Russell Makofsky/Courtesy Shayla Harwell/Adam Liston
CNN —  

You know what? You should get a plant. No matter what your living situation is, there’s bound to be some little leafy, prickly or viney creature hearty enough to withstand even the least green of thumbs. Research shows taking care of plants can actually be therapeutic, and having a botanical houseguest may purify your air and make you more creative. It’s a win-win: You get the benefits and the plant gets to be amused by all the weird stuff you do around the house when nobody else is watching. Go ahead, grab a leaf mister and refresh yourself with a cool spray of this week’s Good Stuff.

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Our favorites this week

Get going with some of our most popular good news stories of the week

Rusty Schramm

What goes around, comes around

Call it karma. Call it paying it forward. Call it whatever you want, but life had an interesting way of circling back for Tammy Lewis. Lewis, now 34, was the smallest baby ever born in Texas when she came into the world at what is now called McClane Children’s Medical Center Baylor Scott & White, and she spent the first three and a half months of her life under the watchful eye of NICU doctors. Now, Lewis works as a respiratory therapist in the very same NICU that saved her life, connecting ventilators and breathing tubes just like the ones that helped her breathe as a baby. “As I work, I get daily remainders of how blessed I am to be here today,” she said.

Kayode Adewumi

A remarkable chess champ

Eight-year-old Tanitoluwa (Tani) Adewumi just won the New York State Scholastic Primary Chess Championship in his age group. Which is amazing! But what’s even more amazing are the hurdles he’s had to overcome to run the board. For one, he and his family were homeless up until recently, after they fled Nigeria in 2017 under the threat of Boko Haram. Oh, and he only learned chess a YEAR ago. What, like it’s hard? Tani’s story has touched so many people, a GoFundMe for his family has already topped $190,000. His family plans to put the money into the Tanitoluwa Adewumi Foundation, which will help refugees and immigrants, Tani’s father says. As for Tani, some day he wants to be a chess grandmaster. What a story that would be.

Brad Higgins

(Very) high and dry

Record-breaking floods have devastated parts of the Midwest, but in situations like these, everyday heroes always seem to rise to the occasion. This week, an impromptu group of private pilots helped evacuate residents trapped by flood waters in the the small town of Freemont, Nebraska. And we’re not talking a small handful of flights here – more than 30 airplanes flew into the Fremont Municipal Airport by midweek to help some 500 flood victims. One local pilot, Adam Liston, said he came back after evacuating his family because he felt he couldn’t just stand by while people were stranded. Hours after he began evacuating people, he said dozens more pilots showed up, supported by donations, adrenaline and more than a few grateful post-flight hugs.

Raise a glass to…

Courtesy of Danielle Alio/Office of Communications

Karen Uhlenbeck, the first woman to win the Abel Prize, one of the most prestigious mathematics awards in the world. Uhlenbeck, 76, is well-known for her so-called soap bubble theory. It’s one of those things that are ridiculously difficult to explain unless you’re really up on your advanced mathematical theorems. Basically, researchers look at the reasons why, and the ways in which, a thin, curved surface like a soap bubble takes its specific, economical shape. And that helps them understand phenomena across a wide array of scientific studies. There. Toss that fact around at your next cocktail party.

A bright idea

Courtesy Jasmine Cornett

Everyone is someone’s somebody. That’s the soul behind Miracle Messages, a non-profit that developed a novel way to help homeless people find and communicate with long-lost family members and friends. Volunteers ask homeless people if there’s someone to whom they’d like to address a short video message. They then try and locate the family members the person messaged to arrange a reunion. Homelessness results in a lot of unexpected pain, like isolation and losing contact with family members, so getting to reach out can be a huge comfort. Plus, family reunification is actually a key step in getting people off the street and back to somewhere safe and warm.

Wanna get away?

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Ready, set, BLOOM! Soak in the view of the wildflower super bloom now on display in Southern California. The orange patches are countless poppies sprouting up, but depending where you are in the state, there are also yellow dandelions and other pink and purple desert wildflowers to admire. Wet spring weather sometimes coaxes the flowers to pop out all at once for a big botanical party that attracts thousands of admirers.

Who knew?

Thanasus/Getty Images

Have you ever wondered what those yellow, studded strips are at crosswalks? They’re called tactile blocks, and the bumps that can be felt with a walking cane or through shoes to help visually impaired know when they are approaching a walking hazard. Here’s an extra-interesting fact: The blocks usually have either dots or bars. The dots signal danger, while the bars provide directional cues that indicate a pedestrian is on a safe path. The blocks were thought up by Seiichi Miyake, a Japanese inventor, when he learned his friend was losing his sight. This week marks the 52nd year the blocks have been in use.

Tell us something good

courtesy shayla harwell


When firefighter Thomas Harwell and his family were at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo last weekend, Harwell saw an elderly woman struggling to get down the stadium stairs. His wife encouraged him to help the woman out, and after the show, Harwell said he wasn’t leaving until he helped her back up, too. So, he did what firefighters do best: Picked her all the way up and carried her, fairytale-style, to safety (aka the top of the stairs). Harwell’s proud wife posted this pic of the sweet moment, and thousands of people on Facebook loved it.

Impact your world

Swan Valley Middle School

A big chop can make a difference, but 10 big chops? That’s cause for celebration. This week, in front of the entire student body, 10 girls at Saginaw’s Swan Valley Middle School cut their hair for charity. Their locks were donated to Children with Hair Loss, a Michigan-based nonprofit that provides free hair replacements to kids and young adults dealing with cancer treatments and other medically related hair loss.

Shameless animal video

Such power, such grace! Such a command of dissonance! Someone get this elephant to Carnegie Hall. (Click here to view)