Listen to These Mothers! Member Features + LTYM Holiday Alumni Show

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Lights, live audience, fearless women, ACTION!

Listen to Your Mother (LTYM) is a series of live, on-stage readings across North America on or around Mother’s Day. The mission? To give voice to motherhood — the good, the bad, the sad, the ugly, the hilarious, the golden, and of course, the beautiful — in the form of original readings performed live on-stage by their authors. LYTM Twin Cities is hosted by Twin Cities Creative , founded by Vikki Reich and Galit Breen in 2013. Even more exciting? Three of our ModernWell Writing Studio members are taking their work to the stage at the Listen To Your Mother 2019 Holiday Alumni Show in December! These incredibly talented women are tremendously inspiring for our Writing Studio and broader ModernWell community so we wanted to share their stories with you!


Leslie Lagerstrom heard about LTYM through ModernWell Writing Studio teacher and member Kate Hopper and she admits that her first show in 2014 was one of the most scary and gratifying experiences in her life. Leslie’s writing is focused around sharing her family’s experience with raising a transgender child and although Leslie thought LTYM would be the perfect venue to spread awareness through written word, the subject of trans kids was virtually unheard of at the time. Leslie was terrified to get on stage and share such a personal story in front of so many that didn’t understand her experience, but the reaction from the audience was immensely gratifying.

“Not only with applause but afterward I was approached by many people who thanked me for sharing. Later I heard from people via email that they, a family member, friend or neighbor was experiencing the same thing and appreciated seeing the subject shared in such a public venue.”

This year, Leslie will be turning away from her regular writing subject to share a story about a mother and how her sweet tooth got her in trouble on Christmas Eve. Leslie admitted that she was nervous to submit her piece knowing the subject was quite different than her previous performances, but is excited to explore a new topic!

Coincidentally, Leslie was introduced to ModernWell and the Writing Studio by LTYM as teacher Nina Badzin was part of the same cast. Nina invited Leslie to the Writing Studio when ModernWell opened in 2018 and she’s been a part of the Tuesday class ever since.

“It is a diverse group in many ways, but it is the diversity that provides such a positive experience. Different ages, backgrounds, writing experience, and reason for being there are some of the ways that it’s different, but it is evident that each and every one of us is there to encourage each other.”


Heather Strommen is founder of the popular blog, Sweet Shady Lane and over the MOON about finishing her first novel, “Velvet”! The interior designer and passionate storyteller was also encouraged by Writing Studio founders, Nina Badzin and Julie Burton to submit an essay for LTYM in 2016 and auditioned with a piece titled, “Wake Up Call.” The piece tells the story of the call Heather received from her son’s school that the drug dogs had found pot in his car.

“It literally was a huge wake up call in my life as a parent, and auditioning and getting casted for the LYTM show was a huge moment for me as a writer—one I will never forget.”

This year, Heather will be reading, “Making Christmas Perfect,” where she pokes fun at herself as an interior designer and her holiday decor perfectionism. She admits that her passion for the decorations probably makes her family crazy, and she acknowledges it and has some fun with it in the process.

Heather is one of the founding members of the ModernWell Writing Studio and remembers dreaming up the concept of ModernWell with Julie and their beloved writing group at a little oval table in the original location. Heather credits the Writing Studio community for their support as she admits that if it wasn’t for them, she wouldn’t have auditioned for LTYM or started to write (and FINISH) her first novel.

“ModernWell has been a safe haven for my craft, a protector of my stories, and a community that I feel safe to be vulnerable in. Truly, a gift to all creatives looking to be inspired and acknowledged.”


Kristin Nilsen is an erstwhile librarian who has spent the last few years writing a middle grade novel inspired by her own real-life crush on Shaun Cassidy. When she heard about LTYM in 2014, she was writing for an online parenting magazine and had a stockpile of material in the exact category the show was addressing so she knew this was her chance to stick her neck out and try something new as a serious writer.

“Knowing that most people would audition with a sentimental piece about their children, I chose a piece about how my mom swooped in to help after I broke my foot falling off a troll bridge playing putt putt golf, and my strategy worked!”

Kristin will be reading a holiday-themed pre-teen angst story at this year’s LTYM Holiday Alumni Show as she has been writing and researching teen idol crushes for her book and social media project, My Celebrity Crush Story. Kristin has valued her experience with LTYM and the opportunity to work together with a group of like-minded people to produce something impactful.

“It’s the closest I’ve ever gotten to being on a sports team – it’s like I’m on the writing team and we’re trying to win state.”

Kristin is also one of the founding members of the ModernWell Writing Studio and has relied on the classes as a constant in her life for the past five years. She actually met writing studio teacher Nina Badzin through a friend who set her up on a blind date with Nina because she just felt they needed to know each other – and she was right!

“The ModernWell Writing Studio is a gift. There’s just no way to categorize it without writing a 3,000-word essay on what a writer needs to be a writer. For a profession that is mostly done alone, in your own home, often in pajamas, The ModernWell Writing Studio is a game-changer.”

Don’t miss you chance to see these women in action – grab your tickets for the 2019 LTYM Holiday Alumni Show on December 4th and 5th here!

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