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."

There have been many iconic dance routines throughout film history, but how many have the honor being called "the greatest" by Fred Astaire himself?

Fayard and Harold Nicholas, known collectively as the Nicholas Brothers, were arguably the best at what they did during their heyday. Their coordinated tap routines are legendary, not only because they were great dancers, but because of their incredible ability to jump into the air and land in the splits. Repeatedly. From impressive heights.

Their most famous routine comes from the movie "Stormy Weather." As Cab Calloway sings "Jumpin' Jive," the Nicholas Brothers make the entire set their dance floor, hopping and tapping from podium to podium amongst the musicians, dancing up and down stairs and across the top of a piano.

But what makes this scene extra impressive is that they performed it without rehearsing it first and it was filmed in one take—no fancy editing room tricks to bring it all together. This fact was confirmed in a conversation with the brothers in a Chicago Tribune article in 1997, when they were both in their 70s:

"Would you believe that was one of the easiest things we ever did?" Harold told the paper.

"Did you know that we never even rehearsed that number?" added Fayard.

"When it came time to do that part, (choreographer) Nick Castle said: 'Just do it. Don`t rehearse it, just do it.' And so we did it—in one little take. And then he said: 'That's it—we can't do it any better than that.'"

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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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