Wednesday, July 1, 2009

On Being a Champion

"I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'" Muhammed Ali

As a polio survivor I learned shame and embarrassment about what I could not physically accomplish. I am amazed that I found the strength and dignity to stand in gym class every day facing the taunts and jeers of my peers. Having had a vision of God when I was 5, somewhere deep inside I felt God's presence and knew the Truth that they could not touch my soul. But needless to say, this disrupted my relationship with my body. Running the Marathon was an incredibly healing journey and now, in the quiet of my home, I continue the healing journey deepening my relationship with my body which of course is deepening my spiritual awareness.

When once I surrounded myself with random photos or pictures on the wall, I noticed that I now surround myself with reminders of champions. I have an autographed photo from Johnny Kelly Boston Marathon champion, and Tedy Bruschi,a Patriots defensive lineman who overcame heart surgery and stroke to return to the football field, a signed poster from Team Hoyt, incredible champions, Red Sox and Celtics memorabilia and a reminder of my own champion status - my Hyannis Half and Boston Marathon medals. Despite or maybe because of the diagnosis of post polio syndrome, I have emerged as a champion or more aptly put, I discovered the champion that was inside of me all along.

As I live my life as a champion, I notice a transformation in the way people respond to me. Last year when I attended the Health and Fitness Expo sponsored by Channel 7 in Boston, I wanted to meet Tedy Bruschi and be a part of the 'inner circle'. I did meet Hoda Kotb and gave her my press kit; she said she would be in touch with me. How I visualized sitting on the set of the Today Show the morning after I ran the marathon. But it was not meant to be because I had not yet internalized my feeling as a champion. I was seeking the validation from the outside rather than being able to claim my championship status. When I detached from needing to be recognized from the outside as a champion and began to celebrate myself as a champion; when I decided to let go and have fun at this year's Health and Fitness Expo, I found myself in the midst of amazing adventures.

I met former Red Sox pitcher Bill "Spaceman" Lee and his lovely wife Diane through my friend who is producing The Joy of Sox Movie, Rick Leskowitz, M.D. It is along story of synchronicity as Rick and I trained at the VA together over 25 years ago. I had written a poem at the suggestion of my husband to help bring David Ortiz 'Big Papi' out of his hitting slump. For some reason, I slipped a copy of the poem into my pocketbook before heading out the expo along with several of my books. While I was writing my poem about Big Papi, Bill Lee was meeting with Larry Ledoux to discuss Big Papi's slump. They worked together to make his bat heavier near the handle. Both events occurred simultaneously and since June 6th, Big Papi's slump ended. Bill Lee 'just happens' to know Big Papi and said he would be delighted to give him a copy of my poem along with my business card. We celebrated joy and synchronicity and were amazed at the Universe had brought us all together. Bill Lee and I did a book trade - he is now the proud owner of "New World Greetings:Inspirational Poetry and Musings for a New World" along with feeling inspired by my journey. I am the proud owner of the Little Red (Sox) Book which is humorous, informative, creative and the year after he wrote the book, the Red Sox won their first penant in 86 years!

On Sunday, I had not planned to return to the Health and Fitness Expo. I was exhausted from Saturday's adventures and being on my feet all day and was going to just sit out in the sunshine and relax. When I woke up, the day was overcast and then I had this overwhelming feeling I should go back to the Expo - just to have fun, meet the stars from the Biggest Loser TV show and hang out. I had no idea that I would be meeting Tedy Bruschi and giving him a signed copy of my book. I had no idea that I would be reconnecting with Channel 7 anchors and that on Monday I would receive a phone call from Channel 7 telling me they want to do my story for their Health Cast segment. I had no idea that I would be meeting with two therapists from Spaulding Rehab who would want me to come into their class of graduate students in Speech and Language and Physical Therapy to help teach the students through sharing my journey with post polio syndrome. I had no idea I would meet the marketing executives for Partners Health Care who want to share my story shining the spotlight on the International Rehab Center for Polio. All these things I had imagined and once I let go, stopped forcing outcomes and felt wonderful about myself, the Universe responded to my song of "I am a champion". I will confess that the unfolding of events is even more magical and mystical than I could ever have imagined.

The funniest part in all of this is that I didn't have to run the Boston Marathon to become a champion - I already was one. I am reading Tori Murden McClure's book, "A Pearl in the Storm". There are no accidents and no coincidences. I would not even know about this book had Jordan Rich of WBZ radio not scheduled us both to be on the show at the same time because there just happened to be a Bruins playoff game that night and he was pressed for time. When I first found out I had to share the time with someone else, my ego was bruised - hey I need the time to share my story and the story of Team McManus. But as always, God knew exactly what She was doing. Little did I know that we are two kindred spirits - both pushing ourselves to the edge of our limits (and Tori almost died in the midst of her quest) to find what was True all along - what is True for all of us - no matter how we may be buffeted by life's storms, our essence remains pure and perfect. We are all champions!

To purchase a copy of my book, "New World Greetings:Inspirational Poetry and Musings for a New World" overflowing with love, healing, grace and whimsy and which helps me and others to experience healing and inspiration, visit I generously donate 20% of the proceeds to Spaulding Rehab's Polio Fund.

And while you're there, visit my sumptuous samples of customized poetry. Enter a new world of greeting cards and celebrate, commemorate and allow me to create a customized poem for that special someone and that special occasion.


Pamela McCurry Robbins said...

You ARE a Champion! A very inspirational Champion, too! I loved this blog post!

Graceful Lady said...

As they say Pamela, it takes one to know one! Take care and happy and safe running. I am hoping that I can come to NYC to cheer you on at the Marathon. Funny story - my husband was taking the train from NY to Boston and met someone from the Hole in the Wall Camp-small world. God bless & be well! Much love, Mary