Monday, July 31, 2017

Run Bermuda! Run Happy! Look for the signs!



"Wait mom," Ruth Anne said to us as we were about to turn the corner onto Beacon Street on last Saturday's run. She found ANOTHER dime!

Our stash of cash for money found on our training runs on the road to Bermuda Marathon Weekend is growing....

and so are our miles

and so is our faith!

Life challenges us is in so many ways and it's so easy to grab onto our problems and hold on for dear life as we try to find a solution. Often times, our solution is based in emotions of fear, guilt, shame or anger.

It's amazing and quite miraculous when we let go and let in Divine wisdom to guide us.

Shortly after being diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease by Western Medicine Standards back in December of 2006, I got still and asked for Divine Guidance. The team painted a very grim future for me that included needing to leave my 20 year award winning career as a VA social worker, spending my life in a wheelchair, possibly needing a feeding tube, a sleep apnea machine and basically withering away as a result of the polio virus I contracted when I was 5 years old.

From "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility":
I sat at my dining room table on a freezing cold dark February evening. No one else was at home. I had printouts from ‘new age’ teachers spread out all over the table. Dr. Bernie Siegel, Wayne Dyer, Tony Robbins, teachers from “The Secret” which was very popular back in the day were beckoning me. The theme was gratitude and a call to create.

“I am so happy and grateful that I can create,” was an affirmation from a Lisa Nichols newsletter.

Create? Create? I asked myself over and over again. What am I going to create? I had twins and my childbearing years were over. My career was quickly coming to an end. 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:

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 sobbed to write those words. I had never spoken about polio or the abuse I endured. I became curious. Why am I writing about winning a 10K race? When my husband came home I announced that I had a plan for life after the VA. Could he create a poetry website for me and we’ll have advertisers? He was delighted that I was thinking about life after the VA and said he’d be delighted to create a website for me.

The next morning as I was getting ready for work he came into the bathroom and said,

“Listen I have an idea for you. You know how you always write those really wonderful poems to celebrate special occasions – like you did for when the kids were in kindergarten and for our friends and family … Well why don’t you start a greeting card company?”

“What? I don’t know anything about starting a business.”

“So you’ll learn. I didn’t know anything about computers when I first got into them and look at where I am today.”

I came up with the name New World Greeting Cards, customized poetry for every occasion. Inspirational poems began flowing out of me. As I wrote poetry, I felt no pain. I was transported to a place within. I had to have pen and paper with me everywhere I went. The Universe began sending me all sorts of messages and doors began to open inviting me into this new and strange world. How wondrous that I returned to the healing cadence of Dr. Seuss that brought me so much comfort during my recovery from paralytic polio. Now I was the one holding the pen. I continued to work at the VA while planning my exit strategy.


And sometimes, we are reminded to keep the faith and showered with grace in some unexpected moments...



like finding a dime - the symbol for a 10K and a sign for me as a survivor of paralytic polio as I wrote about in last year's blog....

a reminder to always keep the faith, feel connected to something bigger than we are; to look beyond circumstances and to move confidently in the direction of our dreams as we look for the signs to guide our path.

Go the distance with strength and courage!
~Mary

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):







Sunday, July 30, 2017

Run Bermuda! Run Happy! On Running Happy and The Blessing of Family

It feels amazing to be on the road to Bermuda Marathon Weekend again. I am in awe that this is going to be a threepeat for me! After the Half Marathon in January and with all the changes that were going to happen at The Rosedon, our once beloved go to place on the Island, Tom and I decided that we would change things up for my racing goals for 2018.

The magic happened at Booth 2828, Blue Diamond Athletic Displays, INC booth at the 2017 Boston Marathon. Anthony Raynor asked what it would take to get us back to Bermuda for Bermuda Marathon Weekend 2018. "How about an invitational entry?"



I decided to keep things light on Facebook as we were heading out for our 6.5 mile run yesterday:


Since it was our 2nd week at 6.5 miles, we chose to take on a more challenging route. We went out our front door to Beacon Street where we had hills, hills and more hills!


Despite how challenging the run was with its never ending hills, Team McManus ran happy! We had wonderful conversations about healing, recovery, the excitement of training for a half marathon together again (the last time we trained for an endurance event was in 2009 for the Boston Marathon). We problem solved about different situations in our lives.

“I discovered early on that it wasn't the sport of running that attracted me but the act of running. It was in the pounding of my own heart, in the rhythm of my own breathing that the answers began to come. The answers came if, and only if, I kept running.”
~John “The Penguin” Bingham

We felt a wonderful sense of accomplishment along with a runner's high when we re-entered the front door of our home. We worked as a team to prepare a healthy post run lunch.

I could feel that my body was in need of an ice bath - the first of the season as I posted on Facebook:


Tom was kind enough to prepare the ice bath for me that chilled while we ate and savored our 6.5 mile run and a well earned meal of sandwiches, fruit and veggie chips.

After immersing into the ice bath, I went on Facebook as I felt the combination of ice and Epsom Salts flush out my legs and lower back. I loved reading the posts and comments from our running family and being able to post comments supporting our running family on their accomplishments of the day.



6.5 miles in the books on the road to Bermuda for Team McManus! In addition to feeling strong and determined, we are feeling happy and blessed to be on this journey of life with our family and running family! Next week - 7 sweet miles!



Go the distance with strength and courage!
~Mary

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):


Friday, July 28, 2017

Going the Distance: On Phantom Pains, Puzzles, Patience, and Persistence



As I crossed the finish line of 10 years on my healing odyssey this past May, a new starting line of healing has begun! After a serious knee injury in December of 2014, I was blessed to meet Dr. Ryan J. Means, a healer chiropractor who turned me onto the work of Dr. Joe Dispenza, Dr. Candace Pert, What the bleep do we know and set ablaze in me what I already knew...that I am the placebo and we can change the body by thought alone!

There are times when I feel so impatient in healing the effects of paralytic polio and trauma. I experience what I call phantom pains both in my body and in my heart from the experiences of my past. Rather than them owning me I can own them and bring compassion and healing energy to the tender areas that still need healing mind, body and soul.

I recall the words of Candace Pert in her book, 'Everything you need to know to feel Go(o)d' as I begin this new starting line of my healing odyssey. She talks about how our thoughts create our biology; how we interpret sensations in our body is how our body will respond. I choose to interpret everything I experience as being in the service of healing.

Listening to Dr. Joe Dispenza's meditation every night, "Rest and Renew" helps Team McManus to create new neural pathways to heal whatever needs to be healed through his powerful guided meditation. His phrase from "You Are the Placebo", "Focus on the wave, not on the particle" reminds me to look at the miracle of my healing and how this process has powerful momentum now.

As Dr. Joe reminds us every night through the meditation, "Gratitude - the ultimate state of receivership." I am grateful and imprint every moment of feeling a sense of peace, healing and well being in mind, body and soul!



By adopting the pace of nature - patience, I am enjoying the process of creating complete healing in my life now.



Coincidentally, this image came up in my Facebook memory this morning:


I am reconditioning my body to a new mind; a mind and heart that knows I deserve to be treated with the utmost respect and care. Anyone who does not appreciate me, my gifts, my time, my talents and my treasures cannot occupy space in my life or my mind. I am reconditioning my body to a mind that believes in goodness, happiness, peace, equanimity, compassion and love believing deep in my soul that I never deserved what happened to me as a child or adolescent. I am rewiring myself to experience the joy, wholeness and strength in mind, body and soul that I have forged out of the horror of my past. I am invincible and unstoppable! It's uncomfortable to make the shift, but as an endurance runner, I know how to find comfort in the discomfort.

And it does take time and patience!

In addition to coloring as an evening activity, we are working on a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.

Talk about adopting the pace of nature ....

It took a few weeks to study the puzzle, organize the pieces, harness the power of patience to begin to gain momentum in putting it all together. We had moments of frustration and saying, "We should have tried a 500 piece puzzle to start." Calling upon our training as endurance runners, we know how to get through frustration and "tough miles" on the road and in life.

Last night we were amazed at how things came together and the top and beginning of the sides are now in place:


It takes patience and persistence to move forward in healing after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease by Western Medicine standards, having experienced severe trauma for 9 years at the hands of family members and having "life happen" as it does to all of us.

Tomorrow Team McManus takes to the roads to run 6.5 miles again and slowly build our miles on the road to Bermuda Marathon Weekend. We begin our next 5 day training cycle.

There will be phantom pains and challenges, the soreness that comes with training for a Half Marathon along the way but with faith, patience and persistence, reminding myself I AM the placebo and everything I need is inside of me, I go the distance!

Go the distance with strength and courage!
~Mary

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):




Thursday, July 27, 2017

Going the Distance: On Footstrikes and Freedom



These two quotes showed up on Facebook today inspiring me to reflect on the power of footstrikes - in running and in life.

As a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma, I've had difficulty putting my foot down with people. It was always a challenge for me to say yes to myself and no to another. I have trusted people and worked hard to see their goodness even when they were not allowing their goodness to be in the forefront. Recently, I carefully and as gracefully as I could disentangled myself from a working relationship and therapeutic relationship with my massage therapist of two years. There were many positive aspects to my working with him both in treatment and to help him build his business. In recent months it became apparent that it was no longer serving me to continue in the relationship. I was hoping I could go the distance with him on the road to my threepeat of running the Bermuda Half Marathon but everything changes and it was not meant to be.

What was important for me was that I had to free myself from the patterns of the past. It's never easy to change because the past and our reactions to the events of our past get hardwired into the very fiber of our being and body. But setting out on runs transforms the ways of the past and gives time and space to clear out the clutter mind, body and soul.

I love this quote from John L. Parker's "Once a Runner":


and this quote about running and freedom:


I discovered the healing and transformational power of running late in my life at the age of 53! As I recall the moment I declared that I was going to run the Boston Marathon, I had no idea the tremendous gifts that running would give to me.

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

At my six-month evaluation in February, I had dramatically improved in every area of the assessment. I had come out of my leg brace and I knew that I was on a healing path. Janine asked me what my next health and fitness goals were.
“Well I want to feel free in my body. I want to dance. I want to be able to walk outside and feel unencumbered when I take a walk.”

Janine wrote feverishly and we worked out a plan. She gathered up her belongings and had her hand on the door knob.

“Wait. I have one more goal.”

Janine stopped and turned around.

“I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital. I know they have a Race for Rehab team and I want to do it next year.”

Janine was non-plussed. I don’t know what kept her from turning tail and getting as far away from me as she could. She came back into my house and put down her things. She said that the first thing I would need is a pair of running shoes. She told me that Marathon Sports on Beacon Street would be able to help me. She laid out a cursory training plan and said that we would begin indoors to build up my cardio endurance. As soon as the weather got a little warmer, we’d go outdoors and I would learn how to run.

What had I just done?


What had I just done indeed!

I entered a world where I learned how to put my foot down and where footstrikes lead to transformation and freedom!

Go the distance with strength and courage!
~Mary

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):







Wednesday, July 26, 2017

My Life on the Run by Bart Yasso: Book Review

"Never limit where running can take you." ~Bart Yasso's inscription in Team McManus' copy of "My Life on the Run."

Tom looked over while running the Bermuda Marathon Weekend 10K as part of his Bermuda Triangle Challenge and realized he was running next to Bart Yasso.

At the after race weekend party at the Fairmount Southampton Princess, we snapped this photo of Tom and Bart:


We stayed connected on Facebook with Bart and Runner's World, and reconnected with him at the Runner's World pop up store during Boston Marathon Weekend. We picked up a copy of his book, "My Life on the Run."




From p. 201: This acceptance of all abilities is what differentiates running from every other sport. In football they were 22 people in the field and 60,000 in the stands. It's the opposite in running. Everyone's on the field and in the fold. Running is egalitarian and you're never too young or too old.

There is no other sport where, as a back of the pack runner I would be able to share in our love and passion for the sport with a running great like Bart Yasso.

Bart takes us on his journey as someone who found redemption and healing in running. He, in turn, brings the gift of running and inspiration to others around the globe.

I have never won a race of the mythical 26.2 miles distance and at the age of 43 I probably never would. It was time to appreciate the sweaty exertion for what it was an affirmation of life. Running was magic and I never wanted to lose my ability to conjure up that altered state again.

Running is the ultimate faith healer, restoring belief not only in oneself but life's possibilities.

Glory isn't the pay off. This may sound cliché but the reward is living the lifestyle and embracing the journey. It's not only about finishing it's about moving forward.


Pay it forward is a consistent theme in Bart's life as he shares the redemptive and healing power of running with others. He trained a group of recovering drug and alcohol addicts for the Lehigh River Relay Race.

From the Chapter, "Clean Streaks":
I had once walked in their shoes and now they could run in the ones I had given them.

No one cared where they had come from or what they are done. They were runners here, same as everyone else.


Although they finished 110th out of 150th, they experienced a much bigger win than what place they finished in as Bart eloquently explains:I couldn't stop smiling. I felt their achievement was my own. For 8 long weeks I had pushed them out of a lethargy brought on by poor choices. They got a taste of a better world, but now it was up to them to stay sober.

I wished them resolve. Luck wouldn't be enough.


As you read Bart's book, you will find yourself laughing out loud as Bart's warmth and wit take you to destination races around the world, and then finding your breath catch as Bart finds out he is diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease.

There are training tips, a chapter on inspirational runners and must do races.

Bart's wit and whimsy for his life adventures are juxtaposed with his journey of triumph and resilience, and communicating his love and passion for the sport of running.

One of my favorite moments happened on p. 159 as Bart paces a group of runners at the Portland Marathon shortly after recovering from another bout of Lyme Disease:
At mile 25, a middle-aged runner on my pace team told me he had tried to qualify for Boston 22 times. 'I'm going to make it this time,' he said.
'You got it in the bag,' I told him.
He started crying.
'Dude, what are you doing?' I said.
'I can't believe it. Boston's my dream.'
'No crying in pace teams. We still have a mile to go. You can cry at the finish line.'


Never limit where running can take you - on the roads and in your life!

Thank you Bart Yasso for letting us know about where running has taken you!

Go the distance with strength and courage!
~Mary

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):











Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Run Bermuda! Run Happy! On Optimism and Impossibility



Ten years ago I had quit my 20 year award winning social work career at the VA to "heal my life" after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neurommuscular disease by Western Medicine Standards. I imagined a new life for myself through the healing power of writing poetry. My pen became my divining rod for healing.

I wrote the poem, "Running the Race", and, even though by all appearances there is no way I should have been able to run - never mind run a marathon - and not just any marathon but the 2009 Boston Marathon, I did! I came out of using a wheelchair at times for mobility, a leg brace and a cane to go on to train for and cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon!



Fast forward to December 2014 when my left knee "blew out." By all appearances on the MRI, I should not have been able to run again and was in need of a total knee replacement. Instead, I found my way to a healer/chiropractor Dr. Ryan J. Means who introduced me to the work of Dr. Joe Dispenza. Here we are a few days before Dr. Ryan left to practice chiropractic medicine in China:


He reminded me that I am the Placebo and infused me with the power of belief in my body's ability to heal itself as he cued my body to heal through chiropractic care. As a trainer, he helped me to create a cross training and strength training program.

I set the goal of running the Bermuda Half Marathon at his urging of "Why set limits? Set goals!" replacing fear of my body breaking down with optimism and the belief of potential and possibility to go the distance.

I'm training for a threepeat now......Like the bumblebee I should not have been able to run after suffering the effects of paralytic polio and trauma. Like the bumblebee I keep on running anyway.

I'm training with intention, passion and purpose. Today I swam and did a cross training workout in the pool at Boston Sports Club.

I'm now partnering with Dr. Lizzie Sobel, a gifted chiropractor and healer. On her LinkedIn profile she states, "I offer complete holistic healthcare, offering a true alternative to traditional medicine. I will take the time to listen to your questions, offer you solutions, and heal your symptoms at their root." I had been experiencing left arm pain for several months; residuals from having contracted paralytic polio at the age of 5, and trauma. After two treatments with Dr. Sobel and no longer incorporating holding plank as part of my core work, the pain is almost gone but as importantly, I feel new neuromuscular connections happening that are allowing me to build strength in my left arm. I have a newfound confidence in my body with a sense of greater balance and opening as Dr. Sobel's gentle, holistic approach encourages my body's natural capacity to heal and my energy to flow. Dr. Sobel works with my entire body finding areas that need adjustments and encouraging balance and healing with her professional yet gentle, caring hands!

I am in awe of how the Universe has delivered everything and everyone I've needed to go the distance.

It's been a little over 10 years since I first set out to heal my life. Optimism, seeing beyond appearances and having fun doing the impossible are the torches that light my way on the road to the Bermuda Half Marathon and on the road of the marathon of my life.

Go the distance with strength and courage!
~Mary

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):




Monday, July 24, 2017

Run Bermuda! Run Happy! 6.5 Mile(stone) and a Visit with the Race Director

Team McManus is feeling the momentum of being on the road to the Bermuda Half Marathon.

It was a hot and steamy Saturday as we ran along the Boston Harbor from Castle Island to U.Mass. We made sure we dialed back our pace, hydrated and fueled and kept our eyes on the prize. There was an older runner who passed us, also dripping with sweat who said, "Great job guys. Keep it up." Thank goodness for the cloud cover at the start of our run!



We sought out shade whenever we could along the course. We felt triumphant when we heard Nike+ say "Congratulations! You've reached your goal of 6.5 miles."

Our selfies reflect the effort of the run:


On Sunday, Team McManus went to Boston Sports Club in Newton to do our cross training on the Bike and Arc Trainer. I was amazed at how well my body recovered from the 6.5 mile run. Ruth Anne led the charge and I found myself trying to match her exuberance as an almost 30 year old training for her first Bermuda Half Marathon. We felt accomplished after a rigorous cardio workout.


We were supposed to have dinner with Clarence aka "Stoker" Smith and Anthony Raynor as I wrote about in last week's blog. There was a serious car accident on their way to Boston from New York and they did not get in town until very late! Fortunately they were fine and there were no fatalities. We resigned ourselves to the fact that it wasn't meant to be to get together this trip and Anthony was planning another trip to Boston to see us but.....

Clarence and Anthony called us Saturday evening. They would finish at the DMSE Sports Classic Expo at 11 on Sunday. "We'll come to you," Clarence said in that warm Bermudian accent. "Anthony says he knows where Brookline is."

They called at around 11:30 and said they were leaving Andover (about an hour and change away from where we live).

"Would you like to come for lunch?" I asked.

"Well that will need to happen love," Clarence replied.

Tom, Ruth Anne and I rummaged through the fridge to see what we could put together for a luncheon. They went off to Star Market while I cleaned off and set the outside table. Ruth Anne made up platters when they returned. Over a wonderful array of foods and sparkling water, we had sparkling conversation!

We talked about the great time they had at the DMSE Sports Classic and the fever pitch energy of Race Weekend 2018. We laughed and shared stories about our relationship with Bermuda. We talked about the entourage of Boston runners who will descend upon Bermuda in January. Anthony said that he wants any of us who arrive on Thursday to be at the kickoff party for Race Weekend.

"So let me ask you....is there a time limit on the Half? Do we need an early start?" I asked Anthony and Clarence.

In true Bermudian style, Anthony and Clarence gave us a rather lengthy detailed explanation about why they had to put forth a time limit along with anecdotes from previous year's race experiences.

Having said all of that, Anthony said, "As long as you get in before my last marathoner crosses the finish line, you'll be fine."

"We figure we will finish in just under four hours," I said.

With a warm Bermudian smile Clarence said, "Oh my you'll be fine!"

We talked about the rest of their trip Stateside and about the design of the medals this year.

Speaking of medals, Anthony is going to connect with Blue Diamond Athletic Displays, Inc (captured in one of our photos below) to talk about designing a medal display to adorn the Bermuda Marathon Weekend Medals.



We had a long goodbye with lots of hugs and more joy and laughter with stories about the America's Cup but they couldn't leave before I presented them with a copy of Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance. I signed their copies and read from the section where I first met them in July of 2015.



The excitement for Bermuda Marathon Weekend is on and Team McManus hit a 6.5 mile(stone) in style!

Go the distance with strength and courage!
~Mary

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):