Pony-O Hair Products and Simple Pleasures

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Amidst a pandemic, stuck at home, we’ve all had to get by on simple pleasures. Many of you have been indulging in your hobbies…I’ve been playing with my hair.

It all started when the Pony-O made its way into my Instagram feed. The Pony-O is a hair tie/scrunchie substitute made of a copper bar covered in silicon that’s supposed to be just as secure without the tugging. The product piqued my interest, but I didn’t feel compelled to buy anything.

Well, I must’ve ended up on someone’s re-marketing list because everywhere I went, the perky Pony-O girl followed me around with her equally perky ponytail. I reached a point where I couldn’t deal with the fact that I was missing out on the perfect ponytail so I bought a standard black Pony-O and a Bun Bar (another product to make an equally perfect bun).

I waited with great anticipation for my package to arrive. When the products finally arrived, I remember trying them immediately and feeling that they were only OK. I put them in the bathroom drawer where all hair accessories go to die, and I forgot about them.

That would be the end of the story had it not been for the Pony-O company’s persistence. After my purchase, they kept sending me newsletters with helpful tips. Their feed on Instagram continued to offer hair-do ideas and different ways of using their products. They refused to give up on me!

Then reader, something amazing happened. I started trying out the tips, and I got better outcomes. This made me want to try more hairstyles, which made me more proficient with the products.

Not only that, but the simple act of experimenting with my hair brought simple joy to what ended up being such a monotonous year, overall.

About Pony-O

The Pony-O is the invention of Nicol Harvie, an inventor patenting hair accessories for over 30 years. As she notes in this video, she realized that most of the hair accessories we wear on a day-to-day basis were invented in the 1800s by men. She wanted something that wasn’t painful and better fit the needs of women.

Pony-O is driven by innovation. When I bought from them at the beginning of the pandemic, they only had one size option. By the end of the year, they had introduced a skinnier 2.0 version and a larger XL version. They had also launched different colors, prints, and “bling.”

Their content followed me along all year until I broke down and ordered AGAIN in December to take advantage of their holiday specials.

Besides the different sizes to accommodate different hair types, I think this company stays winning because they show you how to use their products. The livestreams are cool because followers can ask questions to have the model demonstrate the answers in real-time.

Pony-O even did their part during the height of COVID-19 by giving frontline medical workers a way to wear their masks.

The cool thing about Pony-O products is that you don’t have to be particularly skilled at doing hair. They’re easy to use and they give you a polished look regardless. The key to using the Pony-O is to not think of it as a hair tie, it’s a completely different hair accessory.

For a high ponytail, the Pony-O XL (Coral pictured) works best with my wavy hair.
This rose gold metallic Pony-O is my favorite of the bunch.
A perfect bun every time with the Bun Bar!

I’ll definitely put all these to good use if it’s ever safe to leave the house again.

GRIEF VIGILANTES Screening at Film Invasion L.A.

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Founded by longtime residents and movie veterans alike, Film Invasion Los Angeles looks to showcase the best undiscovered movies in the heart of Los Angeles. As a 2020 selection, our short film Grief Vigilantes will be screening as part of their Comedy Spotlight!

THREE SHORT FILMS: HOW TO SAVE A MARRIAGE, GRIEF VIGILANTES, & FIRST STATES. Please note that you have the OPTION to give a $5 or $10 gift in order to watch as many livestreams as you like. There are still many costs associated with running the festival, but because people will be watching at home during a global pandemic we made paying for tickets optional this year.

  • Length: 90 minutes
  • Unrated
  • How To Save A Marriage 0:08:30
    Grief Vigilantes 0:08:34
    First States 0:17:09

    How To Save A Marriage
    A “Cosmo Quiz” becomes a painful walk down memory lane. Honesty is the hallmark of a good relationship…just not that kind of honesty.
    Director(s): Eric Foss
    Writer(s): Eric Foss
    Producer(s): Eric Foss
    Starring: Chris Mollica, Catherine Mersereau

    Grief Vigilantes
    When a girl dealing with a tragedy suddenly contends with a terrible boss she bands together with her grief group and makes the unwise decision to kidnap her manager.
    Director(s): Aysha Wax
    Writer(s): Aysha Wax
    Producer(s): Elba Flamenco, Casey Graf, Aysha Wax
    Cast: Dione Kuraoka, Denisse Ojeda, Kaitlyn Tanimoto, Sofia Gonzalez, Jana Savage, Richard Riehle

    First States
    A disgraced Congressman fakes his own death to escape trial and start over fresh down his chosen new path outside of society. It’s never a clean break, as the powers that be have different plans for him.
    Director(s): Bond Richards
    Writer(s): Bond Richards
    Producer(s): Eli Swenson
    Cast: Christian Klein, Quinton Clarke, Eli Swenson

Review of the Los Angeles Times Digital Subscription and App

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The Los Angeles Times has a limited-time offer for unlimited digital access across web, tablet, and mobile, for just $1 for 4 weeks. After that, you’re billed $4 per week, billed every 4 weeks ($16 a month), and you can cancel anytime. As a millennial, the thought of paying for news was foreign to me. Even though I grew up in the era of print newspapers and magazines, when the internet arrived, it seemed ridiculous to pay for news when it was abundantly available for free everywhere!

Flash forward to 2020: a pandemic is sweeping the globe, our president is telling us to consume bleach, the economy’s shit, and natural disasters are wreaking havoc all over the world. Everything’s on fire, basically. Unfortunately, these conditions have made fake news ripe for consuming and spreading, especially on platforms like Facebook and YouTube. It became increasingly hard for me to find accurate information, and I got tired of hitting paywalls on the sources I DID trust, so I decided to put my money where my mouth is and subscribe to the L.A. Times, a paper I’ve grown up with my entire life, as someone born and raised in Los Angeles, and it feels like home.

After spending a few weeks playing around with the app, I think I have a good grasp on the functionality and value it delivers. So here’s a breakdown of the features, some commentary on what I loved most, as well as feedback (from the perspective of someone in media who works on apps) on what would add even more value to subscribers. For those who want to know, I’m using a Samsung Galaxy S7 edge and I’m running Android 8.0.0 and Samsung Experience version 9.0.

Overview

The app is broken up into four major navigational sections:

  • Homepage Feed
  • eNewspaper (a digitized version of the print newspaper)
  • Media (a collection of videos and podcasts)
  • My library (saved and recently viewed articles)

Homepage Feed

The homepage feed includes a collection of top news however, the criteria for what is considered “top news” is unclear to me. I’m assuming it’s their most viewed or most engaged with stories of the day? Either way, most of the reading I do is directly from that homepage feed so those stories do tend to be the most relevant and engaging reporting available at the current moment.

eNewspaper

This sounds like exactly what it is, an eNewspaper! But this is more than a scanned version of the print paper, it’s completely clickable and customizable to each reader’s preferences. This format allows you to flip the pages of the paper which gives you a different scrolling experience that’s equivalent to sitting back and flipping through the newspaper. I’m still old enough to remember the joys of getting lost in the paper. Admiring the beautiful photography, discovering the buried stories, jumping from story to unrelated story. Except in this experience, when you click on a story it brings up an easy-to read version of the story that allows you to change the language, adjust the font size, and highlight text to copy, eliminating the need to pinch to zoom as you squint to read the writing.

The value and experience is further enhanced with the addition of games and comics. Games include Sudoku, solitaire, and word games, but the shining jewel in this crown is the daily crossword. Oh, how I miss filling out the daily crossword in the print paper! I never got great at doing crosswords but I loved trying. This version has everything you need for a good time, including customizable clues, the ability to play with friends, error check, and a deep archive to play with! The comics are cool because you can read them in the newspaper format, or click on them for an easy-to-read hi-res version. Hands down, the enewspaper is one of the most unique and best parts of the L.A. Times app.

There’s also a cool archives feature that dates back 130+ years and includes other newspapers. Unfortunately, it seems like you have to have a separate subscription to access this section. It’s too bad because making this a part of the subscription would definitely add value and attract a broader range of potential subscribers such as teachers, historians, researchers, and other individuals interested in news archives. I’ve contacted the L.A. Times directly to ask about this since it’s unclear if the lack of access is due to a bug or really requires another subscription.

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Media

This is the section I’ve probably spent the least amount of time in. Not because the L.A. Times doesn’t make good video/audio content, but because I tend to consume that type of content at other times and on other platforms. If I’m opening up the L.A. Times app, it’s because I’m in the mood to read, not watch/listen to content. And when someone DOES share L.A. Times video on social media, they’re YouTube links, so I go consume the content there. Even the videos in the app appear to be YouTube embeds.

Same with the podcasts, I was a huge Dirty John fan, but I didn’t listen to this podcast on the L.A. Times app because it’s on Spotify, which is my go-to subscription for all things music and podcasts. It’s highly unlikely I would listen to a podcast from within the L.A. Times app unless it was EXCLUSIVE to the app. But I know that, in today’s media landscape, you have to spread your content across all monetizable platforms to get as much revenue out of it, so I get it.

Coronavirus Relief Funds for Individual Artists/Creatives

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For the past couple of months, I’ve been doing a ton of research on art advocacy as part of my participation in NALAC’s Advocacy Leadership Institute and I’ve found a lot of great resources for artists. In particular, our biggest challenge right now is dealing with the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic and mitigating the impact on already struggling communities. The good news is that philanthropic organizations have stepped up to provide relief funds and assistance to those in need, however it might be difficult to find this information, so I’ve curated a list of relief fund programs for individual artists, and I’ve grouped them thematically.

I’ll continue to add to this page as I find resources, however, I won’t have the bandwidth to remove opportunities as they expire. If you come across an opportunity that’s expired, please leave a comment at the bottom of this post so that I can remove it. I’ll also be updating this Twitter thread, if that’s easier to keep track of for you. THANK YOU AND I HOPE THIS HELPS!


General Relief Funds for Artists

  • Artist Relief. Artist Relief will distribute $5,000 grants to US-based artists facing dire financial emergencies due to COVID-19; serve as an ongoing informational resource; and co-launch the COVID-19 Impact Survey for Artists and Creative Workers, designed by Americans for the Arts, to better identify and address the needs of artists.
  • Artly World launched the Artist Relief Project supporting artist with $200 grants
  • Forecast has launched a national initiative to support public artists and public art programs during this pandemic.
  • Foundation for Contemporary Arts has a relief fund for artists who incur unexpected or unbudgeted expenses for projects close to completion with committed exhibition or performance dates
  • The Opportunity Agenda. Creative Change – COVID 19 Emergency Assistance Stipends for Artists & Cultural Strategists provides emergency assistance stipends of $1,000 for US-based artists and cultural strategists pursuing social justice objectives through their work. Members of The Opportunity Agenda’s Creative Change Network as well as others who meet the criteria are encouraged to apply. Stipends may be used exclusively to support recipients facing financial hardship whose work in their respective arts and/or social justice field(s)has been significantly disrupted, reduced, delayed, or lost due to COVID-19. This is a limited time opportunity and stipends must be used by July 31st, 2020.
  • Rauschenberg announced an Medical Emergency grant program for artists.
  • 4Culture will begin accepting applications for the Cultural Relief Fund April 1 through May 15.
  • CERF+ – CERF+ Emergency Assistance – Supporting intensive care, focused on those infected with the COVID-19 that require intensive medical care.

Relief Funds for Female Artists

Relief Funds for BIPOC Artists

  • Arts Administrators of Color Network launched a relief fund to support BIPOC artists and administrators.
  • This is not Coronavirus-specific but Firelight invites filmmakers from racially and ethnically underrepresented communities in the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Puerto Rico, and Colombia, with particular interest in those who identify as indigenous and/or of African descent, to apply for the inaugural William Greaves Fund. This is a new dedicated fund to resource 5-7 talented storytellers per year. The size of grants will range up to $25k each to support research and development on a feature-length nonfiction film. The application opens March 12, 2020 with an anticipated announcement and disbursement in July 2020.

Relief Funds for Actors

  • Actors Fund emergency financial assistance program helps eligible applicants in need. It is not income replacement, but limited funds for basic living necessities. The Actors Fund is also administering COVID19 Assistance programs for performing arts and entertainment unions including SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, Actors Equity Association, American Guild of Musical Artists and Musicians Local 802. Additionally, The Fund is administering the Jujamcyn Theatre Assistance Program
  • Denver Actors Fund launches $35,000 emergency relief fund for theatre artists

Relief Funds for Musicians

  • MusiCares – Short-term financial assistance for musicians’ personal needs that have arisen due to unforeseen circumstances.
  • Musicians Foundation – Financial assistance to professionals in the music industry.
  • Jazz Road Quick Assist Fund – $1,000 grants available for freelance jazz musicians impacted by COVID-19 to offset lost income due to cancelled events in March, April, and May 2020.

Relief Funds for Visual Artists

  • The Adolph & Esther Gottlieb Emergency Grant is for painters, printmakers and sculptors

Relief Funds for Writers

  • PEN America. PEN America is expanding its long-standing Writers’ Emergency Fund as part of our efforts to support the literary community at a time when the health and livelihoods of so many are at risk. PEN America will distribute grants of $500 to $1,000 based on applications that demonstrate an inability to meet an acute financial need, especially one resulting from the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. We have developed a new streamlined process for the duration of this crisis, and expect to be able to review and respond to applications within 14 days. To be eligible, applicants must be based in the United States, be a professional writer, and be able to demonstrate that this one-time grant will be meaningful in helping them to address an emergency situation. The fund is limited, and not every application can be supported.
  • Dramatists Guild Foundation launches relief fund supporting individual playwrights, composers, lyricists, and bookwriters.
  • Author’s League Fund – Helps professional authors, journalists, poets, and dramatists who find themselves in financial need because of medical or health-related problems, temporary loss of income, or other misfortune.
  • The Arts Writers Grant Program was founded in 2006 to recognize the precarious situation of arts writers, and their indispensable contribution to a vital artistic culture. As the COVID-19 outbreak further threatens the cultural and arts writing landscape, the Arts Writers Grant Program is grateful for the Andy Warhol Foundation’s continued support. The grant supports both emerging and established writers who are writing about contemporary visual art. Ranging from $15,000 to $50,000 in three categories—articles, books, and short-form writing—these grants support projects addressing both general and specialized art audiences, from short reviews for magazines and newspapers to in-depth scholarly studies.

State or Region-specific Relief Funds for Artists

  • Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts. The Baltimore Artist Emergency Relief Fund is a coalition-led initiative designed to provide direct assistance to Baltimore-based artists and creative entrepreneurs who have lost income due to the COVID-19 crisis. The fund offers emergency grants of $500 to Baltimore City creatives who are experiencing financial strife as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Theatre Bay Area has set up the COVID-19 Performing Arts Worker Relief Fund.
  • UNTITLED, ART announces the UNTITLED, ART Emergency Fund, in collaboration with &Art& serving artists in the Bay Area. 
  • Boston launched an artist relief fund.
  • Arts Foundation of Cape Cod: The AFCC’s Cape Cod Arts Relief Fund will provide the first $10,000 to meet what we know is a much greater need. Focused on lost income, the Cape Cod Arts Relief Fund will provide one-time relief in the form of grants up to $500 to artists who live, work, create, and/or perform on Cape Cod. 
  • The Arts Community Alliance (Dallas, TX). The TACA Emergency Arts Relief Fund is a resource dedicated to provide short-term immediate relief to Dallas County nonprofit arts organizations who have experienced lost revenue or increased expenses due to Coronavirus/COVID-19 precautionary measures. Eligible organizations can receive awards of up to $10,000.
  • Denver Actors Fund launches $35,000 emergency relief fund for theatre artists
  • CultureLA established an arts emergency relief fund
  • Houston Arts Alliance. The Artist and Arts Worker Relief Fund will provide Houston area artists and arts workers (arts nonprofit employees, gallerists, etc.) that have lost income and basic life securities as a result of COVID-19 grants up to $1,000 will be available and serve as a bridge to public assistance options. 
  • Max’s Kansas City Project has emergency grants for New Yorkers in the creative arts
  • The DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland will offer pro bono consultations to any U.S.-based non-profit arts or culture organization between March and June 2020, as a response to the mounting effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.
  • Frederick Arts Council (Maryland) launched a GoFundMe campaign for relief funding.
  • Michigan Music Alliance’s Michigan Artist Relief Fund (in collaboration with Walk the Beat–a music nonprofit regularly raising funds to get musical instruments in kids’ hands)
  • ArtsMemphis has established an Artist Emergency Fund to help self-employed artists of all arts disciplines (visual art, literary arts, film, dance, music, theater) and artists employed/contracted by nonprofit arts and culture organizations in Shelby County recover from lost income due to the cancellation of scheduled gigs or opportunities (such as a commission, performance, contract, etc.), or due to layoff or furlough due to COVID-19 precautionary measures. Artists may request up to $500 to compensate for work that was scheduled or contracted and cancelled or lost.
  • Oolite Arts (Miami, FL) launched a relief fund offering $500 grants for artists that have lost income.
  • NC Artist Fund Relief Fund: a collaboration between Artspace, PineCone, United Arts Council and VAE Raleigh
  • Greater Columbus Arts Council (Columbus, OH) announced a relief grant for artists.
  • Regional Arts & Culture Council (Portland, OR). RACC’s Emergency Fund for Individual Artists supports creative professionals who have experienced a financial loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund is open to artists at all levels of their careers, in a broad variety of disciplines. Applicants will be asked to submit evidence of their artistic practice, household income, and financial loss in the application. RACC will make awards up to $500 in order to support as many individual artists as possible, prioritizing those without access to other COVID-19 relief funds. 
  • New Haven Creates Relief Fund is a partnership between the City of New Haven’s Department of Cultural Affairs and the Arts Council of Greater New Haven providing up to $1,000 based on their financial situation, with a priority for low-income individuals and small-budget arts organizations.
  • The Village Arts and Humanities (Philadelphia, PA). The Emergency Gap Fund for Philly’s Black Working Artists is a fund that disburses one-time grants of $500 to help Black working artists residing in Philadelphia stay stable and safe while weathering the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council (Pennsylvania) launches a relief fund for artists in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Washington, Lawrence, Indiana, Greene, Fayette, Washington, and Westmoreland counties.
  • Puerto Rico’s “Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña” has put together a resource guide by art discipline.
  • Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. COVID-19 Artist Relief Fund Established for Rhode Island provides grants of up to $1,000 available to artists who have lost income due to the health crisis. The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA), in cooperation with the Rhode Island Foundation and the City of Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism, is launching a fund to help Rhode Island artists who have lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications can be submitted at any time and awards will be made on a weekly basis until funds are exhausted.
  • Center for Cultural Innovation launched the SF Arts and Artists Relief Fund made possible by the direction of Mayor London Breed, SFAC, and GFTA with the City and County of San Francisco allocating $1.5 million to this grantmaking relief effort.
  • Ijeoma Oluo on behalf of LANGSTON Seattle  has started a GoFundMe campaign to support artists in Seattle affected.
  • Spokane Arts launched a relief fund for individual artists
  • The Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis Artist Relief Fund will award grants of $500 or $1,000 to working artists who live in St. Louis City or St. Louis County whose immediate creative practices and incomes are being adversely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona. The Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona is providing the Pivot Grant to fund artistic projects or programming which have been adapted to alternative methods of sharing (i.e. virtual, digital, socially distant) in response to the ongoing health crisis. Granted awards will range from $500 – $1,000 for individual artists or $1,000 – $2,500 for non-profit (501c3) arts organizations. Submissions may include new, currently in-progress or on-going projects and programming. The Pivot Grant may be used to cover costs associated with these projects or programs, which can include, but is not limited to, staff wages, artist fees, technology, and material costs.
  • The Worcester Creative Relief Fund will award grants in the amount of $500 to artists who live or work in Worcester and have had their creative practices and incomes adversely impacted by COVID-19. The Fund is designed to support Worcester artists of all types (visual, performing, design, etc.) who have been financially impacted by event/gig cancellations, the inability to exhibit their work/book shows, and/or have lost revenue from their day jobs being eliminated due to COVID-19.

Miscellaneous Resources

A list of other free help or support resources that you can use to get through this.

Sources

A majority of this information has been taken from Americans for the Arts but also includes resources from a variety of reputable arts organizations like the California Arts Council.

If you’re an artist or creative worker whose been affected by Coronavirus, consider filling out the COVID-19 Impact Survey for Artists and Creative Workers administered by Americans for the Arts. The survey is designed  is designed to capture financial and creative impact of COVID-19 on creative workers, highlight the resiliency and generosity of the creative sector, and make sure that the 5 million creative workers in the U.S. are supported and heard during this ongoing crisis and the eventual recovery.

NALAC Advocacy Leadership Institute – 2020 Fellow

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Excellent news, I’ve been selected as a 2020 fellow for the NALAC Advocacy Leadership Institute! Through the program, participants are equipped with necessary tools to communicate effectively with elected officials, lead proactive efforts in their own communities, and understand the frameworks involved in shaping cultural policy.

The yearly NALAC Advocacy Leadership Institute (ALI) is a three-day intensive training program in Washington, D.C. with sessions taking place on Capitol Hill, the National Endowment of the Arts, Americans for the Arts and various Smithsonian institutions. Unfortunately, this year COVID-19 arrived and spoiled the party, but our advocacy continues undeterred.

Manduka to Liforme: A Yoga Mat Journey

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When I first started doing yoga four years ago, I started with the cheapest mat I could find. I figured, like most of the hobbies and workout fads I’d tried over the years, I’d quit doing yoga eventually so I didn’t want to buy an expensive mat.

This was my first yoga mat and it sucked so much. It had no traction and after a few hot yoga classes, the adhesive started to deteriorate and the mat came completely undone.

One day, after struggling through another practice, the yoga teacher talked to me about it. She told me my mat wasn’t supporting my practice, and she recommended a Manduka mat which she used in her personal practice and for her studio. The next time I was in class, I rented one to see if I could tell the difference, and it was like night and day. I bought a Manduka mat instantly, and over time, it made a huge difference in my practice.

Enter the Manduka PROlite Mat

The Manduka PROlite has been my one and only yoga mat for the last three plus years. It got me through my 200-hour yoga teacher training and has even traveled with me to Italy! It’s soft and spongy, and it’s never smelled like plastic. It doesn’t slip and slide during a sweaty session, and it keeps me grounded for all those balance poses. I have this exact shade of blue (turquoise?) and I always get compliments on it. It’s never let me down; it’s never torn, ripped, or failed to perform in any, way shape or form. It’s been reliable and I love it!

And yet…

I couldn’t help but wonder about all these other cool yoga mats I kept hearing about. Before I knew it, I’d convinced myself that I needed a second yoga mat, one that would stay in the car and be my studio mat. I did my research and narrowed my search down to the Liforme Travel Mat.

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Enter the Liforme Travel Mat

Several factors went into picking this mat but it boiled down to quality and uniqueness. Liforme yoga mats are made in a sustainable way: they’re biodegradable, non-toxic, and PVC-free as well. I also liked that each mat has alignment cues and the length is slightly longer than the standard yoga mat. I decided on the travel version of the Liforme yoga mat because I wanted something light and easy to tote to class.

When it first arrived and I started using it, I had mixed emotions on whether I liked it. There were several strengths to this new mat but I couldn’t help but notice that my Manduka PROlite was better in other ways. It took me a few practices to start vibing with my new mat but I got there, and if you’re thinking of buying one, it’s likely you will too, but here are some of the most notable pros and cons for me:

PROS:

The alignment lines help

Initially, the alignment lines were confusing and they made me overthink during practice, and I kinda hated them. Over time, I’ve come to embrace them! The key is to take what’s helpful and ignore what you don’t need. I find that there are some days where I don’t care about the alignment lines at all, and other days when I take great pleasure hitting all the angles perfectly. It all depends what kind of head-space I’m in, neither mode is right or wrong.

Superior grip, even in sweaty conditions

The grip on this mat is excellent and superior to my Manduka PROlite. I used to have to use a towel with my Manduka mat but it’s completely unnecessary with the Liforme mat. Fair disclaimer, I’m not the kind of person who sweats buckets during hot yoga, and if you are, you may still need a towel. The overall feel of the mat is satiny but grippy when wet, which is different than the spongy/soft feel of the Manduka PROlite. It’s a pleasant sensation on the fingertips, and if anything, is a little too grippy. If you drag your ashy/dry feet across it your skin might peel off some.

Doesn’t have a plastic scent

Although the mat has a slight scent to it at first, it fades with use over time. And the scent isn’t a chemical or plastic scent, it’s more like a faint rubber smell (which makes sense because it’s made of natural rubber) but it’s not bad. You’re not supposed to use any essential oils on this mat because they can break down the mat and make it age faster, but I cheated and cleaned it with a lavender oil/water mixture the first time, and that seemed to help it lose the smell some.

CONS:

I hate the bag it comes in.

When I was doing my yoga mat research, the fact that the Liforme products came with their own carrier bag was a huge selling point. But once I started to use the mat in day-to-day life, it became clear right away that this bag would be annoying. The main problem is that the bag was clearly manufactured to fit the yoga mat precisely if you roll it up perfectly. I’ve never in my life rolled up a yoga mat perfectly. Also, the zipper, rather than being a straight line across the bag, is in this rounded pattern. Presumably, this construction is to make it easier to put your mat in the bag but that’s not at all the case. The material is flimsy and the strap is thin and cheap. I’m using it because that’s what it came in but I’m not crazy about it.

Visible sweat stains will bring out the OCD in you

One thing that bothered me at first, but I was later okay with, was the visible stains on the mat. Having been used to my Manduka mat, I wasn’t used to being able to see every sweat, grease, and oil stain show up on my mat. There’s something about the unique construction of Manduka PROlite mats that give them more of a woven appearance. Contrast that with the smooth, silky, appearance of the Liforme mats; the mat looks like a piece of rice paper after you’ve applied it to your forehead. Here’s the thing though, once the mat dries, the stains go away. But if you get a little OCD with this stuff, it will bother you to see the grease stain your forehead left on the mat after child’s pose, and it’ll stare back at you for the rest of class.

You can see the sweat stains pretty well in this video review.

Rough on the knees

I knew what I was doing when I purchased the travel version of this mat, I knew it would be thinner than a standard mat, but I thought it would be fine because I’ve never had any knee issues. Alas, this mat is very thin (2mm thick compared to my Manduka PROlite which is 5mm thick) and my knees definitely felt the difference in poses like pigeon, tabletop, and anything that requires you to bring the knees down. At first, I denied it, that the thinness bothered me, but now I realize I need to just put ego aside and use a blanket or hand towel under my knees with this mat, it is what it is.

I wouldn’t count the thinness as a complete negative though because I also love how much more grounded I feel. In standing poses, I can feel and grip the floor better with my feet, and when I’m on my back, I feel so much more supported. It also feels great when I get into a ball and rock back and forth on my spine, I feel everything so much more and I love it. So, I guess it’s also a pro.

In conclusion, what this yoga mat journey has taught me is that there is no such thing as a better yoga mat, only a different one. The Liforme yoga mat has several features that make it instantly likeable and off-putting all at the same time. I’ve come to appreciate it and its become the primary yoga mat I use on-the-go for studio classes. However, using the Liforme also made me appreciate my Manduka PROLite that much more, so I use my Manduka for my home practice. Each seems more suitable for their respective jobs; the Liforme is light, thin and highly suitable for an athletic and movement-heavy yoga, and my Manduka, thicker and heavier, cozy for my slower and stretchier practices at home. Both mats are wonderful and you’ll love either one, Namaste!

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Journy @ Streaming Media West 2019

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It’s crazy that just two years ago Journy was nothing more than an idea laid out across a few PowerPoint slides. Now, it’s a multi-platform streaming service filled with award-winning content, emerging talent, and the travel classics. The media landscape is changing all the time, and it’s tough staying alive when you’re a small independent, so I’m glad our team got to talk about how we’ve managed to leverage our small resources into big wins. Below is the video of our Discovery Track presentation on Journy at Streaming Media West 2019:

Ovation, Journy, and “Chasing the Sun”: Leveraging a Linear Cable Network in a FAST (Free Ad-supported Streaming TV) World

Launched in fall 2017, Journy is the leading ad-supported travel-entertainment network at the intersection of travel, art, and culture. Powered by Ovation, America’s only arts network, and designed for the conscientious traveler, Journy’s programming centers world travel, cultural tourism, and global citizenry. The team at Journy presents a case-study on how the niche streaming service has leveraged its distribution, partnerships, and programming to grow their audience. The discussion includes the importance of co-productions, and a close look at their popular series “Chasing the Sun;” they are joined by EP/Creator and Host, Stephen Friedman.

Speakers:

William Marks, SVP of Business Development & Digital, Ovation

Elba Flamenco, Senior Director, Content Partnerships, Digital, Ovation and Journy

Jeff McCrann, Manager, Acquisitions and Development, Ovation

Stephen Friedman, EP, Creator, Founder and Executive Producer, Host of “Chasing the Sun”

Chasing the Sun: Asia – Now Streaming on Journy!

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Chasing the Sun follows adventure-seeker and filmmaker Stephen Friedman (host and creator of successful Fox Networks TV travel show The Blueprint) as he captures the story of the places he visits through the people of each destination. As the locals tell their story, Stephen uses each experience to rediscover why we are all born to explore.

In Season two, Stephen travels through Asia meeting artists, creators, musicians, chefs, and other creative people along the way. As he hears the stories of both natives and newcomers alike, he finds that the traditions and histories of these places are alive in the modern art and culture of its people.

Ep. 201 “Hong Kong”

Whether street art and tofu or Bruce Lee and the Star Ferry, Hong Kong is a city overflowing with art and history. Stephen learns about its secrets from locals and expats.

Ep. 202 “Vietnam”

Stephen immerses himself in local culture, learning about generations worth of traditions from barber shops to mask-making.

Ep. 203 “Bali”

Island of the Gods. With Bali’s ecological majesty as our backdrop, we find people working hard to make a difference in their community and coming together to save the planet.

Ep. 204 “India”

From an indie musician in Mumbai to a skate community rallying together to help local children, Stephen finds the personal stories of art and perseverance in a community of 1.3 billion people.

Ep. 205 “Malaysia”

Where else can you find a beach full of cats after shopping in a vintage vinyl store in the heart of the city or watch a shadow puppet show after having a home-cooked meal prepared by two entrepreneurs?

Ep. 206 “Taiwan”

From urban bustle to tranquil beaches, Taiwan has a soul and culture all its own. Creativity abounds in its people, not to mention the greatest vegan food in the world.

Ep. 207 “South Korea”

Explore a place where it’s illegal to be a tattoo artist and the people living in a rapidly changing culture. A place where GPS limitations mean the possibilities to get lost in music and art are endless.

Ep. 208 “Japan”

Land of the rising sun and the fastest trains in the world that takes us from skateboarders to drag queens and one of the last remaining old-world jazz bars. We meet a chalk artist and a sculptor who makes art with a bite (aka: real teeth).