89 things to hold onto after the election (16 of which actually matter for democracy).

After this election, there is fear, anxiety, and disappointment felt all across our country. So here's a list of things — from silly to serious to sacred — that are all sources of positivity the American government can't take away.

1. The freedom to seek and acquire information.

2. Running barefoot through grass.

3. Parallel parking on the first try.


4. Knowing that otters hold hands when they fall asleep so they don’t float away from each other.

5. Faith in the goodness of other people.

6. Getting the triple-word and triple-letter score.

7. The freedom to practice your religion.

8. When you trip and think “no one saw that,” but then you make eye contact and laugh with the one stranger who did, in fact, see that.

9. Global inspiration Malala Yousafzai.

10. Dogs.

11. Naps. Most especially naps on a bed where the sun is shining through the window and warming everything up.

12. Really fast, reliable Wi-Fi.

13. Libraries.

14. Knowing people are out there who really do dedicate their whole lives and careers to helping people.

15. Being buried under lots of blankets with the window open.

16. Bonfires, especially with s’mores and friends and maybe a crunchy leaf pile or two.

17. The feeling you get when you pull on your jeans and they fit exactly right.

18. The right to assemble.

Photo courtesy of Rachel Nass.

19. That “yes!” feeling when you get to your subway platform and the train is waiting for you.

20. When a cat does that mushing-its-head-onto-yours thing.

21. The first day of fall jacket weather.

22. The right to teach others about what’s important to you.

23. When your kids surprise you with something nice all by themselves.

24. Going to a movie alone. (And getting the big popcorn.)

25. Surprise military homecoming videos, especially ones involving dogs.

26. Baking your own bread and smelling it all through the house.

27. Making a baby laugh.

28. Mac ‘n‘ cheese.

Just stare at the photo and breathe. Image via iStock.

29. The first time you successfully communicate with a native speaker of a language you’ve been trying really hard to learn.

30. Laughing so hard that you’re out of breath.

31. Popping bubble wrap.

32. Harry Potter.

33. When someone asks if you and your best friend are brothers/sisters because the two of you are so in sync.

34. Watching a child learn to play an instrument.

35. Seeing a really cool animal in the wild.

36. The ability of every law-abiding American citizen to run for public office and effect change.

37. Your first windows-down car ride of the season after a long, hard winter.

38. When you’re first dating and your hand brushes against theirs and you feel like your heart might explode.

39. The Budweiser Clydesdales.

Sure, the middle of the Super Bowl seems like a great time for a nice cry. GIF via Budweiser.

40. A dollar slice and an ice-cold soda.

41. The hopeful feeling of meeting a really self-assured young girl.

42. Making art, even when you’re not very good at it.

43. The satisfaction that all people get when things fit perfectly into other things.

44. Rainbows. (Related: double rainbows.)

45. The joy in someone you love’s voice when they call to let you know they finally achieved something they’ve been working toward for a really long time.

46. When you’re reading a book and you find the previous reader’s notes in the margins.

47. Seeing the first sprouts of something you planted and watered and nurtured starting to grow.

48. When you get that first text and realize that they might just be crushin’ on you back.

49. Falling asleep in a freshly made bed.

50. The right to learn.

51. National treasure Lin-Manuel Miranda.

52. New school supplies.

53. This GIF:

Brushy, brushy!

54. The smell of new books. And old books. Let's just say books.

55. Chocolate chip cookies, especially warm ones that fall apart when you eat them.

56. Diving for pennies in a pool.

57. Sitting quietly in a room with all the people you love, all doing your own thing, existing together.

58. Hot coffee.

59. Falling in love.

60. Finding money in your pocket.

61. Catching a whiff of something that brings back a memory you’d forgotten.

62. Being a little bit drunk in the girls’ bathroom and making friends with really nice strangers.

63. Running into your childhood teacher after you’re all grown up.

64. Jewel of our nation Michelle Obama.

She isn't actually going to leave the country, guys. Image via Lawrence Jackson/The White House.

65. The ability to be silly, even when things are looking bleak.

66. When you get your liquid eyeliner cat-eye perfect on the first try.

67. The ability to form and participate in supportive communities.

68. When a stand-up comedian perfectly explains the thought you’ve had rattling around in your head for years.

69. When you get a haircut and they massage your head a little bit while they wash your hair.

70. Tom Hanks in "Big." Also, Tom Hanks in "Toy Story." Actually, just Tom Hanks.

71. The right to vote in elections.

72. Weirdly inspirational commercials that make you cry.

73. Encouraging notes from strangers in books or in happy graffiti.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

74. The right to organize and to support organizations like Black Lives Matter, Planned Parenthood, or the ACLU.

75. Cuddling up inside while it thunderstorms outside your window.

76. A really well-made gin and tonic.

77. Jon Stewart, Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, and John Oliver.

78. The rush of sneaky enthusiasm you have for winning a board game.

79. The right to free speech.

80. Girl Scout cookie season.

81. When the perfect bop-along song comes on in the grocery store and you’re in the mood to dance down the freezer aisle.

82. The ability to laugh in the face of adversity.

"I would say laughter is the best medicine. But it's more than that. It's an entire regime of antibiotics and steroids." — Stephen Colbert

83. The kindness of strangers.

84. Giving the perfect Christmas gift.

85. Grandmas on Facebook.

86. Nailing a song when you sing karaoke.

87. The feeling of accomplishment that comes from doing something difficult.

88. When you start crying a little, so then your friend starts crying, and then you laugh because you feel silly for crying, so your friend starts laughing, and you both end up cracking up and covered in tears.

89. Hope for a better world tomorrow.

Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
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In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

"Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

"Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

"Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

Amita Swadhin

"Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

"Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

"My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

"I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

"I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

"These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

"Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

"This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

"I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love 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!

This article originally appeared on 06.28.21


After Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed Black man, was pursued and shot by three white residents while jogging through a Georgia suburb, Ellen and Patrick Miller* of San Diego hung a Black Lives Matter flag in front of their house. It was a small gesture, but something tangible they could do.

Like many people, they wanted to both support the BLM movement and bring awareness about racism to members of their community. Despite residing in a part of the county notoriously rumored to be marred by white supremacists and their beliefs, their neighbors didn't say much about it—at first.

Recently, though, during a short window when both Ellen and Patrick were out of the house, someone sliced the flag in two and left the remains in their yard.

via Paula Fitzgibbons

They were upset, but not surprised.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."