Friendly Friday: Tough Mudder

Ever since I participated in this event, I have been so excited to write about it. So for this Friday, I am featuring the TOUGH MUDDER! Honestly speaking, this was one of the greatest events I have ever been apart of. The Tough Mudder knows how to mentally and physically challenge it's participants, but it also knows how to give back. 

                                                           

The Tough Mudder is a 10-12 mile obstacle challenge that naturally fosters community and teamwork. Although physically difficult for the average person, the participants are so helpful and motivating around you, it becomes easy to challenge yourself and overcome your fears and weaknesses. Not only do you give back to yourself when you participate in the Tough Mudder, you also give pack to their charity partner, the Wounded Warrior Project
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The Wounded Warrior Project's (WWP) overall mission is to "honor and empower Wounded Warriors." WWP offers a plethora of programs to service members in multiple categories: mind, body, economic empowerment, and engagement. This gives Wounded Warriors access to programs like:
  • Project Odyssey to combat stress and further recovery
  • Soldier Ride which is a physical health and wellness program
  • TRACK which offers economic education and training for Wounded Warriors.  
With every registered Tough Mudder, a donation page is provided and incentives are given to participants who raise funds. Up to date in its five years of activity, the Tough Mudder has contributed over $6 million dollars in support of the WWP. This amount of charity has been able to support thousands of America's warriors coming home from war. Not only has it financially given back, but if you participate in the Tough Mudder, at the finish you'll notice a massive pile of shoes that participants will take off and donate at the end of the race to further provide for charity. 
It's amazing how much the Tough Mudder has given back in its short time in activity. Not only has it massively given back to the Wounded Warrior Project, but it gives back to each person that decides to participate and take on the challenge of the Tough Mudder. For anyone that crosses that finish line, there is a new level of mental strength, physical strength, community, and confidence instilled inside of him or her. 
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Written by Nikita Ahuja
Summer 2015 Intern

Wildcard Wednesday: Summer Hobbies (on a budget)

It's pretty early in the summer and you may have already found yourself sitting around without much to do. (Especially with all the rain, if you're in Texas).

It's that weird effect that occurs: we know there's a million things out there to do, but it feels like there's nothing. Well, here's a little blog post to assure you that there are in fact things out there to do, so you don't find yourself twiddling your thumbs. 

  • Start Running! I started running when I came to college and can't thank myself enough. It's probably the least expensive sport out there, and literally anyone can do it. All you need is YOURSELF! You don't need to start making any sort of investments into running shoes until things get more serious, so financially, you've got no worries. 
  • Cook! If you already cook, challenge yourself to only cook certain types of dishes or give yourself certain restrictions. For example, restricting yourself to vegan dishes, gluten free dishes, a carbless dinner, dairy free desserts, dishes under $10, etc. This is a really fun way to pick up a new skill that is extremely valuable in everyday life. I was never the artsy type that could channel her creative side on paper, design, or craft so I found a new canvas: the kitchen. 
  • Puzzle yourself. I love puzzles, and if I weren't so restless, I would do them all the time. I spent last summer doing a 1000 piece puzzle and learned how to do a Rubik's cube (honestly, one of the most rewarding investments of time and now I have a new fun fact). I also highly recommend Sudoku! Puzzles are great because they're versatile, easily available, keep your mind active, and you learn cool new skills.

  • Yoga. I swear by yoga. I think it really is something everyone needs to take up and experience at a point in their lives. Yoga studios can get pricey, so if you're on a strict budget, most places have first timer promotions for up to a week, so scrounge those out. Also check out some youtube videos. As a college student, I'm on a bit of a budget myself, so I've just been laying my mat in my room, lighting some candles, and finding a video that suits me at the moment. 
  • Study! Huh? I mean it! Study something you've always wanted to study. We all talk about that class we wish we took in school, or a class we wish that was offered. Make it reality! Last summer, I spend a bunch of time learning about hip-hop/rap and it's origins, it's story, etc. I also spent a fair amount of time learning about slam poetry. Check out youtube videos, documentaries, books/sources from the local library (a magical, cheap place we tend to forget about)
  • Pick up a new sport. I mentioned running earlier, but you could also invest in a soccer ball and go out to the nearest park/field and kick it around. At 20 years old, that's what I did! Again, being on a budget, I watched some drills on youtube and replicated them on the field. You could also try out a more hands on, unconventional sport like rock climbing and buff up for the upcoming fall!

 

  • Read, read, read. Check out my past blog post here about some books for the summer.
  • Volunteer. Volunteering is  a wonderful way to give back to the community and keep yourself busy. Reach out to any local organization you may be aware of. Volunteering comes in a million different forms. You could do your standard volunteering, you could participate in charity runs/events, you could even start fostering animals to give back! Because who doesn't want to just take care of kittens and pups all day?
  • Channel your inner drama queen. Most theatres put on shows in the summer. Go out and audition for the summer show! If you don't make it, you don't make it, but there's no sense in not trying. If that's too far fetched, try out an improv or acting class!
  • Write. In your bed, in a coffee shop, in the park, anywhere you want to go, just camp out and write a little. About anything. Make up a non-fiction story, write about your day, jot down some poetry, start writing a blog or if you're not one with words, keep a photo diary! Writing is so cathartic and so helpful to your creative flow. If you're in Austin, there are some places around that offer writing workshops like Spiderhouse. Find some of those gems in your city!

So there you have it, folks. Summer hobbies along with some modifications to help keep you on a budget. With that, I hope you all continue to have a wonderful summer and keep yourselves busy!

 

Written by Nikita Ahuja

Summer 2015 Intern

May 27, 2015 by Oliver Shuttlesworth

Monday Muses: Gene Gallerano + Christina Bennett Lind

Gene and Christina are an inspiring couple and we are so excited to share all they are working on. Gene has just wrapped acting in the film he wrote Occupy Texas and you can catch Christina on the latest season of House of Cards. We told you they were AMAZING!!!!

What type of artist are you? How long have you been practicing your craft?

We are actors and filmmakers. I think we have both been doing something related to one or the other since we were little kids. Christina was doing plays for her grandparents and parents in the little barn outside of her grandparents house in Nova Scotia since. Gene played Rudolph in 3rd in a mask his dad made for him and then was in the movie Bottle Rocket in 5th grade. So, how long - since we can remember...

Who/ what inspires you? 

Shit, almost everything. Even the stuff that doesn't inspire us inspires us to do something that does, so we try to spend as little time doing things that don't inspire us as possible. 

Do you think education is important? Do you think it always comes in the form of formal training? 

Education of any sort is important! It can be formal training, informal training, or just the training you get from experience. It can come from your studies at high fallutin' places like (faux British Accent) University or the crowd you get swept away with on a simple subway ride in NYC - which can be a microcosm of the world if you are open enough to use your eyes and ears. We think that what's most important is to learn about all sorts of things, not just the acting and filmmaking. Acting related to being an actor or making films about making films wouldn't make for very interesting work. 

 

Christina on the set of House of Cards. 

What does "carry hope" mean to you?

We are big dreamers. The possibility of not fulfilling any of our dreams is obsolete without some form of hope. We rely on hope to keep trying. 

Do you have any random talents, hobbies, or anything you would like to publicly share about yourselves?

We try to stay curious about other parts of our life. At the moment, Christina is trying to perfect a bread recipe and Gene is compiling an enormous DJ library. We need creative breaks to use different muscles. 

Is there a song you are obsessed with at the moment?

Christina's been hooked on the band Phosphorescent for a very long time. (She tends to play an album out until she can't listen to it anymore, which thankfully hasn't happened yet). Gene's been listening to house music and classical music, and has been on a Buena Vista Social Club kick. 

What does success mean to you? 

Continuing. It's hard in any industry to keep finding the good in it as you hit walls and obstacles, as idols fall and emerge, and we just try to see the success in every step and let the good fuel us through the dark parts.  

Any pets?

We have a rescue dog that we're completely obsessed with. Her name is Stella and she's a Black Mouthed Cur (a Southern hunting dog) so she has these gesture marks around her eyes that make her look perpetually surprised and thoughtful. She keeps us busy and walking, which is an excellent way to schedule the week for two people who work from home. 

When you are not working where can we find you in your spare time? 

In the dog park down the street, or hanging out in the neighborhood. We've found a bar that allows dogs in and we love to bring Stella there and watch her explore. When we're not adoring our dog, we're cooking or baking, or trying really hard to stop working. A lot of free time is willing ourselves to stop talking about work. 

 

Gene and Christina run an artists' collective in NYC called  The Neboya Collective and we highly recommend you check out the other artists they collaborate with. 

You can also follow them on twitter at Gene / Christina

Thank you both for sharing a little piece of your exciting lives with ESPEROS!

 

Friendly Friday: Carry The Load

With the upcoming of Memorial Day this Monday, I thought Carry the Load would be perfect to highlight and remind everyone what Memorial Day is all about.

The idea of Memorial Day was brought upon us to remember and honor service members for the sacrifices they continually make for the world. Although this idea has been harmlessly forgotten by some, you can guarantee it isn't forgotten by those that participate in the Carry the Load Memorial Day March

Carry the Load's Mission

Former Navy SEAL Clint Bruce started Carry the Load after coming to the realization that the meaning of Memorial Day had become kind of... ambiguous. Clint wanted to not only honor the friends that he lost, but also empathize with his fallen brethren. With this in mind, he decided to do what him and his buddies did most; Clint put on his weighted pack and began walking. During this walk, he thought about and remembered all that his brothers had sacrificed for him, for our country, and for all of us. At a certain point, Clint was encountered by another veteran who understood the meaning of his walk. After seeing Clint, the veteran stopped him and simply said, "Son, who are you carrying?"

It was then that Carry The Load was born.

Now, Carry The Load's mission is to restore the true meaning of Memorial day by giving Americans the opportunity to walk along side our nation's heroes in order to empathize with, remember, and honor them in such an organic way. 

Carry The Load's Event(s)

Carry The Load hosts plenty of local events, but their biggest are the Memorial May National Relay, the Austin Memorial March, and the Dallas Memorial March (keep reading to find out why!). 

No events require that you register or participate for the whole event. For every march, anyone is welcome to join at any give location or time, even if just for a couple of minutes. 

Memorial May National Relay: a 2,000 mile, 27 day relay from West Point, NY to Dallas, TX.

Dallas Memorial March: a 20 hour and 15 minute memorial ruck march throughout Dallas. My best friend and his father have participated in this march for the last two years and will also be participating this upcoming weekend. (Needless to say, I have some pretty cool friends). 

Austin Memorial March: This one is similar to the Dallas March, however, instead of 20 hours and 15 minutes in duration, the march is 20.15 miles long. 

Carry The Load Fundraising

None of Carry The Load's events cost any money or registration to enter or participate, but those that do register online automatically receive a personal fundraising page to optionally help fundraise for Carry The Load. For this year, Carry The Load's events have brought in a sizable amount of charitable donations. The Austin Memorial March has brought in $56,050 and growing, the National Relay has brought in over $300,000, and finally, just this year, the Dallas March has brought in largely over 1 million dollars. Alongside these, every local event also brings in thousands.

Funds raised for Carry The Load allows the organization to grow it's mission of restoration, and provide to its local and national non-profit partners. For 2015, some of Carry The Load's non-profit partners include: SnowballExpress.org, Building Homes for Heroes, Gratitude Initiative, and Tip of the Spear Foundation. Many more can be found here

So this upcoming Monday, when you're off of work on our upcoming Memorial Day, keep a couple of things in mind: 

1) Don't forget to remember.

2) Empathize and "carry the load" (think metaphorically, or even charitably).

3) And while you're carrying the load, be sure to carry hope.

From here, I wish you all a wonderful Memorial Day.

 

Written by Nikita Ahuja

Summer 2015 Intern

Wildcard Wednesday: What Books Should You Carry in your ESPEROS Bag This Summer?

Now that summer is upon us and we no longer have to dive into our textbooks, it's time we take a moment and remember the joy of simply...leisure reading.

So, just because the textbooks are hitting the hay, don't neglect all your books. In fact, here are some great reads to pick up this summer:

For the person who likes plot twists, check out:

  • Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann. You'd never guess how everything comes together in the end.

For the person who likes timeless classics, check out:

  • Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. Not your typical classic like Pride and Prejudice, but it sure does withstand the test of time. Plus, it gets quoted a lot.

For the person who likes drama, check out:

  • White Oleander by Janet Fitch. A raw, heart-wrenching novel about a young girl's childhood journey as an orphan.

For the person who loves The Hunger Games, check out: 

  • Variant by Robison Wells. No matter how old I get, I will always appreciate the plot twists and excitement of Young Adult Fiction. There is also a sequel entitled Feedback.

For the person who loves a good laugh, check out:

All quick reads that will have you laughing out loud! 

For the person who likes Non-Fiction, check out:

  • The Shallows by Nicholas Carr. This book goes into depth about the transformation technology has made over the years, and speaks on what technology is doing to our brains. 
  • Eating Animals by Johnathan Safran Foer. Do you know what you're eating?

Never let yourself forget the beauty and importance of reading. It opens up new worlds for us and will never lose it's value. So, anytime you're feeling bored this summer, just remember... you can always pick up a good book.

 

Written by Nikita Ahuja

Summer 2015 Intern 

Monday Muse: Jay Jennings

It's not everyday you get to meet a trumpet player as talented and handsome as Jay. He's a wonderful friend and we are excited to give you a peek into his life on the road and in NYC!
Are you an artists? Have you always considered yourself an artist? I have considered myself an artist ever since I started improvising.  Which began early on, around the age of 9 or 10. I play the trumpet and tour with Snarky Puppy Polyphonic Spree,  Eli "Paperboy" Reed, and Toby Keith. 
Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I am originally from Grapevine, TX. I am a musician/songwriter living in Brooklyn, NY. 
 
What does our slogan "carry hope" mean to you?

The slogan "carry hope" is inspiring to me.  It makes me stay positive about what Im doing.  Im pretty positive anyway, but this gives me an excuse to put inspiration and hope in other people minds and hearts.

What do you like most about your ESPEROS backpack?

I love how light weight the bag is but yet seems very durable. 

 

 

Jay on tour with Snarky Puppy outside in Copenhagen and at the Olympia in Paris
What inspires you? 

Music and art are inspiring to me obviously.  But watching some one you love do what they love is REALLY where its at!

In that case we feel like we can mention Jay's girlfriend Elizabeth Reid who is also an amazing artist. She is a real Jane-of-all-Trades and can make anything from 3-D figures to textile designs. 

 

Why do you think education is important? Do you think it always comes in the form of formal training? 

I think a formal education is important.  Although, there are certain things, especially in my line of work, that you can not learn in school.  there are many things that you are not able to learn in a school environment.  Its called life.

Do you have any hobbies, talents, near death experiences?

I love playing golf!  

My appendix burst when I was 15.

Is there a song you can't stop listening to?

I hardly ever listen to music.  Im serious.

You can follow Jay on instagram @yayennings . He is also a part of the Brooklyn Artist Collective BKLYN 1834.

Friendly Friday: Sseko Designs

“Using fashion to educate & empower women. Every Sseko has a story.”

Dreamers, employers, life-givers, those who seek to change the world - check this out. Sseko Designs is an ethical fashion brand that hires high potential women in Uganda to make sandals, empowering and enabling them to earn money through dignified employment that will finance their college educations. You might recognize them from their appearance on Shark Tank where they sadly did not get an offer, but check out Liz's "After The Shark Attack!" video here (spoiler: its pretty awesome). 

To date, Sseko has enabled 47 women to continue on to university level education and is employing 50 women in Uganda from all walks of life. The team at Sseko believes in the power of dreams, and that every person should have an opportunity to chase those dreams.

In addition to their work in Uganda, Sseko designs and sources ethically made products in East Africa. Every Sseko product is made in Africa, creating jobs, empowering artisans, helping to end the cycle of poverty and creating a never-ending ripple effect of positive social change. 

                                                       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, check out these incredible sandals; buy a pair and change the world. From sandals to accessories to bags—they’ve got quality goods and they're doing it right. 

Watch their story below and definitely check out their Instagram, blog and Facebook page. 

 

 Happy Friday!

Written by Grace Mueller

Spring 2015 Intern

Wildcard Wednesday: How we beach bum.

Here's what we are packing up to take to the beach this summer! What's in yours?!

Monday Muse: Margaux Brooke

Name: Margaux Brooke

Profession: Modeling
Agents: Wilhelmina - NY, LA, Miami // No Ties Management // Models 1 - London // Monster - Milan

Photograph by: Greg Swales

Passion, grace, and poise don't begin to describe the talent of today's Monday Muse, Margaux Brooke. She is effortlessly beautiful and talented at what she does; but even more, her words are incredibly encouraging to all who have the pleasure of hearing them. She has been just about all over the globe, yet still she seems to see excitement in the everyday. She's the kind of inspiration that keeps you going, even when the going gets tough. She's an artist, alright, and we had the pleasure of getting to know her--meet Margaux Brooke!

Hey Margaux, do you consider yourself an artist? What kind?

Definitely, I dabble in all different kinds of art. I would say I’m most well known for being a model. But I also enjoy drawing, acting, and writing, which is probably my most personal form of art.

How did you get your start?

I was 9 years old, living in Roswell, Georgia. One day my mom heard an ad on the radio for an agency looking for child models. She brought me in and the rest is history, as they say. I was never pressured into modeling. I genuinely loved it when I was little. They usually just dress you in your outfit and then tell you to have fun, and they capture some great photos from that. If only it were that easy now-a-days, haha!

Where do you live or where do you split your time between?

I would say my home is Los Angeles, or currently Orange County. I am planning to move to LA this summer, but really I am bi-coastal. I spend a few months out of the year in New York, which is my favorite city to work.  I also work in London, occasionally, which is always a fun time. I learn so much from my travels.

 

Where are you from?

This is an interesting question for me. I was born in Ventura, California, but I moved to Georgia when I was 2 years old and lived there until I was 11. Then I moved to Costa Rica from age 12-15, and then I moved back to California, where I have lived ever since. So all of my growing years were split between three different places. But I usually say I’m from Georgia, but identify my home as LA. 

                                                                                 Photograph By: Kristian Shuller


What/ who inspires you?

So many people inspire me, I don’t even know where to begin. My mom is my greatest inspiration. She provided such an amazing life for me, and did so as a single mom from the age 12 years old and on. I owe a great deal of my happiness to her. She got me into modeling, drove me to my castings until I was nearly 17, and always supported me. Coco Rocha is my modeling mentor, she’s taught me so much, mostly about how to deal with haters in this industry, and to be confident. She’s only a year older than me but has accomplished so much. I love her and her husband and now her new baby Ioni.  They’ve always been so kind to me and have remained my friends until this day. As far as a writing inspiration, I’m obsessed with Patti Smith, I could only dream of writing like she does. I feel so much when I read her words, and I hope to meet her one-day in the future. Other than that, I would just say life inspires me. I can be walking down the streets in NYC and feel all sorts of inspiration from the weather to the architecture to the people. Traveling is inspiring.

What does our slogan “Carry Hope” mean to you?

                                                                                     Photograph By: Ben Cope

I think it reminds me to never give up. Even when things seem impossible and hopeless, and you feel utterly lost in life or your work, there is always hope. Sometimes all it takes is patience and perseverance, other times it takes a lot of hard work, but I think as long as you keep fighting, there is hope.

 

Do you think education is important? Do you think it always has to come in the form of formal training?

Yes, I definitely think education is important, but no I am the last person to believe it comes in the form of formal training. Sure if you want to be a doctor, or a lawyer, you should go to school to get those degrees, but when it comes to art, I don’t think a formal degree is necessary. I’ve completed two years of college and I’m not sure if I will ever finish. I have been modeling, and working, and teaching myself so much about the fashion industry, marketing, and how to brand myself.  My dad asked me, “Where did you learn all this?” I told him, I taught myself. I think school can provide a great foundation, but sometimes you just need to learn on your own.

                                                                                     Photograph By: Jens Ingvarsson

Random hobbies???

Well writing is probably my biggest hobby. I’d love to write a novel one-day. It will probably be fiction, but for now, my writing is just for me. I also love online gaming, which I guess is pretty unorthodox for a model, or so I’ve been told. I play this game called League of Legends, super fun and addicting. But I’ve always been more of a tomboy.

Favorite song you are listening to?

Right now I’ve really been in to “Octa Hate” by Ryn Weaver. It’s a song about love, or rather, about losing love, which I’ve recently gone though myself, and I’m kind of on road to the recovery right now. So this song has kind of been my anthem. One day at a time right?

YES. One day at a time, absolutely. Thank you, Margaux, for carrying hope and caring enough about education to share your story with our readers.

Follow Margaux on Instagram @margauxbrooke , and on Tumblr http://margauxbrooke.tumblr.com. Especially if you are looking for some day-to-day inspiration, this girl has a gift.

How are you inspired? Share in the comments below. 

Happy Monday, everyone!

 

Written by Grace Mueller

Spring 2015 Intern

Friendly Friday: Malala Yousafzai

Malala was born on July 12th 1997, in Mingora, the Swat District of North West Pakistan. Fast forward to 2011, Malala received the first National Youth Peace Prize and was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize for her anonymous writing for the BBC blog expressing her views on education and life under the threat of the Taliban taking over the valley. The Taliban had banned television, music, women from shopping and women from being educated; Malala didn't think that was right. Malala believed that everyone, and every girl, should have the right to education. 

Only a year later, on October 9th 2012, a masked gunman entered Malala’s school bus and asked for Malala by name. She was shot with a single bullet that went through her head, neck and shoulder. Malala survived this horrible attack, but was in critical condition. 

Who gets individually attacked by the Taliban…and survives? An incredibly strong, courageous, brave, and powerful person. Someone who stands up for what they know is right, at all costs. Someone who believes that the world can and will be changed.  

Since her assassination attempt in 2012, over 2 million people have signed the Right to Education campaign, helping lead to the ratification of Pakisatan’s first right to education bill. Malala is now a global advocate for the millions of girls who are denied a formal education because of social, economic, legal and political factors. The Malala Fund brings awareness to the social and economic impact of girls’ education and to empower girls to raise their voices, to unlock their potential and to demand change. 

The Malala fund supports adolescent girls under threat of the Taliban in Pakistan, girls kidnapped or under threat of Boko Haram in Nigera, girls in Syrian refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon, adolescent girls affected by the ebola crisis is Sierra Leone, adolescent girls learning technology skills in Kenya. Advocates leading girls’ education campaigns around the world.  

We seldom realize, in our comfortable situations, how oppressive and neglecting the world can be. Malala saw our broken system, and didn't accept the status quo. She believed in education and the access to education for all people, girls and boys. 

62 million girls are out of school around the world. The average time spent in education by the poorest girls is only 3 years. There are 70 countries in the world where girls have faced violence for trying to go to school. With the money they raise, the Malala Fund works to secure girl’s rights to a minimum of 12 years of quality education. A change like that would absolutely revolutionize the world—because education empowers. 

      

Join Malala's movement by signing up at http://malala.org and learn more about their impact in the community here. In 2015, through the work of the Malala Fund, lives will be changed. Together, all girls might have access to 12 years of fee-free education, education for funding might be increased, and our methods of counting school children will be improved--allowing us to better meet the needs of providing every young person with good, quality education. Empower girls, and help them achieve their full potential. The craziest thing we can do is nothing. 

 

 

 

 

Written by Grace Mueller

Spring 2015 Intern

*all photographs courtesy of Tanya Malott Photography