Saturday, October 31, 2015

On Letting Go, Grounding and Healing

We have been managing a very challenging life situation in our family. There often comes a time in life when all you can do is let go and let God. Sometimes a lot easier said than done...but the healing cadence of Dr. Seuss has been with me ever since I was 5 years old. It helped me manage the painful physical therapy treatments after contracting paralytic polio and became a powerful healing tool after being diagnosed with post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. I haven't felt the need to write poetry in the past few months. I've been so busy creating and writing and working for and with Jeffrey Spratt,MT, Owner and Principal of Spratt Muscular Therapies that my mind, body and soul have been infused with healing.

The other evening after several weeks of trying to figure out what we needed to do, I once again got still and this poem flowed out of me and I posted it on Facebook:

She puzzled and puzzled and puzzled some more ...
she puzzled and puzzled til her puzzler was sore ...
And then this sticky quandry became crystal clear
no worries shall you have for Spirit is right here.
Just open your heart and quiet your mind...
all is revealed the answer you'll find.
Let faith, trust and peace and confidence reign
no need to suffer and feel all of that pain.
Let go and let God all troubles fade away
put down all of your burdens go smile and play.
My Love surrounds you cast your fears and worries on me
feel blessed and grateful that I am right here with Thee.
So go spread the word - let peace come to all
whatever the challenge I'll always answer the call.
Feel the waves of the ocean my breath on the breeze
the Universe weaving its magic feel light deep breaths be at ease.

along with this photo:

I received an outpouring of gratitude from friends who said this was exactly what they needed to hear.

I had an amazing day representing Spratt Muscular Therapies at Second Wave, WaveHealth's Club at John Hancock on Congress Street on Thursday. I shared our YouTube video about the ShakeOut which intrigued the attendees:

What a joy to experience passion and purpose in my work again!

In Thursday's treatment with Jeffrey, I brought him up to date on what was happening in my life. We had cleared out so much of my trauma from my body that I was able to welcome and relish and experience the power of positive touch without any triggers. I drank in his nourishing touch and allowed my body to experience the runner's flush as I continue to move forward on the road to the Bermuda Half Marathon.

It was thrilling to experience a sore calf muscle on my left leg. We celebrated together and I "observed" how he was working to release and bring relief to the sore calf muscle.

"I feel as though I am a beautiful instrument and you are helping to get me in tune."

"I've often used that analogy," Jeffrey replied.

"If you are a novice (said while randomly "playing his fingers" on my back) you can't get it to do what you want. But if you are a master you can get it to sing."

I felt as though Jeffrey was helping me to get into harmony with the Divine and tune into the Universe to help me navigate these turbulent waters.

When I flipped over as Jeffrey likes to call it after he finished working with me face down, Jeffrey continued to do a runner's flush. "That's one of my favorite stretches," I commented and he held the stretch a bit longer than he had in previous treatments. He was also doing a lot of energy work. As he worked on my feet I commented, "Yes, please help me get grounded."

He held trigger points for what seemed like forever. I felt him at my head. "That's really weird," I said. "What? That you still feel as though I am holding your feet?" "Uh huh," I said rather amazed that he knew what I was going to say. "I fired up your grounding chakras for you."

While he worked on my cranium I let the tension release and felt my headache melt away. "Could you do a little jaw work?" I tentatively asked. "Absolutely," he said. It was so new for me to ask for what I needed in the treatment. I think I made a request only once before in the six months we have worked together. What a powerful healing moment to have my request responded to with such a heartfelt affirmation that yes I do deserve to be cared for.

While holding my head, he had me take a big breath and then let it all go. I sure did let it all go as tears and sobs poured out of me. "You've had a tough week kid. You don't have to be stoic." He gently worked on my face and jaw and I allowed more tension to melt away.

Jeffrey often says that one of the benefits of massage is that it give us a time out for our Spirit to discern the next steps on our journey.

I realized that my next step is to let go, feel grounded and strong and to allow the healing to continue to happen regardless of what may be happening around me.

After the treatment I felt ready to go out into the world and begin again...and get ready for my 9 mile training run as the road to the Bermuda Half Marathon rises before us.

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Power of a Hashtag #Give2Veterans

I know first hand that while the VA can provide many wonderful services to help veterans heal, it takes a village to help the heroes and their families heal on the home front. The veteran family is blessed to have the love, support and care of the Bob Woodruff Foundation. For those of you unfamiliar with how the Bob Woodruff Foundation came into existence:
While reporting on U.S. and Iraqi security forces for ABC’s “World News Tonight,” on Jan. 29, 2006, Bob was seriously injured by a roadside bomb that struck his vehicle near Taji, Iraq. In a miraculous recovery, just 13 months later, Bob returned to ABC News with “To Iraq and Back: Bob Woodruff Reports.” Since then, he has reported from around the globe on a variety of subjects for the network. He was honored with a Peabody Award for his reporting on traumatic brain injury.

Bob and his wife Lee Woodruff knew that they had to do something to help those who served to protect and defend our freedom. Their mission:
Since September 11, 2001, 2.8 million troops have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, they’re coming home.

Yet even after they return to the love and support of their families and communities, many will struggle. Physical and hidden injuries are challenging on their own. But sometimes, these injuries can lead to a cascade of other trouble — unemployment, depression, substance abuse, even suicide. Our mission is to ensure injured veterans and their families are thriving long after they return home. That’s why we find and fund innovative programs in communities where veterans, their families and caregivers live and work. That’s how we tackle the problems that can prevent our veterans from fulfilling their dreams for the next chapter of their lives.

As we get ready to celebrate Veterans Day - which I believe should be every day - there is a way for you to help veterans and their families and it's simple and easy as Lee Woodruff explains in her blog post, "The Power of a Hashtag":

“How can we help a veteran?”

We get asked that question all the time. Now I have an answer that allows you to give without opening your wallet.

If you post #Give2veterans on social media, share it or retweet it, our foundation will earn $1.00 for EACH post, thanks to Love the GIVE.

Retweeting someone with that hashtag or sharing on facebook or instagram ALL COUNT as $1.00.

That’s easy. And it all adds up to help us do some good for the injured veteran community and their families through the Bob Woodruff Foundation.

You can cut and paste this post right now and ask your friends to share….

“Do something to help those who served for Veteran’s Day #Give2veterans with @Stand4Heroes — and pass this on!”

Thanks for making a difference on Veterans Day.

As added incentive, Spratt Muscular Therapies, LLC will give you an extra 15 minutes on your treatment of 30 minutes or longer from now through December when you post, repost, tweet, retweet, post on Instagram the #Give2Veterans. After you post, give me a call at 617-678-1426 and we will reserve your time. Let's do this!

Let's #Give2Veterans and make a difference in the lives of those who served to protect and defend our freedom.

Thank you!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

I couldn't have imagined...wait a minute yes I did!

As I was preparing to leave the VA in late winter, early Spring of 2007, I wrote out a 30 day journal on yellow legal lined paper imagining what my life would be like after I left the VA. Every morning I wrote out a day in my life...It involved working out at a health club, meeting with people to promote my greeting card business in luxurious surroundings and feeling vibrant, healthy, whole and ridiculously alive. It was a life that was in stark contrast to my work as a VA social worker. Now please know that I take incredible pride in the work I did at the VA serving those who served. For almost 20 years I was a fierce advocate for my veterans and their families. I helped veteran's family members say goodbye in the ICU. I helped homeless veterans, veterans caught in the clutches of trauma and addiction, former POW's and blinded veterans.

But I knew that in order to heal myself from my own wounds from the war of my childhood, I needed to imagine a drastic change in my life and in my lifestyle.

Initially I was still in a leg brace, using a wheelchair at times for mobility.

I set aside the dream of working and growing my business as I trained for and ran the 2009 Boston Marathon.

It's been an amazing journey filled with ups and downs and everything in between.

I wrote poetry about how would I reclaim my life and about running unencumbered and free.

Nine years - nine years since I was diagnosed with post polio syndrome in December of 2006 and was told it was a progressive neuromuscular disease and prepare to live the rest of my life in a wheelchair possibly needing a feeding tube and a sleep apnea machine at night.

I made up my mind that would not be my path.

I imagined. I dreamed of a better life.

Nine years and it is all coming into physical manifestation.

While I am not building my own business, I am a critical part of the team at Spratt Muscular Therapies, LLC as Communications and Public Relations Director and Executive Assistant to Jeffrey Spratt,MT, Owner and Principal.

There is growth and expansion and so much excitement! We are going to be able to change the way trauma is healed!

This is the scene that greets me when I walk into the lobby of the Seaport Boston Hotel where Spratt Muscular Therapies, LLC is located on the Plaza Level inside WaveHealth:

I cross train in the pool at WaveHealth:

I went from this at my retirement party at the VA in May of 2007 and this photo in December 2007:

To this in 2015:

From a leg brace and a wheelchair and a prognosis of a progressive neuromuscular disease to now training for the Bermuda Half Marathon in January? From working at the VA Outpatient Clinic in Boston to the Seaport Boston Hotel? From chronic fatigue and pain to feeling unencumbered and free? And to coming full circle and being able to help and support veterans in a new way partnering with Jeffrey and Spratt Muscular Therapies?

I couldn't have imagined ... oh wait a minute - yes I did.

With deepest gratitude to my bestie Tom for traveling this amazing journey with me and to Jeffrey for helping me to reclaim my advantage and reclaim my life taking it back from those who tried to rob me of everything I deserve!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Cape Cod Runcation - 7 Sweet Miles in Falmouth - Part 3

What a luxury to sleep in until 7:30 although we heard the rustling of runners in the hallways and outside our window. We had a leisurely breakfast at one of our favorite places in Falmouth, Mary Ellen's Portugese Bakery across from the Falmouth Inn. I usually fuel on oatmeal, banana, whole wheat toast and juice but since we were on runcation I opted to see how it would be to fuel on scrambled eggs and toast for a long run.

We donned our fuel belts and had no route planned. We decided to let Spirit lead. I was amazed at how well I felt despite the incredibly busy day we had on Saturday. The weather was overcast but warm. A pleasant surprise for a late October day on Cape Cod. We decided that we were not going to allow the hills along the coastline to deter us from the opportunity to have a run with a spectacular view. As I said to Tom, "While hills can be extremely challenging and sometimes it seems that the uphill is never going to end, just look at the spectacular view we get from the hill."

Yup that is me running the hills in Falmouth for a total of 7 sweet miles!

Who would have thought that Team McManus would be back on the roads training for the Bermuda Half Marathon but here we are.

I kept breathing deeply allowing the salty air fill my body and my Being. I drank in the views and listened to the sounds of the sea. We took it slow and steady and imagined how we are going to be feeling in Bermuda.

It's amazing to just run and not have any route planned but allowing Spirit to lead the way.

We wound through neighborhoods and along the Coast enjoying the sights, sounds and scents of old Cape Cod.

Runcations bring new adventures, surprises and a time to unplug and savor all that life has to offer.

It was a sacred and special time for Team McManus as we enter a new chapter in my healing journey and a new time in our lives running together and thoroughly enjoying life together - unencumbered and free.

I know how incredibly blessed I am that, by partnering with Jeffrey Spratt,MT, Owner and Principal of Spratt Muscular Therapies, I reclaim my advantage and reclaim my life.

What a difference from one year ago when I thought I would never run more than a 5K again ... Here's to many more runcations for Team McManus as we go the distance together.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Cape Cod Runcation - Part 2 - Double Digits

At 5:30 am the alarm went off and it was time for Tom's 2nd half marathon in two weeks. We had our race day cereal and oatmeal breakfast in the hotel lobby and then fueled for the day with juice and whole wheat toast. I am usually a fanatic about arriving early for a race. Before we knew it, it was 7:00am and gun time was at 7:30. We hustled down Main Street and arrived 15 minutes before "cannon" time. Yes only on Old Cape Cod would they start a race with a cannon.

On our way to the race we saw one of our fellow L Street running club members and in unison called out, "Hassan." He is an amazing runner and a great friend of ours.

The energy of race day is always electric. My job as support crew was to take Tom's warm up clothes and put them in the backpack, cheer him on at the start and scream for him at the finish.

We took a pre race selfie:

What a difference from sending Tom off this year! Last year, while I was making progress in my healing journey, it was slow and halting. But this year - I am off the sidelines and training for the Bermuda Half Marathon in just a couple of months!

As I was walking back to the hotel, I realized he didn't have a Luna bar because he opted to not wear a fuel belt. Hmmm what's support crew supposed to do?

Let spirit guide. I rushed into the Expo and got a course map. After dropping things off in the room, I got into my car and headed out to mile 10. I knew that Tom would be fine because he had a great pre race meal the night before and a good breakfast but I was moved to go out and meet him with his fuel.

I saw the mile 11 mile marker and the volunteers told me I was welcome to park in a nearby lot but that spot didn't feel right to me. I drove down to where I thought mile 10 was supposed to be at the Falmouth Yacht Club but there was no mile marker. I was heading back to mile 11 when I saw the mile 10 mile marker. Perfect!

I arrived just in time to see the lead runner pass by. I sat in the car for a little bit and then as the back of the front packers and mid packers started to arrive, I got out and cheered them on.

I was wearing my 2009 Boston Marathon jacket. "Do you have any gel?" a woman runner asked me. "I have a Luna bar," I told her. "Great. I was feeling nauseous and dizzy and didn't think I'd make it to the finish without something." She broke off half off the Luna bar and off she went. As I shouted, double digits only a 5K to go, runners thanked me for being out there. I imagined how Tom and I will feel when we reach 10 miles in Bermuda Hassan came running by and I screamed for him. He smiled.

Tom came running up and said, "Hey what are you doing out here?" I told him I brought him his Luna bar. He felt fine but told me that more than the Luna bar, seeing me at mile 10 gave him an incredible boost. We checked his splits and his last 3 miles were his fastest splits and his last mile was a 9 minute mile.

Spirit guided me to the finish line, a parking space, and made it with time to spare to see Tom come down to the finish. He finished 16th in his division and took 1:05 off of last year's time.

We had heard about Boulangerie on Main St from Marcie DiLorenzo, a dear member of our running family. We refueled on delicious French pastry and hot coffee and headed back to the hotel for pool time.

I could feel the heal and pain moving through me. I was amazed at how energized I felt despite being up since 5:30 am and having a full morning. During my afternoon meditation I heard Spirit ask me, "How does it feel to be healed?" I felt my body integrating the benefits of last Thursday's treatment with Jeffrey Spratt,MT, Owner and Principal of Spratt Muscular Therapies, LLC.

I relish times where I am pain free and those moments happen with greater frequency.

Time to head into down for dinner. We returned to La Cucina Sul Mare where there were wall to wall people, mostly runners. There were marathoners eating with gusto fueling for Sunday's marathon and half marathoners proudly wearing their medals. We just happened to have the same waitress, Patricia, as we had on our first night in Falmouth and she said that we had to promise her we'd come down before next October.

Day 2 of our runcation was a rousing success blessed in every imaginable way.

One more day to go ...

Monday, October 26, 2015

Our Cape Cod Runcation - Part I

It happens every time we drive over the Bourne Bridge. Stress and tension melt away and we know we are transported to our happy place.

So much of what we were experiencing last year at this time had resolved and Tom and I were feeling incredibly grateful for the abundance, peace, happiness and health now manifesting in our lives.

Our first stop was the Expo:

once again presented by Marathon Sports:

After Tom picked up his bib and bag, we went to see our friends at Janji. Please take a few moments and check out their website. Their motto is Run For Another. It's a tradition that we buy something "Janji" whenever we see them at an Expo to support the incredible work they are doing. I opted for a new hat this year.

Do you have any idea how amazing it was to share with Mike, creator of Janji that I am back on the roads and up to 9 miles training for the Bermuda Half Marathon? Mike knows my journey and he was overjoyed to share in my return to the roads. I told him I was back to work and, as a runner, he was quite excited about the work we are doing at Spratt Muscular Therapies, LLC.

While we were talking our dear friend, Colin Peddie, Owner of Marathon Sports came over to say hello. We have been part of the Marathon Sports family since 2008 and Colin agrees that we are all running family. I told him that I am working now and back on the roads training for the Bermuda Half. It was one of those magical conversations that you just know was orchestrated by the Divine. I am so excited to see where that moment leads both of us in our passion for what we do!

It was time for pre race/pre support crew fueling and we went back to La Cucina Sul Mare.

Tom and I indulged in savoring these two dishes which we couldn't finish because of the portion sizes:

We had impeccable service and even got to meet the co owner Mark on our way out. He is literally chief cook and bottle washer as our waitress Patricia explained to us.

We decided to unwind with a West Wing episode and chose, "Noel" which I wrote about in my recent post, "Compassionate Presence."

A perfect ending to the day and was a great way to unwind in anticipation of race day....

To be continued....

Friday, October 23, 2015

A Taste of Honey & Let It Go

Triggers abounded this past week and I could feel how everything was congealed in my body. Jeffrey Spratt,MT, Owner and Principal of Spratt Muscular Therapies,LLC loves the metaphor of fat rising to the top of gravy and congealing there when you put it in the fridge, but when you heat it up, it melts. I was tight and sore. Oh sure there's half marathon training and asking my body to now "work" as Communications and PR Director, Executive Assistant and chief cook and bottle washer for Spratt Muscular Therapies as we expand and grow but this was more. The past was bearing down on me and I was bearing down on the pain from the past until...

The healing began before my treatment with Jeffrey. I was working in the reception area before my treatment. Tanya Nelson has been an angel and agent of healing before we really knew each other. I didn't even know her name when I wrote this blog post about cross training in the pool at WaveHealth. She brought over a jar of honey, a straw and a hand cream in a little pot. As she peeled off the paper from the straw, she opened the jar of honey, dipped in the straw while she told me that the Seaport Hotel produces its own honey from its rooftop beehive. She had just taken a tour and wanted to share a taste of honey with me. Tanya had no way of knowing that I have "texture" issues when it comes to tasting and experiencing different foods. I took a taste. It was warm and sweet and delicious. She provided me with a very powerful healing moment. She then offered me some of the honey cream. I paused..."I can't do anything with fragrance," I told her. "No it doesn't have any. See? Here smell." I rubbed it into my hands and it was wonderful. We talked about how awesome that will be during the winter. We both tend to get dermatitis and cracked knuckles.

Jeffrey led me into the treatment room after giving me his signature hug. I told him about my week but also how good it felt to be tired from working and creating something so amazing.

He worked deep and I could feel how the Spratt Method works to get at the blockages and clear the flow of energy. I felt sadness for all that this physical body had been through. I was quiet and Jeffrey worked with and in the silence. I chatted here and there but for the most part allowed the work to work. I allowed memories to surface so I could finally let them go and heal my physical body from the ravages of polio and trauma. I could feel the heal while I felt the hurt.

How many times has Jeffrey moved back the sheet to uncover my leg before working on it in the past 6 months? As many times as I've had a treatment with him...I had a powerful flashback and I let it surface while reminding myself that I am safe and in Jeffrey's presence. No words were spoken. Through the power of Jeffrey's positive touch, his intention to help me heal and save and reclaim my life, his strength and tender loving care I could bear what I thought I never could bear.

I let myself feel all of the terror and pain of an 8 year old being violated not knowing if I would live or die.

Jeffrey covered my leg and uncovered my feet. He placed his hands on both of my ankles and then with my legs covered, my entire body and Being supported by the heated table, he methodically worked his way up both of my legs to my hips and pelvic bones. I smiled. How amazing to feel the terror leave and a sense of power surge through me.

Jeffrey moved to my head and the top of my cervical spine. He tenderly connected with my face and moved my hair for craniosacral therapy. There is one spot that he has worked on every week for the past several weeks. This week he went deeper and we hit pay dirt unearthing both the traumatic memories and the treasure of my Being.

He gently put my head down on the table as I sobbed from the depths of my soul and spoke words that needed to be spoken; no longer would I or could I be silenced. Jeffrey reminded me over and over again that he's right there for me and his words and touch were and are no match for the violence that I was subjected to. Love.always.wins. Every.damn.time.

After the treatment, I thanked Jeffrey and as he hugged me, he reminded me that no longer do I have to bear any of this alone.

The awareness of no longer being alone, of being able to heal the physical and emotional pain from the past is settling into my cells creating change in thoughts, behaviors and my physical body. We talked about how I can experience the powerful effectiveness of the Spratt Method and I commented to him that he is brilliant in what he has created. Because he is not blindly or sheepishly following in the path of anyone else's methodology, he has at his fingertips access to healing that is second to none. His manual methodology combined with his compassionate and tender heart unearths what needs to be released while healing it all at the same time.

"As we unearth what's been buried, it can now heal and you can let it go," Jeffrey said as he gestured releasing it all into the Universe.

As Jeffrey led me out of the treatment room, there behind the front desk is Tanya singing Let It Go.

I smiled through the residue of tears.
Jeffrey and I both felt the Universe smiling upon us and affirming the work we are doing.

Yes Let It Go and let all be healed. And so it is!

p.s. And then this appeared in my FB stream just moments ago:

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Feel the Heal: The Healing Power of Poetry and Positive Touch

On 11/3, I am blessed and honored to be a guest on Bernie Siegel,MD's radio show, Mind Health Matters.

I've been a guest on his show before but this time is going to be incredibly special for me.

Bernie as he likes to be called has been my chosen dad (or CD), a teacher, a guide and a labor coach through many of my healings and rebirthings. After being diagnosed with post polio syndrome in December of 2006 - my goodness has it really been 9 years - I returned to the wisdom of his teachings to help me get on my healing path. I joined his Forum, re-read his books and reached out to him as I had during many previous health crises. We laugh together when I say I'm a slow learner.

Bernie believes in the healing power of poetry; of any creative endeavor. Writing poetry bypasses the conscious mind and gets to the heart and soul of the matter. The first poem I wrote in February of 2007 was called, "Running the Race," a foreshadowing of my 2009 Boston Marathon run although I had never run a day in my life. Bernie often quotes Carl Jung, "The unconscious prepares the way for the future."

Running the Race
Early summer 1959 my kindergarten year
Everyone around me filled with nervous fear
Despite the Salk vaccine hope polio would disappear
The polio virus crept right up and knocked me in the rear.
Dancing all around the gym feeling free just like a bird
I dropped to the ground just like a stone
and no one said a word.
The pain it was so searing-the diagnosis even worse
"It's polio" the doctor said...he was abrupt and terse.
Called one of the 'lucky ones' I had a 'mild case'
But with the other athletes I could never keep their pace.
Miss Holly physical therapist,
curly hair and a warm, broad smile
It tempered the pain of being apart - to walk I'd take awhile.
I always wore those 'special' shoes
the kids they poked and teased
With no support and much abuse
with childhood I wasn't pleased.
But put nose to the grindstone and learned all that I could
I couldn't kick a ball but my grades were always good.
Years went by and no more thought to polio did I give
I accepted the limp and everything else
and decided my life I would live.
But symptoms of weakness and muscle pain did grow
I kept a stoic face hoping no one else would know.
Life no longer was my own I struggled through each day
Suffered in silence, isolated from friends-
trying to keep depression at bay.
And with the grace of glorious God my world it opened wide
I discovered there was a Post Polio team
and they were on my side.
Using wheelchair to travel, set limits on what I could do,
Resulted in joy to realize I could live life anew.
Celebrated my body- creaks, groans and need for a brace
While in my mind I focused on winning a 10K race.
Sought out paths for healing and my spirit flew free
For the first time in life, I could truly be me.
The chains are gone and possibilities abound
I'm a tree with my roots planted firmly in ground.
I'm now off the sidelines, no need to sit and whine
So much gratitude fills my heart and love and beauty shine.
After all these years I can join the loving human race
I exceed all expectations and now I set the pace.

Poetry poured out of me at warped speed and I imagined myself healthy, whole and free.

I sought out many paths for healing but could not get traction to move beyond a certain point in my journey. I would get stuck because I had not yet found the right person with whom to partner to heal everything that went before. Yet, through my poetry I was putting out the call to find someone who could help me reclaim my life and help me to run unencumbered and free.

How amazing that the tag line for Jeffrey Spratt,MT, Owner and Principal of Spratt Muscular Therapies, LLC is Reclaim Advantage. Reclaim Life. After my first treatment with him he said to me, "I want you to run unencumbered."

Yes my friends, there is healing power in words and creative expression. There is healing in the power of positive touch.

The two have come together now in my life and my healing is manifesting in my physical body.

November 3rd at noon EST is going to be a time for me to reconnect with a dear friend, a physician, a healer in every sense of the word to bring healing and hope to others about what is possible when we bypass our analytical minds and get to the heart and soul of the matter. It's going to be a beautiful and sacred conversation where you are invited to feel the heal.

Listen live via this link

Call in number (800) 555-5453 or (310) 371-5444

And yes there will be a podcast available if you are unable to join us for the live show.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Compassionate Presence

"As we ignore our painful feelings or push them away, they impede our flowing aliveness and obscure the pure awareness that is our source. By not listening to our inner life, we cut ourselves off from reality. What remains is a diminished self, an unreal other.

But when we confide in someone and they listen to us, really listen, the debris naturally begins to dissolve, and the fountain of aliveness is again free to flow. And when we listen, really listen, to another, we help them come home to this same aliveness."
~ True Refuge - Tara Brach

During my ShakeOut massage today, Jeffrey Spratt,MT, Owner and Principal of Spratt Muscular Therapies, LLC and I were talking about the power of the work we are doing together; the power of positive touch combined with compassionate presence.

I shared with him how traumatic memories are coming to the surface now and I can experience them in my body. I can feel Jeffrey's compassionate presence even when I am not in a treatment session, grieve for what happened to me bathing myself in the compassion he exudes when painful memories and emotions surface during a treatment.

"When you sat by me next to my head and massaged my arm and my face telling me to shhh; to let it all go and that I am safe now, I felt as though you were my buddy on the battlefield and that I'd been wounded and you were bringing me know like the honor code of leaving no soldier behind."

"I wanted you to know that I'm here for you and you don't have to suffer alone."

He went on to tell me about one of his (and coincidentally my) favorite scenes from the West Wing:

We talked about how, with his compassionate presence, we can go layer by layer to clean out the past so I can bring it all into awareness, allow it to heal and FINALLY let it go.

By the way, there's another episode where Leo is in trouble and there are Congressional hearings trying to out him about his history of alcohol and drug abuse. Leo asks Josh why he is working so hard to help him and Josh says, "You see there was this guy down a hole."

When I worked at the VA as a social worker, my vets used to tell me about how my voice was so filled with love and compassion and it gave them hope. Many of my vets were suicidal and they told me that because of me, they couldn't go through with ending their life. I stay in touch with several of them today.

I had to leave the VA so I could heal my life.

I am incredibly blessed and deeply grateful to Jeffrey for jumping into the hole with me and yes we both know the way out now. We are going to be lighting the way out for many trapped in the grips of the dark hole of trauma with the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy.

With the power of positive touch I am indeed reclaiming my advantage and reclaiming my life. My mind, body and soul are healing and while at times it is an excruciatingly painful process, the pain is tempered by the power of Love and care and compassionate presence.

Monday, October 19, 2015

What's in a ShakeOut?

I experienced my first ShakeOut massage, an innovative treatment developed by Jeffrey Spratt,MT, Owner and Principal of Spratt Muscular Therapies after running 7.5 miles back in August. After 25 minutes on the table, fully clothed, I felt refreshed, energized and as though I had not run 7.5 miles.

Since then, I have had my longest run of 9 miles, continue to cross train and maintain a rigorous training plan and am working full time. A lot of my work requires standing and chatting with people about my journey, about Spratt Muscular Therapies and listening to their stories.

"Get on the table and get warmed up," Jeffrey said to me before running the Comfort Zone Camp Grief Relief 5K on Saturday.

After 10 minutes on the table, I felt loose and ready to run the 5K.

The day was cool but the sun was shining. There was a stiff headwind at times and the course was filled with gradual uphill grades that seemed to go on forever. I had no expectations for time but since we were not doing a long run this weekend, I wanted to open it up and see what I could do.

Usually all of my effort goes into running when I am running at race pace and I can't fully appreciate what is happening around me. Saturday's race, which wasn't really a race since there were no bibs and no timing mats, was a very different race for me. I was able to take in everything that was happening around me, chatting with others out on the course and feeling connected to something so much bigger and more magnificent than myself.

I ran swift. I ran hard and yet I ran with ease and comfort. Oh sure I felt discomfort in my body especially my right knee and IT band. Jeffrey and I are working on his presentation for the John Hancock Employees Boston Marathon Team, Preparing for Your Marathon: Tips to get to the finish line healthy and happy. I am learning a lot in the process of preparing the presentation such as really tuning into my body and knowing that I can go into the 7-8 pain zone for short periods of time but if I stay there too long, I am tempting fate and can get injured. I was mindful of how I was feeling and felt like a jockey riding a horse intuitively knowing when to push and when to ease up on the reins.

Jeffrey has a wonderful gauge for talking about experiencing discomfort while running. You feel pain and discomfort but it's the kind of pain that something good is happening; that muscle growth and fitness are on the increase. That is exactly what I was feeling and having that framework to work with boosted my confidence.

When we crossed the finish line my pace improved from the Harvard Pilgrim 5K in July and was just seconds shy of the PR I ran at the Bill Rodgers 5K Run/Walk to Benefit Prostate Cancer last August.

After the run Jeffrey had me get on the table again for another 10 minute ShakeOut.

I could feel my body begin to recover.

As walkers and runners lined up outside of Jeffrey's tent to experience a ShakeOut, I was amazed to hear their comments, "Oh my God, he's brilliant." "I've seen him at the office at the Seaport. You have to go and treat yourself." "I never had a massage before. He is amazing though. I have to go get an appointment with him." "I'm planning to run Boston so I'm going to have to get into see him on a regular basis."

Here are photos of Jeffrey working his magic on Saturday:

While we were out on the run, Tom told me that he wanted to do couples ShakeOuts instead of him having a 60 minute treatment with Jeffrey. I told him that I have a ShakeOut scheduled for Tuesday and he "needed" his time on the table. He reminded me that Jeffrey accomplishes more in 25 minutes than most therapists accomplish in an hour and he wants to make sure that with all of the added stress I am putting on myself that I have the support I need to stay healthy and strong.

Jeffrey worked to restore balance and free up the congestion that accumulated during the past week with increased mileage and increased work load; all good stress but stress none the less.

He worked deep into my IT band on both legs and to release my body's natural ability to heal after all I'd been asking my body to do.

I know that because I am working with Jeffrey, my body can now rebuild, regenerate and heal all that went before while nourishing my mind, body and soul as I take on new and exciting challenges and adventures. What's in a ShakeOut? The opportunity for me to go the distance on and off the roads and reclaiming my advantage and reclaiming my life happy, healthy, whole, vibrant and strong!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Comfort Zone Camp Grief Relief 5K - So much more than a race report!

There were no bibs, no starting line with a clock and timing mat and no finisher's mat. There were no medals and this certainly wasn't a USATF certified course. There was so much more at the Comfort Zone Camp Grief Relief 5K that started and finished at the McGlynn Elementary School in Medford and looped through a magnificent albeit very hilly course along the Mystic River.

Flash back to my first conversation with Sue aka ComfortZone Sue on Facebook that I wrote about in my September 11th blog (the synchronicity of my life is never lost on me).

It was a conversation overflowing with Goosebumps and God.

Yesterday began with gray skies and raindrops falling. It was cold but nothing could or would deter the spirits of those setting up and gathering for this event.

Within an hour, the skies cleared and radiant sunshine showered upon us.

Tom and I set up the tent for Jeffrey Spratt, Owner and Principal of Spratt Muscular Therapies, LLC with our new banner that coincidentally was not supposed to arrive until next week but came via UPS just in time for the event.

Jeffrey has been participating on Comfort Zone Camp events for the past 5 years and yesterday it became quite obvious to me why he supports this cause.

The love, energy and passion was palpable throughout the day as campers, campers who became Buddy volunteers and volunteers gathered to live the Camp's motto of Grieve...Heal....Grow.

It was amazing to meet Sue and then Chris (who got Jeffrey involved through their work in CISM) and to watch the day transform from gray and cold to sunny and warm. The weather paralleled the process of what we experience when we grieve. As long as love is present we can weather anything that life throws our way.

There were welcoming remarks from Sue, an executive from Comfort Zone Camp who traveled from Richmond to attend the event and the Mayor of Medford:

the singing of the National Anthem:

And then we were sent off to the starting area with walkers on one side and runners on the other:

We chose to join the runners!

What a spectacular Autumn day in New England! As we left the start there were signs of remembrance that lined the fence to our left. I felt a lump rise in my throat as I felt the grief of the 17 year old within me but also the awe and wonder of Comfort Zone Camp that makes the journey of grief so much easier for children ages 7-17 years old. We even met one woman during the course of the day who went to CZC as a young adult and went on to become a Buddy.

My pace was swift and my run was strong despite the uphill grade in the course. There were love signs posted all along the course with mile markers made with magic markers on white poster board. We had the opportunity to chat with a few runners along the way but truly no words were needed. Everyone there was connected through Comfort Zone Camp's mission, passion and purpose.

Tom stopped to take this photo:

It was one of my strongest and swiftest runs to date and one in which I could experience the beauty of the day, the magic of the moment, the purpose of being out there because, although I was running hard, my effort did not consume me.

What a joy and a blessing to have Jeffrey there to meet us after we crossed the finish line. He hugged Team McManus and congratulated me on a great run! I looked at my pace and it was a faster pace than my Harvard Pilgrim 5K in July and just a few seconds shy of my PR pace last year at the Bill Rodgers 5K.

I stretched out and Jeffrey had me get on the table for a post run ShakeOut (more about this in tomorrow's blog).

As people came to experience Jeffrey's power of positive touch, I was blessed to meet people involved with Comfort Zone Camp - amazing people who become absolutely radiant when they talk about Camp.

And then this happened.... "Excuse me - you're Mary aren't you?" a woman asked me. "I recognized you from Facebook and because you are wearing your Boston Marathon jacket."

She introduced herself as Elizabeth Birmingham and she was the one responsible for recommending Jeffrey for One Boston Day to do chair massage which is how Jeffrey and I met. I was exuberant to thank Elizabeth for being a part of the synchronicity that brought us together at Old South Church on 4/15/14. She was thrilled to meet me and to know the story.

Jeffrey had posted a sign that all donations for massage would be donated to Comfort Zone Camp.

After the raffle and silent auction winners were announced and people were beginning to say good bye, Jeffrey asked us if we should see how much he made. He likes to make at least $100 at these events. As he took out the wad of cash we guessed if there was $100 there or not. It turned out to be $99.15 so Jeffrey tossed in another dollar to make it an even $100.

Sue was over the moon ecstatic when he gave her the money. "Shut up" was all she could say when he told her there was $100 there.

More hugs and kisses and gratitude expressed as we said our good byes for the day but I know it was only the first of many hellos.

The Comfort Zone Camp Grief Relief 5K raised over $50,000 which will change the lives of many children as they attend Comfort Zone Camp where they will have the opportunity to grieve - to heal and to grow! What a blessing and an honor to be a part of this amazing organization and to meet so many like hearted and kind hearted souls gathered in one space.

While I had a great time on my Nike+ and am so pleased with how I felt mind, body and soul during the 5K - this was so much more than a race report!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Clearing Out, Cleaning Up and Healing

One of the things I love about partnering with Jeffrey Spratt,MT, Owner and Principal of Spratt Muscular Therapies, LLC is that I am on this fantastic journey of being able to intimately observe the effects that paralytic polio and trauma had on my body. With this awareness and through the power of positive touch, I am able to heal all that went before. As we clean out all the gunk, I am free to run and live with clean flowing energy.

I was able to experience how my nerve endings in my upper body have been on fire. Jeffrey's hands were like a cool blanket quelling the fires of reacting to violence and being wired to anticipate violence. As we quell those fires, the neuromuscular connections can grow and emotions and energy can flow smoothly along my neural net.

I am able to experience Jeffrey's touch on a deeper level and he is working more deeply to clean everything out.

I am able to simultaneously experience the violence and now heal.

When once triggers would bring to my knees and leave me feeling depleted, exhausted and defeated for brief periods of time, I leave Jeffrey's massage table feeling stronger and more powerful than before.

While Jeffrey's touch triggers memories and the pain comes to the surface, we are also cleaning out these areas of congestion. I love when Jeffrey uses craniosacral therapy to uncoil what got twisted (pun intended) like we used to uncoil the old fashioned telephone cords on a land line. Tension and anticipation of being hurt yields to anticipation of "yummy" touch and being able to relax and surrender to the power of positive touch.

Each treatment builds on the previous one and I can feel how I am gaining incredible momentum in my healing journey. As Jeffrey massaged my back I could feel the whispers of having been beaten but there is a resounding call to experience the healing; to feel my back as factory new with wounds tended and healed.

The raw emotions and the raw physical pain subside. We continue to clear out and clean up the residue from the past. Toxins are released and my breath becomes fuller and deeper.

It's only going to get better and better as each week I reclaim my advantage and reclaim my life from those who tried to steal it away from me. I tap into my inner fire knowing the possibilities are endless!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Follow your bliss...

During yesterday's morning meditation, Joseph Campbell's quote about Following your bliss came to me. I posted this on Facebook.

The first person to respond to my post was my dear friend and forever chiropractor (even though he is in China at the moment) Ryan J. Means,DC. He said, "Omg have we talked about this quote before?! No joke. I'm getting it tattooed on my arm - tomorrow!"

He posted this photo:

Stacey Chiew, a beloved Facebook friend posted:
Mary McManus, is that a coincidence?. Sometimes we are on the same wavelength. I created a poster for my online store few days ago, guess what? I used the same quote for my product description. Hope it's alright to share my work here."

Of course it's all right! Check out Stacey's beautiful creations via this link and check out what quote she used to describe her latest magnificent creation. "Sometimes you have to go where the tide takes you."

Okay Universe what are you telling me?

Being back at work is both an incredible blessing and a challenge. Creating and building, spreading a message of healing and possibility and blazing a trail in the way that muscular therapy is practiced and trauma is treated takes courage, patience and above all - faith.

I am astounded by the synchronicity, the coincidences and the flow that's happening as Spratt Muscular Therapies grows.

We are hiring new staff. When you don't see the resumes pouring in at first, it's easy to get stressed. But as Stacey's creation reminds us, "Sometimes you have to go where the tide takes us."

A massage therapist we have on our roster for chair massage wasn't interested in a position but suggested we post the openings on Facebook. I had it on my to do list to discuss with Jeffrey about the pros/cons of posting in a group on Facebook.

This morning I received a cover letter and email from a massage therapist that fit Jeffrey's ideal candidate profile. "How did you hear about us?" I asked. "I saw the posting on Facebook," and she proceeded to tell me about her amazing synchronicity in just happening to see the post last night.

As I was walking to the Hotel to get some work done and also to relax before my treatment time with Jeffrey, Spirit nudged me to go into one of the residences that we'd been planning to connect with to deliver our Welcome to the Neighborhood cards offering an additional 15 minutes on a treatment of 30 minutes or longer for residents moving into the area. My hair and make up were not done as they would be if I were going to represent Spratt Muscular Therapies, but the feeling was overwhelming to just go in.

"Hi are you the concierge?" I asked.

"Yes my name is Chay and who are you?"

I introduced myself and told him about our offer.

"You are not going to believe this," he said to me. I was just sitting here after making up the new residents' bags that I wished I had some offer from a business in the neighborhood. I told him the cards said, "Welcome to the Neighborhood." "That's exactly what I was imagining," he said.

I came to the office, grabbed a stack of cards and when I returned there was another concierge at the desk. He talked about needing a massage; that he hadn't had one in a year at our practice. I talked with him about our new website, our offerings and left some of my business cards for staff or residents to call me to reserve their table time.

In "What the bleep do we know...down the rabbit hole," Dr. Joe Dispenza talks about preparing for your day with a creative meditation. And then watch for events that you know were orchestrated by something Divine.

When I went for my social security disability exam now many years ago, I cried to the doctors saying, "You don't think that if I could work I would? I love to work." I just couldn't work as a social worker anymore but I have so many skills, talents and passions that I can now use in my work at Spratt Muscular Therapies.

And one of the reasons I couldn't work was because I had brain fog; a combination of the effects of paralytic polio and trauma.

Jeffrey has been invited to do a power point presentation to the John Hancock employees who are going to run the Boston Marathon. I've been pulling together research; we have been having brainstorming sessions and this morning I pulled all of our notes together into the outline. No brain fog. Total concentration. Jeffrey and I are both passionate about the message of the body's ability to heal when you provide it with the supportive healing environment it needs. And we are both so passionate about the effectiveness of the Spratt Method.

And so we are following our bliss and watching the Universe open doors where once there were only walls.

And this evening, as I was leaving my parking space after an absolutely Divine treatment with Jeffrey, this car seemed to appear out of nowhere:

Opening my heart, following my bliss, feeling blessed and showered with grace and Divine Love.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

And that's the truth! Freedom!

Does anyone remember Lily Tomlin as Edith Ann on Laugh In in the 60's? She played a 5 year old girl in a rocking chair spouting a font of wisdom as she saw the world through her eyes and ending each segment with "And that's the truth." She would then blow a raspberry.

Yesterday my husband received an email from someone wanting to 'chat' about the content in my blog. He skillfully responded to this person saying how he thought my blog was wonderful because I speak truthfully about my experiences. My intention in talking about the body workers with whom I worked in the past and I reference them without names, is so that anyone who reads this who might have had a similar experience will have permission to trust their gut and find a healer that will partner with them and help them to reclaim their advantage and reclaim their life. I know we can't possibly see everyone at Spratt Muscular Therapies and there are so many amazing therapists out there. I know many of my runner friends have found some wonderful massage therapists who partner with them. By the same token, there are therapists who do not have wonderful intentions and skills and knowledge to harness to help people with whatever their body needs.

What freedom to finally be able to speak my truth and to have Jeffrey Spratt,MT, Owner and Principal of Spratt Muscular Therapies,LLC bring compassionate presence to me sharing my truth.

The truth of my past is that I bore witness to some of mankind's most cruel and inhumane acts. Perhaps the most cruel and inhumane act of all was being silenced.

Silence turned into shame, blame, guilt, embarrassment, and eventually dis-ease. And led me to work with people who were not helping me to heal.

Once I began expressing myself through poetry and most recently in treatments with Jeffrey where my body can release what it held for decades, I am becoming healthy and whole, vibrant and vital and free.

I'm still on my journey and I'm going the distance but every day in every way I heal on deeper and deeper levels. In the wake of the pain there is unbridled joy and my beautiful essence shines through. One of my dear friends on Facebook said, "you are more beautiful every day! You are aging backwards!"

And that's because I no longer have to keep silent about what happened to me and I am partnering with a mind/body therapist who is working with me to go the distance.

To anyone who takes issue with my truth telling, all I can say is and that's the truth!

And the truth shall set you free!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

My Running Chronicles: A Treadmill Run

It was chilly, foggy and dark and the falling rain was the accompaniment to my morning meditation. Tom needed a rest day. I knew I needed to get into the office early today. Jeffrey and I were visiting the space at John Hancock where he will be presenting on Injury Prevention to the Employees Boston Marathon Team. I heard Spirit speak to me, "Just do a treadmill run this morning."

What? I asked. Really? Oh my goodness I can't remember the last time I was on the treadmill and I remember how cautious and hesitant I felt to use it. You hear all these stories about how running on the treadmill can mess up your gait and you are prone to injury when you run on the treadmill. But I was confident that a 5K on the treadmill was just what I needed this morning. And besides, I am not CJ Cregg:

I love comparing how I used to feel in my body with how I feel today.

I had so much fun listening to my playlist, singing, moving and dancing and working up a sweat in my shorts and t shirt.

Tom sat and watched and cheered me on keeping an eye on my pace.

I started out nice and easy to get my body warmed up. It was amazing to be able to feel the shift in gears if you will as my body warmed up. Something you can't really experience with such subtlety and awareness when you're out on a run. And then I got to play around with the pace doing fartleks. While I ran from the inside out it was a cool experience to up and down regulate the pace.

I loved feeling the sweat pour off of me and my heart rate increase. I felt joy and freedom.

Now there is nothing like getting outside and going for a run but I must admit, it was terrific to switch things up a bit and get in a great indoor workout.

I'm doing so many things that I never dreamed I would be able to do. Running nine miles again, then cross training; a work out in the pool yesterday and today an intense cardio work out. I felt as though I was glowing feeling strong and confident being able to trust in my body:

Jeffrey Spratt, Owner and Principal of Spratt Muscular Therapies, LLC sets the intention for his clients and all the clients who work with his Team to Reclaim Advantage and Reclaim Life through his life changing muscular therapy technique. Every day in every way I am delighted and amazed with the results! Today a treadmill run and soon the Bermuda Half Marathon. It's all so possible!

Monday, October 12, 2015

My Running Chronicles: What a Difference a Year Makes #ReclaimAdvantage #ReclaimLife

One year I was toeing the starting line for the Tufts 10K:

Subtitle the above picture - fake it til you make it.

I felt lousy going into race day. I remember feeling dizzy and nauseous and wondering how I was ever going to make it through the race never mind hit a PR that I'd been trash talking about in my blog and on Facebook. Although I was working with a massage therapist, there was no sense of him being my partner with me on my journey. I had to work so hard to get what I needed from him. In fact the first time he ever did a little "quad" work was after I PR'ed Tufts. I remember him saying to me as though it were yesterday with this smirk on his face, "Oh you liked the quad work? I thought I would introduce a little of it to you today." That was the first and last time he ever worked on my quads. It is no wonder that I got injured. I wasn't cross training and I was not receiving sports massage therapy.

Trauma does some crazy stuff with wiring the brain. It's sometimes hard to get clarity on what is happening and realizing that I deserved quality massage therapy; that I deserved a warm treatment table and conversation and energy flowing with someone who is fully awake, alive, vibrant and dedicated to helping people reclaim advantage and reclaim life. A massage therapist who believes that he is at your service rather than someone who does what they want to do regardless of how it is impacting the client. A massage therapist with compassionate presence rather than bearing witness to the suffering without doing anything to bring comfort and relief.

My previous therapist was one in a long series of body workers who I went to see on my quest to heal.

I knew I had finally found what I was looking for with Jeffrey Spratt,MT Owner and Principal of Spratt Muscular Therapies, LLC.

One year later I'm running longer and stronger than ever. Unlike Vegas, the work we do on the treatment table doesn't stay on the treatment table. It carries over into my world of work, my relationships and my training.

I was exhausted after the Tufts 10K and felt flat despite having PR'ed and feeling the love and support of my village.

I could not get traction to heal everything that went before until this past April.

So here I am one year later. After the Tufts 10K, I returned to Aquatics Therapy at Spaulding Rehab where I received a lecture about why running is not good for me and that if I were going to run at all I should stick to the 5K distance.

Today I did not run Tufts but instead ran 9 Divine miles on Saturday. I cross trained in the pool at WaveHealth feeling stronger and healthier than I ever have in my life. I smiled as I watched the reflection of the waves on the walls and allowed the sunshine streaming through the skylight and the windows that surround to warm my soul. My smile beamed.

Stephanie, the newest member of my running family who I met at the pool right before Boston's Run to Remember and I celebrated our training runs this weekend. She ran 15 miles - the longest she ever ran and is now flirting with running a marathon. She finished her first tri several weeks ago, has done a Spartan Beast and is now wondering can she go the full 26.2. I suggested she watch my YouTube video about having run the Boston Marathon.

She shared in my unbridled joy in running 9 Divine Miles.

What a difference a year makes.

Here is the photo of me after my 9 miler. Funny it's the same pose as one year ago but I am completely transformed because now I am blessed to be able to #reclaimadvantage and #reclaimlife going the distance on and off of the roads.