Monday, April 27, 2015

Freedom is a State of Mind

Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where we forget that the door to the Universe, the portal of possibility as I like to call it is wide open. We forget that regardless of our physical circumstances we can experience freedom in our mind, heart and soul.

Victor Frankl speaks to this in Man's Search for Meaning.

At the age of 5, I contracted paralytic polio. I was one of the lucky ones not needing to be in the hospital and not needing an iron lung. I was initially paralyzed from the neck down but soon regained a little movement on my right side. My left side remained paralyzed for several months but with the help of a leg brace and an amazing physiatrist and physical therapist, I was able to walk again.

After coming out of my leg brace, my dad's alcoholism manifested in rape and rage; my mother was addicted to prescription pain meds and my grandmother was just flat out nuts and subjected me to all sorts of torture rituals when we would spend weekends with her in the Bronx.

I managed to become valedictorian of my high school class and had a stellar social work career at the VA until everything caught up with me and my body shut down; my Spirit cried out for healing in 2006 in the guise of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease.

What got me through my childhood and adolescence was my imagination. I always held onto hope and I always imagined being taken care of (often calling upon the likes of the TV doctors at the time). I was blessed to have earth angels come into my life who provided me with enough unconditional love and support to make it through.

When my life came to a screeching halt in December of 2006, I went back into a leg brace and used a wheelchair at times for mobility. I once again turned inward and I let my heart and soul speak. I started writing poetry - well poetry started flowing out of me is more to the point as though my body shutting down turned on a spigot in my heart and soul. My imagination took over and transcended all that was happening in my body as I wrote the poem, "Running the Race."

It was a foreshadowing of my 2009 Boston Marathon run. Now I couldn't just sit back and imagine that I would run the Boston Marathon, I had to train and work hard to be able to get to the starting line in Hopkinton since I'd never run a day in my life. But had I not harnessed the power of visualization through meditation and writing poetry and feeling myself cross that finish line with every training run, I'm not so sure I would have been able to get to the finish line on 4/20/2009.

Because of all that my physical body and heart/mind/Spirit has experienced, it's easy for me to default to feeling like a prisoner in my body and in my life, not walking away from situations that are draining my energy; and just having enough energy to survive. Like that bird in the cage, I can forget that the door is wide open for me to fly free.

That is transforming now. I've decided to kick fear to the curb and move forward in my training and in my life with renewed vigor and determination. I am so blessed to partner with Dr. Ryan of Elevate Health Cambridge who believes in endless possibilities; who know the body's infinite capacity to heal and who are willing to work with me, to laugh with me, to cry with me and join me on my latest quest to reignite the endurance runner within me.

When I push myself in my strength training workouts I can feel the marathoner within me fire up. While right now I am race walking, I can imagine myself running - actually running - with ease and grace and I know that one day it will all come together and happen. I can see it and feel it happening in my body; being around the running community and watching races ignites the neuromuscular pathways for healing in my own body.

And so with a chiropractic physician, a muscular therapist, my husband by my side stride by stride, a wonderful community of running family, my own fierce determination which combines meditation, visualization and a training plan I:

Pave the Path of Freedom

Frivolous frolicking filly be not deceived by her devil may care
eye of the tiger a fiery soul exceeding all limits she’ll dare.
She pounds pavement paving her way no longer driven by fright
portal to possibility all she’s ever dreamed of now within sight.
Thundrous hooves determined and strong unbecoming all that she once knew
leave her old self in the dust shedding past of all she lived through.
Pave the way to embrace herself as she was always meant to be
spirit joyful rejoicing being herself unbridled she’s free.
Competing with no one but herself she instinctively quickens her pace
no longer limping swift of foot overflowing with ease and grace.
Feeling Spirit expanding with breath nostrils flare and peace fills her soul
filled with goodness and kindness undefeated remarkably whole.

"When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy" - Rumi

Be blessed. Journey well. To all good things....

My latest book, "Journey Well" is now available on Amazon along with all of my inspirational books. 50% of book proceeds are donated to the Massachusetts Resiliency Center, a safe, welcoming space for survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing to heal and stay in touch with one another; a virtual hub for a widely dispersed community whose lives have been impacted by the tragic events of April 15th and the events that followed.

When terror struck the world's oldest and most beloved marathon on April 15, 2013, it was a defining moment in Mary McManus’ life and the lives of all those in Boston and around the world. It was her wake up call to return to the sport and community that have been medicine and a lifeline for her throughout her marathon of healing the late effects of paralytic polio and experiencing 9 years of domestic violence as a child and adolescent. Mary captures the essence of Boston Strong through her experience of the 2014 Boston Marathon and as she profiles the people who are Boston Stronger. Through her blog posts, poems and journal entries woven together with excerpts from her memoir, “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility,” you will experience, through one woman’s journey of transformation and healing, that no matter what happens to us, we can all learn to journey well.

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