top of page

Episode 42: Brilliantly Resilient with Mary Fran Bontempo and Kristin Smedley

Get ready to laugh and learn as Kristin Smedley and Mary Fran Bontempo share their train wrecks and how they came through it stronger. They show us how to uncover our resilience when life hits us hard, and then discover our Brilliance to take our journey in a new direction. Kristin and Mary Fran guide us through their formula of Reset, Rise & Reveal, with actionable steps they used to achieve their success.

About Kristin and Mary Fran

Kristin Smedley and Mary Fran Bontempo BIOKristin Smedley and Mary Fran Bontempo know theirBrilliance. But they didn’t always. In fact, both Kristin and Mary Fran know what it feels like to be lost, afraid, unproductive, unsuccessful, and unhappy.That’s a lot of yuck, but without it, there would have been no need forResilience, the key to uncovering yourBrilliance.As a young mother, Kristin found herself raising two blind sons, with no idea of how to help them to live vital, successful lives.Mary Fran navigated numerous personal and professional losses, culminating with her son’s devastating heroin addiction.Utterly unprepared to manage either crisis,Kristin and Mary Fran knew only that they would not allow themselves or their children to be defined by the challenges, and they were determined to not only survive, but thrive.Together, they founded Brilliantly Resilient, the life-changing program that teaches others how to Reset with Resilience, Rise, and Reveal their Brilliance to the world. With a live show, podcast, a new book, workshops, digital programs, in-person and virtual events, Kristin and Mary Fran are committed to helping the world become Brilliantly Resilient!

Kristin Smedley and Mary Fran Bontempo are the dynamic duo behind Brilliantly Resilient, the powerful program to help you come through crisis Brilliant, not Broken. As a young mother, Kristin found herself raising two blind sons, with no idea of how to help them to live vital, successful lives. Mary Fran discovered one Mother’s Day that her son was a heroin addict when he overdosed and was rushed to a hospital, marking years of addiction. Utterly unprepared to manage either crisis, Kristin and Mary Fran knew only that they would not allow themselves or their children to be defined by the challenges—determined to not only survive but thrive.

Now they are award winning TEDx speakers, Best-Selling authors, and co-hosts of a popular online show and podcast. Kristin is known around the world for her work in empowering the blindness community and Mary Fran has impacted thousands of people affected by addiction. Together, they founded Brilliantly Resilient, the life-changing program that teaches others how to Reset with Resilience, Rise, and Reveal their Brilliance to the world, no matter the “sucker punches” life throws at you. (And their new book debuted as an Amazon Top 100 Best Seller and sat right next to Deepak Chopra!)

Defining Authenticity

The greek origin authentikos means to be genuine, but it also means to be original and authoritative. Erin knew it was more than to just be yourself.

Courage Up Moment

The first blind person Kristin met was her son, Michael. She’s not proud to say, but she spent the first 3 years crying on her couch praying blindness away. Right when she was at her lowest point, pregnant with her 2nd child wondering if this child would be blind too. Her 3 year old Michael came running into the room and said, “Mommy, isn’t this the best day ever?” She was sobbing with puffy eyes and responded, “ Why would you say that?” He said, “Mommy, I have all of my toys and the sun is up. I’m just so happy.” He ran back down to his perfect life.

He was so happy. In that moment, blindness was removed. It was her blindness to her son’s potential that was removed.

For Mary Fran, her moment came when her son’s life was literally on the line. That was the moment she said ok we’re dealing with this. She knew he was having troubles, and she thought that it might be as bad as they were, but that thought was so hard for her to wrap around that it could happen to her because that didn’t happen to people like her.

“When you let go of how things should be, you see the way things could be.”

Two days after her son’s overdose, they got in the car and she took him to rehab. That was the beginning of many courage up moments.

The Brilliantly Resilient Partnership

They were involved in a mastermind type of group brought together by a mutual friend. As the two of them worked together, they realized they were different from the rest of the wonderful women because they had been through these massive sucker punches. After getting to know each other, the realized it was more than that. It was their process and how they came out of it soaring.

The things they have in common are what matters. Their values are aligned and learned how to control the controllables. They realized they have a process, a 3 phase thing. Each of those phases reset, rise, and reveal your brilliance. They knew this process could help other people because it’s what helped them.

Getting Out of Sucker Punch Moments

First step is the perception of the issue. Think, “How I’m looking at the situation?”

It starts with a decision. The decision is are you visiting this place of crisis or are you going to live there? This is something you’re going through and living in, and a simple attitude adjustment allows you to deal with this because you know it’s not going to last forever.

After the Courage Up Moment

For Kristin, she would say that it was finding resources and tools for her boys so they could be mainstreamed in schools. The bigger moment is that now she’s able to just watch and see what their dreams are, guide them and help them accomplish their goals. To her, that’s where you succeed as a parent.

Take your dreams off of your kids and be their guide.

That moment allowed Mary Fran to be vulnerable and admit she didn’t know what was going on She took the vulnerability, raised her hand, asked for help from her tribe, and kept the lessons she learned beyond the situation with her son.

Sharing Your Children's Stories

Before Kristin started her non profit, she told her kids nothing was broken. Suddenly she was working on a non profit that was focused on fixing the blindness. She talked to her kids about it and sought their opinion. They said it would be nice to have an option and some kids need to see because they don’t have the resources that they have. That moment, they became part of the journey and sharing the story, wholeheartedly cheerleading her work to make sure things have to get changed for the blind community. They are now also in demand speakers.

There is a huge stigma attached to substance abuse, heroin addiction. For Mary Fran, making a decision to put everything out there was not hard because they did not want anyone to go through what they went through. It started around 10 years ago.

If you don’t try to share it and help other people, it’s just your personal pain. If you take it beyond and help someone, then it means something.

Kristin and Mary Fran want to be the resources they didn’t have.

Impact of Brilliantly Resilient

After their first event, that’s when the world shut down. They were living their reset, rise, reveal while launching Brilliantly Resilient. The way they were producing it mimicked what the world was doing. They did Facebook lives for 100 plus days straight in a row.

In a pandemic, we’re doing things we’ve never done before, taking huge risks without knowing what the results will be. Started the first half of the year in a reset. What they uncovered after the rise that made them go in the direction of massive impact.


To not be married to outcomes.


Kristin- Don’t let people who don’t matter, matter

Mary Fran- Take a Nap

Courage Song:

Kristin-You’re an Overcomer

Mary Fran- This is My Fight Song



Connect With Kristin and Mary Fran

Connect With Ming:

Instagram: @mingshelby

Facebook: Ming Shelby

Listen to songs on the Courage Up Playlist!

Have you subscribed to Courage Up yet?! Click here to subscribe! If you're loving the show, please leave a review to help us spread more podcast love!


bottom of page