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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Oct 31, 2016
On Episode 72 of the Mama Bear Dares Podcast, Tesi and Leslie talk to Amanda Simkin, the woman behind the popular Chicago blog, Queen of the Land of Twigs and Berries. Amanda is a thirty-something coffee and wine drinker raising two boys with a simple goal of exploring and enjoying her hometown through the eyes of her children and helping the new mamas who look to her for parenting advice and adventure. Together, the women talk about what makes place an important element of who we are as people, about the importance of re-discovering and nurturing our true selves, and why Amanda believes that an engaged Mama Bear lives local. It's a delightful conversation that reflects life in the city ... it's boisterous and exciting, but holds deep pockets of wisdom, connection, and love. For full Show Notes, please visit
Oct 26, 2016
It's been getting a little hot in here. Tesi and Leslie have recorded a string of Mama Bear Minis focusing on the hard work of marriage, on the rampant rape culture prevalent here in the U.S.A., and how racism plays out in our homes and our responsibility as Mama Bears to do our best to squash it. Because of the serious nature of these episodes, the hosts decided they needed a little break from the intensity and talk about lighter fare on Episode 71, specifically, books, television, and food. Listen in as they do their best to embrace a little levity. For entire Show Notes, visit
Oct 24, 2016

On Episode 70 of the Mama Bear Dares podcast, Tesi and Leslie talk to OB-GYN and health coach Nicole Rankins about pregnancy, birth, and the long road of taking good care of ourselves throughout the many stages of life. The women dive into the state of healthcare in the United States of America and grasp a practical understanding of the nuances through Nicole's experience and examples. The three spend the hour discussing they why and how of healthcare and learn from Dr. Rankins as she advocates for women becoming the expert on their own lives. For complete Show Notes, visit

Oct 19, 2016
It's one thing to stand at the altar dressed in your very best and tie the knot with your beloved in front of family and friends. It's another to live with your betrothed day in and day out for the next 14...25...50 years. On Episode 69 of the Mama Bear Dares podcasts, the hosts speak honestly about what marriage requires of two individuals hoping to make a life together. They sort through gender differences, how a union can become complicated by changes (jobs and kids, to name a few), and the enormous and unavoidable impact that the American culture has on the way we marry and (do our best to) stay married. It's a complex partnership that can be beautiful, but that is not always all that sexy. Co-hosts Leslie and Tesi tackle these ideas and then jump into a special marriage edition of a fan-favorite: Things We Should Probably Feel Guilty About But Don't. Check out the Mama Bear Dares website for complete Show Notes!
Oct 17, 2016
On Episode 68 of the Mama Bear Dares Podcast, Tesi and Leslie talk to Eirene Heidelberger, the CEO and founder of GITMom, a full-service parent coaching and advice company that endeavors to empower moms by offering effective parenting techniques and help with common parenting battles. Though Eirene has been frequently featured in the national news media, on today's podcast the women get intimate while sitting down in Eirene's home as she opens up to discuss her childhood, her struggles with new motherhood, her frustrations and her hopes, and the way she found her way to becoming the thriving woman, mother, and business owner that she is today. Here's a secret: very few of us arrive at motherhood with complete understanding and a full knowledge of what it will be like. Sometimes we simply need a hand to hold or a tribe to join in order to catch glimpses of light. Eirene, Tesi, and Leslie hold a discussion that will contribute to that sunshine...offering hope, understanding, and a few practical tips on life in the trenches. Complet Show Notes can be found HERE.
Oct 13, 2016
On today's special episode, Tesi and Leslie explore a topic that they touched in Episode 30 but believe warrants further discussion because of recent news events. On this episode, the co-hosts discuss rape culture—what it means, how it’s perpetuated, who's at fault, how it plays out in our lives, and the repercussions for us as women and moms. Ultimately, the two hope that by engaging in the conversation in the safe space of the Mama Bear Dares Podcast, they will encourage listeners to engage their Mama Bear and help move the dial forward toward a safer world. Main points include the following. Head to the Mama Bear Dares Podcast website for complete Show Notes. A definition of rape cultureA discussion of what rape culture has been and how it continues to be perpetuatedThe repercussions — on all of us — for living in this cultureHow moms of boys can help squash rape cultureHow moms of girls can help squash rape culture
Oct 12, 2016
On this Mama Bear Mini, co-hosts Leslie and Tesi announce the winner of the bundle of Leslie's new release, Mama Bear's Manifesto: A Moms' Group Guide to Changing the World. After celebrating this listener and her thoughtful comment, the women discuss Leslie's publishing journey in depth, pulling out five steps that might make listeners a bit closer to publishing their book, pursuing their passion, or following their dream. The hosts encourage listeners who have ideas for books, blogs, or businesses, but have yet to put pen to paper. Always encouragers, Tesi and Leslie hope listeners will learn from Leslie's journey and embrace their own exciting pursuit! For complete details and Show Notes, visit our website!
Oct 10, 2016
On Episode 65 of the Mama Bear Dares podcast, hosts Tesi and Leslie introduce listeners to Kendra Thompson. Kendra is mother of two, a pastor, and a writer, and together the three woman focus the conversation on words like myth, habit, routine, ritual, vows, and discipline. Throughout the conversation the women play with these ideas as they try to understand how each of these rather grand-sounding terms fit into our lives. Tesi, Leslie, and Kendra enter this conversation from all sorts of angles: from a mothering standpoint, a spiritual standpoint, and from a partnership standpoint — focusing in on marriage in particular. For complete Show Notes, visit
Oct 5, 2016
Coffee and wine, wine and coffee. It's a thing! In Episode 64, co-hosts Leslie and Tesi try to get to the bottom of why these two seem so important to the moms. The women discuss how sometimes we do things out of habit, sometimes we do things out of necessity, and sometimes we do things are done out of sheer joy. We dare listeners to dig deep and ask yourself what motivates you to consume the things that you do. On either side of the conversation of coffee and wine, they answer a listener-submitted question and then they reveal their current favorites in the ever-popular Obsess Sesh. For complete Show Notes, visit
Oct 3, 2016
On Episode 63 of the Mama Bear Dares podcast, Leslie and Tesi spend the hour with Julie Lyles Carr, an incredible and inspiring woman who is a writer, photographer, pastor, and the founder/director of a non-profit called Legacy of Hope. Julie drops by the podcast to tell the hosts about her new book, Raising An Original, but the three women end up covering not just the topics inherent to writing and the content of what she's created, but the importance of staying curious, taking care of the Other Self (for Julie, running, reading, bathing, and quiet time does the trick!), and best practices in parenting original kids as the original women and men we were created to be. The conversation stretches in all sorts of ways and Leslie and Tesi spend their time soaking up the wisdom of this delightful woman. Julie is thoughtful and intelligent, loving and charming. If you are for growth, action, and intentional and nuanced parenting, you'll adore today's conversation. For complete Show Notes, visit the Mama Bear Dares website.
Sep 28, 2016
It's easy to fall victim to our inability to live an authentic life simply by giving up our agency and forgetting that we're the ones steering the ship. Whether it's because we're trying to please someone, we're trying to protect or bolster our reputation, or we just don't know how to say no, so often we end up going places that we have no desire to be, engaging in battles that ultimately don't matter, and spending precious energy on things that are soul-sucking. Co-hosts Leslie and Tesi tackle these ideas in a segment called We Read, We Loved It, Let's Discuss and then jump into a new segment called We See You, which is a celebration of modern-day motherhood and the ways that so many are wearing it with incredible grace and gusto. For complete Show Notes, visit
Sep 26, 2016
In Episode 61 of the Mama Bear Dares Podcast, co-hosts Tesi and Leslie talk to Christina Ceranna about womanhood, friendship, and, most prominently, failure. The three women speak openly about times they've failed, about times they've been afraid to fail, about their children seeing them fail, and about the gifts that accompany the journey. The fear of failure so often stops us from pursuing our passions, simply because we are consumed by the idea that if the proejct fails, then it means we are failures. Today's conversation challenges listeners to become bedmates with failure and begin to understand that it is just another thing can happen to us, but does not define us. Throughout the candid conversation, the hosts lean into the unwavering kindness, thoughtfulness, and positivity of Christina and her quest to constantly grow as an individual. For complete Show Notes, visit
Sep 21, 2016
On Episode 60 of the Mama Bear Dares podcast, co-hosts Leslie and Tesi tackle a question submitted by a a curious listener in their ASK US ANYTHING segment, discuss their weekend spent interviewing podcast guests in the nation's third largest city, and laugh over their embrace of weird and their acceptance of new behaviors in the OLD WIVES CORNER. This episode will make you smile, make you think, and make you want to run to the library. For links and complete Show Notes, visit www.
Sep 19, 2016
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. For complete Show Notes, visit
Sep 14, 2016
On Episode 58 of the Mama Bear Dares podcast, co-hosts and sisters-in-law Leslie and Tesi jump into a reader question regarding the realities of Mama Bear. Put simply, they discuss what to do when Mama Bear is just too tired for action and believes a hot shower to be the only nonessential thing she's capable of at the moment. Can you relate? Listen in as the hosts respond with candor and encouragement. Leslie and Tesi also dive into the topic of building a community of friends after a move. Loneliness can be devastating, so the hosts first declare "me too" and then dive into solutions and suggestions. They end the episode by exploring their Other Self as a check-in to one another and listeners about the way they engage in the ever-important act of self care. For complete Show Notes, visit
Sep 12, 2016
Your perspective, your experience, your blessings and gifts, and your unique place in this world give you an incredible platform from which to stand and sing the song that only you can. There is no one in the world like you! Leslie and Tesi believe this to be true ... and so does Natalie Grant, a four-time Grammy-nominated recording artist, author, creator of the fashion and jewlery line NG by Natalie Grant, and the co-founder of the nonprofit Hope for Justice. On Episode 57 of the Mama Bear Dares podcast, the three women discuss the power each of us hold within and encourage listeners to discover their strength and use it for ultimate good. While celebrating the publication of Natalie's new book, Finding Your Voice: What Every Woman Needs to Live Her God-Given Passions Outloud, the three women explore the ways we each are uniquely created to summon ultimate love to pour onto others. Though there are times that you feel small and powerless, the women have a strong message for you: Not only do you matter, but you are a crucial piece in the puzzle of life. For links and complete Show Notes, visit
Sep 7, 2016

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! To view complete Show Notes, visit

Sep 5, 2016
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. To view complete Show Notes, visit
Aug 31, 2016
“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. For complete Show Notes, visit
Aug 29, 2016
On Episode 53 of Mama Bear Dares, Tesi and Leslie talk to Liv Ryan, a mother, a yoga instructor, an early-riser, a survivor, and an author. Liv has written a book call Bearing Hope: Navigating the Desert of Waiting for a Child and the three women discuss what got Liv to this place and the reasons why she decided to turn her experience of waiting and "the desert of infertility" into a practical book meant to guide and encourage others who may similarly be diving through the depths. After a conversation that covers topics ranging from grief, personal struggle, relationships, risks, and healing, the women leave listeners with a DARE and encourage the strugglers among us to be open to wisdom and to learn from Liv's tremendous strength, optimism, and honesty. For complete Show Notes, visit HERE. Other topics discussed: The language of griefHoly yoga, healing practice, and self careThe power of community"Project-based waiting"Preparing our kids for a life of love and imperfectionThe practicalities and joys of downsizing
Aug 24, 2016
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. View full Show Noter on the Mama Bear Dares website!
Aug 22, 2016
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 encouraging 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. For full Show Notes, head to Other points discussed: Our shared love of books!Homeschooling and intentional educationThe power of STORYParenting through tragedyHow/Why to emphasize global-mindedness in your American household today
Aug 17, 2016
You guys! Our very own co-host wrote a book! It's called Mama Bear's Manifesto and it's available for pre-order on Amazon! Leslie and Tesi spend the podcast talking about the basic idea of the Mama Bear lurking inside each of us and celebrate the arrival of Leslie's book in the world. Their excitement is real! After all, the Manifesto shares the message of this podcast: We are powerful. We are ferocious. We are perfectly positioned to wreak havoc on this world! You're going to love seeing this spelled out on the page! Within their celebration, the co-hosts discuss the power of female friendship and the way Mama Bear's Manifesto aims to encourage women to use their relationships and their incredible capacity to love in big and bold ways, all the while encouraging listeners to identify the strength of their own Mama Bear and make the decision to use her power for good. They discuss Leslie's writing process and get real about the making of the book. In both big and small ways we are meant to live authentic, LOVE-filled lives. It's a bonus when you uncover your Mama Bear and begin training her for a better world. As the book and the podcast both enthusiastically declare, it's the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world! Check out complete Show Notes here. Pre-order Leslie's book, Mama Bear's Manifesto, by clicking here!
Aug 15, 2016
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. Visit for complete Show Notes. 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 soDepression, anxiety, attachment disorders, dyslexia, and dysgraphiaThe importance of allowing yourself to grieve if a child is diagnosed with a disability or illnessThe 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 communityThe ways we can help other mothers who are caring for children with a diagnosis
Aug 10, 2016
Ever wish you could be a bit more forthcoming in putting your ideas and values into the world? Do you ever find yourself apologizing for things that don't merit an "I'm sorry"? On Episode 48 of the Mama Bear Dares Podcast, co-hosts Tesi and Leslie dive into both issues, first with an Ask Us Anything segment during which they tackle a listener question and then in a segment (Things That Make You Go Hmmm...) in which they talk about the way women often overuse the words "I'm sorry." After a lively discussion full of examples and solutions, the women wrap up the Mama Bear Mini with an Obsesh Sesh, detailing their current favorites. Visit the Mama Bear Dares Podcast website for complete Show Notes.
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