Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Grip the Mat & Spright Collide: My Review of [Silent] Soul & Spirits

A few weeks ago, when I was in full-on crazy mode, I had the chance to attend Grip the Mat's special [Silent] Soul & Spirits happy-hour yoga event at the Carnegie Library in downtown D.C. for Spright.

While I've written about Grip the Mat before for Spright/Fiterazzi and have photographed events exclusively for Grip the Mat, it had been a while since I had attended a Grip the Mat event -- let alone one as big and unique as this one!

I won't spoil too much of my review -- you can read the full thing on Spright -- but I will give you an excerpt from my time there:

In the D.C. yoga world, Grip the Mat is kind of a big deal.

The social yoga company, which was founded in 2014 by Christy Skarulis and Ashley Braun, hosts events that combine an hour of vinyasa flow with an hour (or two!) of nibbles, drinks and socializing at unique venues. Over the past year, GTM has expanded to two other cities — New York and Orlando — and teamed up with big brands like Reebok, KIND Snacks and Verge to create its signature Vinyasa to Vino, Bendy Brunch and Soul & Spirits events. You can read more about GTM and the events it offers in our interview with the founders.

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to attend GTM’s [Silent] Soul & Spirits event at the historical Carnegie Library in Washington, D.C. The event, which GTM called its “biggest event to-date,” promised a live DJ, unlimited cocktails and a crowd of millennial yogis looking for a night on the town. As a fan of GTM’s more intimate events, I was skeptical that I would like a large-scale GTM bash. Luckily, that wasn’t the case...

Read more here!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

October = Craziness & 550 Cord Bracelet Stories for the USO

The past two weeks of my life have been a total blur. Between crunching out papers for grad school (which don't get me wrong, I love, but it's so much work!), finding time to push out freelance stories for Spright and doing my actual regular job at the USO, I've barely had a moment to get my bearings.

HA! Barely. Bearings. Bears. Sometimes I make myself laugh.

I think one of the coolest projects I've been up to in USO land has been my 550 cord bracelet story that published with the launch of the brand new USO website last week. (Side note: The new website looks awesome, you should totally go check it out!)

For those who don't know, 550 cord bracelets are simple woven bracelets made from paracord, also known as 550 cord. These bracelets are made with roughly ten feet of cord and can be unwoven and used in survival situations, which makes them pretty popular in the military community. Over the past few years, USO centers overseas have started to offer 550 cord making workshops so troops can make bracelets for themselves and their family and friends back home.

Over the years, the bracelets have come to symbolize a special military connection the wearer has with a service member -- pretty cool, huh? To get a bit more info about 550 cord bracelets and their associated traditions, you should check out my story here.

Oh! And if you want to learn how to make your own 550 cord bracelet, you should watch the video above I made for the USO below and read this special tutorial.

Happy crafting!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Seattle Adventures: On the Road Reporting for the USO

One of the best parts of my job, I think, is the opportunity to travel.

Last week, I got to head to Seattle/Tacoma to cover the USO's 10th Caregivers Seminar, which provides specialized programming to caregivers of wounded, ill and injured soldiers. The programming is actually really great and features sessions from gameonNation, Stronger Families and more.

Even though I had been to this seminar before in Fort Leonard Wood, Miss., I really enjoyed the opportunity to attend the seminar in this location. While the Fort Leonard Wood seminar was small and intimate, this session was quite large, with around 90 registered attendees. For me, more attendees means more stories, more dialogue and more interesting things to write and report about.

In particular, I got to meet Carleeh Mullholland, the wife and caregiver of medically retired Army Sgt. Cy Mullholland, who was diagnosed with severe PTSD and TBI after serving several tours in the Middle East as a tank commander. Carleeh shared her story with me and talked a bit about her personal journey and how she ended up at the Caregiver's Seminar. Here's a look at my USO blog story:
TACOMA, Wash. — Carleeh Mullholland didn’t choose to be a caregiver.

But when her husband, medically retired Army Sgt. Cy Mullholland, was diagnosed with severe PTSD and TBI after serving several tours in the Middle East as a tank commander, she stepped into the caregiving role — whether she was ready or not.

“It fell in my lap,” she said. “[I had to] take care of my husband and I didn’t really get a say-so.”

After receiving his official diagnosis, Cy served for several more years before eventually being medically discharged. During the family’s transition process out of the military, Carlee notes that her husband’s condition added another dimension to an already difficult and confusing time.

“You’re in this place where you don’t know where you are, you don’t know what’s going to happen, there’s no job for your spouse if he is unable to work [like my husband, who is disabled],” Carleeh said. “So you got to figure something out.”

Over the past few years, Carleeh, a mother of three, has started to figure it out
Read more here!
While at the seminar, I also spoke to a young military couple, Jill and Isaac Strausbaugh (Isaac is injured), who are in the process of transitioning out of the military. I haven't gotten around to writing their story yet, but I can promise you it will be a good one. Besides attending the Caregivers Seminar, I also got to head to RP/6 (an org that helps veterans/transition troops find jobs) and the USO SEATAC center for two other stories which are in process.

Even though it was a very busy (and fruitful!) reporting trip, I did get a chance to sneak a peek at some gorgeous Seattle/Tacoma sites. Mountains, anyone?