Saturday, October 16, 2021

One Year Later: Hope is a Garden


Facebook shared this memory from October 15, 2020: 

I am working on my latest book, "Hope: A Collection of Essays and Poems From the Pandemic of 2020". Here is my latest creation that I hope will stir the seeds of infinite possibilities in your heart and soul.


Hope Is A Garden  


Dirt stained knees

spade turning over soil

feelings flutter

tenderly tilling the earth

lovingly placing bulbs

embodiment of expectations and hope.


Hope is a gardenRe

holding seeds in hand


everything they need to know

ready to burst forth.


Patience and perseverance

faith abides


knowing no prayers needed

all unfurls in Divine Timing.


In darkness hope stirs

light pierces through

as new life breaks ground

yet invisible to the eye

seeds of infinite possibilities

hope the harvest of imagination.


I was inspired to write this poem while watching my husband Tom plant tulip bulbs for the first time in 24 years in our yard. The pandemic moved us to plant a flower garden as a harbinger of hope during one of the darkest and challenging times in our history.


The poem inspired the title of my book, "Hope is a Garden: Poems and Essays From the 2020 Pandemic" released on March 2nd.


I have been deeply moved by how "Hope" has been received. In addition to Editorial and Customer Reviews on Amazon, people have sent me cards and email messages to let me know how much the book has touched their heart and soul.

I was blessed to be a guest on The Cardinal Cafe podcast to share my journey with Greg Chastain,  President and Ed Siegel, Vice President of Voices of Hope Boston. They created the podcast during the pandemic. Even though the theaters were dark, they wanted to shine the spotlight on people and organizations that would bring a message of hope and healing during very challenging times.


Dan Thibeault, podcast producer and owner and founder of Fast Twitch Media edited the episode and set the poem Greg read from "Hope" to music.

About a month later, I was a guest on Liz Brunner's podcast, Live Your Best Life. Once again, Dan set the poem that Liz read to music.

He followed up with an email:

 “I think your poetry book would be great as an audio book version with each one read by a different person and music under them. Have you ever considered that?”


 I meditated on the idea. Since Greg Chastain had said during our conversation at the Cardinal CafĂ© that my poems “hit every note that Voices of Hope puts out there,” I was inspired to make this project a fund raiser for Voices of Hope. Everyone is donating their time and talent to make this project a novel and successful fund raiser for Voices of Hope.

The production is called, "Hope is a Garden: Forty Poems From the Pandemic to Uplift and Inspire You."

We have received an outpouring of enthusiasm and joy from those we asked to participate in the project and renditions of my poems that gave me goosebumps.

We are excited for a holiday release date. 


Stay tuned for more details of how you will be able to download this compilation of music and poetry read by these illustrious individuals:

Liz Brunner - Award winning journalist and CEO and Founder of Brunner Communications

Eliza Healey - Music Director, Voices of Hope Boston

Mark Lamourine - Member, Voices of Hope Boston

Bob Halloran - Award Winning Journalist, Author, Movie Consultant, Sports Writer and WCVB Sports Reporter

Ed Siegel - Vice President, Voices of Hope Boston

Denise Audy - Member, Voices of Hope Boston

Jordan Rich - Legendary host at Boston's WBZ radio, award winning podcaster, philanthropist and co-owner of Chart Productions

Candy O'Terry - Boston's beloved radio voice, singer, and award winning podcaster

Karen Nascembeni - General Manager North Shore Music Theater, Director of Corporate and Community Relations at Theater by the Sea and Manager of Cape Live Shows who inspires us all with her grace and grit after surviving COVID and unimaginable losses.

Sean Allan Krill - Award winning singer and actor nominated for a 2020 Tony Award for his role as Steve Healy in Jagged Little Pill, and the original cast recording of the critically-acclaimed Broadway musical was the recipient of the 2021 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. 

Erica McDermott - Former nurse and stay at home mom now an actress of critical acclaim perhaps best known for her roles in "The Fighter" and "Black Mass"

Dana Siegel - Executive Artistic Director Voices of Hope Boston

Jerry Russo -  Photographer and Pandemic Historian

Dan Thibeault - Owner and Founder of Fast Twitch Media and the inspiration for Hope is a Garden: Forty Poems from the Pandemic to Uplift and Inspire You

Sue Tabb - Award winning on air Boston radio personality and producer of Exceptional Women

Harry Bouvy - Critically acclaimed Actor, director, teacher, and cocktail enthusiast

Audrey Constant - Award winning Boston radio personality

Joyce Kulhawik - Emmy award winning movie & theater critic CBS Boston 1981-2008, Arts Advocate & 3X Cancer survivor! 

Eileen Curran - Emmy nominated writer, reporter and producer now Director of Public Relations at Franciscan Children's Hospital

Beth Consoli -  Director of Membership, Voices of Hope Boston and gifted teacher

Jimmy Tingle - Critically acclaimed comedian and creator of Humor for Humanity

Terry E. Carter - Poet Laureate for the City of Medford, Massachusetts

Jean Chastain - Treasurer, Voices of Hope Boston

Dan Szymczak - Former Baritone of Ball in the House a cappella group and golf instructor in Duluth Minnesota

Lee Woodruff - NY Times Bestselling Author, Speaker, Executive Media Trainer and Co-Founder of the Bob Woodruff Foundation

Bob Woodruff - Award winning journalist, NY Times Bestselling Author and Co-Founder of the Bob Woodruff Foundation

Mauzy Stafford - Boston On-Air Radio personality, Disc jockey, News and Entertainment Reporter, Radio Talk Show Host and passionate about adopt not shop


When I first penned the poem Hope is a Garden, I knew it would be the title of my book. I wrote the book for me to keep me focused on love and light during the pandemic and as a way to move through the darkness with a feeling of hope. 


We are excited that now, my creation will bring much needed donations to Voices of Hope Boston until they are able to safely return to their performances to generate money to support cancer research and provide resources to cancer patients, their families and medical caregivers.

From my heart to yours

In health and wellness,


Be sure to visit my website at to learn about my journey to health and wellness in the wake of paralytic polio and trauma

Visit the News and Events tab to listen to my inspiring and uplifting interviews

My books to motivate, uplift and inspire you are available on Amazon




Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Oh Boston Marathon How I've Missed Thee!


I woke up at 5am on Marathon Monday to go to the bathroom. We live less than 2 miles from the course as it runs along Beacon Street. I felt the electric energy that began last week reach its peak. I could not get back to sleep despite my best meditation efforts. I basked in the anticipation of the 125th Boston Marathon that had not happened since April 15, 2019 which also marked the 6th anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing. I finally fell asleep after we fed our cat at 6:30 for another hour.

You would think that Team McManus was running Boston again as we anxiously ate our breakfast and prepared to combine our Monday morning miles with watching the Marathon. True to Team McManus form we bantered back and forth about the best routes and plan for the day which often happened during our training runs for the 2009 Boston Marathon. We decided to first go to Cleveland Circle to see the wheelchair runners. Our pre-COVID routine would have been to pack a cooler and head out early with our chairs to the corner of Dean Road and Beacon Street. I must say I enjoyed the change of being on foot and experiencing Marathon Monday in a novel way.









We let Spirit guide where to go next and got in our miles en route to Dean Road and Beacon Street in time to see elite runners and cheer for the wheelchairs and hand cycles. We were fortunate to see Nell Rojas:

She was the first American woman to finish and finished 6th overall.

We waited to see if we could cheer on Desi Linden who was the champion in 2018 during torrential downpours. The crowd cheered as loudly for her as if she were the leader:

As all good runners know, it is vital to pace, fuel and hydrate. We returned home to give our legs a rest after 3.35 miles of mostly hills while continuing to track our friends.

We were able to miraculously find a parking spot not far from Beacon Street. We carried our chairs for the long afternoon of cheering on our friends to the finish line.

Because there were fewer runners and spectators, and with the new app that was great for tracking beyond the usual notifications at different points along the course, we were able to find our friends among the sea of runners:

Air hugs and blowing kisses replaced the traditional hugs, high fives and cheek kissing, as Spirits were flying high. The joy, the love, the unity among spectators and runners brought healing to a people and City. I am sure the reverberations were felt around the Globe. What unbridled joy we felt to see friends in person many of whom we hadn't seen since we hosted the last water stop for our running Club in March of 2020.

I was blessed to see Ben Beach who went on to run his 54th consecutive Boston Marathon in spite of living with dystonia. We shared a panel for the Virtual Boston Marathon Expo last year on Late Life Running and Whole Life Running. 

There were so many inspiring stories from the day. 

Bret Parker lives with Parkinson's Disease. He runs to raise money and awareness to find a cure for Parkinson's Disease.  I was thrilled he wore a t-shirt that said "Give Bret some love" so we could cheer loudly for him as he passed by. He told me on Facebook that he was sorry he couldn't stop because he was going for a sub-7 marathon which he accomplished.

My friend Amy who is passionate about finding a cure for Parkinson's Disease shared his picture. You can read about Bret's miraculous 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents by following this link.

Team Babsie went on to make history as the first mother-daughter duo in the Boston Marathon. I met Beth at another race two years ago and we've become friends in social media and in real life along with our long standing friendship with Team Hoyt.

They stopped to pose for photos:

One of our friends, Michelle Marchese Corrado was slowly making her way to the finish line. She was well trained and ready to run the April 2020 Boston Marathon. She did not want to run the Virtual event even though she met her fundraising and training goals.

She signed on to run the 2021 Boston Marathon for the Cam Neely Foundation. Can you imagine going through a year and a half training and fundraising cycle? She was fierce and determined in her fundraising and running goals. Several weeks before Boston, she experienced severe calf cramping. She would not give up and harnessed the help of acupuncture to add to her massage therapy and ramped up cross training. 

We were going to go out to cheer her on to the finish when the app said she could not be located.

We prayed. I knew that she was not going to stop unless there was a health risk. The day was getting cooler and I knew she was wearing only a singlet.

We continued to pray and we prayed for her health and safety, for being able to finish and just as important that there would be someone there to give her the medal! Between the two charities from whom she received bibs, she raised over $20,000 for charities that support cancer patients and their families.

At around 7:00pm I went to her Facebook page to see if there was any update.

There it was! The picture of her with her finisher's medal.

Ruth Anne and I cried and hugged each other.

Yesterday's Boston Marathon was so much bigger than Marathon Monday. It was a day that a community of runners, spectators and a City came alive. The longest training cycle ever came to an end. And while there were many aspects of Marathon Monday that were different from any other year, there was a Red Sox game at Fenway. While usually the fans leave the ballpark and cheer on the runners, this year, fans cheered on the runners as they found their way to Fenway Park.

The stars aligned and the Red Sox are off to play in the American League Championship Series!

It was the perfect ending to a magnificent day! Oh Boston Marathon how I've missed thee but fortunately we only have to wait 6 months for the 2022 Boston Marathon to happen again in April.

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,

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, October 10, 2021

The Magic of Marathon Weekend


"You going to the Expo?" someone asked from behind us as we waited to cross the street.

It's funny how those seemingly little decisions you make before you start your day can set you out on a path of absolute delight and amazing synchronicity.

We were going to do our Saturday morning 5K on Heartbreak Hill and then head out to Mile 10 on the Boston Marathon Course to Paper Fiesta, our friend's celebration boutique for a Spark Kindness event to make posters for the runners and celebrate Boston Marathon Weekend.

We all felt a tug to go in town to experience the festivities. We knew we would not go into the scaled back Expo event but knew there was incredible energy to soak up in the pre-Marathon atmosphere.

We aren't quite ready to hop on public transportation although vaccination rates are up and infection rates are down so we decided to combine our Saturday morning 5K with a visit to Copley Square.

There was a chill in the air typical for October in Boston. We grabbed our volunteer jackets to put around our waist should the wind pick up or we felt cool when we'd slow our pace for photos or to navigate around the crowds.

Tom was our photographer to document the first Boston Marathon in over 900 days!

I wore my Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston t-shirt on a whim. I haven't worn it since April of 2019.

It was easy to tell that we were part of the Boston Marathon scene by what we wore and our location heading in town from Beacon Street.

"We're not going to the Expo this year. We ran it in '09 and Tom ran it in 2011. We wanted to soak up the energy that is unique to Boston. Are you running?"

Ahhh such a simple question and one that we missed asking people before Marathon Monday as we would take the T or sit at a restaurant and strike up conversations. When Boston runs, there are no strangers!

"It's our first!" 

Ed Beach explained that he is the guide for Bill Scianella who will be running his 1st Boston Marathon on Monday although he has run 23 other marathons. Follow this link to hear his amazing story! 

They run with Team With a Vision. I shared how we are friends with David Brown and when I worked with the visually impaired veterans, I became intimately familiar with Mass. Association for the Blind.

While we were doing a walking tour of the course heading into Kenmore, Chris Colby circled back from his shake out run to say hello. I introduced him to our new group of friends and felt my heart overflow with gratitude that, despite so much being different about the Boston Marathon this year, bumping into friends and welcoming out-of-towners to our City remains in the wake of the pandemic. Chris and I met at Dave McGillivray's book launch party at Fenway Park two years ago and we've been Facebook friends ever since.

Tom provided description for going under the tunnel and coming out as they will prepare to take the right on Hereford Street while we reminisced about our Boston Marathon and Sarah shared her two marathon experiences.



As we headed toward Boylston Street, Ed described the scene for Bill. 

We took a selfie before taking the left on Boylston Street with our new friends:

We were glad we had driven down Boylston Street a few days ago so we were able to let them know where they needed to go to get their clearance and bracelets to be able to access the Expo and their buses on race day.

Ruth Anne wanted to go into Marathon Sports because, as she poignantly said, 'It's tradition.' We used to go to the Adidas Home Base store but sadly it went out of business. They had a sidewalk store that had my t-shirt displayed. They asked me where they could purchase my t-shirt and I told them it might be available at the Expo but there they were on display. While Ed and Bill got their medical clearance, Sarah and Bill's wife waited in line to shop. We must have said goodbye to our new friends several times  but we kept bumping in to them.

Tom, Ruth Anne and I went into the store and while they waited for check out, I went outside to make room for more customers. They were limiting the capacity of the store due to the pandemic.

"Excuse me. Do you know where I go to show my vaccination status?" an obviously international runner asked me. Our eyes met above our masks and he expressed gratitude from his heart that he received directions to the tent.

I chatted some more with Sarah while they bought their t-shirts and seemingly out of nowhere, Meb Keflezighi appeared. Ed and Bill returned from the medical tent with their bracelets sharing how the verification process was extremely well organized. They got in line to meet Meb and I got in line behind them quickly texting Tom and Ruth Anne to hurry because I was in line to meet Meb! Although Tom and I met him several years ago

we wanted Ruth Anne to be able to meet him and celebrate being together as Team McManus:

We finally bid our new friends farewell and took a few more photos as we walked back to our car. There were no yellow daffodils to mark the celebration of Boston Marathon weekend but there were lovely fall flowers filling the window boxes along Boylston Street:

As we headed back to our car, we reflected on the magic of the day while cheering on the runners running the Virtual Boston Marathon.
Tom took this photo of the Citgo Sign with the birds in flight seemingly inviting the runners on the course with only one mile to go to soar:
The exhilaration of a City reborn seemed to whisk away the exhaustion of the runners as they headed to the finish line.
A group of wide eyed runners stopped us on the bridge that leads to Kenmore Square.

"Which way is the course?" they asked.
We told them to go straight down  Commonwealth Avenue taking a right on Hereford Street and a left on Boylston Street pointing to my shirt for emphasis. They smiled and thanked us as they went on their way.
"Good luck" Team McManus said in unison.
The magic of Marathon Weekend concludes tomorrow as runners toe the starting line in Hopkinton. 
I've got my friends' bib numbers downloaded into the Boston Marathon app. Pre-pandemic we would get up early, go on our run and set up our chairs with a cooler for a day of cheering on everyone from elite runners to the back of the packers. We are going to track the leader board and live stream the race. When the crowds thin out, we will head out to cheer on the back of the packers when they need that extra boost.

May Boston shine brightly with magic and may everyone run safe and happy!

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,

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.


Thursday, October 7, 2021

Countdown to Boston Marathon: Let Spirit Shine


As I drove down Beacon Street in Brookline yesterday, I saw that the Boston Marathon mile markers were painted. What is usually a rite of Spring and the harbinger of the days leading up to the Boston Marathon is now happening in October. 

Last evening, the statue of Bobbi Gibb, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon was unveiled with the Executive Director of the BAA, Tom Grilk, Sara Mae Berman, the first woman to win the Boston Marathon, Bobbi Gibb, Jack Fultz who won the "Run for the Hoses" Boston Marathon in searing heat and Bill Rodgers, Boston Marathon and New York City Marathon champion and Olympian.

It would be so easy to focus on all that is 'wrong' with this year's Marathon. There is a smaller field. Masks must be worn at the Expo and there is no Runner's Speaker's Series this year. It feels strange. Even though I am not setting up dates and places to meet up with my friends coming in from out of town or those in the area coming in for the Expo I can still experience the excitement of my friends who are getting ready to run the 125th Boston Marathon. I ask when people are coming in to town and for bib numbers. 

This afternoon Tom and Ruth Anne wanted to do their run by the beach in South Boston. We passed workers spray painting "medical tent mile..." along Beacon Street. 

On the way into town, I suggested we drive down Boylston Street. It's incredible to think that so much time has passed since Boston ran on Marathon Monday.

I got goosebumps and very emotional when I saw the sign at the Hynes Convention Center:

I was poised to be a member of a Speaker's Panel at the Runner Speaker's Series in April of 2020 before life as we all knew it came to a screeching halt.

The barricades are lining the streets near the finish line which will be closed this weekend so athletes and spectators can enjoy the ambiance of Copley Square as excitement builds for the big day. The finishing touches were being put on the viewing stands at the finish line. The finish line has been painted waiting for the runners to celebrate their triumphant journey from Hopkinton to Boston.

The medical tents at the finish line sprawled out in the square in front Trinity Church.  My breath caught when I saw signs that indicated we were still in the midst of the pandemic; "COVID-19 Testing" and "Vaccination Certification." 

I posted the photo of the sign at the Expo in social media and it was goosebumps all over again. As Thich Nhat Hahn suggested, let's touch those things that are positive and make them bloom! I can feel the thrill and excitement as the vibe of the Boston Marathon returns to the City. I must admit that I am experiencing a case of FOMO about not going to the Expo this year but I am going to stay focused on allowing all the wondrous and beautiful connections and energy that comes with the Boston Marathon to flourish and bloom.

Even though so much is different and surreal about Boston Marathon Weekend this year, one thing is for certain. The Spirit of the Boston Marathon shines brightly.

Here's my inspirational Boston Marathon run from 2009:

We'll be lending our hearts and Spirits to the runners as they come down Beacon Street to celebrate the day that Boston runs again!

From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,

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, October 5, 2021

Countdown to the Boston Marathon: Packet Stuffing & Boston Strong


Why would I stand on my feet for 3 hours helping to stuff the packets that 20,000 runners will receive next weekend when they pick up their bibs, packets and shirts before running Monday's Boston Marathon? I know how I felt when we picked up our packets, bibs and shirts before the 2009 Boston Marathon. It's the final moments leading up to crossing the starting line in Hopkinton. There's the program book filled with history and anticipation along with coupons, spectators' guide and memorabilia to cherish. 

For everyone, training for a marathon is a journey of transformation. Mine was a journey of transformation on steroids after having been told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome. Packet stuffing is a wonderful way to give back and celebrate the Boston Marathon.

As one of my friend’s posted Facebook on October 2nd, it’s been 901 days since the last Boston Marathon. We are now 9 days away from when Boston runs again. It is a surreal time as we try to find our bearings as we sort of emerge from the pandemic. Sharing Maureen’s story reminded me of the strength, courage and resilience our city shared in the wake of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. We are now in the wake of a pandemic that shook our City and the world to its core yet we continue to experience the turbulent currents in our lives. 

When we registered to volunteer, we were overjoyed that with vaccinations, we would experience life as we had before the pandemic. Hugs, no masks, being together side by side and anticipating one of the premier events in Boston. The emails from the BAA arrived in our inbox talking about safety and precautions along with the need to be vaccinated or have a negative COVID test in order to volunteer.


During this time of emerging (sort of) from the pandemic, everyone talks about risk tolerance. I knew everyone would be vaxxed or tested, masked and the packet stuffing takes place in an open air warehouse. I hadn't seen running family in what seemed like forever and knew that any minor risk I was taking with my husband and daughter paled in comparison to the rich rewards of volunteering and seeing friends I had not seen in a very long time.


During my meditation before bed on Saturday night, I remembered how I felt about being a spectator at the BAA 10K in June of 2013. I knew that I could not allow fear to keep me away from my beloved running community - then - or now.


It was quite a different scene at Gentle Giant Warehouse as we stood in line waiting to be checked in with masks up and vaccination cards in hand. The former 'madame President' of L Street Running Club greeted us with both her no-nonsense laser focus on the task at hand and such kindness and love in her voice as she checked us off with hands that had beautiful blue and yellow perfectly manicured nails.


Tom Licciardello who has been the leader of the pack for packet stuffing through the decades greeted me with a warm hug. "How were you able to recognize me with my mask?"


"Oh Mary, I'd recognize you from anywhere!"


His wife Lyn came up and warmly greeted Team McManus.


We reunited with friends from the Merrimack Valley Striders and L Street Running Club. One of our friends from L Street sported a t-shirt that had Resilience on the front with a definition of Resilience on the back. 


The scenes from 2013 and 2021 were quite different. There were many more volunteers to get packets ready for 36,000 runners versus 20,000 runners for 2021. We had more space between volunteers and of course we all had to wear masks throughout the entire shift.


But one thing that doesn't change is the love running family shares no matter how much time may have passed since we see one another and our deep desire to be a part of the Boston Marathon tradition.


From April of 2014:

to October 2021:




Conversations flow with ease among runners and I was blessed to share my table with a Strider who went to Bermuda one of the years we went for Bermuda Marathon Weekend. It was great to reminisce about a time before; when we could travel to destination races needing only our passports and running gear.


Music kept us pumped up while we did the tedious work. We tried our best to keep the conversation light although at times our conversation turned to sharing our experiences during the pandemic. I was blessed to have a few heart to heart moments with Tom with whom I have been friends for 12 years.

We were tired and happy at the end of our shift knowing that we achieved our goal to have the packets ready for the runners this weekend when they arrive at the Expo.


It was glorious to see people in person, sharing the Spirit of the Boston Marathon remembering that we ARE Boston Strong.


From my heart to yours
In health and wellness,

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.



One Year Later: Hope is a Garden

  Facebook shared this memory from October 15, 2020:  I am working on my latest book, "Hope: A Collection of Essays ...