Here's what one chronically ill woman wants you to know about the holidays.

It’s that time of year again.

There’s a lot I love about this season — the colorful light displays in my neighborhood; holiday music (well, most of it); and my own little traditions, like celebrating both Hanukkah and Christmas.

It’s also a hard time of year for me, and so I thought I’d write a holiday letter, but not the usual “here’s-what-I-did-this-year” kind. Instead, I’d like to share some of my thoughts about being chronically ill during the holidays.


This way, you’ll understand better what this season is like for me and, hopefully, all of us will have a better time.

I know this time of year is, at times, stressful for everyone.

Expectations can get out of hand, leading to disappointment, crankiness, and sometimes a bad case of the holiday blues. The odds are high that at some point, you’ll feel exhausted from having too much to do and too little time in which to do it.

I also know that some of you have memories that give rise to sadness during the holidays. I certainly do — memories that have nothing to do with the current state of my health.

This a mixed-bag time of year for many of us. I want you to know that I know I don’t have a monopoly on stress and frustration and sadness simply because I’m chronically ill. That said, I have some thoughts on my experience that I'd like to share.

1. I wish my health didn’t have to be an issue during the holidays.

It feels as if it should be a private matter, especially at a time of celebration. It can be uncomfortable — even embarrassing — to talk about my health.

Unfortunately, I don’t always have the luxury of staying silent. I have to share some of my needs and limitations with you or the holidays will be a disaster for me: I’ll burn out fast and not be able to keep company with anyone for the duration.

2. Although I’m doing my best to enjoy our time together, I may be in physical pain or feeling quite sick.

Such is the nature of invisible pain and illness: What you see does not necessarily reflect how I’m feeling. Please don’t misinterpret why I might not be as animated or active as my appearance would indicate I should be. It lifts my spirits to try to look nice, so I’ll be doing my best to dress in the spirit of the holidays.

And if I suddenly disappear for a while, I hope you’ll understand that it’s out of necessity, not choice. I’m just resting.

3. This is a particularly hard time of year for me because it brings into focus just how limited my life has become.

Every year, I have to accept anew my inability to travel or even attend holiday parties that are nearby.

I also can’t shop the way I’d like to. I used to love wandering through small, locally-owned shops, waiting for just the right treasure to catch my eye. Part of the fun was unexpectedly running into friends and acquaintances I hadn’t seen for a long time.

Now, all my shopping is done online. I know that lots of people shop online these days, but now, it's my only option.

4. Though I can't do everything you'll be doing, I don't want you to cancel plans just because I can't participate.

You'll be going to holiday parties, maybe out to dinner and a movie or driving around at night to see the holiday lights, and I'm glad! I want you to have a great time this holiday season. I'll feel much better about the effect this chronic illness has had on our relationship if you don’t cancel plans just because I can’t come along.

So, please, do things that are fun! If you go out to dinner, you can always bring me take-out.

5. It feels incredibly good when you acknowledge that it's hard for me to be chronically ill.

I don’t need much of an acknowledgement of how difficult the holiday season can be for me — just a pat on the shoulder or a short comment, such as “I’m sorry; I know this must be tough for you.” It makes me feel understood, which is something everyone wants in life.

If I’m aware of some difficulties you’re facing — health or otherwise — I promise I’ll try to remember to reach out to you in the same way.

I love all of you and hope your holidays are fun and filled with joy!

This story originally appeared in Psychology Today and has been reprinted here with permission.

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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