Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Chasing Butterflies

 

 

On Monday's run with Tom, a monarch butterfly circled around us. We delighted in its beauty and felt blessed by its presence. We watched to see if it would light somewhere so we could take a picture of it but it kept freely flying. Tom chased after it and was able to capture it in flight:

In February of 2020, I was the guest speaker at the pre-race Pasta Dinner at the Hyannis Marathon Weekend. I was blessed to share the stage with Bill Rodgers.

He compared our experiences during childhood. While he chased butterflies experiencing the unbridled freedom of running, I worked to recover from having contracted childhood paralytic polio and then endured years of abuse at the hands of family members. Bill asked me how I was able to not be angry and bitter.

"I'd of been pretty pissed off if that would have happened to me," he said.

I shared how forgiveness and gratitude have been the lynch pins in my healing journey. After the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome, one would have thought that my life as I had known it was coming to an end. And it was! I took a leap of faith leaving behind my award winning career as a VA social worker just 3 years shy of retirement age. I started a regular practice of gratitude and wrote letters of forgiveness to my parents and grandmother. I went into a cocoon of healing harnessing the power of the mind/body connection to heal my life. What a magnificent woman emerged and continues to emerge from the cocoon crossing the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon after 7 hours and 49 minutes. I came from a messy family and my journey of transformation, like the butterfly's journey, was uncertain. But, like the butterfly, the moment I thought my life was over, I emerged into a new state of Being as a runner, poet, author, inspirational speaker and one whose been blessed to touch the lives of so many with my Spirit and my beauty.

Hyannis Marathon Weekend was our last major event before the pandemic. In many ways we have been in a cocoon, now trying out our new wings transformed by the events of the past 18 months. I have learned that freedom is a state of mind and being. Although cases may be on the rise, masks are the order of the day indoors and there's a plan for booster shots, I can fly freely through life taking time to appreciate the beauty and splendor that is all around me. 

I love the quote, "If nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies."

The leaves are changing on the trees and there is a chill in the air as our once never ending summer yields to a new season. We continue to see butterflies in our yard and on our runs reminding us that life is always changing, that without change we would not transform and evolve becoming the beautiful Beings we are all meant to be and that the process of change can be messy and uncertain. When we hold fast to our faith and trust the journey, we can soar. 

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

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

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

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

 






Monday, September 27, 2021

Countdown to Boston: Magical Monday Marathon Memory

 

It feels surreal counting down to the Boston Marathon in October but here we are. I usually share my journey on the road to the 2009 Boston Marathon along with other Marathon moments in the weeks leading up to the marathon in April. I am inspired to capture the Spirit of the two weeks leading up to the Marathon with this story about a magical Marathon memory.

 I don't know why she chose us. Perhaps it was because we were wearing our Spaulding Rehab Find Your Strength T shirts. I don't know how many she had carefully and lovingly prepared to hand out to the spectators on Marathon Monday. If memory serves me, she held a small pile of them in her hand.

As we stood just before mile 23 on Beacon Street cheering runners on their way to the finish, she paused and said, "Here - this is for you."

 







It's handwritten and laminated and says, "Thanks for being a fan today! Maureen #23513." On the back she wrote, "You're the best! Boston 2014."


I was intrigued after I emptied my pockets when we came home after feeling thoroughly exhausted and exhilarated as spectators.  I was moved to check her results on the BAA website:

23513 Jones, Maureen 48 F Rochester MN USA
Official time 4:16:09

I have a BAA volunteer jacket and pin, a wristband from the 2013 Boston Marathon banners which we bought to support the One Fund, a 2014 Boston Marathon program, the Boston Marathon posters, pics and videos from Marathon weekend and from when we were support crew for training runs. There are so many memories and emotions that we have gathered since 4/15/13 of Boston 2014.

Yet this seemingly small laminated handwritten note from someone who traveled to Boston from Rochester, Minnesota to run the 2014 Boston Marathon is one of my most treasured souvenirs.

Maureen Jones took the time to hand write thank you notes, laminate them and pass them out to fans along the course.

She was thanking us for being there and for being Boston Strong. Our presence and energy was a symbol of resilience and courage for her which she acknowledged in this 4"x 1" handwritten note.

Maureen C Jones, PT is what came up when I googled Maureen Jones in Rochester, Minnesota. I called the clinic where she works. I was eager to hear the story behind this 4" x 1" laminated souvenir that I now hold as a treasure among my souvenirs for the Boston Marathon 2014. These are the marathon moments that last a lifetime.

I could feel her intention in the carefully and lovingly prepared message she handed to us. But I had no idea who she was, or the story behind this random act of kindness.

"I'll page her and she'll pick up," the operator at the Mayo Clinic told me after she responded to what I'm sure she thought was a rather odd inquiry: "Does Maureen Jones still work here and did she run the Boston Marathon this year?"

"Hello, this is Maureen."

"Hi Maureen. My name is Mary McManus. You handed us a thank you note at the Marathon. I looked up your Bib number, googled you and just had to find out the story behind your beautiful gesture."

We shared tears and laughter during our 30+ minute phone conversation. We felt like we had known each other all our lives.

Maureen was running the Boston Marathon in 2013. She knew she wasn't going to qualify but still kept up her pace. If she hadn't, she would have been crossing the finish line as the bombs went off. 

As she wrote to me in an email:
"When they evacuated the gear bus area where I was when the bombs went off, I wasn't sure what exactly was going on right away, but eventually I felt a whole host of emotions including guilt that my family and I were OK and others were killed or injured. I also wished I could have aided all of the fallen given my medical background, but they asked us to leave the area so I felt sadness and guilt that I couldn't help at the finish line. There were many post-traumatic emotions including: crying often, loss of sleep, fear of loud noises, fear of people with backpacks, images of the suspects...and the BAA kindly sent us several kind emails about these very issues we might all be having."


She ran 3 marathons in 10 weeks to get requalified for Boston. Even though she qualified, she missed the cutoff for entry by 20 seconds. She knew she had to find a way to run Boston. It's a part of her family's tradition and after the events of 4/15/13, she knew what running Boston 2014 would mean to her, to her family and to the City of Boston.

There was a contest she spied on Facebook by Powerbar and the BAA to write an essay for those who qualified for Boston but missed the cutoff when they applied for their bib number. Unfortunately she missed the deadline. She did however vote every day for her friend's essay.

She saw another post about the BAA asking for essays from runners (excerpted from 2014 Boston Marathon makes room for those affected by bombs)

"But organizers felt they might still be missing people, people who perhaps didn't think their trauma was worthy amid all the lost limbs and physical scars. So, in November, they announced that about 500 bibs would be available for those personally and profoundly impacted by the events of April 15, 2013."

In 500-word essays submitted over the website, 1,199 would-be runners made their case. Almost 600 had the connection the B.A.A. was looking for.

As Maureen told me:

"It was a 500 word and 1500 character limit essay. I used the theme of a roller coaster sharing my experiences and why I wanted to return to Boston to run. When I pushed send, it moved all of my centered unpunctuated lines with thoughts separated by a backslash up to fill in all of the spaces so it was a jumbled up mess on my screen with no chance to edit. It was in God 's hands."

On Thanksgiving, she went to Chicago to be with her family. They did a Turkey Trot in the morning and then she received the email from the BAA. She was afraid to open it thinking that it would be a repeat of what happened when she submitted her qualifying time. Instead she was told that she had been granted an invitational entry to the 2014 Boston Marathon.

At the Expo, her friend overheard someone talking about making cards to give to the fans thanking them for coming out to cheer them on. Maureen did not have her business cards with her which she could have used to write a note and hand them out to the fans.

Maureen told me there is a family tradition of playing cards to relax the night before the Marathon. She loves to play cards but Maureen opted to forego the card game and instead went into her brother's room to make thank you notes to hand out to the fans.

She made T-shirts for the members of her support crew to wear on Marathon Monday so she could spot them in the crowd. "We all run together." She had the names of Krystle, Lingzu, Martin and Sean on the T shirts. On race day, she wrote each of their names on the four fingers of her left hand and on her thumb a heart Boston. She would see their names every time she checked her watch.

Her brother brought mailing tape for them to use on their pace bracelet. She ripped pieces of computer paper and hand wrote her message on 8 pieces of paper. She didn't have scissors with her and went to the hotel lobby using the hotel's scissors to finish her notes. She carefully wrapped each one with mailing tape.

"I wish I could have made a million of them to thank each of the spectators for coming out." "Were you with children?

"No."

"Well I gave the last one to some guy holding a Meb Won sign. I had them in my pocket and I knew I was getting close to the finish line. I wanted to spread them out along the course."

"Oh my God - that was us. I thought you chose us because we were wearing Spaulding Rehab t shirts that said Find Your Strength."

"You were the only adults that I gave one to. I wanted to give something to the kids along the route who are there to hand out water and snacks to the runners. They weren't expecting anything back and so they dropped their notes on the ground. I'm hoping that their parents picked them up. You are the only one who contacted me. I left my bib number on it in case the people would want to find out if I finished and what my finish time was. But I don't remember your t shirts.

"It was a rough run for me with the heat and all. At mile 19, I saw a woman holding a sign that said, "Meb Won - Really!" I was so excited but there was no one who was excited with me. After I passed her I thought that I should have given her my last thank you note for making that sign."

"And then I saw the man with the Meb Won sign. Where were you again?"

"We were just before mile 23 on Beacon Street."

"I remember because I knew I was getting close."

We all got excited when Maureen saw our sign. She stopped, reached into her pocket and said "Here this is for you."

I now recall that Maureen had handed the note first to my husband and then he passed it along to me. We both looked at each other and thought wow that is really thoughtful. I put it in my pocket and didn't think much about it.

Maureen is a physical therapist who has worked at the Mayo Clinic for over 20 years. I shared with her my journey with post polio syndrome which she was familiar with through her work. I told her that if I could have, I would have run Boston for Spaulding this year but knew it wasn't right for my body. I embraced my role in #supportcrew and knew how important the spectators are to the runners especially in Boston. But receiving that 4" x 1" thank you note from Maureen touched my heart more than words can say to know how one runner from Rochester, Minnesota said to me, "I did it because I just wanted to show my gratitude."

As she said in an ABC news piece:

"Our hats go off to Boston for being such a great city and never giving up on what they believe in."

My hat goes off to you Maureen for never giving up and running Boston 2014. I look forward to spending time with you whenever you return to our City and certainly cheering you on again next year.

Maureen told me that she has always felt a special connection to Boston. This was her 7th Boston Marathon and her 24th race. She said that she has started a new tradition of thanking the fans. She'll never forget what happened here, but rather than dwell in the pain or anger, she offers up prayers for Boston, for Newtown and for those recently affected by natural or man made disasters. And she opens her heart with an expression of gratitude to all who gather together in strength, resilience and the courage to move forward. 

Maureen and I have remained friends through the years. 

In 2016 we were blessed to meet up during Marathon weekend.

We were given peace cookies to honor Martin Richard's memory from Ginger Betty's Bakery.

Coincidentally, we were at an event at Fenway Park and had the opportunity to meet Meb. When we shared our story with him, he asked if he could take a picture with us. Could he?? "I heard about people out on the course inspiring the runners with Meb Won signs. Now tell me again where you were!" He put notes about us into his iPhone!


 


This year's Marathon reminds me of Boston in 2014. Just as the bombs interrupted our beloved Boston tradition in 2013, the pandemic interrupted Boston in April in 2020 and 2021. But just as we came back stronger than ever in 2014, the October 11th Boston Marathon will be a celebration of resilience and strength for athletes and spectators.

On Sunday we head to Wilmington to stand for four hours in a warehouse preparing the packets for the athletes. The last time we volunteered for packet stuffing was in 2014 when Meb won, really!


 

I am delighted to feel the warm nostalgia of this magical Monday memory and look forward to creating new memories for the October 2021 Boston Marathon.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

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

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

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




Saturday, September 25, 2021

Autumn: A Time for Change

The end of summer often triggers a sense of sadness. It's often difficult to experience a sense of rebirth and renewal when the leaves are changing colors and falling to the ground and yet Autumn can be a time of incredible transformation and new beginnings as we let go of what no longer serves us opening our hearts to the infinite possibilities not yet visible to the eyes.

One week ago, Tom left his job as a full time employee with benefits. We created our own benefit package now that we are both over 65 and held hands tightly as we took this leap of faith. It's the second leap of faith we took together. We took one for me 15 years ago after I was diagnosed with Post Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease.

While a leap of faith and letting go of what is familiar, {even though it may be toxic for us,} can be frightening, there is a feeling of exhilaration and excitement with what is on the horizon.

Sometimes I get caught in the vortex of fear spiraling downward in my thoughts and energy. But then I take a look back at all that I have created in my life during these past 15 years and see the signs surrounding that all is well and in Divine order. 

Tom and I have been on a journey of letting go, discernment and experiencing the excitement that a new season in our lives brings. I had a few brief moments of solar plexus clutching fear about finances which was a flashback to experiences from my youth and once I released the fear, the magic of the Universe is swirling around us just like the colorful autumn leaves that will soon be dancing in the cool, crisp air.

There are events happening in Autumn this year that usually happen in Spring and Summer. The world still seems topsy turvy as we find ways to live with COVID.

The Boston Marathon traditionally takes place in April as Spring begins to bloom in Boston. There are blossoms on the trees that line Commonwealth Avenue and winter's chill begins to yield to warmer days with more hours of daylight. This year, the Marathon takes place on October 11th which is also Indigenous Peoples Day. Foliage should be at its peak with many trees already showing bare branches. Instead of homes along the route being decorated for Easter and Spring festivities, Halloween decorations, pumpkins and mums will be the decor of the day.

The Tony Awards typically take place in the summer but this year were postponed until this Sunday because of COVID. Rather than warm gentle breezes welcoming nominees on the Red Carpet, there will be a bit of a chill in the air. Broadway is slowly reopening in New York but mask wearing and vaccinations are mandated for audiences at least through November 1st. I don't believe there will be a Red Carpet and the after Tony parties have been cancelled. But just like the Spirit of the Marathon rises from the ashes of the pandemic, the lights of Broadway shine on with hearts overflowing with gratitude that iconic institutions and events live on.

This is the first year that I can remember when I have not felt sadness about summer coming to an end. I focused on living in the present moment and savoring summertime in all her glory. I noted the bright green leaves on the trees and the luxury of going out on a run wearing just a tee shirt or tank top and shorts. Summer extended beyond the Autumnal Equinox this year here in Boston. It's been unseasonably warm and humid. I am ready to embrace change.

I remember when I was in grade school, I was the narrator for our play "Every season has a reason."

We've been through many seasons of our lives with the pandemic which has called for resilience, adaptation, flexibility and embracing the ebb and flow of life during these unprecedented times. This Autumn our family is entering a new season with Tom's retirement, Ruth Anne's return to work after healing from a critical illness and new projects on the horizon for me with my poetry and spreading my powerful message of healing, hope and possibility. I am open to the splendor and glory of the Autumn season shaking loose and letting go, allowing infinite possibilities to emerge.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

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

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

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

 




Monday, September 20, 2021

An Extraordinary Time on Heartbreak Hill

 

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










 

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

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

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

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

"Is this your first Boston?"

"Yes I came up from New York."

"What charity team are you running with?"

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

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

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

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

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





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

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

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

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

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

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

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

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


Saturday, September 18, 2021

Optimism

 


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

 

Optimism: My Word for 2021                                   January 2, 2021

 

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

 

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

 

I knew that Optimism was my word for 2021.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


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


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


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

Unity

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

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

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

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

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

 


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

End of Summer Treat Under the Crescent Moon


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

Crescent Moon

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

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

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

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

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



 









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












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

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

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

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

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

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

 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

It's Gonna Be Alright....

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

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

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

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





Friday, September 10, 2021

The Magic of Gratitude

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Magic of Gratitude

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

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


From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

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

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

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


Wednesday, September 8, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She quickly adjusted her face mask.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

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

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

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





Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Letting Go of Fear and Worry!

 

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

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





 

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








She was right! 







 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Baptism

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

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

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

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

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

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

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

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

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

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Running on Vitamin Sea and Vitamin D


 I have been relishing every step of my runs this week. Shalane Flanagan's quote sums up the power and joy of running. It has been a God send after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome in December of 2006 when I imagined myself running the race instead of spending the rest of my life in a wheelchair as the doctors predicted for me.

While I always celebrate the gift of running in my life, this week running has been a sanctuary and a time to process and debrief from all that happened at Tom's work this past year that led to our leap of faith decision.  There's been a lot of stress during the transition especially from two of the managers and it's been a major trauma trigger for me. I also experienced the trigger of my dad's suicide 50 years ago when we ended up needing to declare bankruptcy after his death. 

Through meditation and staying connected to Source, heeding the messages I was receiving through songs on the radio, friends Facebook posts and conversations with friends and family, I pried my body out of the past and into experiencing the delicious gift of present moments. Tom is almost 70 years old and I will be 68 on Christmas Day. We will be married 45 years next year. While we both want to live and enjoy being in our physical bodies for years to come, we are keenly aware how tomorrow is never promised as we've seen during the pandemic.

As I've shifted my energy, I've started seeing a shift in the news I am receiving. Immunity is not waning as originally thought. There is a halt on rushing out to get a booster shot as the vaccine proves to be highly effective. Vaccination rates are on the rise and while masks are needed right now, there is much hope that the pandemic will become something that we live with such as colds or the flu.

Today was a glorious end of summer day. A vibrant blue sky with white puffy clouds, warm sunshine and low humidity made for perfect weather for our Saturday morning run. Even though Tom is on his last on call weekend for work, we went to South Boston for our run. My soul was craving to be near the ocean. Right before we were about to leave we were inspired to pack a picnic, beach chairs and towels just in case we wanted to put our toes in the water after our run.

We had a splendid run:








Because of the pandemic, they removed porta potties along the route. I suggested we wait until we get back to the bathrooms at the beach or go in the ocean but there was no time to waste. Apparently this happened to Tom while out on long runs and he knew how to get into the health club at a nearby apartment complex. I waited outside trusting I could wait until I got back to the beach. Tom said that we were residents and the security gentleman let them use the rest rooms.

Just as we were about to finish the run Tom asked, "Where's my phone?" He had to run back to get it. I prayed the entire time that it was still in the rest room and no one would ask him about what unit he lived in or his name. After I went to the bathroom and Ruth Anne and I were unloading our picnic, I received a text. Tom took a selfie and he looked incredibly satisfied with the successful outcome of his mission.

The sun was hot but there was a comfortable breeze to keep us cool. We would have been fine to just sit on the beach. But the water called to us. We both love to swim and with the pandemic, we have avoided gyms like well, the plague. We didn't have our bathing suits. That has never stopped us before from going into the ocean after a run.

Fortunately it was high tide. We did not have to walk far to get into water where we could swim. At low tide we have to walk on mud. The mud provided a smooth bottom (rather than the rocks that are typical of the beaches in South Boston) as we waded into the cold water. Ruth Anne dove in before me and she encouraged me with a 1-2-3 go. It was a baptism into the new phase of life we are entering with Tom's retirement from full time technology work and Ruth Anne returning to part time work and graduate school. I have more time to focus on writing and am working on a new project based off of "Hope is a Garden: Poems and Essays From the 2020 Pandemic."

After playing in the water together, we dried off in the sun before heading home.

We grilled salmon to have with a salad made with farm fresh vegetables we bought at Boston College's RealFood Club Farmer's Market yesterday. 

Today was one of those perfect 10 days that was a reflection of a lot of inner work I have been doing this past month. Meditation, faith, clearing out old thought patterns and beliefs culminated in a day over-flowing with joy, health and well-being. My heart overflowed with infinite gratitude for the gift of being alive with all of life's blessings and stressings. With Love, gratitude, faith and shifting attention away from fear and old beliefs, we can heal and overcome creating infinite possibilities in our lives. 

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

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

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

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

Friday, September 3, 2021

On Being Kind

 

The Born This Way's Foundation #BEKIND21 campaign began on September 1st. I think of the campaign as a mirror reminding me to be aware of the choices I make in thoughts and behaviors as I go is about my day. I realize how easy it is to judge someone if I am not mindful of my thoughts and what is in my heart. These past few days have been a wonderful opportunity to put kindness and compassion front and center. I have the tab to the BEKIND21 campaign open on my computer and it's a nudge from the Universe to choose kindness and compassion for myself and others. On Wednesday we greeted parents and children on their way to school with warm smiles wishing them well on their first day of school. Yesterday I focused on gratitude.

While it's always possible to be kind, it's not always easy.

We've encountered some challenging situations in recent weeks. The encounters reached a head and tempers flared. I suggested to Tom that we take the 'high road' and apologize even though the other person demonstrated unkind and cruel behaviors.

With all that is happening in the world, this is Divine Timing for the #BEKIND21 campaign. David Hamilton, Ph.D.  my good friend and the "kindness czar" for Psychologies Magazine on Facebook shared this post about the #BEKIND21 campaign. Several years ago he came to New York to be a part of Born This Way Foundation's kindness campaign with Lady Gaga. David lives in Scotland. 


Today (1st September) marks the beginning of #bekind21

The aim is to do an act of kindness (or more) a day each day through until 21st September.

As I wrote in an earlier post, last year, there were over 100 million acts of kindness!! I think we can surpass 200 million this year. This is how we can make a difference in the world. Collectively. With our hearts.

It’s been my personal observation that kindness rescues us sometimes. There are times when it’s just what you need - either the thing itself or even just the knowing that someone cares in that moment.

And as the giver, I feel that kindness accesses that part deep within us that just knows that kindness, compassion, empathy, an act of love, is the right thing to do. I suppose, in these moments we rescue ourselves. We gain perspective on what really matters out of the multitude of competing interests that fill our minds each and every day.

I’ve joined the #bekind21 campaign this year. You can register here: https://bornthisway.foundation/bekind21/

There’s also a cool kindness calendar on the registration page that you can download to keep track of your kindnesses. I have mine on my wall.

Wherever you are, I wish you a great day. And remember to be kind. It’s almost always the right thing to do.

I've been working on this poem that I was able to finish after yesterday's afternoon meditation: 

Choose Kind

When heart is hurt it may be difficult to find
a path to healing to be gracious be kind
remember a bully has wounds that run deep
invisible to eye hidden secrets they keep.
A burden they carry defensive and cruel
retaliation revenge only serves anger to fuel
don’t turn a blind eye see beyond behavior so hurtful and cold
a daring perception be brave and be bold.
A gift of choosing love to thine own self be true
reconciliation remember they’re a person too
don’t let the wound fester let go let in light
your Spirit will thank you peace well within sight.
Underneath all the layers of bitterness bluster
beats a heart that’s Divine if only courage they could muster
with compassion forgiveness and choosing tender thoughts I’ll be free
kind-hearted and vulnerable I’ll let myself be.

When I was a guest on The Cardinal Cafe podcast, the hosts asked me how I was able to stay connected to my goodness and be kind and compassionate despite all the trauma I endured as a child after contracting paralytic polio. I shared with them how, after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome, I realized that I needed to transform and heal the anger and hurts through the power of forgiveness and seeing all that happened to me through the lens of gratitude. I embraced my experiences as gifts and once I opened my heart to love myself and forgive those who hurt me, I began to heal mind, body and soul.

I am excited to be inspired by the #BEKIND21 campaign and the messages that the Born This Way Foundation are sharing in daily emails. 

Let us all create a vibration of kindness and care during these next several weeks as part of the campaign and throughout all the days to come.


From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,
Mary

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

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

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


Father's Day Reflections

 From the upcoming "Into the Light: Emerging From the 2020 Pandemic":     Father's Day Reflections 2021 ...