Saturday, February 26, 2022

Rest and Hope - My Favorite 4 Letter Words

 

For the past two years during the pandemic, I've been doing 3 5K's a week and two days of strength training. I missed getting into a pool but took great pride of the strength and well-being I experienced. Being outdoors whatever the weather, breathing in fresh air and experiencing sunshine during winter and running by the ocean in summer helped us to navigate the pandemic. Thursday and Friday were my rest days.

With Tom and Ruth Anne training for the Providence Marathon, I wasn't taking two rest days together. I was doing my 5K's at 6am once a week, often times on slushy roads. I wasn't taking time to recover after my 5K runs because I was support crew for Tom and Ruth Anne. I forgot to "put on my own oxygen mask first." My runs were getting more sluggish and I experienced more joint pain and muscle spasms. I ignored the early signs of what was happening in my body having been so caught up in the thrill of Ruth Anne and Tom's journey on the Road to Providence to raise money and awareness for Victory Programs. I had also increased my strength training. I decided to curtail the increase in reps and weights hoping that adjustment would be all that was needed.

Two weeks ago my body said, "Okay. That's enough." There was no way I could continue to push myself. Fortunately I stopped before I experienced a major injury. I listened to the level of discomfort I experienced and made the necessary changes. I practiced more self-care including stretching using a strap, a ball to roll out my feet and my massage stick taking time out during the day to care for myself mind, body and soul. I intensified my meditation practice and once again harnessed the power of the mind/body connection to heal the inflammation, increase fluidity in my joints and return to a feeling of ease in my body. I know and trust my body's tremendous capacity to heal as I have worked with my body for the past 15 years to achieve what some would say are impossible goals and heal what some would say could only be healed with surgery by harnessing the power of the mind/body connection.

I talked with Tom and Ruth Anne about the adjustments we needed to make to take off some of the stress on me while they trained and fund raised for Providence. I talked with myself about adjusting my response to their training and making sure that I was taking better care of myself. I reflected on how I was pushing myself especially with hills. Because of a preponderance of ice and snow, we had to run around our neighborhood. There is no way to avoid the incline that starts at the end of our street. I was getting tired of doing the same route over and over and over again. I took a turn up a hill we used when we trained for the 2009 Boston Marathon. File that under what was I thinking! I wasn't and it was after that run that I realized I had gone too far. I pushed myself through one more 5K after that run (old habits die hard) before realizing enough was enough for now.

I continued strength training incorporating a lot of stretching into the program. I gave myself permission to take time off from my 5K's. Starting tomorrow I will go back to basics and go out for a one mile walk while Tom and Ruth Anne get in their 15 miles. I'll see how I feel and figure out a plan from there. I had to silence what the medical community told me as a survivor of paralytic polio as I felt tired and sluggish in my body with muscle spasms and difficulty going up and down stairs. Fifteen years ago they told me that Post Polio Syndrome was a progressive neuromuscular disease and I should prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair. Instead, I recalled this Op-Ed that the doctor who took care of me after I contracted polio wrote when I was doing research for my Trilogy of Transformation:

Caution and Hope On Polio 'Signs'
Published: March 3, 1985
I read with interest the article entitled ''A Group for Polio Survivors Who Have New Symptoms'' (Feb. 10).

Having supervised the rehabilitation of poliomyelitis patients at Grasslands Hospital during the epidemics of the 50's and 60's, probably including the ''then'' infants mentioned in the article, I would like to add a word of caution and even hope as an afterthought.

Firstly, there is no reason to suspect deterioration in the nerve cells in the spinal cord. After 30 years, one must accept some loss of endurance, increased fatigue and even some discomfort induced by other unrelated medical problems. This is true in the athlete with repeated injuries, in the obese person with back problems and even in the jogger with foot ailments.

Any individual with paralytic disability in an extremity will experience the normal process of ''wear and tear'' except that it may be more difficult to adjust to it. Just as one learned to compensate for the initial impairment so must one adjust to the later, more subtle changes rather than develop an emotional hang up of being a ''polio victim.'' ~EUGENE MOSKOWITZ, M.D. Mount Vernon

One of the things I kept hearing after receiving the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome was "we don't want to give you false hope."

 False hope? Is there really such a thing?
 
Unfortunately there are many in the medical community who believe there is such a thing as false hope and hope to many in Western Medicine is a four letter word.I could have easily succumbed to the diagnosis and prognosis I was given in December of 2006 but somehow I was able to muster the courage to do what I'd done ever since I was 5 years old and open myself to Divine Guidance and a touch of grace.

Instead of returning to the Post-Polio Clinic as I had after a knee injury in December of 2014, I turned to myself, the Divine and my loved ones to get back on track. I had to embody my healed self. Old trauma wounds surfaced and I embodied myself as the powerful, glorious woman I have become since the diagnosis of Post Polio Syndrome. I had fleeting moments wondering if perhaps my body had MS or Parkinson's and reminded myself that the body achieves what the mind believes. I used Emile Coue's mantra of "Every day in every way I am better and better." I felt compassion and kindness for myself realizing that the symptoms I experienced were the perfect storm of two years of COVID, the changes that came with Tom and Ruth Anne's marathon training, Tom starting a new contract job, Ruth Anne looking for a job, and not paying attention to what my body was telling me. As is always true, it's not the stress itself that is important but how I choose to respond to it. Everything was weighing me down. I briefly became victim and martyr.

I am back on track with self-care, finding ease and grace in my body again, revisiting trauma wounds that needed deeper healing and continue to be in awe of what happens when I connect to Source. As Dr. Joe Dispenza said when he was healing his fractured vertebrae, "The power that made the body, heals the body." 

I have rediscovered my love for rest and hope. The seeds of healing are bearing fruit. I am excited to feel a wonderful blossoming of mind, body and soul as Spring moves into Boston. I am grateful to my body for the symptoms that led me back to Source and back to myself. 

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






Friday, February 18, 2022

A Word About Wordle

 Wordle 244 5/6

⬜⬜⬜⬜🟩
⬜⬜🟨⬜🟩
⬜🟩⬜⬜🟩
⬜🟩🟩🟩🟩
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

How did this simple word game worm its way into our lives and in social media? When I first saw people posting about Wordle, I told myself that I would stay as far away from it as I could without success. Being fascinated with words, language and puzzles and games, I was easily drawn into its daily mystique of an empty board of 6 rows and 5 columns. During breakfast, I ponder what word I am going to use to start my Wordle of the Day. 

 One of my friends posted on Facebook that you can also do the Archived Wordles if you were late to the party as I was. It's become a morning and evening ritual that brings a mix of joy, frustration, curiosity and, according to many articles, is really good for our brain health. There was one extremely challenging Wordle that I let sit for awhile as I went about my day. I saw a "Yield" sign and the next thing I knew, the answer just came to me. When I got home, I entered the letters and they all turned green.

This article in The Washington Post gives a brief overview of the history of Wordle and why it has become our new drug. What Our Brains Do When We Play Wordle was written by a Tufts University psychologist. It's comforting to know that our obsession with Wordle is good for our cognitive health as shared in this article on Healthline.

Wordle seems to be another 'silver lining' of the pandemic. I'm not sure it would be as popular if we were all leading our pre-pandemic lives not having as much time at home or spending as much time connecting with each other on social media. It's a fun way to check in with friends and family. We celebrate each other's triumphs and tribulations. At first blush it may seem trivial, but given how the pandemic had limited our lifestyles, having something novel to experience every morning and being able to share that experience with each other has boosted everyone's mood and brain health. 

In one instance, Wordle saved the life of an 80 year old woman. An 80 year old woman texted her Wordle results to her daughters every day. When they didn't receive the text and she didn't answer her phone, the daughters became quite concerned. They sent a neighbor to check on her.  When her car was there but their mother didn't answer, they knew something was wrong. They called the police where their mother lived and they discovered she was being held hostage by an intruder who was suffering a mental health crisis. 

Of course, as with anything that takes the internet by storm, there are those who criticize the Wordlers, (I think I just made up a new word) and say they don't get it. There are those who are disgruntled by what they perceive the NY Times did to Wordle when it bought the game. There are those who express their anger by revealing the word and you can Google Wordle word of the day and get the answer. 

There are those who swear off Wordle only to be drawn back into its magical vortex. I enjoy when Wordle is trending on Twitter to see people posting the first time they lost the game with their funny memes or conversely the first time they solved the puzzle in two tries. It's often the same word that is the most challenging for most people and if a word that is challenging for me is easy for one of my friends or family members, I celebrate their ingenuity at being able to solve it in two or three tries. Strategies are shared and self-proclaimed geeks try to find an algorithm that will help them solve the puzzle. If I get stuck, I bring out old fashioned paper and pen to play with the letters.

The intention of the creator of Wordle was to provide a distraction for his girlfriend during the pandemic. He has created so much more! I hope that Wordle will become a classic word game and that it keeps its simple once a day formula that brings people together with a five letter wordle of the day.

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

 


 

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

When the Weather Outside is Frightful


Last Thursday the temperatures climbed into the 40's. We watched the piles of snow from the Blizzard of 2022 begin to dwindle. There was bare pavement and even though the day was grey and cloudy, I felt the stirrings of Spring in my heart as it tuned into a few birds singing their song. I found a spot of beauty in the sky:


 

When I saw the forecast for Friday I thought, "This can't be happening. They must be getting it wrong." 

There was a Winter Weather Watch that turned into a Winter Weather Advisory with flash freezing. Friday morning brought lots of rain and we thought, "Yup they missed the forecast." We went about our day. The social media feed filled with car accidents and a flash freeze happening across the region. The rain turned to sleet and covered sidewalks, bushes and cars.

I was in awe of how quickly it happened. 

Having yet another Friday storm begged the question of whether or not we would be able to get out for our Saturday morning run. Tom and Ruth Anne had a half marathon scheduled on their training plan. I am not one to experience cabin fever but as the sleet rained down (pun intended) I felt agitated. I knew I had no control over the weather and the ice that quickly gripped the region so I knew I had to get a grip on myself!

I meditated and surrendered to what was happening. Fortunately Tom was able to safely get our groceries. We hoped that our Town would do a good job at making our neighborhood safe for our Saturday run. 

I felt deep in my soul that we just had to get out for our Saturday run. Nine miles on the treadmill for Ruth Anne last Sunday followed by two days of running in the cold caused her knee to become injured. Fortunately she had an appointment with her sports acupuncturist on Wednesday. He is also a physical therapy assistant and personal trainer. He used a combination of sports acupuncture, manipulative therapy and KT tape to facilitate recovery. Tom had dug us out from the Blizzard of 2022 and done a 10K on the treadmill. His back and legs were very sore. We knew there was no way we would do another treadmill run. My knees were not happy with my 5K on the treadmill.

As the official Marathon Manager for Tom and Ruth Anne, I got everything ready for their Half Marathon; their longest run in this training cycle. They both thought I was crazy to go ahead as if we were going to be able to get out and get in a run but I know the power of intention.

We woke up to freezing temperatures but glorious sunshine streaming through our windows. It was hard to tell whether or not the streets were safe to run. We debated about whether or not we would get in our run and if the answer were yes, where we would go. As I looked out the window, a runner passed by. "It's a sign," I yelled upstairs to Tom and Ruth Anne who were getting dressed.

I filled up the water bottles and set up the 'aid station' on the dining room table. We donned our layers and did a "Gooo Team" before heading out the door.

The first few moments were testy as we all worked to find our footing. Ruth Anne wanted to abort the mission but I pointed out, "We have no choice. It's too late to head over to try to find another route. We can't do the treadmill especially for a Half Marathon for you and Tom. There's lots of bare ground. It's time for a mental toughness run."

When we crossed paths during our loops, I was going to suggest that they might think about a run/walk strategy given the conditions. I saw them walking and they shared that they decided on that strategy after their first few miles! 

The warmth of the sun despite the cold air was delicious. 

I could feel the Divine with us during every step.

I felt triumphant after my 5K and experienced the excitement and anticipation of Tom and Ruth Anne doing their longest run for this training cycle preparing for the Providence Marathon and raising money and awareness for Victory Programs and their ReVision Urban Farm. I rang my cowbell as they completed their 21 loops on Eliot Street for 13.1 miles!

As we celebrated with pizza and tuna subs we reminisced about our Boston Marathon training. 21 loops around the neighborhood was sure better than 117 laps around the BU track. We felt the sense of celebration of Hyannis Marathon Weekend even though we won't be going to Hyannis this year. I felt a deep sense of joy and exhilaration rise up within me.

There is so much we are yet unable to experience during COVID to feel good but doing good for others is a wonderful antidote to feeling the restrictions that came with the pandemic. Not having access to a gym is a blessing. We have no choice but to go outside, brave the elements and experience the sense of power that comes with braving and embracing the elements.

These past two weeks the weather has been frightful, challenging the mettle of even the heartiest New England residents. As runners, we are trained to be strong, resilient and harness the power of our mental toughness to not let frightful weather makes our lives miserable.

As often happens in February, we see temperatures slowly on the rise and the snow piles melt. What a treat to see 57 degrees with sunshine for Saturday in the forecast.

When the weather outside is frightful I always remember, no storms last forever. Spring always returns. Resilience and strength prevail when we call those qualities up from deep within our heart and soul.

After the Storms

Blizzard and ice storms
sub zero temperatures
seemingly never ending winter
housebound
grey and gloom
thoughts turn to doom
what if's swirl with bone chilling winds.
Does any storm last forever?
Sun returns
greets me with a warm hug
stepping outside door's threshold
having met my threshold
temporarily lost my way
even in the midst of winter storms
though invisible to the eye
Divine's presence shines brightly
always guiding us home
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 ...