Monday, September 23, 2013

If You Build It He Will Come - On Visions and Visionaries

Did you see the movie Field of Dreams? "Sometimes when you believe the impossible, the incredible happens."

A few weeks ago we went to Spaulding Rehab's Set Sail event. Spaulding's President, David Storto, shared how he was standing with Mayor Menino on the grounds of the new hospital and the Mayor asked David what they were going to do with the land adjacent to the hospital. David said to the Mayor, "Well you own that land. It's under the Boston Redevelopment Authority." The Mayor asked him what he thought it should be and he said he thought it should be a park. The Mayor said, "Well I think it should be playground for kids with disabilities."

Next year at the Set Sail event, it will be ready. It's so exciting to watch the transformation of this piece of land covered right now with dirt and rocks into what will be heaven and a haven for kids of all disabilities to play. Whenever I go to the Aquatics Classes at Spaulding, I see the work in progress moving toward the final vision of David and the Mayor.

A week ago Sunday, Tom and I were volunteers at the Grand Opening of the Brookline Teen Center.

Paul Epstein, MSW had a vision eight years ago of a teen center in Brookline that would be created by teens and for teens. Eight years - can you imagine the faith and energy it took to see this project through to fruition? It was a magnificent day and over 1,000 people came out to see what the Center was all about. Tom and I greeted the excited guests at the registration table. There is no way I could have captured the look on Paul's mother and aunt's faces as they signed in to celebrate the special day. I remember volunteering at an open house when the space was an open garage. I saw renderings of the project and watched the progress of the Teen Center as it went from one man's vision to a reality.

I know the power of visualization and having a vision. In December of 2006, I was given a rather grim diagnosis of a progressive neuromuscular disease - post polio syndrome and the prognosis was the best we could hope for was to stabilize "my condition." I returned to what I had already known and learned from working with Dr. Bernie Siegel through the years. I got still. I meditated and I asked the Divine for help.

In February of 2007 I wrote this poem that will be in the soon to be released "A Celebration of Life." {You can purchase my books of inspirational poetry on Amazon.}

Running the Race - Feb, 2007

Early summer 1959 my kindergarten year
Everyone around me filled with nervous fear
Despite the Salk vaccine hope polio would disappear
The polio virus crept right up and knocked me in the rear.

Dancing all around the gym feeling free just like a bird
I dropped to the ground just like a stone and no one said a word.
The pain it was so searing-the diagnosis even worse
"It's polio" the doctor said...he was abrupt and terse.

Called one of the 'lucky ones' I had a 'mild case'
But with the other athletes I could never keep their pace.
Miss Holly physical therapist, curly hair and a warm, broad smile
It tempered the pain of being apart - to walk I'd take awhile.

I always wore those 'special' shoes the kids they poked and teased
With no support and much abuse with childhood I wasn't pleased.
But put nose to the grindstone and learned all that I could
I couldn't kick a ball but my grades were always good.

Years went by and no more thought to polio did I give
I accepted the limp and everything else and decided my life I would live.
But symptoms of weakness and muscle pain did grow
I kept a stoic face hoping noone else would know.

Life no longer was my own I struggled through each day
Suffered in silence, isolated from friends-trying to keep depression at bay.
And with the grace of glorious God my world it opened wide
I discovered there was a Post Polio team and they were on my side.

Using wheelchair to travel, set limits on what I could do,
Resulted in joy to realize I could live life anew.
Celebrated my body- creaks, groans and need for a brace
While in my mind I focused on winning a 10K race.

Sought out paths for healing and my spirit flew free
For the first time in life, I could truly be me.
The chains are gone and possibilities abound
I'm a tree with my roots planted firmly in ground.

I'm now off the sidelines, no need to sit and whine
So much gratitude fills my heart and love and beauty shine.
After all these years I can join the loving human race
I exceed all expectations and now I set the pace.

I returned to the cadence of Dr. Seuss that had helped to sustain me through painful physical therapy sessions to help me recover from the paralytic polio I contracted at the age of 5. My physical therapist, Miss Holly, was years ahead of her time knowing how important it was to give me tools to cope with the intense pain of recovering from paralytic polio. I accepted everything as it was in that moment. It was the first time I acknowledged the pain of my childhood and polio but I went on to focus on winning a 10K race.

I had never owned a pair of running shoes. I never ran a day in my life yet there I was focusing in my mind's eye on winning a 10K race. Two years and two months later I went on to cross the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon.

And as they said in Field of Dreams, "Sometimes when you believe the impossible, the incredible happens."

And since I feel so amazing in my new home, I am going to be running my inaugural event after a two year running hiatus at the 3rd Annual Brookline Symphony Orchestra 5K Fun Run on 9/29. Register today at

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