JoyBinge Podcast Ep. 1: Good Things DO Happen!
Hi and welcome to JoyBinge, a podcast where we re-learn that good things are happening in the world and celebrate those good things because we are tired of only hearing about the bad crap. My name is Kimmy Mauldin and I am not a journalist or a professional of any sort in the news industry. I just need happy news and want to share what I find. The articles I am sharing today come from earlier this summer because I wanted to show that some good things did happen amongst all the madness. Let’s binge on some joy!
First we have an article that I wish were true all over the world. Now I couldn’t find the journalist’s name who wrote this article for the Daily News for Turkey also called, get ready for a heavy butcher of this name, Hurriyet. Turkey has abolished all extra fees that were charged in treatment, surgery, and medication of cancer. Now I know they’ve run into some serious financial troubles since this article was posted on July 5th but I really hope this survives the economic downturn. The article states that cancer is currently estimated to be around 20% of why people die in Turkey. UGH. According to this article, Turkey ranks 6th in Europe for amount of money allocated to cancer treatment. They follow the UK, Italy, Germany, France and Spain. Way to go Turkey! Hope you can keep this up and that other countries figure out a way to do something like this!
If you ever need to find loads of great stories, The Good News Network is the place to go! I am trying to not use them as my sole source of great news to report to you but it is difficult to not do that. They are great! Now, the first article from the GNN that I get to bring to you: there is an entire village in Bali called Bengkala that learned sign language oso they can communicate with the 40 deaf villagers that live there. WHAT? A WHOLE village of 3,000 people not only learned sign language but CAME UP WITH THEIR OWN SIGN LANGUAGE to use for their residents. It’s called Kata Kolok. This is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in awhile. The article has a really cool video by Great Big Story that interviews some people who live in Bengkala and is definitely worth a watch. Apparently this village has a high rate of deafness due to a recessive gene that has been passed down for 7 generations. Instead of viewing this as a negative, the community embraced it as a part of life and found a wonderful solution to include everyone in every day activity. Shall we take a page out of their book and look for ways to include others more in our lives? I think so!
Living in a community is one of the best ways to learn about others who are different from you and learn some cool stuff. Samira Sadeque wrote an article for NBC News about a New York nonprofit, the Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committee, that organized Ramadan Iftar meals at synagogues and Jewish households to bring Jewish and Muslim community members together. The two groups gathered together to learn about each others’ religions. In a tough political and religious climate that we live in now, this kind of thing is incredibly important. One of the orthodox Jewish participants, Cohen, discussed this importance, “It’s all about humanizing the other, and showing one side that the other are also real people. And most people in my community growing up have never interacted with Muslims.” Exposing yourself to different beliefs is an activity that can open you up to understanding why people believe what they believe. This isn’t about converting to something else or trying to figure out who is right or wrong. Cohen was on point when she said that this is about humanizing the other, realizing the people you don’t agree with even on a fundamental level are still human. You can still be friends even if you don’t agree on big things! I know that sounds nuts but it’s true. It’s even vital.
Hadar “Hajar” Hoffman, another participant in the meals, stated, “When you’re committed to what you believe, then you don’t care about some else’s beliefs. But that mentally is going to keep us apart, and it’s going to totally destroy the intention of building relationships together.” Earlier this year, Passover meals were organized at mosques by this nonprofit. They have received a solid response to these events and plan to continue to grow the initiative. Other areas in the US have done this so I personally hope this continues to grow. If you are interested in participating in this kind of event, look for interfaith groups in your communities or check out something like Interfaith Voices if you don’t have the local resources to meet with others. Anything you can do to include others in your life is huge and can be a real source of joy if you work at it! Remember, good things don’t happen all at once typically and can be difficult at times. But the good things in life are worth working for so don’t let the road blocks and any impatience get you down.
Speaking of not letting things get us down, one mother in London wasn’t about to let air pollution do that to her and her baby. According to Katy Scott in her article for CNN, Sophie Power of London was worried about the air quality there affecting her baby. Did she let this stop her? NO! She worked with Matthew Johnson from the University of Copenhagen to co-found Airlabs, a company whose mission is to “reduce people’s exposure to air pollution by creating clean air zones in cities.” Their website is pretty neat, check it out at airlabs.com. Together, Power and Johnson designed a filter that would create safe, clean air in London. These filters have been used to work inside buildings like homes, businesses, cars, and even outside. The article goes on to explain how the filters work and why they are needed but outdoor bubbles Airlabs created earlier this summer for people to stand in to get fresh air outside in New Delhi is the coolest thing. They call it the “world’s first open-air clean air zone” and worked together with British energy and Evergen Systems, an energy and environment company. The article has a picture of that too which is super futuristic looking. While this is serving as a test to see how this product works, it is so cool that scientists are coming together to work on better solutions for the air pollution problem. They also showed the Airbubbl which is a filter made specifically for cars to remove nitrogen dioxide. It’s a pretty cool little device, you can see a picture of it in the article and of course on the Airlabs website. Maybe we are getting closer to walking around in space looking suits with helmets and air purifying masks. The future is coming!
Now if you really want to see the future everyone was hoping for in the 70’s and 80’s, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has been working to roll out an awesome looking robot to carry your luggage for you at the airport! While this article written by Lilit Marcus for CNN was posted on July 11th and I can’t find anything about it since, I’m pretty excited about this Wall-E like robot. Apparently it can carry up to 85 lbs of luggage and get you to your gate. Hopefully if not already, this “self-driving trolley” as it’s been called will be tested at New York’s JFK and San Francisco International airports sometime this year. Apparently other robots have been tested and used in other airports like Seoul’s Incheon and New York’s LaGuardia but the success rate has varied quite bit. Hey, whatever will help get our crap to the airplane faster and easier is alright by me. I’m all about that no-hassle life!
Now to change gears to something not technical, there was some exciting news at the Altiplano Zoo in Tlaxcala, México earlier this year! The Associated Press posted an article on ABC News’ website saying two white lion cubs were born in March and are now on display at the zoo. Since there are only about a dozen white lions living in the wild now, the Altiplano Zoo has made it a mission of theirs to grow their population of white lions to establish a sanctuary for the beautiful creatures. Apparently these lions are white because of a genetic rarity but they are not albinos. The zoo is holding a naming contest for the cubs but I haven’t found the results of those yet. I hope get some pretty names and not something lame like Snowball or Snow White or something silly like that!
Because I live in Texas, more specifically, Dallas, I want to include stories closer to home because there are lots of neat stuff going on down here. We don’t always ride around on our horses with cowboy hats and boots on, hollerin’ about cows, mud, and trucks. Bummer I know. BUT some do and I think that’s pretty cool. The big cities out here are really big and have been having issues with housing markets rising and people getting pushed further and further from downtowns to find something affordable for their families. TexasMonthly published a really great and looooong article about how small towns outside big cities like Houston, Austin, and El Paso are taking advantage of the big city rent and debt woes.
John Nova Lomax, the author, focused on several small towns, Lockhart which is 30 miles south of Austin, Brenham about 74 miles northwest of Houston, and Alpine which is about 220 miles southeast of El Paso, 100 miles from the Texas/Mexico border. 3 years ago, Lomax wrote an article for the TexasMonthly called “Can You Afford to Live Here?” focusing on Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, and Austin. He said at the time he wasn’t positive about how people were going to thrive in the big cities. But since then, he has grown to understand that, and in his words, “the ‘economic conditions’ burdening the citizens of our cities were inspiring a renaissance in other parts of Texas - namely, in small towns.” He attributes a lot of the cultural shifts to millennials. Now, the article is long so if you are really interested, I suggest you make yourself whatever beverage you like and can sip and sit down for a nice read. He goes into details about different families that move to these three little towns and what big changes they’ve made there. He also discusses how the locals received these changes.
One cool story focuses on a family, Brad and Jenny Stufflebeam who moved from Dallas to Brenham when Dallas kept expanding to more rural areas. Once they settled in Brenham, home of the famous (and somewhat infamous) Blue Bell Ice Cream, my personal favorite, they started bringing farmers together to create a community supported agriculture program. They sell their farm grown veggies, meats, eggs, and dairy products to some restaurants and families in Houston. What’s funny is that they technically revived an old way of life for Brenham - what Brad likes to call truck farming. Brad told Lomax, “At first my neighbors didn’t understand the CSA thing, and I would just tell ‘em, ‘It’s truck farming. I am going into Houston and into neighborhoods and delivering food to people down there.’ And they would be like, ‘Oh yeah! That’s what my grandfather used to do!’” Now the Stufflbeams have an organic grocery store in downtown Brenham called Home Sweet Farm. How sweet is that?
Brenham saw a significant dip in tourism once Blue Bell had their listeria problem in 2015 so businesses like Home Sweet Farm helped heal that reputation for the town. Lockhart had a similar issue, not with listeria, but with as Loxam calls “a domino effect” of small businesses popping up in downtown areas and breathing new life into the towns.
Alpine however has had a different story from Brenham or Lockhart. Because Alpine is rather far from any big cities, many people go out to their area to find isolation and inspiration in the desert, visit surrounding wineries and interesting locations that popped up in Marfa. However, even though Marfa has about 1800 residents on a good day, their housing market has seen similar troubles to that of big cities - people are getting priced out. So Alpine has reaped the benefits! If you want a real small desert town, Alpine is the place for you. They have about 5-6,000 residents and lots of history. But people are thriving in a slower paced life that many of us dream about.
While Loxam focuses primarily on Lockhart, he seems encouraged by the the ways these small towns have found new life in their downtowns. He says in his recap of the article, “...there’s affordability, a slower pace of life, top-shelf food and culture, and a welcoming, friendly community. During my travels, I found myself - a near lifelong Houston resident - increasingly bewitched by the notion of small-town life...And it wasn’t just the rustic life I was longing for. Each of these towns was starting to put me in mind of little country places I’d tramped through in England during my wanderlust years, a version of a Cotswold village. It felt like a place where I could finally exhale.” If you are looking to change the pace of your life, get rid of some clutter, and find a way to “finally exhale”, perhaps looking to live in a small town is just the thing you need.
Now, I’d like to make section of the podcast focused on helping you find ways to be part of the answer for whatever problems you get down about. Each episode will focus on different problems, different solutions, whatever I can find. This summer, we heard endless heart-wrenching stories about the families being torn apart at our border with Mexico. Living in Texas, this really hit home. Even though I’m hundreds of miles from the nearest part of the border, it seemed like I couldn’t get away from the news reports and stories. As you know, everyone was upset and is still upset about this in one way or another. I’m not going to discuss the political reasons this happened or anything like that BUT I did find an article about a couple in Michigan who donated their extra frequent flyer miles to reunite a dad and his 3yr old son. The article was written by Andrea Diaz with CNN on Aug 10th. Beth Wilensky tweeted on Aug 6th about she and her husband donated their flyer miles to a dad and his 3yr old son through Miles4Migrants from the Michigan Support Circle. While this is not a new concept, the need for these flyer miles are greatly needed by the families affected by the separation at the border. Check out Miles4Migrants at miles4migrants.org if you want to help!
Hey, have you been stressed? Have you tried various meditation apps to try and find some semblance of peace and quiet in your mind? I certainly have. By the way, this isn’t a paid advertisement. The creator of the “Happy, Not Perfect” mindfulness app, Poppy Jamie, talked with Brianna Steinhilber for NBC News section called Better. Jamie says, “We understand what it’s like to go to the gym a few times a week and look after our physical bodies, but we need to start looking after our minds — they’ve never been under this much strain, where the world is quicker than ever."
The app is only available on iTunes, and while I don’t have an iPhone to test this out and tell you what I think, I enjoyed reading her 7 steps to a clearer mind. Honestly, I really liked the Stop, Breathe, & Think: Meditation & Mindfulness app which is available on iPhones and Androids alike. I should get back into it again. Anyway, I like reading lists but get annoyed at how people make things like getting a clearer mind seem so easy. Obviously it’s not otherwise we wouldn’t need these lists, apps, books, etc etc etc. So next time you get overwhelmed by the news or things happening in your life, try giving these steps a go!
Step 1: Internal Check In
How do you feel? Acknowledging how you feel is such an important first step. I’ve been going to a counselor for over 5 years now and one of the first things we worked on was me identifying how I felt. Honestly, I felt dumb, surely this shouldn’t be so difficult. But guess what? It was! I would feel all the feelings all at once. Over time, I learned how to identify each one which allowed me to identify where the feelings were coming from. Often, it felt like untangling a spider’s web inside. Thankfully it was well worth it. The article states something that took me years to understand but changed lots of things for me, “Remember, there is no such thing as a bad emotion, they’re all temporary.” YESSS I won’t feel like this forever! WOO!
Step 2: Breathe
Taking a pause and listening to how you breathe is one of the fastest and easiest ways to calm down. The article suggests using the “belly breathe” technique by counting to 5 while breathing in, and counting to 5 again while breathing out. Let that belly expand while breathing! Hence belly breath. Even allow yourself to imagine a paper bag or a bubble or something expanding every time you breathe in and shrinking when you breathe out is helpful. It gives you something to focus on to allow your thoughts to chill. Try this for 30 seconds and see how you feel!
Step 3: Write and Let Go
Got a rant? Write it down! The key here is to write stuff down in a private place like a journal where it won’t be made public. Perhaps don’t tweet out every angry or depressing thought you have but write it down first on some paper and go nuts. You’re not limited to a number of characters you can use on a piece of paper. You’re not limited on what you can or cannot say. Go crazy! Allow that time to release the feelings you’ve got and flow over that paper or Word doc. The best part of writing things on paper is that you can rip it up or even better, burn that sucker (safely. Don’t be dumb). If you do it on a Word doc or Google doc or something like that, there is a good chance it’ll be saved or archived in a place you don’t immediately know. And then it could eventually be made public. I’m not saying someone is going to hack your computer and post all your private thoughts, but at least with paper, you know for sure it can not be put back together again.
Step 4: Reframe with Gratitude
About a year or two ago, I was frustrated with still feeling negative all the time even after all the hard work I had done with my counselor to bring down my anxiety and stress. So I decided to start making a list of 1 thing I was thankful for every day for a month. I was hoping this would help me to see positive things faster to overshadow the negatives I kept seeing and point out in life. Even though I’m pretty sure I didn’t make it for a whole month, I felt the effects of this! Some days I struggled pretty hard to find one thing. Other days I would write down more than one thing. It got to be surprisingly fun after a while. I even applied this technique to work on body image. Every day, I would tell my boyfriend something I liked about my body for about a month so I would have accountability and be forced to tell him something. Anything! The rules were not to be sarcastic or follow up with a “I like this but I wish it was like that.” It was so HARD. But really good! And it helped me to better accept some of the stuff that I don’t particularly care for. But try writing down or telling someone something you are thankful for everyday for a month. Or even just make a big ol’ list in the moments you feel like you are going to lose your mind. It just might help you come out of the rage or sorrow into a calmer and more hopeful state.
Step 5: Play
YES. This is my favorite! Paint, play a game like Sudoku, a word cross, Stardew Valley. I don’t know, bake, make something! Do something that you know will make you happy. Like to garden? That can feel like play. Like to sew or play a hidden object game? It doesn’t matter what your play looks like, as long as it doesn’t hurt you or someone else. Go for it! PLAY. Having hobbies and doing something fun for yourself is just as important as being productive. It helps keep you productive. Wanna go for a run? Wanna play tag with some kids? That you know. Like you’re own children or something. Don’t just find some random kids and play tag with them. But go find something that will help you play and let go. I know one way that I was shocked would help me with this, and this is a very rare occasion, it’s not like I do this every week. But going to a haunted house or an escape room was one of the best ways for me to be completely distracted from all the things that were stressing me out and fully being in the moment. Which is one of the truest forms of playing I think? Or rather one of the truest reasons to play. It gets you completely disconnected from everything else in your life just for a little bit. Like a mini vacation from yourself and being fully involved in something else that you can make something or get completely out of breath and exhausted and a great way playing is the way to go. Follow the children’s examples! Use your imagination! Have fun!
Step 6: Compassion Challenge
Hope you like writing because here is another writing activity to try out! The article suggests, “Shift your perspective through compassion exercises that trigger a release of dopamine and a boost to self esteem.” They suggest prompts such as:
“We challenge you to forgive someone today - you don’t need that extra baggage”
“What would you tell a friend if they were feeling like you do now?” This is a good one.
“We challenge you to let someone know that you appreciate them” YES
“Self-love time: Give yourself a compliment.” That one can be hard but is totally worth it.
Other prompt ideas:
Need to be more creative? Write about your situation for a character you create. Sure, try writing about how you want them to respond if you need to get some negative stuff out then try your character resolving the issue through a compassionate route.
List 5 people you care about and write compliments about them
Write compliments about 3 people you ran into that day that you don’t know or don’t know very well, like the mailman, store cashier, your neighbor, someone you saw walking on the street. Pick anyone.
Write about 5 different things you noticed in nature around you: a plant, an animal, the sky, the general view, the weather, the wind, etc
Research other prompts if you need them, I’m sure you can find them or try coming up with your own!
Step 7: Good Vibes
Find something nice to do for someone else. Hold the door open for someone, pick up a coffee for a friend or co-worker, take care of a chore for a roommate, spouse, or partner. Find ways to spread some love and joy to someone else and that can help lift you out of your funk!
That’s a nice little list. I like that list. I know I’ve done some things like that where I take a moment to breathe or I go in my car and I yell a whole lot where I can be by myself. Or sing to an angry song. Sometimes those things help to just get the emotion out so that you can clear your head and actually deal with whatever you’re needing to deal with. Very very helpful.
Now Something to Laugh about
Since this podcast is focused on positivity and finding reasons to smile and feel joy even for just a few moments, I find that positive news stories are not enough. Our lives are accompanied by, well, narrated by the social media we produce and consume. Each episode, I will shout out some websites or social media accounts from Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, my personal favorite Imgur, YouTube shows, and other podcasts or whatnot that made me laugh or not feel as bad. So here’s what we’ve got this week!
YouTube - Lucas the Spider
This is one of the cutest things I’ve seen. Someone animated an adorable spider if you can believe it or not, to a child’s voice saying some of the funniest things. The little kid is acting like he is the spider and he is just saying the cutest things. Check this out if you need an immediate boost! One of my good friends sent this to me and I just keep going back to it. Just search YouTube for Lucas the Spider.
I love animals, especially dogs. There are two accounts on Twitter from one creator that brings me smiles every time I run into it which is desperately needed on Twitter. WeRateDogs or @dog_rates and Thoughts of Dog or @dog_thoughts are amazing. WeRateDogs posts pictures of people’s pups and have cute little blurbs about them. Thoughts of Dog writes in a funny pattern that fits our little best friends I think perfectly. They are insanely sweet and adorable.
Thanks for listening to some of the joy found in the world this summer. Most episodes will focus on shorter timelines but sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that good things have always happened, just like the bad. If you have stories of good people doing good things in your neighborhood or anywhere, send them to me! I’ve even got an email, firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet at me @joybingepodcast. I probably got ahead of myself on this but I really want to hear about the good things happening around you. TELL ME THE GOOD STUFF!
The music for this podcast is "Industrious Ferret" by Kevin MacLeod. Thanks for listening and have a great week!