this was a good week (& the philosophy behind it)
I've been doing This Was A Good Week posts every Friday now for about 9 months, and it's one of my favourite things I do here on Chookooloonks. I was going through my archives, and I realized that I'd never actually shared the reasons why I began doing them, or what I'm trying to accomplish. So I thought before I got into this week's This Was A Good Week, I'd let you know what this is really all about.
I started This Was A Good Week as a bit of an antidote to all of the negativity that is often on the web -- breaking news alerts about horrible things happening in the world, mean-spirited stories about celebrities, "friends" arguing on Facebook, that sort of thing. When you're inundated by all that negativity, it can be easy to slip into hopelessness, and I didn't want to do that; besides, I knew that despite all the ugliness, there had to be beauty happening around the world as well. I wanted this space to be one place where you could count on seeing beauty and light and love every week. The concept of doing weekly round-ups on a blog isn't new, of course, but here are my unofficial rules that I use to operate mine:
1. I start each round-up by mentioning something I'm grateful about in my own life that happened during the past week. (To be fair, I might mention more than one thing I'm grateful about later on in a given This Was a Good Week post -- especially if it was an particularly good week -- but I always list at least one thing that I think was cool.) I've mentioned many times that I believe gratitude is the key to a joyful life; I also think expressing gratitude, right out loud, is the key to creating magic in your life. And so, I do. And if what I've been grateful for sparks a memory in someone about a similar event they're grateful for, there's your magic, right there.
2. The remaining items I share have to be generally and universally joyful, or beautiful, or creative, or love-full, or all of the above. The "universally" is the key point here -- obviously, I can't please all of the people all of the time, but in an attempt to get as close as possible to doing so, I keep religion and politics out of my links as much as possible, since my point isn't to lecture people on what I believe. So, for example, if I see a vote went the way I like, or a law passed that I'm thrilled about, even though it made me happy, you likely won't see me feature it here on Chookooloonks. Similarly, while I'm a huge fan of funny, and try to feature funny as often as possible, I'll never feature anything that mocks someone, or is funny at the expense of someone (partly because I don't usually think that kind of humour is funny). No slipped-on-a-banana-peel stuff here (unless the slipper is a comic, and did it on purpose for a laugh).
My hope is that what you see in my round-up will never force you to pick a side. We're forced to pick sides all week long, so I figure I should at least provide a bit of a rest from doing so here, don't you think?
3. The items that are shared here are generally published within the past week, or I've only just become aware of it during the past week. So generally the news is fresh, but sometimes (as you'll see in today's list), it might not be fresh, but it was new to me, so I take the gamble that it might also be new to you.
4. I share wildly popular things, but I also try to share things that have been created by people you've never heard before. In fact, I try for the latter more often than not. Chookooloonks isn't a gigantic blog with an insane amount of traffic; still, any time I can amplify someone's awesome voice, I do the best that I can.
5. When I'm looking for stuff to feature, I want the list to be as diverse as I possibly can make it. I don't know if you've noticed -- because I've never mentioned it before -- but 90% of my lists feature content by or about at least one person (usually many more) who doesn't look like me (or you), or is from the same country as me (or you), or does the kind of work that I do (or you do). This is absolutely on purpose. This is actually the hardest part of doing this list every week: trying to find links that somehow represent different groups of people who are nothing like each other, and have them all be exceptional (in my view, anyway). But I've attempted to do this every week since I started this feature 9 months ago; I think a huge step in fighting discrimination is being amazed by people who don't look like us or sound like us, and who are doing amazing things. So I try to share things that will spark offline conversation about someone you (or I) might have never otherwise been aware of. Some weeks, obviously, are more diverse than others; however I do try my damnedest.
So that's it! Incidentally, occasionally people send me links about things they've come across that they're amazed by, and that brings them joy -- I love this. If it meets the criteria above, I'm thrilled to feature it. So don't be shy -- send me your happy!
With that, here are the things that made me happy this week:
• We've signed Alex up for guitar lessons. She is beyond thrilled, since she's convinced that there's a Grammy-award-winning singer/songwriter inside of her just crying to get out. The best part is that her instructor is an old friend who used to play in bands I used to follow religiously, and everyone raves about what a great teacher he is. Also? The guitar shown above is the one Alex will be learning on -- it's actually my guitar, that my parents bought me when I was about her age -- we've restrung it and polished it up, and it's ready to go. I never really learned much on it -- I took lessons for about 2 months before I threw in the towel -- but I've treasured it for all these decades. Now I give it to her, and told her that when she gets really good, she'll likely upgrade, but she has to keep this one for her own daughter, to give her when she's about 10 or 11 as well. And thus, a tradition is born.
Girlfriend starts her first lesson on Wednesday. Wish her luck!
• And then, when Alex learns the guitar well enough, we're going to perform this incredible version of Whole Lotta Love, by Led Zeppelin. She'll be on the guitar, I'll be on the mic. Time to start practicing.
• The smiles in this photograph make my heart sing.
• Speaking of photographs, the winners of the National Geographic Traveler photo contest have been announced. My word, but we live in a beautiful world.
• Your favourite popular songs, as Shakespearean sonnets. Fantastic.
• And finally, the song of the day: this gorgeous video by Matt Harding. Earlier this week, someone sent me a note saying that she felt "art is the key to our humanity." If there is anyone who exemplifies this concept more than Matt Harding, I've not heard of that person. In a nutshell, Matt travels the world, and dances (and to be honest, not very well -- but that's the key to his boundless charm). I've been familiar with Matt's work for a long time (and love absolutely everything he's about), but somehow missed this latest video of his, filmed in 2012. Fair warning, however: I cry tears of happiness every time I watch it. And I've watched it a lot this week.
Click here or the image below to watch. And be sure to look for your city and country (What up, Houston and Trinidad?!).
(By the way, you can buy the song from this video, "Trip the Light," here. I certainly have.)
Have a wonderful weekend, friends. Be good to each other.