Monday, September 20, 2021

An Extraordinary Time on Heartbreak Hill

 

Seeing the rising of the almost full moon Saturday evening while we went for our after dinner walk was a perfect way to end our day.










 

Three weeks from today, Monday September 20th, 20,000 runners will toe the starting line of the 125th Boston Marathon while thousands of other runners around the globe will be running a virtual race. The light of the rising moon symbolized an emerging from the tight grip the pandemic had on Boston and the world for the past 18 months.

When we considered where to run on Saturday, I felt a profound pull to the Newton Hills. I smile as I write this remembering last year when we decided we were so over the Boston Marathon and running on Heartbreak Hill. Once you have run the Boston Marathon, it becomes a part of the very fiber of your being and keeps calling you back to be a part of its energy. Our running Club, L Street Running Club were planning to do their last long run from Cleveland Circle to Wellesley College. We were hoping to see some of our beloved Club members who we haven't seen in a year and a half.

While the marathon will be very different this year without Athlete's Village and runners starting their marathon as soon as they arrive in Hopkinton, the need for vaccination or negative COVID test, no kissing the girls in Wellesley or taking food from spectators along the course, and an Expo that will be without the Runners Speakers Series, the Spirit of thMare Marathon is powerful beyond words this year.

Charity runners were out in full force. What a thrill to see Charity Teams' water stops and familiar faces from our running village. We didn't see anyone from L Street but did see a number of people we've known through the years. We walked a bit with a woman who was struggling on the Hill; not an uncommon occurrence during the last long training run for Boston.

"Is this your first Boston?"

"Yes I came up from New York."

"What charity team are you running with?"

When she mentioned the name I commented, "Oh that's who my friend Amanda is running with."

"Yes I know her. She's been great helping me get ready."

"Well let me tell you my story that you can take with you to finish this run and to have with you on Marathon Monday."

I went on to share my journey on the road to the 2009 Boston Marathon. She thanked me as she went on her way.

After sharing my Facebook post about our run, we reconnected with even more runners from our village. Amanda shared how her friend had met me and was inspired by my story after they gathered after the long run.





Ruth Anne is training for the Virtual St. Jude 10K and went off at her own pace for a tempo run. She met up with us for the end of our 5K and had caught Marathon Fever hoping to run it again next April for Spaulding Rehab.

It's a very odd time of year to be experiencing the thrill of the countdown to the Boston Marathon but everything has been odd during these past 18 months. On October 3rd, we are going to do packet stuffing with masks, gloves, proof of vaccination, social distancing and air hugs. The last time we did packet stuffing was after the 2013 bombings. It seems appropriate to be doing this as we emerge (we hope) from the pandemic.

I had one of my best times for a 5K in a very long time on Saturday's run. The hill from the Johnny Kelley Statue is typically an arduous climb for me but the infectious energy from the other runners seemed to sweep me along.

Although gentle high fives in passing replaced usual sweaty hugs and shout outs replaced stopping to chat, there was that familiar feeling with all of the pageantry and festivities that always accompanies the last long run before Boston runs again. Halloween replaced Easter as the holiday to celebrate. It was an extraordinary time on Heartbreak Hill that marked the last long run before we countdown to an iconic live event that signifies we are emerging from the pandemic.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

My books to uplift and inspire you are available on Amazon.

Visit my website to learn more about my journey of transformation in the wake of paralytic polio and trauma to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond.

Be sure to visit my News and Events tab on my website to hear interviews that will open your heart and mind to a powerful message of healing, hope and possibilities.


Saturday, September 18, 2021

Optimism

 


 At the end of 2020, I chose Optimism as my word for 2021. As we kicked off the New Year, I wrote this in "Hope is a Garden: Poems and Essays From the 2020 Pandemic":

 

Optimism: My Word for 2021                                   January 2, 2021

 

I had been meditating about my word for 2021 or if I was even going to choose a word for 2021. While out on our New Year’s Day run along the beautiful Boston waterfront, people were greeting each other with smiles in their eyes.

 

Runners, people out biking and walking spontaneously said, “Happy New Year” as we passed. The feelings of hope and optimism were palpable in our greetings.

 

I knew that Optimism was my word for 2021.

 

I found this quote several years ago as I was doing the impossible after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome:

 

“Optimism: Aerodynamically the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly. But it doesn’t know it so it keeps on flying anyway.” ~Mary Kay Ash

 

Simon Sinek did a YouTube video in April highlighting the difference between positivity and optimism:

 

“Optimism is different than positive - and it's definitely not naive. Optimism is the belief that the future is positive, that there's a light at the end of the tunnel and we're heading there, together.”

 

When I searched for the exact wording of Helen Keller’s quote about optimism, I learned that she penned a treatise on optimism as a philosophy of life.

 

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope or confidence.”

 

Just saying the word optimism makes me smile and lifts my mood. Whenever I experience that all too familiar solar plexus clutch from 2020, I will shift my focus to optimism. I can feel a part of my brain light up that snuffs out the fear and helps me shift to believing that all is well and in Divine order.

 

There's been a lot going on in the headlines that could easily crush one's sense of optimism and hope. Whenever I feel myself drawn into the vortex of fear and uncertainty, I remind myself that all we have is the gift of the present. I open my heart and turn on the spigot in my soul to write poetry and allow calm, joy, hope, gratitude and a vision for how I want things to be instead of harping on the reality I see. 


When I had to endure painful physical therapy sessions to recover from paralytic polio, Miss Holly, my wise physical therapist read Dr. Seuss books to me in the waiting room. As she ministered the excruciating treatments, she would have me recite the lines back to her in tandem from the book I chose in the waiting room, invariably "The Cat in the Hat."


After the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome, I discovered the healing power of the cadence of Dr. Seuss to create a future very different than the ones the doctors predicted for me; that I would spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair. I got still and asked for Divine Guidance and the poem, "Running the Race" flowed out of me. I had no idea at the time it would foreshadow my 2009 Boston Marathon run!


I continue to visualize my world and the world around me through the gift of poetry in my soul transforming fear and angst by connecting to Source.

Unity

Do not quiver waver fear or quake
be aware in tune to Divine’s glory awake.
It’s all deep inside out of stardust we’re made
come into the light step out of shadows and shade.
See the radiant sunrise dawn of new day
Divine intelligence lighting the way.
Listen to heartbeat deep breaths just let go
trusting your instinct be in the flow.
Tune into vibrations of highest kind
gratitude hope sweep past behind.
A mighty power resides deep inside
releasing all worry let Source be our guide.
Believing receiving as grace touches heart
we’re all here together no longer apart.
All it takes is a spark from each other’s soul
kindling our faith world now made whole.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

My books to uplift and inspire you are available on Amazon.

Visit my website to learn more about my journey of transformation in the wake of paralytic polio and trauma to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond.

Be sure to visit my News and Events tab on my website to hear interviews that will open your heart and mind to a powerful message of healing, hope and possibilities.

 


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

End of Summer Treat Under the Crescent Moon


 I was inspired to write a poem about the Crescent Moon even though the moon was in a different phase:

Crescent Moon

A beacon of hope
smiling as I gaze upon crescent moon
out of plain sight
its powerful presence
seen in mind’s eye

Imagination lights the way
wholeness
transforming
transcending
phasing out fear and doubt
seeing beyond appearances

Much lies beyond this silver sliver in the sky
orb of infinite possibilities
all unveiled in Divine Timing
enjoying glow of anticipation
when all is revealed once more! 

I was captivated by its image in my mind's eye and what it represents. 

Imagine my surprise when we went out for an end of summer treat at Cabot's, an iconic ice cream place we had not been to in years, and there was the crescent moon.



 









Before the pandemic, we would not take photos in front of Cabot's. Yet these simple pleasures take on a much deeper meaning.












The mundane becomes extraordinary. We celebrated how Cabot's made it through the pandemic and was continuing to thrive albeit with masks for employees and diners when they weren't eating or drinking. There was an awareness of social distancing and contactless payment. They used to be a cash only operation.

On May 29th, we celebrated the end of a State of Emergency here in Massachusetts and, as a fully vaccinated family, what we thought would be the end of mask mandates and social distancing. We have learned that, despite all that is going on with the pandemic, or perhaps because of all that is going on with the pandemic, we savor the taste of an end of summer treat with more gusto feeling connected to something far greater than ourselves under the crescent moon.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

My books to uplift and inspire you are available on Amazon.

Visit my website to learn more about my journey of transformation in the wake of paralytic polio and trauma to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond.

Be sure to visit my News and Events tab on my website to hear interviews that will open your heart and mind to a powerful message of healing, hope and possibilities.

 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

It's Gonna Be Alright....

 

As my head swirled with negative thoughts of "What if's" I told myself to stop and shift the "What if's" to positive outcomes. On August 5, Tom was given a Performance Improvement Plan at work. He had been working day and night after having had an adverse reaction to the COVID vaccine. He planned to get the vaccine on his vacation but they told him he had to postpone his vacation. He couldn't postpone his 2nd shot and worked when he should have taken time to rest. He was also called back early from his vacation to work the evening before he was to return to work. 

He made errors that were uncharacteristic for him and exaggerated because of the extraordinary stress everyone experienced. Management didn't check in with him to see what was going on. Instead they "wrote him up" and gave him a warning that if he did not follow the PIP and immediately improve, he would be fired!

Fortunately his vacation started the next week.  As Divine Timing would have it, our son Autumn and his partner Michelle were coming to town on August 11th to celebrate the twins' birthday. Team McManus had a meeting and unanimously decided it was time for Tom to retire.We had savings and were totally confident that he could get a low key job somewhere to supplement retirement and social security. The "Big Quit" can be as infectious as COVID and we decided that life is too short to suffer in a work environment. Autumn and Tom got very excited about a dream they've had for several years to have their own technology consulting company.

Last week, there was a meeting scheduled with a top manager on his calendar. "What if they are going to ask you to stay?" {Note how this was quite a shift from what if they tell you to leave early without pay?} "I'm not going to do it," Tom said. We ignored the 'dreadlines' about an uncertain economy trusting that the technology sector is in dire need of talent.

I thought of the Helen Keller quote about security, "Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure."

The meeting was rescheduled and then canceled. He received a call at 8:30am on Friday morning informing him that his access had been terminated.  We were very confused and tried to discern what he was being told. Because he had a high security clearance, they could not let him finish out his last week. The manager reassured us that as far as HR was concerned, nothing about his September 17th end date had changed.

My heart raced for a bit until we were able to process that this was standard operating procedure and had been done with another employee when he left several months ago. He would get his pay for the week but did not have to work! Wow!  It felt like the total grace for all the extra hours he worked and stress he endured. It was a bit unsettling that he no longer had access to his email but texts from his co-workers let him know what they had been told by management; that Tom was leaving on good terms and they had to do this for the sake of computer security.

I am in awe of how we mobilized since we made the decision that it was time for Tom to retire from his current position and the magic of the Universe creating miracles at every turn.  

Health insurance, dental insurance and a new laptop came together with ease. Once he posted his resume, his phone rang off the hook. We prepared both a tech and a non-tech resume. We thought he would do contract work if he stayed in technology or get a job where he could use his incredible interpersonal, customer service and administrative skills.

Plot twist! He has one job offer and is close to getting another offer. He planned on taking the first offer when he had a 2nd interview for a job at another company. He wasn't going to take the interview but it was with a former co-worker from years ago and he was planning to just catch up. The Universe is full of surprises. It was as though no time had passed and the person with whom he interviewed who would be his co-worker said that he would LOVE to work with Tom again. They are expediting the interview process and Tom will have his choice of where he wants to work. Even though he is almost 70 years old, he loves technology, innovation and being part of a collaborative team. Unfortunately, he got burned out and temporarily lost his passion.

What we thought was the worst thing that could have happened to an almost 70 year old man transformed into the best thing that could have happened for spiritual growth for all of us as well as feeling the power of being able to stand up for what is right and true.

We knew it was time for Tom to leave his old job given the physical symptoms he was experiencing from the stress and the reaction to the vaccine but we thought he could just 'hang in there' for several more months while retirement continued to build and COVID subsided. We couldn't have imagined that he would secure another job with benefits for however long he wants to work and to be able to work remote even after the pandemic is under better control.

His health issues have all resolved and the severe back pain he experienced has healed. He feels more vibrant and better than he has in a few years.

We rode a lot of wild waves of emotions these past several weeks intensified by the continued rise in COVID cases. There is continued divisiveness around vaccines and mask mandates. I harness the power of my faith holding a vision of health, healing and well-being for my family, my community, my country and the global community that it's gonna be alright!

 

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

My books to uplift and inspire you are available on Amazon.

Visit my website to learn more about my journey of transformation in the wake of paralytic polio and trauma to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond.

Be sure to visit my News and Events tab on my website to hear interviews that will open your heart and mind to a powerful message of healing, hope and possibilities.





Friday, September 10, 2021

The Magic of Gratitude

 

In the midst of challenging times, when anxiety overtakes the mind and body, it can be difficult to shift the focus to gratitude. And yet that is just the time we need to focus on gratitude. When I look back over the past several years, it is easy to feel anger and outrage at how my daughter's condition was misdiagnosed and mistreated but instead, I focus on the earth angels who finally came into our lives to help Ruth Anne to heal.

As I waited for Ruth Anne at Spaulding Rehab while she had her appointment with Erin,  her earth angel Occupational Therapist, my heart opened with gratitude for her healing and recovery. 

As I saw the plexiglass partitions on the Constitution Cafe's tables, the signs about Infection Control, the need for all staff to be vaccinated by October 15th, the therapeutic pool devoid of aquatics classes and the empty gift shop, I felt the sadness and grief that hung in the silence. The Front Desk Ambassador, Margaret, who we have known from when I took aquatics at Spaulding and then going to appointments with Ruth Anne told us that they were hoping to open the pool in September but now, "Who knows?"

There's hand sanitizer and masks when you first enter the building and there is no more public access to the cafeteria or the pool. The hustle and bustle of staff gathering in the cafeteria, patients and family members moving out and about the first floor and garden area and the sense of Spaulding's community is noticeably absent.

It's so easy to focus on all that is missing in our lives right now, especially after our sense of freedom and ease in the early days post-vaccination. But focusing on what's missing drains me of my energy and tends to turn on the biochemistry of negative "what if's."

I sat down near the lobby of the hospital since it was raining outside, took a few deep, cleansing breaths and this poem flowed out of me:

Magic of Gratitude

Like a magic wand
gratitude whisks away all fear
conjuring a delicious recipe for life
open heart
bubbling over with joy
salty tears trickle
eyes feasting on simple pleasures
sunrises and sunsets
lingering luscious scent of summer
rippling of waves an aural delight
sun’s warmth from Source kisses skin
a taste of heaven

Grateful for precious gift of life
Love greater than fear
sprinkle sparkling eyes everywhere I go
reflecting blessings
kindle kindness and compassion
pass the torch of thankfulness
spread seeds of hope
let the magic begin! 


From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

My books to uplift and inspire you are available on Amazon.

Visit my website to learn more about my journey of transformation in the wake of paralytic polio and trauma to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond.

Be sure to visit my News and Events tab on my website to hear interviews that will open your heart and mind to a powerful message of healing, hope and possibilities.


Wednesday, September 8, 2021

#BEKIND21 A Trip to the Post Office - Kindness is Contagious

I had my pants and return label ready to go to the Post Office for two days. I took them to the car as being one step closer to actually getting them to the Post Office. After I dropped off my daughter for her acupuncture appointment this morning, Spirit nudged me to go to a Post Office that I usually don't go to but that was close to her acupuncturist.

"Stand back there and wait for me to call you," the Postal Service worker barked at the man in front of me. "And make sure you are standing apart behind the blue lines. That's what they are there for."

A man with a passport application angrily walked away from the window mumbling something about filing a lawsuit. 

While I wanted to leave and go to the Post Office I usually go to,  I felt the need to stay there.

"You wait there. She was ahead of you."

The gentleman in front of me said he was going to use the automatic machine but quickly returned saying it was out of order. I struck up a conversation with him about how COVID 2.0 seems to be leaving everyone feeling irritable. We chatted a bit about vaccines and masks before I shifted the conversation to gratitude. We smiled with our eyes and agreed that while things might seem worse, at some point the tide will turn and it will get better.

As he took his turn at the counter, a short in stature Asian woman came up right behind me in line with her mask beneath her nose. I warmly greeted her in response to her comment that there was not a long line today and asked her to please step behind the blue line for social distancing as the man behind the counter was enforcing the rules today.

"Oh yes yes," she said. "You are absolutely right."

She quickly adjusted her face mask.

The gentleman who had been in front of me turned as he went to leave wishing me a good day.

"Can I help you?" the Postal Service worker asked.

"Oh yes," I said. "I need a lot of help."

"Are you mailing these pants? This box is way too big."

"I'm sorry," I said. "That's why I didn't package it up. I have a prepaid label and a packing slip....You know I would like to just really thank you for your service. I know it's not easy working for the government under the best of circumstances. I worked at the VA for almost 20 years. I can only imagine the challenges you face every day during COVID."

"Thank you. Just for that I am going to get this all packaged up for you and not even charge you for the envelope."

"I'm so grateful to you for helping me."

"There's a lot to be grateful for right now...like this weather. I walk to work every day."

While he took care of everything for my package, we chatted for a few more minutes and said goodbye.

As I left, I whispered to my new friend in the line behind me, "Be sure to thank him."

I started walking down the ramp to exit the Post Office and out of the corner of my eye I saw her walk up to the window. She put her whole body and being into saying, "You extraordinary!" I heard him say "Thank you!" and I smiled knowing that the ripples from those Post Office encounters would create a wonderful vibration in my Town and beyond.

Dr. David R. Hamilton has done extensive research and writing on the benefits of kindness including how it is contagious. Here's the link to his blog, How Kindness is Contagious. It's as timely today as it was ten years ago when he wrote it. Last March, David wrote, in his blog, "The Most Contagious Thing is Kindness, "So while we increase our physical distance to help reduce the likelihood of contagion of coronavirus, let us increase the contagion of kindness instead."

 As evidenced by my recent trip to the Post Office, there is an urgent need to increase the contagion of kindness. There's still time to be part of Born This Way Foundation's #BEKIND21 campaign. It's a wonderful way to join a global community of like hearted people inviting us all to practice kindness to ourselves and each other.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

My books to uplift and inspire you are available on Amazon.

Visit my website to learn more about my journey of transformation in the wake of paralytic polio and trauma to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond.

Be sure to visit my News and Events tab on my website to hear interviews that will open your heart and mind to a powerful message of healing, hope and possibilities.





Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Letting Go of Fear and Worry!

 

I've been riding the waves that go with a big life change of Tom's retirement. While I limit my exposure to news, the "dreadlines" seemed to have had a bigger impact on me in recent days. I found myself getting stuck in a cycle of worry and fear. I know that worrying is praying for something we do not want to have happen and that it is vital to look within to create my outer world. I believe we are all feeling a little weary of the ongoing pandemic, extreme weather and fires and a "shaky" economic outlook.

After being in my head for a bit during our 5K run, I shared with Tom and Ruth Anne what was weighing me down. With the vast ocean on my right and loving daughter and husband by my side, I was able to purge myself of the fear and worry. I ended up doing major negative splits on our 5K dripping with sweat and a little dizzy from my effort. Cold water, a banana and a picnic lunch was the quick remedy to help me recover.





 

My favorite quote from Ruth Anne was, "Mom...how can you let these dreary thoughts be on such a perfect day?"








She was right! 







 

 We played in the water and "practiced" our synchronized swimming feeling the joy of just being in the moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we sat in the sun drying off from our swim, this poem flowed through me:

Baptism

Feet glide along silky silt ocean’s floor
wading into gentle waves
expanding
fathom infinite gratitude and love
warm sun on skin
seagulls song entreating.

Dive into faith
releasing fears
fully present
prepared to receive gift of new life
past washed away in tide
only good tidings.

Source’s presence palpable
as joy rises from depths of soul
return to innocence
carefree
just Be
believe!

Seize the moment
seas current comforts
get carried away
on this end of summer day
delicious delight
as heart takes flight. 

A run, a swim, lots of sun and connecting to Source were the perfect combination to help me release fear and worry and embrace infinite possibilities for a new chapter in our life.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

My books to uplift and inspire you are available on Amazon.

Visit my website to learn more about my journey of transformation in the wake of paralytic polio and trauma to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond.

Be sure to visit my News and Events tab on my website to hear interviews that will open your heart and mind to a powerful message of healing, hope and possibilities.

An Extraordinary Time on Heartbreak Hill

  Seeing the rising of the almost full moon Saturday evening while we went for our after dinner walk was a perfect way to end our day.   Thr...