As I was booking our hotel stay for when my husband runs the Cape Cod Marathon in October, one of the hotels had this quote posted on their website:
When the snowdrops push their green spears through the earth, I know that Spring has arrived, and each year I think what a miracle it is.
No matter how long the winter, how hard the frost or how deep the snow, Nature triumphs. Sheila Pickles
Life gets messy. Life can get ugly and can be cold and dark and at times, seems unforgiving.
But what a miracle when we are able to push on and push through and allow our true nature to burst forth and blossom regardless of the circumstances of the winter of our life.
In the darkest days of the winter of 2007, shortly after being diagnosed with post polio syndrome, I experienced difficulty with my voice and swallowing, fatigue, breathing and a whole host of symptoms that were a result of paralytic polio I contracted at age 5 and the severe trauma I experienced from the age of 8-17 when my father, after years of struggling with alcoholism and psychiatric illness, finally took his own life.
I occasionally wrote poetry to celebrate and commemorate special events, yet I never nurtured my creative side until my body basically shut down. It was the dark night of my soul. Yet just like the snowdrops that can blossom through the snow, poetry flowed out of me. I began to move out of the darkness of fear and feeling/living like a victim into the light of love, gratitude and believing in what was possible. I even visualized running although I was in a leg brace, using a cane and at times a wheelchair for mobility. From my memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility":
I sat at my dining room table on a freezing cold dark February evening. No one else was at home. I had printouts from ‘new age’ teachers spread out all over the table. Dr. Bernie Siegel, Wayne Dyer, Tony Robbins, teachers from “The Secret” which was very popular back in the day were beckoning me. The theme was gratitude and a call to create.
“I am so happy and grateful that I can create,” was an affirmation from a Lisa Nichols newsletter.
Create? Create? I asked myself over and over again. What am I going to create? I had twins and my childbearing years were over. My career was quickly coming to an end.
And then I felt a stirring in my second chakra (only then I didn’t know it was my second chakra – I thought it might have been something I ate). I went over to my laptop in the corner of the living room and I wrote this poem:
Running the Race
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 no one 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 sobbed to write those words. I had never spoken about polio or the abuse I endured. I became curious. Why am I writing about winning a 10K race?
Energy flows where intention goes and I was blessed to experience a profound transformation in my physical form. So much so that I went on to run the 2009 Boston Marathon!
Three years ago after my nephew's suicide, I almost lost myself again. I stopped running and went on a long and winding road to find my way back home to myself.
I gardened for the first time in my life the other day as I wrote about in my blog "Dirt Therapy". How wonderful to weed and prune and have it all carted away in the lawn and leaf bags on trash day. I have been weeding and pruning in my life.
I go for biweekly massage sessions at Sollievo Massage and Bodywork which incorporates Zero Balancing. I have been shaking off the past literally and metaphorically as my body works to relax, settle and reorganize itself. We release my body's powerful natural ability to heal and find its way into a more balanced structure.
I'm feeling more and more like the person I was always meant to be. I'm back to running and the running community. In my mind's eye, I want to run another half marathon but first I have to run the Tufts 10K in October and see how that goes. I know I can't push myself too far or too fast. I am enjoying the journey of building distance and flirting with speed work.
But however the changes may or may not manifest in my physicality, my sense of well being, ability to weather whatever storms may come my way, contentment with my life and joy in living is here and now.
And that is how we are meant to be when nature triumphs!
When we stand in our truth, speak from our heart and live as our highest selves, everything flows and we can, just by our very presence, create powerful change in the world. ~Mary McManus