Mary Fran Bontempo shares the story of how she got the idea of writing her book, Not Ready for Granny Panties. Coming from a very difficult time in her life, Mary gathered the courage and turned her experiences into positive outputs. She explores the metaphorical significance of being stuck in a certain way of life and gives insights on how to break from it. Also touching on another book, The Woman’s Book of Dirty Words, she bravely and humorously shows how self-talk should be handled. At the bottom of it, she gives us the lessons on being a little bit more kinder to ourselves.
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Breaking Out From Our Granny Panties with Mary Fran Bontempo
I had the pleasure of meeting Mary Fran Bontempo. I had wanted to meet her for a long time. Her name kept flying around in my local community. I’m like, “How have I not met this woman yet?” I heard her speak and I was blown away. Mary Fran Bontempo is an award-winning author, speaker and a humorist who believes in the power of women. For over 30 years, she’s written for and about women and girls. She’s shared laughter, joy, and sometimes hysterical tears.
She has a lifestyle blog called Not Ready for Granny Panties. She’s the author of three books and a former newspaper columnist. She has a book which is The Woman’s Book of Dirty Words. It takes on the everyday words that make women cringe. She shows readers how to redefine the dirty words and clean up their self-talk. She’s going to help you get a more vibrant, productive, joyful life. She received recognition from the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop and Humor Press. I want you not only to hear her speak, but to connect with her. I want you to read her books because they are a delight. Hi, Mary Fran.
Terri, I always tell women to write their own intros or have their best friends 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.
When I heard Mary Fran speak, we had her speaking in a not ideal situation that was humorous in itself. She was able to use everything that was going on in this awkward speaking situation she was put in. It made the talk even stay in my mind longer because you were living and breathing all the things you were talking to us about. I wanted to honor you for that.
It comes down to taking whatever insane experience is handed your way, dancing your way through it, and making the best out of it. Nine times out of ten, you dread these things and they work out fine, which is one of my dirty words, fine. Thank you for that. It was quite an interesting experience.
It left quite an impression on me. I have to also say the names of your books, Not Ready for Granny Panties and The Woman’s Book of Dirty Words. When you first hear those, I don’t know what other people thought but I was like, “What’s this?”
That was done with that intention to get that reaction from people.
Tell us how these books came to be.
I was at a very dark period in my life years ago. The economy was tanking. It was threatening our family business. I was losing all of my newspaper jobs due to the influence of the internet. I was turning 50, which at the time I thought was so traumatic, and now I think, “I wish I could get that number back.” Worst of all, my son was in the throes of heroin addiction and that was devastating. In lamenting all of this with a friend of mine, I was talking about aging and I said, “I’m so not ready for granny panties.” At that moment, the writer in me perked up and I thought, “I can do something with this.” I made a conscious decision to move forward and turn my face towards the light, whatever that happened to be in any given day. I ended up creating this entire world, getting my son into treatment. It all came out during a dark time, which is important for people to know.
I was talking to another guest and she said, “Everybody has a story. If they embrace their stories and look at the lessons, it not only helps them but can truly help other people.” That’s a lot of what you’re doing.
I’ll tweak that by saying, “Everybody has a train wreck in their life that has the potential to throw you off course.” Sometimes that throwing off course, which we also look at as a dirty word, sometimes the cosmo is kicking you in the butt and saying, “You need to make a shift here.” You need to be aware of those things and look for the potential in even the most difficult of circumstances.
Maybe years ago, a group of people were at a holiday lunch. They went in the restroom with a young woman who was 35 maybe 40. She was adjusting herself and she had on granny panties. These other women said, “You can’t wear that because it’s going to make you feel and act old. It’s going to have a bad effect on your whole state of being.” They took her, left there, went to Victoria’s Secret and they bought her underwear. I’m sharing this because I saw the woman at another holiday party about two weeks later and she said to me, “I can’t tell you how different I feel. I feel so sexy ever since I have on different panties.” I have to laugh about that. Granny panties are not just unmentionables. What else are they to you?
I say that is a state of mind as much as it is a giant pair of unmentionables and that’s what we have to be aware of. 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 came from decades of certain behaviors, which are very normal and common. It’s what we get stuck in and start to live our lives the way we used to be, not the way we want to be, and who we want to become. That’s when we get stuck in those mental granny panties and that’s what I’m talking about.Take whatever insane experience handed your way, dance your way through it, and make the best out of it. Click To Tweet
You were talking about the dirty words and commandments and a lot of those stayed with me. Would you be willing to share that concept with the readers?
When I did the first book, The 11 Commandments for Avoiding Granny Panties, that’s the subtitle. My daughter came up with that. She said, “We always have to live with so many rules and we’re always policing ourselves.” I thought, “Why not do something like that and come up with something that keeps us from being stuck? That frees us?” That was how the first book came about. The second book, I started to think about our self-talk and the way we speak to ourselves. Everybody is aware of the self-talk that says, “You’re not good enough.” For me, it was more about these small individual words that we reacted to instinctively based on our past experiences and I felt we needed to change.
What are some of the commandments and dirty words? Would you share a few?
One of the first ones that always sticks out in my mind is that, “Thou should stop shooting thyself.” The play on words is also intentional. As women, we are always building our should and shouldn’t lists. Should often equals obligations of things that we think we have to do. Shouldn’t often equals denial, “I shouldn’t buy those shoes. I shouldn’t be watching TV right now. I shouldn’t be taking a nap.” I suggest we change those words to must and want, “I must do this, but I want to do that,” and we shift our whole dynamic.
One of the other commandments I always encourage women is that, “Thou shall scare thyself.” As women, especially if we have kids, we tend to think of fear as a bad thing because we’re always protecting everyone. There was a time in our lives when fear was fun, haunted houses and roller coasters, that says fear makes us feel alive. We need to hook into that. I was kayaking a couple of summers ago. I tried surfing and all these crazy bizarre things that I was terrified of but it was exhilarating when I tried them. I didn’t succeed very well but I tried them a lot.
People talk about feel the fear and do it anyway. I have found that the more I do things that are out of my comfort zone, the more confidence I have in myself.Comfortable is fine in small doses, but make sure you're scaring yourself a little every day. Click To Tweet
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 but it becomes dangerous when we sit ourselves into this figurative beanbag chair. We are so comfortable and we can’t get out of it. We’re stuck in this figurative beanbag chair, can’t get our butts off to do anything fun and exciting. 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.
If anyone’s looking for a speaker, I 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.
Thank you so much.
How can the audience get in touch with you? Where can they get your books?
I’m all over social media. That can be a blessing or a nightmare depending on how you look at it. MaryFranBontempo.com is my website. Not Ready for Granny Panties is the blog. There are links there that will take you to the books, which are on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. They can find everything they want on the website.
I can’t thank you enough for being here. I already am smiling and feel like I’m going to go about my day in a very different way. One of my takeaways is I’m going to notice when I say, “Fine.” Mary Fran Bontempo, thanks so much for joining us.
Terri, it was a joy. Thank you so much.
- Mary Fran Bontempo
- Not Ready for Granny Panties – blog
- The Woman’s Book of Dirty Words
- Not Ready for Granny Panties
- Mary Fran Bontempo on social media
About Mary Fran Bontempo
Mary Fran Bontempo is an award winning speaker, author and humorist who believes in the power of self-talk. For over 30 years, Mary Fran has used her wisdom and wit to motivate and inspire audiences to tweak their self-talk, making small changes that yield lasting, life-changing results.
Founder of the blog, Not Ready for Granny Panties, Mary Fran is the author of three books and a former newspaper columnist. Her most recent book, The Woman’s Book of Dirty Words, takes on the everyday words that make women cringe, redefining them and cleaning up self-talk to guide readers towards vibrant, productive, joyful lives.
Mary Fran has received recognition from the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop and Humor Press, among others. Featured in numerous online and print publications, she currently writes for her blog, Not Ready For Granny Panties, and is a Huffington Post and Thrive Global contributor, as well as a featured columnist for Women’s Voices Magazine and Best Kept Self.
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