I Believe in Hope

When did hope lose its meaning? When did it go from hanging out with its support team of faith and love to being in the wrong crowd with fat chance and cold day in hell? When did people stop believing in hope?

As a child I was frequently told “don’t get your hopes up.” But I wasn’t the only one and it’s still happening today. As a society we are constantly told and sold the belief system of “muddling through” and “just getting by” from the pharmaceuticals that offer more side effects than relief from symptoms, without hope for a cure, to lottery tickets with impossible odds to the nightly news spewing crime and violence as headlines.

Hope needs an intervention. We need a conversation with hope to remind it and ourselves of its true nature. That real hope and belief in miracles is possible. Not the watered-down pie-in-the-sky hope of “good luck with that”, “let’s not get our hopes up,” because “there’s a slim chance” of a cure, or winning, or even survival. Are we so afraid of disappointment that we no longer believe in hope?

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.” ― Robert Fulghum

I left the highly supportive world of autism support groups in 2010 when our family moved to Minnesota. Finding that the local group in our new town had recently disbanded and that my son, with the healing power of real nourishing food, no longer needed an I.E.P. (ticket to special education) for autistic traits he no longer possessed, I felt no void, until recently.

The lead character in my children’s books is a marmot. The books are our stories ON (Moby’s First Day of Kindergarten is about autism acceptance and peer advocacy) and OFF (Moby’s First Day of Summer Vacation is about the healing power of food) the autism spectrum. So I reached out to see if I could set up a table at a local autism awareness event to share information about my books and my upcoming community education gut-healing cooking classes. Healing the digestive system is effective treatment for autism and other mental and physical illnesses and conditions. Real food is not snake oil hope, it works. Given real nourishing food, our bodies know how to heal. That’s real hope to get families out of the muddling through world of therapies and accommodations into freedom of possibilities. Don’t get me wrong, the work done by therapists, social workers, and support staff is necessary and helpful while the body heals. My first book is all about using the tools and tips from these helping professions.

At this autism awareness event under a local park pavilion, I was one of three informational tables all in a row – one table manned by a representative from the state autism society, another one by a local occupational therapist, and then my table. This first time event was well attended. Interestingly, many people gave my table a wide berth on the way to visit the other two tables. It’s not like I even brought my signature Avocado Chocolate Pudding (although maybe I should have), I was just standing there with my books, stuffed animals, and pamphlets. 11056554_10204988563614764_5701123969913562814_n A handful of hopeful people did approach my table interested in my knowledge and experience, but it wasn’t many, which got me thinking. I left the autism community and nothing has changed. “The Experts” upon diagnosis delivery still fail to mention effective dietary intervention to parents just like back in 2004 when we were told “there is no cure for autism” only a daily professionally directed and often medicated navigation through meltdowns and odd behaviors.

Toward the end of the event, I inquired with the very kind representative from the state autism organization on how I could submit a presentation proposal for the state autism convention. She gladly filled me in on the submission process, and then cautioned that I could not mention healing or cure. Funny how it’s acceptable to cruelly proclaim a lack of a cure, but not a cure. As a Certified GAPS™ Practitioner, I claim that gut-healing real nourishing food offers effective treatment for autism. The state autism representative agreed that the wording of “effective treatment” is acceptable. Consider this, treatment is okay because it doesn’t get people’s hopes up too high, but a cure for and healing of autism is irresponsible. We were given no hope for our son’s future. We proved them wrong, my son is no longer on the autism spectrum and his future IS FULL OF HOPE.

Since my discussion that day, I was hit with yet another hope deluding recommendation to limit my verbiage, which makes me dig in my hopeful heels even deeper. A fellow business group companion cautioned that I should not even use the words “effective treatment”, but rather “may alleviate symptoms” would be easier for people to swallow. But I like feeding people real nourishing spoonfuls of hope and will continue to do so. I believe in the power of hope.


“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.”
― Emily Dickinson


Rat’s Nest

A year or so ago my youngest daughter’s beautiful long hair frequently tangled into knotted messes, best described as rat’s nests. Refusing all offers of help, she insisted that she brushed it. It often took a hair stylist to unravel the rodent’s lairs. A few days ago, I am sitting with a hospice patient as a volunteer, honored to witness a life story beautifully woven with threads of hardship and hope, when I touched the back of my head. I touched it again, what’s that? Could it be? Oh no, Templeton’s temple! I’m mortified. How did that get there? Was it there the previous night at Bunko? Did all my “Minnesota Nice” dice rolling buddies see my snarled hair, but were too kind to say anything? Did the nursing home staff of the patient I was visiting notice? The patient herself, of long life and rich insight, had actual eyesight diminished to mere contrasts of light. At least, one person had not noticed.

So what insights can I glean from my ball of confusion hair?

In college I loved the song, “Ball of Confusion”, by Love and Rockets.

A few years ago I heard an instrumental of it playing through a local supermarket’s speakers; made me feel old. While writing this blog post, I discovered that the 1980’s version is a remake from the original version by The Temptations; now I feel young again. Lesson #1: you’re only as old as a song makes you feel, which is usually young. The magic of music stirs the senses of yore like they were vivid yesterdays. The rhythmic clank of the “Low Rider” cowbell summons the smell of burnt popcorn under the squinting sight of harsh stadium lights of high school football Friday nights. “Road to Nowhere” compels my body to twist in a dance-like remembrance of college Monday Night Dance Night, quite possibly the most carefree and fun time of my life. I can still feel the vibration of me humming “Eternal Flame” while rocking each one of my sweet smelling babies in the wee hours of the night. Time machines are real. They are called music.

Trapped inside during this winter break’s blast of sub-zero (Fahrenheit) and sub-human temperatures, some of my kiddos and I huddled under blankets enthralled with a “Once Upon a Time” marathon. “Once Upon a Time” is a television series about a modern day town of characters unaware of their folklore personas until a curse is broken by true love’s kiss. Most of the town characters, before love lifted the curse, were unlike their true fairy tale selves. They were lost, confused. Love gave meaning to their lives; suddenly everything made sense.

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”
― C.S. Lewis

I am now old enough to start believing in fairy tales again. Love revealed my true self and bestowed purpose upon my life, after a lifetime spent mostly lost. Interestingly, in “Once Upon a Time”, the plot becomes even more complicated and tangled after the curse is lifted, a lot like life. Lesson #2: accept life’s complicated, tangled times and know that everything will be okay. Love miraculously makes you know what you know that you know. You know? With this belief, this faith, you can associate meaning to life’s hardships and chaos. Not in perfect hindsight, but now.

“I gave the book to him because I wanted Henry to have the most important thing anyone can have. Hope. Believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a very powerful thing.” – Mary Margaret (Snow White), “Once Upon a Time”

Dancing like someone from “The Breakfast Club” back when I thought “Ball of Confusion” was an original song, I often teased my hair into a Texas 1980’s big hair socially acceptable rat’s nest. Until that style rolls around again (let’s hope not), I must heed Lesson #3: brush like crazy and ask for help. That’s what I did; I went home from my volunteering visitation and brushed and brushed. When my kiddos came home from school, I first apologized to my youngest daughter for ever doubting that she actually brushed, because she did, just like I did. But tangles happen. Second, I asked my kiddos to barricade my exit if they ever see another rat’s nest in my head again. “We all need someone to lean on” is a line from another college Monday Dance Night favorite that I DID know was a remake. And just like Love and Rockets, Club Nouveau did it best! “We be jammin’!”