Terri: Welcome back to Heartrepreneur Radio. This is Terri Levine, Chief Heartrepreneur and Business Strategist. And I am super-duper excited about today’s episode and I’ll tell you why. A couple of months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Mary Fran Bontempo who I’d wanted to meet for a long time. Her name kept flying around in my local community, and I’m like, how have I not met this woman yet? And I actually got to hear her speak, and I was blown away, totally blown away. So, let me introduce her to you so you can have the same pleasure that I’ve had. Mary Fran Bontempo is an award-winning author, speaker, and she’s a humorist who believes in the power of women. And for over 30 years she’s written for and about women and girls, and she shared laughter, joy, and as she says sometimes hysterical tears. She has a lifestyle blog called “Not Ready for Granny Panties,” and I have to tell you, you’ve got to check that out. And she’s the author of 3 books, and a former newspaper columnist. She has one of the books that’s sitting here on my desk which is “The Women’s Book of Dirty Words,” you will love this. It takes on the everyday words that make women cringe, and she actually shows readers how to re-define their dirty words, clean up their self-talk, and that’s what we all want, right? She’s gonna help you get a more vibrant, productive and joyful life. One of the things that I was so impressed with, is she received recognition from the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop and Humor Press. And I just have to tell you, I want you to not only hear her speak, I want you to connect with her, and I really, really want you to read her books because they are a delight. So, let’s get rolling here, hi Mary Fran!
Mary Fran: Hi Terri! You know I have to say I really want to meet this woman, whoever she is, because she sounds fantastic!
Terri: Well I met her and I can attest she is!
Mary Fran: You know I always tell women that they should write their own intro somehow, or have your best friend write their intros. Because when you hear the things that you’ve accomplished out loud, you’ll be blown away by how fantastic you are.
Terri: That’s really funny, I love that. That’s actually really funny. Ya, I don’t think I’m going to write my own bio anymore, I think I’m going to let people just say whatever from now on.
Mary Fran: Let you best friend introduce you, it will be fantastic.
Terri: I love it, that’s great, that’s great! So, I’m going to share something very transparently with the listeners. When I heard Mary Fran speak, we had her speaking in a not ideal situation, that actually was almost humorous in itself. And she was able to use everything that was going on in this kind of awkward speaking situation she was put in, which made the talk even for me, stayed in my mind longer. Because you were actually living and breathing all the things you were talking to us about. I just wanted to honor you for that.
Mary Fran: I really appreciate that. You know I think that’s what it all comes down to. It comes down to taking whatever insane experience is handed your way, and dancing your way through it, and just making the best of it. And you know, 9 times out of 10 we dread these things, and they work out fine. Which is one of my dirty words, “fine,” things worked out fine, so thank you for that. It was quite an interesting experience, though.
Terri: It’s a good way to say it! And I will tell you, it really did, it left quite an impression on me. Well you know I have to also say, as to the names of your books, “Not Ready for Granny Panties,” right, and “The Women’s Book of Dirty Words,” when you first hear those, I don’t know what other people thought, but I was like uh-oh what’s this?
Mary Fran: Yes, and that was done with the exactly that intention, to get that reaction from people. That was intentional.
Terri: Really? And it works perfectly. So, tell us how these books came to be? I’m just curious and I know the listeners would love to hear the story.
Mary Fran: Well I was a very, very dark period in my life about 7 or so years ago. The economy was tanking, it was threatening our family business, I was losing all of my newspaper jobs due the influence of the internet. I was turning 50, which at the time I thought was so traumatic, and now I think ohhh, I wish I could get that number back!
Terri: I hear you!
Mary Fran: But worst of all, my son was in the throes of heroin addiction and that was just devastating. But, in lamenting all of this with a friend of mine one day, I guess I was talking about aging and I just said, oh, I’m so not ready for granny panties. And at that moment, the writer in me perked up, and I thought, I can do something with this. So, I made a conscious decision to move forward, and turn my face toward the light, whatever that happened to be in any given day. And ended up creating this entire world, getting my son into treatment, so I all came out of a really dark time, which is important I think for people to hear.
Terri: Hmm, I love that. You know it’s funny, I was talking to another guest that’s gonna be on the show in a few weeks, and we were just chatting and she said, everybody has a story. And if they embrace their stories and look at the lessons in their stories, it not only helps them but can truly help other people. And that’s a lot of what you’re doing, yes?
Mary Fran: I think it is, and I actually tweet that saying: everybody has a train wreck. Because everybody has something in their life that has the potential to really throw you off course. That change, which we also look at as a dirty word, sometimes that’s like the Cosmos kicking you in the butt and saying, you know what, you need to make a shift here. So, we need to be aware of those things and look for the potential in even the most difficult of circumstances.
Terri: Thank you for saying that, how true is that. So true. So, gotta go back to Granny Panties, I didn’t share this with you but I just have to. Maybe 10 years ago, a group of people was at a Holiday lunch, and they went into the restroom with a young woman, I mean I think she was 35 maybe 40, and she was adjusting herself and she had on granny panties! Like truly, ok! And these other women said oh my gosh, you can’t wear that because it’s going to make you feel and act old, and it’s going to have a bad effect on your whole state of being. And they literally took her, left there, they went to the mall, they went to Victoria’s Secret and they brought her underwear! I’m sharing this because I saw the woman at another Holiday party about 2 weeks later, and she to me, I can’t tell you how different I feel, I feel so sexy ever since I have different panties. And I just have to laugh about that. So, granny panties are not just unmentionables, what else are they to you?
Mary Fran: I say, you know that’s exactly right. But I say that it’s a state of mind, as much as it is a giant pair of unmentionables. And that’s what we have to be aware of, because what happened to that young woman is exactly what happens to us in a figurative way. We get stuck in these ways of thinking that really come from decades of certain behavior, which are very normal and very common. But it’s when we get stuck in that and we start to live our lives the way we used to be, and not the way we want to be, and who you want to become, that’s when we get stuck in those mental granny panties, and that’s really what I’m talking about.
Terri: Wow, I love this, this is fantastic, I love this. So, you also when we were together at our talk, you were talking about a bit about the dirty words and commandments, and a lot of those stayed with me. Would you be willing to share that concept with the audience? I think they’re going to love it.
Mary Fran: Absolutely. I mean it was funny because I did the first book which was The Eleven Commandment for Avoiding Granny Panties, that’s the subtitle of it. My daughter actually came up with that, she said you know we always have to live with so many rules and we’re always policing ourselves. So, I thought well why not do something like that, and come up with something that keeps us from being stuck. That kind of frees us. So that was how the 1st book came about, and then the 2nd book I started to think about our self-talk and the way we speak to ourselves. Everybody’s aware of the self-talk that says, oh you’re not good enough. But for me, it was more about these small individual words that we reacted to instinctively based on our past experience that I thought we needed to change.
Mary Fran: Well, I could go on and on, but I won’t. A couple of my favorite commandments, one of the first ones that always sticks out in my mind is “thou shalt stop should’ing thyself.” They play on words is also intentional, but as women, we are always building our should and shouldn’t’s lists, and should often equals obligation, things that we think that we have to do. And shouldn’t often equals denial. I shouldn’t buy these shoes, I shouldn’t be watching TV right now, I shouldn’t be you know, taking a nap, I shouldn’t, whatever. So, I suggest we change those words to “must” and “want.” I must do this, but I want to do that. And we kind of shift our whole dynamic.
Terry: That is great, and I was very carefully listening to the “should” part. I love that, “must” and “want,” I just wrote that down. Thank you, this is a gift. A couple more? If we have time I’d love some more.
Mary Fran: One of the other commandments that I always encourage women is: “thou shalt scare thyself.” And as women, especially if we have kids we tend to think of fear as a bad thing because we’re always protecting everyone. But, you know there was a time in our lives that fear was fine, you know just haunted housed and roller coasters, and that sense of fear makes us feel alive. So, we need to hook into that, I talk about how I went kayaking a couple of summers ago, and I tried surfing, and all these crazy bizarre things that really, I’m terrified of. But they were so exhilarating when I tried them. I didn’t succeed at them very well, but I tried them and it really poked me into feeling alive
Terri: I love that. You know people talk about feel the fear and do it anyway, so I’ve found the more I do things that are out of my comfort zone, the more confidence I have in myself. Does that make sense?
Mary Fran: Absolutely. And all of those commandments give way to the next book, where one of the dirty words is the word comfortable. We all like to be comfortable, when it becomes dangerous when we kind of sit ourselves in this figurative bean bag chair, and then we can’t get out of it, you know? We’re stuck in this figurative bean bag chair, we can’t get our butts up to do anything fun and exciting, so that we have to be careful of that word. Comfortable is fine in small doses, but make sure you’re scaring yourself a little every day.
Terri: I love that! Make sure you’re scaring yourself a little every day, I like that, I like that, I resonate with that. I literally could have you on the show for hours, and I’m going to definitely have you come back, because so much more that you talked about when I heard you speak. If anyone’s looking for a speaker, I really want to highly endorse and recommend Mary Fran Bontempo. She’s probably one of the best speakers I’ve heard, and I’ve heard them all. So, it’s true, I really want you to know that.
Mary Fran: Thank you so much.
Terri: You’re welcome. How can the listeners get in touch with you, where can they get your books? I know people are going to resonate with you.
Mary Fran: Well, lucky for everybody, I’m just all over social media, I mean, I am everywhere. And that can be a blessing or a nightmare depending on how you look at it. But I am all over the place, mayfranbontemo.com is my website, as you mentioned, Not Ready for Granny Panties is the blog. There are links all over the place there that will take you to the books which are on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and they can find everything they want, maryfranbontempo.com
Terri: Excellent. I can’t thank you enough for being here. I already am smiling and feel like I’m going about my day in just a very different day. One of my take-aways today is I’m going to notice when I say “fine.”
Mary Fran: Yes, be aware.
Terri: Have awareness. Mary Fran Bontempo, thanks so much for joining us, and go over to notreadyforgrannypanties.com and also maryfranbontempo.com, you’ll be glad you did. Thanks again for joining us Mary Fran.
Mary Fran: Terri, it was a joy, thank you so much.
Terri: And for the listeners, please make sure that actually subscribe to the show, this way you’ll never miss a show. I have more great guest coming up over the week like Mary Fran Bontempo, I want to make sure you don’t miss any. Do me a favor, share the show and also would you give us some good recommendations and give us some love, we appreciate you. Look forward to seeing you here back next time at Heartrepreneur Radio.