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The ridiculously terrible mother-daughter camping trip that taught me when to let go.

One woman's Mother's Day tribute to her strong, nonconforming mom.

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Mothers Everywhere

I’m not sure if it was my idea to join Girl Scouts or if it was my mother’s.

In September 1998, I was starting fourth grade in a new school, and I was really looking forward to rebranding myself. Small and shy, I had enjoyed origami club at my old school, and I spent my weekends reading "Little House on the Prairie." But faced with a whole new peer group to befriend, I determined that I should be less of a "weirdo."

I quickly picked up that in our new town, playing sports was the quickest route to popularity and a sense of belonging. But given my size and aversion to running, I quickly ruled that out as a viable option. Some of the cool girls were joining Girl Scouts, though, and I loved nature.


Image via iStock.

My mother is an artist and a wholly sophisticated person.

Before my brother and I arrived, she worked in fashion: living in Greenwich Village and flying to Paris and Milan for runway shows. While she raised us, she designed and painted textiles from our home, taking the train into Brooklyn for painting seminars on the weekends.

My mother’s studio in 1996. Photo by the author, used with permission.

I spent most of my early years playing on the floor of her studio, surrounded by art supplies from Pearl Paint (RIP), rummaging through her sketchbooks and fabric swatches.

For my mother, and for me, fitting into our new suburban town did not come naturally.

It seemed like everyone else’s dad worked on Wall Street, and everyone else’s mom drove a Chevy Suburban. The town had three separate soccer leagues: one recreational, one school-run, and one competitive. Later, in my angsty teenage years, I would not be able to imagine why my parents chose to move to such a homogenous, boring place.

Of course, I know now that every single thing my parents did between 1985 and 2010 was for my benefit. My mother saw the good schools and the safe neighborhoods and resigned herself to coexisting with J.Crew-clad peers for the next decade. But at 9 years old, I was determined to fit in — come hell or high water.

The first official Girl Scout trip of the 1998-1999 school year was to Hershey, Pennsylvania.

We were going to visit the amusement park, see how Hershey kisses were made, and most importantly, camp next to an actual river. I had lucked into bunking with three extremely popular girls, and my excitement level was high. If my mom was less enthused about the trip, she didn’t let on, but she was concerned about the weather — there was heavy rain predicted all weekend.


Photo via iStock.

While the three other girls packed their sleeping bags into my mom’s car, she talked to the troop leader about the impending downpour headed our way and got the brush off: We weren’t worried about a little rain! We were Girl Scouts. We would tough it out. Not wanting to be alarmist, my mother decided to go with the flow.

I don’t remember much about the amusement park or how Hershey kisses are made, but I do remember what a lime green Girl Scouts of America tent looks like as it gets washed away in a flash flood.

The campsite “next to a river” turned out to be in a literal river basin. By day two of our trip, it became apparent that the rain was going to be a little more than we’d bargained for. After a soggy lunch on the second day, we returned to find the campsite in very different conditions than when we’d left. The peaceful green river was now muddy and brown, surging, and full of debris.

Photo via iStock.

The water in our camp was knee-high, and as everyone scrambled to move their possessions to higher ground, my mother registered two things: The river was already lapping over the sides of the only bridge out of there and the campsite closest to it was completely underwater.

She made an executive decision: We were done going with the flow; the flow was now a whitewater rapid.

As a tent from the campsite next-door bobbed away downriver, my mom threw me and my backpack into her car and peeled out of the parking lot in her Swedish sports car.

Somewhere in her rearview mirror, a group of blonde women in Hunter boots and North Face fleeces continued “toughing it out.”

They all survived, of course. Apparently camps were assembled in a nearby parking lot, and it amuses me now to imagine what the rest of the trip must’ve looked like. I picture 20 soggy 9-year-olds camping between SUVs, their mothers resolutely singing the Girl Scout smile song over the sounds of a raging river, never conceding defeat.

I spent another four years trying to get mean girls who played sports to like me before I transitioned seamlessly into the aforementioned angsty teenager phase.

But I’m fairly certain that for my mother the charade ended in that very moment, while dragging a 10-year-old and her pink sleeping bag through knee-deep amusement park water.

She was just plain out, and she gave not one thought to the opinions of others in that moment.

It took me another decade or so of growing up to understand the real lesson in my mother's decision during that camping trip.

We’re always taught to never give up — “don’t be a quitter” — but honestly, what does “not giving up” look like in a flash flood?

When you’re slogging it out, giving something your all, don’t you ever stop and think, "Even if I could eventually break through this brick wall with my bare hands, do I really want to spend the next five years clawing at it?"

I suppose it depends on what’s on the other side, but sometimes I really think it takes a stronger person to back up, redirect, and choose a new goal. It’s something my mother does well and something I wish I did better.

These days, when I’m staring at the proverbial brick wall, trying to figure out why it still doesn’t like me, I try to recall the look on my mother’s face as she watched that tent float away downriver.

And I laugh, and remember that sometimes it’s just not worth it.

Pre trick-or-treating 1998, just after realizing that everyone else was going as a Spice Girl. Hand-made costume by my mother, of course.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

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Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

Pop Culture

'90s kids share movies that will 'take you back to a better time'

It was a magical time when animals played sports and yet somehow things were just simpler.

YouTube/Upworthy photo illustration

Honey, I shrunk the kid named Matilda while jamming in space!

Everyone knows that '90s movies just hit different. From sports movies to rom-coms to even horror, there was an undeniable innocence, without being overly simplistic or juvenile. They didn’t have nearly the amount of money going into production as they do today, but somehow managed to transport us to magical places.

Movies of the '90s are so iconic that there have been several attempts to reboot beloved titles. Which, let’s face it, tends to be a fool's errand at a cash grab. These movies are so timeless that simply viewing the original is more than fine.

Not sure which movie to start with? You’re in luck—a Reddit user by the name of YouBrokeMyTV asked ’90s kids to share movies that took them “back to a better time,” and because the internet can be a wonderful place, tons of people responded with some beloved classics.

These answers certainly don’t make a definitive list (there are just so, so many gems) but they're a fun glimpse into what made '90s cinema so special. A nostalgic romp through memory lane, if you will.

Enjoy these 14 titles that just might leave you jonesing for a rewatch:

1. "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"

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A perfect example of how '90s movies were silly, but smart at the same time. And oh so wholesome.

2. "The Sandlot"

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It taught us nothing about baseball, but everything about friendship, rooting for the underdog and (most important) how to make s’mores.

3. "Drop Dead Fred"

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Critics might have run this cult classic through the mud during its inception, but audiences fell in love with the bizarre charm of this story about a mischievous little girl and her anarchist imaginary friend. So take that, snotfaces!

4. "The Goonies"

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Everyone just wanted to set off an epic quest with their friends for pirate treasure after seeing this movie.

5. Tim Burton's "Batman"

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Before the superhero genre was the behemoth it is today, a quirky director and the dude who was best known for playing the creepy demon in "Beetlejuice" breathed new life into comic-book movies. Marvel might be the leader on creating stories with adult themes that are digestible for kids nowadays, but this DC film was the first of its kind. Plus, that soundtrack … forget about it.

6. "Hook"

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Pretty much any '90s film starring Robin Williams was an absolute gem, but this one in particular is timeless. His gift of balancing childlike humor with emotional gravitas lent itself so well to playing the now grown and cynical Peter Pan, who must learn to reclaim his joy (relatable, millennials?). It was a bang-a-rang-er, no question.

7. "Space Jam"

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It had Looney Tunes, it had aliens and it had Michael Jordan. That’s a winning combination.

8. "Matilda"

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I don’t think I’m out of line when I say that this movie helped a lot of kids make their way through difficult childhoods.

9. "The Parent Trap"

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Even '90s reboots were awesome. And how fun it is to see that Lisa Ann Walker—the actress who played Chessy the housekeeper—is not only yet again gracing the screens in NBC’s “Abbott Elementary,” but is also being revered as a style icon on TikTok for her ultra casual looks in the film. We all knew she was onto something with long button downs and shorts.

10. "The Land Before Time"

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No cartoon, not even “The Lion King,” was a better depiction of childhood grief. And yet, despite encapsulating tragedy, director Don Bluth still left viewers hopeful. The subsequent 14 (yes 14) sequels definitely pale in comparison to the original, but "The Land Before Time" continues to stand the test of time nonetheless.

11. "Richie Rich"

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The scene where they play tag on four-wheelers is simply iconic.

12. "Dunston Checks In"

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Man, the '90s were the golden age of animal-centered films. And not just monkeys either—we got sports playing golden retrievers and not one, but two movies starring talking pigs. What a time to be alive. These films were made before CGI had reached the levels it’s at today, and the authentic interactions between humans and creatures reached right through the screen.

13. "George of the Jungle"
george of the jungle, brendan faser

Watch out for the tree!!!

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Have I seen this movie at least 20 times? Probably. It doesn’t get any better than this in terms of silly action films with bird puppets. It’s crazy to think that this role would eventually lead Brendan Fraser to "The Mummy" franchise, turning him into a household name. Though his career has had some tragic ups and downs, we are all grateful for the glorious comeback he’s been having.

14. Anything involving Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
mary kate and ashley

Yes, they were professional detectives.

Giphy

Whether vacationing in London, Paris or Rome, whether playing magical witches or making a huge billboard so their father could find love … Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen offered zany, whimsical entertainment while wearing fun outfits. Sometimes, that’s all you need.

Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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