Monday, May 25, 2015

Building Strength and Confidence

I used to have difficulty getting up from sitting without using a table or the bathroom sink to support me. One day a couple of months ago, after practicing squats at the wall per Dr. Ryan of Elevate Health Cambridge, I decided that I could just stand up. I made up my mind to do it ... after realizing what was preventing me from doing it all these years. Yes in part there was physical weakness and deconditioning but what prevented me from completely healing after paralytic polio was bearing the brunt of my father's alcoholic rages. I remembered the phrases, "sit down before I knock you down" along with "who do you think you are? I'm going to knock you down to size." Once I brought these phrases into awareness, I was able to literally stand up to the fear I felt inside. The danger was long gone but in my mind, because I was so little when all of this happened, I was wired for weakness and not being able to find the strength to stand up for myself.

But all of that is changed now. I'd been wrestling with how do I feel strong and empowered without being afraid of my power that I would hurt the people who were hurting me. During yesterday morning's meditation, I thought about martial arts and a class we had in self defense at the VA called Unmuggable. I googled to see if they are still around. I know there are many classes in self defense for women but I couldn't find this particular one. A "mugger" was in a protective suit and they taught us how to defend ourselves in case we were attacked; to disarm the "mugger" hitting his vulnerable areas to give us enough time to get away. They also gave us safety tips such as never getting into a car even if held at knife point, staying in a lighted area and using keys and other objects we might have on hand to ward off the attacker.

I took the class with Mary Pat Regan who was the DAV Transportation Coordinator and we used to sign our emails after taking the class, The Unmuggable One. I can remember the sensations of being able to defend myself and how empowered and invincible we felt after taking the class.

Yesterday, after increasing my squats at the wall and feeling confidence and strength harnessing the power of my hip flexors and core to do a proper squat, I made up my mind that it was time to move away from the wall and just squat. Dr. Ryan said to me one day, you'll move an inch away from the wall and you will do a squat. And voila:

I can feel safe, strong and confident. I have faced every fear and looked death square in the eye at the hands of my alcoholic father and psychotic grandmother and with the neglect of my drug addicted mother.

And now - I get to do the impossible or what the Western medicine model said is impossible. I build strength, create new neuromuscular connections and neural pathways. I change the way I view myself and create a whole new physical reality for myself. I am healed, and I am whole. I am an endurance runner training for the 2016 Newport Marathon and I am happy - so incredibly happy and grateful to be alive connected to The Source that showers me with grace:

The Source

Wellspring of joy flows deep within soul
rising surprisingly healing brokenness whole.
Thawing and melting magnificence made new
cleansing congestion reveals radiance True.

Miracles arise from this sacred space
fears and pain transformed by Your Loving Grace.
Running and laughing happiness free
a raucous rampage a celebration spree.

Grounded sure footed it's time fancy fine
Divine Love a waterfall cascading spine.
Fools were blind to this treasure so rare
unstoppable unceasing heart open to share.

The joy in the journey a sight to behold
the glory her triumphs she runs brave and bold.
Each footstep each mile of 26.2
a champion reborn glorious Spirit shines through.

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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