up to the repeat mammogram meditating on my left breast. I visualized only healthy breast tissue and felt in every fiber of my being that I was not going to be the next generation of breast cancer in my family. The technician was lovely and reassured me there was a wonderful team of oncologists at Mass General Hospital who would be able to provide outstanding cancer care. I told them it wasn't necessary because I knew the tumor was gone. Their somewhat patronizing and reassuring attitude turned to shock and awe when there was no evidence of the tumor!

I ran out of the Mammogram Suite, went straight home and calculated my six weeks notice.

I did not need the Universe to hit me with any more 2 x 4's to get me to wake up.



I experienced so many mixed emotions during my last 6 weeks at the VA. But perhaps one of the greatest feelings I experienced was relief.

I had a blank canvass before me on which I could create the masterpiece of my life.

I loved writing and writing poetry imagining a future very different from my past.

It took a leap of faith to leave behind an award winning social work career at the VA to follow my bliss and heal my life. Twelve years ago I had no idea what that meant or the adventures I would experience. I had no idea that I would inspire others with what's possible and the power of the mind/body connection to heal.

I wonder what the next twelve years will bring....

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.




Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Twelve Years Later: Sail Away From Safe Harbor



In February of 2008, I declared that I would run the 2009 Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab where I had taken the first steps on my journey healing the effects of paralytic polio and trauma. I am often asked in interviews, "Why running? Why start with a Marathon?"

It's hard to explain in rational terms for, by all appearances, I was a most unlikely runner. In December of 2006 I was told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair and was given the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease.

Yet, after six months working with a personal trainer, shortly after coming out of my leg brace, I declared that my next health and fitness goal was to run the Boston Marathon.

I was interviewed in May of 2008 for our local newspaper, The Brookline Tab in the "Healthy Brookline" section.



The interview was published just shy of the one year anniversary of when I took a leap of faith, leaving my award winning career on May 25, 2007 as a VA social worker to heal my life. At the time I had no idea what that meant. I was letting the Divine guide me and light the way to a new life for myself.

The article hangs in my office. Every day I am reminded of the miracle of healing in my life and the strength, courage and faith I harnessed within me to set sail on my running journey.

The journey was not only about me as I learned fairly early on in my quest. I was inspiring others to test the waters of what was possible and 12 years later continue to inspire people with how I have harnessed the power of the mind/body connection to heal.

From "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953":
Run Don’t Walk Neal Simpson Brookline Tab

While cleaning out the dormer in 2014, I came across the article we framed from the May 8, 2008 Brookline Tab.

Since she was a little girl, Mary McManus had rarely moved faster than a walk.

But last month, the former polio patient bought her first pair of running shoes. And now she’s training for a marathon.

Paralyzed by polio at the age of 5, the Brookline mother of two now spends every day fighting back against the crippling effects of the disease that still threatens to rob her of her strength and mobility 50 years later. She said she won’t stop until she runs her first marathon.

“I just know with every fiber in my body that we will,” she said. “It’s all happening.”

McManus faces an uphill battle. Though polio itself has been virtually eradicated from the developed world, McManus is one of more than 440,000 Americans who could see a resurgence of symptoms decades later, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Scientists believe this resurgence, called post-polio syndrome, is a result of natural aging and stress on the motor neurons that survive an initial polio attack.

Polio survivors learn to depend on these motor neurons as they recover, and can live relatively normal lives before they give out later in life, according to Mary Cole, a senior occupational therapist at the International Center for Polio in Framingham.

“There’s usually a long period of stability,” said Cole. “If not, there’s something else going on.”

Cole teaches post-polio patients how to save their energy, and recommends that many start using the braces and canes they once used as kids. “It’s about improving quality of life,” she said.

“A lot of people think exercise is what can get you through this, and that’s not the case,” Cole said. “Most of these patients have been overusing these muscles, and we need to find a balance.”

But McManus said she refuses to slow down. She wants to prove that other post-polio patients don’t have to, either.

“I’m here to let them know that that might be true for some people, but it doesn’t have to that way,” she said.

I was running to not only reclaim my life; to move out of a mindset of disability and emotional and physical paralysis. I was running to inspire others.

Readers commented on the on line version of the article.
DEAR MARY I'M SO PROUD OF YOU AND WISH YOU THE BEST OF THE BEST AT EVERY GOAL YOU ARE A GREAT WOMAN, I'M THINKING ABOUT MY LIFE IS A POST POLIO PERSON AND WISH I CAN DO THE SAME YOU DOING NOW
GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY
RAUL CORNEJO

Hello Mary, i stumbled onto your story.
I had polio when i was 14 months old; 27 years after, i still struggle with the physical and 'mostly' the emotional trials that accompany polio.
I'm a doctor so daily i encounter people with a variety of challenging conditions and i constantly draw strength from how different people embrace their unique situations.
I am particularly inspired by your unrelenting spirit, 50 years on!
I just got back from taking a long walk.
I was thinking about my life in general and saying to myself, are you just going to give in to polio without a fight?
I decided that i'll start running in the evenings to strengthen my calfs and increase my muscle bulk. During my walk, i also dealt with some emotional issues... but i digress.
I got home and got on the internet to see if there were any researched exercise routines beneficial to polio survivors, i wanted to be sure running was safe.
I got a lot of info, the unanimous advice was, don't over exert yourself, complete with the medical explanations why overexertion could be harmful.
I know running may be a stretch for me, i don't know how beneficial it will be, but i know that miracles still do happen.
Polio will not hinder me anymore. I am definitely gonna give it a shot.
I'll come back here to let you know my improvement.
I am very inspired by your determination and i thank you for sharing your story.
God bless you.

Hi Mary. I was listening to the radio the other night and I heard your interview. I don't know if you remember me but you took care of my husband George Murray while at the VA hospital as well as saving my life on a daily basis back then. You were truly my angel. I am so happy to have an opportunity to thank you for all you did for me back then and I have often wondered about how you were and then I heard you quite by accident as I still get up really early but the radio was on and I immediately recognized your voice. Do I think you will run this marathon, absolutely. You will do it. I am sorry you have gone through these health problems but you sound wonderful. I am going to get your book and I know I will love it. God bless you and I know he does.
Love
Maureen Murray

Maureen referenced my interview on The Jordan Rich Show on Boston’s WBZ radio.

If you'd met Mary last year and then again today, you will be pleasantly surprised by the changes in her. She positively radiates with energy and good cheer. If exercise is how she's made the changes then I definitely want to start moving more too. It would be nice to have a follow-up after she has run her marathon.
Beth Blutt

I think it is awesome that she has been able to rebuild her strength a second time. I am encouraged now to continue exercising myself and continue to accomplish as much as I can in my golden years instead of settling for couch potato status.
Linda DuPre


While I experienced meltdowns, and struggled with physical and emotional pain at times, I knew, as I told Neal, in every fiber of my being that I was going to cross the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon.



And how am I doing today?

I'm 12 years older than when I first set out on this quest. I run more slowly than I did 12 years ago. I've healed a serious left knee injury and went on to run 3 consecutive Bermuda Half Marathons. I've weathered and continue to weather the storms of our daughter's severe mental health challenges. I'm resilient, strong and a great model for what it means to age well. I take no medications but I do go for weekly chiropractic care.

I took the risk to cast off and sail away from safe harbor and I am so happy and grateful that I have no regrets or disappointments with the choices I made.

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.


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

TGFR - Thank God For Running

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The weather gods were kind to us on Monday morning. Despite what seems like never ending days of rain (although Saturday there was one day of sunshine) and cold weather, there was no rain. Despite the chill in the air, I refused to wear long running pants one more day and donned my capris. I did, however, wear a long sleeve shirt and a pullover running top.

We did a core work up before heading out the door. We wanted to switch up our running route and were planning on a run around the small Reservoir on Route 9. As we ran down the hill to the Reservoir there was fencing and what seemed like an obstacle course of metal plates on the sidewalk to hold the fence in place. The entrance to the Reservoir was closed and we tried to find another entrance but it was fenced off all the way around with the buzzing of saws and the sight of heavy machinery.

"What should we do now?" I asked Tom.

We were looking forward to a flat run after Saturday's Heartbreak Hill run but it was not meant to be.

We opted to go straight down Lee Street toward the Brookline Country Club which is notorious for its rolling hills.

Since we had added on to our mileage at the beginning of our run as we do when we are running twice around the Reservoir to get to a 5K, we knew we'd have to guesstimate our mileage with Nike+. I suggested we take the road that the Country Club is on which is relatively flat. We were treated to a beautiful retreat in nature:


There wasn't a car on the road.

We took deep breaths and drank in the beauty and serenity that surrounded us.

On Sunday night, we received a call from the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital ER about our daughter. Three months to the date from when she was discharged from her last hospitalization (which was her 7th in a year!) she presented to the ER again. Fortunately it wasn't life threatening at that moment but the stress of 5 years of bearing witness to our daughter's functional decline as a result of severe psychiatric illness, is incredibly wearing. We are learning how to be better at caring for ourselves as I wrote about in Mental Health Awareness Month: Caring for the Caregiver.

We used the time on our run, unplugged, to debrief and express our feelings about what is happening with our daughter. We also celebrated our son who is taking over a store, "The Berry Patch" in Stephentown New York with his partner Michelle and continuing to create success and abundance in his life. We celebrated the strength of our marriage having weathered the storms with our daughter that, at times, could have easily caused a breakdown and break up.

It's always an awesome experience to feel a chill in the air and sweat in the small of my back.

By the time the run was over, we'd left the stress of Sunday's crisis out on the road and were ready to begin a new day and a new week.

As I savored my simple yet oh so delicious breakfast, I took a deep sigh of gratitude and said out loud, "Thank God For Running!"

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.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Out of No Way a Way is Found: "So how are you doing today?"



When I am interviewed to talk about my latest book, "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953" and to share my inspirational journey of healing my life from the effects of paralytic polio and trauma, I am often asked, "So how are you doing today?"

On May 25, 2007, I took a leap of faith and walked away from my almost 20 year award winning career as a social worker at the VA. I had been diagnosed with a progressive neuromuscular disease, Post-Polio Syndrome, in December of 2006. I left my career and set out on a quest to heal my life only at the time I had no idea what that meant. The Divine was pulling me forward, to a new future, out of my past that was rife with disease, violence and symptoms of PTSD. My pen became my divining rod for healing as I wrote poetry imagining myself healthy, whole and free and... despite all appearances to the contrary, running! I harnessed the power of my mind to heal my body.

I withdrew my retirement account and Tom and I found a way to live on one income. While there were periods when we white knuckled our financial situation, a way was always found as I moved forward in my healing journey.

Today we are debt free except for the mortgage and are able to pay off anything we charge each month in full!

I work out five days a week that includes 2-3 days of running.

Last Saturday, Tom and I had a wonderful 5K run on Heartbreak Hill:


Two weeks ago I ran the Becca Pizzi 5K and 1 Mile Kids Run and on July 3rd, will be running the Finish at the 50 5K.

While I was working out "just for the health of it" after completing 3 consecutive Bermuda Half Marathons, in recent months I have shifted to training mode with less swimming and more running, challenging myself on the roads.

I am thoroughly enjoying the soreness that goes with hill training and tempo runs and the consistency of my training.

Can you imagine that 12 years ago I was told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair? I had difficulty swallowing, breathing and the limp from polio returned. I had to clutch the bannister to get up the stairs. I experienced chronic pain and chronic fatigue. The career that brought me so much joy and fulfillment as a VA social worker no longer fueled my soul. I was experiencing the dark night of my mind, body and soul.

How would I ever find a way out of the hell I was living in?

I got still and asked for Divine Guidance and out of no way, a way was found. How am I doing today? I live a full, vibrant life as a 65 year old woman inspiring others with my message of healing, hope and possibility. I am blessed with abundance, a beautiful village and a heart overflowing with gratitude!

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.



Friday, May 10, 2019

Defining Moments: Don't Quit Before the Miracle Happens



Last week, the video of Dave McGillivray's TEDx Talk was released. The subject of his talk is Defining Moments! I highly recommend that you take the time to watch his inspiring talk!

This photo from when I ran the Marathon Sports 5 Miler in July of 2008 popped up in my newsfeed:


The Marathon Sports 5 Miler was a defining moment early on in my running career.

I declared that I was going to run the 2009 Boston Marathon in February of 2008. I had just come out of my leg brace after having been told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair. I was diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome deemed a progressive neuromuscular disease by Western Medicine. I had never run a day in my life but I watched Forrest Gump and running movies as I chiseled out the runner within me. My first race, the Corrib Pub 5K was a friendly race and I felt triumphant after crossing the finish line.

From "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance":
Our first 5 mile race was the Marathon Sports 5 miler. It was a hot, steamy evening in July. We got lost on the way to the race. Tempers were running as hot as the thermometer because I was so anxious about running my first five mile race. My energy tended to wane by the evening as I was continuing to deal with the late effects of polio. We finally arrived and walked around trying to enjoy the pre-race festivities. As everyone took their place at the start, I could see that this was a serious, competitive running crowd; quite a contrast to my first race ever, the Corrib Pub Run 5K in June.

Runners went out fast and Tom and I were in the back of the pack with a few other people. Even they took off. I experienced my first (of many) marathon training meltdowns. I cried as I shared with Tom all the memories of having kids take off and leave me behind that were bubbling to the surface. I was sweating and tired and hot. I couldn’t tell where my tears ended and sweat began. I told Tom I had no business training for the Boston Marathon. He was amazing and he told me that I couldn’t quit. We would make it through this race and we would make it through every training run. He believed in me when I did not believe in myself. I did know, however, that if I didn’t finish that race, I would never make it to the starting line of the Boston Marathon. Alison, Brookline Marathon Sports store manager who was named our mother hen during Boston Marathon training, gave me water and a high five out on the course. She was worried about me in the heat and wanted to make sure I was okay.

Despite finishing dead last, members of the Marathon Sports family who knew the story of Team McManus, had air horns and a truck on the field honking and blowing and cheering us on to the finish. I knew training for Boston was not going to be easy, but I knew I had what it was going to take to make it happen.


It was a defining moment out on that course when I did not quit.

Had I been a DNF (did not finish) for that race, I would have quit before the miracle happened.



I experienced the miracle of crossing the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon:


I experienced the miracle of a PR at the Bill Rodgers 5K for Prostate Cancer after having left the sport of running after my nephew's death by suicide in 2011 but returning to the sport after 4/15/13:


After my left knee blew out in December of 2014, I had a defining moment to not allow the doctors or physical therapists to dictate what was going to happen to my body. "They" said that I would need a total knee replacement in a few years. They also said I never should have started running in the first place and I needed to cap my distance if I planned to continue running.

Had I quit the sport that is my therapy, my joy, my medicine and a part of who I am, I would never have experienced the miracle of running the Bermuda Half Marathons 2016, 2017 and 2018!



It was a defining moment before the Bermuda Half Marathon 2018 that I got myself together and to the starting line.

From "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953":
I woke up as I heard the song, "A Whole New World," which is what I have my alarm set to playing softly in the background.

"It's 5:00 am Tom. It's time to get up."

"No it's not - it's only 12:20," Tom told me.

I thought it was odd that my alarm was so quiet. Tom said he heard something too.

“Well it’s five o’clock somewhere,” I quipped referencing Jimmy Buffett’s classic song.

I was able to release a lot in a meditation. I felt incredible relief in my back as I fell back to sleep.

Until I woke up at 3:00 am....

“To change is to think greater than how we feel. To change is to act greater than the feelings of the memorized self.” ~Dr. Joe Dispenza

Race Day January 14, 2018

I woke up at 3:00 am on Sunday--race day--with my heart racing, feeling as though I was going to throw up with sweat pouring down my two arms. I don't recall whether or not I was having a dream. It was in direct contrast to how I felt when I fell back to sleep at 12:20 after the false alarm went off.

"Okay," I thought to myself. "Let's get a handle on this. Let's pull your mind out of your body and connect with the Divine. There is no time to analyze this. You have got to get to the starting line."

I reminded myself that my mind is a powerful tool and I could partner with the Divine to clear out these sensations. I went to the bathroom, came back to bed and went into a deep meditation. Mercifully I fell back to sleep. The alarm went off at 5:00 am - the real 5:00 am. We meditated for 10 minutes to set our intentions for the day. We did our core warm up and I totally trusted that room service would arrive on time. We had a 6:30 am shuttle to the starting line.

"Good morning. Good morning...Are we ready to run?"
The knock on the door came promptly at 5:30 and Narayan came in carrying a tray with everything we requested for our traditional pre-race breakfast. Tom had his piping hot coffee. We had whole wheat toast, chilled orange juice and hot water and bowls for oatmeal. We added in the bananas, nuts and granola we purchased at Miles Market.

While he organized our breakfast serving it in grand style, he said, “I am so excited for you all. I was once at base camp at Mt. Everest as support crew for a group climbing Everest. I love seeing people do epic things! Is there anything else you need?”

“No we are all set. And thank you so much!” I said.

“Of course. Have a great race day!”


We never know when or how the miracle is going to happen.

During these past 12 years of healing the effects from paralytic polio and trauma, miracles have always manifested in my life as a result of the choices I made during defining moments. I've worked hard to co-create these miracles and am so grateful that I did not quit before experiencing the jubilation that comes with coming out on the other side of a challenge.

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.