Saturday, July 31, 2021

A Tale of Two Pandemics

 

I've been focusing on peace in my meditations and as I go about my day. As I cycle through moments of anxiety, I take deep breaths and focus on what I have control over and what I don't have control over. I found myself riding the wild roller coaster of the tale of two pandemics. In Burlington, Vermont people are at crowded bars, dancing the night away and quoted in the news as feeling fearless and free. Their state has the highest vaccination rate and lowest infection rate in the country. Massachusetts is close behind Vermont in its vaccination rate but recently has seen clusters of outbreaks in Provincetown, and Cambridge. There are 5 counties in Massachusetts with high and substantial transmission rates. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its masking guidelines on Tuesday, recom-mending vaccinated individuals wear masks indoors where community transmission levels are classified as high or substantial.

I've had to limit my exposure to news stories and am just checking in to see what the latest mandates are for our area. Our family has made the decision to mask up when we are indoors and stocked up on a new supply of masks. While I feel twinges of sadness, anger and frustration when I look at my bookshelf where, for a brief moment in time, there was space with only one mask per person 'just in case',  I know it does not serve me to dwell in the space of "what if they only waited to lift restrictions until more people were vaccinated." There is no going back. We can only go forward as best we know how, once again navigating unknowns and uncertainty in the wacky world of COVID.

I do know for certain that we have taken every measure we can to ensure a healthy lifestyle mind, body and soul focusing especially on our mental health and well-being. Fear and anxiety, and listening to the 'latest' data which are constantly in flux serve only to suppress the immune system. Finger pointing and blame, what if's and if only's wreak havoc with our body's chemistry.

Peace, on the other hand, allows for the production of the body's natural chemistry that is set to bring balance, healing and a strong immune response. While at times it feels as though the weight of the pandemic is bearing down on us again, it is vital to find joy, laughter, lightness and ease in our lives. Even if it is not happening in the moment, imagining those feelings pulls us out of the vortex of darkness in the moment.

I checked my email as I continued to allow this essay to percolate and received this from Telecharge:


 I felt tears well up in my eyes and a lump in my throat as the reality of the pandemic continues to take center stage in our lives.

We decided now is just not the right time to go to the theater in New York. Wearing a mask for two and a half hours just doesn't appeal to us and part of the thrill of going to the theater is experiencing the crush of people waiting in line to get into the theater. We'd have to present a government issued photo ID along with our proof of vaccination. Wearing a mask before dining on deli or eating Italian at Mama Mia's takes the joy out of the New York City experience.

I hearken back to Lin Manuel Miranda's words to Jimmy Fallon when they were celebrating the re-opening of Broadway, "It's all depending right? On vaccinations and whether or not people will feel comfortable returning to the theater."

All of those invitations with printed out google maps for directions to different events are gone from our refrigerator. There are still lots of posts in my news feed of people who are traveling, dining out, going to bars and acting as if the pandemic has ended. We are going to err on the side of caution as a tale of two pandemics continues on focusing on all we have to be grateful for. 

After we cancelled our New York City trip we bought ice cream savoring the taste of summer in New England watching a glorious sunset. We held a space for our sadness and frustration while expressing what we are each grateful for. 

As the scientists try to sift and sort data, and as politicians focus on what to do about the myriad challenges facing us at this time in our history, I am going to focus on being the change.

 Be The Change

 Wildfires raging
 mood as dark as thick smoke
 enveloping all in its path
 virus' variant wreaking havoc
 
 How to stop the carnage?

 Tears from an open heart extinguish hopelessness
 compassion and kindness fan flames of healing
 turn off talking heads
 turn toward each other
 feel the heal.

 Grateful for blessings great and small
 tender moments
 tending to each other's wounds
 beauty of sunsets
 tomatoes ripe on the vine
 savor and appreciate.

Bind broken heartedness
banding together
we are one
powerful to effect change
one action creates ripples
slowly
reversing
damage we once wrought. 

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

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 listen to my recent conversation with Liz Brunner, award winning journalist, now CEO of Brunner Communications on her podcast Live Your Best Life. I share how I live my best life despite the challenges that I faced at an early age.

For all of my recent appearances, be sure to visit my News and Events tab on my website.

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





Tuesday, July 27, 2021

A Booster Shot of Hope

 

It is very unlike me to feel depressed, frustrated, angry and hopeless about what's happening with the pandemic. I let fear take over on Sunday when we were going to go to the beach although it was misting and thought that we'd be back to where we were a year ago. A year ago we were able to adapt to circumstances knowing what precautions to take to keep ourselves and our loved ones healthy. It was challenging but after a few months found a rhythm to life practicing gratitude and optimism feeling hope and faith deep in our hearts.

After we were fully vaccinated, we thought it would be some time before the pandemic was in the rear view mirror but when we received the all clear from the CDC, the White House, and Governor Baker, we breathed a collective sigh of relief. We did not rush out to book a trip that required a plane ride or head indoors to eat at a restaurant but felt wonderful to have that freedom to choose.

We were stopped in our tracks when the news of rising cases and hot spots even in our state of Massachusetts with one of the highest vaccination rates in the country made the headlines among the unvaccinated and there were reports of 'breakthrough' cases.

When the news first broke about the pandemic, I wasn't frightened of becoming ill. I experienced the trauma of being in lock down and seeing the world and our lives come to a screeching halt. I focused on health and well-being. I have total confidence in the vaccines and my immune system but as is true when you're driving in a car, it's the other driver you have to be concerned about ie those who are unvaccinated.

After having a miserable day on Sunday, I focused Monday morning's meditation on turning the tide of my attitude and mindset. I knew that the energy I was putting out was attracting negative posts to my social media news feed and creating an atmosphere of unease in the household. 

After listening to David Hamilton's Tibetan Sound Bowl Meditation, I felt refreshed and decided that I needed a booster shot of hope, optimism and happiness. I asked Ruth Anne if she would like to do our run in South Boston after breakfast. She was thrilled and so was I!

It was a sultry summer's day and it probably wasn't smart of me to push my pace but I needed to get those endorphins kicking and feel my strength and resilience resounding throughout my entire body.

Shortly after we set out on our run, we bumped into one of the members of our L Street Running Club family.

Ruth Anne and I had delightful conversation expressing our gratitude and appreciation for all the good things in our lives. We reflected on perhaps there could have been a slower reopening and removal of the mask mandate but there's no turning back on what is.

A year ago at this time we couldn't go anywhere near South Boston given the high infection rate in the City and would have had to wear a mask if we did. We deeply breathed in the sea air taking special note of summer's beauty.





By the end of our 5K we were soaked with sweat and filled with joy.

My news feed and the news took a noticeable shift. Vaccine mandates are being implemented. There is a lot of peer pressure for vaccination and people are masking up in public. 

My booster shot of hope was working and I was able to turn the tide of feeling hopeful again despite appearances to the contrary.

Turning the Tide

Yesterday so filled with fear stumbling lost my way
clearing out the cobwebs I begin a brand new day.
Hope was buried in the darkness of headlines grim and drear
a shift a change in attitude as close as heart so dear.
Connecting with the Source of all Love must now prevail
a tender touch extending through adversity we can sail.
Though the waters may be rocky we hold still safe inside
Divine with all its wisdom steadily is our guide.

When thinking that the coast is clear and storms come into view
unwavering faith beyond appearances will always see us through.
A GPS a compass to navigate the night
calm the waves of queasiness eradicate all fright.
Standing at the helm of life strength rising from the soul
Creator deep within us current flowing feeling whole.
Rising up to meet all challenges seas will be calm once more
look out to the horizon we’ll make it safely back to shore.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

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 listen to my recent conversation with Liz Brunner, award winning journalist, now CEO of Brunner Communications on her podcast Live Your Best Life. I share how I live my best life despite the challenges that I faced at an early age.

For all of my recent appearances, be sure to visit my News and Events tab on my website.

My books to inspire and uplift you are available on Amazon


 



Sunday, July 25, 2021

On Crisis, Opportunity and Vulnerability

 

The day after I received the 2nd vaccine, I experienced knee pain that was different than any kind of knee pain I experienced throughout all of my running career. I knew that joint pain could be a vaccine side effect and that energy flows where attention goes. I focused on all the parts of my body that felt well and focused on gratitude that vaccines were the path to ending the pandemic.

"I've had this deep bone knee pain that's worse in my right knee than my left," I told Dr. Lizzie when I presented for last week's appointment." 

"The pain woke me up one night."

"Did it wake you up or was it morning and you woke up with it?"

"No it woke me up in the middle of the night!"

We chatted about the different variables that might be contributory factors to the knee pain and Dr. Lizzie got to work to help release my body's natural capacity to heal. 

We talked about the pandemic and the latest uptick in cases expressing relief so many people we know have been vaccinated and that she kept the pandemic protocol for her office.

When I turned over, a thought bolted through me like lightning.

"Oh my God," I said to Dr. Lizzie. "Look I have goosebumps."

I could feel the phantom pain from polio and trauma coming into my awareness. 

While the vaccine's side effects may have set the joint pain in motion and while the continued joint pain is a sign that my body continues to build antibodies, the recent uptick in cases have turned joy and celebration to caution and conflict has been a trigger to my past.

But what a wondrous opportunity to heal wounds on a deeper level. It's also a time of opportunity for vulnerability, honesty and having difficult conversations around vaccinations and making choices. We talked about being able to unapologetically turn down an invitation if we did not feel comfortable going to a particular event in light of the recent uptick in cases.

I felt wonderful at session's end knowing that out of the crisis of the joint pain, I have a tremendous opportunity to heal on a deeper level mind, body and soul and to have Dr. Lizzie hold that sacred space for me to share whatever is in my heart that affects being able to feel comfortable in my own skin.

"Would you like to buy another package?" Dr. Lizzie asked me as the package I had bought on March 12th, 2020 was finally used up.

She brought out the paperwork.

"Tom and I were talking about this the other night and we do save a lot of money with the package..." My voice trailed off as I got choked up remembering what happened after I bought the last package of 10 sessions. Something that I did countless times without even thinking throughout the past 4 years was now laden with overwhelming emotion.

"You can pay one at a time. You can buy a package of 5. You know that I'd never let it expire with the current conditions. Just tell me what you are most comfortable with."

I was taken aback with my reaction to buying the package. I know that Dr. Lizzie has the utmost professional integrity. As she reopened her office I communicated with her via email asking when the package we purchased in March would expire. She told me that she did not want us coming into Boston if we were not comfortable. She only asked that we kept her updated of when we thought we might return for treatments. As vaccinations increased and infection rates declined, Tom and I set up our appointments. 

As we signed off on the paperwork, Dr. Lizzie said "If you get home and are not comfortable with the purchase, I will give you a full refund and you can pay as you go."

I took a deep breath realizing that it is not March 12th 2020 and we are moving forward in ending the pandemic. Meanwhile, in the midst of this crisis there is opportunity for healing, hope and possibilities and experiencing a new way of being in the world vulnerable, tender, compassionate and kind with ourselves and others. 

Vulnerability

Sharing tears and fears
tearing off veil
revealing true self
fullness of human experience
embraced by unconditional love
acceptance

Courage unbridled by COVID
urgency and hunger
true connection
nowhere and no need to hide

Hard conversations
truth telling
beauty in raw emotions
holding sacred space for each other
tenderness
compassion and kindness prevail 

Undam emotions
flooding heart with love
transforming damnation
forgiveness and gratitude
releasing decades of pent up pain
emerging from shadows of former self

Crisis an opportunity
excitement
exploring
bathing wounds
feel the heal

A brave new world
riding waves
only certainty in uncertainty
lighting the way
companions exploring
emerging
transforming
healing path
paved with Divine Love.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

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 listen to my recent conversation with Liz Brunner, award winning journalist, now CEO of Brunner Communications on her podcast Live Your Best Life. I share how I live my best life despite the challenges that I faced at an early age.

For all of my recent appearances, be sure to visit my News and Events tab on my website.

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

Friday, July 23, 2021

Perspective

 

It can be very easy to feel discouraged by the latest news about "break through" cases of COVID in vaccinated persons and an overall uptick in cases for unvaccinated persons. Uncertainty of the trajectory of the pandemic once again brings great concern to public health officials and to the general population. The only thing I can control is what choices I make about the risks I choose to take when going out and choosing my perspective. My family and I made the choice to get vaccinated.

We are now choosing to wear a mask indoors. 

I absolutely loved this editorial from CNN written by Comilla Sasson, MD, Ph.D. She compared navigating COVID to being on an airplane. 

When we get to cruising altitude, the seatbelt light turns off and we can now move freely aboard the aircraft. But sometimes we hit turbulence. When the pilot comes on the speakers and says, "time to get back in your seats and put your seat belt on," we (most of us at least), find our seats, put on our seatbelts, and brace ourselves for a rocky ride. 
 
When we put our seatbelts on, do we ask ourselves, why didn't the pilots, flight attendants or air control predict this? Do we question the credibility, reliability, or intentions of our flight crew? Nope. We understand that things can change quickly, and we must adjust to the conditions. There is a reason for what we are doing.
 
She goes on to say,

Well, Covid-19 is the biggest, scariest pandemic plane ride, and the entire world is currently on it together. When we go into lockdowns, restrict travel, and mandate masks and other prevention strategies, health care and public health officials, along with government workers, make these decisions, based on the data they have, with conditions changing quickly, in order to keep the public safe. 
 
Vaccines came out and are ridiculously effective in preventing people from becoming hospitalized as a result of Covid-19. We had hit that beautiful cruising altitude in our pandemic plane ride, where we could all take a breath, literally and figuratively, and take off our masks, see family & friends again, and reopen businesses and schools. 
 
But the vaccines are not a silver bullet. We can still get Covid-19. But the chances are dramatically lower that we will get Covid-19 if we are vaccinated, and even if we do, it will be a mild case that does not require hospitalization. What we didn't and couldn't predict, is how quickly Covid-19 itself changes, how much of the world remains unvaccinated, and that this novel coronavirus, which no one had heard of or had to treat just 24 months ago, would cause these crazy, unpredictable, turbulent conditions. 
 
Tom and I ran in a torrential downpour last week. Our perspective kept us moving mile after mile until we hit the 5K mark which was our goal. It was relatively warm outside. Soon there would be snow and ice so we wanted to enjoy being outdoors without layers upon layers of clothing. We are healthy and enjoy our time together unplugged. When Ruth Anne and I were in the middle of a run and it started to drizzle, we had perspective that at least it was not the torrential downpour on our previous run.

After last year's experience, we have a very different perspective on this year's uptick in COVID cases. There is hope with the vaccine and knowledge that with masking, vaccination, social distancing and good hygiene as well as investing in our individual health and well-being, we can and will end the pandemic. We flattened the curve and we can do it again!
 
A new language emerged last year that included phrases such as mask up, social distancing, fully vaxed, lock down, quarantine, Phased Reopenings and supply chain shortages. As we emerge from the pandemic, I see phrases such as Post-Pan (We Hope) and Quasi-Pandemic. A year ago, those phrases were not even on our radar. There is no State of Emergency splashed at the top of every page across our home-delivered Boston Globe.

That space on our bookcase for masks just in case is now once again filled with masks and are part of our regular laundry. 

The risk of contracting COVID as a fully vaccinated family is extremely low and we are keeping that risk low by re-instituting wearing masks and being mindful of what social activities we plan to be a part of.

Last year we had to wear masks all the time and the risk of contracting COVID was quite high limiting our choices of what we could do and where we could go.

Is it disheartening that officials declared the pandemic over and we were set free to live our lives only to see the metrics moving in a direction indicating that the pandemic is not yet over?

Of course but I prefer to keep everything in perspective living with an attitude of gratitude and seeing how far we've come from where we were last year at this time.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

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 listen to my recent conversation with Liz Brunner, award winning journalist, now CEO of Brunner Communications on her podcast Live Your Best Life. I share how I live my best life despite the challenges that I faced at an early age.

For all of my recent appearances, be sure to visit my News and Events tab on my website.

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


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Undeterred by Detours

 



I've recently encountered a lot of detours on my runs and on the roads. I was on a run around the Reservoir when a detour sign appeared. I turned to Ruth Anne, my running partner and said, "Well what shall we do?"

We came up with a plan to go into a familiar path under a canopy of trees. We would go to the halfway  mark of our 5K and return the same way we ran to get to the halfway point.

It started to rain; nothing like the downpour Tom and I experienced last week but a steady rain. The canopy of leaves caught the rain keeping us relatively dry. When we emerged from our detour, the rain stopped.

Ever since the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome in December of 2006, I have learned to find joy in the journey and embrace the detours. 

The detour of Post-Polio Syndrome led me to the most glorious destination of becoming a 2009 Boston Marathon finisher, motivational speaker, author, poet and one who shares a profound message of healing, hope and possibilities. 

The 2020 pandemic was a mother lode of all detours. We were extremely blessed to maintain our health and well-being through it all. We thought that after we were all vaccinated we could resume activities and see friends without any trepidation.

We are extremely fortunate in Massachusetts to have a high vaccination rate and a relatively low infection rate but the vaccination rate has dramatically slowed and there is an "uptick" in cases that is of concern to public health officials.

I focus on accentuating the positive, releasing fears and trusting in the Divine believing in my health and well-being and in the health and well-being of my loved ones. When I meditate, I send out well-being to all Beings.  I know the power of the mind/body connection and harness it to boost my immune system and continue to heal my life from the once devastating effects of paralytic polio and trauma.

This new "uptick" in cases in Massachusetts and around the country have given our family and me pause. The news that came out of the CDC that if you are fully vaccinated, you can go about your lives with ease and no masks was a cause for celebration. But given what's happening, one wonders if they may have moved forward too quickly with their advice. I know they were basing it on available data. They used it as a motivator to encourage people to get vaccinated based on the data at that time. We were not about to book a trip that would require traveling by air but we did book a trip to New York City. The words of Lin Manuel-Miranda on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon are now echoing once more. As Jimmy Fallon and he were talking about the excitement of Broadway’s reopening,  he said“And it’s all depending, right? It depends on how safe people feel returning to the theater and people continuing to get vaccinated…”

Tomorrow is the Voices of Hope Boston 11th Annual Barbara Byrd Memorial Golf Tournament. We were all set to go but with the uptick in cases, Ruth Anne expressed a lot of anxiety about being around a large group of people whose vaccination status was unknown and eating indoors for the luncheon. We presume that the majority of people would be fully vaccinated and everyone will be fine but it wasn't a risk we were comfortable taking at this time. The breakthrough cases among fully vaccinated people is unsettling.

We know about the power of belief and trust in the efficacy of the vaccines we received. Our concerns lie with people who are unvaccinated and the risk of breakthrough infection which is what happened to me during the last polio epidemic. Even if that were to happen we know we would be fine but why take the risk right now? We have returned to hand washing and masks indoors and making choices based on our tolerance for risk, weighing the benefits versus risk of our choices.

We are taking life day by day which is truly the only way to be. We are aware that life can and does change on a dime.

We'll continue to enjoy life with an attitude of gratitude undeterred by any detours that may come our way. The beautiful destination we arrive at is the gift of the present moment where we have everything we could possibly need and more. 

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

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 listen to my recent conversation with Liz Brunner, award winning journalist, now CEO of Brunner Communications on her podcast Live Your Best Life. I share how I live my best life despite the challenges that I faced at an early age.

For all of my recent appearances, be sure to visit my News and Events tab on my website.

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



Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Seventeen Months Later - Worth the Wait!

 

We met through running and, as so often happens in the running community, became sole sisters. I am an honorary member of the Merrimack Valley Striders of which she has been a member for many years and one evening was going to the meeting as a guest speaker. Kelly had a minor medical procedure earlier in the day and couldn't stay for the meeting but met me in the parking lot so we could meet "IRL" or in real life for the first time. I gave her a copy of Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility.

We remained close friends in person and in social media. We supported each other through different challenges and celebrated joys and triumphs in our lives and in our children's lives.

On February 12, 2020, we met at Legal Seafood in Chestnut Hill for lunch. Fortunately, Kelly doesn't mind the drive into Boston from where she lives just north of Boston. We had a delicious leisurely lunch that nourished us both mind, body and soul. Kelly had a very busy work schedule but decided it was vital to take time out to care of herself and to meet with friends. In August of 2019 we finally put the pieces of the puzzle together for what was happening with my daughter Ruth Anne and I was emerging from the caregiver role able to meet friends for lunch again.

"I'm paying this time," Kelly said and added "you'll pay next time."

We agreed to schedule monthly lunch dates because life is just too short!

Our date for March came and went as we feverishly messaged each other on Facebook. I kept rescheduling our reservation on Open  Table until everything went into lock down. We frequently messaged each other through FB messenger checking in to see how we were weathering the pandemic and looking ahead to May to reschedule our luncheon. 

Well we all know how that went and so we kept doing virtual hugs and imagining how incredible it would be to be together in person again.

Kelly was vaccinated in January because she works in health care. She told me that as soon as I was vaccinated we could meet for lunch. 'Anytime you're ready,' she kept reminding me.

As I struggled with whether or not get the vaccine, all I could think about was getting together for lunch with Kelly again and being able to experience life to the fullest.

Seventeen months later we had our reunion in the parking lot at the Cheesecake Factory in Chestnut Hill experiencing one of the longest and tightest hugs I can remember in a very long time.

I made a reservation to eat outside but as we walked into the restaurant, we saw that the tables and booths were covered after the morning rain. There was a big sign that the restaurant had put in a new air filtration system, asked unvaccinated patrons to wear masks and all staff wore masks. We looked at one another and agreed we would be fine.

I know there have been a lot of complaints in the news about service at restaurants but the staff at the Cheesecake Factory were genuinely happy to be there. Our waitress' eyes smiled with delight as we explained to her we were sorry we took so long to order because this was our reunion lunch.

I scanned the restaurant to see that we were in the first booth and the booths across the aisle were socially distanced from us. I quickly let my fear dissolve as Kelly and I became engrossed in conversation.

Whenever we get together, no matter how much time has passed, I am in awe of how much we have in common and how in sync we are with our world view. It's so incredible to meet in person and get the stories behind the stories that stream on social media.

We genuinely love and care about each other and listen to each other with rapt interest. It's incredibly special to be able to share whatever is deep in your heart with another who greets it with total love and compassion.

It was my first time eating indoors at a restaurant since the pandemic and I'm so blessed and grateful I got to share the experience with Kelly. There is news about uptick in cases around Massachusetts, hot beds of cases around the country and the globe but I know how the immune system gets a boost whenever love flows. 

Two and half hours later the waitress brought our check. I wasn't fast enough to grab it from Kelly.

"Come on," I said. "The last time we had lunch you treated and said I could get it next time. This is next time."

"Well I lied," she said and we both laughed.

"You'll get it next time," she said.

"Noooo don't say that. COVID could come back."

"Oh stop it" she said with love and laughter.

It did speak to the lingering anxiety from what transpired since we last had lunch together.

We took out our phones and scheduled our next lunch date in a month. 

We had the longest goodbye in the parking lot hugging each other, letting each other know how much we love each other and hugging each other as though it could be the last time. Of course it won't be and as soon as I got home I made a follow up reservation for August.

Seventeen months later was a long time to not be able to chat or hug in person but those two and a half plus hours sharing lunch, laughter, tears and hugs was well worth the wait and getting those shots in the arm.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

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 listen to my recent conversation with Liz Brunner, award winning journalist, now CEO of Brunner Communications on her podcast Live Your Best Life. I share how I live my best life despite the challenges that I faced at an early age.

For all of my recent appearances, be sure to visit my News and Events tab on my website.

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




Friday, July 16, 2021

Unity

 

The above photo is from our morning run earlier in the week. We received a lot of comments on our Facebook post including "not ducks in a row but swans," "beautiful",  and "awesome photo."

Last night, Bernie Siegel commented, "no competition unity."

I replied, "yes  nature is so amazing . I just felt my heart and soul settle with your comment."

As I fell asleep last night, I reflected on the serenity of this moment and when I finished my morning meditation, wrote this poem:

Unity

Elegant
epitome of grace
swans serenely swimming
Instincts guide
poised and peaceful
a chorus line orchestrated by Divine
for heart and soul’s delight.
Powerful moment
movement as One
how we all can be
Being in harmony
rhythm of nature
flowing
growing
reflecting true essence
borne from God
breeding a new world order.

When we look to nature we discover our true nature. As Bernie was quick to point out, there was no competition among the swans. 

I am taken back to when vaccines first became available and everyone was in competition with everyone else to get their shot. Ironically, now, there is more than enough supply but not enough people eager to get vaccinated. 

May we all be in the rhythm and flow of life in unity heading in the same direction with grace and serenity.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

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 listen to my recent conversation with Liz Brunner, award winning journalist, now CEO of Brunner Communications on her podcast Live Your Best Life. I share how I live my best life despite the challenges that I faced at an early age.

For all of my recent appearances, be sure to visit my News and Events tab on my website.

My books to inspire and uplift you are available on Amazon

Thursday, July 15, 2021

JOMO and the Sweet Spot of Contentment

 

With all that has transpired these past 16 months, finding that sweet spot of contentment with a feeling of inner peace has been a gift; the total grace. We basked in the glow of the setting sun while dining al fresco in our yard. We took walks and discovered new running routes in our neighborhood. We had many moments of contentment being at home, playing board games and brain games, and doing jigsaw puzzles. We delighted in finding new recipes and had many hearty laughs when a recipe did not quite turn out as we had anticipated. We felt blessed and grateful that Tom was able to work from home and Ruth Anne's classes were on line to keep us safe in our bubble. 

We had to adapt to wearing masks, doing only take out, not being able to swim, travel or hang out at the beaches last summer. We tested our mettle running outdoors as long as it was safe and learned how to challenge ourselves despite not having any races. A regular meditation practice focused on peace, ease, acceptance and experiencing comfort within the discomfort. As runners and runners who have run the Boston Marathon, we were able to get through those tough miles.

Emerging from the pandemic, we are faced with making choices about what events to attend. Events that ordinarily we would not give a second thought to now give us pause, especially with an uptick in cases among the unvaccinated due to the Delta variant. Going to my husband's family house for a pool party to celebrate the graduation of the cousin who my twins grew up with would have been a pre-covid no brainer. As I saw the invitation on my refrigerator, I began experiencing a sense of unease about attending the party. Tom, Ruth Anne and I sat down to talk about it.

We received an invitation from one of Ruth Anne's friends for a "See and Sip" to celebrate the birth of her friend's son. They live in California but are returning to her friend's house so that the friends she grew up with can celebrate the baby's birth. On the invitation it states, "Kindly be fully vaccinated if you plan to attend."

My husband's cousin's family has children who are not yet of age to receive the vaccination. We have no way of knowing the vaccination status of the graduate's friends. When the pandemic first hit, my husband's cousin who is the grandmother of the graduate, had posts on her wall about conflicts over masks in her apartment building. We have incredible memories of many holidays spent with my husband's family and during the pandemic reached out to reconnect with them. It's great to share in each other's lives on Facebook but as we talked, we realize a big party is not going to serve us well right now even though we are fully vaccinated. I contracted polio in one of the last polio epidemics at the age of 5. I was fully vaccinated but after playing with my friend, whose mother was not vaccinated, I contracted paralytic polio. In today's lingo, they call it a rare break through case. I believe in living in love and light and not living in fear but I do respect this virus and its variants and want to put myself in situations that will promote health and well-being.

It's easy to have FOMO - a fear of missing out on an afternoon of swimming, eating and reminiscing but recently I saw this:

We could have made up a reason as to why we were not going to attend like Tom had to be on call or his back was bothering him and we couldn't make the trip but we all felt it was important to be truth tellers. We put a graduation card and check in the mail and sent our warmest regards and best wishes.

We will go to the "See and Sip" and also to the 11th Annual Barbara Byrd Memorial Golf Classic to support Voices of Hope Boston that donates all of the funds they raise for cancer research at Mass. General Hospital. It will be a mostly outdoor event where everyone will be fully vaccinated and protocols will be strictly followed to ensure a safe, joyful and successful event. 

We experienced a lot of angst earlier this week. We realized it was the combination of Tom's return to the office one day a week beginning NOW and the conflict we experienced around Saturday's family event. I'm sure the seemingly never ending days of rain did not help.

After a lot of meditation and discussion, we were able to settle down and once again find that sweet spot of contentment which is perfect as we get ready to head into the weekend with the summer's early dismissal on Fridays at 3pm.

Whenever we find ourselves veering off course, we know we can take a breath and trust that we will always return to that sweet spot of contentment and gratitude.

Contentment

When turmoil of world roils
thoughts boiling over
confinement
why
whining
wishing
wanting

STOP

gratitude unlocks door
opens heart
deep breath
transforms complaining

Look around
notes to self
simple pleasures
quiet evening at home
sumptuous summer fruit
sweet fragrance after the rain
reunion hugs
taste of first snowflakes
icicles like diamonds on trees
splendor of autumn leaves.

Piece by piece
weaving together
tapestry of peace and contentment.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

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 listen to my recent conversation with Liz Brunner, award winning journalist, now CEO of Brunner Communications on her podcast Live Your Best Life. I share how I live my best life despite the challenges that I faced at an early age.

For all of my recent appearances, be sure to visit my News and Events tab on my website.

My books to inspire and uplift you are available on Amazon




Tuesday, July 13, 2021

To Run or Not To Run???

 

July is looking to be a record-breaker for rain this year. As sweltering heat, fires and drought plague the West Coast, Boston is on record to be the wettest July since 1872. In the first 12 days, July is the third wettest July ever from 1872 til now. I give thanks every day that we have an Administration addressing the crisis of climate change partnering with the global stage to heal Mother Earth and fiercely working to end the pandemic.

Before COVID, we would have been spending more hours in the gym rationalizing that a swim, treadmill or elliptical workout could be traded for a running day. As we emerge from the pandemic, we have not renewed a gym membership. I woke up at 4:30am {with a little help from our beloved cat Jamie jumping on me asking read that as demanding to be fed} as the rain pelted our window panes. I focused my intention on the rain easing up enough for us to get in our run. I fell back to sleep until 6:45am when the alarm went off.

Still pouring...

It was a rest day for Ruth Anne so the decision was up to Tom and me about whether or not we would get out the door for a run. At least it wasn't cold as it was on Memorial Day Weekend. We had done strength training on Sunday so we could not do another strength training session. I could not bear the thought of heading to the basement for a treadmill run in summer. 

We donned lightweight layers, a water belt to protect our phones and to hydrate, and off we went!

We smiled and laughed embracing the elements. We weren't sure if the Reservoir would be flooded but once we got there it looked like we could run around the path. By the time we got to our halfway mark, the puddles on the other side of the Reservoir were impossible to wade through. We reversed course to finish our 5K.



 

"Feet soaking wet - check." Tom commented at one point.

"Ooh I'm not there yet," I said but a short time later, my shoes and socks reached their saturation point.

Although we have had many runs in the rain throughout our running career, neither one of us could remember running in a steady torrential downpour as we experienced yesterday. We fondly recalled a long run training for the Bermuda Half Marathon one year but the rain would ease up at times. The sun even came out at the end of that training run.

"I can't believe we're doing this," I said to Tom as we were on the back end of our 5K."


"I don't know many almost 70 year olds who would be out here splashing in the puddles and slogging through a 5K at 7 in the morning before breakfast."

"This is what keeps us young at heart!"

Ruth Anne greeted us with her raincoat on  as we came into the yard. She had breakfast ready for us.

On the run we strategized that we would peel off our outer layers and toss them into a trash bag, get changed upstairs and throw everything into the wash. I was in shock at how much our wet clothes weighed. "Hey that was like running in a weighted vest," I quipped.

I felt cleansed mind, body and soul inside and out. As one who has endured and overcome childhood paralytic polio and trauma, I felt deep gratitude for every rain soaked footstep!

Experiences take on richer and deeper meaning as we emerge from the pandemic. Feeling connected to nature and the Divine has taken on a sense of urgency. I couldn't bear to be confined to a treadmill when it was safe to run outside. There was a welcomed sense of unbridled freedom during the run and a feeling of being able to conquer any challenges that may come our way.

The run also inspired this poem:

Believe

Rain pounding window pane
believe
be grateful
grace is raining down.
When faith reigns
all is well
delight in puddle play
forever young.
Fret not
flood of emotions
flowing
all storms pass.
Rainwater cleanses
clearing confusion
heart beats with eager anticipation
smile of inner knowing
sun shines again.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

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 listen to my recent conversation with Liz Brunner, award winning journalist, now CEO of Brunner Communications on her podcast Live Your Best Life. I share how I live my best life despite the challenges that I faced at an early age.

For all of my recent appearances, be sure to visit my News and Events tab on my website.

My books to inspire and uplift you are available on Amazon


Monday, July 12, 2021

When The Pace Picks Up...

Last week events happened that left me feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. Summer is usually a time to kick back and savor a slower pace. Of course we didn't quite anticipate that last summer our pace would be slowed to a crawl but pandemic life forced us to slow down, notice things we might have allowed to rush by us and feel immensely grateful for health and simple pleasures.

The pace of life has picked up this summer with plans to return to in person work and school, signing up for races again and the once empty spaces surrounding magnets on our refrigerator are now filled with event invitations.

I am thrilled that we don't need masks in most settings, can safely socialize and life has resumed with activities we enjoy but it seems as though the pace has quickened beyond what I have become accustomed to during these past 16 months.

One of the ways that I manage feeling overwhelmed and frustrated is to push my pace on a run. Saturday, Ruth Anne and Tom paced me on our Jamaica Plain run. It wasn't planned. It evolved from the inside as my annoyance about last week's events needed to be released. 

Despite picking up the pace on our run, we made sure to pause savor the beauty around us. 





 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the end of the run my mood was lifted and I enjoyed that feeling of being spent after a good run. We haven't been racing for the past 16 months {and I am still undecided about whether or not I am going to return to racing again}. There is a special feeling when you push yourself and pass people ahead of you and sweat pours even after finishing the run. 

The stillness of the water helped my heart and soul to settle and the endorphins enabled my parasympathetic nervous system to kick in.

When the pace picks up and the world seems to be resuming its pre-pandemic frenzy, I can pause, breathe and get my bearings. There's no need for me to get swept along in the current. 

I enjoy being my only competition these days. Initially, I missed our annual races complete with what we affectionately called "race-cations". I missed hugging friends and gathering with members of our L Street Running Club. I missed challenging myself going for PR's and the thrill of Facebook feedback when I conquered the clock at a race.

As we emerge from the pandemic, everyone should find their own pace just as we do when we toe the starting line of a race. There are no judgments for what choices people make and what suits them mind, body and soul. I do want to cherish the soul lessons we've learned and preserve some of the habits we developed during the pandemic. Some may choose to go out fast when the gun goes off and stay out in front resuming pre-pandemic activities at a pre-pandemic pace. Others may hang in the middle of the pack keeping a steady pace finding their way along the course. And still others, like me, will be at the back of the pack finding my way into a new rhythm of life emerging from the pandemic remembering that life is a marathon, not a sprint and to pace myself accordingly. 

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

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 listen to my recent conversation with Liz Brunner, award winning journalist, now CEO of Brunner Communications on her podcast Live Your Best Life. I share how I live my best life despite the challenges that I faced at an early age.

For all of my recent appearances, be sure to visit my News and Events tab on my website.

My books to inspire and uplift you are available on Amazon

Saturday, July 10, 2021

March 12, 2020


 "Yes that's your 10th session in the package that you bought on March 12 of 2020," Dr. Lizzie Sobel, my chiropractor said after my treatment on Wednesday. 

We both shared an awkward laugh as we remembered that moment. I shared with her how there was a piece on Sunday Morning with Stephen Colbert's return to being live on stage. He shared his "calendar" which had every day as March 12th!

"I remember you telling me that you would buy the package for 10 sessions and had everything scheduled out until my maternity leave would begin in July."

"Little did we know what would happen next," I said.

"I remember saying to you that even if things did shut down it would be two weeks at most. Ha. What did I know?"

"What did any of us know?" I asked with love and compassion. "The next day was the last time my daughter saw her Occupational Therapist in person at Spaulding."

"Oh that's right!" Dr. Lizzie replied.

We went on to chat for a few minutes about that moment frozen in time when the world seemed to stop spinning and we faced moments that we had no idea at first how we were going to meet them.

Tom worked mostly remotely and went into the office one or two days a week. BC Administrators tried to figure out what was going to be best to maintain the critical functions of the IT Department while being responsible in preventing the spread of COVID.

They tried different schedules of weeks on and weeks off until one of their co-workers returned from a trip infected with COVID after Christmas vacation. Tom has not been back in the office since the beginning of the year.

At the beginning of my treatment, Dr. Lizzie asked me, as she always does, how I am feeling in my body. I told her my chest and back felt tight.

Tears fell and were caught in my mask. "Tom has to go back into the office next week," I choked out. "I'm sorry," I said.

"Don't you ever apologize for your feelings in here," Dr. Lizzie reassured me.

I took a deep breath and got onto the treatment table.

"I am so grateful he has a job to go to but he's been at home for so long. We've gotten into a certain routine and we have appointments needed for self-care all scheduled."

"You know it's quite all right to feel upset and feel grateful at the same time as we've discussed many times before." 

As we untangle from the lives we created in response to March 12, 2020 there are a myriad of emotions coming to the surface but we are strong and resilient and will find our way.

Tom begins back to the office next week for one day a week and then at the end of August he will return for 3 days a week preserving the day that Ruth Anne has class in the evening on Tuesday and our self-care appointment day on Wednesdays.  

While all students, faculty and staff must be vaccinated by August 13th at Boston College, there is a hint of anxiety as people will be indoors together unmasked and as our family unit goes outside of our bubble.

It's exciting to have the magnets on our refrigerator holding invitations to family and friend events this summer and we must maintain confidence in the vaccines releasing the fear that gripped us all on March 12, 2020.

We are able to go for regular appointments to get our hair cut, regular appointments for chiropractic care, Ruth Anne is going to have a few booster in person Occupational Therapy sessions as she takes on her Masters Degree and working part-time and what a thrill to record a podcast in person a few weeks ago with Liz Brunner.

Time stood still on March 12, 2020 and we made it through that unprecedented time in American History. As we heal from the trauma, we will have reminders of that day and the 16 months that followed remembering and sharing as a way to heal and move forward in our lives.

March 12, 2020

Something is coming hearts pounded with fear
conflicting views for how tragedy was near.
Noise in the background the news filled with gloom
unable to comprehend scope of impending doom.

It will all be over and will pass with great speed
to the fear mongers we were told, don't pay any heed.
Yet the gnawing the knots would not go away
time to shelter in place for many a day.

Days, months and a year and seasons now passed
transformed by pandemic time went slowly yet sped by so fast.
Tears and laughter and hugs as new new normal comes into view
hard to fathom believe all the stress we went through.

Emerging we celebrate gratitude overflows from the heart
may soul lessons learned not soon now depart.
March 12th twenty twenty our vision now clear
life and loved ones so precious we hold all so dear.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

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 listen to my recent conversation with Liz Brunner, award winning journalist, now CEO of Brunner Communications on her podcast Live Your Best Life. I share how I live my best life despite the challenges that I faced at an early age.

For all of my recent appearances, be sure to visit my News and Events tab on my website.

My books to inspire and uplift you are available on Amazon

 



Wednesday, July 7, 2021

The Rainbow Connection

With sweltering summer heat, we've experienced intense thunderstorms this past week in New England. After the first set of storms moved through, I looked to the skies to see if we could find a rainbow. We were treated to the beautiful light of the setting sun and the sweet scent of summer air after the rain but no rainbow:


 


The next day we had more thunderstorms. Would we see a rainbow?

It was still raining as the sun came out. I peered out the living room window and the vague colors of the rainbow slowly emerged against the backdrop of grey sky. I shouted to Ruth Anne to come quickly. There was going to be a rainbow.

We grabbed our iPhones and snapped pictures:














When I went to upload the photos, I saw that Tom had been stopped at a light on his way to Trader Joe's and sent me these photos:












The Facebook news feed was filled with photos of rainbows.

It was as though the Universe was sending us a sign of the impending end of the pandemic. It was a very Noah's Ark kind of moment; a powerful sign of Divine Love and a reminder to keep the faith especially through the storms.

Were it not for the powerful storms and darkness, how could we experience rainbows? And how could we possibly experience the heart opening profound sense of grace and gratitude when we make the rainbow connection.

The Rainbow Connection 

 

Do you still feel the thrill

after a thunderstorm

wind dies down

sun shines while rain pours

look up

faded colors transform

vibrancy emerges out of the ethers

suddenly it appears

covenant of Divine Love. 

 

A stirring in my soul

childlike delight

a blessing

standing in pouring rain

baptized

capturing its image

before it fades

leaves lasting imprint

on my heart and soul 

 

I found it

the rainbow connection

tethering me to infinite beauty

of Divine love and light! 

 

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

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 listen to my recent conversation with Liz Brunner, award winning journalist, now CEO of Brunner Communications on her podcast Live Your Best Life. I share how I live my best life despite the challenges that I faced at an early age.

For all of my recent appearances, be sure to visit my News and Events tab on my website.

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

 

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

How Far We've Come!

 


As "Hail to the Chief" played, President Joseph R. Biden Jr. walked on the red carpet with a spring in his 78 year old step to deliver his Fourth of July remarks at the White House BBQ with essential workers and military families. He reminded us that we are declaring our independence from a deadly virus. Invited guests stood against a backdrop of red, white and blue balloons in the trees on the White House Lawn.

Looking back to 1776, he was quick to point out that our country was fashioned our of the power of an idea and now we have the power of science. As he celebrated America and, that we the people are back together again, the patriotic thing one can do is to vaccinate yourself for your loved ones, community and country. He reminded us that we never want to be where we were a year ago today. He celebrated how the virus no longer controls our lives or paralyzes our nation and it is now within our power to make sure it never does that again. He was quick to point out that putting the pandemic behind us and resurrecting the economy has been one of the most remarkable achievements in American history but in the midst of joy we know the heartache of loss that so many have endured from the virus and from other tragedies during this past year. 

It was such an inspiring way to kick off our July 4th Celebration. We had our traditional BBQ Chicken, grilled potatoes and salad. Over dinner, we reflected on where we were a year ago and how far we have come in our own lives, and as a country. Our daughter Ruth Anne was quick to point out that a year ago we didn't even know if "the other guy" was going to serve a 2nd term. The streets were silence. We wore masks wherever we went and while we focused on gratitude, love, performing acts of kindness and compassion, there was a constant hum of fear, anxiety and uncertainty. There were no Fourth of July celebrations and we all did the best we could to get through that time of darkness.

The last time we saw fireworks was on January 20, 2021 at the Inauguration of President Biden. We were overcome with emotion then, and this Fourth of July we were overcome with emotion as we watched "A Capital Fourth" and The Boston Pops live concert from Tanglewood.

Keith Lockhart was overcome with emotion as he welcomed the audience and thanked them for being there. Sixteen months after no performances, he shared the emotions we all have come to know; the mixture of relief, joy and grief for what we had to endure.

There was no live audience for "A Capital Fourth" but Vanessa Williams and 'surprise host' Kermit the Frog introduced the musicians and were later joined by Christopher Jackson for a live performance to cap off the concert before a 25 minute fireworks display over Washington.

Macy's fireworks lit up the New York City skyline 


 Crowds gathered on Boston Common to witness a fireworks display as the Pops played the traditional 1812 Overture in Tanglewood. 

It was a stunning Fourth of July celebration with the theme America is Back Together Again. The themes of unity, freedom, justice and all the principles of our Founding Fathers rang out across the land in song and celebration.

When we look back on a year ago when we were held captive by a virus and our President, we realize how incredibly far we've come. As President Biden said, it is a time of hope, promise and possibility.

May we all find the strength, resilience and resolve to go the distance and uphold the values upon which our country has been built.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

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 listen to my recent conversation with Liz Brunner, award winning journalist, now CEO of Brunner Communications on her podcast Live Your Best Life. I share how I live my best life despite the challenges that I faced at an early age.

For all of my recent appearances, be sure to visit my News and Events tab on my website.

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





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...