Saturday, June 29, 2013


Appreciation - understanding the meaning or quality or magnitude of something
Gratitude - a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation

I have begun training for the Brookline Symphony Orchestra 5K in September. I am so excited to be training again. I am being mindful this time aware of not getting into the pitfalls of forcing my body to move and pushing myself. I'm going slow and steady working to be aware of those thoughts of I have something to prove and using restraint in my actions.

Yesterday morning it was raining. I checked the hour by hour forecast and it said that by 11 it should be mostly cloudy. Awesome! But as I posted on my Facebook status, "It may be raining but I'll be walking on sunshine."

When I first got out to the Reservoir it was dark and drizzling

I appreciated being able to be outside no matter the weather and doing a power walk. I felt my heart swell with a sense of appreciation for the work I have and continue to do to heal my life.

The skies began to brighten

and by the end of my walk, the sun had come out.

I spent the afternoon outside working at my table feeling so blessed and grateful for the day.

When Tom got home from work, we did a bbq using the grill we had won in the Silent Auction on Marathon Monday

and I took a moment to appreciate how blessed we were to get to safety after the bombings.

As Tom and I relished our dinner, we breathed and we sighed appreciating how hard we worked to arrive in that moment. Our hearts overflowed with gratitude for all that was good and right in our lives and in the world. Sure there's pain and heartache without a doubt but what helps me to bear the pain, the heartache, the violence and evil in the world is to appreciate all that is right in the world.

Happy To Be Alive from Seasons of the Soul now available on Amazon
Face to face with death at knife point
cold darkened eyes stare into mine
unflinching I stare back
afraid to move a muscle
already dead.
Life force safely tucked away
unknowing the outcome of this untimely encounter with death
at the hands of a madman
reasoning destroyed by gin and vermouth.
Angels intervene
he finds peace in death
I am left to put the pieces of my life back together again.
As numbness gives way to pain
pain gives way to gratitude
appreciation for this wondrous wonder filled life
where nothing makes sense and everything makes sense
purpose out of pain
grace in ungodly moments
surrounded by love
happy so happy to be alive
to tell the tale of one who almost died.

From my heart to yours
With total love and deepest gratitude,


Monday, June 24, 2013

The BAA 10K - I Almost Didn't Go - Run Boston Strong

As I went to bed Saturday, I had this feeling come over me that I just couldn't stand at the finish line waiting for Tom and Ruth Anne to run the 3rd annual BAA 10K. I had done the #onerun after letting Tom know that I was afraid to do it and he said that's why we must but this felt different. I wouldn't be moving. I would be waiting for them at the finish line.

Tom and Ruth Anne were wonderful - so loving and supportive and they said it was no big deal. They would run it together. I had this feeling of fear in the pit of my stomach that just wouldn't quit so I meditated and sent out love and light and safety to all who were running. I remembered Tom Myers reminding us that courage is when you feel afraid and do it anyway but in my gut I just couldn't imagine myself at the finish line of the first BAA event since the Boston Marathon bombings.

I woke up at 4 am to the sound of the birds. I felt tired and said to myself that I needed to sleep in and rest and I'd meet up with them after they ran the race but at 6:11, I woke up wide awake. I asked them what time they were leaving. I left the house a mess - beds unmade, dishes in the sink and stuff everywhere. I had never gone out the door in 30 minutes in my life. I had breakfast, ran a comb through my hair, brushed my teeth and made sure everyone had everything they needed throwing it into a little running backpack.

We parked in Copley Square unsure of the street closures. Ruth Anne had a chance to visit the Memorial which she hadn't seen before and we had time to talk about Marathon Monday. We got to the start of the race

and I set up "camp". Tom and Ruth Anne went to get their shirts and explore the festivities/activities on the Common. I was feeling a little nervous that there wasn't a strong security presence at the start/finish line. I remembered at the #onerun there were bomb sniffing dogs. But this time, there were comfort dogs on the Common.

I took a few photos of the start and to see a really great photo of Tom and Ruth Anne at the start, visit

There was a beautiful opening ceremony acknowledging and honoring the events of Marathon Monday with an emphasis on Boston Stands As One and Boston Strong. When I was waiting for Tom during the 2011 Boston Marathon and during the first two BAA 10K's, I enjoyed listening to the distinctive voice of the BAA Announcer, Tom Grilk. He is always entertaining filled with fun facts and giving us updates from "the field" of who is in the lead and whether or not it is a close race.

He was a man of grace yesterday talking about Boston Strong. He announced several times that there were people from the Public Health Commission from the City of Boston on the Common along with the comfort dogs. He encouraged anyone who feels they would like to talk with someone to do so or just sit and be with the comfort dogs. He shared with the spectators that he was helped tremendously by counseling. He was at the finish line and witnessed the scene of Marathon Monday but rather than focusing on the carnage and devastation, he talked about resiliency. He played Kelly Clarkson's song "What Doesn't Kill You" and the song Run Boston Strong posted above emphasizing the theme of strength in the City and strength as individuals. He also played Martha and the Vandellas Heat Wave and a variety of uplifting and inspiring songs. He commented as the runners waited their turn in the wave starts, that we ARE Boston strong going out and doing what we always do not letting anyone stop us.

I almost let fear stop me but in the end, I joined my heart and my presence as a spectator with thousands of runners who ran Boston Strong in the 3rd BAA 10K and was there to see Tom and Ruth Anne cross the finish line!

Stronger Than Fear from Songs of Freedom:Poems From a Healing Odyssey Volume II:Seasons of the Soul available on Amazon along with Volume I:Elements of Healing

Happiness and freedom
mine to claim or throw away….

People that surround
try to shake me off center
robbing me of happiness and freedom
but only I am the thief.

Basic human rights violated
yet I am stronger than my fear
strong enough to finally feel
memories well up within me
no longer clutching
preying on me
I become the predator of the past.

Feet firmly grounded
energy rising from sacred ground
Divine love and goodness course through me
innocence of a newborn baby
love and trust pulse through me
returning me to a time and place
of Oneness with all that is.

let go
their venom poisoned me against myself
I am stronger than my fear
I forgive
love and compassion
healing balm
soothes and comforts

knits together what was once torn asunder
by unknowing slumbering souls.

From my heart to yours
With total love and deepest gratitude,


Sunday, June 16, 2013

New Kicks and a New Training Plan - Footloose

As I have often said, we were so incredibly blessed to be able to literally walk away from the bombings. I realized that something had shifted in my body that enabled me to walk with greater ease even under the horrific circumstances of the afternoon. My body began to crave a different kind of movement than what yoga offers me. We did the #onerun on May 25th. I felt wonderful being a part of the running community again and my body felt wonderful breaking out into a trot and then a sprint. I was keenly aware of how my body hasn't run in a very long time and it is going to require going back to the beginning to build up distance and speed.

As I walked in my Nike Vomero's which was my very first running shoe back in 2008

I felt as though I had cardboard shoe boxes on my feet. I'd been spending a lot of time in my vibrams but I was concerned about wearing vibrams for running and/or power walking any significant distance. They are awesome for walking around Houghton's Pond and feeling the grass in my yard under my feet. It bears repeating -- my feet delighted at not having to wear a "heavy" shoe which had always been the shoes I had to wear as a polio survivor. I knew it was time to ditch the Nike's.

On Friday I went to my go to store for running shoes - Marathon Sports and waited for Colin, the store manager to assist me. I felt like Goldilocks as he offered me three different minimalist running shoes to try. The third pair was just right

In lieu of rolling out my yoga mat on Saturday, we headed to South Boston to begin my new training plan. It felt so awesome to be back training. Of course, when you have 70 degree temps and no humidity and not a cloud in the sky - it's easy to begin the new training plan

I am not going to go crazy this time with distance and speed. I plan to keep my distance to 5K's - for now and I will be very mindful of how I feel in my body. I had a stunning discovery today with my trainer and coach Tom McManus. There is a huge difference between getting my body to move and moving in my body.

When I first began running and training for the Boston Marathon, I was able to get my body to move. That was a critical part of my recovery and healing. It was, needless to say a very rigorous training plan that required me to push my body. But now, I move in my body.

I won't lie. It was hard to stop at two miles and to take it slow but I know that my muscles have to get used to first a power walk and then a run/walk and then lengthen the time of running if that feels right in my body. It's all part of what Tom Myers calls the grand human experiment and we never know what the outcome will be.

After all, who knew that I would have a pair of new kicks and a new training plan getting back in the running scene training for the Brookline Symphony Orchestra 5K in September. Next up - downloading some new tunes to create some kick a** running playlists!

Happy Medium from Songs of Freedom:Poems From a Healing Odyssey Volume II:Seasons of the Soul now available on Amazon with Volume I:Elements of Healing

Living in a world of black or white
mostly black
dark clouds
all or nothingness
on a state of high alert or total collapse
until the tide turned
a new world beckoned to me.

Stripping away the proud flesh
excruciatingly painful
raw wounds wondering if healing were even possible
don't stop before the miracle happens.

Finding the middle way
after muddling through muck and mire
teachers and healers
all hands on deck to rescue a once believed wretched one
lamenting torment
from strains of pain to refrains of joy
my heart learns a new song
sweet harmonies
lyrics of forgiveness
loving kindness

Find a happy medium
forgive yourself
wrap yourself in a blanket of unconditional love
allow yourself to be free
release yourself from the dictates of shoulds
moving out of those stuck places -
habitual responses of butting heads or retreat
neither victim nor aggressor
moving into a space of a different perspective
a space where you are free -
a space where you feel the Divine within you and all around you
knowing that you
like me
like all of us
are a happy medium.

From my heart to yours
With total love and deepest gratitude,


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Beauty Moments In The Back Bay - The Beauty of Spontaneity

Two years ago I read Ana Forrest's book, "Fierce Medicine." In her book she talks about the importance of sharing beauty moments especially in the midst of challenging times. After taking her Master Class, I was blessed to meet Ana, share with her how her book changed my life and in my book she wrote:
"Dear Mary, Breathe your exquisite spirit into every cell. Daily. Walk in Beauty, Ana T Forrest".

Tom and I hadn't been out to dinner in a long time. I called him at work yesterday and suggested a date night. Our go to place is Thaitation in the Fenway area. While driving in town to meet him, I realized there was a Red Sox game. We needed to come up with a plan B. I suggested we go somewhere in the Back Bay to support the restaurants that continue to recover from the Boston Marathon bombings when the area around Copley Square was shut down for a couple of weeks. As we were driving down Arlington Street, I said should I take a right here? Tom said sure why not. There in front of us on St. James Street just behind Copley Square was a handicapped parking space just waiting for us. Parking after 5 pm in the Back Bay is at a premium but there it was.

We had no plans - didn't know where we were going to eat and decided to just see where we ended up. A half a block later we first saw a sign for Skipjack's Restaurant.

We used to patronize the Skipjack's in Brookline Village and then in Newton but they closed. We wondered if they were open and as we approached Clarendon Street we saw their outdoor dining patio.

It was windy but we opted for outdoor seating nestled underneath Trinity Church, the Hancock Building and the Prudential building in the distance.

We were so excited and joyful that we shared our story with our waiter of how we just happened upon Skipjacks on Clarendon Street. He was a waiter in the Newton restaurant before it closed and the manager used to be the manager in Newton. Underneath a cloudless sky with the warm sunshine caressing us, Tom and I enjoyed our delicious meal. The manager came out and we instantly recognized each other. He told us that our waiter told him the story of how we just happened to find our way to the restaurant. We didn't speak directly of the events of Marathon Monday but there was a sense of relief and healing in what was unspoken and the joy of reconnection. As a by the way, the manager told us that they offer two hours of free parking in the garage on Clarendon Street after 5 pm.

As a trauma survivor, I could not allow myself to be spontaneous. Everything needed to be planned out and controlled but of course that was an illusion of control. As I have learned over and over again in my life, things happen over which I have absolutely no control. But in the midst of it all, on a beautiful June evening in Boston's Back Bay, I was blessed to experience beauty moments and the beauty of spontaneity. There is beauty to behold when you let the wind and Spirit guide you to the spot where you need to be.

The Gold Standard from Songs of Freedom:Poems From a Healing Odyssey Volume II:Seasons of the Soul now available on Amazon

How do you measure Beauty
the gold standard not found on the cover of magazines or billboards
beauty and grace emerge out of the crucible
the heart of a warrior tested
tempered in the fires of hell
radiant beauty reflecting confidence and strength
triumphant courage
passionate Spirit
Shine On!

From my heart to yours
With total love and deepest gratitude,


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Book Review - "Those We Love Most"

Two weeks ago I had the incredible pleasure of hearing Lee Woodruff speak at Brookline Booksmith. You can read about in my blog post, "Be In The Moment."

I have spent these last two weeks with Maura and Pete, Sarah and Ryan, Roger and Margaret, Stu and Erin and Alex riding a wave of emotions as they all reel and respond to the accidental death of Maura and Pete's son James. No spoilers here that's for sure. Lee's first novel is a riveting story that draws from the universal experiences of the human condition.

"Those We Love Most", in Lee's words, is a story about resiliency. "It's about the best parts of us; the secrets we choose to keep and how the ones who love us can move us past the hard places and orient us in the right direction." I read "Those We Love Most" before turning in at night and on the beach. I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next yet I didn't want the story to end. Someone asked Lee if she missed the characters once she finished the book. She emphatically said, "No!" I did experience a sense of completion and closure when I turned the last page. I do miss everyone with whom I shared an intimate journey of loss, of love, of life.

Lee captures the essence of the complexity of relationships in the younger and older generations. She reveals the internal world of the characters providing us with a window to their souls and a window to the community that surrounds them. In her acknowledgements, Lee lists the experts with whom she consulted to ensure correctness of details that draw us into the believability of the plot.

Even in times of darkness and as characters face their own shadows, the tender love in Lee's heart and in the characters' hearts ultimately prevails.

Lee read the following passage from "Those We Love Most" at her book signing:
"Although in her dream James couldn't speak, she knew that from the moment he had left himself in the hospital, floating briefly above his broken body, his job had been to stay close to them, a sentry watching over the ones he loved at the house, until the time was right. Maura understood that this new version of her son, ethereal and physically insubstantial, no longer fathomed what it was to be tired or heavy or bound by gravity. She could intuit, as a mother does, his growing anticipation for what would come next, a buoying sense that another warm place was waiting that would feel as good and secure to him as living with his family had felt.

In her dream, James was now entering their bedroom, although Pete was there next to her instead of lying in James's room as he was in real time. Swirling around his father's sleeping form, James dove down burrowing himself in his chest. She watched Pete's even breathing rise and fall, and then he stilled for a moment and rolled serenely onto his back. James moved now to Sarah's room and dipped down into her crib, tenderly caressing his sister's face, her curls blowing back form her sleep-damp forehead as her hand rose involuntarily and relaxed its fist. James appeared to be zooming faster now, with a greater sense of urgency, moving into Ryan's room, and Maura was inexplicably keeping pace, she was with him, observing it all form the inside out. She watched as he circled the room's perimeter once, past Ryan's books and games, the discarded clothes on the floor and moved to the bed to embrace him before retreating....

He continued up past stiff air currents and colliding weather patterns and up,up, up...and then all at once Maura's forward movement dissolved as a golden warmth infused her veins, a glow and there was a sudden sensation of uncoupling, like the second firing of a rocket ship in space. She observed James continuing above her as one watches a meteor, with a consuming sense of wonder....

And in Maura's dream, as her son broke through the byzantine darkness to join the universal light of a trillion twinkling stars, all that had once been James expanded and then burst into a million particles of explosive, refractive love." (excerpted from pages 177-179).

Head out to your neighborhood indie book store to pick up your copy of Lee Woodruff's first novel. Treat yourself to a fro yo while you're at it. Savor this wonderful novel which is a perfect beach or before bedtime read as the gentle summer breezes caress you as you enter the world of "Those We Love Most."

From my heart to yours
With total love and deepest gratitude,