The conventions are over, and I'm still worried. I suspect I'm not alone.

Photo via iStock.


I'm a pretty simple guy. My needs are basic. I like walking in the park and taking naps. I like being able to say whatever I want and practice my religion without fear of harassment or prosecution. I appreciate when my black, brown, female, and LGBTQ friends and family members have basic civil rights. I want my country to be safe and respected in the world.

Unfortunately, that's all in jeopardy. Because this guy...

Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images.

...who has a well-documented history of bigotry against Mexicans and Muslims, who wants to transform NATO into a mafia protection racket, who plays footsie with white supremacists, who deploys anti-Semitic dog whistles, who publicly dehumanizes women, who voices hostility toward the First Amendment's protections of freedom of speech and religion, and who calls on a foreign government to hack his opponent's emails, could be our next president.

And the polls have gotten closer. Too close for comfort. Trump could actually win this thing.

But hope springs eternal! Hope never dies!

Hope, believe it or not, floats.

If you're as appalled as I am that Donald (freaking) Trump could be the leader of the free world come November, there are a few things that still make me optimistic that he never, ever will be:

I'm hanging on to these things for dear life. I hope they help.

1. The current polling — which shows Trump pulling into a tie — isn't necessarily how things are going to shake out in November.

Despite Trump's recent gains, as of July 29, FiveThirtyEight's "Polls Plus" forecast, which takes into account current polling and adjusts for historical trends, finds a 60% chance of the former "Apprentice" host going down in November.


Dear God, please be right, Nate Silver. Please be right. Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images.

According to Josh Katz and Kevin Quealy of the New York Times, the period surrounding the party conventions is one of "high polling volatility," and averages taken around this time tend to miss final result by nearly 8 percentage points. Trump, just off his vice presidential rollout and convention, is likely enjoying a similar bump to what both Mitt Romney and John McCain experienced four and eight years ago, respectively.

Still, even a 40% chance of Trump becoming president is way too high...

2. Which is why we should be grateful that Michelle Obama is such a boss that not even Trump will step to her.

You know that scene in a movie where the good guys are getting their asses kicked, and they're all huddled together in a room, and one of them says: "We're outnumbered. We don't have a chance." But then Samuel L. Jackson says, "Yes, we do." And he opens a closet door to reveal a huge, futuristic bazooka as warm, celestial light spills out from behind it?

That's basically what happened when Michelle Obama spoke at the first night of the 2016 DNC.

Image via CNN/YouTube.

You've already seen the highlights. You know how good she was.

She was so good that Trump, not one to shrink from a third-grade Twitter insult — who, indeed, tweeted attacks against nearly every other speaker on the stage that night — didn't dare deploy a comeback against the first lady.

For the next three and a half months, we have that bazooka in our arsenal.

I feel pretty good about that.

3. Karla Ortiz bravely took the stage at the DNC with her undocumented mother and challenged us all to do something about immigration reform.

What was the bravest thing you did recently? For me, it was yesterday when the deli I stopped at for lunch was out of regular Diet Coke, so I drank the caffeine-free kind instead.

For Karla Ortiz, an 11-year-old from Florida who likes doing science experiments and searching for rare rocks, it was risking her family's safety and security to call out Donald Trump's racist immigration policy in front of millions of people.

Karla Ortiz and her mother. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

"I don't feel brave every day. On most days, I'm scared," Ortiz said, proudly making everyone in the audience feel ashamed for complaining about the lack of detachable hangers in their hotel rooms just a few hours earlier.

"I'm scared that, at any moment, my mom and my dad will be forced to leave. And I wonder, 'What if I come home and find it empty?'" she said, ironically revealing that her guts are made of goddamn iron.

She said these things on TV, in full view of thousands of political foes of immigration reform, violent racists, and immigration authorities. The risk she took is scarily real, especially if Trump becomes president.

But she did it anyway. Because it's just that important.

If she can do that, the least we can do is tell our bosses we need to take a long lunch on Nov. 8 to go vote him the hell out of all our lives forever.

4. Non-Democrat Michael Bloomberg made the clarifying, simple, devastating case against Trump to independent voters.

Bloomberg is not a typical person. Like Trump, he's a billionaire. Unlike Trump, he definitely, actually is a billionaire.

He's also no one's idea of a left-wing fire-breather. He was a Republican mayor of New York City and is now a zealous independent.

In his speech at the 2016 DNC, he criticized both parties. But ultimately, he really stuck it to Trump, delivering, perhaps, the best one-liner of the week:

Ultimately, to defeat Trump, there just needs to be a constituency for sanity and competence. That's a low bar.

And I believe we can leap it with room to spare.

5. Ted Cruz pointedly refused to endorse Trump at his own convention, an inspiring move in its own right.

If there's one politician who I hope stays nearly as far away from the White House as Donald Trump, it's Ted Cruz. Pick 10 issues at random and Ted Cruz and I probably disagree on 11 of them. I think his program for America would make pretty much everything worse. Profoundly worse.

Thing is, Ted Cruz, for all his many faults, actually respects the Constitution. And in his speech at the RNC, Cruz refused, over a chorus of jeers, to endorse Trump.

"Vote your conscience," he said.

Yay? Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Whether it was revenge for Trump spending the last days of the GOP primary attacking Cruz's wife's mental health and suggesting with absolutely no evidence that Cruz's father might have helped assassinate John F. Kennedy, or simply an attempt to stand up for Cruz's (admittedly pretty messed-up) principles, it was invigorating and, yes, even inspiring.

Self-serving or not, if someone I disagree so intensely and so completely with can refuse to get behind Trump, it gives me hope that thousands (millions?) more like him are out there.

6. The stage at the DNC looked like the real America, not the "real America."

For years, politicians have sold us a story of a "real America." There are good things about this America — small businesses have a steady stream of customers there, the bunting is festive, and the desserts are really, ridiculously sweet. But ultimately, it seems to be an America that's pretty exclusively white, pretty exclusively Christian, and pretty exclusively rural — and occasionally suburban.

At the DNC, we saw a different — but just as real — America. That America includes:

Dozens of black, Latino, LGBTQ, and female officeholders from big cities and small towns across the country.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

A Muslim-American father, who spoke eloquently and emotionally about the death of his U.S. soldier son — and defended the Constitution against Trump's call to place an immigration ban on an entire religion.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

The first out trans woman to speak at a party convention.

Photo by Saul Loeb/Getty Images.

And, of course, the first woman ever nominated to run on a major party ticket for president, which — whether or not you agree with her politics or like her as a person — is still a pretty huge deal.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

That America isn't a story. It's real.

If it can hang together, then this thing should be in the bag.

7. Even though democracy can be scary — OK, terrifying — at times, it's still pretty great.

As bad as things seem, as horrifyingly close Donald Trump might be to the White House, the fact that we get to watch passionate people spend two weeks in July arguing via speeches, original songs, and funny hats about who would be a better president — and then actually getting to choose which one we like best — is pretty inspiring.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

Just ask this guy:

Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

...who on the third night of the DNC showed up to deliver a rousing defense of democracy.

He shouldn't even have to say it, but he's right.

You can disagree with this person's thoughts on the Second Amendment:

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Or with these people's feelings about Citizens United:

Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images.

But that doesn't matter even a little bit if you don't vote.

We don't have to sit around biting our nails. We don't have to worry about others making decisions about who's going to lead us without our consent. We don't have a king or a generalissimo or whatever. This is America, dammit.

And in America, we still have the right to choose.

Photo by Michael Owen Baker/Getty Images.

This November, let's make sure we use it to fire Donald Trump.

Click here to register to vote.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

Ronny Tertnes' "liquid sculptures" are otherworldly.

Human beings have sculpted artwork out of all kinds of materials throughout history, from clay to concrete to bronze. Some sculpt with water in the form of ice, but what if you could create sculptures with small drops of liquid?

Norwegian artist Ronny Tertnes does just that. His "liquid sculptures" look like something from another planet or another dimension, while at the same time are entirely recognizable as water droplets.

I mean, check this out:


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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
True

The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

The scarf, a simple accessory that some find an essential fashion piece. Both fashionable and function with the warmth they provide, scarves can be a valuable gift for any occasion or person. Here, we've selected our best selling scarves from our store. At Upworthy Market, when you purchase a product, you directly support the artisans who craft their own products, so with every purchase, you're doing good. These scarves are not only unique, but they are hand-made by local artisans and all under $30.

1. Fair Trade Woven Dark Gray Alpaca Blend Scarf

Celinda Jaco selects a cozy blend of Andean alpaca for this handsome men's scarf. Classic in style, it features fine stripes of white and black woven through the dark grey textile. Hand-tied fringe completes a distinguished design.

cdn11.bigcommerce.com

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Your weekly roundup of internet sunshine.

Hey everyone! Hope you're staying safe and healthy, and if you're not, at least you know you're not alone. I mean, omicron? Phew. Pandemics certainly know how to keep us on our toes.

If you need a respite or distraction from all that, we've got you covered. If immersing yourself in cute animal videos and feel-good stories of human awesomeness is wrong, who wants to be right? Nobody, that's who.

We all need a break from the less pleasant parts of life, and cheering ourselves up with simple, happy things is a tried and true way to push those endorphins and lift our mood for a bit.

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