Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day 11/11/11



As I was scrolling through facebook posts today and preparing to write my blog post about Veterans Day and 11/11/11, I came across a wonderful quote from my dear friend Amanda Richter: "So maybe 11/11/11 means this day is more important. And it is Veterans Day - a day to remember those who have given us the freedoms we wake up to. But, I have always been someone who believes no one day is different than the rest. They are ALL special, ALL a gift, and should be treated as such."

As a society we tend to wait until there's a holiday or a 'big' day to take time to reflect and remember what is important in life. We all get caught up in what I like to call the hamster wheel of life and forget to take time out to appreciate, to feel gratitude, to find peace in our hearts through our breath and allow ourselves to just be. I know that because I did not have the skills or knowledge of self care, the practice of yoga, meditation and breathing, I burned out in my job as a social worker at the Department of Veterans Affairs. But before I did, I had the privilege and honor to journey with our nation's veterans as a social worker for almost 20 years.

My first position at the VA was as the Visual Impairment Services Team Coordinator. I remember 12/5/1988 as though it were yesterday. I had no experience working with visually impaired individuals. I was honest and told the veterans that I was going to learn from them, that we would learn together and I would bring all of my skills as a clinical social worker to help them adapt to their vision loss. This was my favorite position at the VA. I was a program coordinator and was able to combine my public relations and marketing skills with my social work skills. Because of changes in the system, I was transferred to medical social work where I would have the opportunity to meet men and women who bore witness to our nation's history. I was privileged to work with the former Prisoner of War program and the Geriatric Team. I met veterans who, because of loyalty to their oath as soldiers would carry secrets with them to their grave; secrets that were eating away at their heart and soul but they could not unburden themselves and heal.

My focus here is NOT the politics of war or the VA. My motto always has been that this is about people not politics. 11/11/11 is a day of Oneness - to paraphrase my friend Amanda - everyday should be a day of Oneness. Every day a day to be aware of our connection to the infinite and loving Source Energy. We are all warriors who have been injured in one way or another in life. Just like our troops, some have been on the front lines and experienced more intense wounds and some have been in 'support roles' but we are all here together with one common mission - to live freely and happily, to love wholeheartedly and to leave the world a better place than it was when we came into it.

Our nation's veterans deserve the very best care we have to offer them to heal the wounds they have borne to protect freedom. I am so grateful that there are now new treatment modalities to help veterans and caregivers which are going to make a huge difference in the way that veterans are treated for post traumatic stress disorder and the entire array of physical, emotional and spiritual wounds that affect our nation's warriors. Organizations such as the Exalted Warrior Program, The Veterans Yoga Project and all of the yoga teachers who are bringing veterans to the mat for healing. Ana Forrest and the practice of Forrest Yoga helps to heal trauma and she recently did a benefit for the Exalted Warrior Foundation. I am so grateful that as one who lives with post traumatic stress disorder, there are these wonderful, compassionate mind/body interventions which speak to healing one's life after trauma. Matthew Sanford of Mind Body Solutions offers free adaptive yoga classes to veterans and has a model of care for the caregivers. His book "Waking" speaks to trauma that gets stored in the body until we are strong enough to let our bodies speak and heal and how yoga helps one to live fully and freely within their bodies regardless of the extent of physical injury.

Today is an important day to honor those who served. Every day is an important day to honor everyone who serves in life especially ourselves. It all begins with loving kindness and compassion for ourselves so that with full hearts we can reach out with gratitude, love and compassion for all. I am so grateful and blessed to have known so many incredible men and women and their families who served our country. We are a part of each other lives' forever. We walked down a sacred path, sharing time and space and I'm forever grateful for the soul lessons I learned from them through the opportunity to serve them in the capacity of a social worker.

May everyone everywhere today be awakened and feel gratitude for the wonder and beauty and preciousness of life and that this awakening continue as we begin our day on 11/12/11.

I am so humbled by a facebook post from one of the veterans with whom I worked: "Mary thank you so much. You have no idea how much you helped me, I love you for your kindness and concern, and your sincere empathy you have for all of the veterans you helped"

From my heart to yours
With love and gratitude
Mary

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dragonfly



October 20th and 70 degrees with sunshine is a gift when you live in Boston. This morning was grey and cloudy with a chill in the air and I debated - should I exercise patience and trust in the weather forecast that a warm front is going to move through or head to the gym. I opted for the former which is truly an act of faith when you live in New England and sure enough, the sun came out and it turned into a glorious afternoon. I did my 3 mile power walk and came home.

I had two poems to create for New World Greeting Cards. Writing poetry makes my soul sing and to be able to sit outside on a glorious day and create is pure bliss. I'm writing away and I feel something on my leg - a dragonfly. I gently moved it with a piece of paper and it flew back - several times over. Since reading Ana Forrest's book, "Fierce Medicine", I knew I was supposed to pay attention so I googled the symbol of a dragonfly. After I did, she flew away and did not return.

In many cultures, the dragonfly is regarded as a symbol of light, adaptability, grace and transformation. It is no wonder that the dragonfly holds out its wings so straight and proud. Not only is it one of the most brilliant and beautiful insects, but it is also rich with meaning too!

This ability to reflect and refract light is responsible for the dragonfly's status as a "light-bearer," as well as a symbol of all the power and presence that is associated with light and love. Dragonflies remind us that we, too, are "light-bearers" and silently encourage us to let our own light shine forth. In addition, dragonflies exhibit the many colors of life. With maturity, the dragonfly's own true colors come forth, as it learns to bend, shift and adapt light in a variety of ways. These bright colors take time to develop, but are always worth the wait because they ultimately reveal the insect's deepest inner beauty. The dragonfly demonstrates the utmost adaptability and grace as well. No bird or other insect has the flight maneuverability of the dragonfly, which can quickly change directions when necessary. They are experts at going where they need to be and doing what they need to do. Traditionally, the dragonfly is the symbol of transformation and life's ever-constant process of change. Although the dragonfly spends the majority of its life on the bottom of a pond as a larva, it always rises above that. The dragonfly works its way through the weight of water and into the sunlight, gathering and garnering what it needs to change and unfold. When it is ready, it sheds its protective casing and flies away from the pond, to ultimately unite with other dragonflies, which have also completed their transformation and are even more vibrant and alive. Source: http://www.khgfoundation.org/about_foundation/meaning.php

Maturity and a Depth of character

The dragonfly, in almost every part of the world symbolizes change and change in the perspective of self realization; and the kind of change that has its source in mental and emotional maturity and the understanding of the deeper meaning of life.

The traditional association of Dragonflies with water also gives rise to this meaning to this amazing insect. The Dragonfly’s scurrying flight across water represents an act of going beyond what’s on the surface and looking into the deeper implications and aspects of life.

Power and Poise

The dragonfly’s agile flight and its ability to move in all six directions exude a sense of power and poise - something that comes only with age and maturity.
The dragonfly can move at an amazing 45 miles an hour, hover like a helicopter fly backwards like a hummingbird, fly straight up, down and on either side. What is mind blowing is the fact that it can do this while flapping its wings a mere 30 times a minute while mosquitoes and houseflies need to flap their wings 600 and 1000 times a minute respectively.

The awe inspiring aspect is how the dragonfly accomplishes its objectives with utmost simplicity, effectiveness and well, if you look at proportions, with 20 times as much power in each of its wing strokes when compared to the other insects. The best part is that the dragonfly does it with elegance and grace that can be compared to a veteran ballet dancer. If this is not a brazen, lazy, overkill in terms of display of raw power, what is?

Defeat of Self Created Illusions

The dragonfly exhibits iridescence both on its wings as well as on its body. Iridescence is the property of an object to show itself in different colors depending on the angle and polarization of light falling on it.

This property is seen and believed as the end of one’s self created illusions and a clear vision into the realities of life. The magical property of iridescence is also associated with the discovery of one’s own abilities by unmasking the real self and removing the doubts one casts on his/her own sense of identity. This again indirectly means self discovery and removal of inhibitions.

Focus on living ‘IN’ the moment

The dragonfly normally lives most of its life as a nymph or an immature. It flies only for a fraction of its life and usually not more than a few months. This adult dragonfly does it all in these few months and leaves nothing to be desired. This style of life symbolizes and exemplifies the virtue of living IN the moment and living life to the fullest. By living in the moment you are aware of who you are, where you are, what you are doing, what you want, what you don’t and make informed choices on a moment-to-moment basis.

This ability lets you live your life without regrets like the great dragonfly.

The opening of one’s eyes

The eyes of the dragonfly are one of the most amazing and awe inspiring sights. Given almost 80% of the insect’s brain power is dedicated to its sight and the fact that it can see in all 360 degrees around it, it symbolizes the uninhibited vision of the mind and the ability to see beyond the limitations of the human self. It also in a manner of speaking symbolizes a man/woman’s rising from materialism to be able to see beyond the mundane into the vastness that is really our Universe, and our own minds. - Source: http://www.dragonfly-site.com/meaning-symbolize.html

Sometimes the Universe leaves me speechless.

From my heart to yours
With love and gratitude
Mary

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Transformation

One - well actually two pictures - is worth a thousand words! The first photo was taken in May of 2008 for an article in the Brookline Tab when I first started training for the Boston Marathon. The second photo from this past Sunday's Brookline Symphony Orchestra 5K. Amazing just amazing!






I am so grateful to Tom and his unending support as I sought out different paths for healing and to everyone who has been so loving and supportive as I leave the past behind to step into the Truth of my Being.

From my heart to yours with Love and Gratitude
Namaste
Mary

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Running Love

I have come to realize that I was like the blind men and the elephant during this period of reinvention in my life. I would only see a part of the beautiful tapestry of my life. I denied my social work career because now I'm a poet. When I stopped running, I stopped embracing and appreciating the beautiful amazing accomplishment of having run the 2009 Boston Marathon. I focused on being a polio survivor and went on a mission to end polio now while walling off the part of myself who experienced severe, multiple childhood trauma. But now everything is coming together and because I am appreciating all of my life experiences, I am having experiences which honor all of me.

My friend Justin Berke invites me to every local event on Facebook. The Brookline Symphony Orchestra Fun Run looked like a lot of fun. Twice around the Cleveland Circle Reservoir where I run all the time with live, classical music playing and to benefit our local symphony orchestra -- sounds perfect. Sign us up. And then one day on Facebook I received a post from Greg Gordon who was part of the 2009 Boston Marathon Race for Rehab team of which Tom and I were a part saying that he was the race organizer. He doesn't live in Brookline but is good friends with the director of the Symphony. What are the chances right?

I knew I belonged at this run. When we arrived to register, Greg came up from behind me and gave me a wonderful warm hug. Then I spotted "TK" - and yelled "TK". Greg and TK are bff's. I said that TK is a celebrity and I could hear Greg telling me telepathically please don't encourage him. During our Boston Marathon training, TK would photo shop different celebrities supporting his run and fancied himself a celebrity. TK was wearing bib #1 and I had #13. I asked Greg what was up with that and we all laughed. And then Greg spotted a hawk in the tree just above where we were standing. I google'd the significance of seeing a hawk: "The hawk is a messenger of insight, adaptability and openness. Hawk people aim to initiate and lead, and may be impulsive from time to time. They want to establish individuality while still being accepted by the group." We snapped photos and it was so wonderful to reunite with my former team mates. I could tell the feeling was mutual. Greg has run so many Boston Marathons but he was wearing his 2009 shirt. He said of course he had to wear it today. We could feel the presence of our beloved coach and trainer Domenick D'Amico who moved to Colorado and said we would have to send him the photo of our reunited team.






This is the first athletic endeavour (be it yoga or running) that I did not experience butterflies before the event. Perhaps it was because it was on familiar turf (I have run that Cleveland Circle Reservoir hundreds of times). Perhaps it was because I had no expectations and was going to see how my body felt during the race or maybe, just maybe I am beginning to feel a sense of confidence in my body.

As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, I have chosen to power walk instead of run for my cardio workouts and I'm able to get my heart rate up and do a 15 minute mile pace thank you very much. I felt as though I was beating myself up by running especially in my knee joints. But today I felt the desire to get out and run. I'm so glad I did. I had no pain in my knee joints. I felt the strength in my quads and I felt like a strong stallion.Greg said to me before we set out, "Run like the wind" and I did. I was able to tolerate an average heart rate of 157 with a peak of 172 (my peak heart rate for a woman my age is 140). Regardless of the numbers (and the official time has me a little over a 15 minute mile pace-my time has me a little under) I want to focus on how I felt during the run. I felt happiness.

As Tom and I came round the first loop, Greg asked the crowd gathered to watch the race to give us a big hand and when we came into the finish, I broke into a sprint. Greg played it for all it was worth and called it as though we were two elite runners fighting for the finish. We left after our "work was done" to head on over to the Columbia Yacht Club for the annual L Street Running Club BBQ.

My heart was already overflowing with running love. The sun was warming up the day by the minute and by the time we arrived at the Columbia Yacht Club we could sit on the deck enjoying the spectacular view and the wonderful spread of food.



Tom says I was greeted like a celebrity. I blush and feel very humbled by the reception I received from L Street members who were there during my last two inspirational talks at L Street. One woman told me that I inspired her to run her first 5K which she is running in two weeks. We were sitting with another man talking for about an hour and then we made the connection that he reached out to me asking to talk with his wife who was experiencing chronic pain and not getting any relief from the Western medical community. I talked with her about exploring "alternative therapies". She is undergoing acupuncture treatments and getting relief from her pain. Another member came up to me, introduced himself and told me he just had to let me know how inspirational I am. Still another came up to me who I met at the Jim Kane Bowl Run who had told me when he google'd channel 7 looking for a story, my news story came up high in the rankings and he told me he loved the feature.

I drank in the view of the water, ate more than my fair share of amazing bbq chicken, fruit, veggies, potato salad and something I have not had in an age a cupcake with chocolate frosting. I sat and listened as fellow club members regaled stories of marathons past, hopes and dreams for marathons future and felt so comfortable among the community of runners. I no longer felt as though I did not belong there or I was less than because I was once and done with the Boston Marathon or that more often than not I power walk. The motto for the L Street Running Club is "No distance too short, no pace too slow". My heart is open and because I am feeling comfortable within myself, feelings of competition, jealousy that others are still running marathons and all those other emotions that keep me enslaved to the past are released, I can truly enjoy myself. I am so blessed and grateful that today was a day overflowing with love from the beautiful running community and at last I can truly embrace all of me!

With so much joy
From my heart to yours
With love and gratitude,
Mary

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Fierce Medicine by Ana Forrest - A Book Review






When my individual yoga teacher Pat Donaher told me that Fierce Medicine was 'required reading', I knew that it was a very important book for me to read. I had seen something about the book on facebook. Pat knew my trauma history and knew that Ana's journey would help me in my healing journey. We had no idea!

While I had a chaotic and traumatic childhood, it pales in comparison to what Ana Forrest experienced yet there were shared moments as she discovers the truth about the extent of the emotional, physical and sexual abuse she experienced as she listens to what her body is telling her. Through the physical and spiritual exercises Ana puts forth in her book juxtaposed with the telling of her story, I embarked on a deeper transformation and healing. As Ana takes us on her healing journey I found myself finding the courage to deeply listen to my body and to make what Ana calls, healing choices. I brought forth the healing suggestions she makes in Fierce Medicine to my life on and off the mat.

Whether or not you practice yoga, this book will bring forth a sense of empowerment and healing, and love and compassion. As Ana journeys to live her authentic life, you will find yourself yearning to let your Spirit come home and fill a bigger place in your body and in your life. While I still experience flashbacks, nightmares and anxiety, they no longer have a hold on me for as Ana says, I have become the predator rather than the prey. I have new tools to heal my life and to take my place on the center stage of my life - at 57 years old!

There is power in the words in Ana's book and she does call forth the Sacred Ones to help 'mend the hoop of the people.' Before reading Ana's book, I had a connection to my Spirit and to the Divine in the world around me but while reading Fierce Medicine I felt my heart open and receptive to the signs of the wonder in the world around me. Last week I was having a particularly difficult day. I decided all I could do was to read Ana's book and ride the emotional storm I was experiencing. I went to a small beach in Gloucester with my family. The waves are usually small in this inlet and even at high tide there is space to sit on this small stretch of beach. On this day, the waves were churning mimicking the storm I was feeling inside. I got caught in a vise like grip with a bunch of tangled seaweed that was trying to pull me down. In the middle of my emotional storm, I felt the power in my core and said to the seaweed, you are not gonna take me down. I waited for the swirling waters to settle and pull back the seaweed.

When I returned to my beach chair with waves fiercely lapping at the legs of my chair, a wave splashed the book in the shape of a hand with a finger pointing down on page 184 "The Thunder Kachina or Spirits were talking to me! I had the sense that it was affectionate contact-something really big having communication with really small me. The message was clear:I mattered. My growly, bitchy self meant something to the Sacred Ones. This broke my heart open. ... It shook the old delusional beliefs about my worthlessness right out of me and into the ground. I could no longer deny the truth of that which moves in all things also flowing through me."



The struggle within me became crystal clear. Was I going to allow the messages literally beaten into me and the messages I created to somehow make sense of the abuse to prevail or was I going to choose Love and allow Love to heal. With an ocean wave being drawn to Ana Forrest's powerful words, my choice became crystal clear and although the struggle is there, it no longer has its powerful hold over me. I return to the words - I matter even though people tried to destroy my life force as they once tried to destroy Ana's.

I choose life. I choose to feel pain instead of numbness because as the pain subsides and the storms dissipate, there is a beautiful rainbow of love. There is healing and there are beautiful healers like Ana Forrest,who are mending the hoop of the people to move from brokenness to healing, from fear to Love and from paralysis and numbness to the fullness of life. For more information about Ana Forrest and Forrest Yoga, visit Ana's website. While I have not yet taken a Forrest Yoga class, I am going to be taking my first class with the creatrix herself, Ana Forrest on September 25th at Back Bay Yoga Studio. I am a little scared and a whole lot exhilarated as I anticipate this experience knowing that all of the signs are there for me to experience this Fierce Medicine heavily laden with love and compassion.

With love and gratitude
From my heart to yours,
Mary

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fireworks!





I never really 'got' the meaning of celebrating the Fourth of July before this year. Don't get me wrong, I love the USA and am so grateful for our 'freedoms'. The reason I couldn't embrace the holiday is because I did not feel free within myself. With the practice of yoga, body work and journaling, I am finding freedom from within. I would talk about feeling free when I ran but in truth I needed to find the freedom deep within in order to fully embrace and feel freedom as I run. Be sure to take a moment to watch Katy Perry's video of "Firework". I first heard the song when I met Suzy Favor Hamilton and heard her speak. She played the song and had us go to the front of the room and just rock out to it. The words now resonate deeply in my soul. "Ignite the light and let it shine/Just own the night like the Fourth of July."

I am so blessed to have met in person a woman I met on Just Finish, a running community, three years ago. We became facebook friends and have talked on the phone several times. We are kindred spirits and we made a vow that one day we would run a race together. Pamela Robbins is a true hero. I know she will poo poo me for saying that and tells me that I am her hero and source of inspiration. Pam and I are the same age. She has several health challenges that she lives with and neither one of us fits the typical 'look' of a runner. She has blogged about her adventures on the road. Pam, like myself, runs with heart and Pam runs with a passion for a purpose. She will be running the NYC Marathon this November (her 9th marathon) for Team Hole in The Wall Camp. She and her daughter Alex ran this year's More Half for Women for Team Hole in The Wall.

When she said that she was coming to Boston and would like to run a road race on July 4th I was beside myself with excitement. She signed her and her daughter Alex up for the Harvard Pilgrim 10K. We met at their hotel and drove to the Race Expo together. As my husband Tom said, "It's a reunion for the first time." We spent a delightful afternoon together and posed for a pic in our race t shirts. We even bumped into one of our friends from "Camp Hyannis."




And took a picture of the start:



We picked up Alex and Pam bright and early on race day to avoid traffic and have time to chill out before the start of the race. I had a tiny bit of pre race jitters but was so focused on the excitement of running with Pam. Pam met a fellow Team Hole In The Wall runner in the parking lot and Tom and I met one of his team mates from Childrens Hospital Miles for Miracle Team. As we made our way to the start, we spotted the Patriots Cheerleaders. I just had to take a photo of Tom with the cheerleaders and it's about the only picture I have of him with a full on grin. Bill Rodgers was introduced before the start of the race and I wondered where Team Hoyt might be. Tom spotted them right in front of us. We went over and hugged them, introduced Pam and Alex to them and snapped a photo (which is in my camera needing to be uploaded along with the photo of Tom and the Patriots Cheerleaders).

Gun time - Pam said that if we needed to go ahead because she was too slow to feel free to do so. I said are you kidding me? That's not gonna happen and besides I'm slower than you. Pam told me about the half marathon she ran with her friend Laurie who was running her first half marathon who had the same concern that day as Pam had today. She said that they vowed to stay together no matter what. So I was able to help Pam shake off that feeling we 'back of the packers' tend to feel. You know what? I need to start a movement to eliminate the phrase "back of the packers." If there were no back of the packers, there would be no front of the pack because there wouldn't be a pack or maybe we should all just be grateful we are part of the pack. Okay enough digression and pontificating.

It was very hot and we just paced ourselves throughout the entire course enjoying the company, the crowds cheering us on, talking about everything, laughing, and keeping hydrated. We joked with some fellow runners. You meet the most interesting and fun people in the back of the pack - oops there I go breaking my own vow to eliminate that term - oh heck - rather than a need to eliminate it - let's just embrace and love it! I felt so free and comfortable running/walking and being fully present in my own body. I could care less about the time and Pam said it was the first race she had run that she didn't look back to see if she were last. My body dictated my pacing for the day. I was so grateful to Tom for taking photos of Pam and me along the route and staying with us even though he could have easily done another 8:32 min/mile as he had at the Inaugural BAA 10K race last week. As we neared the Stadium we walked, dumped more water on our head and drank some more water so we could gather steam for a sprint to the finish.

As we saw the tunnel ahead we broke into a sprint. The Patriots Cheerleaders were there with their pom poms cheering us on and there we were on the jumbo tron.



We hugged each other feeling the love and respect we have for each other and how we have each learned to honor and respect who we are - no excuses. I felt transformed during today's run and felt the magic in the air as we celebrated our Independence Day - freedom from what others think or say about us; freedom to run our own race and freedom to be just who we are. It was obvious that we ignite the light and let it shine every time we take to the roads. And here is a photo of me at the finish. Baby I'm a Firework - and my colors burst!



From my heart to yours
With love and gratitude,
Mary

Monday, June 27, 2011

End Polio Now on Blog Talk Radio

Today's interview on Blog Talk Radio with Darien Marshall and Darius Jones was one of the best interviews I have experienced in a long time! There was a technical glitch that occurred at about the 10 minute mark. I was talking and then noticed there was 'dead air' on the other end of the line. I said, are you there, are you there? In the past my heart would race and I would feel a sense of panic. Not today! I was calm knowing that there always is a higher purpose at work. With grace and gifts from the Spirit, Darien and Darius filled the airwaves with their spiritual wisdom. They are Science of Mind practitioners and their ministry is evident in all that they do. We eventually found our way back together and continued the show. You will feel uplifted, inspired and fueled with Love as you listen to the show!

Listen to internet radio with ItXs All About You on Blog Talk Radio

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Inspirational Quotes

I have collected inspirational quotes and posted them to my website and decided to dedicate a blog post to this collection. Enjoy!




"To dream anything that you want to dream. That's the beauty of the human mind. To do anything that you want to do. That is the strength of the human will. To trust yourself to test your limits. That is the courage to succeed." ~ Bernard Edmonds

"The miracle isn't that I finished; the miracle is I had the courage to start." John Bingham

"The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking places." ~Author Unknown

"Ten thousand flowers in Spring,
The moon in autumn,
A cool breeze in summer,
Snow in winter.
If your mind is not clouded
By unnecessary things
This is
The best season of your life." Wu -Mei

♥ “Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source.” ♥
~Leo Tolstoy~

"Progress always involves risks. You can't steal second base and keep your foot on first."-- Frederick Wilcox

"Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow." - Helen Keller

I learn something from every teacher in my life, even if it's learning how not to live. - Louise L. Hay

The muddiest water clears as it is stilled. And out of that stillness, life arises. - Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

to forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you ~lewis b. smedes~

All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware. -Martin Buber

It has often proved true that the dream of yesterday is the hope of today, and the reality of tomorrow."~Dr. Robert Goddard

"You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state." ~Sharon Gannon

“Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time." --Marian Wright Edelman

"It is not by accident that the happiest people are those who make a
conscious effort to live useful lives. Their happiness, of course, is
not a shallow exhilaration where life is one continuous intoxicating
party. Rather, their happiness is a deep sense of inner peace that
comes when they believe their lives have meaning and that they are
making a difference for good in the world." Ernest Fitzgerald

"Adventure is a state of mind - and spirit. It comes with faith, for with complete faith, there is no fear of what faces you in life or death."-- Jacqueline Cochran

"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have
within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the
stars to change the world." Harriet Tubman

“Hold fast to your dreams, for without them life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.” Langston Hughes

"If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves." Thomas Edison

"Most successful people begin with two beliefs: the future can be better than the present, and I have the power to make it so."
David Brooks

"It’s amazing how courageous you can become when you know God’s got you covered." unknown

"We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face... we must do that which we think we cannot." Eleanor Roosevelt

And another quote by Eleanor Roosevelt "Nobody can make you inferior without your consent."

"Nurture your mind with great thoughts. To believe in the heroic makes heroes." Benjamin Disraeli

"The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time." Abraham Lincoln

"Great things are done when men and mountains meet." William Blake

"The sense of impossibility is the beginning of all possibilities." Sri Auribindo

"Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves." James Barrie

"We flower into the fullness of our being little by little. Jamal Rahman

The more we talk about love, the stronger it grows in consciousness, and if we persist in thinking loving thoughts and speaking loving words, we are sure to bring into our experience the feeling of that great love that is beyond description – the very love of God." Charles Fillmore

"The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances that they want, and, if they can't find them, make them." George Bernard Shaw

"The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn; the bird waits in the egg; and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities." James Allen

"Life is a field of unlimited possibilities." Deepak Chopra

"Hope lies in dreams, in imagination and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality." Jonas Salk

"Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." Goethe

"We can either watch life from the sidelines, or actively participate. Either we let self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy prevent us from realizing our potential, or embrace the fact that when we turn our attention away from ourselves, our potential is limitless." Christopher Reeve

"Do or do not. There is no try." Yoda

"The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man's determination." Tommy Lasorda

""But soon we shall die and all memory of those five will have left earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning." - Thornton Wilder

Namaste,
Mary

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day




19 June 2011
For Tom
Loving father, husband and so much more

It took ten years we weren't sure if our dream to be parents could come true
And then we had the ultrasound and found we were having not one baby but two.
We didn't have a lot of money or support from either side
You've been an incredible father, to our children a mentor a guide.
And though we're empty nesters, and our twins are almost 24
You're there to listen for hours on end as they share their dreams and more.
A builder of our son's website, for our daughter a road trip to Tennessee
Putting the needs of our family first never once asking how about me.
A role model of integrity - loving, patient and kind
Forgiveness and love overflow from your heart,
a more wonderful father no one could ever find.
Not only to our children, but to your patient partner, to all youth whom you meet
You offer the love of a father - you are compassionate, tender and sweet.
This Father's Day my wish for you is a day filled with love and light
Time to relax and get in a run, meditate and do what feels right.
I'm so grateful you are the love of my life,
ours and the world's children are truly blessed
Wishing you a Happy Father's Day may this Father's Day, like you, be the best!

With my love,
Mary

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Comfort in the Comfort Zone



This blog could be sutitled, "My very own unique training plan." Feeling comfort in my physical being is an experience that is still alien to me. Feeling comfortable in who I am is a new experience for me and the physical being is the manifestation of the inner world. In 2008 when my personal trainer asked me what my next health and fitness goals were, the first words out of my mouth were, "I want to feel free in my body. I want to be able to go outside and just take a walk feeling good." Of course I jumped to and I want to run the Boston Marathon so I kind of skipped over that I want to feel comfortable part and went right to training for a marathon.

The journey has been incredible with more ups and downs than the Hulk roller coaster at Universal Studios but it's all been a wonderful joyous ride as I learn so much about myself and about life. Before I get too zen today I'll get back to comfort in the comfort zone. As a recovering Type A, it is a challenge for me to just be. The practice of yoga is such a blessing in my life because it allows me to be in the moment and teaches me about the importance of rest - savasana at the end of every yoga class - a time for stillness. I have written about going on a power walk but there was always a but, an excuse as though I had to apologize for not running or training harder. Of course that's all from within. So yesterday I started out feeling that I needed to do a training run for Harvard Pilgrim 10K coming up in a few short weeks.


And then it happened - I said I am going on a walk. I am going to go at a comfortable pace and I am going to thoroughly enjoy the day. No excuses, no apologies, no thoughts of I should be ..... I have the confidence that I could run or walk or do whatever to finish the Harvard Pilgrim 10K if it were held tomorrow. Of course it's not and I have time to train with Tom but I also want to make sure that I have fun and enjoy the Harvard Pilgrim 10K.

Pamela Robbins whom I have known through Just Finish, blogging and recently Facebook and with whom I have spoken by phone on a couple of occasions is coming to Boston. We have been planning to run a race together for I don't know how long and have also planned to meet in person. This year we are making it happen! She is coming to Boston over July 4th and we are running the Harvard Pilgrim 10K together with my husband her daughter. We are kindred spirits and have developed this wonderful friendship of love and support as mid-lifers who do not look like your typical runner but we get out there and run with heart. She has a delightful sense of humor - that kind of dry wit that helps keep everything in perspective. We share a strong faith and live with an attitude of gratitude for all the blessings in our lives despite or maybe because of the challenges we have faced in life.

I cranked up my iPod, breathed in the summer air, enjoyed the lush green trees, felt the warm sun on my face. I smiled at runners and walkers as we passed each other. I felt true joy and appreciation in my heart for the day, for the blessing of being able to get outside and enjoy a walk, feeling free in my body and guilt free feeling comfortable in the comfort zone. (p.s. Not that it matters but my pace/mile was 15:32 - smile).

God bless, and be well
From my heart to yours
With love and gratitude,
Mary

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Hey Hey Look Who's Running ....



Three years later ... 1st Sunday in June The Corrib Pub Run 5K. My first road race ever in 2008 on my road to the Boston Marathon. Back then I had barely run for 40 minutes straight and at 45 minutes I had to walk until we were ready to hit the downhill to the finish line. Our time 51 minutes and change. 2009 with the Boston Marathon behind us, Team McManus ran the Corrib Pub Run again. I had thought that the Team Hoyt 5K was my last road race that year but remembered we did Corrib Pub. Our time was 7 minutes faster than when we first ran the race. I reread the blog post from the 2009 run and am smiling! I would certainly hope that in these last two years I would grow as a writer, as a runner and a person, and I can say with certainty I sure have.

We didn't run the 2010 Corrib Pub Run because Tom was driving our daughter to begin her new adventures as a young adult. I cannot believe it is a whole year since we became empty nesters. I remember 'comforting' myself with the thought that in a year we'll be running the Corrib Pub Run again and have made the transition to empty nesters. And here we are!

The weather - glorious. My kind of weather - sunny and a cool breeze. I did my fueling for a noontime race start but always carry a pack of gel just in case and always bring water especially in the warmer weather. I meditated, did my breathing exercises and stretched and mentally prepared myself for another road race. During my meditation I pondered, why do I run? Why do I run road races? Initially I ran because I had something to prove. Then I ran because I had something to prove and focused on PR's. Now I run because I have nothing to prove but I enjoy running road races and love the energy, the camaraderie and the joy of being inside my body being physically active.

As Tom and I walked down the stairs to the field at the Corrib Pub Run, we reflected on these past several years. He said that if I did not take as good a care of myself as I do, that we would have had to adapt our home and I'd be in a wheelchair. Now there are circumstances beyond a person's control when they are not able to regain mobility but I believe in my situation, with post polio syndrome, that with maintaining an exquisite health and fitness regimen and calling upon many sources of healing - physical, emotional and spiritual, that I can lead an incredibly healthy life. Tom said that he was grateful for all of the hard work I do to stay healthy and fit. I believe that while there are some things I have no control over (such as some of the neurological damage from polio that causes head tremors and the need to work hard at strengthening previously weakened muscles), I can do everything I can to stack the deck in my favor of health and fitness and part of that is getting out there for runs and road races. As Bill Rodgers (yes that Bill Rodgers of Boston Marathon fame) told me when we met at Camp Hyannis that running stimulates the neurological system and can help to forestall the progression of so called progressive neurological diseases.

Usually before a road race, I feel a lot of anxiety. Actually before going to a yoga class, or an individual yoga lesson or body work, I can feel a lot of anxiety. It's the anxiety that accompanies movement, challenging myself and changes, but this anxiety is diminishing as I feel more and more at home in my earthly home. Today I felt excitement more than anxiety. What a thrill to return to the race that was my first ever road race. How I love being able to run side by side with my husband Tom as he encourages and supports me and we find that delicate balance between challenging myself but not pushing too hard crossing into the land of suffering. We bumped into one of his colleagues from Childrens Hospital and had a great pre race convo. Just as I was thinking ooh I should have brought a piece of fruit with me - orange slices seemed to appear out of nowhere. Perfect!

The first mile has an uphill and we were running hard but Tom also reminded me that we need to keep a lot in the tank for the hills at the end as well. What was amazing was that unlike other road races where we are in the back of the pack pretty quickly, we were a part of the sea of 2000 runners through the first mile. I got a little choked up as I actually felt a part of this amazing experience. I heard Spirit speak to me and say, "There is no disconnection unless you create it."

We made it to mile marker 1 and the volunteer told us our time 16 minutes gun time. Tom and I looked at our times and it was 15:00. At first I felt frustrated because I thought we were running faster than the time reflected and then I told myself to release all of that and allow myself to tune into my body and enjoy the moments of being out on the road. When I let go of all that doesn't matter, I feel incredible joy running in a road race. I love the energy of the cheers and the energy of the runners. I am passed and I pass walkers. There is no competition. I am setting the pace and running my own race. I have said those words so many times and today and at the Team Hoyt 5K I felt those words deep in my heart and soul. When I strip away what doesn't matter, I can feel the joy!

The neighborhoods all come out to cheer and set up their own water stops in addition to the water stop set up by the race organizers. They have hoses and even though it wasn't a broiling hot day, the sun was hot and running through a sprinkler is so refreshing and FUN! Now it may not seem like a big deal to you to run through a sprinkler but it sure is to me. In a way I am so blessed to have had the challenges I had because I take such pleasure and am so grateful for the little things in life. To have lived through the summer of 1971 when I was basically a prisoner in my own home and couldn't go out after 5 pm because my father would come to the house in alcoholic rages, I can deeply appreciate the joy of running free on a summer's day. To have been paralyzed and been through so many surgeries, a leg brace, a cast and to have felt so trapped for so long in this body leaves me feeling so grateful and appreciative of the moments of movement.

And then Tom tells me - look we are at mile 2 - where I ask? - right up there and then we hear "Hey Hey look who's running?" and it's none other than Mac, the President of our L Street Running Club. He high fives us and smiles and radiates love for Team McManus. He then came running after us to give us our time - 31 minutes - that's gun time I shout to Mac and off we went. We could feel each other's sense of playfulness. I knew we had taken a minute off of our second mile and smiled but I smiled even more deeply to feel a part of this amazing running community. I knew we only had 1.1 miles left and so I was gonna leave nothing on the road. I felt well and so we picked up the pace until...oh no I forgot about this hill. I decided to walk briskly to bring down my heart rate a little and leave some in the tank for a strong finish.

We turned the corner to the long downhill to the finish line. Tom told me to lean a little forward and take small steps and let gravity do the work but I could move my feet more quickly if I wanted. Then as we were approaching the finish Tom said to me - this is it, go for it and with that I channelled Forrest Gump. I can't tell you how amazing I felt inside to feel so comfortable sprinting to the finish line. I didn't care about the time, I cared about the movement; I cared about opening up my body to full throttle and yes I do love hearing the cheering of the crowds as I take off but it's also the internal cheers I feel for myself that make the journey so sweet. I ran the race in 44:39 taking off a minute from 2009 but despite the time which 'wasn't' an overall PR, I felt it definitely was a PR in so many ways! Thanks to the hills my average heart rate was 160 with a peak of 176. The peak of my target zone for my age is 140. Yeah hey hey - look who's running now!


God bless, be well and give it all you've got
With love and gratitude from my heart to yours,
Mary

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Book Review: My First 100 Marathons



I 'met' Jeff Horowitz, author of My First 100 Marathons: 2,620 Miles with an Obsessive Runner on Pure Fit Radio. We became facebook friends and I thought that his book would make a wonderful Father's Day gift for my husband since he now is hooked on running marathons. I know it isn't really cool to give a 'used' gift for Father's Day but when the book arrived I was so intrigued by the content that I just had to read it first. And boy am I glad I did.

I am usually not a fast reader but I read Jeff's book in two days. I couldn't wait to read about his next adventure, his next triumph and how he overcame challenges and trials. If you believe that you have to be in love with running or have even run a marathon to enjoy Jeff's book, think again. While Jeff's story is, 'in many ways the story of everyone who has ever attempted and succeeded in running a 26-mile race', this is a book that non runners or people who are in love with runners will enjoy. This book transcends running and it transcends the marathon. Running and running marathons are metaphors for life. Jeff's book is about one man's journey to discover how he can use his natural gift of being able to run to make a difference in the world. Jeff looks deep within himself to explore why he runs marathons and his inward journey echoes to so many of us who are seeking purpose and passion in our lives.

Jeff's odyssey takes us from his first time running and around the globe on his quest to run 100 marathons. It spans 18 years of a physical and spiritual journey. Jeff's runs are set against the backdrop of his personal journey and placed in historical context. The book jacket has a brief bio of Jeff:
"Jeff Horowitz is a certified personal trainer and running coach, living in Washington DC. In addition to his own running, he has coached hundreds of others to run their first marathon while raising money for various charities. He's also an attorney, columnist, husband and father to little Alex Michael, who pleased his daddy by quickly learning how to say, "Look, I'm Running!" Visit Jeff at www.runtothefinishline.com."
To get to know Jeff in his personal account of My First 100 Marathons and find a part of yourself in his journey, run don't walk to get his book. If you order it through his website, he will send you an autographed copy.

God bless, be well and live like you were dyin'
From my heart to yours with love and gratitude,
Mary

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Devoted by Dick Hoyt - A Book Review






I first met Dick and Rick Hoyt at the Hyannis Marathon Race Expo in February of 2009. I shared my story with them and thought I knew their story - that is until I read "Devoted". At this year's Hyannis Race Expo, I decided to buy the book but it wasn't until a few weeks ago that I felt moved to take it off of my coffee table and read it. I don't want this blog to be a spoiler for the book about all the things I did not know about Dick and Rick's journey but I will share with you how Devoted has touched my heart and soul.

When you meet Dick and Rick, they are 'regular guys'. Although I haven't been with Rick when he has had his communication device, you can see his eyes are alive and aware following all that is happening around him. It was that spark that Dick and his wife Judy saw that kept them from institutionalizing their son despite the doctors' prediction that Rick would never amount to anything more than 'being a vegetable.'

Devoted is a love story. It is the love of a father for his son; a mother's fierce advocacy and unrelenting pursuit of justice and fairness not just for her son but for children with disabilities, and the love of a family. It is a story of love from the heart of one person who faced his own challenges to make a difference in the life of a classmate. It is a story of how love transforms and is infectious. It is how love drives and motivates Dick to not take no for an answer and have doors opened in the racing community not only for his son but for runners across the globe.

Dick and Rick became an 'overnight internet sensation' in 2006 after a You Tube video about Dick and Rick's 1999 Hawaii Ironman triathlon was set to the song My Redeemer Lives. I found one of the more recent You Tube videos which adds in the words CAN which Rick types out using his adaptive communications technology.

As I read Devoted, the grace and love of Dick and Judy as parents unconditional love for their child I found myself feeling transformed and blessed by their journey. Although my parents were unable to advocate and care for me as a disabled child, it brings me such joy and hope and redemption that Dick and Rick are now role models for anyone facing a disability. They transformed individuals, the world of racing, the lives of people across the globe with their inspirational message Yes You Can. I wear their dog tag when I race as a constant reminder that no matter what the challenge, the human spirit and the love of the world's family can leave all those challenges and obstacles n the dust.

Run don't walk to get your copy of Devoted. Be sure to have a good supply of tissues on hand. My life has been so blessed to know Dick, Rick and Kathy Boyer, Dick's office manager and girlfriend. I know that I will continue to run and race for as long as I am able because despite any diagnosis, I know that I CAN! To quote Rick, "appearances are deceiving".

God bless, be well and know that Yes You Can
From my heart to yours with love and gratitude,
Mary

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Moment to Pause



A cold dreary May day (I almost typed November) here in New England. The first email came from my husband, "Does this mean I'm in the Falmouth Road Race? They charged our credit card." All over facebook people were wondering the same thing - but not for long. The second email came through - "It's official!" My husband got into the Falmouth Road race from the lottery. That means I get to have fun without the fund raising although we all know I cherish the challenge of raising money for great causes. Last year Tom ran for Ms. Wheelchair Massachusetts Foundation and I had only 3 weeks to raise a minimum of $350. I raised over $800 but I digress.

I was debating whether or not to book our hotel room for the weekend. Our daughter will be home and she didn't have the opportunity to see my husband run in Falmouth last year. Maybe I should wait until plans are finalized but that Voice whispered for me to call our favorite hotel in Falmouth, The Falmouth Inn.

The Voice did not prepare me for what I was about to hear. "Hello, may I please speak with Terri?" She told me that when we are making reservations to always ask for her because she would take care of us. "Um, I'm sorry but we lost Terri." Lost Terri? Like she got lost? She left? but in my heart I knew what she meant. Terri suffered a massive heart attack at the Falmouth Inn 3 weeks ago. She was on life support for 3 days and then they let her go.

I didn't know what to say. Lisa remembered us from last year. I fumbled and said that I would call back later that my booking a room seemed inconsequential right now. "No," Lisa reassured me. "We are selling out fast for that weekend." I asked how Terri's son is doing. He is the same age as our twins and Terri and I would watch each other's kids grow up. Lisa told me that he stepped up to the plate and is taking over a lot of his mother's responsibilities. He is studying hotel management in college. I saw him last year and Terri was so proud of her son. You could see the love and admiration in her eyes as they were both behind the desk at the Falmouth Inn. Lisa looked up to see what Terri had 'done' for us last year and said she would give us the same rates. As we concluded the transaction I told Lisa to please express our condolences to everyone especially Terri's son, and told her I send love and prayers.

Our relationship with the Falmouth Inn began over 16 years ago. I was friends with the members of the Sea and Surf Anglers Club. They would stay at the Falmouth Inn when they fished against the Blue Waters Anglers Club of Bermuda. (Their website hasn't been updated since 2008). We were staying at another hotel in Falmouth and went over to the Falmouth Inn to see one of our friend's from Sea and Surf. Terri was there and she invited my kids to use their pool. "Any friend of Mr. Shearer's and the Sea and Surf Anglers Club is a friend of ours," she said to me. She also gave my kids little flashlights and a few other souvenirs. The Sea and Surf Anglers Club alternated years with the Bermudians coming to Boston and the Bostonians going to Bermuda so the next year that the Bermudians were coming to Falmouth, we decided to stay there.

And so it began....whenever we went to Falmouth, we stayed at the Falmouth Inn. We would go in the dead of winter over February vacation and in the heat of summer and everything in between. I remember going down for Valentine's Day weekend one year with our family. Terri was short staffed for wait staff and the guests began helping her. That's the kind of person she was. Rather than complaining about the service or lack thereof, people just wanted to pitch in and help. We all laughed and felt like we were at home. She had this amazing energy about her. When I was fund raising for some event, I asked Terri for a gift certificate to the Falmouth Inn. Without hesitation she said yes and also suggested other places I contact on the Cape to make it a great silent auction item. Whenever anyone heard that I was a friend of Terri's, they gave without hesitation.

Last year, my husband and I stayed there in November when I was doing a poetry reading on the Cape. When she saw us, she 'chastized' me for not contacting her directly to make our reservation and 'adjusted' the rate. That would be the last time I would see her smiling face or hear her distinctive voice with a Cape Cod accent. As we left the hotel I remember saying to her that we'd see her next summer. She said call me any time you need a room. I sent her a letter reviewing the Falmouth Inn which she said they wanted to use on the website and she sent me a hand written thank you note back with her business card.

And so with tears streaming down my face I have a collage of beautiful memories cascading through my mind. Terri always making sure my kids had enough quarters for the arcade room. Having the Bostonians and Bermudians watch my kids play in the arcade. Hearing K.C. (not of the sunshine band but his nickname was Sundown) sing karaoke in the same place Julia Roberts had once sung karaoke. Terri giving us extra towels, late checkouts and making sure we had everything we needed. I can see Terri behind the desk last August when we were there for the Falmouth Road Race and we talked about the passing of so many Bostonians and Bermudians. The karaoke and the arcade room are gone. And so is Terri. Time goes on. Things change but the love lives on. It will feel strange to go to the Falmouth Inn this year and not see Terri but I know that she would want us to have a wonderful time enjoying all the festivities of the Falmouth Road Race weekend. I know that when I walk in, I will need to take a moment to pause and reflect on the absence of a dear friend and give thanks that she blessed our lives for so many years.

God bless, be well and cherish each moment
From my heart to yours with love and light,
Mary

Monday, May 2, 2011

All The Way



During this morning's meditation and breath work, Frank Sinatra's song "All the Way" came to me. When somebody loves you it's no good unless they love you, all the way. It's time for me to love myself all the way. I had an aha moment after my individual yoga lesson with Pat Donaher last week. The pivotal memory of my mother (God bless and rest her soul) neglecting me physically and abandoning me emotionally after contracting paralytic polio has led me to a struggle in my own healing journey. There are moments when I realized I was abandoning myself. I abandoned the feelings of self love. I felt that taking care of myself was a burden. I 'sacrificed' my needs to take care of others. My husband used a beautiful phrase this weekend as we talked about the Warrior pose in yoga. He expanded on what I said in my previous blog post. The Warrior unleashed is not unleashing the anger at those who 'wronged' us but rather unleashing the power of love and forgiveness. Tom said, "The Warrior is there to protect our own happiness and joy."



I could go on and on about ways in which I did not love myself all the way but I prefer to focus on what it means to love myself all the way. It means asking myself at all times, is this action, is this choice a loving choice and one which serves my joy, happiness and love? Sometimes there are things I choose to do which I may not particulary want to do but know in my heart it is the right thing for me to do. When I make those choices, I want to do things with a full, happy and loving heart for that is how I can love myself all the way. Choosing thoughts is another way to love myself all the way. When I allow myself to be fully present in the present moment, I am loving myself all the way. When I choose how I respond to a particular external situation, I am loving myself all the way. When I choose healthy foods and eat mindfully, I am loving myself all the way. When I smile, notice God and the power of Divine within and without, I am loving myself all the way. When I adhere to the list of exercises for breathing and strengthening every day, I am loving myself all the way.

Patience is a wonderful form of self love. The practice of yoga is like learning to play a beautiful musical instrument. It is a process of discovering and nurturing self love and opening up parts of myself that once were numb and dead. When a beautiful series of notes is played, the harmony is magnificent. When I find myself 'off key', I can smile and love myself all the way knowing that practice makes progress and comes a little at a time. In yesterday's Yoga for Runners class with Sarah Sturges at Back Bay Yoga, I moved slowly and with intention. I noticed. I made adjustments to make myself more comfortable in a pose while deepening a stretch. I listened and absorbed the music. Sarah's voice guided my meditation in movement and fueled self love and inner wisdom. It was a total sensory experience. During Savasana, as Sarah walked gently around the room, I could feel energy flowing. I felt my abdomen and pelvic area respond to the energy. In one moment, as Sarah walked by there was a swish of air and I felt fluttering on the right side of my abdomen where there is scar tissue and adhesions from multiple surgeries. I shut down so many parts of myself to defend against pain. Now I get to love myself all the way. "Taller than the tallest tree tops - that's how it's got to be. For when somebody loves you, it's no good unless they love you All The Way."

How are you going to love yourself all the way?

God bless, be well and live like you were dyin'
From my heart to yours with love and gratitude,
Mary

Friday, April 22, 2011

My Tree



I watch the seasons change through my office window. One might describe the tree right outside my office window as fragile. Its branches almost look like twigs. There are some sturdier branches near the 'trunk' but there is no strong, sturdy round trunk to this tree. It's more like a collection of branches with a center stalk. Just beyond it, in the 'little field' are huge strong sturdy trees with some widow's branches but they appear so much stronger than this little tree outside my window.

I have watched this tree survive feet and feet of snow this winter and in winters past. It was buried and I thought there is no way that tree will survive this winter. But it has and now the tiny green buds begin to sprout out of its fragile fingers. While huge branches fell off of trees more formidable than my little tree, my tree, because it is so flexible, bent underneath the weight of all the storms. Here it is, ready to bloom; ready to embrace and celebrate the warm sun and arise from winter slumber. I watch my tree embrace the robin as it lands on its branches. How does it not break under the weight of the robin? My tree possesses such grace and beauty.

It seems as though it is taking forever for the leaves to burst forth. It seems as though Spring is coming so slowly this year. There have been a lot of grey, cloudy April days but that doesn't stop the growth. It is invisible to my naked eye but I can see the progress. I am relishing the anticipation and the slow and steady pace of the transition from winter to Spring and then to summer. I practice patience. I practice yoga.

No matter the weather, my tree does what it needs to do from within to thrive. My tree is a reflection of my journey. I've been buried under mounds and mounds of snowstorms in my life. There were times when I felt as though I could not possibly withstand another 'hit' but that instinct to be strong and to thrive is more powerful than any force that comes from without. Appearances are deceiving. While my tree looks fragile, it possesses a strength from within. Long roots reach deep inside the earth. It has a will to thrive - if a tree can have a will. To look at me - tremors, an awkward way of moving as I make changes in my patterns of movement, grey hair you would never guess the power house of strength, courage and grace that lies beneath. It's no accident that this tree is the tree that happens to be outside my office window. My tree and I journey on welcoming a new season of life.

God bless, be well and live like you were dyin'
From my heart to yours with love and gratitude,
Mary

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

On The Wings of Love



As I was reflecting on these past four months and especially Marathon Monday, this song came to mind. I have a collage of photo memories playing in my mind's eye. At the center of the collage is a beautiful 13 year old young man who is Tom's patient partner. Notice I said - is - Tom's patient partner. He is and as long as Tom has legs to run 26.2 miles and I have a heart beating to fund raise, Christos will be Tom's patient partner.





I remember the day we received the letter that Tom had a patient partner. We were excited but didn't quite know what that meant. We had know idea that Christos would take us on the wings of love to soar to heights of emotion and to ignite the love in a community. We had know idea that we would have all of Boston University's Morse Auditorium chanting Christos Christos. Earlier that week, Christos was in ICU and we all harnessed the power of prayer to help him heal from his latest infection. We had no idea that people's hearts would be touched by Christos' story and a flood of love in the form of donations totalling almost $10,000 would be posted to Tom's fund raising page. As 'big' donors handed me checks, they said, "if he does it again next year, come see me.' Boston University wants to make Music for Miracles an annual event.



We were so blessed to have a team of 5 BU photojournalism students chronicle Tom's Road to the Boston Marathon and beyond the finish line. Coordinating Marathon Monday was a logistical challenge worthy of the New England Patriots play book. How would a student get to the start? How would we have access to the finish line? What if the AT & T athlete alert didn't work as it had not worked last year? Where were the best spots to capture Tom along the course. It all worked out and I cannot wait to share the photos with you.

The most memorable moment came at mile 24 when Tom saw Christos and the entire Couturier family along with two of the students. (One of the students made it back in from the starting line.) Tom and Christos hugged and then they ran together for almost a mile of the route. Tom got the crowd chanting Christos Christos. This time no one was looking into the lens of a video camera while Christos was at Childrens Hospital. This time, Christos was there soaking up the love, healthy and overflowing with love and joy. As Tom took his time with Christos, I was nervously waiting at the finish line. I KNEW that Tom would finish. I did not know how or when especially since at mile 8 he was having a calf issue. I knew that he would make it on the wings of love and all the prayers of our friends and family.

Tom later told me he was out of gas when he got to Boston College after the Newton Hills. He went out fast - a 9:29 pace and at mile 8.3, one of the friends we made along the journey sent me a facebook message that Tom looked good but could we send some calf love his way. Uh oh I thought - what does that mean? Tom had a gastroc tear in his calf but thanks to Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy, he was fit and fine to run Boston. When I saw his pace for the half, I knew that he might have been tight from having gone out as fast as he did. He saw his physical therapist at mile 21 and when she asked him how he was feeling, he said, fantastic. Believe and your thoughts will create the fact.

We got the call from one of the students posted at Hereford and Boylston that he was on his way. Such excitement and when we spotted his Childrens Hospital singlet with his white Brooks hat and screamed Tom he looked over. It was a Kodak moment and I got to see my husband cross the finish line of the 115th Boston Marathon. As we debriefed about his run, we noticed the similarities between running a marathon and the marathon of life. You know you are going to finish; you may not know how or when but when you go on the wings of love, the journey is delicious.


Thank you to Marathon Sports for your generous donations and for the view from the finish line!

To L Street Running Club for giving me the opportunity to share my journey on the wings of love at the pre marathon meeting last week (and for the cool L Street Running Jacket)

To Kathy Cortelyou of Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy for helping Tom recover from what could have been a game changing injury and cheering him on yesterday.

And to all of the businesses, friends and family for helping us to fly on the wings of love on this amazing journey.

God bless, be well and live like you were dyin'
From my heart to yours with love and gratitude,
Mary

Friday, April 15, 2011

Two More Days



Thursday evening before Marathon Monday. Butterflies in the stomach. On our way to the L Street Running Club for the pre marathon meeting, we stopped at Marathon Sports to see our beloved running coach Domenick D'Amico. It was hard to believe that it was two years since Team McManus ran the 2009 Boston Marathon. It was hard to believe that Tom's training and fund raising is now behind us and we are looking ahead to Monday. Tom received some wonderful last minute coaching tips from Domenick and we told him we'd see him at the Expo on Saturday.

When we arrived at L Street, Mac, our President said to me, "I'm so glad you are here. I need you to open the meeting with maybe 10 or 12 minutes. If I stretch out my hands it means go longer. If I start tap dancing and making circles with my hands, it means hurry up." Last year Mac had invited me to share my Boston Marathon journey to inspire the marathoners before they took their place at the starting line. I had no idea I would be asked to speak again this year. Never one to shy away from a speaking opportunity I eagerly agreed.




















The energy in the room was electric. I had nothing prepared but I am always prepared. I opened my heart and let the words flow forth. I felt so strong, stood so straight and when I speak, every ache in my body disappears. It was magic. Next up was Greg Meyer, the last American male runner to win the Boston Marathon. He was followed by Harvey Leonard, our local meteorologist and then the always entertaining Jake Kennedy of Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy. (He is pictured here singing his 'original' marathon song.)







Before we head into the Expo, pre race Team Reception for Childrens Hospital, and then the excitement of Marathon Monday.

Now that I am fueled and ready, it is time to turn the spotlight on my beautiful running and life partner Tom. This is his weekend; Monday is his day and the culmination of months of a labor of love. I have no regrets that I am not physically running by his side because I know will be running with him with every step he takes. He will be running for me, for his patient partner Christos and for Childrens Hospital. He will be running with more than his legs. He will be running from his heart.

To all of my friends who are running Boston - I wish you God speed and may all of your hopes exceed your expectations.

God bless, be well and live like you were dying'
From my heart to yours with love and gratitude,
Mary

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Four More Days!



It is almost here - four more days to the high holy day in Boston - Monday April 18, 2011 - the 115th running of the Boston Marathon. Streets are closed, the MBTA runs on a holiday schedule, runners awaken from a sleepless night of slumber before sunrise, eat their pre race breakfast that they have planning for months. Pick up all of the items that were meticulously laid out the night before. Some will pray, others will meditate - whatever you call it - there are no atheists in fox holes or in marathon corrals. From across the globe runners make the holy pilgrimage to Hopkinton Massachusetts where they begin their journey of 26.2 miles to the finish line in Boston.

I am not one of the runners this year. I have a unique role to play in this high holy day. I am the marathoner's wife. We did it ladies! We made it through. We made it through another season of training and for many of us, another season of fund raising and the past few weeks of taper madness!

For the past seven months I have been doing laundry, waking up at 5 am (and then going back to sleep), driving around to cheer on my husband on long runs, fund raising, providing support to a team of 5 BU photojournalism students who have been documenting Tom's journey, keeping the bath tub clean and ready for ice baths and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

All the runners are blogging about their goals for this year. My dear friend Matt Wilson (Luau) talked about his goals in today's post and I realized that it's not just the runners who have goals. So does this marathoner's wife:

To rise and shine when the alarm goes off at 5 am
To see the tote board at $10,001 the morning of the marathon
To have everything ready and waiting for Tom to help him stay cool, calm and collected on race day
To not make a fool of myself with hysterical blubbering when I send Tom off on the bus for Hopkinton with his teammates
To find a parking space somewhere in the Back Bay (on the other side of the holy grail finish line of course)
To be able to find a bathroom when I need it throughout the day
To stay hydrated and fueled – it’s exhausting watching a marathon
To maintain phone service throughout the day to stay in touch with the students along the route and our children who will be texting and calling for updates
To remember sunblock and work on my tan if the sun is out.
To not blink at the moment when Tom crosses the finish line and miss his triumphant finish
To find him in the sea of runners
To make it from the finish line to the Westin Copley hotel – it’s easier for Tom to get from Hopkinton to Boston than to get from the finish line to anywhere else.
To remember where I parked my car and figure out how to get back to the Holiday Inn Brookline where his patient partner and family will be waiting for us to celebrate the culmination of seven months of incredible work in this labor of love as part of the Miles for Miracle Team.

To get ready to do it all over again next year! (I know there is a reason why Tom did not return the Childrens Hospital banner and is talking about when we do next year's a cappella benefit concert....)

So here's to all of you marathoner's wives and especially to those who are also mothers of young children. May your husband's have a PR and may you find your way through race day logistics with light, laughter and love!

God bless, be well and live like you were dyin'
From my heart to yours with love and gratitude,
Mary

Some inspiring pre-race Botson Marathon reflections:
Run Luau Run
Really not a Runner

Help us make that tote board climb baby climb
Tom's Boston Marathon Fund Raising Page

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I Say It's Love



One week ago today, I spoke at my nephew's memorial service. It's been a whirlwind of activity since March 4th when he made his transition after taking his own life.Life interrupted for many friends and family of Charlie Alper. I'm back to being an empty nester and the house was so quiet today for the first time in over a week. In the quiet and solitude with the rain pouring down, I let my tears flow. I made sure I did my stretching and got on the recumbent bike for a 10 miler. I took time to just be. I searched and I listened. In the stillness, I heard the song "Love" by Sugarland play in my head. We saw them in a summer concert in New Hampshire set against the beautiful mountains.

What a cascade of events this past week in my world and in our world. Death, destruction, risk of a nuclear meltdown seem to permeate and rock our world. Do we allow these events to trigger fear, vulnerability, panic and despair or do we allow these events to remind us to focus on the love of the Divine? I am so grateful for the outpouring of love and support I received after my friends heard of the tragedy in our family. The prayers and kindness flooded my soul with love and comfort. I take that love and pray for our brothers and sisters across the globe whose world was also turned upside down. I am so grateful for the comfort and warmth of my home and family and pray that my brothers and sisters will find comfort and peace amidst their tragedy. I am reminded what Victor Frankl,MD, a holocaust survivor, said in "Man's Search for Meaning" and I am paraphrasing here: Pain is pain. You can't say one person's pain is worse or less than because of the external circumstances. When pain fills the soul, it fills the soul. But how we perceive those circumstances and how we ascribe meaning to them is what determines whether we survive or perish.

So how does one heal whether they live through the Holocaust, a tsunamai, or two suicides - I say it's love!

God bless, be well and live like you were dyin'
From my heart to yours with love and gratitude,
Mary

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