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What a therapist wants you to know about repairing America after this election.

She compares the election to a dysfunctional family system. It’s a perfect metaphor.

What a therapist wants you to know about repairing America after this election.

I'm a therapist. I'm also an adult survivor of a childhood trapped with a sociopathic, narcissistic, abusive, misogynistic white male bully of a father who disowned me at age 11.

He was a big source of trauma for me growing up until pretty recently.

And for 25 years, I didn't talk about this — no one in my family really did. No one really had the language, power, or modeling to really even know it wasn't OK, to stand up to him, to shine a light on how incredibly abusive and dysfunctional it was for him to do, say, and act in the ways he did. At many points during my childhood, I looked around and thought,, "Am I the crazy one for thinking this isn't right but no one else is saying anything?!"


Then I grew up. And I literally left my family system.

I found therapy. I cultivated new and reparative and healthy relationships where I learned what functional actually looked like. I learned that while certain kinds of relationships can wound and traumatize, other kinds of relationships can heal. In my bones, I believe it's always possible to heal and overcome until the day we take our last breath — because I did.

I want to share this with you today in case you're feeling scared, shocked, and even a little traumatized.

I wanted to share this because if you're like me, following this election, you're probably looking around and thinking "How could something this crazy have happened?"

As a therapist, I want you to know that your feelings and your responses are totally normal and natural. They are appropriate responses to witnessing that something not OK happened. In fact, I think it's a really good thing that so many of us are aghast and shocked.

It's not OK that a man whose platform has been built and driven on fear, misogyny, xenophobia, racism, sexism, and downright aggressive and abusive behavior is winning the title of the highest office in the land.

And it's scarier still to see so many people support him and his way of being in the world. It's scary because we know it's not healthy. We know there's something better and healthier out there.

Folks, if you're feeling angry, scared, and sad, that makes sense. In a way, we're all together now in a dysfunctional family system that we didn't really want to be a part of anyway.

But I will say this: Hope isn't lost, and we can see it.

We can see that it’s not lost because there are so many of us saying, "No, this isn't OK to act this way. I don't agree with this things you are saying and doing."

Image via iStock.

And, now, we are not disempowered young children who, in a painful family system, truly have no power. We have each other (amiright, Pantsuit Nation?).

Much like in the healing of a dysfunctional and abusive family system, our work now isn't to get angry and attack and blame and shame the other members of our dysfunctional family system (as tempting as that is).

Our work now is hard, but important. It is to keep saying, "No, this isn't OK."

It is to model something different — what it is and means to be in a healthy, functional relationship.

Our work, together, is to be kind, accepting, self-responsible, compassionate, curious, respectful, honest individuals of integrity. To keep speaking up and showing up and insisting on something healthier at all levels of our lives until abusive, dysfunctional behavior — whether on the playground blacktop or on the presidential stage — is no longer implicitly condoned and explicitly championed but is instead seen clearly for what it is and rejected universally.

The more we do this, the more we can hopefully shine a light for those who still think that it's OK for Trump (or for anyone else) to be a bully, to be abusive, to not be accountable for their behavior, the greater collective healing opportunity we as a nation have to make sure elections like this one never happen again.

When they go low, we go high.

Let's use this as an opportunity to go higher still. Let's commit to doing the deep, systemic, and critical educational and emotional work that the results of this country's election have proven we so desperately need coast to coast.

Let's start with healing the abusive and dysfunctional parts in ourselves, in our own minds and hearts. That is something we can do today. Let's do it in our families, in our workplaces, in our immediate communities. Let's do it nationally, reaching over the blue and red divides, striving toward something better in our humanity.

Changing a dysfunctional and abusive family system takes time, but it is possible.

So this week, please take very good care of yourself. Comfort yourself in any way you can and take hope in the fact that we have each other to lean on, we're not alone in this, and that today, tomorrow, and all the days after will be the start of many opportunities for profound healing and transformational work.

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This year more than ever, many families are anticipating an empty dinner table. Shawn Kaplan lived this experience when his father passed away, leaving his mother who struggled to provide food for her two children. Shawn is now a dedicated volunteer and donor with Second Harvest Food Bank in Middle Tennessee and encourages everyone to give back this holiday season with Amazon.

Watch the full story:

Over one million people in Tennessee are at risk of hunger every day. And since the outbreak of COVID-19, Second Harvest has seen a 50% increase in need for their services. That's why Amazon is Delivering Smiles and giving back this holiday season by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Second Harvest to feed those hit the hardest this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local food bank or charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your selected charity.

There's a weird thing that happens when we talk about people dying, no matter what the cause. The 2,977 souls who lost their lives in the 9/11 attack felt overwhelming. The dozens of children who are killed in school shootings are mourned across the country each time one happens. The four Americans who perished in Benghazi prompted months of investigations and emotional video montages at national political conventions.

But as the numbers of deaths we talk about get bigger, our sensitivity to them grows smaller. A singular story of loss often evokes more emotion than hearing that 10,000 or 100,000 people have died. Hearing a story of one individual feels personal and intimate, but if you try to listen to a thousand stories at once, it all blends together into white noise. It's just how our minds work. We simply can't hold that many individual stories—and the emotion that goes along with them—all at once.

But there are some ways we can help our brains out. An anonymous visual effects artist has created a visualization that can better help us see the massive number of Americans who have been lost to the coronavirus pandemic. The number alone is staggering, and seeing all of the individual lives at once is overwhelming.

In this video, each marble represents one American who has died of COVID-19, and each second represents six days. At the top, you can see the calendar fill in as time goes by. Unlike just seeing a grid of dots representing the visual, there's something about the movement and accumulation of the marbles that makes it easier to see the scope of the lives impacted.

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Courtesy of Macy's

Brantley and his snowman

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"Would you like to build a snowman?" If you asked five-year-old Brantley from Texas this question, the answer would be a resounding "Yes!" While it may sound like a simple dream, since Texas doesn't usually see much snow, it seemed like a lofty one for him, even more so because Brantley has a congenital heart disease.

On Dec. 11, 2019, however, the real Macy's Santa and his two elves teamed up with Make-A-Wish to surprise Brantley and his family on his way to Colorado where there was plenty of snow for him to build his very own snowman, fulfilling his wish as part of the Macy's Believe campaign. After a joy-filled plane ride where every passenger got gift bags from Macy's, the family arrived in Breckenridge, Colorado where Santa and his elves helped Brantley build a snowman.

Brantley, Brantley's mom, and Santa marveling at their snowmanAll photos courtesy of Macy's

Brantley, who according to his mom had never actually seen snow, was blown away by the experience.

"Well, I had to build a snowman because snowmen are my favorite," Brantley said in an interview with Summit Daily. "All of it was my favorite part."

This is just one example of the more than 330,000 wishes the nonprofit Make-A-Wish have fulfilled to bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses since its founding 40 years ago. Even though many of the children that Make-A-Wish grants wishes for manage or overcome their illnesses, they often face months, if not years of doctor's visits, hospital stays and uncomfortable treatments. The nonprofit helps these children and their families replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope.

It's hardly an outlandish notion — research shows that a wish come true can help increase these children's resiliency and improve their quality of life. Brantley is a prime example.

"This couldn't have come at a better time because we see all the hardships that we went through last year," Brantley's mom Brandi told Summit Daily.

Brantley playing with snowballs

Now more than ever, kids with critical illnesses need hope. Since they're particularly vulnerable to disease, they and their families have had to isolate even more during the pandemic and avoid the people they love most and many of the activities that recharge them. That's why Make-A-Wish is doing everything it can to fulfill wishes in spite of the unprecedented obstacles.

That's where you come in. Macy's has raised over $132 million for Make-A-Wish, and helped grant more than 15,500 wishes since their partnership began in 2003, but they couldn't have done that without the support of everyday people. The crux of that support comes from Macy's Believe Campaign — the longstanding holiday fundraising effort where for every letter to Santa that's written online at Macys.com or dropped off safely at the red Believe mailbox at their stores, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. New this year, National Believe Day will be expanded to National Believe Week and will provide customers the opportunity to double their donations ($2 per letter, up to an additional $1 million) for a full week from Sunday, Nov. 29 through Saturday, Dec. 5.

There are more ways to support Make-A-Wish besides letter-writing too. If you purchase a $4 Believe bracelet, $2 of each bracelet will be donated to Make-A-Wish through Dec. 31. And for families who are all about the holiday PJs, on Giving Tuesday (Dec. 1), 20 percent of the purchase price of select family pajamas will benefit Make-A-Wish.

Elizabeth living out her wish of being a fashion designer

Additionally, this year's campaign features 6-year-old Elizabeth, a Make-A-Wish child diagnosed with leukemia, whose wish to design a dress recently came true. Thanks to the style experts at Macy's Fashion Office and I.N.C. International Concepts, only at Macy's, Elizabeth had the opportunity to design a colorful floral maxi dress. Elizabeth's exclusive design is now available online at Macys.com and in select Macy's stores. In the spirit of giving back this holiday season, 20 percent of the purchase price of Elizabeth's dress (through Dec. 31) will benefit Make-A-Wish.You can also donate directly to Make-A-Wish via Macy's website.

This holiday season may be a tough one this year, but you can bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses by delivering hope for their wishes to come true.

via Twins Trust / Twitter

Twins born with separate fathers are rare in the human population. Although there isn't much known about heteropaternal superfecundation — as it's known in the scientific community — a study published in The Guardian, says about one in every 400 sets of fraternal twins has different fathers.

Simon and Graeme Berney-Edwards, a gay married couple, from London, England both wanted to be the biological father of their first child.

"We couldn't decide on who would be the biological father," Simon told The Daily Mail. "Graeme said it should be me, but I said that he had just as much right as I did."

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Usually when we share a story of a couple having been married for nearly five decades, it's a sweet story of lasting love. Usually when we share a story of a long-time married couple dying within minutes of each other, it's a touching story of not wanting to part from one another at the end of their lives.

The story of Patricia and Leslie "LD" McWaters dying together might have both of those elements, but it is also tragic because they died of a preventable disease in a pandemic that hasn't been handled well. The Michigan couple, who had been married for 47 years, both died of COVID-19 complications on November 24th. Since they died less than a minute apart, their deaths were recorded with the exact same time—4:23pm.

Patricia, who was 78 at her passing, had made her career as a nurse. LD, who would have turned 76 next month, had been a truck driver. Patricia was "no nonsense" while LD was "fun-loving," and the couple did almost everything together, according to their joint obituary.

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