Thursday, January 13, 2022

On Gratitude Runs & Perspective


After Saturday's run, I was so grateful to wake up to melting snow and dry ground on Monday morning. As I did my 5K through the neighborhood while Tom and Ruth Anne did their 3 mile tempo run, I felt inspired to pick up my pace while feeling blessed by the glorious sunshine. Sunday was a dreary grey day in Boston and Monday's sunshine provided a delicious contrast to the gloom that dominated Sunday's skies.

Despite all the doom and gloom in the headlines, I felt uplifted with the sunbeams feeling my connection to the Divine in all of her glory. I reflected on the miracle of my healing from the effects of paralytic polio and trauma and the miracle of my being having overcome the diagnosis of Post Polio Syndrome which was due in large part to the unhealed trauma of my youth. We went out over Tom's lunch hour. We all devoured our lunch savoring not only the food but how great it feels to move our bodies outdoors in the winter. 

Wednesdays are rest days for Tom and Ruth Anne so it's up to me to get my motivation gears in motion and get out the door to do my 5K. Temperatures were still in the teens when we got up but the forecast called for moderating temperatures. By 11:30 the temperature went up to 36 degrees! Talk about perspective thinking temperatures were UP to 36 degrees Fahrenheit. I was ecstatic the the arctic blast of minus 10 degrees with wind chill had quickly moved through. We've had winters when we've been 'trapped' in the Polar Vortex.

Ruth Anne insisted on taking a photo of me since I am the one who has been documenting their Providence Marathon run:

Gratitude filled my heart that she wanted to acknowledge what I continue to accomplish in my own way at my own pace. After all, 15 years ago I was told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair as a survivor of paralytic polio having been diagnosed with Post Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease.

I let the sun's warmth bathe me mind, body and soul reflecting on the miracle of healing in my life. Since we are in the middle of winter here in New England, I looked to the skies for beauty. I captured the presence of the Divine and angels through my camera's lens.


 

 I often use the hastag every step is a gift and every mile is a blessing. I felt it with every foot step on Monday's and Wednesday's runs. I was running what could have been a boring and mundane run around the neighborhood. Instead the run was transformed by the attitude I chose to bring to the run. I feel inspired by Tom and Ruth Anne's dedication, consistency and persistence with their training on the road to the Providence Marathon for Victory Programs and ReVision Urban Farm. Despite the climate of fear and uncertainty that dominates the headlines these days, people are incredibly generous with donations and words of support and encouragement. They know the marathon of healing that Ruth Anne endured and they know the integrity and passion that fuels Team McManus' journey on and off of the roads. The work that Victory Programs does saves lives and transforms lives. Their staff is second to none.

It could be so easy to get swept away once more, as we did in 2020, by the tsunamai of divisiveness, terror, panic and hopelessness yearning for the pandemic to end. During these challenging times I find it is vital for our family and me to stay focused on goodness, doing good, feeling well, being well and, as I talked about in a previous post, being unrelenting with compassion and kindness.

An attitude of gratitude and keeping perspective in my corner of the Universe sends out ripples of positive energy, love and moves the world into the light.

From my heart to yours

In health and wellness,

Mary

Be sure to visit my website at https://marymcmanus.com to learn about my journey to health and wellness in the wake of paralytic polio and trauma

Visit the News and Events tab to listen to my inspiring and uplifting interviews

My books to motivate, uplift and inspire you are available on Amazon

 


 

                                                                                                                                                                                

 
 
 




Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Sweat Pants


 

After Saturday's morning meditation, I checked my weather app. Did my eyes deceive me? Nope - it was 19 degrees fahrenheit outside. The streets were relatively clear. Oh how I wanted to just hop on the treadmill and get in my 5K but Ruth Anne and Tom are training for the Providence Marathon and I knew they had to get outside for their 8 miles. Truth be told, I didn't feel like getting in miles after I made the mistake of doing a cursory check of the news headlines. I have opted to unsubscribe to the Boston Globe in my inbox. I cleared my energy and kicked my own behind with a fresh mindset.

We had prepped our clothes the night before:


We opened the door to get into the mindset of embracing the cold and psyching ourselves up to get in the miles despite the weather. Fortunately, the sun was shining. We debated about whether to do the Carriage Road on Heartbreak Hill or a neighborhood run. Since Tom and Ruth Anne had 8 miles, we opted for the Carriage Road and I would be support crew.

We were spoiled by moderate temperatures and dry ground until now. 

We had our hearty pre-run breakfast, loaded up the car with provisions that included a book for me to read while waiting for Tom and Ruth Anne to finish their run and post-run fueling bananas.

Tom, Ruth Anne and I warm up together and they go off at their pace. 

There I was left to navigate the slush, snow and ice on the Newton Hills. One of the thoughts I have had to overcome is the programming I received after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome; "You have to be extremely careful if you are going to go out in winter. You should use a cane with an ice gripper and avoid falls for you are at high risk for a fracture." I straightened me spine and struck a power pose infusing myself with confidence. There were other runners on the Hills training for Boston. I fired up my mirror neurons reminding myself that while I may be slower than other runners, I am a runner, healed, healthy and strong. I've got this!

It was a cold, challenging run as runs after a snowstorm often are and I had to come up with an image that was going to help me get through.

"Sweat pants!" I thought about how great I was going to feel once I was back in the house changed out of my layers of running clothes and into my sweat pants. I transcended the challenge and discomfort of the moment by imagining how accomplished I would feel having conquered the Hills and the conditions. I also looked for the beauty in my run.














How blessed to see a heart in the snow, a bright blue sky and orbs letting me know that I was not running alone but Source's present was with me every step of the way; as the Divine has been with me whenever I faced challenges in my life.

Even though I turned around at the halfway point of 1.55 miles, my total miles were 3.2. I stretched when I got to the car, turned on the heater and WERS Standing Room Only on the radio while I warmed up and had my banana and hydration. 

"Hey where are you?" Tom and Ruth Anne asked in a text.

"I'm at the car and you?"

"We're heading there now and then we will have another two miles."

"Great. See you soon!"

We felt exhilarated for what we accomplished in less than optimal conditions. The big question after our Saturday run is, "What's for lunch?" 

 While Tom whipped up breakfast for lunch, I changed into my sweat pants. The comfort and relief was even more than what I imagined while navigating the hills. We savored every well deserved bite and after our food was digested, we settled into a deep meditation with Jamie purring by my side.

From my heart to yours

In health and wellness,

Mary

Be sure to visit my website at https://marymcmanus.com to learn about my journey to health and wellness in the wake of paralytic polio and trauma

Visit the News and Events tab to listen to my inspiring and uplifting interviews

My books to motivate, uplift and inspire you are available on Amazon


Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Running with Hope in my Heart

 


It was a dreary grey day in Boston yesterday. It was also a dreary day in the news which I briefly glimpse in the morning to stay informed of latest guidelines and guidance with the pandemic. Tom and Ruth Anne had a 3 mile speed drill workout to do as part of their marathon training program. I had my Monday morning 5K to run. When we do a neighborhood run, we are able to high five each other as we pass each other, each of us running at our own pace.

I thought to myself, "other than photograph Tom and RA for their photo album on the road to Providence what is there to take a picture of?" And then it hit me..."I need to take a picture of hope. A bare patch of ground that next Spring will blossom with flowers." I made a mental note to do that before I finished my run.
 
A short while later, I found a nickel! I smiled. "Oooh the Universe is giving me a high five!" And then I thought again. The movie The Five Pennies chronicled bandleader "Red" Nichols played by Danny Kaye's journey with his daughter who contracted polio. The movie came out in June 1959 when I contracted polio. It's a real tear jerker but speaks to strength and resilience. I got goosebumps to think that five pennies = a nickel. The band was called The Five Pennies because "Red's" last name was Nichols!
 
 


 









Tom and Ruth Anne were on their cool down while I finished my run.

"Stop. I have to take a picture."

"Of what?" they asked. "Where you found the nickel?"

"No... of hope."

In just a few short months, despite all appearances to the contrary right now, beautiful flowers will poke their heads and move on to blossom throughout the Spring and Summer.

There I was out on a run on a very cold day, 15 years after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome filled with healing, hope and infinite possibilities receiving a beautiful sign from the Universe while allowing hope to radiate from my heart.

Into the Light

In winter’s darkness
as pandemic “rages” on
turning inward
rhythm of my beating heart
radiates warmth
beaming Love to heal weary world
harping on darkness
Love beams spark hope
harbingers of lightness and ease
focus on Source if you please
gratitude flows for miracles on horizon
be in the flow
this too shall pass
Let burdens be lifted
shift to a new perspective
bright and bold
declaring all is well
confidently
deftly
running into the light.

From my heart to yours

In health and wellness,

Mary

Be sure to visit my website at https://marymcmanus.com to learn about my journey to health and wellness in the wake of paralytic polio and trauma

Visit the News and Events tab to listen to my inspiring and uplifting interviews

My books to motivate, uplift and inspire you are available on Amazon


Friday, December 31, 2021

My End of Year Run for 2021

 

I call myself a most unlikely runner...and I am...I contracted paralytic polio at the age of 5, endured years of abuse at the hands of family members and at the age of 53, 15 years ago this month, was diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease by Western Medicine standards. But I am a scrappy and determined woman who is one to meet challenges head on with the guidance from helpers seen and unseen. 

I discovered the gift of running in my life a year after writing the poem, Running the Race, in which I foreshadowed my 2009 Boston Marathon run. As  Forrest Gump said, "From that day on whenever I was going somewhere, I was running."

Well, not exactly but since the pandemic began in March of 2020, I have been running outdoors 3X a week with very few exceptions resorting to a treadmill run if conditions were too treacherous outdoors.

Last Saturday it was a sheet of ice and we changed up our strength training day for a running day with Sunday. That meant I got out Tuesday and Wednesday for my 5K's.

On Tuesday, Tom and Ruth Anne had their 3 mile training run around the neighborhood. We started out together for their warm up and they went on their way for training for the Providence Marathon. I was able to enjoy the sights around the neighborhood on an unseasonably warm late December day.






One of my favorite sights to capture was the raindrops gently hugging on to the berries glistening in the sunlight. I savored seeing green grass at the end of December.








On Wednesday I capped off my miles for 2021. Many of my runner friends run over 1,000 miles for the year so I often am shy to post my miles for the year at just over 500. But then I reflected on what an amazing accomplishment that is for this most unlikely runner and posted on Facebook, "With today's 3.25 miles, 2021 miles are done. Tomorrow and Friday are my rest days.
505 miles for the year ALL OUTDOORS which for many may not seem like a lot but 15 years ago I was given the diagnosis of Post Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease.
I celebrate every footstep and every mile I enjoy and while I am not racing these days, I am incredibly proud of my consistent health and wellness regimen.
2022 here we come with my goal of feeling gratitude for all my body gives me every day and for the gift of health and well-being!
Loved my serene solo miles reflecting on how blessed I am!
To healing, hope and possibilities!
To your health and wellness!
To an amazing 2022 of miles filled with smiles!"

The post received over 80 reactions and 33 comments! 

I am excited to continue to motivate and inspire others with my powerful message of healing, hope and infinite possibilities. There are exciting projects that will take root and bloom in 2022. I  have a commitment to daily affirmations from Louise Hay with her calendar and Power Thought cards. I am fierce to protect my time for meditation and reading every day and continue my dedication to my health and wellness journey.

We will be celebrating Tom's 70th birthday, our 45th wedding anniversary and our twins' 35th birthday. I am so blessed and grateful that I take the gift of running with me into 2022 and also will be support crew for Tom and Ruth Anne's Providence Marathon for Victory Programs

To a year of resilience, gratitude, healing, strength, hope, joy, loving kindness and abundance for all Beings everywhere.
 
To finding the beauty in all things every day!

Since 2020 and all of my life experiences, I know that I have the resilience and strength to navigate these uncharted waters and be a beacon of light and hope in the darkness. So do you!

From my heart to yours

In health and wellness,

Mary

Be sure to visit my website at https://marymcmanus.com to learn about my journey to health and wellness in the wake of paralytic polio and trauma

Visit the News and Events tab to listen to my inspiring and uplifting interviews

My books to motivate, uplift and inspire you are available on Amazon


Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Magic of New Beginnings

 

I wrote this poem on Christmas Eve, the eve of my 68th birthday and hope it will inspire you as we get ready to embrace a New Year:

A New Chapter 

Dipping my quill

poised to write a new chapter of my life

surrender to Source

troubles become light as a feather

fear fades

quivering quiets.

Creating

happily ever in present moment

my presence a gift to the world

heart and soul overflow with grace

gratitude for blessings

feeling blessings on their way.

Chapters of days gone by

reveal beauty and strength

stronger in broken places

gold gilding

healed and whole.

Infinite possibilities on a blank page

pure and powerful

Love reigns supreme

Love story for the ages

tethered to Source

lightness and ease

giddy with delight

exhilaration and excitement

ready.....set....go!

 

Many people often ask me what it's like to have a Christmas birthday. I grew up as Jewish so the only frustrating part was that my parents didn't want my brother to feel left out on Christmas so he received presents as well. I always had the day off from school and/or work. I had to celebrate my birthday before the holiday because friends had to spend time with family but we had great family celebrations at my cousins' house in the Bronx. Once I converted to Catholicism during my graduate education at the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work, it became very special for me to celebrate my Christmas Birthday. My husband's family invited us to join them on Cape Cod and the twins' enjoyed raising a raucous with all of their cousins.

 

Having a birthday that coincides with a beautiful religious holiday and the end of the year creates a wonderful time for contemplation and reflection. As the winter solstice approaches, neighborhoods are splendid with holiday lights and the anticipation of Christmas is in the air. Once Christmas arrives, the winter solstice has come and gone and we emerge into more light every day.


I am overcome by gratitude for all of the experiences of this past year. I am deeply grateful that we have all been healthy. Team McManus worked hard this year to let go of people and habits that were not healthy for us, allowed new people and experiences flow into our lives and been blessed to reconnect with friends through Ruth Anne's Providence Marathon run for Victory Programs. 

 

While in person speaking engagements were not possible, I was blessed to share my journey, and my gift as a writer and poet, on many podcasts. Out of the podcasts, grew an idea to create an audio compilation of poems from Hope is a Garden to benefit Voices of Hope Boston. The Universe is always full of surprises. 


As I begin another year and as we all get ready to embrace a new year, I open my heart to the magic of new beginnings. I am excited for new adventures in my work as a writer, poet and motivational speaker.  I cherish being support crew for Ruth Anne and Tom on the road to the Providence Marathon. I am hopeful we will be able to experience runcations again in Providence and Cape Cod and perhaps return to NYC for another Broadway show weekend.


I plan to continue to work on releasing worries and fears, trusting that the Universe always has my back, making sure I set aside time every day to read books and get off screens, and have laser focus about what I want to co-create with Source in my life. This message popped up in my Facebook news feed. A message straight from the Divine.


It's time to relax, enjoy and trust the magic of new beginnings as Ruth Anne begins a new semester at Boston College, Tom begins a new contract job and I explore possibilities for sharing my gifts while getting ready to wrap up my next book with the working title,  "Into the Light: 2021 Poems and Essays."

From my heart to yours

In health and wellness,

Mary

 

Be sure to visit my website at https://marymcmanus.com to learn about my journey to health and wellness in the wake of paralytic polio and trauma

 

Visit the News and Events tab to listen to my inspiring and uplifting interviews

 

My books to motivate, uplift and inspire you are available on Amazon



Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Be Relentless! On Cake Calamities and Compassion

 

Last Monday I was planning to participate in Dr. David Hamilton's Personal Development Club Monthly Live Q & A. I got out for my run later than I had planned to because I wanted the day to warm up a bit. When I got home I debated about whether or not to attend the Zoom meeting since it was after the starting time and I needed to eat lunch. Yet something tugged at my soul to log on. I came in the middle of David sharing a part of his journey talking about listening to our intuition.

Someone posted a question privately to David. "I am doing meditations. I've let go of relationships that no longer serve me. I'm doing all the right things with nutrition and hydration but it's so hard to deal with the negativity and divisiveness that's going on in the world. Do you have any suggestions?"

David replied in his signature Scottish accent,  "I focus on being relentless with loving kindness and compassion. I do a meta meditation several times a day. When we do this meditation wishing well for ourselves and others not only are we sending out good energy into the world but we are changing our own chemistry so that it becomes easier to see the positive things in our lives and in the world."

A woman asked a question in the chat about how to manage chronic pain due to arthritis. I had the opportunity to share with her my journey and healing resources as David talked about his recommendations for healing and management of chronic pain. I went on to share my journey with compassion saying how easy it is to feel hopeless and helpless when we are in pain but when we share healing stories, they uplift and inspire us.

So much compassion, love and kindness flowed among the members gathered that transcended being in cyberspace. As David teaches, consciousness transcends location and we can experience the flow of beautiful energy through our hearts as we express gratitude and compassion. Tears overflowed from our hearts as we wished everyone a happy Christmas and New Year.

Fast forward to Christmas Eve. Tom went to pick up my birthday cake. When he got home and we opened the box, we saw one of the ugliest cakes we had ever seen with writing that went around and down the side of the cake. At first I was angry and then I cried. I wanted Tom to take it back but then I took a pause. What if the regular cake decorator was out ill or they were short staffed during the holidays. We have bought other cakes from this store before and they were never like this. Tom and Ruth Anne said they would go to another store and find a birthday cake for me. They were in short supply but they found one cake that they thought would be suitable and asked the person behind the counter if he could write on it. He proudly said of course he could. Tom and Ruth Anne picked up a small vegan chocolate cake that we have enjoyed before as a 'back up.' 

They did not have the heart to say anything to the young man and when they brought the cake home I did not know whether to laugh or cry. He used a baby blue gel to write Happy Birthday Mary. He was clearly not a cake decorator nor someone who was able to properly write on a birthday cake. Tom and Ruth Anne said that it didn't look 'that bad' under the store's lighting. The small vegan chocolate cake would do just fine to celebrate my birthday.

When it came time to put the candles on the cake, they kept breaking because there was a hard chocolate shell rather than icing. We laughed so hard as the cake crumbled a bit until they found a festive red candle to put on the cake.

It was perfect for Tom, Ruth Anne and her twin brother Autumn and partner Michelle via the Signal app to serenade me with Happy Birthday on Christmas.

While we could have focused on the cake calamities and certainly could have taken the cake(s) back to the managers with our complaints. Instead we focused on the joy of celebrating Christmas and my 68th birthday. How wonderful it felt to greet the calamities with gratitude and compassion hoping that the young man at the bakery counter felt he made somebody's day special with his light blue gel artistry.




Desmond Tutu made his transition on December 26th. May we all be inspired to live his legacy especially during these times when we need to find our way back to healing and unity.

 

From my heart to yours

In health and wellness,

Mary

Be sure to visit my website at https://marymcmanus.com to learn about my journey to health and wellness in the wake of paralytic polio and trauma

Visit the News and Events tab to listen to my inspiring and uplifting interviews

My books to motivate, uplift and inspire you are available on Amazon

 

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Hope & Resilience

 


On Monday Broadway World announced that, because of the toll that the pandemic was taking on cast and company, Jagged Little Pill, would be ending its Broadway run. I reached out to my Voices of Hope Boston family and we shared in the heartbreak while also sharing in a sense of hope that, as Greg Chastain said, 'Talent always lands on its feet."

As I thought about what to write after Jagged closed, my theme was going to focus on how we have all learned through the pandemic to seize the day. I was going to wait until 'things got better' to go see Jagged next Spring and I am so grateful that I followed Spirit's promptings to go with Voices of Hope in November. There would not have been a show to see in the Spring. I've learned to generate more compassion and kindness in my interactions with my family and friends, placing in check seeing people and situations through the lens of judgment. We never know when something might end.

Kathryn Gallagher who played Bella Fox in Jagged, was a guest on Stars in the House. She shared how her face reflected that she had been crying all day after receiving the news that her last performance was on December 17th. The show had closed for a few days due to the high rate of positive COVID tests and made the painful decision to not reopen. During the interview she shared how she had a sense that the show might close. During what came to be her last performance, she said she thought about what if this would be her last show. She took in every moment and looked at every seat in the audience. While she shared how she and the members of the company were heartbroken, one could sense her strength and resilience through the pangs of grief.

While once again feeling the sense of loss and uncertainty as a pandemic variant sweeps across the globe, I hold onto hope and light. After all, it IS Christmas - a time for hope, love, light and miracles. 

Sean Allan Krill posted on Facebook: 

Got to see my dear friend Kathy Voytko go on as Marian in The Music Man on Broadway tonight, and she was absolutely incredible. With virtually no rehearsal, she never missed a beat, never made a false move, looked, sang, and danced like a dream, made me laugh and broke my heart. She’s a STAR. The real deal. And so is the show. The whole evening gave me hope in a very difficult, challenging time. And, okay, let’s hear it for swings, understudies & standbys, for cry-eye! They are kicking ass and keeping Broadway up and running right now.
PS Hugh Jackman was a dream in the show as well, and gave the sweetest, heartfelt curtain speech about Kathy, and all the swings on tonight.

Despite his own heartache, he went out to support his dear friend and support the theater community that pulses through every cell of his body.

I receive emails from Broadway World as part of maintaining my connection to my New York roots and especially during the pandemic to keep up with the news. When I first started this blog in the Spring and writing the sequel to Hope is a Garden, I thought by now we'd be celebrating the robust return of shows and events during the holiday season. I never imagined that there would be news of friends' parents in the hospital during Christmas with COVID this year or that shows would be closing. In the midst of it all there is light, hope, strength and remarkable resilience.

Broadway World shared a video and the transcript of what Hugh Jackman said during the curtain call at last night's show:

Hugh Jackman paid tribute last night to the "bedrock of Broadway" - understudies and swings while bringing forward Kathy Voytko who filled in for Sutton Foster on Thursday night in the Broadway show in a curtain call video captured on Instagram by Katherine Winter. Hugh told the audience "Kathy, when she turned up at work at 12 o'clock could have played any of 8 roles. It happened to be the leading lady. She found out at 12 noon today and at 1 o'clock she had her very first rehearsal as Marion Paroo. This is unprecedented. It's not only happening here at the Winter Garden...but all over Broadway. This is a time we've never known. We're in our 4th preview and we're all still learning, so swings and understudies have not had a chance to learn. They've watched from the corner of the room while we rehearse; while we get to practice over and over again. They just get to watch and write notes and then 5 hours before a performance they're told, you're on. All of these people here - the swings, and I'm emotional because it humbles me. The courage, the brilliance, the dedication, the talent. The swings, the understudies, they are the bedrock of Broadway."

The arts, especially musical theater are the bedrock of our lives. They take us through the entire range of human emotions and have the power to transform us. The collective experience of live theater bonds strangers together as time and space suspend during the performance. Musical theater has the power to make us laugh and cry and be in a state of awe immersing ourselves in another world.

If we look at what's happening right now, it would be easy to get drawn into the vortex of darkened theaters with shows and events cancelled due to the pandemic. But there is always a ghost light that stays on. That ghost light is our beacon of hope and resilience. We have vaccines, strength, resilience, faith and protocols to manage this phase of the pandemic. We have love to uphold us and heal us. We know we can do this. The show must go on!

From my heart to yours

In health and wellness,

Mary

Be sure to visit my website at https://marymcmanus.com to learn about my journey to health and wellness in the wake of paralytic polio and trauma

Visit the News and Events tab to listen to my inspiring and uplifting interviews

My books to motivate, uplift and inspire you are available on Amazon

 

On Gratitude Runs & Perspective

After Saturday's run, I was so grateful to wake up to melting snow and dry ground on Monday morning. As I did my 5K through the neighbor...