2 years ago, I had the spotlight for being a good dad. My message would be different now.

Does becoming famous for fatherhood actually help fatherhood?

In late 2013, a simple fatherhood moment changed my life forever.

I was working in corporate America and took paternity leave to bond with my three-month-old daughter (my second child). One morning, my wife was worried about being late for work while she was in the middle of wrangling my older daughter's wild hair.

While changing my baby's diaper in the other room, I simply told her, "Go ahead, I got this."


Skeptical that I would be able to keep the baby happy while simultaneously playing the role of hairstylist, my wife looked at me and said, "I'll believe it when I see it," and she went off to work.

After she left, I set my camera on its timer, took this photo, and emailed it to her.

A simple photo ended up being not so simple after all.

We both got a good chuckle out of the photo, but once I shared it with the public a few hours later, everything changed.

Once I put the photo on social media, people lost their minds — and the reactions were predictable.

Some thought I was the sexiest dad alive, some threw racial slurs my way, some thought I was cool for demonstrating what fatherhood looks like, and some wondered why a guy who takes care of his kids is trending on their news feeds.

Sure, it was a cute photo, but was it really that big of a deal? I received my answer when mainstream media found it a few weeks later, in January 2014.

Before I could blink, the heavy hitters contacted me to discuss "the photo."

The "Today" show.

Giving Al Roker a shoulder rub on national television was, um, interesting. GIF from the "Today" show.

"Good Morning America."

I'm not a fan of the "Mr. Mom" label at all. Image from "Good Morning America."

HLN.

Fist bumps to the dads of the world who take their jobs seriously. GIF from HLN.

Katie Couric.

Being interviewed by Katie Couric was great, but did it really help? Photo from "Katie."

And dozens more.

It was quite a whirlwind. But it was a conversation I had with a female college student on a flight home from one of those interviews that really made me think.

"I'm sure you had a message to share while you experienced all of the viral stuff," she said. "Do you think it was heard?"

Good question.

Any idiot can be interviewed on national television, but few can use that opportunity to make a lasting, positive difference.

Was I one of those idiots? Or did I move the conversation forward about what it means to be a modern dad in America?

I still don't have the answer two years later, but I realized it's more important to focus on the future instead.

So here are three simple things I want for fatherhood in 2016 and beyond.

1. We have to raise the bar for what it means to be a good dad.

Men expecting props for handling rudimentary child-rearing tasks are no different than men expecting props for staying out of jail. Because as Chris Rock once said, we're supposed to stay out jail, and we're supposed to take care of our kids.

That's right, Chris. GIF from the HBO special "Bring the Pain."

Most moms aren't asking for statues to be erected in their honor for taking their kids to the park, giving their babies baths, or waking up in the middle of the night to comfort their children. And neither should any dad.

It's very simple. If we see a dad doing something adorable with his children, we should pause and ask ourselves this important question: "Would I offer praise to a mom for doing the same thing?" If the answer is yes, then fire away. If the answer is no, then it's probably a good idea to keep it to ourselves.

Any idiot can be interviewed on national television, but few can use that opportunity to make a lasting, positive difference. Was I one of those idiots? Or did I move the conversation forward about what it means to be a modern dad in America?

2. Let good dads be good dads.

In my experiences, the one thing that new dads complain about the most is being unable to interact with their kids in their own unique way.

Maybe he is provided pointers on how to brush his daughter's teeth when he really doesn't need them.

Because sometimes personal hygiene takes teamwork. Photo from the Daddy Doin' Work Instagram feed, used with permission.

Or maybe his Neanderthal buddies poke fun at him for choosing to open his "daddy nail salon" for his daughter instead of opening a few beers at the local sports bar.

That is one happy customer. Photo from the Daddy Doin' Work Instagram feed, used with permission.

Either way, it isn't OK.

These guys are doing their best to navigate through challenges of fatherhood and shouldn't be demotivated. Just because the way we (dads) do things isn't the way others may choose to do them doesn't make it wrong. It makes it different.

3. I want people to look at my photo and think it's not a big deal.

Right now, there are thousands of dads across the globe doing something infinitely more difficult, cooler, or heartwarming than what I did that morning. We change diapers, we can braid our daughters' hair, and we are always there physically, emotionally, and spiritually for our children.

But here's more good news: If a photo similar to mine made the rounds on social media today, I doubt it would create such a stir. That's because it's not only cool to be a good dad, but it's expected to be one.

Gone are the days when a dude can get away with believing his fatherhood responsibilities begin and end with bringing home a nice paycheck. Fatherhood is evolving because we're finally demanding more of the men who are responsible for raising our kids — and that's the way it should be.

Now when we discuss viral fatherhood experiences, it will mean dealing with the flu bug that our kids shared with us.

And I highly doubt that will trend on social media.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
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When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

What you look like in a selfie camera isn't really what you look like in real life.

We've all done it: You snap a selfie, look at it, say, "OMG is my nose swollen?" then try again from a different angle. "Wait, now my forehead looks weird. And what's up with my chin?" You keep trying various angles and distances, trying to get a picture that looks like how you remember yourself looking. Whether you finally land on one or not, you walk away from the experience wondering which photo actually looks like the "real" you.

I do this, even as a 40-something-year-old who is quite comfortable with the face I see in the mirror. So, it makes me cringe imagining a tween or teen, who likely take a lot more selfies than I do, questioning their facial features based on those snapshots. When I'm wondering why my facial features look weird in selfies it's because I know my face well enough to know that's not what it looks like. However, when a young person whose face is changing rapidly sees their facial features distorted in a photo, they may come to all kinds of wrong conclusions about what they actually look like.

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

Dan Fischer takes people's lost loved ones out surfing for "one last wave."

Dan Fischer understands grief. He also has some idea of how to cope with it—and how to help others through it as well.

Fischer has experienced tremendous loss in the past few years, losing both his father and his best friend. As a surfer, he's a believer in what he calls "the transformative power of the ocean." Originally from Montreal, Canada, Fischer has found healing riding the waves off Newport, Rhode Island, where he's lived for the past seven years.

Now he wants to share that healing power of the waves with others.

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The airplane graveyard that 3 families call home is the subject of a stunning photo series.

From the skies to the ground, these airplanes continue to serve a purpose.

This article originally appeared on 09.18.15


What happens to airplanes after they're no longer fit to roam the skies?


An abandoned 747 rests in a Bangkok lot. Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images.

Decommissioned planes are often stripped and sold for parts, with the remains finding a new home in what is sometimes referred to as an "airplane boneyard" or "graveyard." Around the world, these graveyards exist; they're made up of large, empty lots and tons of scrap metal.

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