This mom’s journey through divorce and illness reminds us why single moms are heroes.

Being a single parent can be tough. It can be even tougher when you’re coping with serious health issues.

Allison Brown and her husband have been separated for some time, but they co-parented their son, Jed, equally up until two years ago.

Simultaneously she has antiphospholipid syndrome, which makes her prone to blood clots, and as such, she’s already had two pulmonary embolisms — one right after Jed was born.

It was also recently discovered that she has a genetic oddity on the BRACA2 gene and a family history of breast cancer, so she’s made the decision to have a prophylactic double mastectomy in 2018.

Allison and Jed Brown. All photos via Allison Brown.

Jed wants to be with her in the hospital, and while she’s always been open with him about her health issues, this feels like uncharted territory. He’s been with her through illnesses before, but this surgery will change how she looks and no doubt have an emotional impact, so she’s apprehensive about letting him see the aftermath.

“I’m not entirely sure what the ‘right’ thing to do is,” Allison writes in an email, “but I go back to one of our family reminders: We can do what we can do. And sometimes we can do hard things.”

As it turns out, Allison isn’t alone in her concern. Many families struggle with knowing what the “right” thing to do is, but they still manage to #familygreatly.

Family Greatly

Myth: There’s one perfect way to family.
Truth: There’s a billion ways to #FamilyGreatly.

Posted by Kraft Brand on Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The truth is, there isn’t one “right way” to be a parent. And, through her relationship with her son, Allison’s come to realize that.

She cherishes Jed, and together they’ve successfully navigated some difficult times. But mostly she tries to savor every moment with him that she can.

“He is kind, he is moral and thoughtful, he is just a lovely person a lot of the time,” writes Allison. “He is working hard to be responsible and I really appreciate that. I think we are very close, in part because we are a household of two, in part because I’m pretty unflappable.”

Jed on the soccer team.

Of course, as Jed grows up, she’s realizing he doesn’t need her as much. It’s a hard reality, but she knows it’s what needs to happen.

“I know I’m not all he could ever need nor should I be anymore,” explains Allison. “Life is bigger, and his world is wider.”

But even though Jed’s a teenager now, they’ve maintained their tight bond thanks to a few unique traditions.

For example, every night at dinner, they hold hands and share a “moment of gratitude,” which can be anything that happened in their day that they’re grateful for. Since Allison can’t be there all the time, it’s a great way for them to reconnect.

She also makes sure to be there for all the big events, like Jed’s soccer games and choir concerts.

She wishes she could be around more often to encourage him to stop staring at phone/computer/television screens all day, but that’s likely a struggle that would exist whether she worked or not.

Jed and Allison Brown.

And really, at the end of the day, Allison believes she is enough for Jed because she’s proud of the man he is becoming.

“The world is big, and there are a million ways to be successful and measure success,” she writes.

Time with your kids goes by fast — Allison knows this better than most. So instead of worrying about the future, she hopes parents, like herself, can stay in the present with them as long as they can. After all, that’s what truly matters with family.

Life may throw you curveballs along the way, but as long as you can come back and share a moment with your kids, you’re nailing parenthood.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a family of two or 10, if you’re celebrating around a big Christmas tree or eating leftover pizza while watching your favorite show — if you’re spending time together, that’s what makes a great family.

This holiday season, Allison and Jed will be taking their traditional trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago to see the lights festival. It’s just something that makes the month of December a little more special for them.

Families are made by these traditions that make them unique, no matter how big or small they are. And that uniqueness outshines perfection every day of the week.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/this-mom-s-journey-through-divorce-and-illness-reminds-us-why-single-moms-are-heroes

An affectionate teardown of ‘Peppa Pig’ by a doctor who’s seen way too many episodes.

This British doctor’s 100% serious, completely scientific, not tongue-in-cheek-at-all analysis of “Peppa Pig’s” Dr. Brown Bear is hilarious and completely relatable for anyone who has (or has even been near) small children, who don’t annoy their parents at all when they watch the same episode about George’s woolly hat six times in a row.

“Peppa Pig” is a British children’s program about a small, anthropomorphic pig named Peppa, her family, and the community she lives in, including one Dr. Brown Bear. Who is a bear. Obviously.

Obviously. Image from RR and J/Wordpress.

In the 100%-real, scientific paper, titled “Does Peppa Pig encourage inappropriate use of primary care resources?” and published in the prestigious British Medical Journal, Dr. Catherine Bell highlights tough issues like:

  • Is it appropriate for a medically-trained bear professional to make so many house calls?
  • Should small singing pigs be allowed into surgery?
  • And how is Dr. Bear’s mental health holding up?

Meanwhile, peppered (must resist puns…) throughout are wonderful little flourishes, like:

“Peppa Pig conveys many positive public health messages… However, from (repeated, mostly involuntary) review of the subject…”

or

“Conflicts of interest: None declared. It may look like my child is sponsored by ‘Peppa Pig,’ but any claims to this effect are false.”

The paper’s only about two pages long and is a very easy read, even for a nonscientific person.

As to how it got published, the paper is part of the British Medical Journal’s annual Christmas issue. While each paper and article must still be held to scientific standards, the journal embraces the holiday spirit once a year and opens itself up to more, let’s call them “original” topics, like how nice hospital gardens are or whether the BONG-BONG-BONG of London’s Big Ben is interrupting a good night’s rest.

Bell’s paper is a delightful, cheeky, and affectionate dig at children’s programming that anyone who’s ever been near a television or a toddler can relate to and enjoy.

And, if nothing else, it’s a reminder that maybe someone should check in on poor Dr. Brown Bear.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/an-affectionate-teardown-of-peppa-pig-by-a-doctor-who-s-seen-way-too-many-episodes

39 of the best celebrity responses to Keaton Jones’ powerful video about bullying.

Last week, a Tennessee woman named Kimberly Jones posted a video of her son Keaton online. It went mega-viral.

The video, which has been viewed on Facebook more than 20 million times since posting, shows Keaton in tears over being bullied at school. There’s a sense of despair and helplessness in his voice that no child should have to feel, but too many have.

“Just out of curiosity, why do they bully?” a distraught Keaton asks his mom. “What’s the point of it? Why do they find joy in taking innocent people and finding a way to be mean to them?”

The video clearly resonated with people — some who have been bullied, some who have been the bully — and within hours, words of support began to roll in from around the world, including some notes from some high profile people.

Hollywood has Keaton’s back.

Avengers Chris Evans and Mark Ruffalo came up big for the little guy.

As did Eleven from “Stranger Things,” offering her friendship.

The delightful Tom Cavanagh of “The Flash” voiced his support  for Jones and against bullies everywhere.

Same with Beth Behrs of “Two Broke Girls.”

He got some love from members of “The Walking Dead” cast.

Even Gaston and LeFou (a couple of fiction’s most famous bullies) weren’t having it.

Broadway star Ben Platt offered a few words of support.

And so did voice actors Susan Eisenberg and Kevin Conroy, who provided the voices for Wonder Woman and Batman, respectively, on the animated “Justice League” TV show.

“Coco” director Lee Unkrich and “Ghostbusters” mastermind Paul Feig stepped up.

Some of the biggest stars in professional sports showed up, as well.

LeBron James called bullies “straight up wack, corny, cowards, chumps.”

Cubs slugger Anthony Rizzo and Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen both offered words of kindness and comfort.

Former Green Bay Packers cornerback Bernard Blake urged Jones to “never be ashamed of who you are.” Former NFL star Antonio Cromartie stepped in to say that bullies are often just insecure about themselves, asking him to be strong.

Former NFL wide receiver Donté Stallworth urged caution for people suggesting that the bullies be confronted with hostility, asking people who really want to make a difference to try to do it through lessons of love.

“Bullying is bullshit,” summed up World Cup champion Ali Krieger. “We need to start coming together, supporting each other and most importantly, standing up for beautiful kids in this world like Keaton.”

Similarly, the music world had words of encouragement and support for Jones.

Demi Lovato predicted that Jones would come out of this experience much stronger than he entered it. Enrique Iglesias called the video “heartbreaking.”

“This extremely raw and real moment has brought hope and truth to so many people,” wrote Kevin Jonas. Nickelback called Jones “a brave young man,” asking if there was anything the band could do for them.

Justin Bieber and Snoop Dogg posted words of support on Instagram. “The fact that he still has the sympathy and compassion for other people when he’s going through it himself is a testament to who he is,” said Bieber.

A post shared by Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) on

Anti-bullying activists, models, and YouTube sensations all got in on the act as well.

Monica Lewinsky offered a few kind words, saying that she’s sorry Jones is being treated this way, saying that other kids “would be lucky to be friends with [Jones].”

Model Mia Kang said Jones is her “absolute hero,” offering to fly out and visit him at school for lunch.

Logan Paul offered to chat with Jones on FaceTime and send some gear his way.

Politicians across the political spectrum offered words of kindness and courage.

Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) thanked the young man for his courage, and Representative Joe Kennedy III (D-Massachusetts) asked others to look to Jones as a positive example.

Responding to an offer from UFC head Dana White to visit the organization’s headquarters, Donald Trump Jr. offered the Jones family a place to stay. Jane O’Meara Sanders of the Sanders Institute urged action over platitudes, calling on the country to “stand up to bullies — in our schools and communities, on social media and in politics and the White House.”

Media personalities joined the chorus with offers of support and workplace tours.

Jemele Hill and Sean Hannity offered Jones and his family tours of ESPN and Fox News, respectively. NBC’s Stephanie Ruhle pointed to Jones as a motivation for a more honest, brave, and kind world.

HLN’s S.E. Cupp shared a story about being bullied as a child, saying, “It’s got nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.” Sunny Hostin, from “The View,” ended with a reminder that “being different makes you special.”

It’s wonderful to see so many people, from so many backgrounds, come together in support of this one boy.

It’s worth remembering, however, that he’s not the only child in the world being bullied.

According to StopBullying.gov, 28% of U.S. students in grades 6 through12 have experienced bullying. 30% of students have admitted to being a bully to others. School bullying creates a hostile environment not conducive to learning and puts students’ physical, emotional, and mental health at risk.

If Keaton Jones’ story inspired you to take action, check out the StopBullying prevention toolkits for students, parents, teachers, and community members.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/39-of-the-best-celebrity-responses-to-keaton-jones-powerful-video-about-bullying

17 things about 2017 that weren’t complete and utter garbage.

2017 was rough.

It was the equivalent of getting gum stuck in your hair, then realizing it wasn’t gum at all. It was Nazis.

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.

But there were positives too. Seriously.

Stop laughing! I mean it. There were good things about 2017. And I have the facts to back it up. Here are 17 things that made this a pretty awesome year.

1. Mahershala Ali became the first Muslim to win an Oscar in an acting category for his work in “Moonlight.”

(OK, OK: Ellen Burstyn fans may try and tell you it was her, since she now practices a combination of religions including Sufi Islam. Perhaps Mahershala Ali is the first solely Muslim actor to win an acting Oscar. But that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.)

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

2. For 7.6 billion collective minutes, the world came together to celebrate the miracle of life.

April the giraffe’s 16-month pregnancy came to a cliffhanging conclusion as the mom-to-be labored over the course of several weeks. The Animal Adventure Park captured more than 232 million live-stream views before the healthy male giraffe baby was born April 15.

3. No white men were nominated for the Album of the Year Grammy. It’s the first time that’s happened since 1999.

Technically, a few white men could still take home statues as producers if certain artists win. But it’s pretty awesome to see people of color and women leading the field for one of music’s most significant honors.

Album of the year nominee, Bruno Mars. Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET.

4. Through the Affordable Care Act, people signed up for health insurance from the government marketplace at a record-setting pace.

In November, during the first week of open enrollment, more than 600,000 people signed up, crushing the pace of previous years, despite Trump’s efforts to weaken the program.

5. Cities and countries around the world are preparing for a gas-free future.

The Netherlands, France, and India are all in the process of phasing out the sale and use of gas- and diesel-powered cars. Cities like Oxford, Copenhagen, and Barcelona want the job done as early as 2020.

People ride bicycles during a ‘car-free’ day in Paris. Photo by Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images.

6. The year’s most popular YA novel was written by a black woman and inspired by Tupac and Black Lives Matter.

If you, or the teens in your life, haven’t read Angie Thomas’ “The Hate U Give,” you should — especially before the movie comes out.

7. Volunteers planted 66 million trees in India. In one day.

The herculean effort was made possible by more than 1.5 million volunteers who made quick work of the project on July 2, 2017. In addition to an army of awesome volunteers, this company hopes to plant 100,000 trees each day using drones.

8. When natural disasters struck, people rallied together to raise funds and collect resources for people in need.

After the earthquake in Mexico and Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria actors, athletes, inmates, former presidents, kids, and everyone in between came together to help people in harm’s way. Bad news can bring out the best in us, and it certainly did this year. (You can still donate, btw.)

Members of the Texas National Guard prepare to distribute water and emergency meals. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

9. Congress — you know, the folks making life a little hard right now? Well, they’re part of the most diverse U.S. Congress ever.

19% of the 115th Congress are non-white, and between the House and the Senate, there are 50 black members. It looks like things can only get better, too, as 34% of the new legislators are people of color.

10. That hole in the ozone layer we’ve been worried about for decades? It’s shrinking.

The ozone surrounds the Earth to help filter out some of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. Lessening the use of CFCs and implementing other Earth-saving measures has led to a gaping hole that’s 1.3 million square miles smaller than last year. In fact, it’s the smallest it’s been since 1988. It’s still very much there, though, so don’t put away the sunscreen just yet.

Photo by Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images.

11. While the reckoning has only just begun, people who harass, abuse, and sexually assault other people are finally getting theirs.

High profile men, including Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., George Takei, Sen. Al Franken, Rep. John Conyers, and more have already faced personal and professional consequences for their actions after brave victims stepped forward and called them out. Let’s hope these winds of change only blow stronger in 2018.

12. Germany, Australia, and Austria popped champagne for marriage equality.

German parliament overwhelmingly passed a bill in June and the country’s first weddings took place this fall. 61% of voters in Australia voted in favor of marriage equality, paving the way for legislators to legalize marriage equality in the country. And Austria’s Supreme Court just paved the way for marriage equality to begin in 2019. That’s definitely bubbly-worthy news.

Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images.

13. Children’s scouting programs did some pretty amazing stuff. And I’m not even talking about the cookies.

The Girl Scouts introduced a badge for cybersecurity and a pretty amazing guide to helping parents talk to their kids about weight and body image. The Boy Scouts announced that they’re welcoming transgender children and girls to their ranks. And this Cub Scout made headlines for calling BS on a state politician. Children are the future — and the future looks pretty freakin’ cool.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

14. Transgender lawmakers won big at the state and local level.  

Virginia’s Danica Roem and Minneapolis’ Phillipe Cunningham and Andrea Jenkins all earned seats on state and municipal councils. Roem even beat out the self-described “chief homophobe.” Good riddance to backward, shortsighted people making decisions for all of us.

Andrea Jenkins, center, celebrates her city council win. Image by Carlos Gonzalez/Associated Press.

15. In some of the best news of the year (unless you’re vegan … or a saltine): Cheese may be good for you.

Results from a new study reveal a small portion (about the size of a matchbox) each day may improve heart health. And yet, still no funding for my study  on stuffed crust pizza and its effect on mood.

16. In a true feat of scientific achievement, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft pulled a Bruce Willis and dove into Saturn’s atmosphere.

For 13 years, Cassini orbited Saturn and took truly incredible, detailed images of the ringed planet and its moons. Where would we be without the hard work of researchers, scientists, and this brave robot’s sacrifice?

Photo via NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

17. We were graced with Bodak Yellow.

The world is better, brighter, safer, and happier now that Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow” is in our lives. Frankly, I was thinking of making all 17 items on this list Bodak Yellow. Not into hip-hop? Make it a gospel jam. It even brings perfect strangers together.

2017 was scary, frustrating, and downright troubling. But there’s always good stuff too.

When things are at their worst, do your best to seek out and remind yourself of all the ups, bright spots, and big wins going on too. And if you can’t find them, at the very least, play some “Bodak Yellow.”

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/17-things-about-2017-that-weren-t-complete-and-utter-garbage

A stranger found a lost library book and returned it with this heartwarming note.

Employees at Idaho’s Meridian Library were going through the mail after the Thanksgiving holiday 2017 when they got a sweet surprise.

Inside one of the packages was a book — Thomas Rockwell’s “How to Eat Fried Worms” — that had been missing from the stacks.

Getting books in the mail is no major shock at Meridian. The library finds that visitors passing through or patrons going on vacation will often mail back items to avoid fines.

Along with this particular book, however, there was a curious handwritten note.

“I found this book on an airplane last month,” the message began.

“I called your library to notify them. I failed to return on time (and) apologize. Please add this $5.00 to the person’s account that borrowed the book as a credit. Thank you.”

Sure enough, along with the note was a $5 bill.

Found in the mail with a $5 bill this morning. There are some amazing people in our community. #mymld

Posted by Meridian Library District on Monday, November 27, 2017

The good Samaritan had been hoping to get the book back to the library before the due date but couldn’t and decided to assume responsibility for the late fee.

Obviously, they were under no obligation to pay the fine, and their small, understated generosity floored the library staff.

Knowing you have a book overdue at the library and not being able to find it is one of those little stresses that can add up big time.

It’s like having a sink full of dirty dishes or being behind on laundry. It’s not a source of massive worry, but many unresolved things added together can make you feel anxious and overwhelmed — too much of which is certainly bad for your health.

So while a stranger returning a book and paying $5 in fines may seem inconsequential, the act is inspiring thousands of people who have read about the story online.

“Everyone is loving this heartwarming story,” says Macey Snelson, who heads communications and marketing for the library. “I think that this is resonating with people so much because we live in a world where the news cycles are filled with contention and negative stories, and it’s refreshing to see a story that shows that people are inherently good.”

This story proves that even a teeny, tiny act of kindness, in a small part of the country, can have a big impact.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/a-stranger-found-a-lost-library-book-and-returned-it-with-this-heartwarming-note

Watch Selena Gomez dedicate an award to the friend who saved her life.

Earlier this year, when Selena Gomez needed a kidney transplant, one of her friends came through with a life-saving donation.

Actress Francia Raisa was starring on ABC Family’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” when she met Gomez during a children’s hospital event in 2007, and they have remained close friends ever since. In 2013, Gomez underwent chemotherapy to treat lupus, something she went public with two years later. As a result of her illness and treatment, Gomez needed a new kidney.

Naturally, Raisa offered one of hers.

It was a heartwarming story that epitomizes #FriendshipGoals.

I’m very aware some of my fans had noticed I was laying low for part of the summer and questioning why I wasn’t promoting my new music, which I was extremely proud of. So I found out I needed to get a kidney transplant due to my Lupus and was recovering. It was what I needed to do for my overall health. I honestly look forward to sharing with you, soon my journey through these past several months as I have always wanted to do with you. Until then I want to publicly thank my family and incredible team of doctors for everything they have done for me prior to and post-surgery. And finally, there aren’t words to describe how I can possibly thank my beautiful friend Francia Raisa. She gave me the ultimate gift and sacrifice by donating her kidney to me. I am incredibly blessed. I love you so much sis. Lupus continues to be very misunderstood but progress is being made. For more information regarding Lupus please go to the Lupus Research Alliance website: www.lupusresearch.org/ -by grace through faith

A post shared by Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) on

This week, Billboard honored Gomez with its Woman of the Year award. Tearing up as she accepted it, she gave a powerful shoutout to Raisa.

“To be honest, I think Francia should get this award because she saved my life,” she said, trying not to cry. It was a really emotional moment, for Gomez, for Raisa, and for everyone watching at home and in the audience.

Selena Gomez Woman of the Year Speech

“Francia should get this award. She saved my life.” – Selena Gomez
#womeninmusic

Posted by Billboard on Thursday, November 30, 2017

More than 80% of the more than 116,000 people currently on the organ transplant waiting list need a new kidney.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a new person is added to the waiting list every 10 minutes. As just 0.3% of people die in a way that allows for their organs to be transplanted after death, living donors are necessary — though it’s still important to register as an organ donor.

It’s why having a friend like Raisa, someone so selfless and giving, is a true blessing.

Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Billboard.

Learn more about how you can help change a life by visiting The National Kidney Foundation’s “The Big Ask, The Big Give” website.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/watch-selena-gomez-dedicate-an-award-to-the-friend-who-saved-her-life

A group researched the top 9 charities to give to on the holidays. It’s a surprising list.

Deworming and tropical disease prevention in the developing world might not be the obvious choice for where to spend your spare holiday cash.

But it might be where your dollar will do the most good.

A teacher gives a student a deworming tablet in Hyderabad, India. Photo by Noah Seelam/Getty Images.

That’s according to a list of the nine “Top Charities for Giving Season” released Monday by GiveWell, a nonprofit organization that applies a data-centered approach to determining which aid organizations do the most good for the most people. The result is a surprising list of charities with a range of causes that might be unfamiliar to many who want to give, but whose impact is often more immediate.

“We want people to be able to leverage all the time we’ve spent putting together this list so they can make a donation with confidence,” explains Catherine Hollander, a research analyst with GiveWell.

For the annual chart, the group evaluates charities in four categories: 1) transparency, 2) cost-effectiveness, 3) need, and 4) overall effectiveness, before awarding or denying it a spot. To measure cost-effectiveness the group calculates impact on a scale of “lives saved or improved per dollar spent.”

Some of the causes may be obscure (at least, in the developed world), but they’re wonderful options for those on a tight holiday budget looking to help the most people possible.

This year’s top choices are:

1. Against Malaria Foundation

An organization that purchases and distributes mosquito nets to families in malaria-afflicted countries.

2. Schistosomiasis Control Initiative

A U.K.-based charity that provides Ministries of Health in East, Central, and West Africa with drugs to treat parasitic infections.

3. Malaria Consortium’s seasonal malaria chemoprevention program

A nonprofit that specializes in the prevention and control of malaria, distributing life-saving drugs to young children affected by the disease in Africa and Asia.

4. Evidence Action’s Deworm the World Initiative

An organization that supports school-based deworming programs in Africa and South Asia.

5. Helen Keller International’s vitamin A supplementation program

An initiative that funds and provides training to government-run supplement drives in sub-Saharan Africa with the goal of reducing malnutrition and averting blindness and poor vision.

6. Sightsavers’ deworming program

An anti-blindness and disability rights organization that operates a deworming initiative in Africa.

7. END Fund’s deworming program

An anti-neglected tropical disease nonprofit that operates a deworming initiative with a special emphasis on Africa.

8. Evidence Action’s No Lean Season program

A program that provides no-interest loans to Bangladeshi farmers during annual periods when income is low.

9. GiveDirectly

A nonprofit that allows donors to send money directly to people living in extreme poverty via a mobile app.

A key component of the list is making sure the programs GiveWell recommends are more effective than just sending cash to people in need (or as effective, as is the case with GiveDirectly).

That means not only making sure they’re cost-effective, but ensuring the intended beneficiaries of the food, medicine, money, and preventative netting actually receive and use them. For the deworming charities, that involves, “going door to door and interviewing children to see if they received de-worming treatment,” explains Isabel Arjmand, also an analyst with the organization. Occasionally, GiveWell representatives conduct the on-the-ground reviews themselves. Other times, researchers with the organization analyze data provided by the charities, which is reviewed for reliability.

Children in Cambodia sleep under a mosquito net. Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images.

The list isn’t fully comprehensive, as GiveWell focuses on programs where the data on impact is plentiful and readily available. Initiatives where results are harder to quantify — those that promote women’s rights, LGBTQ equality, racial justice, etc. — aren’t an area of focus. Nor are causes like cancer prevention that disproportionately affects people in the developed world, where the cost-per-life-improved ratio is far higher. But for anyone who wants to ensure their dollars go to help the world’s neediest people quickly and efficiently, the list is an invaluable tool.

“One thing that for me personally really connects when I think about giving to causes that I haven’t myself experienced is… ‘What am I really trying to accomplish,'” Hollander says. “For me, it might be to alleviate suffering in general. And then I’m really excited to give to the place that allows me to do that to the fullest extent that I can with my donation.”

Contributions can also be made directly to GiveWell, which distributes the funds among the recommended organizations according to need.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/a-group-researched-the-top-9-charities-to-give-to-on-the-holidays-its-a-surprising-list

How thankfulness helped me salvage a tumultuous 2017.

2016 was a hard year for a lot of us. That’s why on January 1, I started a “thankfulness thread” on Twitter.

It’s a small thing, but it’s made a big difference in my life.

Every night, just before I go to bed, I think of one thing from that day that I’m thankful for and tweet it out into the world. Sometimes, these tweets are about my family, friends, or others in my life; sometimes, they’re about things as simple and silly as macaroni and cheese or a movie I watched that particular day. The point of the exercise is to find one thing I can focus on, even if just for a few seconds, to be thankful for, and put the rest of the world out of my mind.

The idea actually came from my therapist — another thing I started doing in 2017, going to a therapist — as a way to break from cycles of negativity I was experiencing after the election.

For instance, in June, I tweeted about how I was thankful for my dad, writing that “he’s a good dude who always did his best.”

In August, I watched my beloved Chicago Cubs put up 17 runs on the Pittsburgh Pirates. That same month, I tweeted about how thankful I was to hang out with my friends Will and Tim after their band played a set at Lollapalooza.

In October, I expressed my gratitude for Kayla, my wife and all-around favorite person on the planet. I also took a moment to appreciate the crisp weather of fall in the Midwest.

What at first seemed like a hokey ritual soon turned into one of my favorite parts of the day.

These deliberate reflections gave me a fresh sense of ease and control over my own life. I felt less stressed and more appreciative, less likely to have knee-jerk negative reactions and more eager to find ways to make a positive mark on the world. While the list didn’t erase any of the many ongoing horrors of the world, it did help me put matters in perspective.

I’m nowhere near the first person to experience the benefits of being thankful. Researchers have been studying this tactic for years.

A 2009 University of Manchester study found that switching your brain into a state of gratitude right before bed had a positive effect on sleep quality and duration. The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology published a paper in 2003 highlighting the positive effects of “gratitude journals” on one’s sense of mood and well-being. The Journal of Religion and Health published a 2015 study linking gratitude with physical health and hopefulness, and a 2012 Social Psychology and Personality Science paper found ties between thankfulness and an increased capacity for empathy.

Whether it’s something like the proximity of my parents or the kindness and care of the people at my local pet supply store, making my list has helped me hone in on the mindset I needed to unlock those benefits.

As with all things related to mental health, it’s important to find what works for you.

Some people benefit from therapy, others from medication; some swear by exercise and eating well, while others see help in the form of routine. As for me, it’s been a combination of the above that’s helped me cope with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues I sometimes struggle with.

As we enter 2018, I hope to build on some of the progress I’ve made over the past year, to reflect on what I’d like to change and reinforce what I love about myself. As long as I’m growing and improving with each passing day, working to overcome my flaws, I’ll always have something to be thankful for.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/how-thankfulness-helped-me-salvage-a-tumultuous-2017

Kids at this hospital were terrified of the machines until they got a makeover.

When industrial designer Doug Dietz went to the hospital to see the inaugural scan of a brand-new MRI machine he designed, what should’ve been an exciting event quickly turned somber.

The patient coming in for a scan was a young girl. And she was petrified.

The huge, hulking machine had the girl in tears — and that was before the loud whirring noise started up (the average MRI machine is about as loud as a rock concert, and not nearly as fun).

“As [the family] got even closer to me, I notice the father leans down and just goes ‘remember we talked about this, you can be brave,” he recalled to GE Health, explaining that the parents looked horrified too — feeling helpless to find a way to make their daughter feel comfortable in the giant machine.

Dietz went back to the drawing board.

He was determined to use his design know-how to make the hospital environment for kids feel more like an adventure instead of a nightmare.

All photos by GE Healthcare,  used with permission.

After interviewing kids, parents, and doctors about what might make the experience of getting a medical scan a little less scary, Dietz and his team from GE Health got to work, along with partners from the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

It wasn’t just the machines that got a makeover.

The whole exam room needed some love. From the sterile, beige decor, to the frank instruction placards (Dietz calls them “crime scene stickers”). Even the patter (or conversation/instructions) from doctors and nurses needed some livening up.

The team developed themes that could bring each exam room to life.

MRI rooms, for example, became space voyages. CT scans became pirate adventures.

The redesigned MRI machine and rooms turned the kids into active participants in their own fantastic adventure stories, with themed books given ahead of time to prepare them for the journey.

Inside the scanning machines, the children get special goggles that allow them to watch a DVD during their scans — which can take anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes.

When the first newly designed rooms were put into action at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, they worked like a charm. Not only did they calm the kids down and keep their minds occupied, Dietz recalled hearing one child ask her parents if she could have “another scan tomorrow.”

“That was probably the biggest reward I could ever have,” he told the Journal Sentinel.

Dietz’s designs are so popular and successful that many other hospitals have joined in on the fun.

The project, called the Adventure Series, isn’t just something that makes kids smile. It allows the hospital to help more people.

According to an article in the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, the fear of machines and tests is so bad that Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh had to sedate over 80% of kids who needed an MRI or CT scan, prior to the updates.

Sedating and calming anxious patients takes extra time, elongating the length of each scan. If the kids don’t need sedation, but don’t hold still during the duration of the test, the whole thing has to be redone. These issues take up precious time that ultimately resulted in the hospital serving fewer patients.

After implementing the Adventure Series, the hospital only had to sedate a quarter or less of its patients, making their work far more efficient.

Making the experience less frightening for kids is a big win here — for the patients and hospitals too. There’s nothing that can completely erase the anxiety that comes with needing serious medical testing or care, but just knowing there are people who care enough to try is likely a big comfort to these families.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/kids-at-this-hospital-were-terrified-of-the-machines-until-they-got-a-makeover

‘Im a little person who joined Tinder as a social experiment. Its been ridiculous.’

Warning: Some language in this piece is NSFW. Because this is an article about being a woman on Tinder. And, well, ugh. You know.

If you’re a woman and a little person on Tinder, there are plenty of people happy to make your acquaintance — on very … particular terms.

Laura Cooper, a health care worker and aspiring stand-up comedian, has been on Tinder since last spring. She’s 4 feet, 2 inches tall, with a desert-dry sense of humor and a hilariously depressing Instagram feed — aptly named “Laura vs. Tinder” — on which she documents her “Groundhog Day”-like adventures on the dating app.

“They don’t say the terrible things right off the bat,” she says. “It usually takes them a few back-and-forths, and then they’ll tell me they have a fantasy about me.”

Laura Cooper. Photo used with permission.

Cooper signed up for Tinder partly out of boredom, partly as a sort of “social experiment.”

“Growing up, I was in kind of the nerdy group, and none of us dated, and in college, I didn’t really,” she explains.

Though she didn’t foreclose the possibility of meeting someone, she held her expectations in check, having heard dozens of horror stories from friends.

Of course, she doesn’t speak for all little people, and hers is just one experience. But for better or worse, she’s definitely learned a thing or two. All of it interesting — not all of it super great. And yet, some of it mildly (OK, extremely mildly) redeeming.

1. You are a “bucket list” item.

The way Cooper has decided to use Tinder is equal parts admirable and a nightmare worse than the one where robots are eating your dog: She always swipes right to match. She estimates she’s matched with over 3,000 people in her hometown of Cincinnati and that roughly 170% of them send messages that are the dating app equivalent of a low, rumbling fart.

“Everyone has fantasized about banging a little person,” Cooper says. If it’s an exaggeration, it’s not much of one, as evidenced by a quick glance at the kinds of messages she receives.

“I was going to make a joke about how my penis would be a significant percentage of your height,” wrote one potential suitor, stopping himself before he said the very thing he obviously implied — and also, let’s face it, kind of did say — apparently in a heroic act of herculean restraint.

Not every guy who contacts her is such a master of subtlety. “I bet my dicks [sic] half the size of your body,” said someone else, very originally.

“Is my cock longer than your arms?” penned another Shakespeare.

Some men are even more … direct, like the dude who made a bizarre reference to a specific snow removal tool when he told her he wanted, “to get a scoop shovel and tear into [her] sweet midget ass.” Others try really cool awesome unique puns, like the wordsmith who said he was “trying to come over for a LITTLE … or a SHORT period of time.” Or the gentleman who posed the brilliant rhetorical question that speaks to the heart-core of every little woman’s lived experience: “Riding dick is better, no?”

Cooper finds the barrage of objectifying messages partly funny, partly pathetic. For a group of strange men ostensibly trying to win her interest, she explains, these dudes could not be doing it more wrongly.

“I would caution people from treating other people like inanimate objects. I’m kind of me first and my disability second,” Cooper says, “so it’s weird when my disability is all that people see. I think people need to remember that it’s a human on the other side.”

2. There is virtually nothing you can say to turn off really persistent fetishists.

For guys who have made it their mission to find a little person, any little person, to have sex with, the specifics of what that might entail don’t seem to matter, no matter how bizarre — much to Cooper’s endless amusement.

A post shared by Laura (@lauravstinder) on

“One guy asked me what I liked to do for fun, and I said, ‘Make nail clipping mosaics and earwax candles.’ And he didn’t even blink at that. He was just like, ‘Oh, that’s cool,'” she recalls.

Like mosquitoes, indictments of Trump administration officials, and seasons of “The Big Bang Theory,” these horny dudes just keep coming.

3. Except for maybe one thing.

While people with disproportionate dwarfism are a large, diverse group who experience the full human range of health outcomes, certain medical problems have a nasty habit of cropping up at the most inopportune times. Many of Cooper’s friends have endured surgeries their entire lives. Cooper herself has been lucky — until one day she wasn’t.

“My colon exploded,” she says.

Cooper needed an emergency procedure that landed her in the hospital for a month. For the most part, she passed the time resting, recuperating, and enjoying the free incapacitating drugs. Until she got bored.

“I logged onto Tinder once when I was in the hospital,” she says. “And he asked me how I was doing. I think my response was, ‘I’m hooked up to eight bags of IV fluids and I have a huge gash on my stomach, how are you?'”

This, apparently, was a bridge too far for her anonymous admirer’s delicate male sensibilities.

“He unmatched.”

4. Men aren’t immune from the weirdness.

Cooper started her feed with encouragement (and occasional contributions) from her friends who are little people, many of whom have similar dating app stories. And it’s not just the women who get bizarre messages.

“Some of the guys get creepy stuff too,” she says. While milder than the requests for driveway-clearing-after-a-Nor’easter-style sex and literal dick-measuring messages, “I’ve always wanted to hook up with a short man” turns out to be the far more polite but no less objectifying female version of same.

And as much as it’s purported to be the Obvious Ultimate Fantasy of Every Man™ to be approached by horny, anonymous women on a daily basis, shockingly, it can be a bit of a mood killer when said women view you as “a dwarf-shaped sex toy.”

“The guys are like, ‘Mmm, no.'” Cooper says.

5. People expect you to be grateful for the attention, and you can get suspended — or even banned — for disabusing them of that notion.

When confronted with a stream of holy-crap-did-he-just-say-that-gah-of-course-he-just-did, Cooper is faced with two choices: She can either slink away meekly into the digital ether and ignore him, or she can use her wicked sense of humor to engage in hand-to-hand combat.

Unsurprisingly, she often chooses the latter.

A post shared by Laura (@lauravstinder) on

Her retorts have a tendency to surprise and confound her hopeful paramours, many of whom, she suspects, run crying to Tinder’s invisible referees like a toddler who had his binky swiped. Rejection, it seems, wasn’t part of their plan.

“I’ve been under review like six times,” she says. “I log in, and I see that [red] screen, and I’m like, ‘Aw, come on!'”

The suspensions can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. Though she has no way of knowing for sure, Cooper suspects her jousting would be tolerated in a woman of average height, one who they haven’t pegged as “desperate.”

“It’s usually when I turn them down that they unmatch and report me,” she says sarcastically. “Because, you know, I’m not allowed to say ‘no.'”

Meanwhile, the dudes who report her are allowed to continue bumping around Tinder despite the crude, objectifying, Axe-body-spray-tinged nonsense they vomit.

6. Cooper’s experience is both the same shit every woman has to put up with on dating apps — and also completely 100% not.

Photo by Laura Cooper/Tinder.

Reading just a few of Cooper’s messages pretty well illustrates the particular joy of navigating Tinder as an out and proud little person. Still, a quick glance at the Instagram account Tinder Nightmares suggests that women of all heights, sizes, religions, colors, and United MileagePlus Premiere statuses are subjected to horrifically gross man-bile on a minute-ly basis. Do people in Cooper’s position really have it worse?

For perspective, I managed to track down former Tinder user and non-little person, Michelle D (name abridged to protect her privacy,) a health care worker based abroad. Michelle tells me she “almost never [got] very forward/over-sexualized messages” when she was on the app and regards her Tinder experience as generally “excellent.” I showed her Cooper’s Instagram feed. Her reaction was about as measured as you might expect:

“Fuuuck.”

The messages were a shock. And Michelle says she rarely, if ever, got anything like them. Still, she explains that some of the behavior Cooper experiences in the app simply migrated to her real-life meetings with Tinder matches — often in uncomfortable, occasionally scary, ways.

“I feel that men can sometimes be less respectful because it’s a Tinder hookup,” Michelle explains. “Like they’re more likely to push more outlandish or even risky sex stuff.”

In that sense, Cooper’s experience is less an aberration than one extreme end of a spectrum. An objectifying, dark-carnival, creepy spectrum.

7. Tinder’s not all nightmarish dystopian hellscape — you can actually meet some nice people.

Miraculously, Cooper managed to weed through the pile of sentient phalluses with faces attached to snag a few dates with some actual human men, who, as it turns out, were kinda cool.

Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images.

“They just had interests and were easy to talk to. And they enjoyed my Tinder posts [on Instagram] too. They both followed me on it.” She’s also made a few Facebook and Instagram friends through the app. They continue to trade jokes and conversation, none of it about relative body part size or sex acts involving snow shovels.

Cooper especially likes to use Tinder when she travels. For the most part, she says, no matter where she goes, it’s the same shit, different city. With one exception.

“Seattle was not bad,” she says. “‘Cause I think there are smarter people there. People that actually wanted to hang out or [have] real conversations with proper grammar and good spelling. It was refreshing. Like they were very clearly interested in me as a human.”

8. But you always wonder what people’s true intentions are.

A few positive experiences haven’t been quite enough to restore her faith in Tinderkind. These days, Cooper can’t help but approach new matches on the app with a certain wariness.

“I think I am going to always wonder if someone secretly has a fetish and just doesn’t say it,” she admits. “So even if someone is decent, I tend to think, ‘You’re not really decent.'”

The hospital stay was nearly a turning point for Cooper. Hopped up on pain medication and IV fluids, she was “too confused” to swipe in any direction. Yet, as she lay in bed by herself, counting down the hours, she found herself missing Tinder. The game. The trolling. The human connection — even the kind that involves pontificating on the similarities between “ur asshole and a 9-volt battery.”

As it turned out, the feeling was mutual.

When she finally got home, she turned on her phone, only to find hundreds of messages waiting for her.

“It was just funny. It was like, ‘Oh. They missed me.'”

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/im-a-little-person-who-joined-tinder-as-a-social-experiment-its-been-ridiculous