Tag Archives: mary mcmanus

aim high — in this case 52 stories!

so i went to a yoga class at south boston yoga studio with my facebook friend mary mcmanus.  last year, she was friend number 168, meaning she was the one hundred and sixty eighth person i saw in 2011.  she took me on a tour of my older son joseph’s campus–in all four years he attended boston university, i had not once flown out to see him.  bad mother?  maybe.  but it was because i was afraid.   afraid of travel, afraid of flying, afraid of everything.  meeting all your facebook friends all over the world puts a dent in the fear of flying thing.

in any event, i told mary that my new year’s resolution for 2012 is to pay forward the encouragement, love and support shown to me by my facebook friends, mary most particularly.  she was my cheerleader.  she was always one for a good word of encouragement.  i wanted to give that to others and i told her i was coming into boston to meet two new facebook friends who have trouble with panic attacks and fear.  mary and her husband tom invited me to stay with them.  i went out for a three hour lunch with mary the moment i arrived.  i felt so loved and so happy.  we went to the yoga class in part because mary is devoted to yoga but also because i wanted to see for myself whether it had the anti-anxiety effects mary promised.

it sure did.  my acid reflux was gone.  for the first time in weeks, i didn’t have that horrible sword in chest feeling.  i’m not one for organized exercise classes, never gone in for chanting, but this was the goods!  then mary and i went to meet mary tabbi-fuller and her sister in law angela lopresti.  i was a little concerned about mary because she had spent the weekend in the hospital, suffering from an episode of low blood sugar.  i hoped it wasn’t brought on by anxiety.

the four of us ate lunch and mary had prepared a list of resources for angela and lisa to consider.  boston area doctors and therapists and, of course, the south boston yoga studio.   and then it was time to try. . .

there are many ways to overcome generalized panic and anxiety — but one that i really appreciate is conquering one thing and then taking that “wow, i did it!” feeling and applying it to other situations.  lisa and angela both were afraid of elevators but most particularly of heights.  lisa,  a phlebotomist, felt that some of her anxiety had led her to calling in sick more than was acceptable and she needed to get a grip on her fear.  we chose the fifty second story of the prudential center. . .

i was so happy walking into the light with mary, lisa and angela!

angela, mary, me, and lisa at the top of the hub in boston! notice we're not scared to sit by the window, which isn't something i could have predicted!


today think of something you’re afraid of that you think most people are not.  i’m not talking about playing with an anaconda.  i am talking about having a conversation with the barista at your coffee joint, riding the Ferris wheel with your kids, speaking up for yourself at tomorrow’s sales meeting, forgiving a friend and letting them back into your life.


yogini for a day!

i think of yoga as ridiculous.  chanting.  poses.  incense.  overpriced spandex outfits.  but i went to yoga because my facebook friend from last year’s  journey asked me to give it a try. . .

can you have a yoga studio without a picture or statue of ganesh and maybe a few posters with inspirational phrases? jeez, i like my exercise to be short, nasty and brutish–just like thomas hobbes, the seventeenth century english philosopher promised me all life would be!
f2fb friend #168 mary mcmanus insisted that before we saw f2fb friends #295 lisa tabbi-fuller and her sister in law f2fb friend #297  angela lopresti* we had to try a yoga class.  she was convinced that south boston yoga studio was the place to go.  argh!  but since i was staying over at the home of tom and mary in order to save hotel money, i couldn’t very well refuse.

seriously, the teacher david vendetti didn’t look like this when he was playing the harmonium!
there’s chanting, incense, a statue of ganesh, the de rigeur spandex, and a teacher david vendetti who plays the harmonium.  he sang an indian song interwoven with melody and lyrics from aerosmith’s dream on.  i decided that dante had dropped me into a special heretofore unknown circle of hell.  my arms were burning, my legs contorted into positions that i could hardly remember from being a kid.

but then i sort of got into it.  i was awful at some poses.  and occasionally i was balancing on one foot and thought i would fall over on the impossibly serious yoga gal on my right.  a few times i thought the teacher was making fun of me, but hell, i wasn’t the model student.  then after an hour and a half i was as exhausted as i would have been had i been running and i realized that for about forty five minutes i had been completely out of my head, whcih is to say, i was in the moment.  i wasn’t thinking the drama stuff, i wasn’t part of myself, i was just part of the class.  that’s so cool.

i talked to david vendetti about whether yoga is helpful for people with anxiety–whether social phobias, agoraphobia, panic attacks)–and here’s what he had to say:

deal with your anxiety.

i’m not a convert.  i’m not going to be buying any incense.  i won’t be talking to my friends about their chakras and past lives.  but there was one odd thing that happened–for the first time in several years, i didn’t have acid reflux.  i didn’t have that pain in the chest i get when i eat or when i’m anxious.  coincidence?  i don’t know.  i’m with an open mind.  i felt okay.  maybe i should consider this as part of the arsenal against anxiety.

and in fact, i was pretty laid back.  me–laid back?

and i’d have to be laid back because i was about to take not one but two facebook friends up to the top of the prudential center in boston so we could talk woman to fear about heights and elevators.

i’m not necessarily going to give yoga another try, especially since the south boston yoga studio is, well, actually quite a distance from my home in chicago.  but you can have one free lesson (tell them arlynn sent you!) just go to http://www.southbostonyoga.net/ or to their address, 36 w. broadway, or call them at 617/315-7448

*i’ve decided to go back to the 2011 numbering system.  just easier for me.  so marshae white of lorain, ohio becomes #293, molly parshall of coldwater, michigan becomes #294, lisa tabbi-fuller becomes #295 and her sister in law angela becomes #296.  the f2fb project is back after a much needed hiatus!  now i just have to figure out how to answer all my messages and emails.  i fall further and further behind. .. .

but in boston i was focused on two galpals who have anxiety attacks that debilitate and i was wondering whether yoga could help them. . . .

i’m late! i’m late! for a very important date–my son’s college tour with f2fb friend #168







from rhode island, i got on a commuter train to boston.  a short trip but an important one.  i was meeting a f2fb friend for the first time.  f2fb friend #168 mary mcmanus had worked with my son joseph on a film documenting her struggle with post polio syndrome.  mary had found the strength to run the boston marathon despite her health setbacks and she wanted to share the struggle with others so that someone somewhere, even just one person, could overcome their own struggles with courage they absorb from mary’s story.  the movie is “keeping the pace: the mary mcmanus story” and you can see it at http://marymcmanus.com/journey

just as joseph learned about mary in making the movie, mary learned something about joseph.  i had never visited him on campus.  it’s the sort of thing a mom is supposed to do–go to parent’s weekend or at least pick him up from campus in june or drop him off at the dorms in september.  i felt ashamed and so i was great at coming up with excuses but bluntly, i was too scared.  so mary gave me a gift two years after joseph’s graduation:  a college tour.

she showed me the dorm where he lived, the sandwich shop where he would get his late night snacks, the classrooms and the student union.  then i saw a church.  and i pulled out my camera.  we were such fast friends that we were making something we thought was funny!

of course, later that night, when i had taken the four/five hour train from boston to new york, joseph said “mom, i actually did go to church every week for at least the first two years of college”. . . . i felt like a jerk.

i share a lot with mary:  we’re both mothers, we’re both rotarians, we both have hit the glorious age of fifty (although it’s a little more fresh for me).  she has done amazing things with her life in the face of medical adversity.  i want to be the positive woman that she is!  maybe in my new years eve project, she’s f2fb friend #168, but she is truly a friend not just on facebook!

onward to new york, to see facebook friend steve ware.  i haven’t seen him in ten years and i am a little nervous because he works on the hit show jerseylicious.  i hope to persuade him that i would make a great addition to the cast.

before i left rhode island, i was reminded of my cousin meg showing me this picture in the train station.  she said it was the building over which superman flew in the christopher reeve movie.  she and her husband call it the doopyman building, not because they can’t pronounce the word superman but because my oldest son joseph couldn’t pronounce the world.  superman ice cream–a mix of  cherry, blue raspberry and orange, was his favorite–or doopyman ice cream was his favorite when he was four years old.