Sunday, January 30, 2022

As If It Were Spring...




During this morning's meditation, as the sun shined brightly through my bedroom window, I took deep breaths. Two feet of snow fell yesterday as the Blizzard of 2022 gripped the region. We bundled up and went out a couple of times to feel the refreshment of cold air and snow pelting our faces. Tom used our snowblower to dig us out. I hoped that the forecast for "feel likes below zero" temps would be wrong and that our street would be plowed and treated for us to be able to get out for a run. 

Before checking my phone for weather, emails and social media posts, I did a Meta Meditation sending out well wishes for myself, my loved ones and all Sentient Beings everywhere. I felt Spirit's presence speak to me, "Feel as if it were Spring!" I felt my heart open and gratitude flood every cell of my Being. We made it through the storm. Electricity stayed on. There was absolutely no storm damage despite blizzard force winds and snow falling at times at 2-3 inches per hour. 

I asked myself, 'How would I feel if I woke up to a beautiful Spring morning?'

As if on cue, Jamie meowed and came bounding onto our bed. She stretched with her whole body and I followed suit ready to greet the day. 

After the diagnosis of Post Polio Syndrome, I lived my life as if I were already healed. Despite all appearances to the contrary, and having been told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair, I imagined myself running free, dancing, splashing in puddles, forgiving the past and being grateful for the gifts of the challenges I faced. With fierce determination, I worked in physical therapy and then with a personal trainer to get to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond. I learned the healing power of imagination, of writing poetry and the body's tremendous capacity to heal once I ignited the spark of my Spirit that was crying out for healing.

When the winter of our lives bear down, it is easy to forget that we have the power to choose how we feel whatever the weather and whatever our current circumstances may be. I imagine a time when we no longer wear masks and the headlines report the pandemic's end as they did with polio.

Although it feels like 2 degrees outside right now and black ice lines our street, I feel the warmth of the sun through the windows. I imagine seeing bare ground again and our tulips poking their heads through the garden once more. I see the buds on the trees and the leaves forming a canopy of love in the 'little field' across from our home. It always seems as though they magically and spontaneously burst into bloom yet we know there is a slow process of transformation.

I was in the deep dark winter of my life in December of 2006 and yet I found a way to imagine myself being in the Springtime of my life. I was 53 years old when I found my way to the sport of running. I wrote poetry and visualized my Boston Marathon run from taking those first steps as a newbie runner to how it would feel to cross the finish line on April 20 of 2009. 

We are so blessed to be living at this time when research has done studies to prove the power of the imagination and its effects on the body. The mind and body cannot distinguish between what is in our imagination and what is real.

Despite the mounds of snow, the barren trees, the temps on my weather app all saying we are still in the depths of winter, my thoughts and feelings warm my heart and soul as if it were Spring.

Seasons

They’re called seasons
for a reason
reminders of impermanence
mirroring ebb and flow of life
challenging us to find beauty in winter’s barren trees
spying berry bush frosted with capping of snow
finding delight in rosy red cheeks
hot cocoa to warm body and soul.

Miracle of buds herald Spring’s arrival
teasing us with winter’s end
no season lasts forever!

As colors burst forth layers shed
anticipation of carefree summer days
savoring sensations
sun’s warmth melts away winters’ woes
deep breaths of summer’s sweetness
yearning for time to stand still
basking in glorious sunsets of a late evening stroll.

As days shorten once more
vibrant greens begin to pale
opportunity for rebirth in Autumn’s splendor
resilience realized
harvesting Hope in transformation
rising to embrace all the seasons of my life. 

From my heart to yours

In health and wellness,

Mary

Be sure to visit my website at https://marymcmanus.com 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, January 18, 2022

Exhilaration & Cold Tolerance


 
We woke up to 11 degrees on Sunday morning but at least the wind chill below zero temperatures had passed. Tom and Ruth Anne had to get in their long run and I had to get in my 5K. It would have been easy for me to put on the space heater in our basement and fire up the treadmill but if they were going to brave the temps for 11-12 miles, so would I.

Once more, we carefully laid out our layers only this time, we had neck gators, two pairs of gloves and extra layers under and over the clothes we wore when it was 19 degrees since the air had gotten really cold over night.

We pumped each other up to get out the door and did our "Gooo Team! We've got this!"

We 'warmed up' with a neighborhood run and planned to go around the small Reservoir but the icy patches made it too treacherous to stay there. Tom and Ruth Anne peeled off to go to Jamaica Pond and I made my way back to the neighborhood where there was dry ground. Even though my fingers felt frozen, I took off my glove to capture the beauty of the winter day.



I used a technique I used when we trained for the 2009 Boston Marathon sending warmth to my extremities imagining warm lava flowing through me. My fingers and toes thawed and I settled into enjoying my run as the sun slowly warmed up the day.

While I was running through the neighborhood a thought came to me comparing where I am today with where I was in December of 2006. One of the 'hallmark' symptoms of Post-Polio Syndrome is cold intolerance. The initial polio virus affected my body's thermostat; the ability to regulate my body temperature. I would shiver uncontrollably in the cold and profusely sweat in summer. But once I harnessed the power of the mind/body connection, I was able to fix my thermostat. I trained through the brutal New England winter of 2008-2009 experiencing the beauty {and challenges} of a New England winter like I had never known before. I was told that I should use a cane with an ice gripper because one fall could result in a fracture that would lead to further rapid decline in functioning. I did have several falls while running (none in winter) and aside from a bruised ego and scrapes on hands, knees and lip, I emerged victorious without a fracture.

While training for Boston, I wrote the poem Courage, inspired by a long run around Jamaica Pond on a bitter cold day:

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

 

The fear of ice and snow and slush embedded in my soul

a training run in winter - the path to Being whole.

A winter scene - Jamaica Pond - a feast for eyes' delight

to witness nature's splendor and behold this glorious sight.

 

A leaf - a tiny dancer - skating free without a sound

God's breath directs her movements as She guides her twirling 'round.

Families of ducks decide to walk or take a dip

a comedy of errors into icy water slip.

 

Branches now bejeweled though bare bend with loving Grace

sparkling diamonds' anchor water's surface hold in place.

God's hand a glove of glistening snow hugs rocks along the wall

their heads peek out reminding me I'm answering God's call.

 

A scene I'd never witness if I let my fear take hold

courage triumphed, steppin' out with footsteps sure and bold.

Knowing that the pain subsides and Spirit can prevail

the Marathon is beckoning - through those miles I shall sail.

As I texted with Tom and Ruth Anne, I celebrated the miles with them cheering them on as they dared to brave the elements for their long run. We marveled at how many runners were out on the roads on Sunday realizing that many opted to do their long run on the 'warmer' of the two weekend days. I felt exhilaration for my own run celebrating the gift of health and wellness. I loved the thrill of being able to enjoy sunshine and blue skies despite cold temperatures. I recalled the exhilaration we all felt during our Boston Marathon training after conquering the miles through the elements. Our longest run was 20 miles on a 17 degree day in March of 2009.


We were so fortunate that winter weather did not really begin until January this year. The sun is higher in the sky and it stays lighter after 4pm. I remember one winter when we were in the Polar Vortex when we had to keep our faucets dripping to make sure the pipes didn't freeze. I stay focused on the positive whenever possible and it's always possible.

There's a momentum started after the first coldest run of the season that will now carry us through until Spring. There's a sense of exhilaration, resilience and strength that external circumstances do not dictate how we engage with life.

From my heart to yours

In health and wellness,

Mary

 

Be sure to visit my website at https://marymcmanus.com 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









Thursday, January 13, 2022

On Gratitude Runs & Perspective


After Saturday's run, I was so grateful to wake up to melting snow and dry ground on Monday morning. As I did my 5K through the neighborhood while Tom and Ruth Anne did their 3 mile tempo run, I felt inspired to pick up my pace while feeling blessed by the glorious sunshine. Sunday was a dreary grey day in Boston and Monday's sunshine provided a delicious contrast to the gloom that dominated Sunday's skies.

Despite all the doom and gloom in the headlines, I felt uplifted with the sunbeams feeling my connection to the Divine in all of her glory. I reflected on the miracle of my healing from the effects of paralytic polio and trauma and the miracle of my being having overcome the diagnosis of Post Polio Syndrome which was due in large part to the unhealed trauma of my youth. We went out over Tom's lunch hour. We all devoured our lunch savoring not only the food but how great it feels to move our bodies outdoors in the winter. 

Wednesdays are rest days for Tom and Ruth Anne so it's up to me to get my motivation gears in motion and get out the door to do my 5K. Temperatures were still in the teens when we got up but the forecast called for moderating temperatures. By 11:30 the temperature went up to 36 degrees! Talk about perspective thinking temperatures were UP to 36 degrees Fahrenheit. I was ecstatic the the arctic blast of minus 10 degrees with wind chill had quickly moved through. We've had winters when we've been 'trapped' in the Polar Vortex.

Ruth Anne insisted on taking a photo of me since I am the one who has been documenting their Providence Marathon run:

Gratitude filled my heart that she wanted to acknowledge what I continue to accomplish in my own way at my own pace. After all, 15 years ago I was told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair as a survivor of paralytic polio having been diagnosed with Post Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease.

I let the sun's warmth bathe me mind, body and soul reflecting on the miracle of healing in my life. Since we are in the middle of winter here in New England, I looked to the skies for beauty. I captured the presence of the Divine and angels through my camera's lens.


 

 I often use the hastag every step is a gift and every mile is a blessing. I felt it with every foot step on Monday's and Wednesday's runs. I was running what could have been a boring and mundane run around the neighborhood. Instead the run was transformed by the attitude I chose to bring to the run. I feel inspired by Tom and Ruth Anne's dedication, consistency and persistence with their training on the road to the Providence Marathon for Victory Programs and ReVision Urban Farm. Despite the climate of fear and uncertainty that dominates the headlines these days, people are incredibly generous with donations and words of support and encouragement. They know the marathon of healing that Ruth Anne endured and they know the integrity and passion that fuels Team McManus' journey on and off of the roads. The work that Victory Programs does saves lives and transforms lives. Their staff is second to none.

It could be so easy to get swept away once more, as we did in 2020, by the tsunamai of divisiveness, terror, panic and hopelessness yearning for the pandemic to end. During these challenging times I find it is vital for our family and me to stay focused on goodness, doing good, feeling well, being well and, as I talked about in a previous post, being unrelenting with compassion and kindness.

An attitude of gratitude and keeping perspective in my corner of the Universe sends out ripples of positive energy, love and moves the world into the light.

From my heart to yours

In health and wellness,

Mary

Be sure to visit my website at https://marymcmanus.com 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, January 11, 2022

Sweat Pants


 

After Saturday's morning meditation, I checked my weather app. Did my eyes deceive me? Nope - it was 19 degrees fahrenheit outside. The streets were relatively clear. Oh how I wanted to just hop on the treadmill and get in my 5K but Ruth Anne and Tom are training for the Providence Marathon and I knew they had to get outside for their 8 miles. Truth be told, I didn't feel like getting in miles after I made the mistake of doing a cursory check of the news headlines. I have opted to unsubscribe to the Boston Globe in my inbox. I cleared my energy and kicked my own behind with a fresh mindset.

We had prepped our clothes the night before:


We opened the door to get into the mindset of embracing the cold and psyching ourselves up to get in the miles despite the weather. Fortunately, the sun was shining. We debated about whether to do the Carriage Road on Heartbreak Hill or a neighborhood run. Since Tom and Ruth Anne had 8 miles, we opted for the Carriage Road and I would be support crew.

We were spoiled by moderate temperatures and dry ground until now. 

We had our hearty pre-run breakfast, loaded up the car with provisions that included a book for me to read while waiting for Tom and Ruth Anne to finish their run and post-run fueling bananas.

Tom, Ruth Anne and I warm up together and they go off at their pace. 

There I was left to navigate the slush, snow and ice on the Newton Hills. One of the thoughts I have had to overcome is the programming I received after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome; "You have to be extremely careful if you are going to go out in winter. You should use a cane with an ice gripper and avoid falls for you are at high risk for a fracture." I straightened me spine and struck a power pose infusing myself with confidence. There were other runners on the Hills training for Boston. I fired up my mirror neurons reminding myself that while I may be slower than other runners, I am a runner, healed, healthy and strong. I've got this!

It was a cold, challenging run as runs after a snowstorm often are and I had to come up with an image that was going to help me get through.

"Sweat pants!" I thought about how great I was going to feel once I was back in the house changed out of my layers of running clothes and into my sweat pants. I transcended the challenge and discomfort of the moment by imagining how accomplished I would feel having conquered the Hills and the conditions. I also looked for the beauty in my run.














How blessed to see a heart in the snow, a bright blue sky and orbs letting me know that I was not running alone but Source's present was with me every step of the way; as the Divine has been with me whenever I faced challenges in my life.

Even though I turned around at the halfway point of 1.55 miles, my total miles were 3.2. I stretched when I got to the car, turned on the heater and WERS Standing Room Only on the radio while I warmed up and had my banana and hydration. 

"Hey where are you?" Tom and Ruth Anne asked in a text.

"I'm at the car and you?"

"We're heading there now and then we will have another two miles."

"Great. See you soon!"

We felt exhilarated for what we accomplished in less than optimal conditions. The big question after our Saturday run is, "What's for lunch?" 

 While Tom whipped up breakfast for lunch, I changed into my sweat pants. The comfort and relief was even more than what I imagined while navigating the hills. We savored every well deserved bite and after our food was digested, we settled into a deep meditation with Jamie purring by my side.

From my heart to yours

In health and wellness,

Mary

Be sure to visit my website at https://marymcmanus.com 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, January 4, 2022

Running with Hope in my Heart

 


It was a dreary grey day in Boston yesterday. It was also a dreary day in the news which I briefly glimpse in the morning to stay informed of latest guidelines and guidance with the pandemic. Tom and Ruth Anne had a 3 mile speed drill workout to do as part of their marathon training program. I had my Monday morning 5K to run. When we do a neighborhood run, we are able to high five each other as we pass each other, each of us running at our own pace.

I thought to myself, "other than photograph Tom and RA for their photo album on the road to Providence what is there to take a picture of?" And then it hit me..."I need to take a picture of hope. A bare patch of ground that next Spring will blossom with flowers." I made a mental note to do that before I finished my run.
 
A short while later, I found a nickel! I smiled. "Oooh the Universe is giving me a high five!" And then I thought again. The movie The Five Pennies chronicled bandleader "Red" Nichols played by Danny Kaye's journey with his daughter who contracted polio. The movie came out in June 1959 when I contracted polio. It's a real tear jerker but speaks to strength and resilience. I got goosebumps to think that five pennies = a nickel. The band was called The Five Pennies because "Red's" last name was Nichols!
 
 


 









Tom and Ruth Anne were on their cool down while I finished my run.

"Stop. I have to take a picture."

"Of what?" they asked. "Where you found the nickel?"

"No... of hope."

In just a few short months, despite all appearances to the contrary right now, beautiful flowers will poke their heads and move on to blossom throughout the Spring and Summer.

There I was out on a run on a very cold day, 15 years after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome filled with healing, hope and infinite possibilities receiving a beautiful sign from the Universe while allowing hope to radiate from my heart.

Into the Light

In winter’s darkness
as pandemic “rages” on
turning inward
rhythm of my beating heart
radiates warmth
beaming Love to heal weary world
harping on darkness
Love beams spark hope
harbingers of lightness and ease
focus on Source if you please
gratitude flows for miracles on horizon
be in the flow
this too shall pass
Let burdens be lifted
shift to a new perspective
bright and bold
declaring all is well
confidently
deftly
running into the light.

From my heart to yours

In health and wellness,

Mary

Be sure to visit my website at https://marymcmanus.com 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


Father's Day Reflections

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