Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Celebrating Ten Years of Running: Autumn Splendor



The alarm went off at 6:00am on Monday morning. It was dark and 41 degrees; our first early morning run of the Autumn season. The temptation was to roll over and wait for Spring to return. But that's not how we runners roll. I set the alarm for a 20 minute meditation to set our intentions for the day. There was a little more light as we dressed and headed downstairs for core work, hydration and a banana before our run. It was the first run for running tights and layers of a base layer and a pullover, headband and gloves. At first, he cold fresh air caught my breath but as my body acclimated to the chill in the air, Tom and I found our rhythm.

We had not run around the small Reservoir on Route 9 in awhile. It's great to change up our routes especially since we are focusing on a 5K distance. Tom is recovering from a knee injury and is going to run the 10K in Bermuda this year. Once his knee is 100% he'll add on another 5K to the runs but for now we are enjoying more time on the roads together without the grueling training for an endurance event.

Tom forgot his phone and he is our official photographer on the runs. We were going to enjoy the run in real time and not take pictures but I couldn't resist capturing the magnificent scene of Autumn Splendor:


It is a splendid gift to see the sun rise on the new day putting the spotlight on the magnificent colors that arrive with Autumn in New England.

Twelve years ago in October I had my first appointment at the Spaulding Rehab International Center for Polio and Post Polio. For ten years prior I experienced symptoms that sapped my energy and my enjoyment of life. By the time I got to Spaulding I could barely walk. Breathing and swallowing were a challenge for me. The limp from polio returned. My world contracted around me and I didn't know what was happening to me. Once I received the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome I was initially terrified but then got still and asked for Divine Guidance after being told I needed to quit my full time award winning career as a VA social worker and should prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair. The answer to my prayers came in the form of poetry! You can learn more by visiting my website. I imagined myself healthy, whole, free, running a race, dancing in the rain. Harnessing the power of my imagination and writing poetry were the keys to unlocking the shackles from my past!

I came out of my leg brace and ditched all of the adaptive equipment and went on to run the 2009 Boston Marathon with the help of a personal trainer. She had the courage and faith to train me for the Boston Marathon even though I'd never run a day in my life.

I experienced the change of seasons and new places in a way I'd never experienced life before. Although my mettle was tested through the challenges I faced as a runner, I met myself on the roads. Friendships were forged to last a lifetime. The diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome was a gift. It was a wake up call to make serious changes in my life and to appreciate every step I take and being able to run free as I experienced Autumn Splendor on last Monday's early morning run.

To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours
Mary

My healing journey using the power of visualization is featured in David R. Hamilton's book, "How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body-Anniversary Edition." It's available on Amazon.


Be sure to visit my website by following this link.

My books are available on Amazon.

Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life


Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing Hope and Possibility that chronicles the first 7 years of my healing journey:


Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance (With a Foreword by Jacqueline Hansen):


***Coming Soon - The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953***
The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953 takes you on Mary McManus’ healing odyssey from a wheelchair to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond. After the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome in December 2006, Mary got still and asked for Divine Guidance. She harnessed the power of her mind to heal her body, feverishly writing poetry in which she imagined herself healthy, whole and free from the shackles of her youth. Mary’s quest to heal her life led her to the sport of running that tested her mettle while fueling her journey of transformation from a survivor of childhood paralytic polio and severe trauma at the hands of family members to a woman who embodies faith, grace under fire, courage, determination, endurance and resilience. Running became a way of life for Mary. As you’ll discover in “The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953” nothing, not even a serious knee injury in December of 2014 could stop her on the roads or in her life. Mary’s story is one that will leave you cheering for the underdog and discovering the meaning of different ability as Mary overcame every challenge that life presented to her.






Monday, October 15, 2018

Celebrating Ten Years of Running: Come Out and Play



Being out in the rain and feeling a sense of unbridled joy is a special feeling for me. I contracted paralytic polio when I was 5 and endured years of severe child abuse at the hands of family members. I never experienced that feeling of running through puddles as a child. I didn't start running until 2008.

When I was still in a leg brace in February of 2007, shortly after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome, I had a dream about splashing in the puddles without my leg brace a la Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain. That dream prompted me to write a poem:

Come Out and Play from "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life":
Arms flung open wide dancing in the rain
pure abiding joy to feel alive again
healing tears fall and blend in God’s puddle
no time to sit in a corner and huddle
all the old rules driven by fears
washed away now by God’s loving tears
the imprint dad left no longer remains
rain washes away all of the stains
baptized with love, Truth lights my way
the sun shines through on this rainy day
splashing and laughing my heart opens wide
embracing and flowing I’m one with the tide
God takes my hand release the old way
bathe in my glory come out and play!


When Tom and I woke up on Saturday morning, it was pouring rain. We debated about whether or not to switch up our swim/run days but when I called our gym, they told us two of the four lanes were being used for Angel Swim lessons. We'd done many many long runs in the rain and Saturday's run was only for a 5K continuing to work on my speed rather than endurance. I had it in my mind that, since it was the first rainy and cold run of the season I wouldn't push my pace but all that changed once we got to the Reservoir.

There was a special kind of beauty at the Reservoir as the transition from summer to Fall continues. There was a gaggle of geese on the water honking back and forth until they took flight in formation. The vibrant colors stood out against the grey sky.



Tom and I experienced a sense of youthful vibrancy as we braved the elements. There were only a handful of runners out in the elements.

I was astounded to see our consistent negative splits once we peeled off our rain soaked ponchos and our layers. Our time was 16 seconds faster than Monday's run and 9 seconds faster from last Saturday's run! More than any time on the clock, however, was the time that Tom and I spent together, unplugged enjoying fresh air and feeling child like delight!



You would never know that we are in our mid to late 60's would you?

A run in the rain, dodging puddles, seeing Mother Nature in all of her glory despite the elements and being able to come out and play gave me the opportunity to experience magical moments from a once lost childhood.


To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours
Mary

My healing journey using the power of visualization is featured in David R. Hamilton's book, "How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body-Anniversary Edition." It's available on Amazon.


Be sure to visit my website by following this link.

My books are available on Amazon.

Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life


Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing Hope and Possibility that chronicles the first 7 years of my healing journey:


Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance (With a Foreword by Jacqueline Hansen):


***Coming Soon - The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953***
The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953 takes you on Mary McManus’ healing odyssey from a wheelchair to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond. After the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome in December 2006, Mary got still and asked for Divine Guidance. She harnessed the power of her mind to heal her body, feverishly writing poetry in which she imagined herself healthy, whole and free from the shackles of her youth. Mary’s quest to heal her life led her to the sport of running that tested her mettle while fueling her journey of transformation from a survivor of childhood paralytic polio and severe trauma at the hands of family members to a woman who embodies faith, grace under fire, courage, determination, endurance and resilience. Running became a way of life for Mary. As you’ll discover in “The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953” nothing, not even a serious knee injury in December of 2014 could stop her on the roads or in her life. Mary’s story is one that will leave you cheering for the underdog and discovering the meaning of different ability as Mary overcame every challenge that life presented to her.







Thursday, October 11, 2018

Celebrating Ten Years of Running: Courage



Last Saturday Tom and I went for a run around Jamaica Pond. It reminded me of our 2009 Boston Marathon training and a poem I was inspired to write:

Courage from "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life""

The fear of ice and snow and slush embedded in my soul
a training run in winter - the path to Being whole.
A winter scene - Jamaica Pond - a feast for eyes' delight
to witness nature's splendor and behold this glorious sight.

A leaf - a tiny dancer - skating free without a sound
God's breath directs her movements as She guides her twirling 'round.
Families of ducks decide to walk or take a dip
a comedy of errors into icy water slip.

Branches now bejeweled though bare bend with loving Grace
sparkling diamonds' anchor water's surface hold in place.
God's hand a glove of glistening snow hugs rocks along the wall
their heads peek out reminding me I'm answering God's call.

A scene I'd never witness if I let my fear take hold
courage triumphed, steppin' out with footsteps sure and bold.
Knowing that the pain subsides and Spirit can prevail
the Marathon is beckoning - through those miles I shall sail.


When I was given the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome and told many many frightening things:
If you use it you will lose it
Prepare to spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair
Think about adapting your house or getting a ranch
You're going to have to quit your job if you have any hope of keeping the symptoms where they are
We recommend a sleep apnea machine
You need to drink liquids through a straw and eat semi solid foods and hope that you don't need a feeding tube in the future given your risk for aspiration pneumonia
You need to at the very least get back into a leg brace and use a cane
You have to conserve your energy
You are at risk for a hip fracture if you fall
You need an ice gripper on your cane
Stay inside as much as you can in the extreme temperatures

I was afraid - terrified. I wondered if I even had a future to look forward to.

Then I got angry about what was happening to me realizing that I was at a crossroads in my life.

And then I got still....and asked for Divine Guidance.

Resources to help me poured into my inbox. I also remembered the tools I'd use before on my healing journey including the wit, widsom and support from Bernie Siegel, MD.

In the dark night of my mind, body and soul a light shined through the power of my pen. I penned my first poem, "Running the Race." It foreshadowed my 2009 Boston Marathon run.



Poetry poured out of my soul as though a spigot were turned on firing up my imagination with visualizations of being healthy, whole and free. I danced in the rain without my leg brace. I saw myself running (although I had never run a day in my life). I dug deep in all of my therapies to bring my body back from its withered state.

I was terrified to leave my full time award winning career as a VA social worker but after a breast cancer scare, I took a leap of faith giving 6 weeks notice and pulling all of my money out of my retirement account. I was blessed with the support of Tom who told me it was a no brainer to quit my job and heal my life.

After being discharged from Spaulding Rehab's Outpatient Clinic, I hired a personal trainer!

Crazy right?

I was told by the medical establishment if I use it I will lose it (and oh how I hope they have revised their treatment recommendations since 2006) yet something deep within me said I HAD to get moving.

After reaching my initial health and fitness goals with my personal trainer, she asked me what I wanted to set for my next goals.

From the soon to be released "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953":
“Wait. I have one more goal.”

Janine stopped and turned around.

“I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital. I know they have a Race for Rehab team and I want to do it next year.”

Janine was non-plussed. I don’t know what kept her from turning tail and getting as far away from me as she could. She came back into my house and put down her things. She said that the first thing I would need is a pair of running shoes. She told me that Marathon Sports on Beacon Street would be able to help me. She laid out a cursory training plan and said that we would begin indoors to build up my cardio endurance. As soon as the weather got a little warmer, we’d go outdoors and I would learn how to run.


What courage it took for me to go way outside of my comfort zone and learn to run at the age of 54. I ran in races where invariably I finished last. But I finished and my story inspired (and continues to inspire) others.

With the challenge of living in a body that had once been assaulted by the polio virus and unrelenting assaults from family members, it takes courage to continue to challenge myself and maintain a rigorous 5 day a week training program.

Yet I embrace all the gifts that these challenges have given me.



I've discovered how much strength and courage I have inside of me to conquer any and every challenge life has thrown my way.

From the Foreword of Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance written by Jacqueline Hansen:
Just for a moment, let’s ponder the word “heart.” The Latin word for heart is “cor.” Cor is also the root of the word “courage.” I would attribute both heart and courage to Mary. Even Mary herself has said that “It takes incredible courage to heal trauma . . . healing both paralytic polio and trauma.” Author Parker Palmer wrote that “The heart is where we integrate what we know in our mind with what we know in our bones, the place where our knowledge can become more fully human. When all that we understand of self and world comes together in the center place called the heart, we are more likely to find the courage to act humanely on what we know.”

Whatever challenges you may be experiencing, my hope and prayer is that you find the courage to go beyond what you think you cannot do to discover a world of possibility opening before you.

To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours
Mary

My healing journey using the power of visualization is featured in David R. Hamilton's book, "How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body-Anniversary Edition." It's available on Amazon.


Be sure to visit my website by following this link.

My books are available on Amazon.

Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life


Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing Hope and Possibility that chronicles the first 7 years of my healing journey:


Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance (With a Foreword by Jacqueline Hansen):


***Coming Soon - The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953***
The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953 takes you on Mary McManus’ healing odyssey from a wheelchair to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond. After the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome in December 2006, Mary got still and asked for Divine Guidance. She harnessed the power of her mind to heal her body, feverishly writing poetry in which she imagined herself healthy, whole and free from the shackles of her youth. Mary’s quest to heal her life led her to the sport of running that tested her mettle while fueling her journey of transformation from a survivor of childhood paralytic polio and severe trauma at the hands of family members to a woman who embodies faith, grace under fire, courage, determination, endurance and resilience. Running became a way of life for Mary. As you’ll discover in “The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953” nothing, not even a serious knee injury in December of 2014 could stop her on the roads or in her life. Mary’s story is one that will leave you cheering for the underdog and discovering the meaning of different ability as Mary overcame every challenge that life presented to her.




Monday, October 8, 2018

Celebrating Ten Years of Running: Run Happy!



I've struggled on my runs the last few weeks. I wasn't concerned about pushing my pace which is my new health and fitness goal since I am not training for an endurance event. I knew that I needed to be kind and compassionate with myself given the inordinate stress Tom and I were experiencing with our daughter's severe psychiatric impairment. As Facebook memories popped up I was reminded of how we trained together last year to run the Bermuda Half Marathon in January and how I tried to will her miraculous recovery from her challenges. In February the wheels fell off the wagon so to speak and it's been a downward spiral since then.

BUT through my meditations, visualizations, talking with Tom and through chiropractic care, I had the epiphany that I should and must continue on my health and wellness journey healing the effects of paralytic polio and enduring 9 years of severe childhood trauma at the hands of family members.

The weather called for sunny skies with a chill in the air. By the time we were ready to go on our run cloudy skies prevailed. Rather than go to the beach we opted for our favorite training place, Jamaica Pond. It's where we trained for our 2009 Boston Marathon run and many many other races through the past ten years. It's a place that settles my soul and ignites wonderful memories.

I felt vibrant and alive for the first time in several weeks. The scene at Jamaica Pond was a feast for my mind, body and soul. As we passed the rocks on the walls, I remembered the poem I wrote inspired by our 2009 Boston Marathon training:

Courage from "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life"

The fear of ice and snow and slush embedded in my soul
a training run in winter - the path to Being whole.
A winter scene - Jamaica Pond - a feast for eyes' delight
to witness nature's splendor and behold this glorious sight.

A leaf - a tiny dancer - skating free without a sound
God's breath directs her movements as She guides her twirling 'round.
Families of ducks decide to walk or take a dip
a comedy of errors into icy water slip.

Branches now bejeweled though bare bend with loving Grace
sparkling diamonds' anchor water's surface hold in place.
God's hand a glove of glistening snow hugs rocks along the wall
their heads peek out reminding me I'm answering God's call.

A scene I'd never witness if I let my fear take hold
courage triumphed, steppin' out with footsteps sure and bold.
Knowing that the pain subsides and Spirit can prevail
the Marathon is beckoning - through those miles I shall sail.


Yet I also felt that I was running around Jamaica Pond for the first time feeling in awe and wonder of the beauty that surrounded us. I felt the pure joy in being out in nature, breathing deeply and being able to experience the gift of running in my life. I did not push the pace but instead set my body free to see what I wanted to do. I ended up doing negative 12 second splits between mile 1 and 2 and mile 2 and 3. But more than any time on the clock, it was the time that Tom and I spent together, unplugged being in the present moment.



We celebrated the gift of running in our lives that began in April of 2008 by setting the goal of running the 2009 Boston Marathon. We run for many different reasons and each run has its own reward and experience.

It felt fabulous to run happy enjoying the splendor of a beautiful Autumn day in New England.

To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours
Mary

My healing journey using the power of visualization is featured in David R. Hamilton's book, "How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body-Anniversary Edition." It's available on Amazon.


Be sure to visit my website by following this link.

My books are available on Amazon.

Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life


Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing Hope and Possibility that chronicles the first 7 years of my healing journey:


Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance (With a Foreword by Jacqueline Hansen):


***Coming Soon - The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953***

Friday, October 5, 2018

Celebrating Twelve Years of Healing: Healing Trauma



The past week has been particularly intense for me and sadly for many many women who have been triggered by events in the news. Having contracted paralytic polio at the age of 5 followed by enduring years of sexual, physical and emotional abuse manifested in the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome twelve years ago. Two of the most challenging symptoms were difficulty breathing and swallowing. During my speech and swallow evaluation, we discovered that the left side of my esophagus was sluggish and I was aspirating food into my lungs. I was taught techniques to minimize the risk of aspiration and as my body healed as I healed the breach in my mind/body connection through the power of visualization, the swallowing and breathing issues dramatically improved. I wrote poetry in which I imagined myself healthy, whole and free and running the race even though I sat in a leg brace and was told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair!

When I get stressed, I am vulnerable to breathing and swallowing issues.

The combination of events in the news with the increased family stress challenged all of my coping resources. I added in the image of placing all of the thoughts and situations that were creating physical stress in my body into a hot air balloon. I even downloaded Up, Up and Away and added it to my running playlist. I wrote a lot in my journal peeling away the layers of my reaction to different stressors. Yet I could feel the stress continue to build in my body.



When I presented for yesterday's chiropractic treatment with Dr. Lizzie I shared how my back opened and my breath deepened after our last treatment. My right hip was finally moving freely after putting it through the rigors of 3 Bermuda Half Marathons in as many years.

"But," I went on to say with an involuntary cough.

"You have a cough," Dr. Lizzie said.

We talked about the tightness I felt in my chest and throat. What amazes me about Dr. Lizzie and the way she practices chiropractic care is that whenever I present with an issue, she has something to offer to treat it with a mindful, gentle approach checking in with me to ensure that she is in fact bringing healing and not re-traumatizing me.

I felt wonderful after the treatment but knew I had more work to do to clear the area of congestion.

I got to work in my morning meditation.

I thought about how I could obliterate the perpetrators who abused me for 9 years. I am not a violent person! I went from shooting them to shooting them with an air gun like you do at an amusement park and realized this would not do!

Tom and I have been on a decluttering adventure. It's been several years since we went on a decluttering spree and we knew it was time to do it again. I've been decluttering closets, my thoughts and my laptop. I was over the limit on my iCloud space. I went in and deleted videos and photos.

DELETE! That's it! I can hit the delete button to delete the trauma and the people associated with the trauma. I needed to erase it from my hard drive. So much stress built up inside of me from the past and present and in order to prevent a crash of my hard drive, I needed to dump data!

The next step in the process was to get to work on healing my throat and chest. I could sense that I was experiencing acid reflux that was contributing to the sensations I experienced. I created the image of a beautiful plush elevator with red velvet lining and there was only one direction for the elevator - down! I took deep breaths and allowed healing to happen.

To address the sense of constriction I felt in my throat and heart, I remembered how Dr. Lizzie's hands felt creating space. The image of being on a JetBlue flight with extra leg room and wider seats just popped into my mind. Aaah - feel all that space and reclaim this area as my own.

I thought about those cells in my throat, in my diaphragm muscles and the SCM muscles that Dr. Lizzie worked on while providing me with patient education.

I saw them as happy and free no longer affected by the polio virus or the trauma. I saw them dancing and then the song "Brand New Day" from The Wiz provided the musical accompaniment to my healing visualization.


I felt tightness release and the involuntary coughing spasms ceased! I kept repeating over and over and over again, "Thank You God. Thank You God." I took deep deep breaths and when I felt a hint of the congestion and spasm return I reminded myself of all the images accompanied by "Brand New Day" to fuel the momentum of healing. As the symptoms wax and wane in the face of stress, I will continue to practice these new images and thoughts. I imprinted and gave thanks for every wave of peace, ease and comfort I experienced. I said "Thank you for serenity. Thank you for hearing my prayers. Thank you for the gift of healing."

I am so blessed and grateful for the healing tools I've acquired over the past 12 years. I've dissolved a breast tumor, healed a lesion on my nose, grown new knee cartilage and a new gastroc muscle and prevented the need for a total knee replacement which is what the doctors and PT's said I would need after a serious knee injury in December of 2014. I have certainly stopped the progression of Post-Polio Syndrome and when these spasms and issues arise, I see them as opportunities to heal on deeper and deeper levels. The latest additions to my toolkit for healing, in addition to weekly chiropractic treatments with Dr. Lizzie, are the soundtrack from Heal Documentary, Dr. Joe Dispenza's Blessing of the Energy Centers for afternoon meditations, and reading Dr. David Hamilton's "How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body-Tenth Anniversary Edition." Even though my healing story with Post-Polio Syndrome is included in the book, reading the science and being inspired by others' healing stories is helping me to write the next chapters of my healing journey.

I'm celebrating twelve years of healing, ten years of running and finding creative ways to take my health and wellness journey to deeper and deeper levels of healing. I shed the identity as a victim of my past and feel empowered as I let go and fly free unencumbered by the circumstances around me. As Peter A. Levine said, "Trauma is hell on earth. Trauma resolved is a gift from the gods."

To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours
Mary

My healing journey using the power of visualization is featured in David R. Hamilton's book, "How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body-Anniversary Edition." It's available on Amazon.


Be sure to visit my website by following this link.

My books are available on Amazon.

Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life


Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing Hope and Possibility that chronicles the first 7 years of my healing journey:


Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance (With a Foreword by Jacqueline Hansen):


***Coming Soon - The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953***