Mama Bear Dares

The Mama Bear Dares podcast explores the intersection of the Mother Self and the Other Self and, in doing so, encourages listeners to discover their inner Mama Bear and unlock her power in the pursuit of a life of love and compassion.
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Mama Bear Dares



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May 22, 2017

Are you guys feeling tired? Do you find yourself pumping your first in the air and yelling "RESIST" at your radio or news feed while making dinner? One Episode 113, Leslie and Tesi discuss the act of resistance, what it means, and how Mama Bears across the world might turn their anger and confusion into action. How do we resist policies and politics that don't align with our values? How do we resist the metaphorical death of kindness? How do we resist alienating others who disagree with us? The co-hosts break down their feelings of discontent and concern and encourage one another to action through tangible steps. The conversation is passionate, but the ultimate aim is to understand the incredibly complex range of human emotions (from anger to apathy) felt in the current climate of American in 2017, to harness those feelings to action, and to inspire the Mama Bear community to do the same. Listen in and join the conversation online! Full full Show Notes, visit

May 15, 2017

On Episode 112 of the Mama Bear Dares Podcast, Tesi sits down with Ashanti Johnson, the incredible force behind 360 Mind Body Soul. A wife, mother, and successful business owner and leader in the mindfulness movement, Ashanti dives deep into a conversation with Tesi and Leslie about the layers upon layers of a healthy, full life. The women speak candidly about health not just in terms of weight, but with a nod toward spirituality and personal growth. The conversation is honest, thoughtful, and will inspire listeners to be grateful for all they've been given and motivated to live their best life — mind, body, and soul. For complete Show Notes, visit the Mama Bear Dares website.

May 8, 2017

On this Mama Bear Mini podcast episode, co-hosts Tesi and Leslie grab the mic, pour some coffee (Leslie) and tea (Tesi), and settle in for some sisterly banter. They share a listener story of a woman who was changed profoundly by motherhood and celebrate her transformation, discuss the tragic murder of Jordan Edwards, and encourage one another to push the boundaries of their Mama Bear to cover the vulnerable—no matter what they look or where they come from. Their discussion of what's happening in America, the militarization of our police, and how our Mama Bear might respond is vulnerable, honest, and trusting of the safe space they've carved out in the Mama Bear community. They end the podcast with a discussion of Leslie's new favorite book: I Know How She Does It. Leslie shares excitement over the book, her impressions, as well as some takeaways from author Laura Vanderkam's research and reflection that may be applicable to all of us. Join the conversation online and check out complete Show Notes HERE.

May 1, 2017

On Episode 110 of the Mama Bear Dares Podcast, Tesi sits down with Michele Cushatt, a wife, mother, and successful author, speaker, and woman unafraid to dig deep in order to uncover life's treasures. Michele's new book, I AM: A 60-day Journey to Knowing You Are Because of Who He Is, explores the soul-deep journey that individuals might embark upon when seeking to discover their true self and encourages women to uncover and embrace the beautiful and unique way that they were made and then cling to the discovery of their real, true self during moments of insecurity. Michele and Tesi speak candidly about the ways in which grave illness prompts big questions as Michele shares how a brutal bout with cancer changed her life and listeners will be inspired by a conversation filled with hard-earned wisdom and an abundance of hope.

Apr 24, 2017

On this Mama Bear Mini episode, co-hosts Tesi and Leslie talk about Ava DuVernay's powerful 2016 documentary 13TH. The two believe everyone should view this thought-provoking, truth-telling, shocking and important film and do their best to encourage listeners to acknowledge its premise: that mass incarceration is modern-day American slavery. Leslie and Tesi discuss highlights of the documentary and emphatically debrief with one another about what they learned. The episode begins with bringing the listener up to speed on the 13th amendment and the moments throughout history (recent history included) that have led to where we land today, in a country that holds 5 percent of the world's population and one-quarter of the world's prisoners, the majority of whom are men of color. The sisters then list a few takeaways that they hope will stick with them (and with listeners) in the coming weeks and months so as not to forget the scope of the problem of mass incarceration and the privatization of prisons that society faces. They end the podcast with a series of suggested responses, encouraging listeners to not only watch the documentary themselves but then be brave in their response. Complete Show Notes are available on the Mama Bear Dares website. Listen in and join the conversation online!

Apr 17, 2017

On Episode 108 of the Mama Bear Dares podcast, Leslie sits down with Lisa Leonard, a wife, mother, and successful career woman battling Stage 3 breast cancer. Lisa is beyond generous as she shares the story of her diagnosis, the battle for her health, and the state of her relationships in the midst of sickness. She shares her story with the hope that listeners will will benefit from her truth—that they'll make themselves a priority, that they'll be religious about doing a monthly self-check breast exam, and that they'll keep their girlfriends close. Through their conversation, Lisa will inspire listeners with her upbeat spirit, her hope, and the wisdom she's gained from the battle she's fighting. For complete Show Notes, visit Mama Bear Dares online.

Apr 10, 2017

On this Mama Bear Mini episode, co-hosts Tesi and Leslie talk about health, specifically, strokes in women. When Leslie was 26, she suffered a small stroke that changed the trajectory of her life and Tesi and Leslie discuss the incident with the hope of encouraging women to learn the signs of a stroke and to pay attention to their bodies. The two also answer a listener question about the essence of the Mama Bear and how she might emerge while doing the important (and frankly exhausting) work of raising young children. The episode ends with a few laughs and a few truth bombs in the segment Things We Should Probably Feel Guilty About, But Don't. Listen in and join the conversation online! For full Show Notes, please visit the Mama Bear Dares Podcast website.

Apr 3, 2017

On Episode 105 of the Mama Bear Dares podcast, Tesi grabs the mic and sits down with the fabulous Shannan Martin, former Flower Patch Farm Girl and current mom, writer, and advocate for those on the fringes. Shannan recently released a book called Falling Free: Rescued From the Life I Always Wanted and the two women discuss the book's major themes, which include rethinking the American Dream, giving up the comforts of a solidly middle class life and moving to an under-resourced area, committing to relationships with those to whom you are connect by proximity, and being an advocate for the voiceless when opportunities arise. Through their conversation, Shannan and Tesi will inspire listeners to reflect on their social position in America and the ways in which they interact with their community and the world around them. View complete Show Notes at


Mar 27, 2017

On this Mama Bear Mini episode, co-hosts Tesi and Leslie grab the mic and talk through several ideas and concerns, namely, The Orgasm Gap. The sisters knew that women were paid less in the workplace, but the rewards differ in bedroom as well? This required some conversation. In a lively We Read It, We Loved It, Let's Discuss, the women talk about the article entitled Straight Women Are Having Fewer Orgasms Than Everyone Else and endeavor to figure out why this is so and encourage plentiful orgasms for all. The sisters also spend time pointing out the goodness and hope in the world with one of their favorite segments, WE SEE YOU! They share observations of what they've seen in their own lives and celebrate small acts of bravery and love. The episode ends with an OBSESH SESH in which Tesi and Leslie mention what they're currently loving and leave listeners with a dare for braver, more joyful living. Head to the Mama Bear Dares website for complete Show Notes!

Mar 20, 2017

Tesi and Leslie were delighted to talk with Heather Avis, a mother, author, and advocate, on Episode 104 of the Mama Bear Dares Podcast. Heather's debut book, The Lucky Few, comes out this month and the three women found instant rapport as they discussed writing, travel, everyday miracles, and raising children. Heather is a mom to three kids, two of whom have Down Syndrome, and in addition to her role of meal-maker and child-rearer, she is a writer, speaker, and passionate advocate for her children—and all children—with special needs. The women bond over broken hearts for those living in the margins and share an impassioned Mama Bear belief in stepping up for the underdog. For complete Show Notes, visit the Mama Bear Dares website!

Mar 13, 2017

On Episode 103 of the Mama Bear Dares Podcast, Becky Straw, co-founder and CEO of The Adventure Project (TAP), shares the empowering work of her organization in the battle towards worldwide justice and equality. Becky, who has been a major player in international aid for over a decade, talks about what her nonprofit is doing to ensure clean water to those who go without and shows us how she has engaged her Mama Bear in battle. Tesi and Leslie listen as Becky shares the origin story of TAP, tells inspiring stories from the field, provides research and observations on global needs and reality, and reveals the importance of the people who tend to be most supportive to the work of TAP. Can you guess who that might be? MOMS and Millennials, of course! Listen in to this Mama Bear Dares episode to be inspired by Becky's heart for social justice and consider joining her this World Water Day! Read complete Show Notes on the Mama Bear Dares website.

Mar 6, 2017

One Episode 102 of the Mama Bear Dares Podcast, Carmen Sognonvi, founder and publisher of the beautiful and information-rich online destination for luxury family travel, Top Flight Family, shares her belief in traveling with kids. Carmen joins Tesi and Leslie in a discussion of the eye-opening power of traveling with children (whether abroad or in your own state or country), the sense of adventure and curiosity travel nurtures, and the value of time spent together outside your everyday environment. The women discuss the beauty of exploring different places, people, and culture with kids in tow, discuss the practical tips for making it happen, and dive into the layers of race, gender, economic privilege, and family make-up in the travel sphere. For complete Show Notes, visit the Mama Bear Dares website!

Feb 27, 2017

It's an all-out celebration! Tesi and Leslie take a moment to look back over their first 101 (!) episodes and appreciate all the incredible women who have shared wisdom, knowledge, perspective, and laughs at the microphone over the last year. What an amazing group of women!! The hosts marvel over their good fortune, reminisce about starting the podcast nearly one year ago, look forward to future episodes and growth, and end with a few fun segments, one that Tesi lovingly refers to as "Dreamweaver" and, finally, an "Ask Us Anything" with a question from a reader that has the hosts diving deep for wisdom. Sign up for the Mama Bear Newsletter and read complete Show Notes at the Mama Bear Dares website!

Feb 20, 2017

On the 100th (!) episode of the Mama Bear Dares Podcast, Tesi and Leslie talk to Esther Emery, author of the beautiful memoir What Falls From the Sky, about motherhood, womanhood, and engaging the Mama Bear in summoning the courage to do what is right for us as individuals. The women discuss what life is like without digital distraction, where personal validation comes from, and recognizing and overcoming the obstacles that keep us from being our very best selves. Leslie and Tesi adore the book and the conversation and think listeners will be fascinated by Esther's story and her wisdom. Listen in as the women unpack What Falls From the Sky and revel in a fantastic episode 100! For full Show Notes, visit the Mama Bear website!

Feb 13, 2017

On this Mama Bear Mini episode, co-hosts Tesi and Leslie talk about the Danish tradition of the "Hygge" as a means of not just surviving winter, but embracing the season and all of its gifts. They extol the benefits of fire and throw blankets in a way that ultimately prepares each of us for action and social change. Hygge sounds a lot like self care, and Tesi and Leslie discuss it's value in their 99th(!) podcast. The episode ends with a rare Pop Culture segment in which Tesi and Leslie spend a bit of time deconstructing all things Super Bowl and the episode ends with a Mama Bear wrap-up and a dare for intentional rest and better living! Full Show Notes are availabe on the MBD website, where you can also sign up for the newsletter!

Feb 6, 2017

On Episode 98 of the Mama Bear Dares podcast, Tesi grabs the mic and sits down in the living room of her new home in her new town and talks to Kate Segal, a mom, spouse, friend, life-long public servant, and former member of the Michigan House of Representatives. What does it take to be a successful politician at the state level? How was she able to mother and serve simultaneously? What's day-to-day life in politics like? How can we, as engaged Mama Bears, make sure our voices are heard? These are just a few of the questions Kate answers as Tesi dives deep into a conversation about democracy and civic responsibility. Regardless of political leanings, listeners will find the honesty and optimism of Kate to be refreshing and her life in the trenches to be fascinating! Full Show Notes can be found at

Feb 1, 2017

On this Mama Bear Mini episode, co-hosts Tesi and Leslie make an announcement about the podcast, update listeners on Leslie's health scare, and engage in a lively and honest conversation about the epidemic of busyness that they believe has taken over in the Western world. The women lament the pressure they feel to perform and the risk of wrapping individual worth with individual production. Leslie talks about how BUSY has been like a DRUG to her over the last year and about how she's learning to slow down and be better. As is often true, the new year is the perfect time to evaluate your relationship to what you give your time to and where your priorities lie. The sisters-in-law hope that listeners will find some reassurance as they share their journeys and will join the conversation on line. The episode ends with a sobering story in the segment So What Happened Was... and then lightens up a bit with a Mama Bear wrap-up and a dare for braver, better living. For complete Show Notes and to sign up for the Mama Bear Newsletter, visit our website!

Jan 30, 2017

On Episode 96 of the Mama Bear Dares podcast, co-hosts Tesi and Leslie sit down with Devon Schaaf to talk about mission, motherhood, and the indescribable grace that Devon has shown the world after losing an infant and a nearly full-term baby. The honesty, optimism, and quiet fortitude that Devon reveals during this interview will inspire listeners to reflect on their own lives as well as the incredible resiliency of humanity. Tesi and Leslie loved getting to know this remarkable Mama Bear who turned her grief into a salve for others and know that listeners will too! For full Show Notes, visit our website!

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Jan 25, 2017

One of the largest marches in our country's history happened over the weekend and co-hosts Tesi and Leslie spend Episode 95 of the Mama Bear Dares Podcast discussing its meaning for the Mama Bear community. The women spend this mini episode talking about who participated, why they participated, the positives, the backlash, and, perhaps most significantly, what a Mama Bear can do now that the march is over and the real work begins. The hosts hope that listeners of all political orientations will take the time to listen to the voices around them and to carve out space and time to think about their relationship to America and the ways in which they might take action (even if it's nerve-wracking or falls out of a typical comfort zone) to make the world a more loving and compassionate place. For complete Show Notes, visit the Mama Bear Dares website!

Jan 23, 2017

Have you ever wanted to reach out to a parenting coach or take a class on how to be a better parent but just not been able to find the time or make the commitment? On Episode 94 of the Mama Bear Dares Podcast, Tesi and Leslie spend an hour with parenting coach Randi Rubenstein and learn all kinds of new parenting tips and tricks. Throughout the interview, Randi offers buckets of advice on how to improve your parenting game. As an author and coach, Randi helps parents stay calm and think clearly during triggered moments with their kids and to change unhealthy patterns, including ones that were passed down through generations of their family. It’s an enlightening interview that will leave listeners with new, practical parenting tools...and a taste for more advice from Randi! For complete Show Notes, visit the Mama Bear website!

Jan 18, 2017

On this Mama Bear Mini episode, co-hosts Tesi and Leslie talk about minimalism and how to intentionally live with less stuff ... even with a big family or kids in tow. Prompted by the new year, Tesi's impending move, and the viewing of Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, Tesi and Leslie talk about their own consumer habits, both the good and the bad. Together, they brainstorm ideas on how to live a lifestyle free of over-consumption, how to teach children to value human beings, relationships, and interactions over the quest for more stuff, and how to embrace this counter-cultural way of life when it constantly requires swimming upstream. The new year is the perfect time to evaluate your relationship to your things, and to possibly purge, or at least pick up a few new habits. The co-hosts admit that they are nowhere close to figuring out the right balance, but are ready to learn. They conclude the episode with a segment called The Struggle Bus, admitting all the ways that they value, yet fail at, this important idea, and ask listeners to chime in on how they board the struggle bus with their own consumer habits, triumphs, and failures. For complete Show Notes, visit the Mama Bear Dares website.

Jan 16, 2017

On Episode 92 of the Mama Bear Dares Podcast, Leslie and Tesi sit down with Tatiana Amico, a health coach who works to empower women to take control of their health and life. Tatiana is generous with advice and offers listeners great tips and tricks, drawing from her own experience and expertise. Tatiana reveals her past as a yo-yo dieter and negative thinker who struggled with work, her relationship to food, and anxiety and depression. Once her son was born, Tatiana’s Mama Bear came out in full force and she set out to change her lifestyle and do the work she felt most called to do. The three women discuss the ways that Tatiana began taking control of her life, learning the practical tools that she employed to leave diets behind and stop making excuses, building a successful business, and embracing a life she wants to live. Tatiana, Tesi, and Leslie spend their time focusing on the how-to behind Tatiana’s mission and the ways in which we can all stop complaining, start taking action, and love ourselves completely. For complete Show Notes, visit the Mama Bear Dares website!

Jan 11, 2017

On this Mama Bear Mini episode, co-hosts Tesi and Leslie talk about the reason behind your new year's goals and resolution. As a personal trainer and fitness professional, Tesi has observed countless New Year weight and fitness goals and has turned what she's witnessed into a few practical steps that she has found must be in place in order for success to be had. The women talk about the basics like working out and eating, but they also dive into meditation and therapy, the need to fail before rising strong, the power of positive self talk, and the importance of finding a community of people invested in health. Finally, Leslie gets vulnerable and tells the story of her current health journey and how she is currently wading through a health reality that has shocked and scared her. The women process all of this and then leave listeners with a resolution: You are in control of your health and destiny. Pay attention to your body and nurture it well. Why? Because at their core, Tesi and Leslie believe that every single one of their listeners is worth great health, a strong mind, and a live lived to its fullest. For full Show Notes, visit

Jan 9, 2017

Natalie Hanson is a mom of five, a blogger, a woman passionate about ensuring all of Tulsa, Oklahoma is fed and taken care of, and a young woman from Georgia who married Taylor Hanson. (Yes, that’s one of THE Hanson brothers). One of Tesi and Leslie’s all-time favorite guests, Julie Lyles Carr, recommended “one of her favorite people in the history of all time” and after listening to the conversation that takes place with Natalie, you’ll be able to see why. Natalie, Tesi, and Leslie dive into marrying and mothering young, involving kids in community service, teaching sons and daughters to “show up,” and taking note of what’s going on in your own backyard. As always, Leslie and Tesi highlight the incredible work their guests are doing and hope listeners take away nuggets of love in action, as all of us journey toward understanding and living our best lives! (This episode also includes The Obsess Sesh!) For complete Show Notes, visit

Jan 4, 2017

On Episode 89 of the Mama Bear Dares podcast, Tesi and Leslie get practical. As a family unit in a complex world, they know that listeners are just like them...they’re continually evolving and redefining who they are and where their values lie. How do we identify those values and live them out on the daily? How do we express our values as a family? One way is through the creation of a “family brand.” Tesi and Leslie follow cues from Bruce Feiler’s The Secrets of Happy Families and dive into how to make a family brand. Similar to a mission statement, a family brand is a motivator when obstacles mount and articulates success in times of celebration; can help parents make decisions in moments both big and small; and is easily repeatable and ultimately can unite your household and serve as a reminder of what you hold dear. The Mama Bears love the promise that the new year brings and today’s episode will follow the theme of new beginnings and narrow in on how our intentions of lovingkindness might play out as a family unit. Be sure to listen in as Tesi and Leslie reveal their own family brands and help you create your own! For complete Show Notes, visit the Mama Bear Dares website.

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