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!