Third Act with Liz Tinkham

The Comfort Cub with Marcella Johnson

Liz talks with Marcella Johnson, Founder of the Comfort Cub. Marcella’s third act was born the day her fourth child, George, was born and died in 1999. Desperate to resolve the post-partum ache in her arms and heart, Marcella created a weighted teddy bear and a nonprofit to distribute the bears that provide therapeutic comfort for people suffering from what is now known as Broken Heart Syndrome.

marcella johnson

Third Act Podcast

Your first act is school, your second act is work, but have you thought about what you’re going to do in your third act? Join host Liz Tinkham, a former Accenture Senior Managing Director, as she talks to guests who are happily “pretired” – enjoying their time, treasure, and talent to pursue their purpose and passion in the third act of their life.

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The Comfort Cub with Marcella Johnson

marcella johnson

On this episode, Liz talks with Marcella Johnson – Founder of the Comfort Cub. Marcella’s story is a bit different than the show’s usual guests in that Marcella didn’t follow the path of school, big career, and then pretiring into her passion project. Her third act was literally born the day her fourth child, George, was born in 1999.

George was born with a rare disease and died the day he was born. Marcella left the hospital the next day without a baby in her arms, and over the course of the next few weeks developed symptoms similar to a heart attack – achy arms and heart, but nothing a doctor could diagnose. A few weeks after George’s death, she picked up a planter and instantly felt better having the weight in her arms. She went on to learn that moms all over the world who had lost children were substituting weighted objects to ease the ache created by the lack of a baby. With this insight, she created a teddy bear — now known as the Comfort Cub — which she began to distribute to hospice centers and hospitals throughout her hometown of San Diego.

Today, The Comfort Cub is a non-profit organization that donates thousands of Comfort Cubs to moms all over as well as to anyone seeking therapeutic comfort. Join Liz for this very special episode as she talks to Marcella about her third and likely forever act to honor the legacy of her son, George.

2:36 Marcella’s Acts 1 and 2
5:20 The birth and death of George
8:30 The therapeutic benefits of the terracotta planter
13:04 Accelerating her grief
16:47 The initial Comfort Cub
21:53 “You seem a bit crazy”
25:15 Growing the Comfort Cub organization
28:59 Comfort Cubs for therapeutic use
31:50 It’s a real thing – Takutsubo Syndrome
36:11 Comfort Cubs helping during Covid-19

Connect with Marcella Johnson on LinkedIn. You can make a donation to Comfort Cub or learn more about the organization here. Learn more about Takutsubo Syndrome here.

If you enjoyed the podcast, please subscribe and share a review. Engage with more stories of those finding fulfillment in the third act of their lives on Liz Tinkham’s Third Act podcast at

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