Sunday, November 20, 2016

Thanksgiving - There is always something to be thankful for!

Facebook shared a memory of 5 years ago of a blog I wrote for one of my friends in cyberspace. Her blog is Life After 60 - Living Life with Joy.

The blog I wrote seems so appropriate for today when everyone seems to be struggling with what is happening around us. In honor of contributing to Joan Adam's blog, I wrote a poem for Thanksgiving and shared both the challenge of celebrating the holidays and finding a way to accentuate the positive:

Our guest poster today is my dear friend Mary McManus, creator of beautiful poetry and kind thoughts. Mary is always an inspiration. Thank you, Mary!

To keep the giving thanks in Thanksgiving this year, I came to the conclusion that every day is Thanksgiving. Holidays were always a very painful time in my life growing up. Alcoholism cast a long dark shadow over every day. Holidays meant more time being around family dysfunction.

My best friend came from a tightly knit Italian family and she would boast about the family traditions of making all the traditional Italian dishes. I had an us vs. them concept of the holidays. I was miserable while everyone else was joyful being with their beautiful, perfect families. Of course nothing could be further from the truth.

As I got older and had my own family, there was often an ache that there was no extended family with whom to share holidays. Slowly – very slowly – I learned that wanting what I did not have caused me a great deal of suffering. And so I shifted my focus to appreciation. Eventually, my heart healed through the power of forgiveness and a gratitude practice allowing me to experience the joys of the holidays.

This year I have so much to be grateful for. I am feeling healthier than I ever have in my life despite being 58 and ‘having’ the diagnosis of a progressive neurological disease, post polio syndrome. Although my husband and I are empty nesters, our relationship has grown closer together and we have interests we share and interests we pursue as individuals. I am surrounded with beautiful friends.

There have been tragic losses and other family crises which arose in this past year but it all depends on perspective and what we choose to focus on. We tend to build up expectations about what Thanksgiving and the holiday season should be or look like. Instead of having emotions build in anticipation of the ‘big day’, allow yourself to take time every day to have a practice of gratitude and focus on the blessings in your life. November 24th is just another day on the calendar but when you accentuate the positive every day is Thanksgiving.


Make every day a feast of giving thanks

serving up heaping helpings of happiness, health and joy.

Be with the ones you love

—especially yourself

and feel your heart overflow

because there is so much gratitude stuffed inside.

Feast your eyes on the beauty and wonder that surrounds

Feed your heart on kindness and compassion

Forgive and remember love lasts

Laughter heals.

Taste the sweetness that life has to offer

breathe deeply

as the scents of the season

delight the senses.

This year I do have so much to be thankful for! I no longer live under the cloud of the toxic effects from having contracted paralytic polio followed by 9 years of trauma at the hands of family members. I am training for my 2nd CONSECUTIVE Bermuda Half Marathon. Every day in every way I heal on deeper and deeper levels and, at the age of almost 63 years old, am taking my mind, body and Spirit to a new level of health and wellness.

Next March, Tom and I celebrate 40 years of being together, 39 years of marriage.

We have a beautiful village of friends, a warm home and know that together we can make it through whatever life throws our way.

Life isn't perfect; it was never meant to be perfect. There's a lot of heartache and disappointments along side joys and triumphs.

I practice a daily attitude of gratitude focusing on the many many blessings and the grace in my life that lifted me out of the struggles from the past and loosened the ties that kept me bound to habits from the past.

This year I celebrate how far I've come on this, the 10th anniversary of when I was diagnosed with post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease, feeling deeply grateful for the healing in my life. I am so grateful that in just a few months, my latest book, "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance," will be available.

Mary McManus knew challenges since she was five years old beginning with contracting polio followed by enduring nine years of violence at the hands of family members. Those early challenges prepared her for taking on the challenge of the diagnosis of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease in December 2006 when she was at the height of her award winning career as a social worker at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Asking for Divine Guidance as she had throughout her trials and tribulations, she discovered the gift of poetry in her soul. Her first poem, “Running the Race,” foreshadowed her 2009 Boston Marathon run. “Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance,” chronicles Mary’s journey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma, as a runner and a woman who refused to quit. Eight years after being diagnosed with post polio syndrome, she was finally able to get traction on her healing journey - to go the distance, a woman transformed who embodies the power of endurance.

To your health and wellness!


  1. Oh such a beautiful reminder! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving indeed.

    1. Thank you Joan and the very same to you and yours. Much love!