Amputee overcomes fear by attempting the American Ninja Warrior Warped Wall

I’m sure you’ve heard of all kinds of ways to move beyond your fear and step into the space of courage you inherently have inside you. But instead of a boring you with a pep talk or a pre-canned video speech I figured I’d offer you a unique perspective – a kind only Mabry Living can deliver – a one-legged man (my husband) attempting an American Ninja Warrior Warped Wall on his prosthetic. Check out the video below.

So many people operate their lives out of fear as opposed to courage, including myself at times. There are many things I am afraid of: mice, public speaking, change and failure. But fear of doing something, especially something new, is not a good place to get stuck. Fear of change and failure keep me imprisoned to old ways of thinking that don’t necessarily serve me any more. I bet you can relate on some level, can’t you? To  help me demonstrate the benefits of taking even the smallest (or outrageous in this case) courageous action towards overcoming your fears, John has, for some odd reason, willingly volunteered to attempt the Warped Wall, as seen on NBC’s American Ninja Warrior.

As you can see, sometimes it doesn’t even matter whether or not you actually reach the goal itself, but instead that you’re willing to recognize your fear and take action anyway. That’s called courage.

Having the willingness to put yourself out there and do something you’re afraid of doing creates growth, which I believe is the essence of life. I’m practicing growing myself in doing this blog. For so long I was scared of what people might think or say if I openly talked about my marriage struggles, John’s mental health issues or my frustrations in raising kids. This type of raw vulnerability was so hard to do initially; my pride kept me from speaking my truth. Now, I not only share about the broken pieces of myself I used to keep hidden, I’m also able to express my true, craziness and creativity openly to you through the Mabry Living blog and videos you see here.

I don’t know where running up a 14-foot warped wall, John and I crashing a high school prom or dressing up like mimes to order a diet Cherry Mime-ade at Sonic is going. Who knows, maybe it will lead to writing a book someday or some public speaking opportunities to share my testimony, both of which are huge fears of mine! But I am encouraged by my faith in acting in accordance with my beliefs and who I truly am. Only then will I grow into the person God created me to be.

I hope this blog gives your heart the nudge it needs to be courageous to step out in faith and face a fear you currently have. Whether it’s telling a friend or loved one you’re sorry about something that happened in the past, letting someone you trust know of an addiction you’re struggling with or asking for help with diet or exercise changes you know you need to make, take a step forward today by taking some sort of action. Just like I owe it to myself to blog about the crazy stuff in my head, you owe it to yourself to do the things you were put on Earth to do, however crazy they might seem to others. Just go for it!

Be sure to check out the season opener of American Ninja Warrior on May 25 on NBC. We ran into world-class ninja, Travis Rosen, a few days ago. He’s already competed in the first round regional in Orlando. We can’t tell you if he made it through to the next round or not so be sure to tune in to see him compete.

The Mabry men with one of the top American Ninja Warriors in the world, Travis Rosen

The Mabry men with one of the top American Ninja Warriors in the world, Travis Rosen


Mom and dad compete in homemade American Ninja Warrior course

Today, for the first time ever, I am pulling all the skeletons out of the closet and disclosing the greatest secret ever told about the Mabry family.  It’s a secret John and I have guarded so closely that our three kids don’t even know about it. Our kids are actually the ones that inspired us to create our undercover activity.  Before I reveal the shocking details that you don’t want to miss, let me give you a little background explaining how it all came to be.IMG_3376

One seemingly mundane day, I sat on our green micro suede couch with one of our three-legged dogs hovering over my shoulder.  I was busy getting caught up on the most current events on my Facebook news feed (a.k.a. my social world in this stage of life). I glanced up from my phone with that glazed-over zombie stare to the realization that a bomb had gone off in my house and I had no recollection of how and when it happened.  As my mind started to refocus on the real world from the Facebook fog and Instagram illusions, I noticed my boys busily playing next to me.  They were flailing around and giggling with that most innocent of child laughter.  Baby Sawyer was on the ground playing with a drawer full of toys while making her all too frequent high-pitched squeaky whine, similar to a teapot squealing when the water hits the boiling point.  The boys repeatedly asked if they could use my phone to serve as a stop watch to time themselves on the ninja obstacle course they had been building while I was lost in online land.  Didn’t they understand that my phone was my escape from reality?  Did they really think I was going to give it up so that I could actually be present with them in my own home?  After so much nagging, I gave in as they confiscated my phone.

Without my phone, I was forced to actually look at my sons (and daughter) and observe what they were doing.  What I saw was pure, FREE, child-inspired creativity and joy.  Not the kind of excitement that comes from getting a new LIKE on a post or a re-pin on Pinterest, but unadulterated innocence.  What I originally perceived as a bomb going off in my house was actually an elaborate American Ninja Warrior obstacle course using couch cushions and other props that circulated through the whole house.  I sat back on the one cushion left on the couch and watched as the boys’ deliciously sticky fingers smeared dried syrup all over my walls and furniture as they conquered their DIY spider wall obstacle.

My siblings: Mark, Katie & Melissa

My siblings: Mark, Katie & Melissa

I can remember how fun it was to let my imagination take me places out of my reality with my siblings.  Now, as I sat on my couch moping about not being able to stare at my phone and at how the kids had destroyed my house, it occurred to me that it is happening…I was becoming one of those people…I think they are called grown ups!  “Oh, no!” I thought.  I’ve lost my imagination and joy.  I’ve somehow turned into a grown up!”

This scary observation really made me think!  Do I really want to miss out on the fun going on all around me as I sit behind my iPhone worrying about what my home looks like and what everyone thinks of me?  The answer is a resounding NO!

That’s when it occurred to me that sometimes kids are my role models.  Kids are pure hearted people who have not been effected by the negativity of the world.  Kids accept who God created them to be and are not worried what others may think of them.  Adults should look up to children and allow their inner child to come out more often!  I decided that day that I was going to make it a goal to break down walls I had built around my inner child.  It’s been awhile since my own childhood and I was a little rusty on knowing where to begin.  I decided the easiest way to start would be to copy what my children modeled for me.

So without further ado, here’s our dirty little secret…

John and I are actually ninjas!

John Sarah Mabry Bio

Here’s how it usually all goes down in our house…

As soon as the boys are off at school and Sawyer is down for her nap, John and I take our skeletons, I mean ninja clothes, out of the closet and throw our grown-up mindset out the window.  We quickly change into our gear, get stretched out, and pump ourselves up for a fierce battle of speed, endurance, and mental focus.  Before challenging each other in a timed race through the finish line of our very own obstacle course, we pump up the jam of Ninja tunes.  Making a drum roll sound with our tongues, we proceed to introduce one another as though we were contestants on the popular show, America Ninja Warriors: Mom & Dad Edition.  Our inner child behaviors are in full force and not to be reckoned with during this time.

The anticipation skyrockets as I approach the starting point.  I take a few minutes to center myself before I begin the overwhelmingly difficult course.  It’s supposedly the hardest course in Ninja history, you know.  Ready…set…go!

The first stage started with the dreaded Quintuple Pillow Poppers, where we had to leap from pillow to pillow over the couch, followed by the Jumping Sticky Syrup Spider Wall.  The syrup on the wall is, of course, from our kids eating pancakes with their hands in the living room.  Next our agility and grace was tested as we had to contort our bodies to make it around the Teetering Log Towers.


The second stage of the course consisted of the Mighty Mt. Midoriyama Unstable Balance Bridge of couch cushions and the Rapid Descent Somersault over the caked-with-gooey-globs-of-grossness coffee table.


The third and final stage was the most grueling stage of all.  We had to dig down deep to crawl under the Highchair of Hell, swing through the Kitchen Counter Cliff Hanger, and finish by shimmying up the second and final Spider Climb before breaking through to the finish line.

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IMG_3405   IMG_3407

And the champion is…..Me, Sarah!  I finished the course in a record time of 58 seconds.  Wow!  Doing this was so freeing by allowing my unguarded inner child to come out and play.  Some might think this activity,and my other blogs and videos, are extremely immature.  However, I have to disagree and here’s why.

Just two short days ago I was in tears over the fact that I didn’t know if what I’m trying to do here at – putting my true self out there in an effort to inspire and entertain others through my unorthodox approach to life – is what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.  I was seriously struggling with the fact that putting silly stuff like this goes against everything the world demands of us grown ups.  It isn’t normal.  It isn’t what someone in the 30’s with a college degree should be doing with their time, right?  Well, I finally came to terms with this simple fact…I can’t care if you think I’m immature or wasting my time.  I’m following my heart right now.  It’s the greatest gift I can myself and I’m learning it from my kids.

Look, I know from personal experience that life can be really rough and it can be easy to plow through it being overly cautious and too uptight.  I understand that there are seasons where we all have to be, and should be, grown ups and tackle events with the utmost seriousness and respect they deserve.  Yet, there are also a lot of times where it is okay to let your guard down and see how magical life truly is when viewed with a child-like perspective.  The way I see it is that I have one earthly life to live, so I plan on living it to the fullest, allowing myself to feel my true, unguarded feelings without reservations as to what other people think or say about me.

I’d like to leave you with one final thought…go, right now, and pull that stick out of your bottom and do something to release your inner child, even if it’s just for a minute.  Sing a U2 song completely out of tune at the top of your lungs, dance a gig like a leprechaun who just found a pot of gold, or go ahead and take my idea and build a ninja obstacle course.  Your inner child needs to come out and will thank you for it.

Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw said it perfectly,

“People do not cease to play because they grow old: They grow old because they cease to play.” 

Subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss out on my upcoming quirky St. Patrick’s Day post.

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See what happens when a son tells his one-legged dad he can’t rock climb

IMG_1855A few days ago I had the joy of taking my oldest son Larson rock climbing at Climb Nashville. We went as part of an adaptive rock climbing event put on by a great organization called Catalyst Sports. Although I only had one leg, I did not use it as an excuse to miss out on a great opportunity to introduce Larson to a new challenge.

Larson was so excited, as it was his first time climbing. He was so ecstatic because his favorite show is American Ninja Warrior. On the show they highlight many of the athletes training by rock climbing and similar exercises to increase their upper body and grip stIMG_1816rength to be successful on the obstacle course.

I recently had a revision surgery on my amputated leg and cannot wear my prosthesis until it heals completely. I could have easily made excuses not to go at all or not to climb alongside my son. But I did not let it stop me.

We had a great time challenging each other by picking out a hold (or rock) to climb up to and see if the other one could climb up to it. The entire hour we spent climbing Larson would not go past a certain point. It was partly because his hands were getting tired but I think a lot of it was fear. I really wanted him get the satisfaction of climbing all the way to the top. So I challenged him to climb to the very top of the tallest wall in the section of the gym we were in. I tried to motivate him with an incentive of getting a Hot Wheels track he’s been wanting forever.

IMG_1844Several people had gathered at the far end of the gym where we where cheering Larson on as he attempted to conquer his fear and the wall. He was afraid and was telling himself, and me, that he couldn’t do it. I sat him down to have a little talk.

I said, “Larson, do you think your dad gets scared trying to climb up walls with just one foot? Well, I do. Although you might be afraid, you have to give yourself the chance and be willing to push though it. I could make endless excuses for not climbing today or not even coming to the gym at all. I’m extremely embarrassed and self conscience about not having my prosthesis on. I don’t like feeling like I’m “disabled.” But Larson, I came anyway today and I attempted climbing to the best of my ability. I don’t have to be the fasted or the most technical climber. What matters is that I’m out here trying. So I want you to recognize your fear and tell yourself you CAN do it. I know you have it in you to get to the top.”

The next thing you know “Mini-Me” was slowing scaling the tallest wall he’s ever seen. He systematically took one hold at a time and little by little he made his way to the top. Here’s a clip of him doing it.

I was so proud of my little guy for recognizing his fear, but facing it head on anyway. I firmly believe in leading by example. I try to the best I can to live my life in a way that models to my kids that even the most extreme challenges can be overcome. I am blessed for the opportunity to serve as a role model to my three amazing kids.

I challenge you right now to think of something you’re afraid of doing that you know you need to do. Now, take some kind of action right now to push through the anxiety and fear. You’re only truly alive when your living on the edge of your comfort zone. You CAN do it!