10 things to be happy and positive about – March 2019

Well here we are folks, the third month in. I won’t lie, this one has been a little harder to write, partly for personal reasons; taking time to sort my own ‘stuff’ out has meant being distracted away from writing. However, has anyone else noticed how depressing the news has been this month? Whilst it is incredibly important that media share these stories and you should take the time to read them too, my aim is to also share ten pieces of good news from this month to add a little light into your day. It was a battle but I did manage to find ten gems, so without further ado, here are ten things to be happy and positive about for March 2019.

  1. A HEARTWARMING STORY: When Joe Cuba, a World War Two veteran was about to turn 100, he had a special request; for 100 birthday cards. “It all started Feb. 21 when the Brookdale Midwestern Retirement Community, where Cuba is a resident, posted a sweet photo of him asking for 100 cards to mark his 100th birthday March 2.” (ABC News, 2nd March 2019) Well that photo and request went viral and to Joe’s surprise, he didn’t just receive 100 birthday cards he received thousands, many also including gifts, from across the globe. “There’s so many wonderful people that think about me,” Cuba told “Good Morning America.” “I really enjoyed it.” (ABC News, 2nd March 2019) To see more of what Joe got up to for his 100th birthday and all the adventures he’s had since (now that he’s a viral internet sensation) go to the Brookdale Midwestern facebook page.
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    Joe with his original request. Photo courtesy of Brookdale Midwestern facebook page

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    Joe some of his cards and gifts from around the world. Photo courtesy of Brookdale Midwestern facebook page
  2. ENVIRONMENT: A really cool internet trend that I became aware of this month, is #trashtag. It plays on the word Hashtag and the idea is that people will clear an area of litter and take before and after photos (including how many bin bags it took to get rid of it all) and share it online. It might seem obvious that people should be clearing their litter anyway, but it’s becoming more and more common to see beaches, fields and other large open areas bombarded with people’s litter that they have left behind (or washed up in the case of many beaches). The fact that this is encouraging people to go the extra mile and clean up litter is a great thing and some of the photos are incredible. Read more about it on the Global Citizens’ website.

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    One of the most popular photos being shared as part of the #trashtag challenge. Photo by Byron Román
  3. INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY AND THE ARTS: The 8th of this month was International women’s day and many women, men and children took to the streets across the world to raise awareness for women’s rights and for equality. However one quite cool story I wanted to share in relation to the arts was that the British soap Emmerdale decided to air an ‘all female’ episode. Written, directed and produced by women and with an almost entirely female cast, this episode is said to be the first soap to do so. The producer Kate Brooks said of the episode;
    “Our international women’s day episode is not only a celebration of women in the broadest sense of the word, but also a showcase for the female talent we have in the television industry. We wanted the episode to be character driven and story led, exploring all aspects of what it’s like to be a women in 2019.” (ITV Press Centre, 8th March 2019) Of course there were lots of opinions on this with many people up in arms about it and taking to Twitter to air their frustrated opinions. Even the ‘Good Morning Britain’ presenter Piers Morgan had something to say on the matter (I know, who’d have thought he’d have something to say?!), but I just think it was a really awesome way to portray women’s daily lives on screen, showing their hardships, friendships and celebrations. The episode also highlighted the talents and abilities of the female cast and crew and therefore was a great way  tribute to women in the arts. To meet some of the women that made the episode possible click here.

    Emmerdale
    Screenshot from the Emmerdale Facebook page
  4. CLIMATE CHANGE: Greta Thunberg, the sixteen year old that has become an internet sensation and the founder of the youth strike for climate change has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize this month. Thunberg, from Sweden, first started protesting by skipping school from August 20th until September 9th 2018 when the Swedish General Election was held, in order to raise awareness of Climate Change after several heat waves and wildfires in Sweden. After this she began striking every Friday and has since then started the ‘Youth Strike for Climate Change’ in which children across the globe have skipped school on Fridays in order to protest to their governments and to raise awareness of climate change. She has also made public speeches at several conferences and additionally at TedX Stockholm. Thunberg also highlighted how many delegates also traveled to Davos in Switzerland for the World Economic Forum via private jets, ironic considering they were there to discuss climate change. If Greta Thunberg does win the prize she will be the youngest person to do so as Malala Yousafzai, the current youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize was seventeen when she won.

    Greta Thunberg holding her sign that reads: ‘School strike for the climate’. Photo from The Guardian (14th March 2018)
  5. HEALTH AND GOOD DEEDS: A really wonderful good deed I read about in March was the story of the people who queued to get tested to see if they could donate stem cells to a five year old who has leukemia. 4,855 queued in the rain for several hours in Worcester in order to try and help save the life of Oscar Saxelby-Lee. With the possibility of having just three months to find a match, Oscar’s parents launched an appeal. DKMS, the company that will test the swabs, said that the previous greatest number of people tested in a single event was 2,200, meaning this event gained double the amount. (Daily Mail, 4th March 2019) According to the Worcester News in addition to this; “another 1,000 plus registered at the Guildhall in Worcester and hundreds signed up at another event was at the University of Worcester.” (Worcester News, 30th March 2019) Due to the number of people who signed up to get tested it was revealed in an article for the Worcester News on the 30th of March that a match had been found and Oscar was due for a transplant soon.

    Pitmaston Primary School became a hub of activity as people queued to check if they were a stem cell match for Oscar. Photo from the Worcester News, 3rd March 2019.
  6. RECOMMENDATION: This month I discovered the ‘Positively Present‘ Facebook page and then the Blog of the same name. Run by Dani DiPirro, who writes articles for her blog and she also designs visually stunning graphics, not only to go alongside, but additionally as standalone prints to keep the mind feeling positive. In addition to this, she has now also written several books on positive thinking, self-love and finding yourself. I read several of her posts including a personal favourite ‘On toxic positivity’ which discusses the impact of Instagram and being positive online. Just looking through her designs and reading her posts, she oozes positivity and aims to help others too and I really recommend looking though her sites and at her work if you need to feel a little more uplifted.

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    One of Dani DiPirro’s gorgeous designs. This one goes alongside her post: “New Year, Same You?: In Praise of Positive Choices on Positively Present.
  7. POLITICS: This month Slovakia elected its first female president. “Zuzana Čaputová, a 45-year-old lawyer and anti-corruption campaigner, won 58.4% of the votes in Saturday’s poll and will take office in June.” (The Guardian, 31st March 2019) Not only is it a great step towards women’s equality and definitely is something to be happy about, it seems that Čaputová will be a positive leader for the country. She promotes humanism, solidarity and truth and said her victory showed “you can win without attacking your opponents”, after fighting a positive campaign based on progressive values and political reform, and providing a rare moment of hope for liberal politics in central Europe.” (The  Guardian, 31st March 2019) Whilst the BBC described her as one “who has almost no political experience” (BBC, 31st March 2019) in the opening lines of their report, Čaputová is a lawyer, an anti-corruption campaigner and has has liberal views on LGBT and abortion rights.

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    The new president “Zuzana Čaputová. Photo taken from (The Guardian, 31st March 2019). Photograph: Martin Divíšek/EPA
  8. INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN: One of the world’s most distinguished awards for mathematics is being awarded to a woman for the first time this year. The Abel Prize, named after the 19th-century Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel, goes to Karen Keskulla Uhlenbeck, a professor at the University of Texas. According to The Guardian; ‘The jury cited Keskulla Uhlenbeck’s “fundamental work in geometric analysis and gauge theory which has dramatically changed the mathematical landscape”. It also praised her as “a strong advocate for gender equality in science and mathematics”.’ (Quoted in The Guardian, 19th March 2019)

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    Karen Keskulla Uhlenbeck; the most recent winner of The Abel Prize. Photo taken from The Guardian, 19th March 2019. Photograph: Andrea Kane/AFP/Getty Images
  9. EDUCATION: I think all great teachers deserve medals and awards. They are the everyday heroes that educate us to become who we will be in our futures. However, someone particularly deserving is Peter Tabichi. He is a Math and Science teacher in rural Kenya who gave away eighty percent of his salary to help the poor. “He teaches at a rural Kenyan school in Pwani Village, with only one computer, poor internet and a student-teacher ratio of 58:1. Nearly all his students are from poor families, and almost a third of them are orphans or have only one parent.” (CNN, 25th March 2019) He uses internet cafes to find resources which he then brings back to his classroom and has additionally lead the school’s mathematical science team who will “compete the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair this year in Arizona. His students also won an award from the Royal Society of Chemistry after using local plant life to generate electricity.” CNN, 25th March 2019 For all his efforts, the money he has donated to his community and his incredible work as a teacher, he was awarded the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize this month for which the prize is $1 Million.

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    Photo taken from CNN, 25th March 2019. Photograph: Jon Gambrell/AP
  10. GOOD NEWS: Everyone loves a story about dogs right? Well this one really put a smile on my face. At the New York Half Marathon this month, history was made by Thomas Panek and his guide dogs Wesley, Waffle and Gus. “Panek, the president and CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, was the first blind runner to complete the half marathon with guide dogs. His trio of Labrador Retrievers — who took turns pacing him along the 13.1 mile course — were the first four-legged athletes in the race.” (CNN, 18th March 2019) This is such a joyous story and especially when you see the pictures of the guide dogs, each wearing their guiding vest but also special shoes; they fit right in with all the other runners! Panek completed the run in two hours and twenty one minutes. “Gus, Panek’s longtime guide dog, was chosen to run the final 3.1 miles and retire at the finish line in Central Park.”  (CNN, 18th March 2019)

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    (L-R) Thomas Panek, Waffle, Westley and Gus with their medals. Photo taken from BBC, 18 March 2019. Getty Images.

 

Alongside the list here are a few of the things that are injecting some happiness and positivity in my life right now in case you need a little extra in your life too:

 

Something to watch: This month I started re-watching all the Harry Potter films again. I forgot how good they all were!

Something to listen to: I am really getting into podcasts at the moment, there are tons on Spotify, but you can also find them on Acast, Itunes and many other podcast providers. I will do a recommendations list soon, but I am really enjoying David Tennant’s ‘In Conversation’ series right now.

Something to read: Recently I heard about ‘The Happy News’ newspaper. It is trying to source the happier news happening in our world and publish it as a paper four times a year. It is full of colour and cute and quirky graphics. Find out more by going to their website and social media pages.

Somewhere to go when you’re feeling a little low: I started a new exercise class in the town in Switzerland that I live in. It does various classes but I started Yoga and Bootcamp and really enjoyed it. The Bootcamp class was also a good way to meet new people with everyone being able to laugh at themselves when an exercise got difficult! If you’re feeling a little low, have a look to see if there is anything like that in your area.

 

I hope this month’s post to keep you feeling happy.

Three months in and still going strong!

 

See you next time.

 

**Credit for the header photo goes to via freestocks.org Unsplash

 

**Please note: Every effort has been made to provide the right and appropriate links to all sites mentioned or used for this post and that any quote used from an additional sourced has been referenced appropriately with a clickable link provided. I will be happy to correct any link or reference that may be incorrect or faulty and add in or remove any references or links, should it be required or at the request of the source.

 

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