Friday, December 7, 2018

Celebrating Ten Years of Running: The Rainbow Connection



We had a very difficult and challenging weekend. Our daughter was suffering and struggling with her symptoms of severe depression and PTSD and all that goes along with it. She had been discharged the previous Wednesday without a discharge plan! Fortunately she put together her own plan with the help and support of a wonderful social worker through the Brookline Police Department. The Women's Partial Hospitalization program has an incredibly caring and talented staff of professionals including a psychiatrist who added a new medication to her regimen and is closely monitoring her at the program but as I said, the weekend was incredibly difficult and challenging.

Tom and I managed to get in our run and pool time adhering to our health and fitness regimen and making sure we practiced impeccable self care. We were so grateful when Monday came and she could return to the structure of a day program.

We got up early as is our usual Monday morning routine. We took time to meditate, do our core workout, have a banana and water and go on our 5K run.

It was a glorious sunrise:


We passed an older gentleman who we have seen walking around the Reservoir. He was running on Monday morning. We smiled and gave a little salute as we passed each other.

We saw another runner who we have seen during our early morning runs and shouted out a good morning to you which he echoed back to us.

As we rounded our first lap around the Reservoir, a dark cloud appeared and it started raining.

Fortunately the air was relatively warm for a December day in Boston.

The shower didn't last long and as we were about to start our 2nd lap I just happened to look up in the sky. There was a rainbow!



It appeared at first as a quarter of a rainbow with pale hues. It grew brighter and we all stopped in our tracks in awe to watch its appearance grow and glow across the sky.



I sobbed and could no longer see through my raindrop and tear stained glasses. I took off my glasses and we continued our run under the rainbow.

I didn't pay attention to our pace but we did serious negative splits. As we passed the two other runners who were now running in the opposite direction from us. We were still smiling and murmuring about how in awe we were of the rainbow connection we made.

The older gentleman commented, "You realize of course that if we would not have gotten up early on this Monday morning, we never would have seen this magnificent sight."

I paused and reflected on how much I would have missed had I not taken a leap of faith to heal my life after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome and followed the lead of the Divine to the sport of running.



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.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Celebrating Ten Years of Running: Thirty Years Ago Today!



December 5, 1988 I began my almost twenty year tenure as a social worker at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The chief, Jim Blair, said he wanted to bring me on board because of my credentials but also because I was a mother of twins. He had twins and wanted to compare notes as I went through the various milestones with my twins. We dropped off our 18 month old twins at the Government Center Child Care Center and I walked into the 6th floor office at Court Street of the Visual Impairment Services Team Coordinator (VIST). It was a dream job for me that would enable me to use my training as a clinical social worker and my background in public relations and marketing to rebuild the program that would serve legally blind and visually impaired veterans. After almost a year of pouring my heart and soul into the program, building the roster of legally blind vets from 42 to over 600 and receiving a Blinded Veterans Association Certificate of Appreciation Award, Jim came to my door to tell me that I would not get my promotion. The old boy network reared its ugly head. The person in charge of VIST in West Haven Connecticut needed to come back to Boston and "they" gave him my job! The reason he had to leave West Haven? He was involved in many sexual harassment complaints.

I began looking for another job outside of the VA. Jim was incredibly apologetic and asked me what position I would like to move into/create for myself. We decided I'd become a member of the Primary Care Team. I worked with primarily geriatric veterans and their families and was an integral part of the Ex-POW team.

I was juggling motherhood and my career and I did not know the importance of self care.

In 1996 I began to experience twinges of not feeling well. Fatigue, chronic pain, occasional limping which I attributed to the residuals of childhood paralytic polio began to surface.

By 2004 the symptoms worsened to include numbness and tingling down my jaw and right arm, chronic fatigue, weakness, pain everywhere in my body, depression, anxiety (well duh who wouldn't feel depressed and anxious with these symptoms) and I felt as though my life was spiraling out of control. Even though I was an award winning social worker at the VA having received Social Worker of the Year, Employee of the Month and Certificate of Appreciation awards, and had a beautiful home and family life in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, I knew there was something seriously wrong happening to my body.

My primary care physician at the time insisted that it was all in my head and referred me to see a psychiatrist while dispensing samples of Paxil which I flushed down the toilet.

By the summer of 2006 I knew I had to take action. I asked for Divine Guidance and "google Post Polio" was the reply.

I kept up my caseload and tried to hide what was happening to me as best I could. Leading a double life was something I learned growing up in a violent dysfunctional household. I became high school valedictorian while fighting for my life every night and on the weekends at the hands of a psychotic grandmother.

In October of 2006 I had my first appointment at the Spaulding Rehab's International Rehab Center for Polio and Post Polio. By December the diagnosis of exclusion of Post-Polio Syndrome was given to me. I was told to prepare to spend the result of my life in a wheelchair and that if there were any hope of stopping the symptoms where they were that I needed to quit my full time job!

But I was only 3 years shy of when I 'could' retire and I had it all figured out how I was going to spend my retirement. I was going to get a little job in retail somewhere - like Bloomingdale's and meet friends for lunch and enjoy whatever time I had left on planet earth.

The Universe obviously had different plans for me.

Life as I had known it, along with my retirement plans, came to a screeching halt.

I was diagnosed with a progressive neuromuscular disease and told that the "normal" aging process was going to accelerate because of my history of paralytic polio. I needed to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair.

In February of 2007, I got very still and asked once again for Divine guidance.

The answer that came in the dark, cold night of winter and the dark night of my mind, body and soul was a poem:
Running the Race
Early summer 1959 my kindergarten year
Everyone around me filled with nervous fear
Despite the Salk vaccine hope polio would disappear
The polio virus crept right up and knocked me in the rear.
Dancing all around the gym feeling free just like a bird
I dropped to the ground just like a stone
and no one said a word.
The pain it was so searing-the diagnosis even worse
"It's polio" the doctor said...he was abrupt and terse.
Called one of the 'lucky ones' I had a 'mild case'
But with the other athletes I could never keep their pace.
Miss Holly physical therapist,
curly hair and a warm, broad smile
It tempered the pain of being apart - to walk I'd take awhile.

I always wore those 'special' shoes
the kids they poked and teased
With no support and much abuse
with childhood I wasn't pleased.
But put nose to the grindstone and learned all that I could
I couldn't kick a ball but my grades were always good.
Years went by and no more thought to polio did I give
I accepted the limp and everything else
and decided my life I would live.
But symptoms of weakness and muscle pain did grow
I kept a stoic face hoping no one else would know.

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

Using wheelchair to travel, set limits on what I could do,
Resulted in joy to realize I could live life anew.
Celebrated my body- creaks, groans and need for a brace
While in my mind I focused on winning a 10K race.
Sought out paths for healing and my spirit flew free
For the first time in life, I could truly be me.
The chains are gone and possibilities abound
I'm a tree with my roots planted firmly in ground.
I'm now off the sidelines, no need to sit and whine
So much gratitude fills my heart and love and beauty shine.
After all these years I can join the loving human race
I exceed all expectations and now I set the pace.


On May 25, 2007 I took a leap of faith leaving behind my beloved career as a VA social worker that had begun 30 years ago today.

That poem foreshadowed my 2009 Boston Marathon run and many many adventures as a runner.

I celebrate the anniversary of when I began a career that proudly served those who served. While the work was grueling at times, the rewards were great. I cherish the people I worked with and the veterans and their families who let me into their lives and hearts.

I celebrate my twelve years of healing and ten years of running with a full and grateful heart for how everything worked out. Sometimes we must be willing to give up the life we had planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

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, December 3, 2018

Celebrating Ten Years of Running: 2019 Goals



In 2018 I was blessed to cross the finish line of the 2018 Bermuda Half Marathon, my third in as many years, have my journey healing the effects of polio and trauma through visualization featured in Dr. David Hamilton's book,"book, "Tenth Edition of How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body" and was a guest on his Hay House radio show. I am putting the finishing touches on "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953" and all of the aches and pains from the rigors of training for 3 half marathons in as many years are resolved.

Twelve years ago I was diagnosed with Post Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease and told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair. The Universe and I had other plans. It's a miracle that I live a full, vibrant and exciting life with being able to manage the effects of paralytic polio and trauma with relative ease now.

It's time to look ahead to 2019.

I redesigned my business card:


I am claiming my role as inspirational speaker and author and look forward to many opportunities to share my epic healing odyssey in 2019.

I'll be launching my book at Paper Fiesta on Mile 10 of the Boston Marathon route.

Tom and I are going to travel to Bermuda twice in 2019 and will be looking to add additional travels in the New Year. Tom will be running the Bermuda Marathon Weekend 10K. I will be a spectator and enjoy the Island without the pressure of racing. I am excited to run along the Bermuda Railway Trail which is close to Grotto Bay, our resort for this trip.

I am excited to set my sights on the racing circuit next Spring. It's going to be at the 5K distance and I've already begun working on improving my pace. Today's run was one of our fastest times in a very long while with extreme negative splits of -54" and -16". I still have a way to go before I'm back to my 15-16 minute/mile pace but I know the body achieves what the mind believes.

I am over the moon excited to be a member once again of Wave Health and Fitness where I can access state of the art cardio equipment in addition to a clean, heated pool with a skylight. I might even take a fitness class or two as part of my membership.

I will continue with my 3 times a day meditation practice and weekly chiropractic treatments.

On Christmas Day I turn 65 years young. A week later we usher in a new year.

I plan to ditch the fear, gripe and worry less, sweat more, achieve goals and who knows maybe even a slay a dragon or two. {Instead of brand new week, insert brand new year.}



As I turn the corner to the second half of the decade of my 60's, I am planning to make 2019 my best year yet!

What are your 2019 goals?

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.








Saturday, December 1, 2018

Celebrating Ten Years of Running: The Year In Review

There's only one month left to 2018. It's been ten years since I first laced up a pair of running shoes and discovered the sport that transformed my life.



As we wind down the year, I am gearing up to publish "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953" that chronicles my 12 year healing odyssey, healing the effects of paralytic polio and trauma and celebrating my ten years of running.

The book ends where 2018 began: at the Bermuda Half Marathon. I was almost a DNS (did not start) for the race but with the love and support of my village and my fiery determination, I went the distance for my 3rd Half Marathon in as many years. In December of 2014, after a serious knee injury, I was told I should not run and if I did to cap my distance and to prepare for a total knee replacement in a few years. I double downed on my efforts to heal and found myself crossing the finish line of Bermuda Half Marathon 2018:


I knew I needed to take time off from racing and allow my body to heal and recover from the rigors of 3 half marathons in as many years but I did not let up on my health and fitness regimen of running twice a week, swimming twice a week, and strength training on land once a week.

I incorporated weekly chiropractic treatments into my health and wellness routine.

I increased my meditation time and incorporated a daily 45 minute to an hour afternoon meditation into my day.

My books "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance" and "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life" were featured on Books on the T:



I revamped my website and my branding to ensure that I let my story stand on its own without cross promotion, entangling my story with any one else's promotions.

We did a major decluttering of our home and created beautiful office space where Tom and I can work together when he is not at his office.

We let go of people and things that no longer served us and I was in awe of who and what flowed into my life!

I was so blessed to connect with Dr. David Hamilton through a wonderful series of connections. He put out the call for healing stories using visualization to incorporate in the Tenth Edition of his book, "How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body." I was blessed to have my story included in his book:


Through another "coincidence" I was his guest on his October 22 Hay House Radio show; a 6 week series on Hay House UK that complemented his newly released book. It was thrilling to meet on the phone and share my story with his listeners. Through that show we know we touched many lives including one woman in England who is also experiencing the symptoms of Post-Polio Syndrome. She now feels a sense of hope in her healing journey.

There's a time for writing one's story and time to celebrate what has already been written. 2018 was the year for me to celebrate my accomplishments, continue moving forward in my health and wellness journey and to prepare for new goals in 2019.

What will those goals be? I'll be sharing that in my next blog.


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.