Friday, June 16, 2017

Life Outside the Comfort Zone!

My Facebook news feed is filled with my friends' thrilling summer racing adventures. 70.3's, Lake Placid Ironman, training and fund raising for Fall marathons and my contribution to this fabulous feed is Team McManus' training for my third consecutive Bermuda Half Marathon next January.

As I saw my friends' posts and pondered my own undertaking, I began to wonder why do we do this?

We do this because life begins outside of our comfort zone. We affirm, through our epic undertakings, how life is meant to be lived.

We are all creatures of habit. Getting into a rut is incredibly easy as Dr. Joe Dispenza eloquently explains in this video:

Ten years ago I was in a terrible rut; a result of the conditioning from having contracted paralytic polio at the age of 5 followed by years of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. I was diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease by Western Medicine standards. My body had become what I experienced during a tragic childhood.

What helped me to begin to make a shift in my thinking?

A poem
- yes you read that right ... a poem!
From my memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility":

And then I felt a stirring in my second chakra (only then I didn’t know it was my second chakra – I thought it might have been something I ate). I went over to my laptop in the corner of the living room and I wrote this poem foreshadowing my 2009 Boston Marathon run:

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.

I was off and running in my quest to heal my life from the effects of polio and trauma! Poetry flowed out of me at warped speed as I imagined myself in my poems as healthy, whole, running unencumbered and free!

Although I had never run a day in my life and I was in a leg brace, using a cane and at times a wheelchair for mobility AND was told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair and expect my body to continue to deteriorate, my Spirit awakened and spoke.

In February of 2008 I declared that I, Mary McManus, who had never run a day in her life, was going to run the 2009 Boston Marathon.

Talk about stepping outside of my comfort zone!

As Dr. Joe explains, there is always a pull to go back to the familiar. We are literally wired that way.

I find that the best way to continue to recondition my body to a new mind as Dr. Joe likes to say, is to set goals that take me outside of my comfort zone. By surrounding myself with friends who take on epic adventures I am inspired to stay outside of my comfort zone!

Team McManus has one more 5 miler this Saturday and then we begin to slowly increase our mileage for the Bermuda Half Marathon.

I've never done a threepeat of any endurance race. I was once and done for the 2009 Boston Marathon. I was going to cap my distance at a 10K. I was scared to go the distance again. However, when I met Anthony Raynor, Race Director for the Bermuda Marathon Weekend at the Finish at the 50 Race Expo in July of 2015, he told me that I would be better off running the Half Marathon because the 10K in Bermuda is all hills. He fired up the endurance runner within me and I knew it was time, once again, to step outside of my comfort zone and go for the Half Marathon distance again.

I wasn't going to run a third consecutive Bermuda Half Marathon, but once again R.D. Raynor was an agent of the Universe. He visited us at the Boston Marathon Expo and extended an invitational entry to Team McManus! To sweeten the deal, he let us know that he had negotiated a wonderful rate with the Race Weekend Host Hotel, The Fairmount Southampton Princess.

It is very enticing to forego the training through every kind of weather and to put my body through the rigors of training for a Half Marathon again and head to Bermuda to lounge on the beach and around the pool.

But what would that possibly serve? Life does indeed begin outside the comfort zone. My heart, my mind, my body and my soul all need the challenge of running a third consecutive Bermuda Half Marathon. I'm so blessed and grateful that I have a lot of crazy friends in my village who feel the same way!

To going the distance with strength and courage!

Be sure to visit my website by following this link.

My books are available on Amazon.

Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life

Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing Hope and Possibility that chronicles the first 7 years of my healing journey:

And my latest and greatest book - Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance (With a Foreword by Jacqueline Hansen):

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