Sunday, May 30, 2021

A Run in the Rain

 

Waking up to the sound of pouring rain on a day when we're scheduled to run always begs the question, "Should we swap a strength training day for our run day?"

The forecast called for rain all weekend. I knew in the depths of my heart and soul that we needed to get out for our run today. I got still as we put on our guided meditation to start the day.

During breakfast, we read the articles about Governor Baker's proclamation that all COVID-19 restrictions were lifted as of midnight on 5/28. We shared the excitement about the end of the pandemic and how blessed we have been and are to experience good health while also acknowledging a tinge of fear wondering, "Is this too soon?" 

We couldn't dwell there because the almost record setting cold day for Memorial Day Weekend was beckoning us to get our run on. We debated about where we should run and opted for a run around the neighborhood and the small Reservoir on Route 9 knowing we could stop at the house if we needed a change of clothes. We reminded ourselves of when we used to train in weather conditions worse than this as we trained for the 2009 Boston Marathon for our long runs.

"It's where we put our attention and mind set," I reminded Team McManus. It was hard to believe that two days ago we were in tank tops needing fans to cool off the house and today we needed winter running pants, jackets, hats and gloves but that's weather in New England for you.

We allowed joy to flow through us opening our arms (and hearts) wide singing and splashing in the puddles. Enjoy these photos from our run capturing the beauty of a rainy day run:
















During my morning meditation, a poem started to flow through me that I finished after our run.

Morning Rain

Tear shaped raindrops on window pane
as we are preparing to live life again
an outpouring of emotions-sadness, grief, relief dawn of new day
joining hearts and hands together tentatively finding our way.
Spirits once dampened by dreaded disease
take stock and take pause as routines we unfreeze
though the day’s skies are cloudy a light burns so bright
casting away fourteen months filled with flooding of fright.
In the stillness of morning as rain poured from the sky
I was tempted to wonder to ponder ask why
but I know it’s a mystery so I reigned in that thought
taking deep breaths chest no longer drawn taut.
As gratitude bubbled up from the depth of my heart
with a smile on my lips as new day time to start
heading out on a run filled with laughter and play
no masks on our faces heavy burdens no longer weigh.
Soaked to the skin splashed in puddles galore
mud stained and chilled contentment needing nothing more
radiating Love from Source our troubles are light
healing on horizon is now well within sight.

We felt cleansed, refreshed and renewed after our run in the rain changing into warm comfy clothes to enjoy the rest of the first day of lifted COVID restrictions.



Be sure to listen to my conversation with Greg Chastain and Ed Siegel on their Voices of Hope podcast, The Cardinal Cafe. from Greg Chastain: The latest episode of The Cardinal Cafe is up! On this episode we meet Mary McManus. Mary is a motivational speaker, author, poet, 2009 Boston Marathon Finisher, polio and trauma survivor. She has a remarkable story of resilence, healing, Hope and possibilities. Once you hear her tell her story you will want to rush out to purchase her newest book of poems “Hope is a Garden” which she wrote during the recent pandemic. So please join us for this incredible story. 

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness
Mary

Be sure to check out my website's News and Events page for upcoming and past interviews where I share my remarkable and inspirational journey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma.

For more information about my journey from childhood polio and trauma to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond, visit my website. 

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

 

 

Friday, May 28, 2021

A Time to Heal


 During my pre-treatment check-in with Dr. Lizzie, I heard my voice tremble as I shared with her some of the discomfort I felt after my 2nd vaccine shot and how Tom seemed to have an extended reaction to the vaccine after his 2nd shot. "Overall I am doing quite well," I said. "But like everybody, I'm still shaken up by the events of the past year just like everyone and need time to heal." "Absolutely," Lizzie said with a heart overflowing with compassion. "Let's get you on the table and start face down."

Not having access to chiropractic care for over 14 months was difficult but I continued my health and wellness journey, harnessing the power of the mind/body connection and connection to the Divine to heal from the once devastating effects of polio and trauma.

What a blessing to begin to resume regular treatments with her.

As she tenderly used her hands and gentle force chiropractic instruments, I could feel the tension in my body let go. We talked about how May 29th, the date that Charlie Baker, the Governor of Massachusetts set to release all pandemic restrictions seemed a bit soon yet we were also thrilled with the progress that has been made in ending the pandemic. She, along with many others who provide individual services, are planning to keep the mask mandate in place for now. Even though I am eager to experience my treatments without having to wear a mask, I agreed with her decision.

We continued to get caught up on each other's lives since my last treatment on March 13th of 2020. So much has happened in our lives. She has a 9 month old, the new Boston office and different hours. We chatted about all we have to be grateful for while acknowledging the challenges of the past year. Lizzie has been my partner on my health and wellness journey since July of 2017.

Picking up the pieces of a conversation that abruptly ended over a year ago was a bit challenging yet what a blessing that Lizzie has been able to resume her practice albeit with a lot of modifications to ensure the safety of herself, her husband and her two daughters who are too young to be vaccinated.  Ruth Anne is in graduate school and successfully completed her first semester. I wrote a new book and have had interviews to share my journey and promote my new book. Tom works from home 5 days a week and we talked about how we rearranged our indoor and outdoor spaces during the pandemic. We went outdoors whatever the weather to get in exercise and to find times of solitude.

We acknowledged the fear that remains and turn toward hope for the future. We shared laughter looking back at what we thought would be a two week closure and how we felt after one week having no idea of what was to come. We honored our incredible resilience getting through the days, weeks, months and ultimately the year. At the end of the treatment, I felt renewed and realized how much I missed our time together that nourish me mind, body and soul. It felt fantastic to say, "I'll see you next week." 

Today Governor Baker declared that COVID is on the run.

"Unless something very odd happens, I would say that it is pretty much over," Baker said Friday from the State House Library. "I would put an asterisk on anything that says it's over, but I do believe that it is certainly on the run in a big way and given the data as it currently exists right now, Massachusetts is in a place where we can lift these restrictions and do so with a high degree of confidence that people have done the things we needed to do to beat this thing down." 

On June 15th, we will no longer be living under a State of Emergency.

And now it's time to heal. We grieve for those who died, whose businesses and jobs were lost and for ourselves who endured trauma of one kind or another throughout the pandemic. 

It's time to allow ourselves to emerge into the light. May we all give ourselves and each other love, respect, compassion and kindness, and a wide berth to rebirth after these past 14+ months.

 Opening Daze

The day we’d all been waiting for
time to open be together be free
after living under a cloud of fear
we’re feeling profound hesitancy.

Most people have been fully vaxed
a phrase once foreign now eerily commonplace
like a swimmer wading into ocean’s cold
we tentatively move into each other’s space.

So many questions and fear arise
is the pandemic now at its end
Or is this perhaps only a lull
with another outbreak round the bend.

And while we’re trusting science
metrics statistics the order of the day
I set my sights on trusting Source
transforming fear let Love light the way.

A year and some months later
once masked we smiled only with our eyes
we now unveil our transformations
soul lessons learned we are now more wise.

Emerging from our fog and haze
may we bathe in love from each other’s heart
entering into this new normal world
as a new life chapter we start.

Be sure to check out my website's News and Events page for upcoming and past interviews where I share my remarkable and inspirational journey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness
Mary

For more information about my journey from childhood polio and trauma to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond, visit my website. 

 

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

 






Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Voices of Hope and The Cardinal Cafe


 Seven years ago, we saw a Facebook post from our dear friend Jordan Rich letting us know that he was going to be in a production of Love Letters at the North Shore Music Theater. The performances were to benefit Voices of Hope, an organization of ordinary people on an extraordinary mission; to use their voices to sing out for a cure for cancer. 

It is our mission to aid in the fight against cancer by raising our voices in song. Through song we celebrate those we love, remember those we have lost, honor those who fight, and rejoice for those who survive. With music as our voice, we raise awareness and funds to support those who conduct the research and create the hope of finding a cure for generations to come.

Since 2009, Voices of Hope (VOH) has donated $836,000 dollars to cancer research and is on a March to a Million in donations by 2022!

Through the years we attended performances of Voices of Hope supporting their mission and passion while enjoying live theater. Their performances are filled with heart and hope believing that one day they will be able to enjoy performing without the need to raise money for cancer research.

Greg Chastain, Founder and President of Voices of Hope, posted on LinkedIn about their new podcast. Since there could be no in person performances, Greg and Ed Siegel, Vice President of Voices of Hope decided to start a podcast called The Cardinal Cafe. The cardinal is an animal totem for messages from loved ones who have gone before. The cardinal is the central part of the logo for Voices of Hope.

I reached out to Greg sharing my story and my recent book, "Hope is a Garden: Poems and Essays From the 2020 Pandemic" and asked to be considered as a guest on the podcast. I was eager to share my book with Greg, Ed and his wife Dana because I knew its themes would resonate with them regardless of whether or not they decided to have me join them as a guest.

They decided that my story of resilience, healing, HOPE and possibilities would be a great fit for their podcast.

We recorded the episode yesterday, 5/25, coincidentally the 14th anniversary of when I took a leap of faith and left my award winning career as a VA social worker to heal my life from the once devastating effects of childhood paralytic polio and trauma.

Serendipity, synchronicity, faith, friendship, fellowship, laughter, hope, and love flowed freely weaving a beautiful tapestry of conversation that will inspire and uplift the listeners and fill them with a sense of hope whatever challenges life may bring.

I feel deeply blessed and grateful that I celebrated my leap of faith-iversary with Greg, Ed and The Cardinal Cafe.

Be sure to subscribe to their podcast on your favorite platform and listen to their previous episodes.

On July 22nd they are having their annual Golf Tournament in memory of Greg's mom, Barbara Byrd who died from cancer in 2009. She is the inspiration behind Voices of Hope. Visit their website and click on the Events link to learn more about how you can be a part of this annual event as we emerge from these past 14 months ready to hug and have fun again!

You can choose Voices of Hope as your Amazon Smile Charity and give while you shop.

At the end of yesterday's blog post I said, "I'm so excited to see what the next 14 years bring." It's off to an incredible start with Voices of Hope and The Cardinal Cafe.

Be sure to check out my website's News and Events page for upcoming and past interviews where I share my remarkable and inspirational journey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness
Mary

For more information about my journey from childhood polio and trauma to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond, visit my website. 

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

 


 


Monday, May 24, 2021

A Leap of Faith

 

On 5/25/2007, for the first time in almost 20 years, except when I was on vacation or it was the weekend, I did not have to set the alarm for 5:30am. I got up at 7:30 and only had to drive to the Jamaica Plain VA Medical Center instead of navigating traffic into North Station.

I showed my Handicap Placard to  Mark the parking lot attendant with whom I developed a relationship through the years when attending meetings at the JP Campus. 

"I won't be long Mark. This is my last day. I just have to go in and 'clear out'."

The stocky veteran with the husky voice got a little teary as I shared with him why I was leaving.

"Hey park right over here. I'll see you on the way out."

I hung my placard, grabbed my cane and with a dignified walk entered the JP VA Medical Center for the last time.

As I visited the places I needed to go, I bumped into some people I had worked with for the past 17 years. We hugged and they wished me well. Several of them shook their heads as they walked away incredulous that I would walk away from my award winning career as a VA social worker just 3 years shy of when I was eligible for retirement.

After I turned in my card with all the signatures indicating that I did not owe any money and was not taking any property with me, I returned to the parking lot. There was no turning back now. It was official. I was no longer a VA employee.

Mark and I hugged and he wished me well telling me to take care of myself. I wished him well and sent him love.

When I arrived home, I took out a lawn chair and edited my manuscript for "New World Greetings:Inspirational Poetry and Musings for a New World" while continuing to write down how I visualized my future on a yellow legal pad.

I knew I had a long road ahead on my journey of transformation. I was the caterpillar in the cocoon and I did not know how or what I would be when I emerged from my time in the cocoon of healing. 

I discovered the sport of running and my poem, 'Running the Race' foreshadowed my 2009 Boston Marathon run. 

Writing poetry and running paved the way for me to unfurl and let my spirit fly free. I found my voice as one who survived paralytic polio and trauma and now inspire others with what is possible despite all appearances to the contrary.

It's been 14 years filled with miracles, adventures, tribulations, triumphs and an ever deepening relationship with the Divine. I am so blessed and grateful that I dug deep and found the courage to take that leap of faith.

I treasure the memories of my time there and feel so grateful for the legacy I leave behind.




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am so excited to see what the next 14 years bring.

Be sure to check out my website's News and Events page for upcoming and past interviews where I share my remarkable and inspirational journey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness
Mary

For more information about my journey from childhood polio and trauma to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond, visit my website. 

 

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

 



Saturday, May 22, 2021

Are You Sure?

 

Wonderful caring and well-meaning people kept asking me if I was sure about taking the leap of faith and leaving behind my award winning career as a VA Social Worker to heal my life.

I was absolutely sure...and terrified...and excited and experiencing the entire spectrum of feelings that is a part of the human experience.

I relied on a quote from Helen Keller:

Fourteen years ago at this time, I could feel the nervous butterflies as I counted down the days until May 25th when I would 'clear out' of the VA as the process is called for terminating employment. I felt a sense of relief that I would no longer be getting up at 5:30am and making the commute into Boston seeing a full day's schedule of veterans and their families, coordinating care, attending meetings, doing on-line trainings and doing all the tasks of a medical social worker in a busy outpatient clinic. For 17 years I absolutely loved the work I was doing. It wasn't work but a passion and my mission in life. But then my mind, body and soul cried out for healing. I was burned out and had to take care of me for I could no longer give from an empty cup.

I was grateful for the parties I received from my Team and medical staff across the campuses who had come to know my work, from my Social Work Staff, and for the gifts both tangible and intangible that I would take with me. 

I was offered doing a part-time position as my friends and colleagues were anxious about my leaving before I was eligible for retirement and had no clear cut financial plan for my future.

I had withdrawn my retirement account and as it turned out, many lost a lot of money from their retirement accounts because of the economy. 

I was so grateful for their care and concern about my well-being. I totally understood where they were coming from because at times I thought that what I was doing was absolutely crazy. But I had this feeling deep in my soul and knew that it was time to leave.

As I wrote about in a recent blog, I knew I had a Date With Destiny!

These 14 years have been filled with adventures, trials and tribulations and remarkable triumphs that I now share with others to inspire them with what's possible beyond a diagnosis and seemingly insurmountable odds.

Was I sure? Once I made the decision to take that leap of faith, I was sure that it was my only choice to move forward in my life.

Be sure to check out my website's News and Events page for upcoming and past interviews where I share my remarkable and inspirational journey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness
Mary

For more information about my journey from childhood polio and trauma to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond, visit my website. 

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





Thursday, May 20, 2021

Dancing Through Life

 

As I sat in the waiting room of the International Rehab Center for Polio and Post Polio at the Framingham Spaulding Outpatient Clinic, I clutched my CD player listening to the soundtrack from Wicked. If I was going to have to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair, I was going to have to find a way to dance through life.

In February of 2007, a few months after the 'official' diagnosis of a progressive neuromuscular disease after having undergone numerous diagnostic tests to rule out any other possible causes of my symptoms, I got still and asked for Divine Guidance.

The poem, "Running the Race" flowed out of me and my theme song went from Dancing Through Life to Defying Gravity!

Harnessing the power of the mind/body connection and being blessed with a physical therapist who believed in the body's tremendous capacity to heal and then working with a personal trainer, I traded in my toe up leg brace:

 for a pair of running shoes! I went on to cross the finish line of the 20009 Boston Marathon and transformed my life mind, body and soul through the sport of running.

Christmas 2007 just a few months after working with a personal trainer to see if I could get a little stronger and build on the home exercise program that was prepared for me when I was discharged from Outpatient Care at Spaulding Rehab. When I asked Janine Hightower if she thought she could help me get a little stronger, she used the Henry Ford quote, "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right." We worked together from October of 2007 and in February of 2008, we did a 6 month re-evaluation of my physical status and goals. I had improved in every area of the assessment and told Janine my new goals were to feel free in my body, to walk outside without my leg brace and to diversify my workouts. She was all set to leave the house when I said "Wait! I have one more goal." She put down her things and said, "What's that?" "I want to run the 2009 Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab. They have a Race for Rehab team." She was totally non-plussed by the fact I never ran a day in my life and said, "Well you are going to need a pair of running shoes."

She trained my husband, daughter and me for 14 months and after 7 hours and 49 minutes, we finished our journey from Hopkinton to Boston.

Every finish line is a starting line and I've been blessed to have many adventures on the road and off during these past 14 years since I took that leap of faith leaving my award winning career as a VA social worker to heal my life. I am so excited for the adventures ahead!

From "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life":

It was a cold, dark day in February 2007. I sat in a leg brace, using a wheelchair at times for mobility. I faced a grim and uncertain future as the doctors handed down the decree of the diagnosis of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. They told me that if I had any hope of stabilizing the disease where it was, I would have to quit my full time award-winning career as a VA social worker three years shy of when I was eligible for retirement. It was a no brainer. I knew I had to take a leap of faith and leave my career. But what’s a social worker to do after almost 25 years? She opens her heart to the cadence of Dr. Seuss that brought her so much comfort during the painful physical therapy sessions as she recovered from paralytic polio. This is the first poem I penned. Bear in mind, I had never run a day in my life.

 

Running the Race   

 

Early summer 1959 my kindergarten year

everyone around me filled with nervous fear.

Despite the Salk vaccine hope polio would disappear

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

 

Dancing all around the gym feeling free just like a bird

I dropped to the ground just like a stone and no one said a word.

The pain it was so searing-the diagnosis even worse

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

 

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

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

Miss Holly physical therapist, curly hair and a warm, broad smile

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

 

I always wore those 'special' shoes 

the kids they poked and teased                                                    

with no support and much abuse 

 with childhood I wasn’t pleased.                                                      

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

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

 

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

I accepted the limp, everything else and decided my life I would live.

But symptoms of weakness and muscle pain did grow

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

 

Life no longer was my own I struggled through each day

suffered in silence, alone and afraid tried to keep depression at bay.

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

I discovered there was a Post Polio team 

and they were on my side.                                           

 

Sought out paths for healing and my spirit flew free

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

The chains are gone and possibilities abound

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

 

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

resulted in joy to realize I could live life anew.

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

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

 

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

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

After all these years I can join the loving human race

I exceed all expectations and now I set the pace.

Be sure to tune into Dreamvisions 7 Radio to hear my conversation with Bernie Siegel, MD on his show Mind Health Matters, on May 21st, May 27th and 28th at 12:00am and 12:00pm ET. We talk about my newest book, my journey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma, healing, hope and possibilities and how my relationship with Bernie helped me on my journey of transformation since the 1980's.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness
Mary

For more information about my journey from childhood polio and trauma to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond, visit my website.

 

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


 



Wednesday, May 19, 2021

A Date With Destiny

 


“Follow your bliss. The heroic life is living the individual adventure. There is no security in following the call to adventure. Nothing is exciting if you know what the outcome is going to be.”
~ Joseph Campbell

Because of the intense nature of working at the VA, staff at the medical clinic would begin to look at life after the VA as we neared the time of retirement.

I was just 3 years 'shy' of when I was eligible to retire based on time in service and my age when I started thinking about what I'd do next. I was going to work at Bloomingdale's or some other high end retail store which would be quite a contrast from the gray interior with fluorescent lights of the VA Outpatient Clinic. I fancied myself as getting dressed up and enjoying helping shoppers choose accessories to complement their outfits. It was the exact opposite of my career as a social worker where we provided emotional and financial support to those who served. We addressed the biopsychosocial needs of veterans and their families whose suffering was palpable.  I fancied a part-time job with ease and meeting friends for lunch at lovely restaurants.

File those plans under what was I thinking???

In December of 2006 as I was planning the rest of my life, my mind, body and soul were crying out for healing. The Universe clearly had other plans. I was diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. I was told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair and quit my job if there was any hope of stabilizing the debilitating symptoms where they were. The limp from polio returned, I had difficulty swallowing, breathing, walking and felt depressed and anxious. The initial rehab specialists were tremendously helpful in providing relief with a cane, leg brace, wrist splints, a wheelchair, speech and swallow interventions and energy conservation techniques.

I was blessed to meet a physical therapist, Allison Lamarre-Poole at Spaulding Rehab in Downtown Boston which was near the VA. Dr. ElAbd, a pain management specialist referred me to her after my 2nd cervical spine injection. She did not subscribe to the "use it and you'll lose it" theory for polio survivors and held enough faith for both of us that I was not destined to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair.

In February of 2007, after a month of sessions with Allison, I got still and asked for Divine Guidance about my future. On a dark, cold February evening, the poem, "Running the Race" poured out of me as if a spigot was turned on in my soul. When Tom came home from an outing with our 20 year old twins, I told him there is life after the VA! I did not know the how's or any of the details but knew poetry and writing were going to be involved.

I smile now as I came up with the idea of "New World Greeting Cards" original poetry for every occasion and started writing a poetry book. I continued to provide the best care I could to my veterans and their families given my own physical limitations while planning my exit from the VA. I took time for self care and went for 3X/week physical therapy sessions with my earth angel Allison.

Allison set me on my healing path mind, body and soul and soon I realized I had a Date with Destiny.

From Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life:

A Date With Destiny

 

Don’t wait til you die to let your soul fly free

please listen and hear what happened to me.

My body was broken every imaginable place

yet to the world always a smile on my face.

My soul trapped inside feeling it was broken too

God brought me out of darkness my light I shine on you.

She showed me the way through people I met

it took awhile a message hard to get.

 

The kingdom of heaven is right inside me

take the leap of faith fulfill destiny.

While I did my soul work and let my soul fly free

my body transformed changes did I see.

My head now aligned the tremor no more

my body aligned such strength in my core.

When once head detached from my heart and my soul

they all work together amazingly whole.

The rules that I live by are my rules alone

I found strength and courage the past now has flown.

 

I gave 6 weeks notice and on May 25th, 2007, left behind my award winning career as a VA social worker to heal my life. At the time I didn't understand the totality of what that meant or how it would manifest in my life. 

 

I went on to run the 2009 Boston Marathon, publish my book of poems and a Trilogy of Transformation.

 

This past year we were all challenged to shift from the plans we made to embrace a date with destiny. Having opportunities to be an in person motivational speaker were put on hold but I participated in Zoom events and had my story shared on different outlets. 

 

I wrote my book, "Hope is a Garden: Poems and Essays From the 2020 Pandemic" and have been deeply moved by the reception it has received. 

 

There often comes a time in life when we have to let go of the life we have planned so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.

 

Be sure to tune into Dreamvisions 7 Radio to hear my conversation with Bernie Siegel, MD on his show Mind Health Matters, tomorrow and Friday, and May 27th and 28th at 12:00am and 12:00pm ET. We talk about my newest book, my journey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma, healing, hope and possibilities and how my relationship with Bernie helped me on my journey of transformation since the 1980's.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness
Mary

For more information about my journey from childhood polio and trauma to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond, visit my website.

 

"Hope is a Garden:Poems and Essays From the 2020 Pandemic" along with all of my books to inspire and uplift you is available on Amazon.

 

 




 


 



Tuesday, May 18, 2021

An Unexpected Anniversary Celebration

 

Fourteen years ago I sat in my sparsely decorated office, saying farewell to patients and families and staff that I worked with for almost twenty years as a VA social worker. In December of 2006 I was diagnosed with the progressive neuromuscular disease, Post-Polio Syndrome and told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair.

It was my wake up call to heal my life from the once devastating effects of paralytic polio and severe childhood trauma. I gave 6 weeks notice and chose the date of May 25, 2007. Coincidentally, May 25th was my father's birthday. He died by suicide at the age of 50 on 8/1/71.

I spent those final days of my VA social work career being celebrated for my efforts on behalf of veterans and their families and imagining a future very different from my past and very different from the ones the medical profession predicted for me. I reconnected with Bernie Siegel, MD who was the pioneer of mind/body medicine in the US in the 70's. I came to know his work through a nurse who told me I needed to heal my life during a hospitalization for a staph infection in my shoulder in the 1980's. We became friends through the years and Bernie helped me to 'rebirth' myself after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome.

On April 20, 2009, I crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I published poetry books and wrote my memoir "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility." I appeared on radio shows and podcasts sharing my journey of transformation and went on to have many adventures as runnergirl1953 writing a Trilogy of Transformation.

As I have with each of my books, I sent a copy of my latest book, "Hope is a Garden: Poems and Essays From the 2020 Pandemic" to Bernie as he loves to be called. He sent me an email thanking me for the book and asking me if I had been on his radio show yet to discuss it.

We went back and forth with emails and there was some confusion about which of his shows I would be on and settling on a date and time.

We recorded the interview for his show Mind Health Matters last Tuesday. The air dates are going to be May 20 and May 21 and May 27 and May 28 at 12:00am and 12:00pm. Usually the guest for the 'live' show is for one week but Deborah is going to have the show air for the two weeks. Unbeknownst to her, this is the time when I celebrate the anniversary of my leap of faith.

What an unexpected and wondrous way to celebrate the 14 year anniversary but as Bernie would say there are no coincidences. 

Here's the link to listen to be uplifted and inspired by my conversation with Bernie and Deborah Beauvais who is the visionary and owner of Dreamvisions 7 Radio Network.  

Deborah has selected "Hope" to be part of her "Books We Adore." In July, "Hope" will be the Book of the Month and one lucky subscriber to Dreamvisions 7 newsletter will receive an autographed copy from me.

I love how the Universe surprises and blesses me. I know that our conversation is going to bless all who listen to the powerful message of healing, hope and possibilities and how we have within each of us the strength and resilience to overcome whatever challenges may come our way.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness
Mary

For more information about my journey from childhood polio and trauma to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond, visit my website.

 

"Hope is a Garden:Poems and Essays From the 2020 Pandemic" along with all of my books to inspire and uplift you is available on Amazon.

 

Be sure to tune into Dreamvisions 7 Radio to hear my conversation with Bernie Siegel, MD on his show Mind Health Matters May 20 and 21st, May 27th and 28th at 12:00am and 12:00pm ET. We talk about my newest book, my journey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma, healing, hope and possibilities and how my relationship with Bernie helped me on my journey of transformation since the 1980's.

 


Monday, May 17, 2021

"The Switch" and The Power of Imagination

 

Shortly after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome in December of 2006, I got still and asked for Divine Guidance. I tapped into a well of poetry that ignited my imagination to heal my traumatic past rife with disease and create a future different than the ones the medical profession predicted for me. I wrote poems about running free and dancing in the rain without my leg brace. My first poem, 'Running the Race' foreshadowed my 2009 Boston Marathon run.

With the outbreak of the pandemic, I once again turned to my pen, my divining rod for healing, and wrote poetry that both expressed and transcended the emotions of the day while imagining a future very different than the woes of lock down and quarantine and much uncertainty about the trajectory of the pandemic.

On Saturday, as I felt the shift from being mostly in a heightened state of anxiety to one of calm and relaxation for the first time in 14 plus months, I thought of my poem The Switch.

 The Switch from "Hope is a Garden: Poems and Essays From the 2020 Pandemic":

 

Flip the switch from darkness

from unwell to well-being

dwell with Source.

 

Generate positive thoughts

current of gratitude

dispels doom and gloom.

 

Electrify imagination

in mind’s eye

ignite possibilities!

 

Shockwaves from past

flashbacks

back to the future!

 

Dampen fears

be light hearted.

 

What ifs

glitter and sparkle

light up hope!

 

Rewire recharge

turn on tune in

vibrant optimism.

 

Flip the switch

switch perspective

let the magic begin!

 

I wrote that poem in August of last year. I held onto hope and kept my eye and heart on a future where we would no longer need to wear masks, use hand sanitizer and socially distance from one another. 


We had a glorious run on Saturday -- with no masks since we are fully vaccinated! We loved being fully present and only took one photo of the baby geese who are getting so big:










It was the first run in a very long time that I felt the endorphins kick in and where I flipped the switch from sympathetic nervous system to parasympathetic nervous system ie the rest and digest mode. We read and relaxed after we did yard work and planting following a thorough Spring cleaning of the house.

My power of imagination and writing poetry and essays held me in good stead to navigate the uncharted waters of the pandemic. It feels wonderful to be living in the future I imagined during these past 14 months.

Here's to healing, hope and infinite possibilities of a transformed world.

Be sure to tune into Dreamvisions 7 Radio to hear my conversation with Bernie Siegel, MD on his show Mind Health Matters May 20 and 21st, May 27th and 28th at 12:00am and 12:00pm ET. We talk about my newest book, my journey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma, healing, hope and possibilities and how my relationship with Bernie helped me on my journey of transformation since the 1980's.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness
Mary

For more information about my journey from childhood polio and trauma to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond, visit my website.

 

"Hope is a Garden:Poems and Essays From the 2020 Pandemic" along with all of my books to inspire and uplift you is available on Amazon.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Pandemic Silver Linings

I've known challenges from an early age. At 5 years old I contracted paralytic polio in one of the last epidemics in the United States. Seeing what is happening with COVID, I now believe I was one of the 'breakthrough' cases since I had received 5 vaccines and there was no indication mine was one of the 'bad batches' that happened from a lack of quality control in 1959. I endured years of abuse at the hands of family members from the age of 8 until my father ended his life at the age of 17. Those challenges turned out to be the greatest gifts in my life informing the woman I am today.

At the age of 53, the gift of polio kept on giving as I was diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease by Western Medicine standards. I experienced a joyous journey of transformation after the diagnosis.

The lessons learned and wisdom garnered throughout those challenges held me in good stead during the COVID pandemic. We looked beyond fear and grief to find the silver linings; the treasures of the experience that will stay with us moving forward in our lives.

Since gyms were closed, we couldn't swim or use cardio equipment. We went outside for runs and walks. There was only one day that the weather prevented us from getting outside. We knew how vital it was to exercise and get plenty of fresh air and sunshine regardless of the weather. Running or walking 3-4 times/week with extra mini walks in between around the neighborhood built strength. Rather than breathing in air with the smell of chlorine, we breathed in fresh air and took into our hearts and souls the change over of the seasons.

Tom worked from home and not having a commute, albeit a short one, gave us time to be together, prepare wonderful meals or do take out enjoying leisurely meals together. Breakfast was unhurried and we were able to do early morning or noon time runs together.

I missed having treatments with my chiropractor who took an extended maternity leave during COVID, but I was able to tap into my body's tremendous capacity to heal from the late effects of polio and trauma connecting to the Divine in deeper ways. I savored that first treatment with her with intense gratitude.

Our meditation practice strengthened in depth and frequency.

We have a deep appreciation for our home and our yard. For the first time, we planted a flower garden. Every time I looked at that little plot of ground, it was a reminder of hope and faith. What excitement I felt as the little sprouts poked through the once frozen earth


 

 and then bloomed into magnificent tulips.



We planted our tomato seedlings and marigolds in the raised bed we built last year:











We had an incredible harvest last year that we shared with neighbors with masks and social distancing. We developed a greater sense of community in our neighborhood sharing in the somber mood of last year to find ways to uplift each other while keeping apart. This year that connection remains and is transformed into joy and hugs.

We were all challenged to allow our true selves shine through beyond clothes, makeup and hair styles. We were called upon to use humor and ingenuity when it came to our hair. We had many wonderful belly laughs as we attempted to style each other's hair. What an incredible treat to go to the salon after 14 months; an experience I will never again take for granted!

If it weren't for the pandemic, I am not sure how motivated we all would have been to get out the vote as we did. Whatever your politics may be, the truth is our democracy was threatened and incompetence at the highest levels of government were exposed by the pandemic. The power of the vote and 'we the people' was a silver lining that shined through the shroud of darkness hovering over our nation.

As time goes on, I am sure other silver linings of the pandemic will become apparent to me and to us as a global community.  

These past 14 months have tested our mettle while offering gifts and treasures that will forever be a part of the tapestry of our lives.

Here's to healing, hope and infinite possibilities of a transformed world.

Be sure to tune into Dreamvisions 7 Radio to hear my conversation with Bernie Siegel, MD on his show Mind Health Matters May 20 and 21st, May 27th and 28th at 12:00am and 12:00pm ET. We talk about my newest book, my journey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma, healing, hope and possibilities and how my relationship with Bernie helped me on my journey of transformation since the 1980's.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness
Mary

For more information about my journey from childhood polio and trauma to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond, visit my website.

"Hope is a Garden:Poems and Essays From the 2020 Pandemic" along with all of my books to inspire and uplift you is available on Amazon.


Thursday, May 13, 2021

Gratitude: 14 Months Later


 

The above photo and this post appeared in my Facebook memory feed:

Do you have little things that you are grateful for and make you smile? 

Here are a few of mine:
Bananas and potatoes that were in short supply
My favorite floss threaders from CVS that had been out of stock for weeks
Toilet paper - duh
Grated carrots from Trader Joe's
Our favorite brand of orange juice at Star Market
Finding puzzle pieces that fit

What a difference a year makes!

I am deeply grateful and blessed that we can now run without masks although we do have one with us at all times. 

This Spring seems to be more magnificent than any Spring I can remember. Here are scenes from yesterday's morning run that felt so free and easy compared to a year ago:















The morning sun's reflection on the Reservoir reflected the joy and gratitude we feel in our hearts. Our immediate family have all received 2 doses of vaccine. My son and his girlfriend are going to be eating outside at a restaurant for the first time in 14 months. We ate outside at a restaurant on Sunday after our daughter's 2nd vaccine. 

 




 

For the first time in 14 months we have plans on the calendar. In October we are going to New York to see Jagged Little Pill. The Cape Cod Marathon will be live and in person this year. Tom and Ruth Anne deferred from last year. We have hotel reservations in New York and Cape Cod.

Little by little businesses are easing screening restrictions but remain in compliance with safety guidelines from the CDC. I look forward to when we will no longer need to have our temperatures taken or fill out health surveys before appointments at our dentist, chiropractor or hair salon, but am so grateful we have access to these services. It wasn't that long ago that everything was in lockdown and we had no idea when we would be able to access them again.

I am grateful for how deeply appreciation runs in my heart and soul for sunshine, Springtime, taking deep breaths knowing we are on a positive trajectory out of the epidemic and to be able to share my pandemic perspectives and poetry in "Hope is a Garden: Poems and Essays From the 2020 Pandemic."

14 months later I am grateful for my book, the gift of poetry in my soul and how I can bless the lives of others with the wisdom I have learned living through two epidemics.

Dawn

 

As dawn breaks my heart opens in gratitude

an inventory of the blessings in my life

strife only created from memories

gratitude the bridge over troubled waters

path to peace and joy.

 

Rubbing eyes awake from a starry night

pixie dust sprinkled while sleeping

cells sparkling with possibilities

twinkling eyes view the world.

 

It dawns on me

I am beloved

Love heals and bathes

uplifted to greet the dawn of a new day

sunbeams meet heart beams.

 

Writing headlines

a virus vanished

soul lessons learned

heaven on earth is here.

 

And so it is!

 

Be sure to tune into Dreamvisions 7 Radio to hear my conversation with Bernie Siegel, MD on his show Mind Health Matters May 20 and 21st, May 27th and 28th at 12:00am and 12:00pm ET. We talk about my newest book, my journey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma, healing, hope and possibilities and how my relationship with Bernie helped me on my journey of transformation since the 1980's.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness
Mary

For more information about my journey from childhood polio and trauma to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond, visit my website.

 

"Hope is a Garden:Poems and Essays From the 2020 Pandemic" along with all of my books to inspire and uplift you is available on Amazon.

A Higher Authority

  I love the above quote from Walt Disney. During these times of confusion about what all the data mean in relationship to recent outbreaks ...