+
More

Tough week, huh? You might have missed these 7 awesome things that happened.

Hey, quick question: How are you doing? Are you hanging in there?

It's been a rough couple of weeks, no doubt about that. You don't need a recap; just flip on the news or check Facebook, and you'll be knocked over by the avalanche of horrifying political developments that have taken place over the past 14 days.

It's a little overwhelming, to be honest. Things have felt hopeless, and even all the good people out there fighting for what's good and right sometimes seem like just a drop in the ocean.


But I'm here to tell you it's not all bad! A lot of it is bad, definitely. But, somewhere scattered underneath all the rubble of alternative facts, Muslim bans, and special operations gone horrendously wrong is evidence that this world we live in is, indeed, worth the fight.

Victories big and small are happening, along with pieces of news that are just a welcome reprieve from the madness.

Here are seven awesome things that happened this week you may not have heard about.

1. An amazing federal judge in L.A. demanded an Iranian man with a valid visa be allowed into the country.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

According to Matt Hamilton of the L.A. Times, Ali Vayeghan had been waiting for years to fly from Tehran to see his son in Los Angeles. He just so happened to book his journey right as Donald Trump's already infamous executive order came down.

Vayeghan was detained when he arrived at LAX and promptly sent back to Iran by way of Dubai.

ACLU lawyers petitioned the courts and won a decision to honor Vayeghan's travel visa, but by then he was back in Dubai. So U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee told authorities to transport him back to the U.S. immediately.

No word yet on whether Vayeghan has been reunited with his son in the U.S., but knowing there are judges out there willing to uphold the Constitution is a victory in its own right.

2. We thought this adorable frog was extinct but recently discovered it was just hiding!

Science and discovery still matter, damnit. Just ask the cave squeaker, a small African frog that hadn't been seen for nearly 50 years.

That is until a team led by Robert Hopkins, an associate researcher with the Natural History Museum in Bulawayo, found a handful of them in Zimbabwe. The frogs had simply changed breeding sites, which made them hard to track down.

Scratching just one species off the extinct list is a major deal, and now we can work on protection and conservation for these little brown hoppers so they can thrive again one day soon.

3. A Texas mayor came out as transgender, and the support was overwhelming.

A transgender mayor of a small, red town in Texas? Sounds like a recipe for disaster, and that's what Jess Herbst expected when she came out this week as transgender.

Much to her surprise, the reaction from her friends, neighbors, and peers couldn't have been more supportive.

One of my Facebook friends challenged people to post a picture from high school and current. So here is mine. 1977-2017, I haven't changed a bit.

Posted by Jess Herbst on Wednesday, January 18, 2017

"I was hoping for tolerance, and what I've gotten is overwhelming support," she said, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Read her brave, and refreshingly honest, open letter to the people of her town on the official New Hope, Texas, website.

4. A woman arrested for firing a warning shot at her abusive husband was finally released from imprisonment.

In 2010, Marissa Alexander's husband threatened to kill her. Protecting herself and her newborn child, she fired a warning shot from a gun she owned and scared him off.

Though the bullet did not hit her husband, Rico Gray, and the fact that Gray had a known history of abusing her, Alexander was convicted of aggravated assault with a lethal weapon. She has been in prison and under house arrest ever since.

Until this week.

Having accepted a shortened sentence in 2015, Alexander's punishment is finally, and fortunately, over. She's now free. And though what happened to her was a travesty, her story is going to fuel the fires of anti-domestic violence workers everywhere for a long time to come.

We have a lot of work left to do.

5. The Boy Scouts are finally allowing transgender boys to join.

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images.

The Boy Scouts have not always been known as the most, er, progressive organization on the block. It took them a pretty long time to get comfortable with the idea of gay troop leaders, all the while doing a pretty poor job of handling accusations of abuse.

But, hey, this week at least, there's some progress.

The Boy Scouts of America finally announced it would honor the gender listed on a child's application instead of the birth certificate. This paves the way for kids who identify as boys to join.

After all, everyone deserves the chance to learn how to tie sweet knots and race wooden cars.

6. Two Republican senators vowed to vote "no" on Trump's pick for secretary of Education.

You may have heard a little about Betsy DeVos, who is currently awaiting confirmation to become secretary of Education. In short, she is immensely unqualified for the job.

Unfortunately, that hasn't stopped some of Trump's other picks from coasting their way into his cabinet.

This time, though, it seems there may be a few Republicans willing to stand up for what's right rather than playing party politics. Both Republican senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said they could not support DeVos in the upcoming vote.

Whether that ultimately affects her path to the job remains to be seen, but it's at least a good sign not everyone in the GOP is willing to let Trump have his way when the stakes are high.

7. Beyoncé and Jay Z are having twins. Twins!

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

OK, this might seem trivial, but it's honestly been a while since a non-Trump story grabbed the country's attention the way Beyoncé's Instagram post announcing her pregnancy did.

We need trivial and giddy news like this to nourish our souls.

Think about it — we used to complain, but don't you kind of miss the days when pictures of cute puppies and all the latest Brangelina rumors ruled the internet? So do I.

Queen Bey has brought us back to that time, if only for a moment.

There's bound to be great news next week, too. You just have to look a little harder for it these days. But I promise you, it's worth it!

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

This company makes it easier than ever to enjoy guilt-free fairly traded coffee

Thanks to Lifeboost, good coffee can be good for everyone.

Unsplash

Lifeboost coffee

Americans love coffee. Like, we really, seriously, truly love it. According to one recent survey, 75 percent of U.S. adults drink coffee at least occasionally, while 53 percent—about 110 million people—drink it every single day. For some, coffee is an essential part of their morning ritual. For others, it’s something they enjoy when they hit the proverbial wall in the late afternoon. But either way, millions of people use coffee to boost energy, focus, and productivity.


Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Buffy Sainte-Marie shares what led to her openly breastfeeding on 'Sesame Street' in 1977

The way she explained to Big Bird what she was doing is still an all-time great example.

"Sesame Street" taught kids about life in addition to letters and numbers.

In 1977, singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie did something revolutionary: She fed her baby on Sesame Street.

The Indigenous Canadian-Ameican singer-songwriter wasn't doing anything millions of other mothers hadn't done—she was simply feeding her baby. But the fact that she was breastfeeding him was significant since breastfeeding in the United States hit an all-time low in 1971 and was just starting to make a comeback. The fact that she did it openly on a children's television program was even more notable, since "What if children see?" has been a key pearl clutch for people who criticize breastfeeding in public.

But the most remarkable thing about the "Sesame Street" segment was the lovely interchange between Big Bird and Sainte-Marie when he asked her what she was doing.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Linda Ronstadt's 1970's ballad is a chart-topping hit once again thanks to 'The Last of Us'

The iconic 70s song "Long, Long Time" was an integral part of an unforgettable episode that fans are calling a masterpiece.

Linda Ronstadt (left), Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett (right)

HBO’s emotional third episode of the zombie series “The Last Of Us” became an instant favorite among fans, thanks in no small part to Linda Ronstadt’s late 1970s ballad, “Long, Long Time.”

Using the song as the episode’s title, “Long, Long Time,” moves away from the show’s main plot to instead focus on a heartbreakingly beautiful love story between Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett), from its endearing start all the way to its bittersweet end.

The song makes its first appearance during the initial stages of Bill and Frank’s romance as they play the tune on the piano, just before they share their first kiss.

We see their entire lives together play out—one of closeness, devotion, and savoring homegrown strawberries—until they meet their end. The song then plays on the radio, bringing the bottle episode to a poignant close.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

34-year-old man is learning to read on TikTok in series of motivational videos

His reading skills have improved so much that he plans to read 100 books this year.

@oliverspeaks1/TikTok

Oliver James is the biggest star on BookTok.

With over 125,000 followers, 34-year-old Oliver James is a star in the BookTok community. And it all started with a very simple goal: Learn to read.

For most kids, school is a place where they can develop a relationship with learning in a safe environment. For James, school was the opposite. Growing up with learning and behavior disabilities subjected him to abusive teaching practices in special education, which, of course, did nothing to help.

"The special education system at the time was more focused on behavioral than educating," he told Good Morning America. "So they spent a lotta time restraining us, a lotta time disciplining us, a lotta times putting us in positions to kinda shape us to just not act out in class."

Keep ReadingShow less
via Pexels

A couple celebrates while packing their home.

One of the topics that we like to highlight on Upworthy is people who are redefining what it means to be in a relationship. Recently, we’ve shared the stories of platonic life partners, moms who work together as part of a “mommune” and a polyamorous family with four equally-committed parents.

A growing number of people are reevaluating traditional relationships and entering lifestyles that work for them instead of trying to fit into preexisting roles. It makes sense because the more lifestyle options that are available, the greater chance we have to be happy.

A recent trend in unconventional relationships is married couples "living apart together," or LATs as they are known among mental health professionals.

Actress Helena Bonham Carter and director Tim Burton, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and producer Brad Falchuk, and photographer Annie Leibovitz and activist Susan Sontag are all high-profile couples who’ve embraced the LAT lifestyle.

Keep ReadingShow less