Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Running IS my therapy and Everything is Possible!



Once I put my mind to getting back on the roads after my knee injury wake up call back in December, I knew that nothing was going to stop me from getting back to the sport that has become my therapy and a way of life.

"As every runner knows, running is about more than just putting one foot in front of the other; it is about our lifestyle and who we are."
Joan Benoit Samuelson

I didn't realize that when you set a Distance Run on Nike+, it automatically increases the mileage by a quarter mile. I had done a 2.25 mile run last Saturday and was planning to keep the same distance but the Universe had other plans for me. As Nike+ announced the halfway point of my run, I realized I was going to do 2.5 miles.

It was raining and snowing when I first started out and then the precipitation stopped. I parked my car at Cleveland Circle and did an out and back route on Beacon Street along the Boston Marathon course. I ran from the inside out not giving pace a second thought. I let my mind go to where it needed to go.

I was reflecting on this last year's journey with Joseph at Sollievo Massage and Bodywork. I felt gratitude overflow in my heart for the miracle of healing and the beautiful transformation that has happened in my life. I thought about what I wanted to focus on next in my healing journey.

I used to say that I had tremors but through my work with Joseph, I changed the language to say that I sometimes experience shaking. I imagined how it would feel to have energy flow smoothly through my arms to my hands and also up and down my spine to my cranium.

As I was running along the stretch of road that I conquered in 2009 to run 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston, I got curious. What is it that causes me to shake sometimes?

And then the awareness hit me like a thunderbolt. I was face to face with the people who tried to overpower me, oppress me, violate me in every imaginable way. I felt the fear and the anger and then I felt the power that I experience when I run connected to my soul and to the Universe.

I felt deep in my soul that I don't have to shake anymore; it's a habitual response to the horrific events that happened in my life and I have the power to change that response. It might take time and practice but I will get there! Underneath the KT Tape from Dr. Ryan, I felt that the osteoarthritis was melting away and all of the "structural damage" evident on MRI was healed.

In last Thursday's treatment with Joseph as he moved through the Zero Balancing protocol, I realized there was no damage and I don't live with the late effects of paralytic polio. The door opened to a portal of possibility.

Coincidentally two people, one of whom is my chiropractor Dr. Ryan of Elevate Health Cambridge, brought the book, "You are the Placebo" to my attention. I've begun to read it and realize that yes everything is possible. And when I am out on the roads, I am able to get in touch with myself, cultivating awareness of habits that no longer serve me and can leave my old self out on the roads. I pave the way to embrace myself as I was always meant to be.

I felt joy and freedom as I allowed tears to flow; the sadness of the realization of all that happened to me yet tears of joy to know that I have the power now to change and to heal. I had no knee pain and my pace was 16'27". It was faster than last Friday's run by 1'21" seconds/mile and that was with rolling hills. As I have done throughout these past 8 years of my healing odyssey, I harness the power of visualization to be as I want to be; not to be the creation of paralytic polio and violence. And as my feet pound the pavement, I find myself over and over and over again ... and I discover my utter perfection and that everything is indeed possible.


The true runner is a very fortunate person. He has found something in him that is just perfect.
- George Sheehan, MD

Journey well!

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.



Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Joy of Support Crew

As an alumni of the 2009 Spaulding Rehab's Race for Rehab Team, we get invited to be part of support crew for the last long run of the season.



Everything was provided by Marathon Sports and New Balance. We just needed to show up with #morecowbell and our smiles and support for the runners. In addition to the Race for Rehab team, hundreds of runners took to the course to do their last long run before April 21st, Marathon Monday.

My guess is I won't run another marathon but I get exhilarated being able to cheer and support the runners as they dig deep experiencing the marathon course one last time before the big day; for many it was the first time they ran 21 miles.

I have a deep sense of contentment that I once ran the Boston Marathon and can now impart my wisdom, my enthusiasm, and my inspiration to this next generation of runners.



The weather was brutal. Our last long run in 2009 was in 17 degree temperatures. This year's marathoners had to run in cold, wet snow; a fitting culmination of a brutal winter training season.

I was amazed at my own endurance to be outside cheering on the runners. Of course, unlike the runners, I had the chance to go into Marathon Sports Brookline, sit down and warm up in between the packs of runners coming down Beacon Street after having conquered Heartbreak Hill from Natick.

It's a magical time in the city of Boston. The snow is melting and we saw the beginning of flowers poking their little heads through the mud. The banners have been unveiled and are lining the streets of Boston.

As Mayor Walsh said, "They are a symbol of hope and joy and now more than ever strength and resilience."



The Race for Rehab team runs so that patients at Spaulding can Find Their Strength.

They along with all the runners training for Boston demonstrated incredible strength and resilience running 21 miles through the cold, wet snow. What a delight and joy to be able to be a part of support crew with hugs and smiles to help them journey well. Here are a few of the triumphant photos as they approach Spaulding Rehab, the final stop on yesterday's run:




No matter the weather, no matter the challenge, with love and cowbell along the way, we can journey well!


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.












Saturday, March 28, 2015

You can do it! - What does your self-talk sound like? Astound yourself with the possibilities...




The other day I wrote a post about "Change the Channel" as I could feel the weight of a grey cloud of thoughts draining my energy. The other day, during my morning meditation, I could feel those cloudy thoughts return and then a shift happened. I remembered a delicious feeling of wholeness at the end of my treatment a week ago with Joseph at Sollievo Massage and Bodywork. I felt grounded and felt my deep connection to something far greater than me yet that is right inside of me. I could clear out the energy of vigilance, violence and fear that once dulled my senses and robs me of experiencing the sweet sensations that life offers us. I savored the sensation of my husband's brewing coffee, the birds singing outside and the gift of sunlight streaming though my window.

I used to be filled with doubts and fears. While I would forge ahead with whatever endeavor I was pursuing at the time, the fears and negative self-talk would be like an anchor weighing me down in mind, body and Spirit. I'm retraining my mind and my body or as I prefer to say my mind/body.

I meditate at least twice a day. It's a time for creating awareness to explore what keeps me from my joy, my love, feeling a sense of comfort, peace and ease and moving that out of the way so that I can delight in being alive. In feeling that wholeness of self, I was able to keep at bay thoughts about people and situations that were creating suffering. As those thoughts move out, a river of joy and the essence of my life force can flow creating a beautiful path in the landscape of my life.

Dr. Ryan Means,DC or Dr. Ryan as he prefers to be called of Elevate Health Cambridge suggested I practice squats at the wall after showing me the proper form for a squat and explaining the biomechanics of a squat to me. I would rely on the bathroom sink to assist me in getting off of the toilet seat. One day I decided to tell myself that I had the strength and the balance to just stand up. I stopped using so much effort and told myself I can choose ease and make this a very natural experience for myself. And voila - it happened! I have to continue to practice ease and remind myself that I can do this. Sometimes in the early morning when I am not yet charged or in the evening when I'm tired, I find myself wanting to revert to my old habit. I can feel a lapse in my brain so I pause and give it a gentle encouraging nudge. I remind myself that I have a new way of doing this; I don't over think it and I allow it to happen.

And if for whatever reason, it didn't happen on a particular day, it's okay. The important thing is that I not fall prey to feeling like a victim in response to the circumstances that happened to me. It's also important to not quit before the miracle happens.

And speaking of miracles ... Yestterday I ran 2.25 miles at a 17 min/mile pace with elevation and no knee pain!

It takes time, patience and faith to walk a healing path; to have the courage to move out of hold habits of thinking, of moving and of Being.

The more I believe in my mind/body's ability to change and to heal, to return to its natural state of goodness, of experiencing joy and pleasurable sensations the more I become that change. By challenging my mind/body while making sure that I am being mindful to pace myself and ensure that I am taking calculated risks (such as not holding onto the bannister as I walk up or down stairs); increasing my miles and pace slowly after my recent knee injury and training smarter not harder, I am moving forward feeling strength, comfort and ease astounding myself with the possibilities!

Journey well!

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.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Fundraising Friday: Meet Lindsay Dahlben


"Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more."
- Debbie Zelman, founder of Debbie's Dream Foundation



In a fundraising email my dear friend Lindsay Dahlben wrote,
I wanted to let you know that I have exciting news— No, I didn't join a boy band or memorize 1,000 digits of pi…I’M RUNNING THE BOSTON MARATHON ON APRIL 20 2015!


and from her fundraising page:
After many years of watching elites, friends, and fellow Bostonians run the Boston Marathon, I am excited to say that this year I will be running Boston! How could it get any better than this, you ask? Well not only am I running, but I'm also taking this opportunity to raise money for a charity very important to me and my family: Debbie's Dream Foundation. Debbie's Dream Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to raising awareness about stomach cancer, funding research, and providing support internationally to patients and their families. The statistics associated with stomach cancer are daunting, but non-profits like this one give us education, support, scientific discoveries, and hope to continue pushing forward. Their ultimate goal is to find a cure for stomach cancer.

I am running this marathon on April 20th for my sister, Rachael.


Here is her sister Rachel with her three beautiful children who live in Israel. Rachael was diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer and is still undergoing treatment.



In Lindsay's words:
You think running a marathon is hard? Try fighting stomach cancer. No one should have to go through what she has, but she is the strongest woman I know and will persevere. Debbie's Dream Foundation has given her a really great support community, resources, and even teddy bears for her three children.


Lindsay will be carrying her sister and three children in her heart as she runs 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston three weeks from Monday. Let's show our support by getting her to the starting line with exceeding her fundraising goal for Debbie's Dream Foundation. You can donate to Lindsay's Firstgiving Fundraising Page.

Journey well!

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.






Thursday, March 26, 2015

Change the Channel



I was having a difficult time on Tuesday allowing my energy to flow and finding comfort in my mind and in my body. I hadn't slept well Monday night and I've been having what I call trauma dreams. I am limiting my exposure to news and to the trial of the person accused of the Boston Marathon bombing. I am focusing on all the amazing people I have met in the survivor community and how I reconnected with the running community after 4/15/13. There is so much goodness and kindness that have come out of the events of that day. Love certainly wins every time! I was able to go into a movie theater for the first time since 4/15/13 and the trauma dreams happen with much less frequency.

Regardless...it's an anniversary time. Winter seems endless. My husband just transitioned to a new job; a magnificent new job at Boston College but there is stress that goes with a job change.

I was feeling cranky and grumpy and out of sorts. I focused on all I have to be grateful for but my gratitude practice couldn't seem to pierce through the grey cloud of my thoughts.

I thought to myself, "If you were watching a TV show and it made you feel this lousy, you would change the channel."

That still didn't get me out of my funk.

I was going to take a nap but somehow knew that a nap was not the answer.

I began to pray. "Dear God ... help me to find peace and equanimity. Help to lift me out of my cloud of thoughts that are not serving me right now."

I remembered how Joseph, my mind/body therapist at Sollievo Massage and Bodywork told me on several occasions, peace is always available to you. It's as close as putting your hand in your pocket. I remembered when he posed the question, "Why is it that we spend so much time getting to a place we have already arrived."

Larry Rosenberg, founder of the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center has said, "Where is peace to be found? The same place as sorrow. How convenient." But I didn't want to have to go through more sorrow. I wanted to experience peace period peace and equanimity. I realized that by not allowing the sorrow and any other feelings that needed to flow, flow, I was creating more suffering.

I was getting closer to an energy shift.

And then I heard Spirit say to me... "Take a hot shower."

Sollievo packages their own self-care products.



The office manager, Anne, told me that in fact Joseph packages the products at Sollievo.

I dug into the Dead Sea Salt Scrub and gently massaged it into my face, arms and legs. I continued to pray for comfort, calm, peace and equanimity.

And then I felt the energy shift. I felt Joseph's presence and wisdom that of course is the wisdom I have inside of me that he reflects back to me.

Even though I felt tired, I felt energized; an odd dichotomy for sure and was able to take care of things that I needed to take care of along with writing which always delights my heart and soul.

It's not always easy to do and it takes practice, but once we realize that our thoughts are just like a TV show and once we become aware of them and decide that we want to change the channel, we can discover that the remote is right in the palm of our hand.

Journey well!

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.




I was finally able to change the channel of my thoughts and my energy flowed.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Following Their Bliss: Metal And Hide Designs



Kyle DiMare and Courtney Klimowicz met casually at first at the Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine. Kyle studied Sculpture and Courtney studied Metalsmithing and Jewelry Design.

Kyle's mom, Karen is a friend of mine. We were having brunch together last Sunday and I admired her stunning earrings and necklace. She told me that they were made by her son and his girlfriend Courtney. I reached out to them wanting to feature them and their story on my blog. They embody the philosophy of journey well by following your bliss.

Kyle and Courtney both graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Kyle left school with the intention of getting a Master's degree and focusing his career on teaching art. Kyle discovered that teaching art was far afield from his goals and his true passion. He had to make many sacrifices to pursue a master's degree; the biggest sacrifice was that he no longer had the time or resources for what he terms "making." Working with his hands is his life's passion and he had to put it on hold in order to pursue something he didn't like.

After graduation Courtney was fortunate enough to get a job as a goldsmith's apprentice. She worked only a few hours a week but the experience the goldsmith afforded her was priceless. It completely informed the work she's making for Metal And Hide. Courtney needed to take odd jobs to make ends meet, and one of the most lucrative jobs turned out to be the worst for her heath. She worked as a server in an excellent restaurant, but the long hours, the lifting objects and the constant standing took a toll on her physical and spiritual well being. She couldn't find time to "make".

They left Portland, Maine to look for jobs that would allow them to make. As they got to know each other better, they realized that they had a shared vision and developed Metal And Hide, an art and design company where they design and construct handmade, wearable and functional craft objects.


Their mission is to bridge the gap between the often inaccessible, high-end goods and the trendy products everyone enjoys. They focus on providing exceptional craft in all of their products to showcase a lavish elegance without the luxury price tag. In searching for their ideal job, they realized that they didn't need to look any further than their own passions and vision. Their concept for Metal And Hide came together and they decided to launch in February. Metal And Hide uses timeless materials for timeless quality, crafting wearable art and artistic accessories. Kyle and Courtney's creations honor the duality of their experience in making art, their personalities and the materials they use. When their paths crossed at the Maine College of Art, they couldn't have possibly predicted that their relationship would lead to a successful business partnership. They focus on unique handmade craft objects where the process of making each unique piece is strongly reflected in their designs.

Here is a sample of their beautiful creations that are more magnificent when you experience them in person:





They name their one of a kind creations that are all hand made, and made right here in Massachusetts.

You can shop for their designs on Etsy

Be sure to love their Facebook page.

And follow Metal And Hide on Instagram and Twitter.

Journey well!

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.




Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Magic Moments on Heartbreak Hill - We Run Together - There's Only One Boston

Heartbreak Hill is a special place for me. When we were training for Boston we happened to meet Johnny Kelley's nephew on a flight back from Puerto Rico in January. We needed to get out of the frigid 2009 winter for several days and train in a warmer climate. I have a cherished note from Tommy (his nephew) and wife Dottie along with an autographed photo of Johnny that they sent to us saying that he would be watching over us during our training and on Marathon Monday.



It's hanging above our Blue Diamond Medal Display.

The first time we ran Heartbreak Hill was on January 24, 2009.

From my memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility":

When we arrived, {at Marathon Sports} Domenick {our coach} was there along with some other runners. Team McManus was a wee bit nervous not knowing what to expect or what was going to happen today. Ruth Anne had forgotten her hat in our haste to leave the house, but fortunately there was no shortage of hats at Marathon Sports. Domenick said we could pay when we got back to the store. He was deep in thought about what route we should run today, "Have you run outdoors? Have you done hills" and with a yes answer to both those questions he sent us down Beacon Street to Newton Wellesley Hospital, over to Wellesly, up Concord Rd, over to Route 30 via the Marriott, down Route 30 through Heartbreak Hill, through BC to go around the Reservoir and then back to Marathon Sports for a total of 17.5 miles....

God smiled with sunshine and the wind at our backs when we got to Heartbreak Hill and She told me you are going to run the Marathon and finish the course - you deserve all the joy and triumph and courage and celebration that saying Yes to me is bringing you. And you are going to touch so many people's hearts and lives with this journey - you are blessed and you are going to bless the lives of others.

It was a magical day and I feel so incredibly blessed to be on this wild adventure.


And then on our last long run in early April 2009:
As we were heading out along Beacon Street here in Brookline, Mass., I saw a penny. Those of you who have read my blog know that we have had a lot of signs with finding money while we trained. There were a herd of runners behind us and I knew that if I stopped to pick this penny up, I could get trampled and then where would I be after a year of training and being on the threshold of running the Marathon. So I felt God's Presence and ran on. While on Heartbreak Hill, my daughter stopped in her tracks. Buried in the crack in the sidewalk on Heartbreak Hill, my daughter spotted a quarter - not just any quarter but a quarter dedicated to Helen Keller. Her quotes and life story have always been a major source of inspiration to me and Bernie Siegel, MD (who through the years has been a guiding healing light for me) has quoted her so many times in his talks, books and on his forum. During the last two miles of our training run, we found two more pennies - 27 cents! Not 26 but 27 so God is letting us know that we have what we need to go the distance....

Last March, we decided to return to Heartbreak Hill for a training run.



After the events of 4/15/13, the energy was electric as everyone was training for the 2014 Boston Marathon.
Two young girls ran up to us and said, "Excuse me, can you tell us where Heartbreak Hill is?" We said, "This is it. It began at the corner of Comm. Ave. and Washington St." They giggled with delight that they were on Heartbreak Hill obviously training for their first Boston. "We don't have too far to go do we?" "Where you going?" we asked. They said BC. Our advise was to take it one mile at a time.

I kept saying #weruntogether and giving thumbs up to the runners who passed us. Frowns turned to smiles.



This year's Boston Marathon theme is There's Only One Boston.



And to commemorate April 15, 2013, Mayor Walsh declared that April 15th will be henceforth known as One Boston Day:



Yesterday morning, despite the frigid temps and wind, I knew I had to get my run on and go to Heartbreak Hill. I did my 90 second plank and clam as my chiropractor, Dr. Ryan had suggested, bundled up and drove to Comm. Ave. and Centre Street in Newton. It felt so good to fire up my Nike+ again.

As I am climbing Heartbreak Hill sporting my 2009 Boston Marathon jacket, a runner approaches me from behind.

"Excuse me. Which is Heartbreak Hill?"

I stopped and smiled. "You are on Heartbreak Hill. Technically it's the Newton Hills and Heartbreak Hill is this final hill that goes from Centre St to Hammond Street."

She nodded and I asked her "Where are you from? This is your first Boston I presume."

"I'm here from Tulsa Oklahoma for a conference and decided to run the last 16 miles of the course. Each hill alone doesn't seem too bad but put them all together and this late in the marathon..."

Her voice trailed off.

I felt like an old timer in the best sense of the word knowing that I don't have another marathon in me but can pass on my wisdom and love for Boston and the Boston Marathon.

"The crowds are going to carry you through. It's an amazing experience like nothing else you will ever experience in your life...especially now after 4/15/13. Allow yourself to enjoy every moment of your journey and you've got this."

We smiled and off she went to finish her training run... My face froze into a smile as I finished my two miles on Heartbreak Hill without any knee pain!

While there will always be sadness and a whole host of emotions when I remember 4/15/13, there will also be the joy and the magic that is the Boston Marathon that no one and nothing can take away. Perhaps I cherish and hold my Boston Marathon moments nearer and dearer to my heart because of what happened on 4/15/13 and as long as I am able to run or walk will return to Heartbreak Hill every Spring to experience its magic and majesty.

Journey well!


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.







Monday, March 23, 2015

A charmed life ... Musings on Cinderella and My Life

A few weeks ago I wrote the poem The Enchanted Forest:

Thatched canopy of tangled branches virgin snow blankets forest’s floor
dreamily listening to crackling fire warmth spreading fills every pore.
Owl alights on fragile ice-laden limb bending under its weight
invisible hand holds him fast to Divine Love he trusts his fate.
Releasing grip of his talons One with Earth and winter’s gray sky
faith and hope and freedom knowing he has wings to fly.

Hidden deep among all creatures ear cocked signs of Spring she hears
sounds of stirring and thawing she knows change of season now nears.
Heart beats with eager anticipation cabin door creaks open she peeks
heralding rebirth renewal she awakens to their calls and shrieks.
What wonder awaits her beyond her door once bare branches burst with green
in awe to see life in all of its splendor her breath catches beholding this scene.

Heralding end of her slumber soul freed from darkness of night
trees dancing in jubilation twirling her round she smiles with delight.
A gossamer gown adorns her she’s crowned with a tiara of grace
princess ballerina poised on point joyful movements playful chase.
Everything she ever hoped for everything she’ll ever need
dwelling in this magical land charmed life is hers now to lead.




During this morning's meditation I reflected on what it means to live a charmed life.

My experiences of paralytic polio and living in a family rife with substance abuse, suicide and domestic violence have not been easy yet through it all, there was grace at every turn and as I look back on it, I led and lead a charmed life.

Last weekend we saw the movie, "Cinderella."

It's not a spoiler to share that Cinderella and the Prince end up together. As Cinderella is walking down the stairs to meet the Prince after the glass slipper fits, her fairy godmother as the narrator said, "And now it is up to Cinderella to meet the Prince without magic."

She slowly descends the stairs.

As she reaches the bottom of the stairs before going in to meet the Prince, she turns to look up at her evil stepmother played brilliantly by Cate Blanchett and says, "I forgive you."




Once I learned to forgive my family, I was free to create the magic in my own life.

She presents herself to the Prince and asks if he will accept her as she is; as Cinderella, a commoner with no dowry and no family. The Prince in turns asks if she will accept him as he is - an apprentice of the palace.

They are honest and authentic with each other. The Prince has all of the trappings of a Castle, servants and wealth but Cinderella is able to teach him about what it truly means to live a charmed life. He even quotes her to his father, the King.

I can honestly say that I live a charmed life.

As Cinderella is locked in the attic by her stepmother, her fairy godmother narrates that her spirit could not be broken. She held onto the memories of when she danced with the Prince. It was her singing and her ability to hold onto happiness and keep goodness and kindness in her heart in the midst of her circumstances that brought about a change in her circumstances.

I never gave up hope and held onto goodness, generosity, kindness and a sweet disposition. I'm surrounded with beautiful, loving, kind people and we celebrate life and the journey together.

I've had healers appear at just the right moment in my life to help me carry myself to a place of living a healthy, happy and wonderful life.

Because of all I have lived through, I savor simple pleasures and live with an attitude of appreciation and gratitude. I have learned how to make the most out of everything I have. Just like Cinderella there were times when I had only crumbs and scraps of food, clothing and money having had to declare bankruptcy for my mother at the tender age of 18. I came to Boston and Boston University and never returned home to live in the apartment where my great aunt was paying my mother's rent. I did however commute back and forth to New York to help place my grandparents in a nursing home when they suffered from dementia and helped my mother move from one apartment to a less expensive apartment at the request of my great aunt. I have known evil and vile women in the guise of the women in my family and somehow found the strength to turn away from them and not allow violence and grief to harden my heart.



When we forgive, when we hold onto goodness and kindness and allow the magic to happen in our lives; when we allow ourselves to be raw and vulnerable and true we are able to live a charmed life....

and journey well!

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.









Sunday, March 22, 2015

Lessons learned from a crashed hard drive

The dreaded swirling thingie was going full tilt on my mac laptop on Friday evening.



Fortunately my husband is a techie and I asked him for help.

As we tried different ways to reboot, there was bad news. The hard drive had crashed.

Tom tried calling the Apple Store and decided to make a trip down there without an appointment gently taking my laptop with all of my poems and journals, quotes and images to the Apple Store. We had two back ups but didn't know the last time it was able to back up. While he took my computer to the Apple Store, I took out pen and paper and tried to recall recent entries.

I had started a poem about the Shifting Sands of Time and it was a wonderful opportunity to be still and finish the poem.




The Shifting Sands of Time

She wades into the water past present and future swirl at her feet
wringing out with cleansing sobs tears bitter salty sweet.
Gazing on horizon contemplating all that went before
oddly grounded in this moment shifting sands upon the shore.
As seagulls soar above her they remind her she's now whole
from holy hell to journey well she traveled in her soul.
Drinking in the sunshine once doused fire now is lit
a brave and mighty Spirit running free she breaks the bit.
The warmth of sand between her toes her hair a mighty mane
resounding rhythm lapping waves echo life's refrain.
Unbridled joy and freedom breath heaving heart is light
footsteps sure and steady soon disappear from sight.
With an inner knowing smile drenched in sweat her pace can cease
no longer seeking she is found and walks her path of peace.


Tom came back in short order telling me that the only time the Genius Bar had available was on Tuesday. He explained that it just needed a new hard drive. "Oh we don't sell hard drives here. You'd have to leave the machine. We order it and then you come back to pick it up."

Tom was going to try to make it to Microcenter where they sell hard drives before they closed at 9 pm but since it started snowing decided to come home.

I suggested that we just reboot it and asked the angel techies to come and help save my computer.

Tom decided to allow me to give it a try.

We walked away and were patient deciding that we'd probably need to leave it overnight to do whatever it was going to do although Tom, with his 35 years in the computer industry told me to not be too hopeful. I suggested we join together in optimism that somehow the machine would fix itself.

About a half an hour later I walked by and said, "We have a screen saver."

Tom suggested we leave the machine overnight as planned and on Saturday morning he ran a utility program that was able to restore the hard drive and it's working better than ever without any more swirly thingies.

If we would have panicked and Tom tried to get to Microcenter to buy a hard drive and/or a new mac before they closed, we would have wasted a lot of precious time and money. Now it could have happened that it did not restore itself and we would have addressed that but it's amazing what can happen with patience, faith and the magical touch of a seasoned techie to restore a computer when it had a very grim prognosis.

All of my documents were there although I was fully prepared for whatever might have been lost knowing about the impermanence of all things.

I am, however, extremely grateful that my work is in tact and embrace the wonderful lessons learned from a crashed hard drive.

Journey well!

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.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

I am a runner....

A friend of mine, recovering from an injury, posted on Facebook that she is a runner again. I pointed out to her that she was always a runner. For a period of time she was not able to run.

When we runners experience an injury and when we don't know if we will be able to make another running comeback, it's easy to say that we are not a runner. Truth is, once you become a runner, you are a runner for life. The soul lessons learned, the transformation that happens through running, and being a part of the running community remain.



Since December, I've been working my way back to running. I learned so many lessons from my knee injury. I realized that I needed to add in strength training to my training plan. Last week I got curious about how doing the recumbent bike as cross training was affecting my knee and realized that, contrary to popular belief, using a recumbent bike is not good for my knee.

At Monday's appointment with Dr. Ryan, I told him how running is in my blood. He gave me tips on what to do before and after a run to manage any swelling and to add in using theraband stability trainers to strengthen my core and help with balance and agility.



I decided to go in for a taping yesterday to support me for today's run.



As soon as Dr. Ryan finished the taping, I could feel the healing happening on my entire leg especially on the site where I had the incision for the reconstructive leg surgery over 20 years ago followed by hardware removal and arthroscopic surgeries.

A sense of ease and playfulness carried me through today's 2+ mile run at the BU Fit Rec Center track. It was snowing and slippery outside and even though I wanted to run outside on Heartbreak Hill, I knew I couldn't risk slipping and falling after all the hard work I did and am doing to get back out on the roads.

The BU Fit Rec Center was our go to place to get in miles when we trained for the 2009 Boston Marathon when it was too cold or snowing outside.

I warmed up with a plank and the clam as Dr. Ryan recommended and then a cough to engage core and obliques before the run. It was great to wear shorts and I must say that I enjoyed the stares my taped leg received from others running the track.

I put on my new playlist which includes Carole King. I didn't time the run but Tom assured me that I was doing around a 16 minute/mile pace.

There were a few young girls power walking in front of us. I started to speed up and Tom asked me, "Hey girl ... where are you going?" I felt so good in my body; I felt so light on my feet and felt a bounce in my step that I just had to overtake them.

Tom totally understood and together we sped up and passed them.

Running and racing is in my blood. I thought about not racing anymore and focusing on learning how to ride a bike and doing other activities but that is simply not going to work for me. I did try the elliptical and upright bike at the gym but Aquatics and strength training are going to be my cross training activities.

I am easing back into running and will not do a distance longer than 5 miles. I will not push myself for time and PR's but work with my body to find my pace. I feel that everything is in place for me to celebrate my race-iversary on June 7 at the Corrib Pub 5K in style because....I am a runner!

“The distance runner is mysteriously reconciling the separations of body and mind, of pain and pleasure, of the conscious and the unconscious. He is repairing the rent, and healing the wound in his divided self. He has found a way to make the ordinary extraordinary; the commonplace unique; the everyday eternal.”
~George Sheehan, MD



Journey well!

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.





Thursday, March 19, 2015

#tbt, The 3 R's and an Announcement

My first race was the Corrib Pub 5K on June 8, 2008



It was the most incredible experience of my life. I hadn't yet been running for 40 continuous minutes so I had to stop and walk for awhile but I finished and I'm not even going to bother to look up my time this year. I finished and felt a sense of accomplishment like nothing I had ever felt before. There would be many many more moments of exhilaration after crossing a finish line.



Last year, I was blessed to celebrate my race-i-versary with my husband Tom and two very dear friends, Julie and Margo Feeney.



From "Journey Well":

As promised, Julie, Margo and Tom let me set the pace. I felt good in my body and wasn't concerned in the least about my finishing time. We all wanted to enjoy each other's company and the day. I love how Margo said, “When you go at a slower pace, you really get to enjoy the race.” We talked about their Boston Marathon run, books, songs, and movies and drank in the neighborhood feel to the race. There were no mile markers. I didn't have my NikePlus on. I listened to my body. I stopped for water and made sure I kept myself well hydrated and cool. The sprinklers were out in full force.

We reminisced about when I first ran the Corrib Pub as I shared in my blog from June 1, 2008:

As we ran through the streets of West Roxbury, my wonderful life and running partner Tom shouted - first road race ever. She's a polio survivor! People cheered and I ran through the hoses that people sprayed the runners with, with a sense of play and freedom although each step was a challenge for me especially with the last long hill. I hadn't run for 40 continuous minutes yet in my training program. I had only been running outside since late April. But it didn't matter. I was on the road to the Boston Marathon and this was my first time being cheered rather than jeered as I ran.
***
I feel blessed to have traveled 3.1 miles today stride by stride with beautiful friends and my life and running partner Tom. Without mile markers and splits, I went within to run a mindful race. While I am delighted with my time, the only time that truly matters is the time well spent with loved ones on a beautiful summer's day running through neighborhoods and feeling a part of something much bigger than myself.




Last December my knee let me know that I needed to tweak (okay so sometimes I have a knack for understatement) my training plan. Not being able to walk for two days with a swollen knee told me that I needed to make some changes. I went through an MRI and started out with the Western medical model which I needed at the time. I quickly moved away from it because I found that I was reacting to the messages of fear and "Don't over do it.... Use a cane ..." which are all very well meaning. While I cannot throw caution to the wind and do need to be mindful, I can't not do what I love and what is now in my blood, my heart and my soul which is running and being a part of races.



I can't set arbitrary rules; I have to work with and listen to my body believing in my body's resiliency, recovery and how being a part of a race is so good for my mind and soul that it facilitates my body's healing. I've had long talks with Bill Rodgers about how running helps nourish and heal the neuromuscular system and how it enables us to enjoy and embrace life while enabling us to better manage whatever life throws our way.

I am already up to 2 miles and discovered that biking is aggravating my knee. While that is counterintuitive to what most people say and what people recommend for cross training, it seems to be true for my body. I am having a wonderful response to the taping and the work I am doing with Dr. Ryan

In my treatments with Joseph at Sollievo Massage and Bodywork, I will embrace myself as a runner once more partnering with him to heal not only my knee but continue the healing of all this physical form has gone through and using imagery and training to return to top form. I'll reset my belief system to move from injury to resiliency, recovery and experience the joy of anticipating being a part of a race once more.

I am already in better shape than I was a year ago. As a result of the injury I am doing strength training which had not been a part of my training plan.

And so...rather than handing down the decree of one race this year, I am going to run the 22nd Annual Corrib Pub 5K and celebrate my race-i-versary in style. I won't do Tufts and I certainly won't do two races in one month or 9 races over a 9 month period and will not be focusing on PR's. I will do the Ogunquit Beach Lobster Dash in September and then see what else may come along. With a focus on resiliency and recovery, partnering with two amazing holistic healers, I will be running races...do not put this old gray mare out to pasture just yet!




Journey well!

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.