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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
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illness

How to clear a stuffy nose instantly.

With cold season upon us, there's no better time to learn a couple of awesome and easy tricks that will clear up the dreaded and annoying stuffy nose.

Prevention magazine created a short video showing two easy ways to get you breathing free again no matter how stuffed up you might be.


Both tricks take less than two minutes and are certainly worth trying out when it feels like that runny nose might never go away.


Watch the YouTube video below:

This article first appeared on 9.8.17.

N.J.’s eyes are dark and deep as he kneels in the garden, hands wrapped gently around the kale seedling.

We line peas on either side of the fencing I’ve brought, and I show him how to press each one down to the first knuckle on his index finger and then pat the soft dirt over the hole. The tomato plant doesn’t want to come out of the container. It’s root-bound, clinging to the pot; I tap the edges to loosen it and pull slowly on the stem.

“Plants are tough,“ I say, as I slice the roots with the edge of the trowel and then let him do the same thing to the other side. We wiggle the tangly, knotted white roots loose, and then he sets it in the hole we dug, snuggling it in and combing the soil with his fingers. Finally, we dot the front of the box with onion starts and poke them in, some of them already sprouting little green shoots from their tops.


It’s May. We are working together in a garden boxhis parents built in their backyard the previous summer. All the seeds they planted had washed away in a hard rain. They hadn’t had time to do any more with it, because Mary, N.J.’s mother, was undergoing chemotherapy after a diagnosis of Stage IV colon cancer.

N.J., out of frame, waters his garden. All photos courtesy of the author, used with permission.

Now, a year later, treatment has ended, and Mary is in her last days.

She won’t get to see her son in his garden, though she is only steps away. Breathing slowly and steadily, nodding and smiling softly — these are the things she is doing with the energy she has left. She looks at pictures on my phone, though, of N.J. with his hands on his plants, proudly shepherding his garden along, smiling her same soft smile. His eyes are her eyes.

N.J.’s lettuce.

Before Mary was diagnosed, we were friends, but not close friends. We lived down the road, attended the same church, chatted here and there in passing. I have two girls; she had two boys. She would bring N.J. and his older brother to play as soon as he could walk on his own.

N.J. would toddle through the rows of my garden, stuffing cherry tomatoes into his cheeks, tugging on fat pea pods, and eating cucumbers like you eat an ear of corn. He seemed to delight in the magic of growing things the way I do. We are born gardeners, part of that secret society of people for whom weeding is not a chore, but a pleasure.

After Mary was diagnosed, I never really knew what to say. But I did learn, over time, to just be there, with vegetables, with bread, with myself.

I saw the washed-out garden box in the backyard that summer, but I didn’t yet feel confident enough to suggest planting it again or to just go ahead and do it.

Over the winter, though, Mary let me be one of the people who took her to chemo and other appointments. We grew close, closer than we had ever been. We both had strong opinions, we both swore a lot, we both liked Thai food. I would get a spread of things to nibble on together while the medicine dripped into her port, while she got hot and then chilled and then dried out and thirsty.

And then, when it was over and she was exhausted, I’d bring the car around, and we’d drive, the winter sun setting behind us as we headed home from the cancer center.

A parent’s first worst nightmare is something happening to their child; the second worst nightmare is something happening to themselves, because the loss of a parent leaves children vulnerable to danger, to pain.

Mary said to me once, on one of our many slow walks up and down our road, “At least it’s not one of the boys. I couldn’t handle that.”

But they, of course — and Mary’s husband — have to handle that it was her.

Some of Mary’s flowers remain in the author’s own garden.

When it became clear that treatment was no longer working and that it would be days or weeks rather than months, the new growing season was just beginning.

On one of my last visits to the house while Mary was still alive, before I knocked on the door in the garage, I walked around back to see the garden box.

Mary had covered it with a tarp the previous summer, and I pulled back a corner. Just a few weeds here and there. The soil needed turning, but it was soft and loose and rich, I could tell, full of good lobster and blueberry compost from the coast of Maine.

I had some extra pea fencing and plenty of seed, and a grower at the local farmers market had donated kale, tomato, and cucumber seedlings. I brought N.J. out to the patch of land and, together, we started to work.

When I whispered to Mary how good the box looked and how pleased N.J. was with his garden, she smiled, eyes closed. "Take a picture for me," she said.

Someone brought a sunflower in a pot; N.J. planted it in a corner of his box. He carefully tended his vegetables all summer after his mother died, pulling every other onion plant for scallions so the remaining onions would bulb up nicely, weeding around the kale, training the peas as they climbed.

His eyes are dark and deep and full of pain, but kids, like plants, are tough.

This story originally appeared on Rodale's Organic Life and is reprinted here with permission.

Please stop what you're doing and say hi to Charleston Chew.

He's an adorable old pug from Pennsylvania who's recently won over the internet's heart.

And he'll likely win over yours, too.

All photos courtesy of Sharla Wilson, used with permission.


(According to his human, Charleston goes by about a dozen other names — including Muffin Toes, Puffins, Chi Chi, and Butters. But for the sake of simplicity, let's stick with Charleston.)

Charleston and his owner, Sharla Wilson, recently moved into a new home in Pittsburgh.

But Charleston's been having some real issues with the change.

You see, the new apartment — with its foreign floor plan and unusual surroundings — has been stressful for 11-year-old creature of habit Charleston.

So he's been a bit louder than usual throughout the adjustment period.

Concerned her new neighbors may be irked by Charleston's stress-induced howls, Wilson taped a message to her front door.

"Hello, Neighbors!" the note began. "My name is Charleston Chew and I'm very sorry for my howling."

Men share times when they've stood up to misogynistic behavior.

The message continued:

"I'm an old man now, with cataracts, and sometimes I get real scared because I can't see where I am and can't find my mom. As I get used to my new place, I will start to settle down.

Thanks for being patient with me. I don't mean to be such a pain.

Charleston Chew Pug
Apt 502"

"It's a quiet building and I just didn't want anyone losing sleep or getting upset over his challenges to adjusting," Wilson explains in an email to Upworthy. "This isn't something he just does when I'm away at work. If I'm in another room or in the shower, he'll howl for me if he wakes up and I'm not by his side."

She's not kidding. Here's a cute video of Charleston howling ... at a dandelion.

One of Charleston's new neighbors, Megan Jones, spotted the note on Wilson's door and shared a pic of it on Twitter. "You howl all you want Charleston, honey," she wrote.

Penguins in New Zealand repeatedly detained after showing 'complete disregard for police authority.'

Her tweet totally took off.

Since Jones shared it on April 30, nearly half a million people have liked the image, and over 120,000 have retweeted it (at the time of this writing).

Charleston truly has gone ridiculously viral.

The replies to Jones' tweet were delightful as well. Many people were losing it over how adorable Charleston is, and many fellow pet owners shared pics of their own four-legged family members.

"What an awesome mom!" one user chimed in. "Letting the new neighbors know what's going on in such an adorable way!"

Charleston's viral fame even made its way back to Wilson and Jones' landlord!

The story is super sweet all on its own — but it gets even sweeter when you learn how much Charleston has meant to Wilson over the years.

Charleston was given to Wilson when he was just 5 weeks old. He weighed less than 3 pounds and wobbled more than he actually walked.

"I'm a big proponent of adoption and wasn't in the market for a dog," Wilson said. "That being said, as soon as I saw his tiny little face, he had my heart."

The little pup has helped Wilson through more than he'll ever know.

"Charleston has been my constant through some of the biggest struggles and obstacles I've faced," Wilson says. "He's been a steadfast source of laughter and joy. He has been a driving force of renewal and hope during my darkest days. He is the embodiment of the purest form of unconditional love this world has to offer."

He's the biggest sweetheart, Wilson emphasizes, always making friends with cats, children, and other dogs, too: "He's just the nicest dude."

Maybe he's not the fiercest guard dog — "My apartment was once broken into and I guarantee you [Charleston] offered the intruder a beer and helped him carry the stolen goods to the car," Wilson jokes — but he's a kind-hearted keeper nonetheless.

Charleston's health has been declining, though.

And as many pet owners know all too well, it's a tough experience for Wilson.

Among other ailments, Charleston has diabetes, which keeps him on a very strict diet. Wilson said she can spend over $300 a month on items like insulin, prescription food, lotions, and pee pads: "I stretch myself to try and give him the best life after all that he's given me."

"It's difficult not to feel sorrow from time to time at the idea of losing my sweet boy," she says.

Fortunately, the love-struck internet wanted to help Charleston out.

And a few big pet brands caught wind.

Wilson confirms that PetSmart is letting Charleston and Wilson go on a shopping spree, free of charge. A company called WyzeCam is providing camera so that Wilson can keep tabs on Charleston when she's away from the apartment. And 1-800-PetMeds is sending a goodie basket filled with calming tabs, an activity monitor, and more.

Wilson has had "tears in [her] eyes" from all the love sent Charleston's way. She's "at a loss, shocked by it," she says. "To be able to give him a bit more and get some things that were beyond my means is just incredible."

But beyond any tangible items, Wilson is most touched by the fact that strangers near and far have been able to get to know the Charleston she's adored from the start.

"This outpouring of love has been the most comforting experience," she says. "I see Charleston as this unique and wonderful little guy, and to feel so many people experiencing that with me has been inconceivably fulfilling. His big heart has touched people and it's beautiful to feel that I'm not alone in my sentiment."

"He and I are a tag team of weirdos," Wilson concludes. "And I wouldn't have it any other way."

To keep tabs on Charleston, follow him and Wilson on Twitter.

This article was originally publisted on May 5, 2018.

Kim’s daughter Violet is a 1 in a million kid — literally.

The 6-year-old has not one, but three incredibly rare neurological diseases.

Screenshots via Starlight Children's Foundation.


The diseases affect Violet's ability to do basic things most of us take for granted. “They describe it as having cerebral palsy, autism, ADHD, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s all wrapped up into one disorder,” Kim says.

Violet works with a physical therapist and occupational therapist to help her walk and eat and even breathe. Yet, she's one of the happiest and sweetest kids you'll ever meet.

“She loves to go to the grocery store,” Kim says, “because then she can say ‘Hi’ to everybody and ‘I love you.’”

People often say “I love you” back, which makes Violet happy and warms her mother's heart.

“You can’t resist her,” says Kim.

The proud mom wanted to do something to make Violet’s hospital visits more enjoyable.

Enter the Starlight Foundation’s Design-a-Gown contest.

#MyStarlightGown - Violet's Story

She's one in a million. ❤️ (via Starlight Children's Foundation)

Posted by Upworthy on Friday, April 20, 2018

The Starlight Foundation, co-founded by Steven Spielberg, aims to “bring joy and comfort to hospitalized kids and their families.” And they do that through programs like Design-a-Gown.

Hospital gowns are notoriously awful. For one, they’re embarrassing, opening in the back so patients’ rear-ends are exposed. And two, they’re sooooo bland.

As Kim says, “They’re literally like prison wear.”

No one wants to see a kid dressed in a sterile-looking hospital gown — and what kid would want to wear one?

Starlight created a gown that ties up the side, not the back — a simple fix for the butt-baring problem. Then they asked people to send designs to make the gowns fun — something kids would actually want to wear.

Kim says she wanted her gown design to bring Violet some laughter.

Kim’s design features an elephant holding a rainbow lollipop on the front, and the same elephant's backside on the back.

The clever-but-subtle allusion to traditional, butt-showing hospital gowns aside, Kim says, “I wanted something that would make my daughter laugh. And what’s more amusing than a little elephant butt?”

Starlight received more than 6,000 gown design entries along with stories from kids and families. Some celebrities, including Martha Stewart and “Weird” Al Yankovic, even took part in the contest.

Photos via Starlight Children's Foundation..

Kim’s design was one of three finalists.

The winning design will be made into gowns for kids at Starlight’s network of more than 700 hospitals and community health partners. Donors can provide a gown to a kid by donating $25 to the foundation.

What a fun way to help kids who have no choice but to spend time in hospitals. Anything that makes a sick child like Violet happier is a winner in my book.

Note: Nope, we weren't paid to promote The Starlight Foundation — we'd tell you! We just think this is a great story about what they're doing to make the world a bit better.