Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sixteen Miles

Polio, post polio, cancer scare and more
Mind, body, spirit memories that inside cells did store.
Personal trainer, energy healer, a faith deep in my soul
Teachers You have sent to me to help me now be whole.

Brother here for Christmas and a change in our routine
The past alive in conversation - need to keep my soul pristine.
Focusing on goodness and see only love and light
Dispelling past and future keep the moment now in sight.

Sixteen miles – a training run – not feeling at my best
Wanted to just stay in bed and get a little rest.
Temperatures were mild but strong headwind in our face
I felt Your Loving Presence and surrounded by Your grace.

Dizziness came over me the first time 'round the track
Hydration and dig deep within to bring the present back.
Release the doubts, the fears inside-time for wounds to heal
Fulfill my highest purpose – my power now I feel.

Listen to my iPod the shuffle songs my friend
Hear You speaking to me – to Your Voice I now attend.
The power of the wind is strong, but I am stronger yet
My mind and Spirit drive me, my determination set.

As Team McManus journeyed on,we felt You as our guide
Guarding every foot step,running by our side.
And when this run was over, we saw the Truth so clear
We can run the Boston Marathon, the finish line is near!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

105 Times Around the Track

As I was praying and creating the mildest winter ever in New England, the snow began to fly and temperatures were plummeting. I tried to remain calm as I thought, how will we ever train in this weather? Last Thursday, God led us to a patch of clear road to do our speed drills with our trainer and the forecast is for a big warm up but in the midst of the storm, I had to remember, All is Well and In Divine Order.
And so, on Saturday morning, after digging out from the storm, my husband and I went to the BU track for our 15 mile run. Our daughter was ill with a bad cold and could not join us. It was a phenomenal experience for us. We were both tired from the storm (but ever so grateful our electricity remained on and everyone was safe and sound), I had been out the night before at a neighbor's caroling party (and was so delighted when I was able to share my journey and exchange so much incredible energy with the carolers), and of course the air quality is not the best indoors. My husband was also coming down with that cold that is going around but we cranked up the iPod and focused on getting those miles into our legs. We are on a journey that is beyond us. I visualized Marathon Day; I visualized all the thousands of dollars of donations coming in; I visualized being on the Today Show the day after the Marathon with my husband and daughter wearing our medals and BAA jackets. After our first 7.5 miles, we began to pick up the pace and for the last lap, I did a speed sprint crying all the way. We ran a 14:80 mile for 15 miles! I cannot emphasize enough that it is not about the speed or the is about freedom, it is about giving back, it is about being who God wants us to be - healthy, whole, a shining example of faith, courage and determination and that it is possible to transcend any and all limitations when living a life connected with God.
Gratitudes for today:
I am so grateful for this beautiful warm home overflowing with love and harmony and to be able to provide love and support to my young adult children as they find their path.
I am so grateful to be listening to It's All About You hosted by Darien Marshall and Darius Jones-I could not listen live yesterday but am listening to the archive with John St Augustine of Oprah and Friends XM Satellite Radio - we are so much more than our physical selves
I am so grateful for health and healing and wholeness
I am so grateful for Twitter and the friends I am meeting there
I am so grateful that God provides everything I need to succeed
I am so grateful I can release fear and allow love to bathe my soul
I am so grateful for friends who have led me to miraculous connections
I am so grateful for indoor tracks
I am so grateful to Spaulding Rehab Hospital and our amazing Race for Rehab team
I am so grateful to our donors
I am so grateful for warmer weather and sunshine
I am so grateful for God's blessings which are bathing the world
I am so grateful I can release the untrue feelings about myself - that I am a nuisance, a 'leper' to be avoided, that I deserve to be punished and instead to focus on the Truth that I am a miraculous child of God so blessed and a blessing to others
I am so grateful I can live deep in the Spirit - to feel God deep within me and to live from that place of love and abundance
And I send out prayers of love and blessings to all during this holiday season and as we turn the corner to a New Year!
If you are wondering what you can do to support Team McManus because you are overflowing with a feeling of inspiration and joy ... just go to our website, and make a donation and leave us a message of support!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Power of Crisis - The Gift of New Life

I was blessed to connect with Tony Robbins via his holiday message. He suggested that I go to his Power of Crisis website ( and answer the five questions to bring hope and inspiration to others. Here are the answers to his five questions:

What was your life like right before the crisis hit?

I was working at the VA as a social worker with a very successful career – received several awards including social worker of the year; I was raising twins, supporting my husband and managing our home – I was basically a 'supermom'.

What was the crisis you faced? What happened, and when it did, what did you feel and experience?

Beginning in 1996, I began to experience symptoms of feeling lousy, muscle weakness, fatigue, chronic pain and when I talked to my primary care provider about the possibility that I could be experiencing post polio syndrome, he was very dismissive, stating that diagnosis did not exist. He prescribed exercises and told me I needed to forget about it. He ran tests and declared me perfectly healthy. Finally, in the summer of 2006, I felt as though I could not go on living my life the way I was feeling. I had a constant lump in my throat, I had shortness of breath, tremors, tingling down my right arm and numbness in my face, I had difficulty climbing the stairs in our home and couldn't sleep at night; I had difficulty getting out of bed every morning but went to work, put a smile on my face and tried to help my patients. I would often close my office door and cry in between patients feeling so frightened and alone and not knowing what was happening to me. As a medical social worker, I had ruled out that I was experiencing a heart attack or a stroke and knew I did not need to go to the Emergency Room, but I knew something was very wrong with me. When I went for my annual physical in September of 2006, I was in a panic state and so my doctor gave me paxil for my symptoms and told me to see a psychiatrist. In all fairness to him, I did share with him that I was a survivor of childhood trauma and wondered if this was a part of the physical symptoms but I also told him I thought there was something physically wrong with me. After doing a physical, he declared me perfectly healthy. I was feeling depressed, despondent, angry and frustrated and had no idea how I was going to find my way out of the darkness.

What pulled you through this difficult, unjust or impossible time? What was the trigger or catalyst for change? What is a belief, a strategy, a person, a faith, a tool? What made the change possible?

I flushed the paxil down the toilet and saw in our church bulletin that Rev Leslie Sterling was starting a Gospel Highlights group. She had a most unique approach to bible study overflowing with love and compassion. There was a crack of light coming into the darkness as I realized I needed to open up myself again to God. After all, I experienced a vision of God when I was five years old after contracting paralytic polio and God guided me through a horrific childhood so it was time to pray and to LISTEN! In October 2006, as I sat my laptop feeling as though I could not live another day, God suggested I google post polio syndrome, and lo and behold, The Spaulding Rehab Hospital's International Rehab Center for Polio was 30 minutes away from where I live. My first phone call to the center was answered by an angel, Anna Rubin who spent 45 minutes talking with me about what I was experiencing. She sent me a packet to fill out prior to my first appointment and a book about post polio syndrome. The diagnosis did indeed exist and it accounted for many of the symptoms I was experiencing. The physiatrist ordered an MRI of my cervical spine and the tingling and numbness and pain on the right side of my face and arm were all due to a disc/nerve impingement. I was immediately referred for trigger injections. I began intensive outpatient rehab and the staff at Spaulding urged me to consider quitting my full time job because of how it was contributing to my physical symptoms. I could go on disability. At this time, a friend of mine suggested I read Conversations with God and watch The Secret. I also found my way back to the words and wisdom of Dr. Bernie Siegel and began to immerse myself in a course of healing my life. In February 2007, as I sat in a leg brace, shivering from the cold, using a cane and at times a wheelchair for mobility, I wrote the poem, “Running the Race”. I had enjoyed writing customized poetry for friends and family and everyone told me I had such a gift but I never gave much thought to my gift ... until now. The poetry began to flow out of me, and as I opened myself to God a new path began to appear before me and events converged which resulted in me becoming a published author and creating my own customized poetry company.

Once you turned the corner mentally or emotionally, what did you do to turn your life around?

I took a leap of faith and quit my full time job as a social worker. I set out to recover from a grueling routine of getting up at 5:30 am and living my life only for others. I journaled, meditated, visualized, prayed, listened to Tony Robbins CD's, Bernie Siegel's Meditation CD's, read Wayne Dyer's books and found incredible bliss and joy in writing poetry. I also decided I wanted to give back to Spaulding and met with the Development Office to talk about donating 20% of the proceeds of the sale of my book to Spaulding. And then, in October 2007, I hired my friend, a personal trainer, to see what else we could do to help this body to heal and recover. Those first training sessions were brutal and the physical pain I experienced was intense but I was no stranger to pain and knew that I wanted to keep on going to achieve a level of health and fitness I had never experienced in my life. And in February 2008, when my trainer asked me what my next goals were, tears flowed as God spoke through my core and I said, I want to run the Race for Rehab for Spaulding Rehab – the Boston Marathon to raise monies for Spaulding. I traded in my polio shoes for a pair of running shoes and now we are up to 15 miles on our long training runs. I am achieving a level of health and fitness in mind, body and spirit and feeling such love and gratitude for every day.

How is your life better today because you lived through this crisis? How have you transformed? How are you stronger physically, emotionally and spiritually? What gifts do you have to give because of this?

The greatest gift I have to give is the gift of giving back to Spaulding Rehab for all the help I received as I took those first steps on my healing journey. My book is received with rave reviews from my readers and what a joy to donate 20% to Spaulding. I am fund raising – something I have never done before which brings such joy. My business is taking off. Gratitude and love are the sources of fuel that I put in my tank to drive me forward in joy every day. I am a better mother, wife and friend. I bring such joy to others through my poetry either through my book or through the customized poetry I create for them. And I am inspiring people who are struggling with physical challenges. What a blessing to receive emails from other polio survivors who now have hope that post polio syndrome is not a death sentence and how, through releasing the anger and depression, life can be healed. People who I meet tell me that I light up the room and when they hear my story, are so deeply touched by my journey. Through fund raising, we are bringing communities together for a common goal – to provide financial support to a remarkable facility which promotes independence, integrity, hope and renewal after people experience a physical trauma. I am having a love fest with life and it is glorious. I am told I am infectious – what a blessing to be infectious with joy, love and God's spirit shining through rather than people avoiding me/fearing me because I had been infectious with polio. I have also discovered a strength – physical, mental and spiritual that I did not know I possessed until I challenged myself with training for the Boston Marathon. And I discovered how much love there is in my family. We all work together as a team – my husband, daughter and I are training together and my son helps us with household chores on weekends. After our long runs, we need all the help we can get .:) I have the gifts of faith, courage, determination, love, and passion and I am a shining example of how, when you live your life with God, all things are indeed possible!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

"If you just believe..."

Last night as I sat at our fundraiser, I thought of Josh Groban's Christmas song from the Polar Express, 'if you just believe...' At 7 pm there was a sparse crowd and I dismissed all of the feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness which have their roots in part in my polio experience and set ego aside. I focused on the saying from Field of Dreams, 'if you build it, they will come.' And come they did. Our dear friends and neighbors arrived with an army of parents and children all dressed for the holidays. The annual giving manager from Spaulding arrived and with her amazing fund raising experience, she helped steady my nerves and told me to not worry - people would arrive late. And arrive they did. And then there was the Silent Auction - no one had placed a bid on an item and as I sat in the church next to my dear friend and trainer, Janine I heard God say to me, "Believe Mary" and so I released it all to God and emotionally detached from any outcome - not an easy task for a control freak like myself but it felt wonderfully freeing to do so. Before I knew it, everyone had bid on at least one item. But more than the fund raising aspect of the evening was the aspect of Spirit in the room. The Fenway Quintet is phenomenal and they were overflowing with love and joy. Their music heralded God and angels. The children were spellbound as they taught about the music and then wafted beautiful sounds into the air. We celebrated the miracle of my healing and the love of Team McManus (with 3 runners and our son who is providing us with incredible emotional support as well as household support after our long weekend training runs).
We are so blessed and I am so grateful for:
Raising over $1500
The sounds of exhilaration when a family won the NE Revolution Soccer tickets on the Silent Auction
The storm miraculously ending late morning and missing eastern Massachusetts
The outpouring of community love and support
The help of angels as I decorated the church
Feeling God's loving presence surround our event
Finding the calm and confidence to focus on who was present rather than who did not show up
Trusting that all was truly well and in Divine Order
Feeling the peace and harmony in our family as we worked together in perfect tandem before, during and after the fund raiser

Time to prepare physically and mentally for tomorrow's 15 mile run!

Believe in what your heart is saying,
Hear the melody that's playing
There's no time to waste,
There so much to celebrate.
Believe in what you feel inside,
And give your dreams the wings to fly.
You have everything you need, if you just Believe.
From "Believe" - written by Glenn Ballard

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Letting Go and Letting God Guide My Day

My plan for the day was to get up, go for a tempo run, go to the Church to make preparations for tomorrow night's holiday benefit concert, run some errands and be home by 4 to talk with a new client for New World Greeting Cards. I woke up to pouring rain and raw weather - okay so let's find a plan B - need to go to BU track but how will I have time to do that before going to the Church. Let's move that to after the church but then how will I be able to do the errands and make it home by 4? Okay - you get the instead of thinking about and organizing the day, I decided to Let Go and Let God Guide My Day. I went to the post office, picked up the programs for the concert and then something inside told me to check in with my twins to see if they needed a ride. My daughter had left her wallet at home and had to walk back from the train to get it - could she get a ride? And my son was running a little late and didn't want to rush, walking, especially in the rain so I took a 'detour' and got them to the train. I proceeded to run errands and arrived at the Church. The Guild Room which is where we are having our reception was not vacant until 1 ... rather than start ticking off a time table, I said that All is Well and In Divine Order and I would arrive at home in plenty of time to talk with my client at 4. I also had the foresight to grab some lunch at a local deli before my blood sugar plummeted and I would have to stuff something down before a training run - that would have been a disaster. The meeting in the Guild Room went on for what seemed like forever but I told myself that God has a hand in my day and we can co create my day together - the ladies in the Guild Room heard my story since I had the Spaulding Rehab tablecloth. Two of them purchased my book and several more plan to attend our Concert - God had it all planned and I just needed to be patient and trust.

I arrived home and I was starting to feel a little rushed but I told myself, let go and let God. And I arrived at the BU Track to find a parking space RIGHT IN FRONT! Since it was pouring rain, this was an incredible blessing. Off I went to do 3 miles at a fast pace - it was me and my iPod and despite having the sandwich at noontime, I felt tired. I was definitely not in the zone for a run since part of me was emotionally tied to the concert tomorrow tonight and part of me was anticipating a call from a new client but I heard my trainer's voice telling me to settle down and settle in and I did a 12:70 minute/mile which includes the 5 minute walking warm up so I don't know what my actual mile pace was once I got into the running. It was too difficult to track the time and the 7 laps around which = one mile at the BU track. I took my time after the run to do a walk off lap and then stretch and then change my clothes and I kept having this feeling that I didn't need to be concerned with being home right at 4. And guess what? My client never called at 4 ... I have a message on my phone which I'll check right after I am through with this post ---

So rather than allowing the outer events and timetable control my day, I allowed God in and together we co-created a magical day in which I was able to get everything done. And let me tell you, I feel so incredibly blessed by the love in the Fenway Quintet. When one of the members heard we were having a silent auction, he offered to have the band be a silent auction item. I told him that they were already donating enough. They also told me that they sent out invitations on Facebook so the concert is 'all over the internet'. And last night, I found Boston Tweet and they will be posting the concert. Today, there is an ad for the concert in our local paper and you know what? It's time to Let Go and Let God work Her magic and mystery and tomorrow night is going to be full of love and surprises and we're gonna make a lot of money for Spaulding Rehab.
Thank You God!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Seeing is Believing - But Not Seeing is Believing

With all of the 'bad' news in the world today, I am finding that so many people are letting fear, doubt, worry and the solar plexus clutch dominate. At times, I am one of those people. How will we ever raise $9,000 (well it's less now since we donations are coming in) in this economy? How will I run 26.2 miles? What if...... So I have decided on a conscious level to release all of those toxic emotions to God - yup - when they try to creep in and bring me down, I just say to God, "here - you take this...I am going to visualize and create what I want to happen and never let reality get in the way of my dreams." So while seeing is believing, not seeing and yet believing helps me to create the life I want. Right now I am focused on marathon training, book sales, holiday customized poems and our Friday night fund raiser at All Saints Parish Brookline, 1773 Beacon Street from 7-9 pm. I thank God for all of the orders I have already received and for the orders yet to come; I am so blessed to be following my bliss and to have discovered the gift of poetry within me. I see orders pouring in from paypal and I believe that God is blessing me in so many ways. And then I release it knowing that All Is Well and in Divine Order.
I did 9.2 miles on the bike today - cross training since it was raw outside today and last week was very intense training what with the Ten Mile Turkey Trot, hill training with my daughter, hill and tempo run with Janine and then my husband setting an incredible pace for our 14 mile run! But I did a vigorous cardio workout and dare I say it? I love to sweat! As a polio and post polio survivor I could never reach a level of fitness where I could sweat and breathe hard and feel my muscles singing as I coax them along. It's an amazing journey and I did more miles than last week in the same amount of time and had an increased heart rate - even when Janine is not with me, I hear her pushing me and challenging me. There is the Divine Flame burning within. And I believed a year ago February when I began to write poetry about being healthy and whole and yet loving myself just as I was. I had no idea the remarkable healing which would take place in my body but somewhere, deep within my soul, I believed. And at times, when I became fearful and doubted, I borrowed Janine's faith in the work she was doing and in the body's innate capacity to heal to continue on my journey. And now, we move forward to the starting line at Hopkinton.
Friday night is going to be a wonderful celebration of Team McManus and the miracle of healing. As we prepare to celebrate the miracles of Hanukkah and Christmas, let us all join together to create a vision for a new world - a world with peace, prosperity, joy and LOVE!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Variety is the Spice of Life!

When Janine showed up for our scheduled training appointment, she announced that we would be doing hills and a tempo run today! My old self would have said, 'but I just did hill training on Tuesday and we ran that race on Sunday' but instead I felt the thrill of going out running with my dear friend and trainer Janine. You see, when I was growing up, I could never go out and play with my friends because of the residual effects of polio. I was v-e-r-y slow at running, had difficulty with coordination and did not have a sense of freedom within my body. I never knew the joy of playing tag, or being chosen first for a team. These wounds took a l-o-n-g time to heal but thanks be to God they are healing. It is December 4th and the temperature at training run time was a balmy 46 degrees. There was a stiff wind at first but within no time, we were both workin' up a sweat! We went to the Reservoir and Janine took me to this h-u-g-e hill - very steep and long. The first time running up the hill was a slow and steady pace. She has this wonderful way of helping me to move forward when my body has its doubts. We reached the top and she said, 'okay use this time to recover'. Once we got back to the Reservoir traversing the back side of the hill, it was time for a brisk tempo run - and she set the pace! Now usually I would be tuned into thoughts of my body's limitations and that I need to transcend that but today, I BELIEVED with all my heart that I could keep pace and do whatever workout challenge Janine had lined up for me. We also talked (not easy when this 54 year old body is having a heart rate of over 164) about our lives, my miraculous recovery (and how a year ago Janine never dreamed that I would be a runner), conquering fear which limits us in what we can create in our lives and celebrated starting our day by being out in the glorious weather. After completing our tempo run, she let me set the pace until we got back to the hill - the 2nd time I ate that hill up and went a lot faster and easier - back to the Reservoir for another tempo run feeling my legs were lighter and stronger than ever. She challenged me to run up the hill heading toward home at her pace and at the end I passed her to make it to the top. We both felt exhilarated at run's end and embraced our relationship with the Earth, the Sun, and nature and felt incredibly blessed and grateful.

After the workout and stretch, Janine asked me what I learned today about training - variety is the spice of life! I used to be a wicked control freak and felt everything had to be exact and measured - with Marathon training, it's important to vary the workouts during the week - sometimes the weather helps with this process (like when it was torrential downpours and my daughter and I used the bike) and sometimes you gotta mix it up so different muscles are getting a workout. And in January, I'm gonna have an amazing opportunity to mix it up - my 55th Birthday/Christmas present is a trip to Puerto Rico - running in the sand, swimming laps in the pool will be a wonderful way to cross train and then we'll return in time for a long distance run on the Sunday. I had to work really hard to give myself permission to take this trip but you know what, I and you and everyone deserves every happiness and joy in this life! God is blessing us all with Her Love and Light and what a blessing that I can shine my light through my triumph over post polio syndrome and through my gift of poetry.

And speaking of the gift of poetry - and variety is the spice of life - why not start a different holiday tradition this year with the gift of a customized card or poem for that special someone. Check out my website at for one stop holiday shopping.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Another Sign!

It's 42 degrees in Boston on December 2nd - a miracle in and of itself - great running weather. This morning my daughter and I headed out to do our hill training - nothing too strenuous after Sunday's amazing race but need to keep on track for 4/20/09. It's a little chilly but after a five minute warm up, we're already feeling warmer and we had no hats or gloves using the 15 degree rule of dressing for running (you add 15 degrees to the temperature and dress for that). We're jogging along and rather than go to our usual hill, my daughter suggests we go to a hill we used during our early days of hill training. We turn the corner and take our first run up the hill; we come down and as we are about to take our second run up the hill, I looked down and there is a little wad of dollar bills in the street. Neither one of us saw them when we first arrived. I picked them up and put them in my runner's fanny pack. And we did eight uphills going faster each time. Ordinarily we would do a tempo run around the neighborhood and back home but in light of our recent run, we decided to just do a tempo run to home. When we arrived home, I took out the money - there were four dollar bills stuck together - a sign from God that we are a strong family and should stick together (there are four members of our family). I also took them and combined them with yesterday's change find and the change jar which held the pennies, nickels and dimes I had found at various times during training runs and combined it to put the amount into our offline donation on our donation website (which by the way is God is blessing us with the knowledge that She is guiding and guarding us and providing us with EVERYTHING we need to succeed (including great training weather and funding).
I feel so incredibly sore but it is a magnificent feeling to be building muscle and transcending the physical to feel my Spirit soar!

Monday, December 1, 2008

An Amazing Sign!

As humans, we all share those moments of doubt and fear and questioning. I knew that God spoke through me when I told my trainer Janine that my goal was to run the Boston Marathon, the Race for Rehab to raise monies for Spaulding but there are times when I wonder - was that God's Voice I heard? Am I really supposed to be doing this? Is this my life's purpose at this moment in my life? After a run like The Tough Ten Mile Turkey Trot, I know that God moves me and that I transcend my physical body and run with the Spirit and I am ever so grateful for these amazing experiences. And every once in awhile, a little nagging voice asks how are we ever going to raise the $9,000; how am I ever going to run 26.2 miles and then God answers. Today, the answer came in a most wonderfully strange way. I had some errands to run at Cleveland Circle which interestingly enough is a turning point on the Marathon route. After running down Commonwealth Avenue, we turn onto Chestnut Hill Avenue and then once we get to Cleveland Circle, it is a straight shot to Kenmore Square with just a few small hills along the way. It's maybe only 4 miles to the finish at that point. So, here I am in Cleveland Circle and this morning, those little inner critics were chatting away but I dismissed them, telling myself that my passport is no longer valid to travel to the land of negativity. My daughter called and asked if I could pick her up. Her train took longer than usual. It was a glorious 60 degree day so I was happy to wait outside in the sunshine. I walked up and down Beacon St a little bit and one man asked me for spare change. I gave him a dollar. She called again asking if we could pick up a burrito because she was really hungry. So I went into our usual place, Boloco, and ordered our burritos. I came outside and the man who had asked for the dollar had gone. I looked down 'for some reason' and on the ledge of the Citibank there was all this change spread out. I picked it up knowing it was for me. It was hot from being in the sunshine.
When we returned home there were: 5 quarters $1.25; 14 pennies; 3 nickels and 2 dimes. What did this mean? My daughter figured out that if we add the 1 and 5 it equals 6 so it was 26.2; we are scheduled to run 14 miles this weekend and then 15 miles the following weekend (hence the 3 nickels) and soon we shall run 20 miles and God was saying -- see, you can do this and please do not be concerned about the money because I am sending you everything you need to do this. I called you to this path and trust in me -- just as you did yesterday believing that all who hunger and thirst shall come to me and be fed.
So as I prepare to turn in for the night, I release all concerns to God and I move forward with passion and joy as I send out a holiday fund raising letter and know that All is well and in Divine Order - thanks be to God. Blessings to you all and keep awake for God is sending us messages all the time to shower us with Her Love and to help us to remember who we are!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

God Provides!

The wind was supposed to die down and temperatures were supposed to rise. I woke up this morning to see the sun; I cleared my energy for the day doing my meditation and set my intention that I would thoroughly enjoy running in the crisp air. I visualized going around Jamaica Pond. When I let our cat Alex out, I realized the temperatures were still frigid. I knew we had to get miles into our legs so I began to psyche myself up...and then God spoke through my husband who asked about finding an indoor track. I called Boston College where I am an alum and received a voicemail. I called Boston University where I am also an alum and just happened to have my alumni card. They told us we could get a monthly membership; the track is 1/7 of a mile so I started doing the math - 91 times around but who cared? We would not be in the bitter cold. When we arrived, we learned to find out we can do a guest pass for only $10/person for the day so we opted for that. We got oriented to the FitRec center and got on the husband set his watch to record our laps; it was my job to time our splits. We were doing 16:00 minute miles for the first 6.5 miles and then, since we had done 13 miles last week, it was time to try to pick up the pace for the back half of the miles. And we're running and running and we're doing 15 minute miles but running really fast and then when we reached 3:30 (which was our previous time for 13 miles) we're still running according to the lap o meter. I thought, well gee, maybe the mileage was off for Jamaica Pond and we're running really fast now because we want to finish when my husband realizes that we had been running on the OUTSIDE of the track and the mileage is for the INSIDE of the track. No harm no foul as they say - 14 miles and 3 hours and 45 minutes later, we finished! And for the first time, we really felt like Marathon Runners. I am learning what to do if I feel cramping - water, gatorade and/or power gel and I also pray, inviting God to keep the muscles nice and loose. Interestingly enough, when we picked up the pace, I was distracted from the pain and focused only on finishing. I ran 14 miles today....I thought back to when I first started walking Wollaston Beach - I could only walk for 20 minutes and today, I ran for 3 hours and 45 minutes. I celebrate and give thanks to God for setting forth everything I need to make this journey. It is mystical and magical and marvelous and magnificent. And of course post long run care is as important as care prior to and during the training run. I drink tons of water to flush out the lactic acid and stretch, stretch, stretch.
This journey is phenomenal because I am learning to transcend what my physical body is telling me - like it's time to sit down; let's go have lunch; why are you doing this to me? and I listen to my Spirit which is fueled to the starting corral at the Boston Marathon and this Spirit along with the crowds and the love and support of so many will fuel me to go from Hopkinton to Boston on April 20, 2009.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Training Day

The scales are falling from my eyes and I see Truth...I shed the beliefs that no longer serve me that support me being less than Divine, less than beautiful, less than a radiant Spirit, less than capable of whatever I put my mind and heart to, that creates problems and crises out of 'thin air'. Instead, I focus my eyes on God, our Loving Creator, the powerful Source of life within me. It is this force that enabled me to, at 3 pm yesterday afternoon, to go outside in the 29 degree wind chill temperatures and run with my daughter. We had an amazing training session - we ran more hills than ever as my daughter chose a rather rigorous route after we sprinted up and down our 'usual' hills. Going out and running is a way for me to feel empowered and to connect with the Divine Force within me. It's an integral part of my transformational process - mind, body and spirit as I push myself to do and be more than I was the week before. I transcend the physical by focusing on spiritual and mental toughness. At times do I want to just sit and revert to old, familiar comfortable bet I do! What do I do to conquer that? I move forward in joy celebrating ME...celebrating all that I meant to BE...and to take the challenge to live my life as fully as I possibly can. To let words flow from my soul to create joy for others through customized poetry and through the words of poems already written. I am so blessed that I touch people's hearts and souls through my words. Darien Marshall and Darius Jones of Its All About You on and Darimar Entertainment, now talk about reading my poems as part of the tradition of their show! And the joy of donating poetry to Jordan Rich's 2009 For the Children Calendar which will benefit Childrens Hospital Blessing Fund ( I have met so many beautiful people on this journey...confession - I do get really anxious when I connect with people at this higher vibration...and I realized that this anxiety comes from that kernal of untruth at my core that believes I am not worthy to be hangin' out with the likes of Jordan Rich or Jennifer Skiff or Michelle Epiphany Prosser who celebrate me and whom I's easier to retreat into relationships in which I have to 'work' to be recognized and then of course, there's never enough or it doesn't happen - it's easier because it is familiar like an old shoe. (And if you would like to read a poem about The Old Shoe, you'll have to check out my book, "New World Greetings:Inspirational Poetry and Musings for a New World" - I donate 20% to the Spaulding Rehab's International Rehab Center for Polio) But you know what? It does not reap the rewards of living life with the Divine! My energy comes alive when I go out and run (even in the cold - especially in the cold). When I was dealing with symptoms of post polio syndrome, cold was my arch enemy...I would shiver and feel the pain in my I have Divine Protection (along with some fabulous equipment from Marathon Sports here in Brookline). And it is this Divine Protection which guides me every day when I open my heart to receive all the love, all the joy, all the bounty, all the wisdom and inspired action to go forth and be a shining light of God's beacon of love!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Blessing The Journey

God is blessing our journey...this morning, we woke up to torrential downpours...the weather forecast said torrential rain and wind all day but tomorrow is supposed to be sunny although colder. I kept saying I am going to look beyond appearances and not listen to the forecast. The temperature was a balmy 60 degrees and I'd rather run in warm and rain than cold and I said a prayer to God thanking Her for making the rain stop. My husband said, let's say a prayer thanking God that we can run in the rain! When we arrived at our running site, the rain had stopped. After about two hours into our run, the skies opened up and it poured for maybe 2 or 3 minutes and then the sun peeked out through the clouds and we had no more rain during the run. My daughter tried to catch the falling leaves as we ran around the Pond...were we not training for the Marathon we would not know this joy and it is wonderful to share it all with you!
I have never known unbridled joy coupled with such incredible hard work! Today was a milestone...we ran for 13 miles and then had to walk another mile to go back to our car...this week I have put 22 miles on these beautiful legs...and I am so grateful to God for blessing our journey. Five months and five days to Marathon Monday! Wow!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Little Engine That Can!

The last thing I ever wanted to do was focus on my body – it was my enemy – an entity to be tolerated. I walked with a limp, felt tired all the time and I had, unknowingly, internalized the teasing and taunting voices of my peers – 'easy out' 'we don't want HER on our team' ' what's the matter with her? Look at those funny shoes!' But just like the ugly duckling, I am now a beautiful swan. Spaulding Rehab helped me to begin the process of reconnecting with my body, and through the grace of God, I learned at the age of 53, how to love myself – just as I was – with polio shoes and a brace. And a little over a year ago now, Janine Hightower, a dear friend and personal trainer, helped me to believe that my body was capable of more. She would often quote Henry Ford – 'whether you think you can or think you can't – you're right!' I remember how, after our first session, I could barely move feeling muscles I did not even know existed. I wondered if I was doing the right thing and wanted to just quit at times. But something kept moving me forward. That Divine force fuels me on each training run as Janine and I challenge my body to do more than it did the week before. I celebrate the transformation and every step on this amazing journey. I also listen to the wisdom of my body, treating it with tender loving care as I train it to run 26.2 miles. “Believe and your belief will create the fact.” - William James
And today, once again, after a brief morning shower, we had perfect running conditions -- time for a Tempo Run Janine told we warmed up walking for five minutes and then ran for another five minutes -- I thought we were going at a pretty good pace and Janine told me it was now time for the tempo run....without giving any thought to how fast I was pushing my body, I kept pace with this beautiful angel whom God sent to me to know that I can transcend the physical and focus on the Spirit. It was so funny because as we were running, she told me that when she first started running she used to imagine that she had a belt around her waist and was just being pulled along; I had this image of her being my trainer and I was a dog and had a leash and she was just pulling me along and I effortlessly kept pace! And what a pace - how about 11:40 for the first mile; 12:40 for the second mile and 12:00 for the third mile. My heart rate averaged 165 for the 41+ minutes of running...I am a 54 year old woman whose maximum heart rate is supposed to be 170 -- in other words, I am in damn good shape for a woman my age...for a woman at any age I might add. And Janine pushed me to a sprint at the end at which point my heart rate went up to 173 and I could still once again, we proved that I AM the little engine that can THANKS BE TO GOD!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What Makes Mary Run?

A friend of mine asked me what does running mean to me - it is freedom; it is love - I am making this journey with my loving husband and daughter Ruth Anne and feeling the love and support of my son who is so proud of my strength and courage; it is doing something not just for me but to help raise monies for Spaulding Rehab Hospital; it is an opportunity to inspire others and to allow God's Spirit and Love to Shine through me....
I am connecting to my body in new ways and feeling muscles and aches that I never experienced before. I am embracing these and telling myself that this is marvelous - my body is building and moving forward in ways that I never dreamed imaginable having been a polio survivor. The key is to know and to trust in the process and to LISTEN TO MY BODY! Okay now sometimes my body says let's pull the covers over our head and just stay in bed 'cuz baby it's cold outside...that's not what I mean of's about the pacing and knowing what my body needs in terms of nutrition, exercise other than training runs, sleep, hydration, and to also nourish my Spirit...taking time to meditate, pray, journal and invite God into every moment of my day is crucial...and to know that God has called me to do this amazing journey. I celebrate myself -
And I am celebrating the great outdoors -- when once I feared going out into the cold and rain because I was so sickly and frail, I now embrace the wind and see the season of fall here in New England with new eyes. What makes Mary run? The answer can best be summed up in one word - God!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Staying Positive!

This morning I woke up to rain...but it is warm 55 degrees and it's a tempo run so the rain motivates me to go faster .:) - and interesting how God helps to plan my day. My trainer, Janine, had a scheduling conflict so we rescheduled for next week. Home Depot was coming to replace a window so I could not go on an early morning run and I was supposed to meet with my publicist this afternoon but she had to reschedule so now my daughter, Ruth Anne and I can go on a tempo run together this afternoon after her class. Trusting, remaining positive and knowing that all is well and in Divine Order is the fuel to guide me along this amazing journey. It's also about listening to the Voice within and making choices using my intuition to guide me. It is so easy for the internal critical voice of fear and doubt to take over - but move over fear and are being replaced with God's abundant Love which showers us all with Grace and strength and courage and light. I use a broom to sweep away the cobwebs of negative thinking and unleash the energy which is going to be needed for every training run.
Oh and guess what? The downpours have stopped - God's grace once again ever present in my life!
I'll be back after the run....
With dinner cooking away, I'll finish today's entry. As soon as we finished our run, it began to rain buckets again. In my book, "New World Greetings:Inspirational Poetry and Musings for a New World," I have a chapter entitled "A Little Rain Must Fall" -- and I have a whole new appreciation of the rain. Actually, since having been diagnosed with post polio syndrome, I have a new appreciation for all of life! But today, with the rain stopping long enough for us to get in our run is another sign of God's grace in my life. It was misty and some wind but for November 6th, the weather remains mild...God is blessing me with everything I need along life's journey! I am so grateful....Time to refuel...blessings to you all.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Labor of Love

Training to run the Boston Marathon is like being pregnant...I had this aha moment one evening as I looked at my big toe nail which had turned purple on my left foot and had a blood blister on my right foot. “Oh my God,” I felt, “what's happening to my body is like what happened when I was pregnant” - it's going through changes at light warp speed and while I am amazed at how I feel spiritually and physically since I started running, there are aches and pains and things happening to my body that never happened before.Oh and of course rather than putting on the pounds, they are shedding like magic! I have what is called a contracture on my big left toe...a small reminder of polio...the toe likes to stay in a crooked position. So, as I was increasing miles, and forgot to keep my toenails trim, it took a real pounding. I feel like a real athlete now because I have to tape the toe before my run and it is healing beautifully. As for the blood blister...a blister kit from Marathon Sports and allowing the body with God's help to heal naturally enables me to continue running without missing a beat!

There is new life and transformation growing within me. This is an incredible labor of love – I don't mind the aches and pains or the blisters because I am on a mission. I am stretching and growing in ways I never knew possible before I said to Janine, my personal trainer, 'do you think you can help me get off of a low toilet seat?' And with Janine's loving guidance, I trust in the body's natural healing process and pay loving attention to what my body is telling me. I am so blessed to be surrounded by love – and to let in the most glorious love of all – the love from Source...God. I am learning to love myself and hence take exquisite care of my body. Is this selfishness? You bet it is and I highly recommend it...paying attention to nutrition and sleep and managing stress and taking time out for meditation each day is crucial. The body is the temple which holds our sacred self.

And just like during the nine months of pregnancy, there is also the air of expectation – what will it be like on Marathon Monday as I stand in the corral waiting for the starting gun to go off? Just like going into labor, all distractions are shut out, Spirit takes over mind and body as I will focus on a single goal – and feel the rush of tears, exhilaration and joy when I cross the finish line where loving arms await to embrace Team McManus.I am overflowing with gratitude for this amazing journey!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Twelve Miles!

God is truly amazing! All I have to do is open my heart and soul and let all the love in. Today, God's love came in the form of a perfect weather running day...air was as calm as could be except for an occasional cooling breeze; there was bright sunshine glistening off of Jamaica Pond and the air temperature was almost 60 degrees -- for November 1st in New England - a total blessing!!! I prayed and told God that I had been running into headwinds during training runs for the past couple of weeks...especially on the weekends (of course we were training at Wollaston Beach where we were met with a stiff sea breeze). Today, we decided to change our venue and ran 8 times around Jamaica Pond which is 1.54 miles around. We found a parking space exactly where we needed it for easy access to our refueling - water, bananas, gatorade and saw some familiar faces (our former yoga teacher and a coworker that my husband worked with many years ago). There was incredible energy among walkers and runners; one woman was wearing her Tufts 10K T-shirt and we shouted out - finish stronger (the motto on the T says to start strong, finish stronger -- a wonderful motto for us to live by!). Oh, and God told me that I needed to learn how to run into the headwind and push against it to feel my own power -- so often I would have to push against the many physical therapists I encountered through the years to have my strength tested or to help me to strengthen these limbs which had been weakened by the polio virus...well now...strength and power are mine -- and they are yours as well you know -- all you have to do is ask and you shall receive; knock and the door will be opened and seek and you will find....
We are blessed to be on this journey prayer is that you have the joy and health and peace and happiness and love and prosperity that is your birthright - our birthright. And let us join together in prayer that from our hearts overflowing with love our world is healed and together we can create a New World!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Impossible is nothing..I leave my doubts at the starting line

The journey of life is in many ways like a marathon -- there are times when we cruise downhill and feel the wind at our backs and then there are other times when there is an arduous uphill with the force of the wind trying to hold us back; we feel as though there is no way we can take another step. But asking God to guide the journey takes the sting out of the wind and makes the downhill cruising time so much more joyful. The title for this post is taken from the Adidas commercial for the Boston Marathon....and it is a motto that I want to drink into the depths of my soul. For with God, impossible is nothing and when I let God's love waft into my soul, there is no room for fear or doubt. This weekend we will run 12 miles for our training run....God has blessed us with miraculous weather (except for one weekend when there was a torrential downpour - God just wanted to let me know that no matter what, I was gonna get out there and run and that it is just as important to drink in the sunshine as it is to dance in the rain) and the forecast calls for sunshine once again. This is a journey I cannot undertake addition to frequent calls to God (1-800-54-GOD -- like the Giant Glass commercial) I seek out love and support from friends and family. To see the joy in other people's eyes as I share my story and my vision for running a marathon fuels me to be courageous and strong. My prayer is that the joy and the hope and the passion and the love that now burns brightly like the Olympic torch in my soul warms you, brings you hope and fuels your journey in the marathon of life. {The photo is of my husband Tom and myself at the Marathon Sports Weston 5 Miler Race}

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Healing Through the Gift of Poetry-Welcome to My World!

In February 2007, on a dark, cold winter's day I was contemplating my future. I had worked as a social worker for over 25 years and having been diagnosed with post polio syndrome I knew I had to quit my full time job...but what's a social worker to do? I had always enjoyed writing customized poetry for friends and family and they all told me I should work for a major greeting card company....on that day in February as I sat in a leg brace and using a cane and at times a wheelchair for mobility, I felt the urge to create...and poetry began to pour out of me. A book was beginning to take shape and my husband told me that I should start my own greeting card company. New World Greetings, customized poetry for all occasions was born ( and I was blessed to have my book published: New World Greetings:Inspirational Poetry and Musings for a New World (Publish America 2007). By reconnecting with God in my life, following my bliss, making major lifestyle changes, quitting my full time job, going through intensive outpatient rehab at Boston's Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and then hiring a personal trainer, I have experienced amazing physical healing. I traded in my polio shoes for a pair of running shoes this past March and on 10/13/08, my daughter and I ran the Tufts 10K Road Race at our record time of 13:53 minute/mile! Phenomenal considering that two years prior, I could barely walk up the stairs in my house and saw a very bleak future for myself.