Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! On Motivation, Momentum and Accountability

When the alarm went off at 6:00am this morning, day 5 of my 5 day training cycle, I wanted to roll over, go back to sleep and take a day off. In a heartbeat one can go from positive momentum to negative momentum.

It looked like there may have been some black ice outside. Tom is in taper mode for the Hyannis Half this weekend. I debated about whether to go to Wave Health and Fitness, get on the treadmill at home or go outside. During the debate, after our morning meditation, I decided to get my core work done.

After getting the blood flowing with a plank, clams, bicycle and knee to elbow, I was ready for an early morning run. That's what was on the schedule and so an early morning run is what I was going to do. I gave myself a push to maintain the positive momentum I've been blessed to experience since partnering with Jeffrey Spratt, MT during these past almost two years now. How many mornings could I physically not get out of bed without pain everywhere and feeling that fatigue to the bone regardless of how many hours I was in bed? How many times could I not do core work or run or run on a treadmill experiencing heaviness throughout my body? Until I found my way to Jeffrey's table, everything was just stuck in my body and I could not experience momentum trying to build a foundation of strength, health and wellness on sand. But now we are clearing out the gunk, transforming the beliefs I held as a result of those early childhood adverse experiences so that I am building a foundation on bedrock.

My plan is to allow for the fullness of expression of my journey of transformation from a survivor of paralytic polio and childhood trauma to a woman who fully embodies her potential as a runner; as one who challenges herself with strength training, swimming, cross training and running to achieve my fullest potential on my health and wellness journey.

Writing a blog and being "out there" on Facebook holds me accountable to my plan.

After I posted this photo on Facebook celebrating the completion of another 5 day training cycle:

I received an outpouring of likes, loves and "wow's" along with private messages about how I inspire people!

When the day began I did not feel like getting my workout done. I know how blessed I am with the miracle of healing in my life thanks in great part to this man:

To those who have been given much, much is asked of them. It is my moral imperative to stay motivated, maintain positive momentum on my health and wellness journey and be accountable to those who look to me for inspiration and hope.

To your health and wellness,

"Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance" is now available on Amazon. It chronicles my journey of transformation from a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma to a woman who reclaimed her advantage and reclaimed her life through the power of positive quality touch partnering with Jeffrey Spratt,MT and his trail blazing Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! Upon This Rock

Before partnering with Jeffrey Spratt, MT who pioneered the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy I could not strength train on land, or experience any positive momentum in my health and wellness journey; I experienced chronic fatigue and chronic pain and incredible frustration in not feeling good in the skin I was in. I would be able to push myself only so far and then I'd end up injured or experiencing a slide into negative momentum.

As much as I focused on positive momentum, writing poetry to imagine myself healthy, whole, running free and unencumbered, and asking the question how will I ever reclaim my life, I could not move forward with any positive momentum.

Since partnering with Jeffrey, I understand why I was stuck.

I was trying to build my house on sand.

I was not able to heal from the ravages of paralytic polio because 3 years after contracting paralytic polio, my father sexually assaulted me. Rapes turned into beatings until his suicide when I was 17 years old. My grandmother subjected me to torture rituals on the weekend. I survived by developing my intellectual prowess and dissociating mind from body. All that gunk stuck in my body compromised from the polio virus left a weak foundation on which to build muscle and strength.

KMI Structural Integration, Zero Balancing, Energy Healing, regular massage therapy, meditation, visualization, writing poetry, PT, OT, running, yoga - I tried so many paths for healing and nothing was able to get the job done.

As Jeffrey explains it, we are now going layer by layer excavating the traumatic memories, healing the damage and getting down to bedrock so I can build a strong foundation. I am reconditioning my body to a new mind, blazing new trails of feeling, thinking and being using the wonderful work of Dr. Joe Dispenza to harness the power of the Divine Intelligence within me. Jeffrey's powerful positive quality touch and his compassionate presence meet my energy and intention for healing and together, upon this rock of faith, confidence, courage and strength, create the masterpiece of my's the way me was always meant to be.

I've increased the resistance on the Bike and Arc Trainer at Wave Health and Fitness. I'm running hard and bringing down my time since finishing the Bermuda Half Marathon last month and loving every minute of all the physical challenges. I've also been able to use my workouts and runs to alleviate stress and tension from both the past and the present because after all,
to quote Jeffrey, nobody lives in Shangri La.

I've been wanting this for so long...10 years this month ... when I first started writing poetry to imagine myself and dream about the way I wanted to feel in my body. We still have more work to do but as Jeffrey said to me two weeks ago, "We'll get there." While getting from me right now to the "There" manifesting in physical reality, I share another one of Dr. Joe's sayings:

Remember to have faith, have courage, be kind to yourself. Have patience and know that anything and everything is possible!

To your health and wellness,

"Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance" is now available on Amazon. It chronicles my journey of transformation from a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma to a woman who reclaimed her advantage and reclaimed her life through the power of positive quality touch partnering with Jeffrey Spratt,MT and his trail blazing Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! #tbt A Triumphant Return to Camp Hyannis

From "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance":

After crossing the finish line of my first half marathon, I came into the ballroom at the Hyannis Resort and Conference Center filled with thousands of runners. Frank Shorter made sure he connected with me amidst the runners celebrating after the race. He could tell that the run had taken a lot of out of me. I was shivering from the sleet that had started falling during the last several miles of the race. He put both of his hands on either side of my arms, looked at me straight in the eye and told me how much courage and strength I had to do what I had just done. He told me he had no doubt that I was going to cross the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon. He told me to hydrate, get some hot soup and take a hot shower. He signed the back of my bib. Frank had seen me as a survivor of paralytic polio who came out of a wheelchair and leg brace to take on the Boston Marathon. I saw him through the starry eyes of a novice runner meeting an Olympic Gold Medalist and an elite runner in every sense of the word.

When I saw Frank again in 2010 at Hyannis, I brought my bib from my Boston Marathon run for him and Bill Rodgers to sign. Frank Shorter signed it: “To Mary, You're unbelievable”

After the incredibly challenging Bermuda Half Marathon, I knew that I was not going to do a repeat performance of the Hyannis 10K this year. Team McManus debated back and forth about whether or not we were going to go Hyannis Marathon Weekend this year. Frank Shorter was going to be there again. Camp Hyannis is such a special weekend in February. It's where we have met so many running greats. Last year I was blessed to meet Jacqueline Hansen. She wrote the Foreword to my book. I share the story of when she came out on the race course to give me a hug and whisper in my ear, "Run with all your heart."

Tom turns 65 on March 2nd and we celebrate our 39th wedding anniversary on March 4th (40 years of being together). We decided that if there was a room at the Hyannis Resort and Conference Center, it was a sign we should go and Tom would run the Half Marathon at his race pace. There was a room and Tom is registered!

A week from Saturday Team McManus has a triumphant return to Camp Hyannis. Race Director Paul Collyer told me that there was availability of a table at the Expo where I can share my story to inspire runners and sign and sell copies of Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance.

Why triumphant you might ask? After 10 years of being on a quest to heal the effects from paralytic polio and trauma, I have positive momentum. In January I did something I have never done before - run two consecutive endurance events: The Bermuda Half Marathon in 2016 and 2017. While at the end of a long, challenging day I am sore and tired like everyone else, I am, in the words of my master muscular therapist Jeffrey Spratt, MT who has been the game changer for me on my journey, "1. You're able to have a marathon of a day now. 2. It doesn't debilitate you for a week and 3. You're resilient and recover quickly ready to get back at it the next day after a good night's sleep."

Chronic fatigue and pain were my constant companions. I so desperately wanted to get strong, to run faster and be the endurance runner I was always meant to be but it was like trying to build a house on sand. Through the power of positive quality touch using the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy, we are clearing away the debris and getting right down to the bedrock of my mind, body and soul so I can build a beautiful earthly home on a strong and solid foundation.

It will be emotional for me to see Frank Shorter again who I have not seen since he signed my bib in 2010. Here I am at a table at the Expo still very much a patient at Spaulding Rehab and stuck in my health and wellness journey despite having run the 2009 Boston Marathon.

It's always a joy to see Boston Billy. I will give signed copies of my book to both Frank and Bill. They each played a critical role in my running journey and are an integral part of my going the distance.

It's hard to believe that it's been 8 years since I first experienced the wonder and magic of the Hyannis Marathon Weekend.

I am excited and looking forward to celebrating Tom's 65th birthday with his Half Marathon run and our 40 years of being Team McManus. We'll also be celebrating the miracle of healing in my life that has taken me from a leg brace and a wheelchair to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond!

To your health and wellness,

Monday, February 13, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! On blazing trails, healing and transformation. Ten Years Later

When I told my nurse manager at the VA that I was leaving my award winning social work career 3 years shy of when I was eligible to retire to write poetry and heal my life, she told me that I couldn't do that. Would I work part time? What was I going to do for money, for health insurance and there had to be another way because clearly I had not thought out my plan.

Clearly I had not thought out my plan.

Talk about a leap of faith! I took out my retirement account and yes paid an early withdrawal penalty but I knew that I would pay a much stiffer penalty if I continued to stay at the VA. I was burned out and all the years of neglecting and dissociating from my body due to the effects of paralytic polio and trauma finally caught up with me.

When, in February of 2007, now ten years ago, I got still and asked for Divine Guidance, the answer came in the form of a poem. Of many poems - many many many poems in which my heart and soul cried out to the Universe expressing what I dreamed about and hoped for: wholeness, health, healing, reclaiming my life, a healer to nurse my wounds, running unencumbered and free all the while expressing gratitude and finding the gift inside the challenge.

Eight years after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome, I was blessed to find my way to this master muscular therapist:

Jeffrey Spratt, MT blazes his own trail in the massage therapy profession with the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy. His innovative ShakeOut (TM) Massage has transformed the way people experience massage therapy. As an efficient, economical and highly effective method of massage therapy, people can now experience the cumulative benefits of regular massage therapy as part of their health and wellness regimen.

Through the power of his positive quality touch, compassionate presence and intention to help me heal, I am a woman transformed. Oh sure I still have my days and there is still work to be done, but as Jeffrey said after my last treatment, "We'll get there."

Jeffrey was inspired to pilot an exploratory research study, "The Efficacy of the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy on Trauma Recovery." We have an Emergency Responder/Veteran and a woman who experienced childhood sexual abuse and he will begin the study with Emergency Responders recovering from on the job trauma at On Site Academy. The early results of the study show that through the power of positive quality touch, trauma survivors heal and transform.

Ten years ago this month, during the dark night of my mind, body and soul I wrote my very first 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, 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, alone and afraid tried 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.

I reclaim my life and I reclaim my advantage and I am winning my race!

Foot Strike

Each strike struck a chord of fear
How would I ever reclaim my life?
Holding onto hope
waiting for the day
when memories would no longer weigh heavy
free to run my own race.
Stomping in anger
striking back
shadow boxing with the thief
who stole away childhood innocence
a no win.
Each foot strike ignites my soul
fired up to run my best race
taking the lead
breaking finisher’s tape

today I won my race.

To your health and wellness,

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! A Winter Run on Heartbreak Hill - Courage & Confidence!

I am so grateful for my gym, Wave Health and Fitness, but yesterday I could not bear to do another treadmill run, especially with the forecast for another dumping of snow on Boston by tomorrow. It snowed again Friday evening. Where to go where we could get in a safe run with 19 degrees? We know that historically the carriage road on Heartbreak Hill is usually pretty clear. I'm focusing on building strength right now, not miles so instead of the 4 miles we plan for Saturdays, Team McManus decided to get in a good 5K.

Let me take you back for a moment to what winter had been like for this survivor of paralytic polio followed by 9 years of unrelenting family violence. Because I had no confidence in my body and, because of the messages I received from the medical community after being diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome 10 years ago, I hated winter. At one point, Tom and I had entertained the idea of retiring to Florida which would have been a death wish for both of us. Neverthless, we persevered. I was told I had osteoporosis and a slip on the ice could mean a fractured hip. "Use an ice gripper on your cane. Make sure your boots have good grip. Limit your exposure to the cold." I experienced cold intolerance because my thermostat was broken and my body could not adapt to changes in temperature. You can read all about it in my recent book, "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance" available on Amazon.

Training for the 2009 Boston Marathon certainly gave me a huge boost of confidence in what I was able to do in winter. During my training I wrote this poem included in "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.

These past ten years have been a journey with as many ups and downs as Heartbreak Hill but since partnering with Jeffrey Spratt,MT in April of 2015, I have been experiencing a fire in my soul and a surge of confidence and courage that I choose to tap into and experience every chance I get.

It was a challenging run with slush and snow at times but I felt sure footed and confident. There were so many runners on Heartbreak Hill training for Boston. Tom and I were wearing our Boston Marathon Jackets. There was a sense of Oneness in purpose and passion and of course that craziness that you have to have when you're a runner in winter in New England.

Today was day 2/5 of my training cycle. Since Tom had his massage therapy session with Jeffrey, I decided I would get my pool workout in. I must admit I felt the toll that yesterday's run had taken and the toll that this damp, bone chilling takes on everyone but I stuck to my plan.

The warm water is a wonderful place to get in a great workout. I continue to challenge myself and remember how I am transformed, transcending the once devastating effects that polio and violence had taken on me mind, body and soul.

After my workout, I was blessed to have a chance to talk with Alex Remorenko, one of the instructors at Wave Health. She has been following my journey on Facebook. It was warm and special to experience her support and validation of the work I am doing. She said how she loves the fact that I am incorporating the pool into my training. Her philosophy of teaching group fitness classes is to empower and help her students find confidence in their bodies. I love how her philosophy transcends the all to typical trend of how the body looks and focuses on what is happening inside the person mind, body and soul! When I told her about my strength training routine, I was almost apologetic for the fact that I still use the wall for squats. She was right there with me affirming how that doesn't matter; I am still getting the benefit I need. Her validation and affirmation is powerful fuel for anyone on a health and fitness journey.

Taking those first tentative steps on my healing journey 10 years ago took incredible courage. I defied what the medical community was telling me. I set out to forge my own path. Finding my way to the amazing people at Wave Health and Fitness and to Jeffrey has been a total gift of grace; people who accept me and embrace my journey and encourage me to move beyond any perceived limitations with strength and confidence.

Tomorrow - day 3 of 5 will be strength training at home and, in my blog more reflections on these past 10 years!

To your health and wellness,

Friday, February 10, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! A Celebration of Snow Removal

From "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance":

That early training served me well as I trained for and ran the 2009 Boston Marathon and in my several running comebacks but it can lead to injury, overdoing it pain, and hitting the wall with an "I can't do another thing" fatigue. I'm not playing with a full deck so to speak in that, as we learned from the results of the MRI, the gastroc muscle on my inner left leg atrophied as a result of "chronic denervation" meaning because of the polio. I know there are other muscles that have atrophied engaging other muscles to do their job. There's a greater likelihood for injury but I believe in playing in the field of infinite possibilities! As I was leaving my appointment with Dr. Rosenberg, his parting words were, "Don't over do it." I teased and said "Me? When have I ever overdone it?" He looked at me and said, "Yeah right."

I've been thinking a lot about how I do manage my life. My life used to manage me as I felt I had no control over what was happening in my body. I have my meltdowns and frustrations especially during winter storms where I have to be especially mindful and careful with what I do but for the most part, I am finding a rhythm and accepting what is while always striving to do more and be more.

I've come a long way since the injury in December 2014 and the above excerpt from my book in February 2015 and an even longer way since I began this healing quest a little more than 10 years ago.

In yesterday's post I talked about how I am pushing the envelope. Only those who risk going too far will know how far they can go.

Since partnering with Jeffrey Spratt,MT I am constantly in awe of the transformation I am experiencing mind, body and soul. I think I may have to write a sequel to Going the Distance! In Wednesday's treatment, I told Jeffrey that I wanted to rinse out the anxiety and the feelings of "Oh sh**" when the phone rings anticipating a disaster, the feelings of overwhelming responsibility for everything and everyone around me and the background noise of having been a survivor of so much abuse, neglect and horror that prevents me from fully reclaiming my advantage and reclaiming my life. Jeffrey worked deep and did these most amazing stretches to open everything up. When he was working on my throat while doing deep heart chakra work that hurt so good, I was able to take his hand and move it away from my throat, put my hand on top of his and say, "I need to reclaim my throat." There were and are so many levels of meaning to that simple gesture.

Blizzard Niko hit us pretty hard here in Brookline. Tom had gone out several times to do clean up but he hadn't cleaned off the car. Early evening, as the winds howled and the snow blew, I donned my boots and told Tom I needed to help him do clean up. Like a boss I trudged through the snow to the car and cleared off almost a foot of snow from the car while our hybrid churned from the inside helping to facilitate the clean up process.

Jeffrey loves me to claim my successes and yesterday was surely a milestone for me. After we cleared out so much gunk from my body on Wednesday and flushed my body from 5 days of intense training, I was able to do something I hadn't been able to do in the past 10 years. It was a celebration of snow removal. It was reclaiming and redemption.

What a blessing to continue to move forward with positive momentum in my health and wellness journey finding strength in the midst of a storm.

To your health and wellness,

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! She trains like a boss. #Shepersists

They tried to beat me down and kill me. I was warned. I was given an explanation. Night after night while my father beat me into the middle of next week and on the weekends my grandmother tormented me with crazy rituals. The explanation they gave me left quite the imprint on my mind, body, heart and soul.

Ten years ago they almost won when my body shut down and my Spirit cried out for healing.

I set out on a healing quest quitting my almost 20 year award winning career as a VA social worker to heal my life. At the time, I had no idea what it meant except that I was NOT going to take the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome sitting down - literally and metaphorically.

What a journey it has been! Eight years after the diagnosis, I was finally led to a healer chiropractor and a master muscular therapist who would be the game changers in my life. I said goodbye to the medical model after meeting Ryan J. Means, DC and then Jeffrey Spratt,MT, master muscular therapist who pioneered the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy. We didn't set out to heal trauma, to grow a new gastroc muscle, to reverse the effects of osteoarthritis in my knee joints, dissolve bone spurs and to have me reclaim my advantage and reclaim my life with a vengeance. But here we are!

At 63 years old, I am training like a boss. After being told in December 2014 I should not run, if I did I should cap the distance at 5 miles and to prepare myself for a total knee replacement, I have run two consecutive Bermuda Half Marathons. I am planning to run a third consecutive half marathon in January 2018 in Key West but I have some serious training to do before I build miles again.

I shared my 5 day training program with Jeffrey during my massage therapy treatment yesterday while he flushed, stretched and helped me recover from my 5 days of intense training and we also continued to "squeeze the toothpaste out of the tube" to clear trauma so my energy can run clear and clean unencumbered by the events of my past. On Saturday Tom and I ran 4 miles with hills and headwind outdoors. Sunday was strength training which consists of: a circuit x 2 of upper body training with 5 pound free weights, squats, gastroc strengthening exercises, balance and core strengthening on Theraband Stability Trainers, a circuit of leg raises 12 x 2 with 4 pounds weight, clams 12 x 2 with 4 pound weights. Monday was an hour of swimming. Tuesday was 30 minutes on the Bike and 20 minutes on the Arc Trainer. Five days a week Tom and I do a 3:35 plank, the bicycle, knee to elbow and clams - with weights 3 days a week and two days without weights. I learned that 5 days with weights was a little too much.

Yesterday I cranked up the treadmill at Wave Health and Fitness and got my pace way down after running the Bermuda Half Marathon a few weeks ago.

Jeffrey agreed with me that:

He got really excited about my transformation and my determination to train and be better than I've ever been. He gave me a high five as I said #shepersists knowing everything I lived through and how, now, I leave all of this in the rear view mirror.

So yes it's true that they warned her, they gave her an explanation and proceeded to brutalize her BUT now she trains like a boss. #shepersists!

To your health and wellness,

Be sure to check out my latest book, "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance," now available on Amazon that chronicles my journey of healing and transformation and being able to go the distance after partnering with Jeffrey Spratt,MT.