Thursday, July 10, 2014

"Were you a dancer?"

"What? Who me? Um no - well yes I was when I was 3 years old until I contracted paralytic polio at age 5," I replied. "Oh my", she replied. "Well you certainly move with grace," my fellow aquatics therapy class member said to me as we were moving through our paces yesterday at Spaulding Rehab. This is the second time someone has asked me if I was a dancer telling me how graceful I looked moving through the water.

We tend to focus on how our bodies hold onto memories from traumatic experiences. We forget that our bodies can have muscle memory from joyful experiences that we can call upon and resurrect in our mind's eye. In the water, I become that graceful ballerina even though I am now 60 years old. To experience feeling graceful after all that my physical form has endured is well simply put - the grace!

I wrote this poem shortly after I began working with my personal trainer in October of 2007. I was imagining how I would feel some day in my body and declaring that despite appearances to the contrary, I am a prima ballerina filled with confidence and grace.

Follow the Star March 2008

Stairs looming – my Mt. Everest I faced them with such dread
“Would my muscles make the climb?” - the thought inside my head.
Hug banister so tightly – my lifeline – climber's rope
Lead-like legs – they'd find their way – up the staircase slope.

Grateful I can do it and for all things great and small
But tired of the struggle not to mention fear of fall.
“I sent a training angel – you know her, she's your friend
To help your muscles strengthen – on her you can depend.”

Unsure of what was possible – unsteady on my feet
But pictures dancing in my head of graceful times so sweet.
A ballet star at 4 years old, but virus snuffed its light
So God sent me an angel – for healing now in sight.
The gift of caring for myself – unleash the fear and doubt
Allow this loving angel to help turn tide about.
My mind transforms the body while love transforms my soul
I feel Your strength within me – broken places now made whole.

I'm a prima ballerina filled with confidence and Grace
Muscles work in tandem – center stage is now my space!
This joyous journey of my life-Your guiding star takes lead
The soul now healed, the heart renewed my body now be freed.

Yes I was a dancer and I am a dancer. I love to dance in the healing waters of Aquatics Therapy classes at Spaulding Rehab.

And remember - it's never too late and you're never too old --

Learning to Dance 2013

It’s never too late
you’re never too old
to learn to dance
paralyzed from polio
paralyzed with fear
frozen in time

awkward and unsure
shame and confusion
I fell into the trap of ego
my leg snared in the jaws of agony and defeat

tentative steps
stiff and clumsy
painstaking movement
fueled by thoughts of days gone by
the match is lit
no match for darkness
the music of my heart’s desire
moved me to try once again
step by step
the dance of my life
the way I was always meant to dance

yes wrinkles mark the passage of time
I burn brightly

until my dance is done.

My memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility" is now available on Amazon.

"Wait, I have one more goal," Mary McManus told her personal trainer in February of 2008 shortly after coming out of her toe up leg brace. "I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital." Mary traded in her polio shoes for running shoes and embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Mary McManus was at the height of her career as a VA social worker when she was told by her team at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s International Rehab Center for Polio in December of 2006 that she needed to quit her job if she had any hope of preventing the progression of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. In “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility” Mary takes you on her seven year healing odyssey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma from her diagnosis, to taking a leap of faith to leave her award winning career at the VA to heal her life and follow her passion as a poet and writer. You’ll experience her trials, tribulations and triumphs as she trains for and crosses the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and discovers the opportunity for healing in the wake of new trauma: the suicide of her nephew in 2011, and the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. This is Mary's journey of coming home to her human form free from the influences of the ghastly ghostly invaders who had invaded her sacred earthly home. Her memoir includes journals and blog posts from her seven year healing odyssey. This is her journey of transformation and her message of healing, hope and possibility.

I donate 50% of royalty payments through on line sales to The One Fund to help Boston Marathon survivors and their families. Copies are also available at Brookline Marathon Sports. $5 of each book sold at Marathon Sports is donated to The One Fund.

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