Finding fulfillment through family

Check out the latest blog by Bulow Orthotic & Prosthetic Solutions. A huge thank you to Matt Bulow and his team, who have taken care of all of John’s prosthetic needs for the last 7 years.

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https://www.bulowops.com/success-stories/2016/11/10/mabry-finding-fulfillment-through-family

For John Mabry, the hardest part of being an amputee was overcoming the mental and emotional effects—the physical part was the easy part.

He became a below-the-knee amputee while still in college. During a ride in a friend’s SUV, a right rear tire blew out, causing the vehicle to roll twelve times. John’s legs became crushed from the impact.

“I literally envisioned the remaining seconds of my life as a scene from a 1920’s-style movie reel,” he said.  “However, instead of thinking my movie would end in true love and conquest, the reality was looking more like a conclusion of indescribable fear, terror, and pain.”

John was faced with the choice of another year of surgery and therapy with no guarantee of complete recovery, or to amputate his right leg below the knee.

“Nothing can really prepare you for the moment when you first look down and see an empty space where your leg used to be,” he said.

He said what helped him the most was being able to talk to another amputee, who showed him that life does go on. Just six weeks later, John walked across the stage to receive his bachelor’s degree.

John went on to earn his master’s degree and married his wife, Sarah. He acted in Hollywood for a while, appearing in movies and TV shows as Superbad, NCIS, E.R., JAG, and numerous commercials. He is also credited with inventing a revolutionary product for the prosthetics industry that allows thousands of amputees around the world to live healthier, more active lifestyles.

However, in spite of all these accomplishments, he wasn’t addressing the mental and emotional impacts that his amputation was having on him. He fell into alcoholism, which caused much strife within his family.

Eventually, he sought help for his addition. Today, he says being sober and having a loving family is a greater accomplishment than his inventions or acting ever were. He documents his wacky day-to-day life with his wife and kids on his blog, www.mabryliving.com.

In 2009, he and his family moved from California to Nashville, where he works at Addiction Campuses to help others who struggle with the same issues as he did. When he knew he was moving, he called the first amputee he ever met and asked if he knew any good prosthetists in Nashville. That was how he first came to Bulow Orthotic & Prosthetic Solutions.

 

To other new amputees, he says, “It isn’t always as easy as they make it look on TV when they show the elite athletes competing. There is a rollercoaster that we go through, both physically and emotionally, that the average person doesn’t understand.”

Reconciling a Relapse by Redecorating

Our Mabry Living room has been a place where we have RE-corded many of our memories. There have been RE-actions to unforgettable moments like when we were RE-warded with healthy children and brought them home from the hospital. It is where we have RE-told joyous moments like seeing the kids scamper to the Christmas tree on Christmas morning. It’s here where we can RE-count funny moments like when we thought our dog ran off with a dirty diaper and ate the goods inside (he didn’t, thank goodness). And, there have been seemingly irREconcilable moments such as telling the kids that daddy is going to be gone for their birthdays and Christmas to seek help following a RE-lapse.

When John RE-gressed in his sobriety this time last year and RE-admitted into one of Addiction Campuses’ great facilities, called The Treehouse, I knew I had to stay strong for myself and my kids. It wasn’t a choice to crumble. I HAD to RE-evaluate new ways to keep finding HOPE and JOY. Art and creativity have always been things I’ve RE-turned to as therapeutic RE-leases. So, what better way to RE-kindle hope and joy than RE-decorating my family room with my artwork?

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I wanted to RE-create a room full of light, full of hope,full of encouragement and beaming with love. I started by painting my walls with a RE-freshing color, appropriately called RE-flection, by Sherwin Williams. This lightened the room drastically. With all the decorations down and new paint RE-applied to the walls, I had the blank canvas I needed to RE-create a new beginning for my room, but also for RE-newing my hope and RE-igniting my joy. It was time to RE-create, RE-fresh, RE-juvenate, RE-do and RE-claim ME through my creativity and love for decor.

While John RE-entered treatment, I spent time RE-evaluating “Sarah.”  I RE-cognize that through the busyness of raising three kids and the RE-occurance of addiction in our marriage, I often lose pieces of myself. To RE-engage with my innermost self, I RE-flected on these simple questions:

  1. What brings me JOY? Dogs, kids, art, family, nature
  2.  What brings me HOPE? Scripture, anything angel themed- white feathers, angel wings, halos, rainbows.
  3.  How would I describe my FAITH? RE-newing my trust in GOD when times are difficult and trying to obey his RE-direction of my continually unfolding life.
  4. What does the word LOVE mean to me? This is a very difficult one to RE-call when your world gets flipped upside down. I try to RE-member that, Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1  Corinthians 13:4-7

I wanted to RE-create an atmosphere that incorporated my answers to the above questions through RE-decorating. My goal  for this project was to RE-build and RE-store my broken spirit by RE-designing our Mabry Living room.

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  1. I created a cozy dog bed for my RE-scue pups by placing a sheep wool rug under our coffee table. I mixed and match pillow covers from Pottery Barn (sale rack of course).
  2. I RE-purposed a stick I found on a nature walk as a statement piece for my mantel. I decorated it by stringing multi colored beads from it. The teal green jar looks like beach glass. It RE-minds me of my summers spent hunting for colored glass “treasures” along Lake Michigan. My abstract painting was inspired from the Michigan beach where I spend my summers, which I often call, “Heaven on Earth”. Can you tell I love Michigan beaches?!?
  3. I designed the LOVE sign to RE-mind me of the 1 Corinthians scripture.
  4. My angel feather painting allows me to RE-call that God’s angels are always watching over me. I RE-placed our old entertainment center with one from Wayfair.com.
  5. I REad the following quote and knew I had to make an arrow themed piece of work: “An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. When life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming.” This quote RE-news my HOPE for better times ahead.
  6. Canvas painting with a family rule: “As for  me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”Joshua 24:15. I found this piece at Hobby Lobby. I RE-placed the mirror with mirrors from Ballard Design.
  7.  Angel candle holders from John’s grandmother, plus a picture of Michigan that says, “Happy Place,” very fitting.
  8. I added a shell covered end table (Home Goods), an ottoman (West Elm), and changed out our old rug for a new jute rug (Wayfair.com).
  9. I found these angel wings at Hobby Lobby. They were turquoise but I RE-painted them white.

Now for the fun part, BEFORE and AFTER pictures. Who doesn’t love RE-decorating transformation pictures??

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Like RE-making an old, darker room light again, we have the ability to chose to RE-invent ourselves. If these walls could talk, my HOPE is that they would tell you a story of continued RE-commitment, RE-demption and the RE-vival of a soul that has RE-ceived, through God’s grace, the willingness to RE-main open to RE-conciling a marriage following RE-lapse.

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We’re featured on a cool new site

Recently the great people at My Trending Stories approached us about contributing some of our unique content – with our honest, quirky and unconventional approach to life – to their growing readership. Our posts have already accumulated far more traffic than any of us expected. Click below to follow us on My Trending Stories.

My Trending Stories Profile

Posts you don’t want to miss! #1

With all of life’s craziness, I’ve gotten behind on my a number of my popular posts. Here are some I’ll string together for you all into a tidy post package…

Mabry Living's photo.

November 29, 2015

My courage and bravery were tested this morning when I saw a little black thing move across my kitchen floor and under my refrigerator. I am pretty sure it was a mouse…and I don’t handle those little critters well at all. I get the heebie jeebies just thinking about them. Eek! I finished cooking breakfast on top of the kitchen counters just in case our new home resident decided to come out and play for a little bit. Today I am thankful for my dad. He doesn’t know it yet but he will be setting traps this afternoon to try to catch that little booger. I pray that the mouse is trapped before my dad heads home tomorrow. Catching mice is a man’s job in my book!‪#‎myweakness‬ ‪#‎keepingitreal‬ ‪#‎morningpanic‬ ‪#‎mansjob‬ ‪#‎mice‬ ‪#‎grossmeout‬‪#‎bedhead‬ ‪#‎makeupfree‬

November 30, 2015

How is it going to be December already tomorrow?!? We decided that tonight was a great time to bring a little holiday cheer into our home. I love when the tree and angel are lit up.🎄

Mabry Living's photo.

The kids and I are entering our 4th week of John being away. Over the last several weeks we have been adjusting to our new normal. It has been a growing experience for all of the Mabry family and I pray we come out stronger because of this transition.

John returns back to the Nashville area on Friday. Being that I have become adjusted to my new normal, I am a little nervous of the upcoming transition of him entering back into our every day lives again. The last time I saw John at the beginning of November was a day I wish I could erase from my memory. He was not healthy, addiction had stolen his soul. I plan to continue living one day at a time upon his return. I know TIME will be our friend as we slowly adapt once again.

Its always hard to know who the person is going to be when they come back from treatment. I am praying that the man I pick up from the airport greets me with clear eyes and a renewed spirit. Hopefully we will both be able to see clearly now that the rain is gone!

Who knows, it could be a bright, bright, bright sunshiny day!

‪#‎wifeofanaddict‬‪#‎onedayatatime‬‪#‎sobriety‬‪#‎healing‬‪#‎recovery‬‪#‎seekjoy‬‪#‎alcoholism‬‪#‎substanceabuse‬‪#‎prescriptionpills‬‪#‎hope‬‪#‎prayerwarriors‬‪#‎addiction‬

December 2, 2015

I love seeing God’s work in progress. A new circle of friendship has blossomed! This morning I hosted a little get-together with new friends that I met by sharing my journey through Mabry Living. These ladies are walking along a similar “valley” in their own lives. I believe our paths were meant to cross, it was no accident. All of us are wounded and are leaning on our faith by trusting God’s plan for our futures. It was nice to witness our pain shift to power as we sat and encouraged one another with hope. We have already decided to call ourselves, “The Valley Girls.” Like new adventures, I never know what life lessons these new friendships may teach me as we continue to support each other one day at a time!


Today I am thankful for friendships-old and new. Like I used to sing when I was a Girl Scout in the 80’s, “Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold.”
‪#‎valleygirls‬ ‪#‎newfriendship‬ ‪#‎hope‬ ‪#‎healing‬ ‪#‎encourage‬ ‪#‎onedayatatime‬‪#‎friendship‬ ‪#‎godsplan‬ ‪#‎trust‬

Mabry Living's photo.
December 3, 2015

Today marks the Eve of John’s return to the Nashville area from treatment in Texas. I am still anxious about reuniting with him tomorrow morning at the airport. It’s always awkward to see him after treatment. It’s kind of like going on a first date with someone you never met before yet having the guy be your husband and the father of your kids. What will he look like? How will he act? Will we get along? Oh Lordy, I don’t feel ready to ‘date’ again and rebuild from ground zero.

I never liked dating. It was not something I desired…like EVER! It makes me so uncomfortable. Seriously, look at how silly John and I look in this picture! It’s hard to tell if we are siblings on a family vacation or a couple. We definitely respected each other’s personal space. Don’t even get me started on my pants! This was taken on one of our first dates back in 2002 when John lived in San Diego.

From what I heard, a successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. So, cheers to attempting to fall in love for the 35th time throughout 11 years of marriage (that may or may not be an exaggeration). Prayers will be necessary for this love story.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

‪#‎wifeofanaddict‬ ‪#‎loveispatient‬ ‪#‎onedayatatime‬ ‪#‎healing‬ ‪#‎recovery‬‪#‎1corinthians13‬ ‪#‎firstdate‬ ‪#‎addiction‬ ‪#‎substanceabuse‬ ‪#‎alcoholism‬‪#‎prescriptionpills‬ ‪#‎learningtoloveagain‬ ‪#‎7×70‬ ‪#‎forgiveness‬

December 4, 2015

When I was in college I had a framed picture of John on my nightstand…because that’s what you do when love is in the air. The frame (with hearts on it) joined me in Tx, moved with me to California and then onto Tennessee. Eight years ago, a baby intercom took over the frame’s home on my nightstand. It now resides in a drawer full of other unused framed pictures.

Mabry Living's photo.

Since John left for treatment, Sawyer has been sneaking into that drawer on numerous occasions retrieving the framed photo. I have observed her saying “Dada” while pointing at his face and then giving the picture a kiss. It’s pretty sweet to witness! I think it’s safe to say that the kiddos are ready to see their daddy!

I got the boys off to school and now Sawyer and I are getting ready to drive up to the airport to get John. Carrie Underwood’s lyrics keep coming to my mind…

🎶“Jesus take the wheel
Take it from my hands
Cause I can’t do this on my own
I’m letting go”🎶

It’s time for me to LET GO AND LET GOD do his mighty work. I’m trusting that he’s got things under control.

***side note…I wrote a lot of this post last night knowing that this morning was going to be hectic. This morning I woke up to TWO people sending me encouraging messages that included the lyrics to “Jesus Take the Wheel.” Coincidence, I think not!

‪#‎letgoandletgod‬ ‪#‎onedayatatime‬ ‪#‎healing‬ ‪#‎recovery‬ ‪#‎wifeofanaddict‬‪#‎reunite‬ ‪#‎trust‬ ‪#‎marriage‬ ‪#‎learningtoloveagain‬ ‪#‎jesustakethewheel‬

Mabry Living's photo.

John’ infamous prosthetic leg featured in new article by UNYQ

SPOTLIGHT: JOHN MABRY

John with his two amputee rescue dogs.

Addressing Me

In 2000, as a senior in college at Baylor University, John Mabry found himself in a tragic car accident that left him with a horrible leg injury. Over the next year he had 14 surgeries in an effort to save his left foot. Eventually, due to constant staph infections he began to consider amputation. While researching this option, he began to reach out to the amputee community and was amazed at the positivity and strong responses he received. Mabry decided to go through with the amputation, and 6 weeks later, he walked at his college graduation and received his degree while using a temporary prosthetic.

After graduation Mabry felt a strong calling to help other people in similar situations to his own. Mabry enrolled in a Master’s program in Rehab Counseling that focused on helping people with disabilities get back to work. For the first time in his life, he decided to leave Texas and move to California to pursue the master’s program.

Mabry’s desire to help people is truly remarkable, yet, he soon came to realize, it was at his own expense. He was so focused on helping others with their struggles that he never paid attention to his own.“I kept running from my trauma and my fears. I covered it up with trying to accomplish things… I thought, I am going to go skydiving, I am going to run triathlons but I was just running from myself.” At the end of his Master’s Program, Mabry realized,“I couldn’t go help people I needed to help myself”.

In 2008, it all came crashing down and Mabry and his family made the decision to return to the South to begin focusing on his personal healing. “The biggest part of my journey is addressing me, and working on myself emotionally and mentally, the physical part is what is easy.” Addressing oneself does not come naturally. Whether you are a mother, father, friend, or partner, it is innate to want to care for others. We are taught selfishness is ugly and it is better to be selfless. But in order to be truly successful, we must remain most faithful to our own being in order to then help others. Mabry says, “The point I like to tell people is to get support for whatever you are doing so you don’t have to do it alone, and ask for help. That is okay.” Mabry relies heavily on his support team, including other amputees, his physical therapist, and his family.

       

Once he addressed his own identity and trauma as an amputee, he and his wife began to address themselves as a duo, as parents, and as a family. Through self-examination and revelation he realized we both have, “goofy, quirky personalities, and a big sense of humor. We don’t fit in the mold of suburban family.” Mabry said to his wife, “I think it would be really therapeutic to be who we are and quit caring what the neighbors think of us.” So that is what they did—they began to be their truest selves.

Mabry, his wife and their three kids spend weekends creating skits and YouTube videos. Their days are filled with family bonding, face painting, and being creative. You can read about their latest adventures, such as driving through a drive-thru dressed as a cartoon character or spicing up date night with prank wars, on their family blog, https://mabryliving.com/.

Ever since Mabry began to “address me” he has felt his life get back on track, he volunteers at the Vanderbilt Trauma Center as a member of the peer support group, and he plays around with the idea of writing a book. He now sports the Alzette UNYQ cover in blue and white and says, “it is part of my new identity…it’s like my tattoo and I am proud of it.” UNYQ is thrilled to be part of Mabry’s journey and grateful that he took the time to share it.

Huge thanks to John and his entire family, they are truly filled with love and laughter!