The unexpected reason why this dad is looking forward to life after raising kids.
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Whirlpool Congrats Parents

Every spring, Dan Berman and his son Matan had a tradition: They would travel to the coast of Florida for the major league spring training games.

The training games were an especially fun trip, as fans could get up close and personal with their favorite players. Dan and Matan also love traveling together, and the games were a perfect excuse to drive along the coast.

One year, however, things didn’t exactly go as planned.


The Braves, Matan’s favorite team, had started requiring people to pay money to talk with the players.

“He was incensed by this,” says Dan. “He was into the spiritual side of baseball. [He believed] that everyone should have access.”

So, rather than give up on talking to his favorite player Eddie Pérez, Matan stubbornly sat in the bullpen for an hour, watching the pitchers and catchers warming up. And when Pérez came out, Matan started yelling, trying to get his attention, and asking him to throw a ball his way. To Dan and Matan’s surprise, it worked: Pérez signed one and threw it right to a beaming Matan.

In that moment, Dan could not have been prouder. Seeing his son’s fearless determination, even at just 12 years old, offered him a glimpse into the adult Matan would one day be. He was someone who believed that no one should be left out, rules be damned — not in baseball, and not in life. It was moments like these, thought Dan, that made being a parent so special.

But parenting isn’t just about these wonderful experiences. It’s hard work, especially when you’re a dad to three rambunctious boys.

They hadn’t even necessarily planned on having three kids, but after the second, Dan’s wife wanted a girl, so they decided to have one more. Of course, they wound up with another boy.

With three energetic boys now running around the house, it could get overwhelming, Dan says. “There is always so much to do around a house with three boys that those parts of our history are almost a blur.” The laundry, the cooking, the dishes, the late night homework assignments — it may come with the territory of being a parent, but that didn’t make it any easier.

Even getting the boys to help mow the lawn was a challenge in itself. “I [had to] pull the lawn mower out, fill it with gas and start it to get their attention,” Dan jokes.

But it was important to Dan that the boys help around the house, and that included helping him with the laundry when they were old enough.

"When we give our kids everything, teaching them the basics in life, like doing laundry, mowing the lawn, seem like such simple things," he says. "But these lessons may be more impactful than of the organized group activities they participated in as kids."

Parenting requires sacrifices, too — Dan loves to cook, but he didn’t have much time for it as a Dad. “I didn't do that much cooking when the kids were younger other than unhealthy kid fare.” The meals that are fun to cook for an aspiring home chef aren't necessarily what a kid wants to eat — especially compared to macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, and other kid classics.

That said, there was one thing he could make that they’d eat: eggs. “I am the egg specialist in the house [though],” he says. “I can make an egg any possible way a young boy could want it.”

Finding calm in the center of that chaos was one of the big challenges of parenting, and he didn’t always get it right. But no matter the challenge — whether it was a picky eater or an algebra assignment — Dan always found a way to make it work.

Image via Whirlpool

This May, Matan will finally don a cap and gown and walk across the stage to get his high school diploma. Dan, along with hundreds of other proud parents, reminded once more of the determination that brought them there, the sacrifices they made along the way, and the young adults their kids have grown into.

This will be a proud moment for Dan, but also bittersweet, as both begin a new chapter — Matan is headed for a gap year abroad in Israel, and Dan will be left with an empty nest.

Of course, this change comes with challenges, but Dan’s excited to focus on who he’d like to become.

“I’m ready. I do have mixed emotions,” Dan says. “I’ll be sad and I’ll have tears, but I’m ready for the next stage of life.”

While “empty nest syndrome” isn’t a clinical diagnosis, a last child leaving home can still have a mental health impact, like any major life event. An empty nest can sometimes leave parents feeling lonely or anxious. It can even feel like they’re grieving a loss.

But Dan knows the best way to prepare for a transition like this is to just dive right in.

His advice? “Start to prepare by changing routines [and] trying to find different ways to fulfill your life,” he explains. “I’ve always had other interests! I exercise a lot, I love to cook, I like to go mountain biking and things like that. I plan to just do more of it.” (And now, of course, Dan will get to be more than just an “egg specialist,” cooking the meals that he enjoys most.)

Therapist Jasmine Banks agrees, noting that empty nest transitions can be “really powerful moments of transformation.”

There are plenty of ways to encourage that kind of transformation, too. Whether it’s reconnecting with a spouse, or discovering a new passion, parents can turn their grief into motivation to lead more independent, fulfilling lives.

Many parents view caregiving as an important part of their identity — but an empty nest allows them to concentrate on who they are apart from what they do for their kids. “Use some of that freed space to reflect on [your own] needs and wellbeing,” Banks explains.

Transitions like high school graduation can also be the perfect time for kids to celebrate everything their parents do.

Even the little things — like getting dinner on the table, scrubbing stubborn grass stains out of that baseball jersey, or helping with algebra homework — all had an important part to play in getting grads in the cap and gown, though they can sometimes go unrecognized. While graduation is a rite of passage for teens, in many ways, it’s one for parents, too.

That’s why Whirlpool has created "Congrats, parents" as part of its Every day, care® campaign. By sharing meaningful, uplifting messages for parents of the class of ‘18, they’re celebrating the parents whose work often goes unappreciated:

Congrats parents and grads!

These dedicated parents deserve as many congratulations as their graduating students.

Posted by Upworthy on Tuesday, May 8, 2018

“It’s one of the most challenging and rewarding jobs I’ve ever had. [And] it never, ever, ever goes according to plan,” Dan laughs. “[Matan is] a wonderful, wonderful kid with challenging 18-year-old tendencies. I don’t have any doubt that he’s going to be a success in life.”

While walking across that stage will be an unforgettable moment for the graduating class of 2018, it’s no less momentous for the parents who supported them along the way. And the chapter ahead can be filled with exciting new adventures for both of them.

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan
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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!

Jennifer Lawrence

After being a Hollywood staple, Jennifer Lawrence vanished from the public eye following the release of "X-Men Dark Phoenix" in 2019.

Sure, the pandemic had something to do with that … in addition to the usual way our society treats Hollywood "it" girls, once it grows accustomed to the flavor. But in a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Lawrence opens up about some other reasons she chose to step away for a time.

Lawrence went from being a highly sought-after Oscar-winning actress to starring in less-than-successful films like "Passengers," "Mother!" and "Red Sparrow." The films were not only poorly received among critics, but commercially as well.

"I was not pumping out the quality that I should have," she told VF. "I just think everybody had gotten sick of me. I'd gotten sick of me. It had just gotten to a point where I couldn't do anything right. If I walked a red carpet, it was, 'Why didn't she run?'"

So then, why do it? As any workaholic would know, it's about so much more than money.

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Courtesy of Ms. Lopez
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Marcella Lopez didn't always want to be a teacher — but once she became one, she found her passion. That's why she's stayed in the profession for 23 years, spending the past 16 at her current school in Los Angeles, where she mostly teaches children of color.

"I wanted purpose, to give back, to live a life of public service, to light the spark in others to think critically and to be kind human beings," she says. "More importantly, I wanted my students to see themselves when they saw me, to believe they could do it too."

Ms. Lopez didn't encounter a teacher of color until college. "That moment was life-changing for me," she recalls. "It was the first time I felt comfortable in my own skin as a student. Always remembering how I felt in that college class many years ago has kept me grounded year after year."

It's also guided her teaching. Ms. Lopez says she always selects authors and characters that represent her students and celebrate other ethnicities so students can relate to what they read while also learning about other cultures.

"I want them to see themselves in the books they read, respect those that may not look like them and realize they may have lots in common with [other cultures] they read about," she says.

She also wants her students to have a different experience in school than she did.

When Ms. Lopez was in first grade, she "was speaking in Spanish to a new student, showing her where the restroom was when a staff member overheard our conversation and directed me to not speak in Spanish," she recalls. "In 'this school,' we only speak English," she remembers them saying. "From that day forward, I was made to feel less-than and embarrassed to speak the language of my family, my ancestors; the language I learned to speak first."

Part of her job, she says, is to find new ways to promote acceptance and inclusion in her classroom.

"The worldwide movement around social justice following the death of George Floyd amplified my duty as a teacher to learn how to discuss racial equity in a way that made sense to my little learners," she says. "It ignited me to help them see themselves in a positive light, to make our classroom family feel more inclusive, and make our classroom a safe place to have authentic conversations."

One way she did that was by raising money through DonorsChoose to purchase books and other materials for her classroom that feature diverse perspectives.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

The Allstate Foundation recently partnered with DonorsChoose to create a Racial Justice and Representation category to encourage teachers like Ms. Lopez to create projects that address racial equity in the classroom. To launch the category, The Allstate Foundation matched all donations to these projects for a total of $1.5 million. Together, they hope to drive awareness and funding to projects that bring diversity, inclusion, and identity-affirming learning materials into classrooms across the country. You can see current projects seeking funding here.

When Ms. Lopez wanted to incorporate inclusive coloring books into her lesson plans, The Allstate Foundation fully funded her project so she was able to purchase them.

"I'm a lifelong learner, striving to be my best version of myself and always working to inspire my little learners to do the same," she says. Each week, Ms. Lopez and the students would focus on a page in the book and discuss its message. And she plans to do the same again this school year.

"DonorsChoose has been a gamechanger for my students. Without the support of all the donors that come together on this platform, we wouldn't have a sliver of what I've been able to provide for my students, especially during the pandemic," she says.

"My passion is to continue striving to be excellent, and to continue to find ways to use literature as an anchor, depicting images that reflect my students," she says.

To help teachers like Ms. Lopez drive this important mission forward, donate on DonorsChoose.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

This story was originally published on The Mighty and originally appeared here on 07.21.17


Most people imagine depression equals “really sad," and unless you've experienced depression yourself, you might not know it goes so much deeper than that. Depression expresses itself in many different ways, some more obvious than others. While some people have a hard time getting out of bed, others might get to work just fine — it's different for everyone.

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Photo by Vanessa Garcia from Pexels

A professor's message to students has gone viral.

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:

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