What would you say to someone who didn't want to live anymore? After hearing about a friend's suicide, Jennifer Michael Hecht tried to find the answer through her poetry.
From the time she was a little girl, Abby Recker loved helping people. Her parents kept her stocked up with first-aid supplies so she could spend hours playing with her dolls, making up stories of ballet injuries and carefully wrapping “broken” arms and legs.
Recker fondly describes her hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as a simple place where people are kind to one another. There’s even a term for it—“Iowa nice”—describing an overall sense of agreeableness and emotional trust shown by people who are otherwise strangers.
Abby | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com
Driven by passion and the encouragement of her parents, Recker attended nursing school, graduating just one year before the unthinkable happened: a global pandemic. One year into her career as an emergency and labor and delivery nurse, everything she thought she knew about the medical field got turned upside down. That period of time was tough on everyone, and Nurse Recker was no exception.
“You had patients that were here one minute and gone the next and the emotional impact took a toll, but we stuck together,” said Nurse Recker. She and her unit eventually found their footing and learned how to work as a team to adapt to the overwhelming influx of COVID-19 patients. Right as they got into a groove, on August 10, 2020, with nearly no time to prepare, a historic “derecho” storm hit the city of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Courtesy of CeraVe
A derecho packs fast-moving gusts, but instead of spiraling like a tornado or hurricane, the winds of a derecho move in straight lines. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported the storm caused $7.5 billion in damage across South Dakota and Ohio, ranking it as the costliest thunderstorm in U.S. history. Every single Cedar Rapids resident was impacted.
“During the spring we tend to have lots of storms, so we’re used to tornados and other types of bad weather, but nothing like a derecho. I don’t think anyone in Iowa had even heard of a derecho until that August day,” said Nurse Recker. “After the storm hit, we were all trying to figure out what had happened; we didn’t even know there was a name for a storm like that!”
Suddenly, the hospital was filled with people experiencing storm-related injuries. The emergency room was packed, as people who depend on electricity to run their oxygen tanks or dialysis machines were pouring in with nowhere else to go. Just as they had done when the pandemic hit several months before, Nurse Recker and her team pulled together, working back-to-back 12-hour shifts and running on adrenaline.
It occurred to Nurse Recker in the middle of this chaos that she might not have a home to go back to. Instead of panicking, she focused on the people in front of her, putting their immediate needs above her own. It wasn’t until she got into her car to leave the hospital that she took the time to absorb the devastation. A tree had fallen, narrowly missing her car, and was wedged under her front bumper. To this day, she still doesn’t understand how her vehicle wasn’t completely crushed.
This ability to persevere under extreme pressure is what makes nurses so amazing at what they do. CeraVe’s ongoing commitment to the nursing community seeks to recognize inspiring healthcare workers such as Nurse Recker through Heroes Behind the Masks Chapter 2: A Walk In Our Shoes, a campaign featuring inspiring nurses from across the nation.
“Nurses share in some of the most joyful moments of a patient’s life but are also witness to some of the toughest moments, which can be a taxing part of their jobs that often goes unrecognized,” said Jaclyn Marrone, vice president of marketing for CeraVe. “To express our sincerest gratitude, we’re honored—to provide a platform for these incredible stories to be told, inspiring both the nursing community and beyond.”
Nurse Recker says that while sometimes there are situations where there isn’t a good solution and there’s no way to predict the future, she feels good knowing that there are people who have her back.
“I am fortunate enough to work at a job I love and am passionate about. When you love what you do and get to see the positive impact you have on people, it’s hard to be negative. Looking at what I get to do for people each and every day and how I get to impact their lives in a positive way makes it all worth it,” said Nurse Recker. “We know when people are coming to the hospital they are not at their best but the most important thing we can do is just be kind. A smile and thank you go a long way.”
Follow along in the coming days for more uplifting stories brought to you by CeraVe.
It only costs them a little more than $30,000 a year.
Imagine retiring early and spending the rest of your life on a cruise ship visiting exotic locations, meeting interesting people and eating delectable food. It sounds fantastic, but surely it’s a billionaire’s fantasy, right?
Not according to Angelyn Burk, 53, and her husband Richard. They’re living their best life hopping from ship to ship for around $44 a night each. The Burks have called cruise ships their home since May 2021 and have no plans to go back to their lives as landlubbers. Angelyn took her first cruise in 1992 and it changed her goals in life forever.
“Our original plan was to stay in different countries for a month at a time and eventually retire to cruise ships as we got older,” Angelyn told 7 News. But a few years back, Angelyn crunched the numbers and realized they could start much sooner than expected.
“We love to travel and we were searching for a way to continuously travel in our retirement that made financial sense,” she said. They looked into deals they could find through loyalty memberships and then factored in the potential sale price of their home and realized their dream was totally affordable.
The rough math makes sense. If it costs the couple $88 per night to live on a cruise ship, that’s $32,120 a year. Currently, the average price of a home in Seattle, Washington—where the couple lived—is $958,027 which would come with a mortgage that costs around $50,000 a year.
Plus, on a cruise ship, the couple doesn’t have to pay for groceries.
The Burks are able to live their dream because they’ve spent a lifetime being responsible. “We have been frugal all our lives to save and invest in order to achieve our goal,” she says. “We are not into materialistic things but experiences.”
Angelyn says that cruising takes the stress out of travel. “It is leisurely travel without the complications of booking hotels, restaurants, and transportation while staying within our budget,” she told 7 News. The couple travels lightly with just two suitcases between them and if they need anything, they just buy it on the ship or in the next port.
One thing the carefree couple should be concerned about on their never-ending cruise is COVID-19. The coronavirus is easily spread in close quarters and a cruise ship that recently docked in Seattle had 100 people on board who tested positive for the virus. The CDC recommends that people get vaccinated before going on a cruise and that immunocompromised people should consult with their physicians before traveling.
Since leaving their jobs and the mainland behind, the Burks have been on a 50-day cruise around the Adriatic Sea, taking in the sights of Europe as well as a 51-day cruise from Seattle to Sydney, Australia.
The Burks really love cruising to Italy, Canada, Iceland and the Bahamas but their favorite is Singapore.
Looking to give it all up and go on a permanent vacation just like the Burks? Angelyn has some advice for those wanting to get started.
It takes a special type of person to become a nurse. The job requires a combination of energy, empathy, clear mind, oftentimes a strong stomach, and a cheerful attitude. And while people typically think of nursing in a clinical setting, some nurses are driven to work with the people that feel forgotten by society.
Michelle Santizo is a street medicine nurse working in Los Angeles, California. For her, the field of street medicine requires providing lifesaving health services in unpredictable and sometimes uncomfortable environments, but is where she is most passionate about her work.
Nurse Santizo credits her parents for teaching her resilience, a necessary trait when providing care in places like tents, under bridges, in alleys, vehicles, at libraries, on the side of the freeway or even at a bus stop.
“Every corner of Los Angeles needs our services,” said Nurse Santizo. “It can be in a pristine, abandoned, trashed, or graffiti-filled neighborhood.”
Michelle | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com
Santizo prepares for the workday by loading her backpack with supplies before heading to a section of downtown L.A. known as “skid row” to care for her clients, who are typically people experiencing homelessness and living on the fringes of society without regular access to healthcare. As the child of immigrant parents, she experienced firsthand a lack of healthcare and basic necessities. Her mother fled from El Salvador as a young woman, arriving in the United States alone and without shelter.
“My mother told me that the only people that acknowledged her while sleeping outside on a bench [were the people going in and out of] the church that was across the street,” said Nurse Santizo. She said her mother instilled in her that there are many reasons why people are homeless and that each individual has their own story. “[She] taught me to never judge someone’s struggle … my mother’s inspiring upbringing taught me if you have the time to help the broken or disadvantaged, then take a moment to acknowledge or help in some positive way.”
Michelle and her mother on a beachCourtesy of Michelle Santizo
Growing up, Nurse Santizo watched her parents struggle to earn a living wage to keep up with the family’s needs. “My father worked nearly seven days of the week and my mother worked as much as she could in jobs like babysitting, cleaning homes or caregiving. Feeding our family was my parent’s main concern…healthcare and all the other important aspects of life became secondary or non-existent. My parents could barely make enough income to buy fresh fruit or vegetables,” she said.
The Santizo familyCourtesy of Michelle Santizo
That upbringing is what drove her to pursue a career in medicine, with the goal of giving back to underserved communities. “[Access to] medicine should not be determined based on your socioeconomic status. It should be a right for someone to seek healthcare when it is needed and important, especially for children and adolescents who will be the future of our generation,” said Nurse Santizo. She credits her lack of access to healthcare as a child for empowering her to keep pushing for change.
When the opportunity to practice street nursing arose, Santizo knew instinctively that it was the right fit. Every workday she has meaningful interactions, but one experience in particular had a lasting impression on her. She encountered a middle-aged man who had lost his job during the pandemic and was forced to live on the streets. Nurse Santizo approached, and he asked if she wouldn’t mind examining his feet. As she gently inspected the condition of his skin, she explained that he needed a thorough cleaning and a special ointment and offered to wash his feet and patch them up.
Courtesy of CeraVe
“This kind man stared right into my eyes and nearly cried, as he shared ‘no one has ever cared for me like this ever since I’ve been forced to live on the streets, nor has anyone ever acknowledged my existence,’” recalled Nurse Santizo. “I remember squatting on the side of the street while cars were driving by … my only mission was to devote that moment in time to servicing a person who needed my attention and love. As you can tell, I love what I do, and I could scrub feet for days when servicing the most vulnerable populations.”
According to the most recent report, approximately 580,466 people were experiencing homelessness in America in January 2020. Most were individuals (70%) and the rest were people living in families with children. The full effect of the pandemic on the homeless populations across the country have yet to become clear, and hard data will not be fully known until late 2022 or early 2023.
“Bringing medicine to people who are not able to seek medical assistance due to their inabilities whether it be homelessness, chronic illness, or mental health has always been my true calling … to serve the broken, the sick, the vulnerable and the ones who really need a second chance at life,” said Nurse Santizo, a reminder that no one knows what another human is battling.
To recognize the healthcare professionals that are so often giving to others before themselves, CeraVe seeks to spotlight those that go beyond the call of duty for their patients and communities. The brand is honoring nurses such as Santizo in the second iteration of a docuseries titled Heroes Behind the Masks Chapter 2: A Walk In Our Shoes.
Follow along in the coming days for more stories of heroism, kindness and love.
Good music brings people together.
Art can be a powerful unifier. With just the right lyric, image or word, great art can soften those hard lines that divide us, helping us to remember the immense value of human connection and compassion.This is certainly the case with “Pasoori,” a Pakistani pop song that has not only become an international hit, it’s managed to bring the long divided peoples of India and Pakistan together in the name of love. Or at least in the name of good music.
It’s easy to see how “Pasoori” has gained its popularity. The visuals are rich and colorful and very eye-popping—the very essence of old-school Bollywood. Plus the song itself is quite the catchy, dynamic earworm with its blend of traditional music and driving, percussive reggaeton beat. That’s a lot of boxes to tick, stylistically speaking.
The song begins with the words “set fire to your worries.” It’s a verse that came to songwriter Ali Sethi after seeing a similar phrase painted across the back of a truck while driving through Punjab. That expression, coupled with the fear that entering India as a Pakistani artist might result in extremists burning down whatever studio he worked in, inspired him to channel the experience into his music, he told The New Yorker.
“I did what desi bards have done for ages. I might not have been able to travel to India, but I knew my music could,” he said.
Translated, “Pasoori” can mean “difficulty,” "conflict" or “difficult mess.” At first glance, the song appears to be a classic tale of star-crossed lovers, with lyrics like “If your love is poison, I will drink it in a flurry.” However, the way it expertly weaves Indian and Pakistani art styles together suggests a larger message. Can two countries see beyond their conflict to celebrate the natural harmonies of their cultures? Sethi seems to be ultimately posing this profound question, all while delivering a bona fide banger.
If “Passori”’s global success is any indicator, the answer appears to be yes. It’s garnered more than 100 million views on YouTube and is getting praise from both Pakistani and Indian stars. According to The New Yorker, “Pasoori” now “sits firmly” at No. 1 on the charts in India.
It already has a viral cover, for cryin’ out loud.
Congrats to all the creators of “Pasoori” for transcending boundaries and winning hearts. This is the magic of music.
In the 1988 Disney classic “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” the titular character is in an unlikely relationship with his voluptuous wife Jessica. Roger is a frantic, anxious rabbit with a penchant for mischief, while Jessica is a quintessential ’40s bombshell who stands about a foot and a half taller and isn’t “bad,” just “drawn that way.”
When private investigator Eddie Valiant asked Jessica what she sees in “that guy?” she replies, “He makes me laugh.”
This type of couple may seem like something we only see in the movies, but don’t underestimate the power of humor when it comes to attractiveness. A new study published in Evolutionary Psychology found that being humorous is the most effective way to flirt for both men and women.
“People think that humour, or being able to make another person laugh, is most effective for men who are looking for a long-term relationship. It’s least effective for women who are looking for a one-night stand. But laughing or giggling at the other person's jokes is an effective flirtation tactic for both sexes,” says Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair, a professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's (NTNU) Department of Psychology.
“It is not only effective to be funny, but for women, it is very important that you show your potential partner that you think they are funny,” Rebecca Burch, a co-author from SUNY Oswego in New York, added.
Unfortunately, this study was only conducted on heterosexual couples.
For men, showing off their sense of humor was found to be the most effective way to flirt whether they were looking for a short-term or a long-term relationship. For women, being funny was the most effective tactic when looking for a long-term relationship. For people looking for a short-term fling, appearing available was the most effective tactic.
According to the study, humor is effective regardless of one's attractiveness. “Individual differences in age, religiosity, extroversion, personal attractiveness and preferences for short-term sexual relationships had little or no effect on how effective respondents considered the various flirting tactics to be,” says study co-author Prof. Mons Bendixen.
If you see someone you like but don’t think you’re good-looking enough for them, give it a shot. You may still have a chance if you can make ’em laugh.
The most effective tactics for those looking for a long-term relationship:
1. Makes him laugh
2. Shows interest in conversations
3. Spends time with him
4. Engages in deep conversations
5. Kisses on mouth
1. Makes her laugh
2. Spends time with her
3. Shows interest in conversations
4. Engages in deep conversations
The study is proof that looks aren’t everything and shows that having a good sense of humor isn’t just about making someone laugh. A great sense of humor is evidence that someone is intelligent, wise, perceptive, confident, can see things from new perspectives and has good intuition. It also helps people quickly build bonds and share experiences, which is a great way to get close to someone in a fast and fun way.
So why wouldn’t Jessica be with Roger? The guy is hilarious.