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Our Mothers Ourselves

Author: Katie Hafner

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Katie Hafner -- longtime New York Times reporter and author of "Mother Daughter Me" -- interviews the offspring of one extraordinary mother. The concept is simple. And sometimes simple turns profound.
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Happy Mother's Day!  Sending some extra love today to all the extraordinary mothers out there!And speaking of extraordinary mothers....This week, Katie interviews her sisters-in law, Lori Wolfson and Andrea Wachter, about  their mother, Bernice Wachter. Bernice raised her kids in quintessential “Mama Bear" mode, striking the perfect balance between giving guidance and granting independence. She gave her children the room to make their own mistakes, but still pushed them to do what she sensed was right. And through all the ups and downs, Bernice has never lost her wonderful sense of humor!Artwork by Paula Mangin (@PaulaBallah)Music composed and performed by Andrea PerryProducers: Alice Hudson & Sophie McNultyMother Word Cloud: Please contribute the one word that best describes your mother to the Mother Word Cloud.Also, starting this week, we're  bringing you the Mother Mine mini-series from producer Katie Semro, right here on the Our Mothers Ourselves Buzzsprout feed. Mother Mine is about our mothers and how they’ve shaped us. It will be coming to you as 75 short episodes in the voices of people from across the globe. I hope you’ll listen along as we explore who our mothers are and who we have become because of them. 
Sarah Kuhn is a busy person. She's the founder of Juna, a community and app for moms and moms-to-be; she hosts the The Juna Women Podcast; and she's a mom herself -- three times over. In this episode, Sarah talks with Katie about her own mother, Lorraine Fixler, who was born in the UK and emigrated to the United States as a child.  Lorraine met Sarah’s dad while working in his law practice.Lorraine was the kind of mother who could run a  business and still host the best slumber parties for her daughter.In our interview, Sarah discusses the dramatic way her relationship with her mom has changed  in the last decade. Lorraine was just 60 when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She's been in decline since Sarah was in her 20s. Through genetic testing, Sarah has discovered that she too is at high risk for developing Alzheimer's. Sarah talks about the way she has struggled without her mother’s guiding hand as she raises her own children but also the way she works to hold on to the good memories she has of the vivacious and wonderful woman who raised her.Artwork by Paula Mangin (@PaulaBallah)Music composed and performed by Andrea PerryProducer: Alice HudsonAssociate Producer: Sophie McNultyMother Word Cloud: Please contribute the one word that best describes your mother to the Mother Word Cloud at www.ourmothersourselves.com 
Sonia Levitin was born to a Jewish family in Berlin in 1934, just as Germany was entering its darkest period in history. With Hitler tightening his grip on the country, Sonia's mother, Helene Goldstein Wolff, plotted their escape. In 1938, Helene fled with her children first to Switzerland, then America. Helene instilled in her daughters a sense of dignity and the courage to persevere—lessons that have lasted a lifetime. As her aging mother developed dementia, Sonia became her caretaker, repaying the tender kindness and loving protection Helene brought to Sonia’s own childhood. Helene died in 1993, and Sonia would give anything to tell her mother just how much she loved and appreciated her, one final time. In this week’s episode, Sonia tells Katie about her early life in Berlin, the family's escape to Switzerland, and the deep love she and her mother shared for each other.Journey to America, Sonia's fictional account of the family's escape from Germany,  is both beautiful and harrowing. Sonia Levitin's website can be found here.Artwork by Paula Mangin (@PaulaBallah)Music composed and performed by Andrea PerryAssociate Producer: Sophie McNultyProducer: Alice HudsonMother Word Cloud: Please contribute the one word that best describes your mother to the Mother Word Cloud at www.ourmothersourselves.com 
Every month is women's history month at Our Mothers Ourselves. Still, we wanted to mark the occasion by talking to a young woman who has plans to make a big mark on history.  This week, Katie speaks with Abby Harrison, also known as Astronaut Abby. Abby has wanted to be an astronaut since she was a little girl, and the 23-year-old Harvard research assistant wants to be the first person to walk on Mars. Abby and her mom, Nicole Harrison, have launched the nonprofit The Mars Generation to encourage young women to become interested in the STEM fields. Only one in ten astronauts has been a woman, and as Abby sees it, that statistic needs to change. Abby has her sights set much higher and believes she can inspire the next generation of astronauts, with the potential to reach Mars within 20 years. NASA recently promised to put a woman and the next man on the moon by 2024. Abby tells Katie how her mom demonstrated strength and drive throughout her life, growing up with a single mom herself, then becoming one to Abby and her sister. Now, Nicole Harrison runs a successful social media marketing agency and is a space exploration advocate. Abby also talks about her recently published book, Dream Big! How to Reach for Your Stars which offers advice on planning and achieving your dreams. Artwork by Paula Mangin (@PaulaBallah)Music composed and performed by Andrea PerryAssociate Producer: Sophie McNultyProducer: Alice Hudson Mother Word Cloud: Please contribute the one word that best describes your mother to the Mother Word Cloud at www.ourmothersourselves.com 
This week, Katie speaks with MIT social scientist Sherry Turkle about her charismatic and vibrant mother, Harriet. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Harriet, a spirited woman, longed for a husband and family. Her first marriage, however, did not work out. Her in-laws did not approve of her non-Kosher lifestyle and her husband had started performing Skinnerian-like experiments on their infant daughter Sherry. Harriet left him, taking Sherry with her and covering up all traces of her former marriage. Harriet soon remarried and Sherry grew up with her being told to pretend that he was her biological father. The lies and omissions that surrounded Sherry’s childhood colored her relationship with her mom, leading to anger, and what Sherry describes as an “indirect cruelty” toward her mother.To learn more about Sherry and Harriet, read Sherry’s her new book, The Empathy Diaries, A Memoir, which explores her relationship with her mother. Artwork by Paula Mangin (@PaulaBallah)Music composed and performed by Andrea PerryHost: Katie HafnerProducer: Alice HudsonAssociate Producer: Sophie McNulty
As mothers, we try to raise our children with all the resources, attention, love, and support we can muster, but sometimes forces far bigger than us make doing so impossible. This week, Katie speaks with Simeng Dai, a Facebook data engineer who grew up in China under its One-Child Policy. In her conversation with Katie, Simeng discusses the challenges she and her mother, Aiying Huang, faced in 1990’s China. As the mother of three children, Aiying underwent a forced late-term abortion and, eventually, a mandatory sterilization. Simeng, Aiying’s second-born daughter, grew up apart from the family, feeling unwanted and unloved.This episode is about troubled motherhood, and the systems that prevent mothers from raising their children with the resources, attention, and love that they need. To learn more about Simeng Dai and Aiying Huang, check out Oh! Mama, a podcast Simeng made that is centered on an interview with Aiying. Note: The podcast is in Mandarin. You can find a translation here. NOTE: This episode contains disturbing content describing forced abortions.Artwork by Paula Mangin (@PaulaBallah)Music composed and performed by Andrea Perry Producer: Alice HudsonAssociate Producer: Sophie McNultyPlease contribute the one word that best describes your mother to the Mother Word Cloud at www.ourmothersourselves.com Translation:作为母亲,我们尽我们所能提供的所有资源,注意力和爱心来抚养我们的孩子,但有时力量远大于我们所能做到的。本周,凯蒂(Katie)与Facebook数据工程师戴思孟(Simeng Dai)进行了交谈,他是根据“一个孩子的政策”在中国长大的。 在与Katie的对话中,Simeng讨论了她和母亲黄爱英在1990年代中国面临的挑战。作为三个孩子的母亲,爱英进行了强制性的后期流产,并最终进行了强制绝育。爱英的第二胎女儿西蒙(Simeng)在家庭之外长大,感到不受欢迎和被爱。这集讲述的是母亲的困境,以及防止母亲利用自己需要的资源,注意力和爱抚养孩子的系统。 要了解有关戴思孟和黄爱英的更多信息,请查看哦!妈妈,是西蒙制作的播客,重点是对艾英的采访。注意:播客为普通话。您可以在这里找到翻译。注意:此剧集包含令人不安的内容。
This week, Katie talks with Dr. Malaika Horne, a public policy scholar and author, and her sister Gwen Moor, curator at the Missouri History Museum, about their inspiring mother, Flora. Flora Horne was born in Mississippi to sharecropper parents in 1916. During the Great Migration of the 1930’s, she moved to St. Louis with her family. There, she married and raised six children at the height of the Jim Crow era. Although Flora was deprived of a full education, she instilled the values of learning in her children from a young age. To Flora, education was the wisest path to independence and prosperity. In this episode, Malaika and Gwen discuss the racism and violence that their family faced in the middle of the 20th century. They also discuss the many ways in which Flora rose above near-impossible circumstances to provide loving, nurturing homes for her children.To learn more about Flora, her life,  and her children, you can find Malaika’s book here: Mother Wit: Exalting Motherhood While Honoring a Great Mother  Artwork by Paula Mangin (@PaulaBallah)Music composed and performed by Andrea PerryProducer: Alice HudsonAssociate Producer: Sophie McNultyMother Word Cloud: Please contribute the one word that best describes your mother to the Mother Word Cloud on the Our Mothers Ourselves Web site.
Maria Tallchief  was  born Elizabeth Marie Tall Chief  in 1925 in Fairfax, Oklahoma, where her grandfather had served as chief in the Osage Nation. Seventeen years later, she found her way to New York and became one of the most famous American ballerinas of the 20th century.She rejected suggestions that she change her name to Tallchieva, at the time when many American dancers adopted Russian stage names, Tallchief would become forever linked to some of George Balanchine's most transformational ballets. (Not only was she his prinicipal muse, but she was married to him  for six years). In 1949, when she danced the title role of Igor Stravinsky's  Firebird to Balanchine's incredibly complex choreography, she caused a sensation. No one had seen anything like it. At the height of her career, Tallchief was considered  the most technically brilliant ballerina the U.S. had ever produced.I spoke with Maria Tallchief's daughter, the renowned poet Elise Paschen,  about her mother's childhood, her devotion to Balanchine, her hard work and self discipline, her marriages, and the ways in which she expressed her love for her daughter. Elise read two poems she wrote about her mother.And in the Department of Odd Coincidences, there's this: For years, every time I've moved (and I've moved a lot), I've taken with me a much loved  book I own, titled Poetry Speaks. I bought it for the written poems, but also for the  three CD's it came with, filled with spoken poetry. For years I kept the discs in my car and listened to those CD's while driving, soothed by verse read by the poets themselves:  Walt Whitman, T.S. Eliot; Dorothy Parker;  Langston Hughes, Allen Ginsberg,  Sylvia Plath. At some point after Spotify had taken the steering wheel of  my listening  habits, I lost the poetry CD's. But the book remains in my possession. And I keep it close at hand on the bookshelf next to my desk. Occasionally, I take it down, open it, and read whatever poem I happen upon. Then, a few weeks ago, just  before Elise and I were set to talk, I glanced at the shelf, and my eyes lingered  just long enough on Poetry Speaks to take in the names of the volume's editors: Elise Paschen. How strange that I'd never bothered to read the name. Yet now, how fitting. And thirty minutes later, there she was, reading poetry -- her own -- aloud.Artwork by Paula Mangin (@PaulaBallah)Music composed and performed by Andrea PerryProducer: Alice HudsonSocial Media: Sophie McNultyMother Word Cloud: Please contribute the one word that best describes your mother to the Mother Word Cloud at www.ourmothersourselves.com
As anyone who's watched the new HBO documentary Tiger can tell you, when you catch the golf bug as a kid, it can stick with you for a lifetime. Amy Alcott fell for golf when she was a little girl growing up in Los Angeles in the 1960s. Her mother gave her garden over to her daughter's passion, and the front yard became a putting and chipping green. Soup cans were hammered into the ground to make the holes.  It paid off. Amy became a member of the LPGA Tour in 1975, and won five major championships and 29 LPGA tour events in all. She's in the World Golf Hall of Fame.What kind of kid -- especially a girl in pre-title IV era --has the self confidence to pursue a dream like that? And what kind of mother would glory in her daughter's delight, as Lea Alcott so clearly did in hers?Katie and Amy chat about Lea's own childhood, the idea of giving to your daughter what you didn't have access to, and the evocative powers of a good glass of Scotch whiskey.Artwork by Paula Mangin (@PaulaBallah)Music composed and performed by Andrea PerryProducer: Alice HudsonMother Word Cloud: Please contribute the one word that best describes your mother to the Mother Word Cloud.
In 1929, Anne Spencer Morrow,  a 23-year-old introverted intellectual, married a man who was, at the time, arguably the most celebrated person in the world. He was Charles Lindbergh, and his incredible solo flight over the Atlantic in 1927 had catapulted him to a wild level of fame.  It was Charles Lindbergh, decades before Jackie Kennedy and Princess Diana, whose fame first gave rise to packs of news photographers. They followed the Lindberghs everywhere. When the Lindberghs' infant son Charles Jr. was kidnapped in1932 , the press paid frenzied attention to the crime;  the story remained in the headlines for months.Among the many heartbreaking artifacts that remain from the kidnapping is a front-page item in The New York Times from March 3, 1932: It's a brief notice,  stating that the baby had been ill: "In the hope that whoever has taken the baby may see and understand the necessity for care, Mrs. Lindbergh...gave out the diet she had been following." It included -- underscoring a young mother's anguish in the most painful conceivable way -- "half a cup of orange juice on waking."                                                                         * * *Anne became both an aviator and a writer, and her book, Gift From the Sea, has sold some 3 million copies since it was first published in 1955.Katie talks with Anne's youngest child, Reeve Lindbergh, also a writer.  In her 2018 memoir, Two Lives, Reeve reflected on her own “Two Lives,” navigating her role as the public face of her family while, at the same time, leading a quiet existence in rural Vermont. Charles Lindbergh was a complicated man. Historians have documented his respect for the Nazis in prewar Germany. And in 2003, it was revealed that he had led a double life, having had a years-long affair with a woman in Germany with whom he had three children. But that isn't what Katie wanted to talk to Reeve Lindbergh about.  In the blog post that accompanies this episode, Katie writes about her reasons for not asking Reeve about her father's other families.  It can be found on the podcast's website. Here's the blog post.Artwork by Paula Mangin (@PaulaBallah)Music composed and performed by Andrea PerryProducer: Alice HudsonMother Word Cloud: Please contribute the one word that best describes your mother to the Mother Word Cloud.
"She's probably the most resilient person I know." -- Emma Walton HamiltonFor the holidays, we're revisiting Katie's conversation  with Emma Walton Hamilton, daughter of the extraordinary Julie Andrews, about her mom's difficult childhood and her determination to give her own children stability and, above all, constant love.Julie Andrews's two memoirs, Home, and Home Work, are at once heartbreaking and awe-inspiring. While reading the books in preparation for the interview, Katie toggled between listening to Julie's narration, and reading. She was struck by how differently she absorbed the material depending on the medium. That is, when she heard Julie's familiar voice, so thoroughly had she absorbed the calming effect of that voice over the years, she found it hard to feel the darkness of the material.Emma speaks about her mother's innocence, well into adulthood, a true surprise given the effect that parts of her childhood could have had on her.Emma and her mother have written more than 30 children's books together, and they co-host the podcast Julie's Library.Art by Paula ManginMusic by Andrea PerryProducer: Alice HudsonVisit us at: Our Mothers Ourselves Special thanks to Liz Mitchell for permission to use her beautiful rendition of You Are My Sunshine.
 Gurki Basra knows a thing or two about dating. She even starred in Season One of the Netflix show Dating Around, in which she went on a famously bad date.Her mother, Tanjeet Basra, on the other hand, had never been on a date, right up to the day she got married when she was 22, which also happened to be the day she met her husband for the first time.  Katie talks to Gurki about her parents' wedding and marriage, and the wisdom Gurki gained in watching the ultimate blind date evolve into a loving marriage. Please visit the mother word cloud page and contribute your own word to describe your mother.Music composed and performed by Andrea Perry.Artwork by Paula Mangin. (@PaulaBallah)Producer: David WaltersSend us email at: ourmothersourselves@gmail.com
[Note: This episode is dedicated to the late poet (and editor non pareil), David Corcoran.  We miss you, David.]In this strangest of holiday seasons, when so many of us are missing our extra limb of extended family, I’m not so sure it’s just cheer we could use. As we turn this final page on our dark 2020, we might need something that transports us in a different way. The wisdom of the poet and philosopher David Whyte, especially when it comes to the wonderful relationship he had with his mother, Mary O’Sullivan, might be just the right tonic for our times. I got in touch with Whyte about coming on to Our Mothers Ourselves after I heard him tell a heartbreaking story about his mother during his popular Sunday Series. Thomas Crocker, Whyte’s very kind right-hand person, got back to me and said that David’s schedule was hectic, but there was something about the invitation that spoke to him. That’s the way things tend to happen with this podcast: People find themselves wanting, needing, yearning to talk about the woman who saw them through so much of life.Over the past decade or so, I’ve been asking people to choose just one word to describe their mother, and when I asked this of Whyte, he said it was something he hadn’t thought about before – finding the one word that best sums up Mary O’Sullivan. He chose the word “lyrical,” because, he said, his mother was “joyously articulate,” “a great singer,” and lyrical in her use of words to convey love and affection. Turning the tables just a bit, I asked a few friends, whom I know to be fans of Whyte’s poetry, for the word they would use to describe David Whyte. A sampling of the responses: Insightful. Profound. Deep. Wise. Genius. Spiritual. Inspirational. Accessible. Surprising. Mystic. Storyteller.My own word for Whyte: Bountiful. Everything he writes, even words wrought in sparest form, is a generous helping for the mind and for the soul.  When Whyte arrives, poetry in hand, the gift he brings is as precious as the most exquisite mother-of-pearl box. And long after its bearer has taken leave, the poetry stays. Phrases like ‘Perfection is a fragile, ice-thin ground that barely holds our human weight’ linger like an afterimage.  One David Whyte poem that is new to me is Farewell Letter, about a letter he imagined his mother might have written to him after her death.  In our interview, Whyte talks about the interrupted dream that gave rise to that poem.Whyte's verse is balm for many a broken soul. So here’s to hoping that my conversation with him about his mother and their elemental bond will feed your mind, raise your spirits and fill your soul. I know it lifted my own heart beyond measure.  * You can find Whyte’s word for his mother — and the words other offspring who have contributed to the word cloud  — on the mother word cloud page. Please visit and contribute your own.A special thanks to Thomas Crocker at Many Rivers Press for permission to use David’s poetry.Music composed and performed by Andrea Perry.Artwork by Paula Mangin. (@PaulaBallah)Producer: Alice Hudson               <<
Updated Jan. 21, 2021Alison Aucoin  doesn't seem like the type of person given to making  profane gestures. But after her mother, Lynn Evans, contracted Covid and died last April in New Orleans, Alison -- livid with anger -- posted a photograph to Facebook that quickly went viral. Alison's post, a raw rant straight from the heart, was directed at Donald Trump and his egregeious mishandling of the pandemic that killed her mother.Katie interviews Alison about her mother's life, their mutual devotion, and the terrible circumstances around Lynn's illness and death.As of today, Thursday, Jan. 21,2021, the CDC puts the total number of deaths in the U.S. at 404,689. Let's put that number in perspective. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake killed 3,000 people in the SF Bay Area. The 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 killed 2,605 people. These latest tolls from Covid are happening in a single day. Lynn Evans is one of those lost to this pandemic. Each one of those people has a story, and for the loved ones left behind, devastating grief.Alison's original Facebook post can be found here.Don't forget to visit us at ourmothersourselves.com. And while you're there, please contribute your word to the mother word cloud.Music composed and performed by Andrea Perry.Artwork by Paula Mangin. (@PaulaBallah)Producer: Alice HudsonExtra special thanks this week to Kevin Clark and the Dukes of Dixieland for permission to play a couple of songs. Kevin is on trumpet, and on Stardust Tom McDermott is on piano and the late Leigh "Little Queenie" Harris is the vocalist.
When I started this podcast just before Mother's Day 2020, my main goal was to shine a light on extraordinary mothers. I figured the world was plenty sated  with books, articles, films, blogs, and podcasts about ways in which women fell short as mothers, and, given that we could use some uplifting stories, devoting attention to those who were simply great mothers seemed like a good idea.  In other words, narcissistic/dysfunctional/dud mothers need not apply. Which brings me to Ariel Leve's story. A few months ago, shortly after I interviewed Will Blythe, whose mother, Gloria, and her "invisible love" for her children made for an engrossing conversation,  Will suggested I interview the writer Ariel Leve. Her biological mother was difficult (an understatement, I was to learn later), he said. "Thanks but no thanks," I said.  But he wouldn't take no for an answer, and he told me about  Rita Waterman, the woman Ariel considers her surrogate mother and guardian angel, her soul mother. Without Rita, Will said, Ariel would have had a much tougher time in life. I was intrigued.Ariel's 2017  memoir, An Abbreviated Life, is a riveting read, "strangely mesmerizing," as The New York Times put it . And throughout the book's pages, Ariel pays tribute to  Rita, who is as good a soul as you can hope to find. So yes, this episode breaks a rule,  but it was one well worth breaking.Don't forget to visit us at ourmothersourselves.com. And while you're there, please contribute your word to the mother word cloud.Music composed and performed by Andrea Perry.Artwork by Paula Mangin. (@PaulaBallah)Producer: Alice HudsonIntern: Rosie Manock (@RosieManock)
Some people are just plain born with moxie. Meet Elizabeth "Betta" Dixon MacCarthy Ehrenfeld , who left her hometown of Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 1942, at the age of 16,  got on a train -- by herself -- and headed north. Her first stop was  Bronxville, N.Y., and Sarah Lawrence College. By the time she was barely 21 she had a law degree from Yale. Back then, women with law degrees were considered top candidates for legal secretarial work. But Betta would have none of that. She went on to practice copyright law,  then worked as a Legal Aid Society lawyer.Betta died in January 2019, at age 92. Just before the midterm elections in 2018, she wanted to remind people to vote. So she had a sign made that simply said VOTE, had her photo taken, ahad cards made with that image on the front  -- and sent them to everyone she knew. Betta was a founding subscriber to Ms. Magazine, a card-carrying atheist, an occasional scofflaw ("somtimes the rules aren't correct") and an avid traveler. When Betta and her husband, Robert, were living in the Manhattan brownstone where they raised their three daughters, one wall of the house was covered a giant painting of The Bill of Rights -- a mural commissioned by Betta.Betta's signature motto: Don't leave home without your passport and bathing suit.Betta also became a major donor to the Frances Perkins Center in Damariscotta, Maine, and the center hosts the Betta Ehrenfeld speaker series in Betta's honor.And yes, Betta was a role model to her three children. Katie speaks with Martha Ehrenfeld,  Betta's middle daughter.Don't forget to visit us at ourmothersourselves.com. And while you're there, please contribute your word to the mother word cloud.Music composed and performed by Andrea Perry.Artwork by Paula Mangin. (@PaulaBallah)Producer: Alice HudsonIntern: Rosie Manock (@RosieManock)
She's considered Brazil's "Pope of Fashion," and to most people in the fashion world she is known simply as Costanza. Costanza's parents, Gabriella and Michele Pascolato,  emigrated from Italy to Brazil in the aftermath of World War II, and in 1948 they started the Santaconstancia textile company, which became a fixture in Brazil's world of fabric and fashion. By the age  of six, Costanza had already developed her own  sense of style. Now 81, she remains an icon of fashion and style, her signature look recognized around the world.  Katie speaks with Costanza's daughter Consuelo, who has managed to revere her mother and find a voice of her own.A note: This week we introduce a pair of partnerships with small-batch companies that make products we love. Visit the Our Mothers Ourselves Web site for more about that.And while you're there, please contribute your word to the mother word cloud.Music composed and performed by Andrea Perry.Artwork by Paula Mangin. (@PaulaBallah)Producer: Alice HudsonIntern: Rosie Manock (@RosieManock)E em Portugues:Esta semana estamos encantados por falar com Consuelo Blocker, a filha da diva brasileira da moda, Constanza Pascolato, a quem muitos chamam a “Papa da Moda”.A Katie e a Consuelo falam de tudo, desde a emigração da família de Itália após a 2ª Grande Guerra Mundial  e as origens do seu negócio na indústria têxtil ( tudo começou com a descoberta de um estoque de seda no final dos anos 40 !) até às “súplicas” de Consuelo para usar botas de vinil branco até ao joelho quando ainda era uma adolescente. A resposta da Mãe nesta altura foi um retundo "Não!".Estas duas “Mulheres” têm alegria de vida para dar e vender!
A self-described “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” Audre Lorde had a poem for every occasion, says her daughter, Dr. Elizabeth Lorde-Rollins, in this week’s conversation with Katie Hafner.  Lorde's lifelong love of words led her to a life as a renowned poet and author of more than a dozen volumes. Her poetry is unflinching, raw and filled with rage against social, racial and sexual norms.   In 1978, Lorde was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a radical mastectomy. Her experiences and emotions at that time were chronicled in her diaries, which were then published in a book titled, The Cancer Journals. The Cancer Journals was among the first narratives to lend voice to the physical and emotional isolation of breast cancer, is now being republished 40 years after its original release.  Elizabeth, an ob-gyn who is currently studying acupuncture, speaks about her reactions to her mother's work when she was young, her mother's life and legacy, and the continued relevance of her work.Fittingly, Penguin Classic's new edition coincides with Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Forty years after The Cancer Journals was first published, Black women still have the highest breast cancer death rate of all racial and ethnic groups in the U.S., and they’re 42% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women are. This is just plain wrong and it needs to be redressed.To coincide with its literary tribute to Audre Lorde, Penguin Random House has pledged its support to Black Women's Health Imperative, an organization that supports health and wellness initiatives for Black women. We hope you'll support BWHI, too. Here's their Web site.Further ways you can donate:  Susan G. Komen organization, Ralph Lauren's Pink Pony Campaign and/or Breast Cancer Action, an organization we think Audre would heartily approve of.Don't forget to visit us at ourmothersourselves.com. And while you're there, please contribute your word to the mother word cloud.Music composed and performed by Andrea Perry.Artwork by Paula Mangin. (@PaulaBallah)Producer: Alice HudsonIntern: Rosie Manock (@RosieManock)
"She is probably the most resilient person I know." -- Emma Walton HamiltonThis week, Katie talks with Emma Walton Hamilton, daughter of the extraordinary Julie Andrews, about her mom's difficult childhood and her determination to give her own children stability and, above all, constant love.Julie Andrews's two memoirs, Home, and Home Work, are at once heartbreaking and awe-inspiring. While reading the books in preparation for the interview, Katie toggled between listening to Julie's narration, and reading. She was struck by how differently she absorbed the material depending on the medium. That is, when she heard Julie's familiar voice, so thoroughly had she absorbed the calming effect of that voice over the years, she found it hard to feel the darkness of the material. Emma speaks about her mother's innocence, well into adulthood, a true surprise given the effect that parts of her childhood could have had on her. Emma and her mother have written more than 30 children's books together, and they co-host the podcast Julie's Library.Art by Paula ManginMusic by Andrea PerryProducer: Alice HudsonIntern: Rosie ManockVisit us at: Our Mothers Ourselves Dani Rucker generously supplied the beautiful rendition of You Are My Sunshine. Thank you, Dani!
What with the country in total turmoil, and people doing a lot of fretful handwringing, it might be time to take a breather and celebrate someone who's brought an abundance of solid joy to the palates of so many.Katie talks with Fanny Singer, the daughter of famed chef and farm-to-table trailblazer Alice Waters, who in 1971 started her Berkeley, Calif. restaurant Chez Panisse intending to feed her community of 60's friends and fellow activists. In the process, she created an entire culinary movement that forever changed the way we think about food. Fanny's new book, Always Home: A Daughter's Recipes & Stories, is an ode to her mother that rings true and clear. Her pure -- and deeply requited --  love for her mother is in ample evidence on every page.Katie and Fanny explore the ways in which Alice expressed her love for Fanny, and the many gifts she has bestowed upon her daughter -- and the world.Don't forget to visit us at ourmothersourselves.com. And while you're there, please contribute your word to the mother word cloud.Music composed and performed by Andrea Perry.Artwork by Paula Mangin. (@PaulaBallah)Producer: Alice HudsonIntern: Rosie Manock (@RosieManock)
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