Thursday, June 17, 2021

Back to Before Everything is Different


"I hope everything can get back to normal" is a common post by friends in social media now that metrics and statistics indicate that the pandemic is coming to an end in the United States. And what a human sentiment to experience but can we ever go back to before?

During last night's before bed meditation, after a stunning session with my chiropractor earlier in the day, I had muscle memory from when I was a beautiful ballerina before I contracted paralytic polio at the tender age of 5 and a half years old. The phrase, 'Back to before, everything is different" came to me along with the realization that I could never go back to my life before I contracted paralytic polio and endured years of trauma at the hands of family members. I lost my sense of innocence and not being able to have that sense of unbridled joy that children should get to experience, but gained spiritual wisdom far beyond my years. I developed a strength of character and discipline that held me in good stead navigating my young adult and adult life.

As Tony Robbins once said, "It's never too late to have a happy childhood."

Fast forward to today as Massachusetts and many states are no longer under a State of Emergency. As photos of graduations, weddings, events, road racing, reunions, gatherings, flinging masks in the air  at bars, as the mask mandate was lifted and a touting of returning to life as it was before, there is no more back to before.

We live in a world changed by a virus that swept through, and in many countries still sweeping through, wreaking havoc with every aspect of life. 

This afternoon, the Heath School 8th grade graduation took place in the "Little Field" across from our house. Our twins graduated in 2002. As much as we wanted to go back to before 9/11, everything was different. My daughter and I reflected on how their lives were changed that day. I had to stay in place as a social worker at  the VA and the school personnel had to support the children who heard the rumors about airplanes hitting the World Trade Center. 

The families, graduates and school personnel for the class of 2021, had to endure a year unlike any other. As families and graduates arrived for the celebration, we could feel how different this year is from any other year. There is usually a stage where the students sit and there are rows of seats for the families. This year, there was a circle with a stage in the middle where students received their diplomas. Students and families were dressed to the nines which is highly unusual for the 8th grade graduation at Heath.

Ruth Anne and I had a full on ugly cry hearing the music, seeing staff and students' procession and the cheers as students walked to receive their hard earned diplomas. 

We clapped as the Principal had staff, then families and graduates stand making remarks about resilience, strength and community. He noted how the students brought light and joy in the midst of very dark times. After the ceremony, we said hello to one of Ruth Anne's former teachers whose son graduated 8th grade and congratulated them both. 

We spoke with the Principal letting him know how moved we were. He said, "It was quite a year and on a day like today, it all seems like a blur."  

As much as we'd love to go back to before traumatic events occur, it's just not possible. As Lewis Carroll said, we are not the same people we were yesterday. The question then becomes, how do we emerge into the light having gone through darkness and turmoil and bring forward light and joy. 

Back to Before

Yearning to go back to before
when tragedy struck
rewind the tape
Ah if only it were that easy
life in rear view mirror
an illusion
of easy times

What about now?

Gratitude and appreciation
flow deeply in veins
once vain
priorities change.

Celebrate triumph
resilience and strength
golden nuggets
treasure found
Phoenix rising
after surrender
yielding to what was
right of way
rites of passage
to forge a path
faith the torch that lights the way
everything is different
infinite possibilities
on our new landscape of life.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness

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.

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.  

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.

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

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