A dad's letter to himself on his worst day, from himself on his best day.

Hey man, I know today was rough. I'm really sorry. I heard it was a doozy.

It started a lot earlier than it should have. I guess you could say the previous day never really ended.

You put your daughter down for bed around 8 p.m., like usual. You scarfed some food and chugged some NyQuil to try to knock out your throbbing cold, the one you caught from her (love those daycare germs!). Two hours later, you woke up to the sound of her coughing through the baby monitor. Then came the crying.


You rolled out of bed in a glassy-eyed, cold medicine-induced fog. You stumbled your way up the stairs to soothe her. Nothing worked. She cried every time you tried to lay her back down. Your head was throbbing. Your eyes dry and heavy. Her cries like nails on a chalkboard. You got frustrated and had to just put her down, let her cry while you walked away to cool off. "I can't do this," you thought, exhausted, drained. It didn't matter if you could do it or not because she kept crying, and she needed you.

The whole night went on like this before the sun mercifully came up.

Breakfast time. You sleepwalked your way through cooking an omelet (you burned one side, but does it really matter?). She threw it on the floor and wailed. Did she want a banana? More water? Crackers? Was something hurting? You didn't know. You just kept handing her things.

This was your entire day. Photo via iStock

After that, you carried her over to her toy bin and let her play. She was joyful, finally smiling and laughing. You sat, zombie-like, sipping your coffee and enjoying the brief moment of peace. Then she tripped over a wooden puzzle piece and hit the ground hard. More tears. And then more. Normally she wouldn't cry this hard, but she was sick. She wasn't herself. You picked her up and held her and kissed the boo-boo, but she wouldn't stop crying.

You put her back down because the crying in your ear was like a power drill to your temple. Normally, you'd be so much more patient and nurturing. But you weren't yourself either.

The whole day was like this. You took her to the store where she refused to stay in the cart. She wanted to run up and down the aisles, which was fine, but then she tripped and fell. Again. More tears. She threw her lunch on the floor and cried about it. You tried to put her down for a nap, but she kicked and flailed until you gave up.

It didn't matter if you could do it or not because she kept crying, and she needed you.

There were things to be done around the house: chores, projects, cleaning. You had nothing in you but medicine and whatever food you were able to scarf down between tantrums. It was all you could do to muscle your way through bath time and get her into bed.

And you weren't far behind her. You crawled into bed, drained, knowing she'd probably be up within a matter of hours, hacking and coughing and crying. Poor thing.

When it was finally quiet, you felt bad for her. She didn't mean to be a pain; she's just a baby. A baby with a cold, at that. You were so disappointed with yourself. Why couldn't you have been more patient, more loving? She had a hard day too.

You have to be better than that.

You drifted off to sleep locked in on one single thought: Maybe I'm not cut out for this dad thing.

I know your day was bad. Really bad. But mine was great, and I'm sorry, but I just need to tell someone about it.

Get this: It started at 8 a.m. 8 a.m.!

I know, I know. My daughter slept great. It's hard to believe she's so grown up. It doesn't seem that long ago that she was only sleeping a few hours here and there, then struggling through the night. Last night we put her down at  8.p.m. and didn't hear a peep out of her for 12 hours. I slept gloriously.

So. Much. Better. Photo via iStock.

The baby monitor gently crackled to life with her quietly babbling to herself. But I was already up. I climbed the stairs and pushed the door open to her room. She jumped to her feet and saw me, and she smiled the biggest smile I've ever seen and bounced up and down in her crib. As I got closer, she shot her arms into the air so I could pick her up. I did, and she laid a sleepy head on my shoulder.

She was a joy at breakfast. She sat in her chair and gulped down her banana while I cooked up an omelet (I nailed it, by the way, perfectly cooked, 10/10). I put on some music and she playfully shimmied her shoulders to the beat. When the eggs were ready, first she blew on them to cool them down, just like I taught her. She then showed off her fork skills and wolfed down the entire plate.

The rest of the day went by in a blur. There was the quick run to the store, where she helped put things in the cart and waved at every single person who passed by. Then, a trip to the park where she finally went down the big scary slide by herself. She came out the bottom giggling and ran to me.

I didn't want the day to end.

And after I kissed her good night and mommy rocked her to sleep, I was left with just one thought: I am doing pretty OK at this dad thing.

It's hard to believe sometimes that we are the same person, living the same life. But here's what I know: Tomorrow is a new day.

I don't know whether it'll be good or bad. I really don't. (I hope it's good!)

But you know what? At some point, you're going to look at that spot on the floor where your daughter tripped and face-planted, and you're going to laugh. When you think about it, it was kind of funny, right? (She was totally fine.)

And eventually you're going to find an old piece of omelet wedged under the kitchen table, covered in dust after she chucked it over her shoulder, and you're going to roll your eyes lovingly as you scoop it up and throw it away.

Take it from me: You're doing the best you can. You're going to have those days where you wish you could keep it together better, where you wish you could be the perfect parent.

But if you can just hang in there, better days are ahead. I promise.

Trust me, I just had one. And it was totally worth the wait.

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan
True

Growing up in Indonesia, Farwiza Farhan always loved the ocean. It's why she decided to study marine biology. But the more she learned, the more she realized that it wasn't enough to work in the ocean. She needed to protect it.

"I see the ocean ecosystem collapsing due to overfishing and climate change," she says. "I felt powerless and didn't know what to do [so] I decided to pursue my master's in environmental management."

This choice led her to work in environmental protection, and it was fate that brought her back home to the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia — one of the last places on earth where species such as tigers, orangutans, elephants and Sumatran rhinoceros still live in the wild today. It's also home to over 300 species of birds, eight of which are endemic to the region.

"When I first flew over the Leuser Ecosystem, I saw an intact landscape, a contiguous block of lush, diverse vegetation stretched through hills and valleys. The Leuser is truly a majestic landscape — one of a kind."

She fell in love. "I had my first orangutan encounter in the Leuser Ecosystem," she remembers. "As the baby orangutan swung from the branches, seemingly playing and having fun, the mother was observing us. I was moved by the experience."

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan

"Over the years," she continues, "the encounters with wildlife, with people, and with the ecosystem itself compounded. My curiosity and interest towards nature have turned into a deep desire to protect this biodiversity."

So, she began working for a government agency tasked to protect it. After the agency dismantled for political reasons in the country, Farhan decided to create the HAkA Foundation.

"The goals [of HAkA] are to protect, conserve and restore the Leuser Ecosystem while at the same time catalyzing and enabling just economic prosperity for the region," she says.

"Wild areas and wild places are rare these days," she continues. "We think gold and diamonds are rare and therefore valuable assets, but wild places and forests, like the Leuser Ecosystems, are the kind of natural assets that essentially provide us with life-sustaining services."

"The rivers that flow through the forest of the Leuser Ecosystem are not too dissimilar to the blood that flows through our veins. It might sound extreme, but tell me — can anyone live without water?"

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan

So far, HAkA has done a lot of work to protect the region. The organization played a key role in strengthening laws that bring the palm oil companies that burn forests to justice. In fact, their involvement led to an unprecedented, first-of-its-kind court decision that fined one company close to $26 million.

In addition, HAkA helped thwart destructive infrastructure plans that would have damaged critical habitat for the Sumatran elephants and rhinos. They're working to prevent mining destruction by helping communities develop alternative livelihoods that don't damage the forests. They've also trained hundreds of police and government rangers to monitor deforestation, helping to establish the first women ranger teams in the region.

"We have supported multiple villages to create local regulation on river and land protection, effectively empowering communities to regain ownership over their environment."

She is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year. The donation she receives as a nominee is being awarded to the Ecosystem Impact Foundation. The small local foundation is working to protect some of the last remaining habitats of the critically endangered leatherback turtle that lives on the west coast of Sumatra.

"The funds will help the organization keep their ranger employed so they can continue protecting the islands, endangered birds and sea turtle habitats," she says.

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen. Do you know an inspiring woman like Farwiza? Nominate her today!

Jennifer Lawrence

After being a Hollywood staple, Jennifer Lawrence vanished from the public eye following the release of "X-Men Dark Phoenix" in 2019.

Sure, the pandemic had something to do with that … in addition to the usual way our society treats Hollywood "it" girls, once it grows accustomed to the flavor. But in a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Lawrence opens up about some other reasons she chose to step away for a time.

Lawrence went from being a highly sought-after Oscar-winning actress to starring in less-than-successful films like "Passengers," "Mother!" and "Red Sparrow." The films were not only poorly received among critics, but commercially as well.

"I was not pumping out the quality that I should have," she told VF. "I just think everybody had gotten sick of me. I'd gotten sick of me. It had just gotten to a point where I couldn't do anything right. If I walked a red carpet, it was, 'Why didn't she run?'"

So then, why do it? As any workaholic would know, it's about so much more than money.

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Courtesy of Ms. Lopez
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Marcella Lopez didn't always want to be a teacher — but once she became one, she found her passion. That's why she's stayed in the profession for 23 years, spending the past 16 at her current school in Los Angeles, where she mostly teaches children of color.

"I wanted purpose, to give back, to live a life of public service, to light the spark in others to think critically and to be kind human beings," she says. "More importantly, I wanted my students to see themselves when they saw me, to believe they could do it too."

Ms. Lopez didn't encounter a teacher of color until college. "That moment was life-changing for me," she recalls. "It was the first time I felt comfortable in my own skin as a student. Always remembering how I felt in that college class many years ago has kept me grounded year after year."

It's also guided her teaching. Ms. Lopez says she always selects authors and characters that represent her students and celebrate other ethnicities so students can relate to what they read while also learning about other cultures.

"I want them to see themselves in the books they read, respect those that may not look like them and realize they may have lots in common with [other cultures] they read about," she says.

She also wants her students to have a different experience in school than she did.

When Ms. Lopez was in first grade, she "was speaking in Spanish to a new student, showing her where the restroom was when a staff member overheard our conversation and directed me to not speak in Spanish," she recalls. "In 'this school,' we only speak English," she remembers them saying. "From that day forward, I was made to feel less-than and embarrassed to speak the language of my family, my ancestors; the language I learned to speak first."

Part of her job, she says, is to find new ways to promote acceptance and inclusion in her classroom.

"The worldwide movement around social justice following the death of George Floyd amplified my duty as a teacher to learn how to discuss racial equity in a way that made sense to my little learners," she says. "It ignited me to help them see themselves in a positive light, to make our classroom family feel more inclusive, and make our classroom a safe place to have authentic conversations."

One way she did that was by raising money through DonorsChoose to purchase books and other materials for her classroom that feature diverse perspectives.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

The Allstate Foundation recently partnered with DonorsChoose to create a Racial Justice and Representation category to encourage teachers like Ms. Lopez to create projects that address racial equity in the classroom. To launch the category, The Allstate Foundation matched all donations to these projects for a total of $1.5 million. Together, they hope to drive awareness and funding to projects that bring diversity, inclusion, and identity-affirming learning materials into classrooms across the country. You can see current projects seeking funding here.

When Ms. Lopez wanted to incorporate inclusive coloring books into her lesson plans, The Allstate Foundation fully funded her project so she was able to purchase them.

"I'm a lifelong learner, striving to be my best version of myself and always working to inspire my little learners to do the same," she says. Each week, Ms. Lopez and the students would focus on a page in the book and discuss its message. And she plans to do the same again this school year.

"DonorsChoose has been a gamechanger for my students. Without the support of all the donors that come together on this platform, we wouldn't have a sliver of what I've been able to provide for my students, especially during the pandemic," she says.

"My passion is to continue striving to be excellent, and to continue to find ways to use literature as an anchor, depicting images that reflect my students," she says.

To help teachers like Ms. Lopez drive this important mission forward, donate on DonorsChoose.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

Looking for some good gift ideas that wont break the bank? We've got you covered with these five suggestions available at our very own Upworthy Market! You can feel good about your purchases, too. That's because every item you buy from the Upworthy Market directly supports the artisans who crafted it.


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Photo by Vanessa Garcia from Pexels

A professor's message to students has gone viral.

If you know any teachers, you probably know how utterly exhausted they all are, from preschools all the way up through college. Pandemic schooling has been rough, to say the least, and teachers have borne the brunt of the impact it's had on students.

Most teachers I've known have bent over backwards to help students succeed during this time, taking kids' mental and emotional health into consideration and extending the flexibility and grace we all could use. But teachers have their own mental and emotional needs, too, and at some point, something's gotta give.

A college student posted screenshots of a professor's message on Twitter with the comment "someone PLEASE check on my professor." It's simply incredible.

The message reads:

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