Maria Ducasse of Brooklyn is an inspiring example of how one person can unite a community to ensure no one loses their pet because of hardship.
Three years ago, she founded East New York Dog Lovers a nonprofit that has grown to have 29 foster homes, 200 volunteers, and helped reconnect more than 50 dogs with their people. It's a safety net where struggling pet owners get emergency fostering, help with medical bills, and food for their fur babies.
"Our biggest mission is to end pet surrendering," Maria told Chewy. "So whatever help may be needed—food, vet care, whatever you need to keep your pet at home—we are willing to supply and help you."
Maria has arranged for people struggling with homelessness, domestic violence, and medical emergencies to connect with fosters who care for their pets until they're back on their feet. Her hard work keeps families intact and pets safe.
"We just keep getting bigger," Maria says. "Every time we go out there and help somebody, they're like, 'I'm in—how can I help?'"
Maria's wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Community Pet Foster."
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Ah, the delicious, creamy avocado. We love it, despite its fleeting ripeness and frustrating tendency to turn brown when you try to store it. From salads to guacamole to much-memed millennial avocado toast, the weird berry (that's right—it's a berry) with the signature green flesh is one of the more versatile fruits, but also one of the more fickle. Once an avocado is ready, you better cut it open within hours because it's not going to last.
Once it's cut, an avocado starts to oxidize, turning that green flesh a sickly brown color. It's not harmful to eat, but it's not particularly appetizing. The key to keeping the browning from happening is to keep the flesh from being exposed to oxygen.
Some people rub an unused avocado half with oil to keep oxidation at bay. Others swear by squeezing some lemon juice over it. Some say placing plastic wrap tightly over it with the pit still in it will keep it green.
But a YouTube video from Avocados from Mexico demonstrates a quick, easy, eco-friendly way to store half an avocado that doesn't require anything but a container and some water.
It almost seems too simple, but people swear it works. The avocado half won't last forever, of course, but if you don't eat an avocado half within three days, do you really deserve that avocado half? I don't think so.
A few more fun facts about avocados: Avocados have more potassium than bananas, they are very high in fiber compared to other foods and they're also high in heart-healthy fat, like olive oil. Also, did you know that you can't grow a Hass avocado from a Hass avocado seed? Weird, right?
And if your mind is blown about the avocados-are-berries thing, I feel you. I won't tell you that strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are not actually berries, but bananas, cucumbers and pumpkins are, because that would just be cruel. (It's true, though. I'm sorry.)
Cheers! May your avocados be perfectly ripe, their pits small and their oxidation slow.
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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!
Parenting is as old as time, but there's never been a time in history when we've talked about it more. If you go into any bookstore, you'll find shelf after shelf filled with books about how to raise your kids. If you have questions about any element of parenting, there are countless websites and online groups you can consult.
And yet, most of us still go into it unaware of the reality of it, because let's face it. There's no way to adequately prepare for parenthood. No matter what you picture it being like going in, parenting will yank that image right out of your head, smash it into the ground, and grind its heel right into the heart of it.
Okay, that's a bit dramatic. But only a bit. Parenting is the hardest, most rewarding job on earth—a thrill ride that takes you on the highest highs and plunges you to the lowest lows. Up and down you go, over and over again, sometimes squealing with delight, sometimes thinking you might puke, and sometimes screaming "Stop the ride, I wanna get off!"
While it's not possible to truly prepare, it's good to hear from experienced parents what you might expect. Every kid, every parent, every family is different, but there are some near-universal things that people really should know going in.
A user on Reddit asked, "What is something nobody warns people about enough when it comes to having kids," and the answers didn't disappoint. Here are some highlights:
You have less control over how your kids turn out than you think.
"There's a very good chance they won't turn out like you think," wrote one commenter. That's not to say that you have no influence whatsoever, but each kid is their own unique person with their own individuality, and they also change as they grow. If you're too attached to an idea of how they should be, you may not fully appreciate who they are.
"People seem to often forget that they're raising people," shared another commenter, "as in, independent-thinking individuals whose actions, values, personalities, interests, and capabilities will potentially be completely unlike yours. I've seen a lot of parents struggle hard with that, and frankly, that's a possibility you should have made your peace with before you became a parent, imo."
Another person added:
"This is why many parent/child relationships are so strained. Many parents have a child thinking they are programming a perfect human being. Many are disappointed when the child is not the exact person they hoped (or worse, the polar opposite). Perfectly normal children grow into resentful, tired adults because of their parents' unrealistic expectations that have nothing to do with them."
The books aren't all that helpful.
We all want to look to "the experts" when raising our kids, and some things we find in parenting books can be marginally helpful. But they certainly aren't the be-all-end-all of good parenting.
"The books are fine for ideas, your experience, friends thoughts, paediatricians, therapists," wrote one commenter. "But at the end of it all you have this complicated little person you're in charge of with their own preferences, feelings, insecurities, abilities, and you have to do what works for them and your family and, of course, also raise someone who isn't a blight on humanity or menace to society."
"As my mum says: 'The kid hasn't read the book.'
"Her parents tried to do everything by the book with her and she hated it. She was supposed to have pigtails, wear dresses, learn piano and not go climb trees and play soccer/football. She saved pocket money to get her hair cut short and her dad almost hit her for it. Did she stop pushing to be herself? Nope. She is a strong woman, but boy, does she have some scars on her soul.
"With her own three kids she watched what interests they developed and then helped them explore it further and to not forget to keep an open mind about other possible hobbies, sports, arts etc. I have no idea how to thank her properly for this."
It doesn't go by fast—until suddenly it does.
"The days are loooong and the years are so very short," wrote one person. It's true. When you're in the thick of parenting and someone tells you how fast it goes, you might feel like strangling them. But then you look at your child who has changed so much and it does feel fast in hindsight.
"I've heard older people say this or the equivalent all my life," wrote another. "I always thought I understood. And then I had children. Now I understand. I keep looking at my kids and can't believe how much time has passed. I'll look at them doing something new and just be amazed. Seems like yesterday that my youngest couldn't lift her own head and now she's doing tuck rolls across the house."
"This is it!" shared a parent of young adults. "Mine are 18,19 & 20. Empty-nest syndrome is a REAL thing. I always look back and think… How the hell did it go by so quick? I used to roll my eyes at people who would say stuff like this when they had 3 different practices, in 3 different places at the same time. It really goes by so quickly."
Your time—and sleep—are no longer yours.
When they're babies, they wake up in the night for all kinds of reasons—to eat, to practice crawling, to say hi, to wail inconsolably for no explicable reason, etc. When they're older, they wake up because they need to go to the bathroom or a drink of water or they're scared. Then, when they're much older, they suddenly stay up late and want to have deep, heart-to-heart talks at 10pm. Most of us expect the baby sleep deprivation stage, but there are sleep disruptions throughout a child's entire childhood.
"When they grow older, you don't have a private life anymore," wrote one commenter. "They stay awake longer than you."
"Never thought of this. The later part of the evening is my time usually," someone responded.
"Used to be my time as well," shared another commenter. "Since becoming a parent, my time is 4-6am. One reason why you start waking up early once you're older, probably."
I have a young adult, a teen, and an almost-teen, and I can attest to waking up extra early simply to have uninterrupted time to myself.
You will miss being able to think clearly.
"For me, I stopped having a chance to think anything through without interruption," wrote a commenter. "I had a very hard time with that. I couldn't remember anything, couldn't make decisions, etc because every thought seemed to get interrupted.
"I'd just sit in my car alone sometimes so I could think."
Ah, the beautiful, quiet solitude of the car. Every mother I know enjoys a good "car bath" once in a while.
"I am so glad somebody said this," someone responded. "I was starting to worry I was getting early onset dementia, because my mind just feels like mush all the time. I can't remember things, I start sentences and can't finish them, I forget common words....my mind rarely gets to switch off because someone is always interacting with me or calling my name."
Part of the brain mush is because kids need things all the time. And part of it is that you now have an entire other person's life (multiplied by however many kids you have) to think about. Their health and well-being, their education, their emotional state, their character—It's a lot. So much more than you can really imagine until you're in it.
Take advantage of the middle years.
"How important the years between 7 and 12 are for building a bond (one that lasts into the teenage years)," wrote a commenter. "They are so hard to listen to at that age with all the starts and stops in conversation and they talk about the most boring thing's BUT it is so important to listen and converse at those ages. They will grow into teenagers that will talk to you, and be fun to talk to, but only if you can get through long boring conversations about Minecraft or whatever thing they are currently into."
Having teens and young adults, I have seen the truth of this advice play out. If you want your teens to talk to you, you have to listen well before they get to that age.
Another user shared what it meant to them when their mother did just that:
"I can remember being about 12 and wanting to share my biggest interest at the time with my mom, that being Bionicle, by reading to her all the books I had been collecting with my allowance. Sometimes she would involuntarily fall asleep, but my God she tried so hard to show an interest. I really didn't appreciate it at the time, focused on all the times she yawned or fell asleep, but now (16 years later) we both remember it fondly as the bonding time it really was."
And another shared just the opposite:
"My god, what an amazing mom you have. I vividly remember coming home from school around 12-13 yo, super excited to tell my mom all about my day, and she's sitting there reading her book, as always. No problem, I'm just telling her my stories while she's reading. Then that one time, I wondered is she actually listening? So I stopped mid-sentence and she didn't notice. I remember my heart just sank, and after that I never told her anything ever again. I don't think she noticed."
Diapering a doll isn't going to prepare you for wrangling a baby.
"Practicing diapers on a doll doesn't count," wrote one commenter. "You're ready when you can do it on a cat."
HA. So true. Others shared their diaper wrangling woes as well:
"My first daughter was patient and would just let us change her. My second daughter wants nothing more than to roll over and crawl away. There's nowhere for her to go but she wants to go anyway."
"It's like, I am physically orders of magnitude stronger than her, how the hell does she still win?"
"My daughter has just perfected the alligator death roll technique when she doesn't want to be changed or put pants on lmao. And because she's 2 and a bit she laughs the whole time cause it's hilarious."
Don't even get me started on trying to get an unwilling jellyfish toddler buckled into a carseat.
All parents are winging it.
"I stupidly thought once I had a child I would automatically 'know' how to parent," wrote one commenter. "You're the same dummy before and after having a child, and you realize how much your parents were winging it."
"Leaving the hospital with that tiny fragile little being was terrifying," wrote another. "C-section delivery so they kept us a couple days longer. Lots of help from the amazing maternity ward, to the moment you realize you and your spouse are alone and now solely responsible for keeping this little baby alive."
"Yeah, it's like: "We can just leave? WITH the baby? Who approved this?" added another.
"The panicked looks my husband and I exchanged the first time we were left alone with our newborn will live forever in my mind," wrote yet another.
It really is surreal that you're just, like, handed a newborn baby and that's it. A whole life in your hands, and you're supposed to just figure out what to do with it. Good luck!
The relentlessness is real.
"Nothing prepared me for the sheer 'unrelentingness' of parenting," shared one parent. "Every day for many years has to be finished with a dinner/bath/bed routine that takes two hours, regardless of how tired, upset or unwell you are. Difficult enough if you've been at work all day, yes. But also if you're on holidays and got a little bit sunburnt, or been to a family wedding and overeaten, or spent the day assembling Ikea furniture and are just exhausted.
"As a childless adult you could occasionally say 'I'm just having takeaway tonight', and flop in front of the TV until bedtime. As a parent, that's not an option."
This is a truth that's hard to fathom but oh so real. Parenting never ends. You don't ever really get a break, even when you're lucky enough to kind of get a break. Your kids' well-being is always on your mind, even when you're not with them.
And it doesn't end at 18, either. Many commenters talked about how parenting is forever. You worry about your adult kids, too, just in a different way than when they were young and you were fully responsible for raising them.
This list might lead people to believe that parenting sucks, but it doesn't. I mean, sometimes it can, but that's true of anything in life. If you're fortunate and put in your best effort, the joy and fulfilment of parenting hopefully outweighs the hard parts. Getting a realistic picture of what it entails—both the delights and the challenges—can help people temper their expectations and take the roller coaster of parenting as it comes.
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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:
"There is no class tomorrow. I've got some things to take care of regarding this and my other class, and my full time job. I have received countless emails about zeroes on assignments either through errors I've made, you've made, or simply people not realizing or knowing they were supposed to turn it in and then realizing in panic they received a zero on it for (surprise), not turning it in. It seems that giving you a free assignment so long as you turn SOMETHING in created far more chaos than good will. Apologies. That's on me. And you. But also me. But also you."
Then it went on…
someone PLEASE check on my professor pic.twitter.com/xbys2Nh66q— hailey (@hailzfitz444) November 16, 2021
The professor gave a bulleted list of instructions for what clearly sounds like a very simple, easy assignment designed to give students an opportunity to boost their grades.
"- Submit it. I've extended the deadline until tomorrow before Midnight.
- If you do NOT turn it in before then. I'm sorry. It's a zero. No excuses at this point and frankly, I regret ever trying to make this assignment easier because it's created more problems at this point.
- I will look at these, do not do something stupid like type 'b' or 'i did it'. I will become enraged and bitch about you for exactly 15 seconds to anyone within my proximity who will listen. I will not hold back.
- After I receive these, I will give you full credit (pending the above prerequisites). I will then promptly print 100 copies of the assignment out, put them in a pile, light that pile on fire, and dance around the rubble as it burns. I will then put my hand on the smoldering embers so that I may feel again. Feel what, you might ask? Anything. Literally anything.
- I will then sleep like a baby, having put this nightmare behind me."
The professor saw the tweet his students shared after it went viral and chimed in with a response.
In case it’s not clear I am said professor and that was my email.— scobeard (@scobeard) November 17, 2021
In case you are wondering. I am doing very well and good.
And he added an update on how things were going on the assignment front.
Other teachers responded to his woes, commiserating over students being handed a chance to improve their scores and simply … not doing it.
I literally gave out assignments so they could rack up easy points on their averages and people just didn’t do them???— Ashley Holub, PhD (@ashtroid22) November 17, 2021
JUST TELL ME YOUR INTERESTS
It's been a challenge during the pandemic to figure out how much to expect of any of us, hasn't it? Some leeway is definitely warranted, but are we enabling bad habits when we give too much? There are no right answers to that question. We're all winging it, trying to navigate uncharted waters and having to constantly readjust as things change.
It's exhausting. We're all exhausted. But teachers are at a level of "done" that few of us can fathom. Healthcare workers can fathom it. Anyone working with the public the past two years might get close. But until you've actually taught, you don't know. Teaching is hard under normal circumstances. Pandemic teaching is a whole other ballgame.
We feel you, teachers. Hang in there, and enjoy this bit that will undoubtedly feel familiar:
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