Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Sights and Sounds of the Sea - Medicine for the Soul

Tom and I hadn't been back to Gloucester and Rockport in several years. He is running the Around the Cape 25K tomorrow and we decided to make a day trip out of number pick up. That's the great thing about being a runner; not only do you have the excitement of races but you can create day trips and vacations around the road race.

I have always loved the ocean. After my nephew ended his life in March of 2011 by jumping off his fishing boat, the sea didn't hold the same charm and comfort for me -- until yesterday. What a pleasure to see a place we would often visit through new eyes.

There is a small beach we used to frequent at the end of the walk way where the statue of the Gloucester Fisherman stands.



We thought that would be a wonderful place to relax and then walk into town to have lunch after number pick up. It was too windy to sit on the beach so we enjoyed time on the soft grass on the walk way overlooking the ocean where we we had a little insulation from the wind.

We allowed the ocean to become our meditation object.



I felt blessed by my nephew's presence as I reflected on the words on the Gloucester Fisherman Statue: "They that go down to the sea in ships."

For the first time since his death, I felt healed and could take deep breaths once again enjoying the majesty, magic and mysticism of the sea.



Tom and I have weathered many, many storms in our 36 years of marriage. It was a joy and a delight to experience yesterday's brilliant sunshine and calm and peace in the moments that made up our day.

Since it wasn't a beach day, we decided to head up to Bearskin Neck.



We poked in and out of the shops known to showcase local artist's talents. I saw this on display outside of one shop:


My nephew's sister, my niece posts that on her facebook page on his birthday in December and on the anniversary of his death. I smiled knowing that his physicality may be gone but he is right here in my heart.

After our obligatory ice cream treat - and I mean treat since we have ice cream maybe once or twice a year, we set up our chairs at the tip of Bearskin Neck watching sailing, kayaking, stand up paddle board surfers and enjoying the rhythm of the sea and tourists come and go.



Before we left Cape Ann, we stopped by Helmut's Streudel. It was so tempting to bring home streudel or their cookies but we opted for a spinach and feta croissant to have for my post long run on Sunday:



The sights and sounds of the sea in a town known for its fishermen was medicine for my soul helping to bring peace and closure to a wound of grief.




"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.





Friday, August 29, 2014

Gaining Momentum-It's Only a Bump in the Road

"Why don't you get on your helmet and we'll put you on this bike today. We don't have the one you used last week today," Ali Stoll, Ph.D. and coordinator of the Adaptive Sports Program at Spaulding Rehab suggested at yesterday's adaptive sports program.

Caitlyn from AccesSportAmerica helped fit me with my helmet.

They adjusted the seat on the recumbent bike to accommodate my long legs and Ali suggested using a band to secure my feet to the pedals. They were back in a flash with therabands. I was intrigued by how they were able to make a sling for my feet to secure them to the pedals. I gave it a test drive to make sure everything was comfortable and off we went.

This was the second Thursday that the forecast was for rain but the sky was a beautiful blue with puffy white clouds. There was a strong wind which we used to our advantage when it was at our backs. I was amazed at how at ease I felt riding this week. I was mindful and attentive while feeling a comfort being on the bike thoroughly enjoying experiencing this new found skill of mine.

We talked about running, races, and life. We went farther than last week and there was a slope in the sidewalk. Ali reassured me that it was perfectly safe to ride down the incline and encouraged me to have fun along the way. We rode to where the USS Constitution is docked. Ali checked in with me to see if I needed to rest and to see when I was ready to turn around. I suggested we do the "turn around" at the Constitution. (Every year on July 4th, the USS Constitution does its annual turnaround.)

What comes down must go up so that meant I would have to get back up that slope we rode down on our ride out. I instinctively picked up speed as we approached the slope and almost made it to the top. I slid back down. Ali said that she wanted me to really push and would only help me once I absolutely needed it. I gained momentum and made it as far as I could and told her, "Now" letting her know I couldn't push beyond that point to make it over the slope. She said all I needed was a little extra push.

The ride back was relaxing and enjoyable. The more I biked, the more I enjoyed the feeling of maneuvering the bike and feeling a sense of empowerment and strength.

We approached the bump in the road that had stopped me cold last week. As Ali mentioned that it was coming up, I gained momentum and without hesitation made it up and over.

It's funny how one week, something seems like an insurmountable obstacle but when we figure out what we can do to gain momentum, feel our strength and believe in our abilities, that insurmountable obstacle becomes merely a bump in the road. I carry this new found confidence and strength with me into the final 6 weeks of training for the Tufts 10K.




"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.





Thursday, August 28, 2014

Healing Waters - Then and Now - A Flashback to Badger Day Camp



The heat and pushing myself hard in training were "kicking my butt" this week. I probably would have been best served by taking a rest day on Monday but I got in my miles and took it nice and slow. I took a rest day on Tuesday and was still feeling tired going into Wednesday Find Your Aquatics Strength Class at Spaulding Rehab but once I got into the pool, I could feel the fatigue melt away. We had some free swim time before everyone arrived. I enjoyed that time to take time to do what my body needed to feel revived.

Our therapist put us through our paces including a new exercise to help us with balance.

"If it was easy, you wouldn't be here," she offered and reminded us this was a hard exercise. "Don't get frustrated. It's okay."

I was realizing the profound difference between my right and left sides. She offered a modification to accommodate the difference in my two sides.

After we did our circuit she asked if we wanted to go for a swim and handed out kick boards. Coincidentally, our therapist had been a camp counselor.

I told her I was having a flashback - a very happy flashback to when I was at Badger Day Camp.

Badger was a camp for all abilities. After one unsuccessful try at Day Camp, my physiatrist who was working with me after I contracted paralytic polio suggested Badger which had swimming at the center of its daily activities.

Its history dates to 1945 ...

Badger Day Camp was founded in 1945 by Ruth and Jack Collins. Jack and Ruth had been operating programs for kids under the Badger name throughout Westchester County and they were ready to find a permanent location for their Badger programs. After some searching, Badger found a home at 119 Rockland Ave, Larchmont, NY and Badger Day Camp was born. Since then, the Collins family has been running the day camp and have continued the founding philosophy of offering a wide variety of quality programs for kids, in a fun and safe environment, for over 60 years!

At the heart of our campus is an Olympic sized pool. Campers get to jump in twice daily. Pool time is split between instruction and free swim to ensure a ton of fun every day! Before and after camp hours, the pool is often filled with our Badger Swim Team, led by internationally recognized Swim Coach, John Collins Jr. who has produced Olympians, American and National record holders and world champions all who have come out of this pool! It is not unusual for campers to catch a glimpse, or even meet, some of our former or current team members, especially during our swim demo days.


I was blessed to have Joseph Stetz as my swimming counselor. He chose to not follow his dream to become an Olympian and instead became a physician. I'm sure he blessed many lives in his career. Joseph gave me the support and encouragement I needed to compete in the butterfly during the Camp Olympics. I write about him in my post, "The Courage to Start." He told me that there were only two other campers willing to compete in the heat and if I didn't compete, they would have to cancel the race. At first I was reluctant to compete but he assured me he would coach me and train me for the event. He took individual time with me to teach me how to jump off the starting block and do turns in the pool. I didn't know it at the time, but he was also training me mind, body and Spirit and that training would hold me in good stead as I faced the challenge of post polio syndrome in my later years. Every time I have the courage to step up to a starting line, I think of Joseph. I just now decided that I am going to dedicate my Tufts 10K race to him.

He died in a single car accident shortly after his retirement from St. Elizabeth's Hospital right here in Brighton. As the synchronicity of my life would have it, I worked at St. E's as a geriatric social worker on the inpatient psych unit when he worked there as a cardiothoracic surgeon. We could have passed each other in the halls.

And last night as I took the kick board and did laps, the feeling of freedom and joy I can feel so easily in the water, returned to my mind, body and soul. I remembered my days at Badger that provided a healing balm to all that I had been through in my 10 short years of living. Although I could only spend two summers at Badger because the following year I had to go into a full leg cast on my right leg, those memories live on in my heart forever. Every Tuesday and Wednesday, I am blessed to return to healing waters where I find my strength, my freedom and my joy in Aquatics Therapy at Spaulding Rehab.




"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.









Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My Obsession With Running

"The obsession with running is really an obsession with the potential for more and more life." - Dr. George Sheehan



I love running and when I am not running, I spectate or I volunteer or share in the accomplishments of my running friends on Facebook. I have devoured books about running, runners biographies, the history of the Boston Marathon and have two more in queue after I finish reading Johnny Kelley's "Young at Heart." I read on line articles about running.

My obsession with running began after I wrote the poem "Running the Race" as I sat in a leg brace, using a wheelchair for mobility at times and feeling the worst in mind, body and Spirit that I ever felt in my life.

Running did not and does not come easily to me. The first time I ever ran for 30 seconds, at the age of 54 years old, shortly after coming out of my leg brace, my heart rate soared over 170.

For a moment I believed that I had no business running when I ran the Marathon Sports 5 Miler in July of 2008 as I began training for the 2009 Boston Marathon. But Tom and my Marathon Sports family gave me the boost I needed to believe in myself as a runner.

Running is in my soul now.

My heart breaks for that little 5 year old, when I think back to when I was in a full leg brace after contracting paralytic polio and desperately trying to keep up with my brother and my friends.

Running is my form of redemption.

When I crossed the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon, it was a moment bigger than I was yet it was also my personal moment of redemption.

A few weeks ago, I was obsessed with seeing if I could achieve a PR at the Bill Rodgers 5K Run/Walk to Benefit Prostate Cancer. Talk about a moment of redemption and experiencing the fullness of my life after taking a detour off my healing path in 2011. What a blessing to be able to inspire others to move beyond a diagnosis or a condition and see what they are capable of doing when put to the test on and off the roads.

I am training for the Tufts 10K and am eager to see what this body can do on race day. After Tufts it's training for the Feaster Five on Thanksgiving Day.

The sport of running is one of the only sports I know of where you can stand shoulder to shoulder and run on the same road as the running greats. I have been blessed to receive support, encouragement and advice from Bill Rodgers, Frank Shorter, Greg Meyer, Dave McGillivray and the inspirational Hoyts just to name a few.

There is an energy in the running community that is the energy of life itself. My obsession with running was borne out of a time in my life when I faced a grim diagnosis of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular condition. It has become my therapy, my medicine and the vehicle for bringing me from the precipice of decline to the fullness of my life.





"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.







Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Two Tales of One City - Labor Day Weekend in Boston

The year was 1971 just about a month after my dad ended his life. My brother packed up the car with me and a couple of his friends and we drove to 700 Commonwealth Avenue also known as "The Zoo" back in the day as I entered my freshman year at Boston University.



I had a roommate from hell, well actually she was from Long Island, who had arrived before me. With her perfect pink manicured hands she decorated my half of our dorm room complete with plastic flowers pinned to my bulletin board. I'm sure she thought I was the roommate from hell as I cried unpacking my things and did not express gratitude to her that she had taken the time to decorate my half of the room and line the drawers of my dresser. She got the R.A., the Resident Assistant who was wonderful. I told her what happened and she told me that I could go to the Counseling Center on Tuesday. A group of us went out to eat at Ken's Steak House in Copley Square. My roommate from hell had decided that I just had to do something with my hair before we went out to eat though and didn't I have any make up to put on? What a start to my Boston adventure. I had the chef's salad with Russian Dressing. There was a familiar taste of New York comfort food that got me through until Tuesday.

Every year at this time the permanent residents of Boston begin to grumble. I used to grumble - a lot and bemoan the end of summer heralded by U Haul lined streets and students flooding "my city." The anniversary reaction of that Labor Day weekend now 43 years ago haunted me with a melancholy that began the week before Labor Day and continued well through the winter months.

While the residents of Boston grumble, the students arrive with equal parts eager anticipation and trepidation. Freshmen, after being at the top of the hill as high school seniors now feel that sense of smallness and uncertainty as they enter their new academic careers. Those returning to their campus home away from home are excited to be reunited with friends and classmates eager to regale their tales of summer. There is a bustle of activity that once used to annoy me but that now fills me with hope.

Rather than feel resentment and frustration over these next few weeks, I'll be sure to leave extra time to get from point A to point B as the population of our fair city swells. Tom and I will go to Gloucester on Saturday to pick up his bib for the Around the Cape 25K he is running on Monday. Sunday we will be sure to not cross the divide into the land of the students at Cleveland Circle and anything we need to do we will do on this side of Beacon Street and Commonwealth Avenue.

Even though I arrived in Boston as a freshmen with a heavy heart and over a decade of challenges with paralytic polio and domestic violence, I had a sense of hope that there was a life beyond what I had lived. Even through all of the pain and suffering, confusion and different paths I traveled, I kept that spark of hope alive. I am so glad I did so that I could arrive here now poised to enjoy Labor Day weekend joining together with the energy of hope as a new academic year, as a new season begins.

Boston may be two tales of one City over Labor Day Weekend but once the crazed frenzy of the weekend subsides, we settle into a rhythm that hopefully will yield an amazing harvest in the years to come.





"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.





Monday, August 25, 2014

As The Seasons Change





I remember greeting my massage therapist at Sollievo as the first days of warmer weather arrived. "We survived the winter," I said. We both laughed saying that we seem to say that every year after a New England Winter. In essence we were saying, "how could we do anything other than make it through the winter?"

It's been over 5 months since I began the next miles on my healing journey at Sollievo Massage and Bodywork. So much wonderful healing is happening within me, mind, body and Spirit.

I notice a change in the way I am experiencing the change of seasons this year as we transition from summer to fall.

My facebook feed is filled with first day of school photos, my friends who are teachers posting about their return to work and saying farewell to summer vacation.

I can no longer have breakfast in my yard because the sun arrives later on my lawn.

But I can now appreciate the change in lighting and set up my office outside as soon as the sun warms up the day. I enjoy cooler weather runs yet runs when I do not yet have to put on layers.

And I have a choice about how I experience the change in seasons.

As a retiree, I was in rhythm with others during summer as the pace of life was slower and people had more free time. When the calendar turned from August to September, I would find myself panicking and scrambling to put things in place that would keep me busy and have a feeling of purpose.

Not this year though.

How do I choose to embrace life as the seasons change?

Running and training for the Tufts 10K, Aquatics Therapy, and taking advantage of the many wonderful opportunities through Adaptive Sports at Spaulding. Writing, reading, spending times with friends on Facebook and in real life. I now know that this time I take for healing is precious, purposeful time that allows me to age well as the season of my life changes. I can allow myself to Be.

I have some wonderful events coming up that fill my heart with joy but that do not require intensive labor on my part. Tom and I are learning how to create a sense of mindful retirement even though he needs to continue to work to support us financially. I can accept my need for retirement and I can accept his need to continue to work. I am deeply grateful to him and for a job with excellent pay and benefits. In technology these days, it's unusual to have a job you can, for the most part, leave when you leave work for the day. It was a very challenging transition to find a job that would give us the opportunity to have the lifestyle we want as we move into the autumn of our lives but we were blessed to have found it!

I am no longer rescuing anyone or anything as I did last year trying to "sell" Boston Integrated Body, the new business created by the person I was working with in KMI Structural Integration. As a trauma survivor, I wasn't able to discern what was right and true for my healing. As was the title of my 2nd grade class play, "Every Season Has a Reason". I had to go through that pattern one more time of trying to rescue someone from themselves and sacrificing my own needs to try to save someone else.

I heal from the trauma of two suicides and put down the blame, shame, guilt and sense of responsibility for anyone else's life but my own.

There is nothing I have to do and nowhere I need to arrive. I am blessed and grateful at long last for this time in my life where I can honor my time and need for healing from the effects of paralytic polio and violence, while living a full, vibrant and enjoyable life. And this year as the seasons change, I shall embrace all the wonderful changes within myself that now allow me to be a part of the rhythm of life enjoying the beauty and majesty of every season.




"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.



Sunday, August 24, 2014

Support Crew and Still Boston Strong

When L Street posted that they needed support crew for the Fall Marathon training long runs, I raised my hand ahem I clicked my mouse and said I'd be delighted to be support crew again for marathon training.

What a difference being support crew in the summertime. Three bags of ice and coolers along with plenty of water and Gatorade are on the supply list. We had a lobster pot that we've never cooked lobsters in but made for a great way to keep beverages cold.

Our water stop was just as runners exited the beautiful Emerald Necklace and were going to cross over Park Drive to Boston University and continue their run along the Charles River.

I always bring the cue sheet for the run because there is always at least one person who needs to take a look at the directions.

We arrived early and set up our table:



We sat back and relaxed in the beautiful morning sun while waiting for the first runners to arrive.

I love being there to ask runners how their run is going, what they need for fueling and to stay cool and to talk about what they are training for.

Many of us know each other but we don't have to know each other or each other's names. There is a universal language and sense of community among runners.

I love when I am out on the race course feeling the thrill of running for a PR as I did a few weeks ago at the Bill Rodgers 5K Run/Walk for Prostate Cancer but I also love serving runners, supporting runners on their quest to be their best; setting and attaining goals.

A small group of runners approached the table. I made eye contact with one of the runners and we looked into each other's eyes.

"Hey didn't I meet you at the Cambridge 5 Miler?"

It was Leo Foseca from Stephi's who was wearing a survivor shirt and just happened to be standing by our car after the Marathon Sports Cambridge 5 Miler. He joined L Street but this was his first long run with the club. He is training for the NYC Marathon. We went to Stephi's after visiting the Boston Marathon Memorial shortly before the running of the 2014 Boston Marathon.

"Team MR8 asked me if I would run for them. How could I say no."

Even though the events of 4/15/13 are now a distant memory, we still feel its echoes whenever we run and gather together. On the back of my L Street Club t shirt there is the Boston Strong ribbon with the words We Run As One.

We heal together. We run together. We celebrate sparkly Sweaty Bands and support our fellow runners when they are having a slog run. We offer cold water and ice, pretzels and swedish fish along with a high five, a fist pump, a warm smile and words of encouragement. We appreciate each other now more than ever. It is always an honor for me to be support crew whether we are huddled together in winter's polar vortex or helping runners to stay cool at the height of summer. We are and will always be Boston Strong and L Street Strong.




"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.





Saturday, August 23, 2014

Freedom and Solitude

I decided that I need to run the 2014 Tufts 10K on my own. I want to have the opportunity to run my own race. It's something I need to do for me and it's coming from the depths of my soul. So today, knowing that I need to and want to run the race alone, I set out on my training run prepared as I will be prepared on race day with fuel belt, a Luna bar for mid race fueling and a heart, mind and body focused on a PR from the last Tufts 10K I ran in 2010. My friend Gail Martin, a seasoned runner, always adds, conditions and body willing.

I simulated race day by parking near the T stop and walking over and around the Boston Common to warm up. I headed over to the starting line and off I went. I stopped where the water stops will be. I kept a strong and steady pace running from the inside out. There were moments when no one else was on the sidewalk. With the spectacular view of the Charles River on my left, I felt a sense of expansiveness and solitude.

There were times when I did a little bit of speed work by passing pedestrians and there were times when my body said, "Whoa girl. Slow down. You did a tempo run on Monday. Aquatics on Tuesday and Thursday you rode a bike outdoors for the first time and had your first bike riding lesson."

I took advantage of the downhills and the shade.

I visualized and experienced race day in my mind's eye.

Occasionally, I glanced at my pace and my time but know the importance of listening to my body. I remembered to focus on keeping the connection with my left leg so that my right leg doesn't get overused and injured. I was able to experience the benefits of Thursday's bike riding session. I wanted to see how close I could come to my time to beat for a PR of 1:36:10. I finished with a time today of 1:37:47. That's the best time I have run out on the Tufts 10K course and my best 10K time since I began training in June.

While I love the time spent with others when I run, there is something precious about running alone; especially as I find my own pace, my stride and have to be in solitude with my thoughts. Today's training run was a powerful moving meditation for me as I felt connected to myself and connected to something far greater than myself. It was a time to continue to heal from paralytic polio and trauma.



I enjoyed the silence and I enjoyed my own company. I enjoyed the freedom and the solitude of 6.2 miles along one of my favorite parts of Boston. The Tufts 10K is still seven weeks away but I know it will be here before we know it. I'll be ready to run the race in freedom and solitude among the thousands of runners and spectators. And when I cross the finish line seeing a time better than 1:36, body and conditions willing, I will celebrate with my husband, my daughter and my friends crossing another finish line of the miles in my personal marathon of healing.



"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.





Friday, August 22, 2014

My First Bike Ride and My First Bike Riding Lesson!



"Would you like to learn how to ride a two wheeler or try a three wheeler to start," Nate Berry asked me at the Weingarten Adaptive Sports Center at Spaulding Rehab in Charlestown.

I wasn't anticipating the possibility of trying out a two-wheeler and said that I would go with a three-wheeler for now.

Ali Stoll, DPT, the physical therapist who is the director of the Adaptive Sports Center at Spaulding, greeted me warmly. Everyone greeted everyone warmly. There were maybe a half dozen or so patients and a dedicated, energetic, warm, welcoming staff from AccesSportAmerica Ali went to get me a top of the line recumbent bike while Nate fitted me with a bicycle helmet. While I was anxious about what was in store for me on my first outdoor biking adventure, the staff's confidence, joy and enthusiasm put me at ease.

I did not know that the staff ratio is at least 1:1 for the adaptive sports program. At least a one on one staff ratio for $20 for a 90 minute session and no one is ever turned away because of their inability to pay. I was blessed to have Nate and Ali and two other staffers from AccesSportAmerican accompany me on my inaugural bike ride along the scenic trail with the view of Boston and the Boston Harbor before me.

Yesterday I wrote about my new normal. Well I felt "normal" as we rode bikes (Nate was on a skateboard because there were no bikes left) and talked just as friends do when they go out to enjoy a beautiful late summer's day in Boston. Ali was clear in her use of language that I was not on an adaptive bike; I was using a recumbent bike which people of all abilities use.



I felt exhilaration to feel myself biking and learning how to navigate on a recumbent bike. I surprised myself by how I allowed myself to experience the thrill trusting in my ability to use the brakes if I needed them. I was concerned about whether or not I would have the stamina to bike for almost an hour but the conversation and the support and encouragement from Nate and Ali made it easy for me. They checked in with me from time to time making sure nothing hurt and I was doing okay but other than for those brief moments, I did not feel like a patient or a polio survivor. I was experiencing myself in my body trying out a new sport. And that is the whole point of the Adaptive Sports Program and AccesSportAmerica.

"How is your balance on one leg?" Ali asked as we were heading back to where we began our bike ride.

"Not great. I work on balance and core strength in Aquatics."

"Which leg is stronger right or left?"

"Definitely right."

On our way back there was a steep incline. Nate and Ali told me to push, push. Push with your left leg but I couldn't push any harder even harnessing my core. Nate helped to lift me over the incline. Ali almost got stuck as well and said, "It's harder than it looks." We laughed. And even though I needed to feel the security of having my feet strapped in, needed support when I stood up after riding, I transcended the feelings of awkwardness and any doubts about my ability in my body. This is the way I am and everything is more than okay with how I am.

Throughout the entire bike ride I felt joyful and at ease having total trust and confidence in my body knowing that Nate and Ali were there to guide and support me if I needed assistance.

"We have ten minutes left when we get back. Would you like to try the two wheeler? Ali and I will spot you," Nate said. Ali and Nate have this wonderful ability to encourage my abilities while helping me to feel supported. No time like the present to try something I'd never done before.

A group from AccesSportAmerica gathered around. Nate talked me through the steps to getting on the bike and provided me with basic education about learning how to ride a bike. Ali supported me with the watchful and encouraging eye and heart of a physical therapist. One of the staff members from AccesSportAmerica took this video.



There was a woman with a Spaulding ID badge watching us. She beamed and smiled; her eyes lit up as she nodded acknowledging what I was doing. The wound of being left in the dust while all of my friends ran off and played riding their bikes, and being jeered, teased and taunted was healed. I felt whole and perfect; strong and courageous and beautiful at 60 years old. There is powerful medicine through the eyes of compassion and support and encouragement that come from understanding hearts grounded in knowledge. And there is powerful medicine in bike riding. As an added bonus, my hips are stronger and more open, my quads are stronger and my knees feel amazing. I feel more connections flowing from my spinal cord to my lower body and know that I nourished new neuromuscular connections throughout yesterday's adventure.

Ali and Nate offered to continue working with me, but I could feel my body was fatigued and my neuromuscular system had tapped out from all the wonderful stimulation I provided today with these amazing new experiences. Since I am just back to running and training for Tufts, I am going to use the recumbent bike next week and put off learning how to ride a two wheeler - for now.

But look out world. It's on my bucket list for next year. And speaking of bucket lists which I didn't know I had until now, they have winter adaptive sports where they go skiing on the weekends. Stay tuned.....

On September 21, join Spaulding Rehab Hospital to celebrate and raise money for the Charles Weingarten Adaptive Sports Program at their Annual Set Sail Event. A portion of the money raised will be used to purchase another top of the line recumbent bike to give others the feeling of freedom and ability that I experienced (and will continue to experience) for years to come.

Spaulding has been a part of my healing journey since October of 2006. I am so blessed that with their love, support, skill and care, I have been able to find higher and higher ground in my journey of rehabilitation. Yesterday I soared to new heights with my first bike ride and my first bike riding lesson.



Rarely does the path to recovery follow a straight line
Like a tidal stream, it bends and twists
It surges and trickles
It ebbs and flows.
That is why rehabilitative care must be fluid too.
Spaulding takes an approach to patient care that is flexible, highly personal and informed by a deep understanding that while every patient strives to reach higher ground, no two rehabilitative journeys are ever alike.





"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.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The New Normal



I live with a spinal cord injury and the effects of 9 years of violence when I was a child in addition to recent adult traumas of my nephew's suicide in 2011 and the events of 4/15/13. I don't let those experiences define me, defy me or limit me. However, I realize that I need to honor how paralytic polio and violence have affected my physicality, and therefore create a new normal for myself.

I am healing and feel more hopeful than ever on my healing journey. Today I will experience riding an adaptive bike outside for the first time in my life. A few weeks ago I scored a huge PR at the Bill Rodgers 5K Run/Walk to Benefit Prostate Cancer. I am training for the Tufts 10K. I do hills and speed work now but I am also mindful of how I expend my energy.

Rest days used to be very challenging for me. I felt a restlessness and was always worried in the back of my mind, "Would I recover? Would I be able to run another day? Would I have enough energy?"

And since implementing my mantra of "I have enough energy to do the things I want and need to do," I can relax and rest and recover on my off days.

I've also learned to let go of perfection of needing to have the house just so or making sure that the laundry was always done. We always seem to have enough clean running clothes and that's what's really important! I schedule when I am going to do what. Like a good trainer, I look at how I am responding to the plan and make adjustments as necessary to create an optimal healing environment for myself.

This is a precious time of healing for me. I've never been able to enjoy the rest and recovery days. I couldn't settle enough in my body to enjoy being at home, writing, reading, meditating and working on different projects.

I am so much more mindful of how I choose to expend my energy now and what is important to me and for me to have a wonderful quality of life.

I know that I am not going to take on a distance beyond a 10K. I want to work on speed and strength at that distance. I want to expand and see what other activities I might enjoy. There is a whole world of possibility out there.

At first it was very scary to embrace the new normal but now I am getting into a flow and a rhythm with my body and with my life. I am putting down responsibility, blame, shame, guilt, and embracing the essence of who I am. I am allowing myself to enjoy my life and I am at long last finding ways to cultivate peace in my body, and in my heart.

This new normal is pretty sweet. It's amazing what happens when you stop fighting what is and go with the flow of what is. In this new normal I realize that I do not have to do more or be more. I am and that is enough.





"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.





Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I never learned to ride a bike....

but tomorrow at 1:30 pm, I am going to the Weingarten Adaptive Sports Program at Spaulding Rehab Hospital to cycle outdoors.

I remember the sadness and frustration at watching my brother and all the neighborhood kids riding effortlessly through the neighborhood in Westchester, New York. I had a stationery bike that I used for therapy to help me gain strength and mobility after contracting paralytic polio at the age of 5. From the sidewalk in front of our garden apartment, I could watch them ride up and down Oregon Avenue ignoring me as though I didn't even exist. I knew what I had to do to recover and even then I was fierce in my own way.

As I wrote in my poem "Running the Race" shortly after being diagnosed with post polio syndrome.

Called one of the lucky ones, I had a mild case
but with the other athletes I could never keep their pace....


I wonder how many of those neighborhood kids who left me in the dust went on to run the Boston Marathon .... just sayin'!

Through the Aquatics program at Spaulding, I have been able to build strength in mind, body and Spirit. I decided to take the plunge so to speak and try something new to challenge myself. I am finding a new sense of confidence in my mind/body. Although along with this sense of confidence that propels me forward to try something new, a part of me is anxious.



I hear my younger self asking all sorts of questions and feeling butterflies as I embark on this adventure. I speak lovingly and with compassion to her letting her know that yes all of that happened. It was painful. Sad. Scary.

And as those emotions move through me, in their wake, I feel that wonderful excitement stirring in my soul. The joy of freedom. Feeling deeply grateful that I have access to the Weingarten Adaptive Sports program where trained therapists will be there to provide support and guidance. The beautiful setting of the Spaulding Campus in the Charlestown Navy Yard.

So even though I never learned to ride a bike, at 60 years old, I'm going to be going for my first bike ride!




"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.







Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"The desire to run...

".....comes from deep within us - from the unconscious, the instinctive, the intuitive." ~George Sheehan, MD



Following numerous orthopedic leg surgeries, I would be in an immobilizer and crutches. As I hobbled around watching runners train for the Boston Marathon, I would joke, "Oh I'm not gonna run it this year."

Even though I had never run a day in my life; never even owned a pair of running shoes and was taunted and teased whenever I did try to run in gym class, as a survivor of paralytic polio, there was a runner inside of me just waiting to be born.

And as I sat in a leg brace, using a wheelchair at times for mobility feeling just about the worst I ever felt in my life having been diagnosed with post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease, I wrote the poem

Running the Race February 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 no one else would know.
Life no longer was my own I struggled through each day
suffered in silence, isolated from friends-t
rying 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.

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.

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.

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.


And a year later, as my personal trainer asked me what my next goals were I rattled off, "I want to go outside. I want to dance. I want to feel free in my body." And as she had all of her things packed up with her hand on the door knob (she was an in home personal trainer), I said those words that came from deep within me bypassing any thought process whatsoever, "Wait...I have one more goal. I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding. I know they have a charity team."

After my nephew's suicide in 2011, I forgot the truth about running and set off on this detour to try to fix my polio body from the outside in through the work of KMI Structural Integration.

I was running just fine but they convinced me otherwise. And sure I did need healing and I needed to build strength but the kind of yoga they offered and KMI Structural Integration were not healing for me.

Every situation has a purpose and led me to where I am today.

I found my way to Aquatics Therapy at Spaulding Rehab which was just what I needed to find my strength and provides a perfect complement to my running. I am nourishing my neuromuscular system and making new connections and building strength in a safe, fun and joyful space.

I found my way to a mind/body therapist at Sollievo Massage and Bodywork where, in my most recent session, I discovered what I knew to be Truth all along. I am perfect just as I am.

Every time I am out on a run, I am reminded of the expansiveness of life. I connect with nature and know that this Universe is large enough to hold all the pain I have lived through. I no longer have to carry it inside of me but rather, am meant to live a life of peace and joy. I realize my inner strength that flows from the wellspring of perfection in me. Through running and through running a marathon, I discovered that I am strong enough to handle whatever life may bring. There was never anything wrong with me. There was never anything that needed to be fixed. I just went through a period of confusion induced by grief and reconnecting with the energy of my family of origin.

But now I'm back running, strength training feeling blessed and grateful. For as George Sheehan also said, 'The true runner is a very fortunate person. He has found something in him that is just perfect.'





"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.






Monday, August 18, 2014

There is no like button in real life

The other day on Facebook I came across this article, "I Quit Liking Things On Facebook for Two Weeks. Here’s How It Changed My View of Humanity."



I was curious. It gave me pause. I wasn't all that concerned about my feed or ads on my page. I know that somehow I see what I am meant to see on Facebook and I ignore ads.

But I do know that I had a habit of hitting the like button sometimes without giving it too much thought. And since I am a truth teller, sometimes I would click like before reading the link, opening it up in a new window and reading it later.

We all tend to be so wired these days and have a tendency to not really pay attention to what we are doing. We are creatures of habit and are comfortable experiencing our habitual, default reactions to people and to life.

There was the NY Times Article, "No Time to Think," about a study conducted where people would rather receive an electric shock than be alone with their thoughts.

It's easy to be a speed demon scrolling through Facebook hitting the "like" button letting the feed whiz by. We can also be speed demons in our lives not taking the time we need to slow down, pay attention and interact with the people who mean the most to us.

Facebook is a wonderful way for me to stay in touch with my friends and to share in each other's lives. We hold each other's hands in cyberspace when someone is hurting. We celebrate each other's triumphs, births, weddings, PR's, firsts ....

When I sit with my friends over lunch or a cup of coffee and they say something to me, or show me a photo, I don't just hit a like button. I interact with them.

And so for the next two weeks, I am going to pause before I hit a like button and instead will make a comment. I began my experiment yesterday and I must say I am like'ing it.

Tara Brach talks about the Sacred Pause, that moment when we have the opportunity to become aware and awake. She quotes Victor Frankl:




I plan to pause and collect my thoughts and write a comment rather than only hitting the like button and moving on. I'll see if I go back to using the like button after my two week experiment is up. I know sometimes it's fun to see ooh how many people like'd my photo. We are all after all, only human. But I do know this. If I do decide to go back to using the like button, I will be sure to also add a comment.

After all, there is no like button in real life.





"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.





Sunday, August 17, 2014

Joy

In my facebook feed this morning there was not one but two posts about joy:



I remember my cousin Billy telling me when I was 11 years old that I was far too serious and that I should be outside playing enjoying my childhood.

Well contracting paralytic polio at age 5 and experiencing family violence do not create conditions to experience the joy that one hopes every child can experience. To quote Tom Robbins, "It's never too late to have a happy childhood."

I am so blessed that I have the opportunity to cultivate joy in my life; pure and true happiness.

Like last Sunday as I crushed that PR at the Bill Rodgers 5K Run/Walk 5K for Prostate Cancer:


And how is this for pure unbridled joy:


By putting down the anchor of having been a parentified child and feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders, I am free to live and run in joy. I run lighter without the burdens of fear, worry, guilt, blame and shame.

And it's not about joy in the doing. There is joy and happiness in Being.

Hearing the birds sing. Feeling the breeze. Listening to the ocean. Hearing my own heartbeat and appreciating the miracle of my life. Listening to music. Experiencing the change in the seasons here in New England. Sharing in the joy of others. Helping to heal the sorrow in the heart of another and knowing the joy of being able to give from an open, tender, raw heart.

What do you do to cultivate joy in your life? How do you weed the garden of your soul from all that prevents you from knowing and experiencing joy?

Wishing you a joy-ful day.




"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.









I

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Change in Course, Hills, Headwinds and Happiness

As Tom and I started running around the Chestnut Hill Reservoir as part of my Tufts 10K training run, I told him that I needed to change our course. I couldn't stay running there. It was a reminder of when I would go there to train for the Brookline Symphony Orchestra 5K with the person I was working with in KMI. He would talk about how my compensations looked better when I race walked but when I started to run, they would become apparent. He would point them out to me and let me know that we could continue to work on them to correct them. I remember how labored and uncomfortable I felt in my body even though I tried my hardest to convince myself otherwise.



I'm so blessed that I found my way to a mind/body therapist at Sollievo Massage and Bodywork where I have the opportunity to experience deep relaxation and healing. I realized in my last treatment that there was nothing to fix and I was perfect just as I am. There was/is nothing wrong with me. Running around the Reservoir reminded me of when I didn't believe that to be true about me.

Tom was amazing. He said let's get out of here then and he began figuring out a new route for us.

As we came out onto Beacon Street, we bumped into my friend Barbara who was at last week's Bill Rodgers 5K Run/Walk for Prostate Cancer. She won in her age group and was at the finish line cheering me onto my PR. We hugged. I thanked her for all of her support on Facebook. She told me it was an honor for her to be there at the finish line. Coincidentally, Tom had run with Barbara. They met up during one of his training runs and ran part of their run together. What a joy to share in that moment of reconnection.

Further down on Beacon Street we were being "chased" by two members of our running club, L Street. Tina has known me for several years and even videotaped my talk at L Street in 2011. Monica came to my book release party. They are both beautiful women inside and out. We exchanged warm, sweaty hugs and went on our way.

It was as if the Universe was sending me a reminder about all that is good and beautiful and right and true with my life now. I can let go of then and heal the emotional and physical hurts that remain shaking loose the work of KMI Structural Integration and healing the wounds of paralytic polio and violence. I feel the most hopeful I have ever felt on my healing journey.

We ran down Beacon Street and Tom took us through some back roads of Brookline with hills - lots and lots of hills. We counted a total of 7 after we had finished our run.

When we got to the Route 9 Reservoir (and Tom lovingly asked me if I had any problem running that Reservoir. I told him none whatsoever. That's mine) there was a strong headwind. I laughed about hills and headwinds; on our way home to finish the run, there was a hill and a headwind.

Yet I felt such happiness on this training run. My time was 1:42 which was better than our run on 7/19 by two minutes. Tom said today's course was tougher than the course two weeks ago. Tufts is pretty much a flat course so I'm confident that with training on hills and pushing myself to build strength and cardiovascular endurance that I will PR on race day. Monday will be a 5K and I'll be working on speed on a flat course.

This is so much fun.

Who knew that all I needed was a change in course to find happiness even in the midst of hills and headwinds. Do you need to change course to find the happiness and Truth that's been there all along?




"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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