mary barras


motivational speaker

"Mary Barras is an icon. She has overcome adversity from the time she was a small child. She is a speaker. She is an educator. She is a genuine gift to everyone she comes into contact with. The next time you need a motivational speaker. check her out!" ♥️

Kelly Hager: founder - Arras Sisters

Devastation is a choice

My message is, “Devastation is a Choice.”

I can show you how to go from tremendous suffering to triumph; from depression & anxiety to renewal. It’s hard to choose to heal when you’re in the valley of despair, but it’s not impossible. There is hope.

I have suffered terrible loss and as a result,  have developed a method for dealing with grief and moving forward. It brings me great joy to share with all who will listen. The world needs you and your gifts. Let them shine!


Devastation is a choice. This is part of my message. This lesson was taught to me by Dr. Johnson, my first, in a long line of therapists. I  sought therapy after my mother died by her own hand. Mom had been mentally ill for years. It seemed as if my world had spun off its axis. I even wondered how ANYONE could find happiness in this tumultuous society. This tragedy was only the first in a succession of seemingly insurmountable events. Ten years later my father died of suicide as well. Again, I was stricken with grief and dismay. The last tragedy was the one that broke me though. I lost my sweet baby boy. My husband and I learned in the pregnancy that our baby had Down syndrome. When he was born, Joshua was very sick. He required four surgeries in his short life. We loved him powerfully! After three months, however, his health wasn’t improving. The doctors discovered that he had a non-treatable and non-survivable disease. On June 18th, Josh died in my arms. I went into a deep depression.

The following August, we were overjoyed to find that I was pregnant again.  I was so excited and thankful! Our second son, Jonas, was born in May of 2005. He has brought me such joy throughout his life! In his early years, I was filled with both delight and serious postpartum depression. The deep sadness from losing my Joshy & eventually getting a divorce was terrible as well. As hard as it was to be a good mom while enduring such emotional turmoil,  I showed up for my son and continued getting counseling. My life was broken in two, but I did the best I could. It was, however, much less than perfect. The totality of the tragedies in my life caught up to me, and my self-esteem was incredibly low. Unfortunately, I behaved accordingly. I fought through this difficulty for over ten years. I tried and tried to get better, but it was one step forward and two steps back. Something that made an enormous difference in my wellness was switching to the antidepressant, Cymbalta. Now  I could see through the fog.

Then something happened; a phrase rang in my ears; DEVASTATION IS A CHOICE. Those words from Dr. Johnson, three decades ago came back to me like a lightning bolt! This simple phrase guided my actions moving forward. I said to myself, “I do not have a death sentence. Yes, I’ve experienced ungodly loss, but, I'm still here. I’m here and I can break the cycle of tragedy. I need to get my rear up and do the deal; not just the “surviving deal,” but the “THRIVING  deal!” I have a bright beautiful son who’s watching me.”

My advice is this; UNDERSTAND that you deserve a better life! If you think you don’t deserve it, that’s not correct. There’s no such thing as not deserving it. We have an obligation to ourselves and God to be the best version of ourselves that we can muster. We’re his babies. Just as we wouldn’t kick our baby out of the house for spilling milk, God/Universe/Love/Source/Nature (whatever you like to call he/she/it) wouldn’t kick us out of grace because we’ve fallen off track.

With careful determination and great tenacity, I summoned the memories of good times and realized that happiness is a choice. By taking better care of myself, things started to change and now, I never felt stronger, wiser, and more powerful in life.  I’m speaking my truth about horrific suffering and how I picked myself up, washed my face, and began to live life again.

road map to healing


speaking engagements

Helping people and speaking out about what I’ve learned through the road to recovery is my passion!

If you feel that my message could help you or your group, please reach out.