A new wellness app aims to reclaim the concept of self-care.

Long hours and a high-stress work environment took a toll on Amber Discko, a Brooklyn-based digital strategist.

Discko spent most of summer and fall 2016 working on Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Work consumed her life, and as a result, her own self-care took a nasty hit. To help her remember to take breaks from work to do things like drink water, take her vitamins, and brush her teeth, she looked to reminder accounts on Twitter.

After the election, she built Aloe, a customizable web check-in as a way to hold herself accountable. After Inauguration Day, she shared it with the world.


Discko takes a photo with a Hillary Clinton cardboard cutout during the 2016 campaign. Photo courtesy of Amber Discko.

Following some majorly positive feedback, Discko set out to turn Aloe into a full-blown iPhone app.

Hoping to crowdsource the $40,000 necessary to build and release the app, Discko launched a Kickstarter campaign on Aug. 1 (full disclosure: I backed the project with a small donation).

OK, but who forgets to to do essential things like eating or taking medicine? A lot of people, actually.

Each year, millions of Americans forget to take prescribed medications. Even when the consequences are serious (possibly even life-threatening), these things happen. The same thing can go for other essential functions like brushing your teeth, showering, eating, drinking water, and more.

A lot of the imagery used on the Aloe site and in the app is garden-themed. This is meant to highlight the importance of tending to ourselves like we would a garden. Image from Aloe/Kickstarter.

So let's be real: we can all sometimes use a little reminder. Wearable fitness trackers send alerts informing users it's time to stand, and there's no shortage of time management and reminder apps scattered throughout the App Store. Aloe just takes that very familiar concept and gives it a fresh spin packaged with a bit of positivity.

One big difference between Aloe and similar reminder apps and alarms is the gentle approach it takes to its alerts. Rather than an in-your-face, shame-inducing alarm, Aloe simply encourages users to check in with themselves and their needs. While there, they can jot down some notes or do a little journaling right in the app.

The Aloe Twitter account offers occasional reminders to followers, and the app is essentially a customizable version of that.

"Self-care is about reflection," Discko says about Aloe's goal of making it easier for people to focus on themselves in a chaotic world.

For some people, self-care is synonymous with shirking your responsibilities. Discko hopes Aloe can help reassert and reclaim the true, very literal version of the term. "By putting something out there to redefine the word, we're making it normal for people to actually take care of themselves instead of feeling the guilt and the shame of not doing it," she says.

So yeah, maybe self-care, for some, is as simple as remembering to brush their teeth, take their medications, and eat. If it takes a little nudge from an upbeat little app to remember those things, that's what Aloe is here for.

If all goes according to plan and Discko reaches her Kickstarter goal, Aloe will be available in early 2018 on iOS and hopefully soon after on Android.

True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

4-year-old New Zealand boy and police share toys.

Sometimes the adorableness of small children is almost too much to take.

According to the New Zealand Police, a 4-year-old called the country's emergency number to report that he had some toys for them—and that's only the first cute thing to happen in this story.

After calling 111 (the New Zealand equivalent to 911), the preschooler told the "police lady" who answered the call that he had some toys for her. "Come over and see them!" he said to her.

The dispatcher asked where he was, and then the boy's father picked up. He explained that the kids' mother was sick and the boy had made the call while he was attending to the other child. After confirming that there was no emergency—all in a remarkably calm exchange—the call was ended. The whole exchange was so sweet and innocent.

But then it went to another level of wholesome. The dispatcher put out a call to the police units asking if anyone was available to go look at the 4-year-old's toys. And an officer responded in the affirmative as if this were a totally normal occurrence.

Keep Reading Show less