17 things about 2017 that weren't complete and utter garbage.

2017 was rough.

It was the equivalent of getting gum stuck in your hair, then realizing it wasn't gum at all. It was Nazis.

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.


But there were positives too. Seriously.

Stop laughing! I mean it. There were good things about 2017. And I have the facts to back it up. Here are 17 things that made this a pretty awesome year.

1. Mahershala Ali became the first Muslim to win an Oscar in an acting category for his work in "Moonlight."

(OK, OK: Ellen Burstyn fans may try and tell you it was her, since she now practices a combination of religions including Sufi Islam. Perhaps Mahershala Ali is the first solely Muslim actor to win an acting Oscar. But that doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.)

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

2. For 7.6 billion collective minutes, the world came together to celebrate the miracle of life.

April the giraffe's 16-month pregnancy came to a cliffhanging conclusion as the mom-to-be labored over the course of several weeks. The Animal Adventure Park captured more than 232 million live-stream views before the healthy male giraffe baby was born April 15.

3. No white men were nominated for the Album of the Year Grammy. It's the first time that's happened since 1999.

Technically, a few white men could still take home statues as producers if certain artists win. But it's pretty awesome to see people of color and women leading the field for one of music's most significant honors.

Album of the year nominee, Bruno Mars. Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET.

4. Through the Affordable Care Act, people signed up for health insurance from the government marketplace at a record-setting pace.

In November, during the first week of open enrollment, more than 600,000 people signed up, crushing the pace of previous years, despite Trump's efforts to weaken the program.

5. Cities and countries around the world are preparing for a gas-free future.

The Netherlands, France, and India are all in the process of phasing out the sale and use of gas- and diesel-powered cars. Cities like Oxford, Copenhagen, and Barcelona want the job done as early as 2020.

People ride bicycles during a 'car-free' day in Paris. Photo by Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images.

6. The year's most popular YA novel was written by a black woman and inspired by Tupac and Black Lives Matter.

If you, or the teens in your life, haven't read Angie Thomas' "The Hate U Give," you should — especially before the movie comes out.

7. Volunteers planted 66 million trees in India. In one day.

The herculean effort was made possible by more than 1.5 million volunteers who made quick work of the project on July 2, 2017. In addition to an army of awesome volunteers, this company hopes to plant 100,000 trees each day using drones.

8. When natural disasters struck, people rallied together to raise funds and collect resources for people in need.

After the earthquake in Mexico and Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria actors, athletes, inmates, former presidents, kids, and everyone in between came together to help people in harm's way. Bad news can bring out the best in us, and it certainly did this year. (You can still donate, btw.)

Members of the Texas National Guard prepare to distribute water and emergency meals. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

9. Congress — you know, the folks making life a little hard right now? Well, they're part of the most diverse U.S. Congress ever.

19% of the 115th Congress are non-white, and between the House and the Senate, there are 50 black members. It looks like things can only get better, too, as 34% of the new legislators are people of color.

10. That hole in the ozone layer we've been worried about for decades? It's shrinking.

The ozone surrounds the Earth to help filter out some of the sun's ultraviolet radiation. Lessening the use of CFCs and implementing other Earth-saving measures has led to a gaping hole that's 1.3 million square miles smaller than last year. In fact, it's the smallest it's been since 1988. It's still very much there, though, so don't put away the sunscreen just yet.

Photo by Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images.

11. While the reckoning has only just begun, people who harass, abuse, and sexually assault other people are finally getting theirs.

High profile men, including Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., George Takei, Sen. Al Franken, Rep. John Conyers, and more have already faced personal and professional consequences for their actions after brave victims stepped forward and called them out. Let's hope these winds of change only blow stronger in 2018.

12. Germany, Australia, and Austria popped champagne for marriage equality.

German parliament overwhelmingly passed a bill in June and the country's first weddings took place this fall. 61% of voters in Australia voted in favor of marriage equality, paving the way for legislators to legalize marriage equality in the country. And Austria's Supreme Court just paved the way for marriage equality to begin in 2019. That's definitely bubbly-worthy news.

Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images.

13. Children's scouting programs did some pretty amazing stuff. And I'm not even talking about the cookies.

The Girl Scouts introduced a badge for cybersecurity and a pretty amazing guide to helping parents talk to their kids about weight and body image. The Boy Scouts announced that they're welcoming transgender children and girls to their ranks. And this Cub Scout made headlines for calling BS on a state politician. Children are the future — and the future looks pretty freakin' cool.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

14. Transgender lawmakers won big at the state and local level.  

Virginia's Danica Roem and Minneapolis' Phillipe Cunningham and Andrea Jenkins all earned seats on state and municipal councils. Roem even beat out the self-described "chief homophobe." Good riddance to backward, shortsighted people making decisions for all of us.

Andrea Jenkins, center, celebrates her city council win. Image by Carlos Gonzalez/Associated Press.

15. In some of the best news of the year (unless you're vegan ... or a saltine): Cheese may be good for you.

Results from a new study reveal a small portion (about the size of a matchbox) each day may improve heart health. And yet, still no funding for my study  on stuffed crust pizza and its effect on mood.

16. In a true feat of scientific achievement, NASA's Cassini spacecraft pulled a Bruce Willis and dove into Saturn's atmosphere.

For 13 years, Cassini orbited Saturn and took truly incredible, detailed images of the ringed planet and its moons. Where would we be without the hard work of researchers, scientists, and this brave robot's sacrifice?

Photo via NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

17. We were graced with Bodak Yellow.

The world is better, brighter, safer, and happier now that Cardi B's "Bodak Yellow" is in our lives. Frankly, I was thinking of making all 17 items on this list Bodak Yellow. Not into hip-hop? Make it a gospel jam. It even brings perfect strangers together.

2017 was scary, frustrating, and downright troubling. But there's always good stuff too.

When things are at their worst, do your best to seek out and remind yourself of all the ups, bright spots, and big wins going on too. And if you can't find them, at the very least, play some "Bodak Yellow."

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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