Episode 59: Show Me Your Story with Lauri Levenfeld

Photo by Jessica Epstein

Photo by Jessica Epstein

On Episode 59 of the Mama Bear Dares podcast, co-hosts Tesi and Leslie interview Lauri Levenfeld, a visionary, photographer, mother, wife, friend, and the soul behind the Project for Women, a forum showcasing inspiring women in fashion, technology, philanthropy, and business. Lauri was born a storyteller and during the podcast the three women dive deep in a conversation about gratitude, giving back, projected perfectionism, and authenticity. The hosts delight in the story of Lauri's profound (and very sweet) encounter with Nelson Mandela and are moved by her deep appreciation for the importance of connection, communication, history, and hard work. Never mind that Lauri has photographed Mark Zuckerberg and Hillary Clinton (just to name a few!), the three women peel back the layers of being a woman, wife, and mother, and enjoy a dialogue about the sweetness, silliness, and profundity of life.

Also discussed on the podcast:

  • The ways in which motherhood shifts a woman's career and art and how the motherhood, womanhood, and art can merge together to make a rich and meaningful life
  • Raising young girls (specifically tweens and teens) within the uncharted landscape of social media
  • The importance of quiet time, "in-between" minutes, meditation, and striving to be in the moment
  • The importance and beauty of connection when story-telling, regardless of the means of delivery

OBSESS SESH:

Lauri is obsessed with Hedi Slimane, anything Saint Laurent, and her star shoes...

LINKS

Project for Women

Project for Girls...Coming Soon!

If you want a little rock-and-roll, Lauri says that Jene Park is your gal! She dresses all the A-listers! Find her HERE and HERE

Lauri loves cooking with her daughter and loves Catherine McCord of Weelicious! Learn more HERE.

If you are a dog lover like Lauri (she says her pup is her second child and her long-lost son!), you gotta look up the pet bling by Carrie Cramer. (Featured on Project for Women HERE.)

Lauri's new fave show, Bravo’s original script Odd Mom Out with Jill Kargman, is raw, real and brilliant!

We all know and love Becky Straw of The Adventure Project!

Join the conversation online! Here’s where you can find us:

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and let us know what you’re thinking!

Don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes. We are having so much fun and really appreciate you listening!!

Help support Mama Bear Dares by shopping with us! Here are our affiliate links:

Do your Amazon shopping here. It costs you nothing and we get a bit of change from Amazon with each purchase! Yay!

Today’s episode is brought to you by Audible. Get a FREE audiobook download and 30 day free trial at www.audible.com/mamabeardares.

As always, thanks to Wunderkind for the beats!

Pre-order Leslie's book, Mama Bear's Manifesto, by clicking here!

Episode 56: Youth Sports: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

On Episode 56, co-hosts Leslie and Tesi tackle the topic of youth sports. It’s a subject fraught with all kinds of high emotion and the women hold nothing back as they discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly. Tesi and Leslie encourage listeners who find themselves on the bleachers or on the sidelines to check their Mama Bear for her motives and conduct themselves in a way that engages the good and prevents the bad and the ugly from seeping into the line-up. The two are breathtakingly honest about their perception of the youth sports phenomenon in the United States and they challenge the conventions of gender, the struggle over expectations, and the physical health and well-being of the generation coming up in the ranks. It’s a huge and hot topic, and the co-hosts dive in deep as they discuss and encourage!

The Good:

  • Teaches time management
  • Motivates other positive behavior and task completion
  • Teaches teamwork and respect
  • Builds a solid foundation of health and wellness

The Bad:

  • Can be ultra competitive and intimidating for a non-competitive kid
  • Forces our babies to grow up too fast
  • Encourages an ugly (and false) expectation of masculinity
  • Time-suck (Is there still time for camp, family vacations, etc. when you're on a team?)
  • Cost prohibitive for some families

The Ugly:

  • The parents! (Let's be positive spectators, Mama Bears.)
  • Overuse and injury

The Take-Away:

Listen to Tesi’s Mama Bear DARE at the end of the episode for encouragement on living your values and loving well amidst a culture of heightened competitiveness, towering energy, and fraught emotion.

LINKS:

Listen to Jody Landers on Episode 3 for more wisdom!

And check out the following video about what kids really want from their spectator parents:


Mama Bears, what are your thoughts on this fraught topic? We'd love to know what you think! Join the conversation online! Here’s where you can find us:

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and let us know what you’re thinking!

Don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes. We are having so much fun and really appreciate you listening!!

Help support Mama Bear Dares by shopping with us! Here are our affiliate links:

Do your Amazon shopping here. It costs you nothing and we get a bit of change from Amazon with each purchase! Yay!

Today’s episode is brought to you by Audible. Get a FREE audiobook download and 30 day free trial at www.audible.com/mamabeardares.

As always, thanks to Wunderkind for the beats!

Pre-order Leslie's book, Mama Bear's Manifesto, by clicking here!

Episode 55: Motherhood Abroad with Tarin Tesfaye

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to parent in a developing nation? Do you ever like to peer through the window of other worlds and observe how parenting plays out? On Episode 55, co-host Leslie grabs the mic in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, and sits down with Tarin Tesfaye, an American woman living and mothering in a culture very different from the one we experience here in the United States. Listen in as she shares what it’s like to live in a mud hut on her in-law's family compound, the challenges and joys she finds in her everyday life with her husband and son, and her pulse on the world refugee crisis as an employee of ZOA, an NGO that focuses on helping internally displaced people, host populations, returnees, and a large population of refugees who fled a lethal combination of violence and drought in Somalia, conflict in South Sudan, and human rights violations in Eritrea.

Other points discussed:

  • Practicalities of mothering in a developing country (ex. laundry!)
  • Slowed-down lifestyle: Frazzled nature of American culture vs. life in Ethiopia
  • Refugee care (South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea)
  • Encouraging the Other Self

LINKS:

Want to learn more about the refugee experience? Tarin recommends the following links:

Read Refugee Stories HERE | Stories from Eritrea and Somalia can be found HERE

Tarin works here: ZOA Ethiopia

Check out these books that focus on motherhood abroad or in worlds different than your own. Leslie has read and enjoyed them all:

Bringing up Bebe | The Battle Hymn of A Tiger Mom | Primates of Park Avenue | How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm: And Other Adventures in Parenting (from Argentina to Tanzania and everywhere in between)

Heading to Ethiopia? We highly recommend the Well Spring Guesthouse!

Mama Bears, we'd love to know what you think! Join the conversation online! Here’s where you can find us:

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and let us know what you’re thinking!

Don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes. We are having so much fun and really appreciate you listening!!

Help support Mama Bear Dares by shopping with us! Here are our affiliate links:

Do your Amazon shopping here. It costs you nothing and we get a bit of change from Amazon with each purchase! Yay!

Today’s episode is brought to you by Audible. Get a FREE audiobook download and 30 day free trial at www.audible.com/mamabeardares.

As always, thanks to Wunderkind for the beats!

Pre-order Leslie's book, Mama Bear's Manifesto, by clicking here!

Episode 54: A Mama Bear Review of Bad Moms

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“You messed with my daughter and now I will have to fight you in the Trader Joe’s parking lot.” You guys! Even bad moms — we're pretty sure we're all bad moms — seek justice for their children and protect their young! Though co-hosts Tesi and Leslie would never condone fighting anyone in the Trader Joe's parking lot or elsewhere, they can't help but laugh with this Bad Moms movie moment. On this episode of the podcast, the co-hosts unpack their views of the movie Bad Moms, including this Mama Bear moment and many more. The two sisters enjoy their first movie review, as well as two segments meant to console and encourage: Leslie gets vulnerable in So What Happened Was... and the sisters unload some everyday hilarity and self-reflection in Things We Should Probably Feel Guilty About, But Don't... Sometimes we need a reminder, even from the cataclysmic and sometimes questionable force of Hollywood, that we can laugh! So let's laugh! This episode dares you to belly laugh down the aisle of life and to be YOU in all of your imperfect glory.

So what happened was...

Leslie shares a story where she cracked under the PTA pressure. Can you relate? Please make her feel better by sharing your own humble moments with us on social media!

Mama Bear goes to the movies...

Tesi and Leslie discuss their take on the movie Bad Moms. Watch the trailer HERE. They focus on the following themes...

  1. Expectations of Perfection (no modern mother is immune)
  2. Modern Men as Infants?
  3. Mama Bear Moments
  4. Insane Love of Offspring

Things We Should Probably Feel Guilty About, But Don't...

Things get real during this segment. Sometimes laughter is the only way to see through the madness, right?!

Mama Bears, did you see the movie? We'd love to know what you think! Join the conversation online! Here’s where you can find us:

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and let us know what you’re thinking!

Don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes. We are having so much fun and really appreciate you listening!!

Help support Mama Bear Dares by shopping with us! Here are our affiliate links:

Do your Amazon shopping here. It costs you nothing and we get a bit of change from Amazon with each purchase! Yay!

Today’s episode is brought to you by Audible. Get a FREE audiobook download and 30 day free trial at www.audible.com/mamabeardares.

As always, thanks to Wunderkind for the beats!

Pre-order Leslie's book, Mama Bear's Manifesto, by clicking here!

Episode 52: How to Dodge Double-Dealing & Trickery During Late Summer & Always

Ever wonder how the women around you seem to get all the things done? Ever wish parenting had a playbook where rules were hard and fast and yes's and no's were easy to determine? On Episode 52 of the Mama Bear Dares Podcast, co-hosts Tesi and Leslie dive into both, first with an Ask Us Anything segment during which they tackle a listener question and then in a segment (We Read It, We Loved It, Let's Discuss) in which they discuss their own philosophy and daily practice of standard yes's and no's. After a lively discussion full of examples and solutions, the women wrap up the Mama Bear Mini with a segment called Maybe It's Meditation, detailing their current meditation practice and what their noticing as a result.

Ask Us Anything

A listener sent the following question for Leslie and Tesi to answer and they tackle in their first segment:

How do you balance 8 kids between the two of you, husbands, homes, and careers? Be real. What’s an average day like for you? I see so many women just killing it it at so many different things and my brain just can’t comprehend how everyone seems to get everything done. Please enlighten me…

Do you have a question for the Mama Bear Dares podcast? Email mamabeardares@gmail.com or hit up the MBD social media channels and ask away!

We Read It, We Loved It, Let's Discuss...

Jen Hatmaker wrote a blog post last summer outlining she and her husband's parenting Yes's and No's. These are the hard lines that parents can draw in their homes and lives that help guide their families. For instance, Tesi says NO to doing things (chores, etc.) for her kids, but she allows them to turn her home into a jungle gym. Leslie and her husband draw a hard NO on violent video games and movies, but say YES to music. We love the idea of setting these parameters for our families.

Check out Jen Hatmaker's books and blog. Her most recent book is called For the Love; our favorite is Seven.

Maybe it's Meditation

Tesi and Leslie discuss the benefits of meditation and the ways they see it playing out in their lives currently. Don't forget Leslie's favorite meditation app, Headspace.

Mama Bears, we’re online! Here’s where you can find us:

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and let us know what you’re thinking!

Don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes. We are having so much fun and really appreciate you listening!!

Help support Mama Bear Dares by shopping with us! Here are our affiliate links:

Do your Amazon shopping here. It costs you nothing and we get a bit of change from Amazon with each purchase! Yay!

Today’s episode is brought to you by Audible. Get a FREE audiobook download and 30 day free trial at www.audible.com/mamabeardares.

As always, thanks to Wunderkind for the beats!

Episode 51: Give Your Child the World with Jamie C. Martin

On this episode of Mama Bear Dares, Tesi and Leslie talk to Jamie C. Martin, a mother, an avid reader, a homeschooler, a world traveler, and a witness to the terrible tragedy that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. Jamie has written a book that the sister-hosts absolutely love and think you will, too! The women discuss Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time and the ways in which we can help our children develop empathy and compassion through literature and story. After a conversation that covers topics ranging from the gift of public libraries to dealing with tragedy alongside children to the dynamic appeal of list-making to the beauty of our enormous world, the women leave listeners with a DARE that encourages listeners to think about their own story and the stories of others, using the collective narratives to give children the gift of uplifting, beautiful, redemptive tales as a shield from the world's cynicism and a springboard to a life of love and compassion.

Other points discussed:

  • Our shared love of books!
  • Homeschooling and intentional education
  • The power of STORY
  • Parenting through tragedy
  • How/Why to emphasize global-mindedness in your American household today

LINKS:

Leslie is reading a re-telling of Emma by Alexander McCall Smith, the author of The Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency  | Tesi is reading Dot Complicated: Untangling Our Wired Lives. Our kids are reading the new Harry Potter book (of course!), Anna Habiscus, James Harriott, and Sports Illustrated for Kids.

Episode 34 is a conversation about the power and joys of traveling with kids. Find it HERE.

Jamie C. Martin can be found at Simplehomeschool.net and on Facebook.

Buy the book, Give Your Child the World, HERE!

Honey for the Child's Heart

Check out these blog posts penned by Jamie:

How to Homeschool | Newtown | Steady Days Shine Your Light

Special thanks to Wunderkind for the music! Keep bringing it!

Get a FREE audiobook download and 30 day free trial at www.audible.com/mamabeardares.


Mama Bear Dares is online! Here’s where you can find us:

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Episode 49: Mothering & Mental Illness (Your Kids Are Going to be Okay)

On Episode 49 of the Mama Bear Dares Podcast, co-hosts Tesi and Leslie speak to Cathy Engstrom, a mom of three, a runner, and an all-around lovely woman. As the women discuss Cathy's life, they focus on the strength she has shown while parenting one child with a learning disability and one child with mental illness.

Cathy is honest about both the struggle and the beauty of being a mom to kids who require her Mama Bear to advocate on their behalf every single day. The women celebrate the engaged Mama Bear who is awake not only to the larger world around her, but who realizes that changing the world starts at home. Cathy offers a unique perspective, incredible wisdom, and hope to mothers who are struggling through the ups and downs of parenting children with various needs.

Other topics discussed on the podcast:

  • How to approach teachers, school administrators, and your child's school district as a whole, even when it seems overwhelming to do so
  • Depression, anxiety, attachment disorders, dyslexia, and dysgraphia
  • The importance of allowing yourself to grieve if a child is diagnosed with a disability or illness
  • The importance of self care (hint: People magazine for the win!)
  • The dignity and relief of being honest when it comes to talking about the circumstances of mental illness within your community
  • The ways we can help other mothers who are caring for children with a diagnosis

* A special thanks to Lily and Carver for allowing their mom to share their stories on the podcast. We are positive that their bravery and openness will provide a light for others! *

LINKS:

For mamas who have just received a learning disability diagnosis or see red flags, Cathy recommends the following:

  1. Your local school district's website. (Not your school; the school district.) Start clicking on links to special education, etc., and get some phone numbers for help.
  2. www.ldonline.org
  3. www.ldaamerica.org/parents

For mental health, Cathy recommends the following resources:

  1. www.nimh.gov
  2. www.careforyourmind.org
  3. THIS article on what to do if you can't afford mental health care.

This essay by Jillian Flynn: Dear Parents of Well-Behaved Children


Mama Bears, we’re online! Here’s where you can find us:

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and let us know what you’re thinking!

Don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes. We are having so fun and really appreciate you listening!!

Help support Mama Bear Dares by shopping with us! Here are our affiliate links:

Do your Amazon shopping here. It costs you nothing and we get a bit of change from Amazon with each purchase! Yay!

Today’s episode is brought to you by Audible. Get a FREE audiobook download and 30 day free trial at www.audible.com/mamabeardares.

As always, thanks to Wunderkind for the beats!

Episode 40: On Privilege

On Part 2 of our series exploring privilege, co-hosts Tesi and Leslie focus more on what privilege even means. We hear from Kait Klipsch (another Mama Bear sister!) on how she has seen her own privilege play out, as well as how easy it is to ignore it as part of your reality.

The co-hosts also explore the disheartening injustices Kait has witnessed while working in the criminal justice system in Brooklyn, New York, with the aim to educate themselves and their listeners on how injustice happens everywhere, including in places like the Midwest.

Today's episode expands on Episode 39, which released Monday, so please go back and listen for context. Tesi and Leslie hope this series with Kait will give Mama Bears the frame of reference they need when they hear current conversations surrounding the phrase "white privilege." After the deaths this week in America, everyone at Mama Bear Dares believe it's of the utmost important to unpack the phrase so that we can learn to live out our lives with compassion.

PRIVILEGES DISCUSSED:

  • Coming from a family who had reliable housing, plenty of food, two parents and loving siblings. One that supported and encouraged and could also financially support one of its members if he/she fell onto hard times.
  • Seemingly straight identifying
  • Having a common name (Examples: Kait, Jennie, Cynthia, Mandy, Meg)
  • Being white
  • Choosing when you have sex and with whom
  • Positive encounters with police officers
  • Access to quality education, not just K-12 but also undergrad and graduate schools
  • Ability to leave a community that is not good for you financially, mentally, emotionally or spiritually
  • The idea that privileges build on one another to set you up for success long term

OTHER IDEAS DISCUSSED ON THIS EPISODE:

  • Those with the least power tend to be the ones who are exploited the most
  • The power of a story
  • Is it worth it to know about your own privilege? To come face-to-face with it and realize even though you've worked really hard to get to where you are, there were other forces outside of that which benefit you? Is it worth it to fully realize those same forces hold back people without the same privileges? Is it worth it to know such these? And is it worth it to teach your kids?

LINKS TO IDEAS DISCUSSED ON THIS EPISODE:

Kait used to work for Brooklyn Justice Initiatives, part of the Center for Court Innovation in Brooklyn, NY.

Kait currently works for STEPS to End Family Violence.


Mama Bears, we’re online! Here’s where you can find us:

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and let us know what you’re thinking!

Don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes. We are having so fun and really appreciate you listening!!

Help support Mama Bear Dares by shopping with us! Here are our affiliate links:

Do your Amazon shopping here. It costs you nothing and we get a bit of change from Amazon with each purchase! Yay!

Today’s episode is brought to you by Audible. Get a FREE audiobook download and 30 day free trial at www.audible.com/mamabeardares.

As always, thanks to Wunderkind for the beats!

Episode 39: The Eye-Opening Power of Travel

It has been a really intense week here in America. From Alton Sterling and Philando Castle to the five police officers in Dallas, this week has been seemingly consumed with death. If there has been one thing that is shared among Americans, it's grief.

On Episode 39 of the Mama Bear Dares Podcast, co-hosts Tesi and Leslie welcome another sister-in-law, Kait Klipsch, to the conversation. Because of Kait's unique outlook on life and their shared interests, the women talked for more than 2 hours. In Part 1, the women deep dive into Kait's extensive experience in living and working in other countries. The women talk about how traveling to new worlds—whether it be across the world to Sri Lanka or across the city to the south side of Chicago—opens eyes to new realities and are so often worlds away from Kait's own experience as a white, upper-middle class woman.

OTHER IDEAS DISCUSSED IN THE PODCAST:

  • What does it mean to work in an area that has virtually no privileges and then go home to your safe, warm, well fed house? How do you live in that tension?
  • How do we as Mama Bears allow our kids to learn these lessons of privilege while also watching them struggle with the reality? How do we watch them walk through it without trying to step in and save them from it? What value is there in our kids knowing the experiences of other races, cultures and countries?
  • Immigration. The false narrative that people immigrating to America would choose America over their own communities if there was enough work. Kait's experience in Mexico opened her eyes to the reality.
  • The idea of identity and how, in America, we are forced to create a singular identity. But when you travel in another country the people don't know your story and so you are free to just be who you are in that moment.
  • Communication. How even when we don't speak a common language, much can be communicated. The shared business of being human.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, FOLLOW THE LINKS ALSO DISCUSSED IN THE PODCAST:

The organization Kait worked for in Chicago was Heartland Alliance.

The organization Kait worked for in Mexico was La Fundacion Comunitaria.

The organization Kait worked for in Sri Lanka was Professional Psychological Counseling Center of Batticaloa.

Episode 23: On Immigration, Compassion, and Complexity with Cynthia Vanderpool Garcia


Mama Bears, we’re online! Here’s where you can find us:

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and let us know what you’re thinking!

Don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes. We are having so fun and really appreciate you listening!!

Help support Mama Bear Dares by shopping with us! Here are our affiliate links:

Do your Amazon shopping here. It costs you nothing and we get a bit of change from Amazon with each purchase! Yay!

Today’s episode is brought to you by Audible. Get a FREE audiobook download and 30 day free trial at www.audible.com/mamabeardares.

As always, thanks to Wunderkind for the beats!