The Science of Hope



(Beyond general admissions, my daughter is applying to an honors college program that includes research within the student’s field. In the applications process, a 750-word essay is required, explaining the desired area of research, why it’s of importance to the student, and its impact on humanity. It’s a lofty task that, ideally, begins students on an extraordinary academic journey, one that ultimately changes the lives of others. My daughter’s essay is in line with the inspired writing you read here week after week, and so it’s my privilege to share her essay with you this week.)

By Emily C. Smith

As I pursue my undergraduate studies in psychology, there is a much larger life mission at work for me. It’s a passion, a field of study, a research quest that ultimately effects each one of our lives: what’s the origin of hope within the human psyche?

It’s a very personal…

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Super exciting news!!

We are moving to a new location! You can now find the World Travaillers blog at

If you follow/subscribe to my blog, keep in mind most subscriptions will not transfer. Be sure to follow our new site!

The exciting part is that this move will allow us to offer some great new content in the future, that we couldn’t offer here. This is going to be a wonderful opportunity and we have some neat things in store! 😉 I truly hope you will join me there!

Happy Friday!

***As a thank you for visiting our new page, I have a little surprise for you. It’s my favorite video of the week and it is absolutely hysterical. You have got to see this masterpiece!

as small as a world and as large as alone

Maggie and Milly and Molly and May by E.E. Cummings

maggie and milly and molly and and may
went down to the beach (to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn’t remember her troubles, and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles; and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea

I’m no literary buff so I took to the web to learn what this poem was really trying to tell me. And I found this analysis:
Maggie, Milly, Molly, and May went to a beach in this poem and each found a different thing. The beach seems to be representative of the physical, while the sea itself is the deep core. The last two lines of the poem, ‘for whatever we lose(like a you or a me)/ it’s always ourselves we find in the sea’; seems to say that if the girls, or if anyone had gone deeper and into the sea, they would have found something greater. To find oneself means to go beyond all the good the bad and physical, and dig deeper.

What do you think?

A monkey could do it

For many people living with disabilities, a service animal can vastly improve their quality of life.

Service animals aren’t always dogs. Dogs are an obvious good choice because they are very smart, loving and loyal. But other species like pigs serve! Which brings me to Monkey Helpers.Monkey Helper

Monkey Helpers is a 34 year old non-profit that raises and trains capuchin monkeys to help people with severe physical disabilities. Monkeys are an ideal service animal because, not only are they very smart and trainable, they also have opposable thumbs and nimble little fingers to accomplish a huge variety of tasks. Also, capuchin monkeys have long lifespan of 30-40 years!

How it works:

  • Volunteers welcome a baby capuchin monkey into their home, to help them adjust to a house environment, for a couple years.
  • When they are mature enough, the monkey goes to Monkey College for 3-5 years. Here they learn tasks like fetching a specific item and, “sun” (turning on a light), and is potty trained.
  • Now it’s time for the monkey to be matched with a recipient. Recipients must meet some basic requirements. And then the team carefully considers which pairing will make the best match based on personality and compatibility.
  • The monkey lives with the recipient until he retires. At that point volunteers welcome the monkey into their home to live up their retirement in a relaxing environment.

The interesting thing is that the monkey is free to the recipient but is still owned by Monkey Helpers. Trainers check in with the pairing and facilitate a great new bond.

One of the great values of this program, for recipients, is that they get a companion. Often recipients are looking for a service animal because they are lonely, in addition to needing an extra pair of hands. As one trainer put it in this video:

One of the things that’s very important to a lot of recipients is that  their monkey doesn’t see them as disabled. They don’t recognize the things they are unable to do. Their monkey sees the recipient as protector, as alpha. And that’s really important; its a really important gift the monkeys gives to somebody that has had so much taken away from them.

Here is just one story of how much a monkey gives and how many recipients come to realize that they can’t imagine life without their monkey.

Capuchin monkey helper getting a bathYou can get a “Behind the Scenes” tour the training facility and see the monkeys only a couple days in the year. Or, if you aren’t in the Boston area, you can check out their Meet The Monkey’s webpage. And if you really love what you see, they have a few special fundraising events coming up where you can show your support!

Would you get a Monkey Helper?

DIY Prosthesis

Christina Stephens is an occupational therapist who lost her foot in a car accident.

Stephens, who specializes in wheelchair biomechanics (helping new wheelchair users learn to operate a chair so they won’t injure themselves) understood her situation very well. She could either try to save her foot with a low chance of success and an even lower chance of restoring function, or she could amputate the foot. She chose to amputate because using a prosthesis would restore more function than her hopes of a surgical repair.

Christina Stephens Lego legShe took to the web to share her experience when she found a shocking lack of information on getting a prosthesis. She filled the gap herself with her weekly videos on YouTube and Facebook.  She even took the challenge to build her own leg out of Legos!!!

The human spirit isn’t as fragile as the human body. It can be sewn back together with the thread of determination.

While this leg is more recreational than functional, you can check out her video if you want to make your own Lego Leg 😉



One quote at a time

Staying motivated and positive is much more involved than “just do it”. It’s not something you can accomplish in a day; it’s something you have to accomplish every day. Some days it’s easy and others its near impossible.

As (the infamous) “they” say…There’s an App for that!

There are a load of apps that help you start your day right. They send you inspirational, motivational, spiritual, or otherwise quote every morning. And if you are having a particularly bad week, you can get several of those apps and receive messages all throughout the day.

I really like this app. (it’s free!)

Yesterday’s quote felt like it deserved to be in my fortune cookie! It’s so easy to get down on yourself and feel like your failing that it’s hard to see how far you’ve come!

Thomas Edison quote: Many of life's failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up

These quotes really are quite good. I think I’ll have to start sharing them with the world on Twitter!

Bittersweet symphony

Sometimes the worst imaginable happens. And sometimes the best happens.

Here’s a beautiful story about the better-sweetness of when both happen.

Jen Bulik was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. With the short time she had left, she decided to throw a wedding together in just 2 weeks with her fiance. Touched by her story, a wedding planner, Erica Ota, decided to give her her dream wedding. A $50,000 that didn’t cost the couple a dime; it was all donated.

I thought to myself, these people have already suffered enough. Why not be able to give them a gift, you know? A wonderful gift that both of them will never forget. –Erica

Starstruck: H.W., Obama, and ADAdvocates

Today marks the 23rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

President George H. W. Bush signing ADAOn July 26th, 1990 President George H. W. Bush signed a bill into law that protects millions of Americans from discrimination. The pursuit to protect the rights of disabled Americans has been taken up by Bush Sr.’s successors.

Just last month President Obama called for a national conversation for mental health aimed at de-stigmatizing the issues to ultimately make it easier for those who need it to ask for help. The Department of Education called on schools and states to adopt principles to protect the safety and dignity of all their students. And the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program was started to get individuals the communication technologies they need to lead independent lives.

You can read much more about Obama’s commitment and contributions to the issue on the White House Blog. But, for me, one fact stands above all the other politics that shows me we are talking about real changes: Under Obama, the federal government has hired more disabled employees in decades.

Today is Starstruck Saturday, but in addition to celebrating the famous people who have made ADA and all associated efforts a possibility –like President George H.W. Bush and President Obama— I want to also celebrate all the ordinary people who dedicate their lives to advocating for and empowering people living with disabilities. For example, all those honored earlier this week in the ADA Anniversary Champions of Change Event.

Equal access. Equal opportunity. The freedom to make our lives what we will. These aren’t principles that belong to any one group or any one political party. They are common principles. They are American principles. –President Obama (20th anniversary of ADA)

Specially-abled pets

I’ve gotten a few complaints that Animal Week ended up not being as uplifting as they’d hoped. I understand, we are a tender-hearted folk and seeing such innocent and loving creatures suffering is hard. I find that animals’ dogged perseverance and chipper attitude and compassion should inspire us all.

National Specially-abled Pets DaySometimes they may need a little human intervention , or just our love. And that is what May 3rd celebrates: National Specially-abled Pets Day! (Notice it’s not National Disabled Pets Day). They have plenty more examples of how specially-abled pets are chasing their dreams. beach shotAnd there are so many people more than happy to help them in that pursuit! For example, HandicappedPets helps people caring for elderly, injured or special needs pets and provides everything you could possibly need (including pet wheelchairs!). maked Walking Wheelchairs for all sorts of people of the animal persuasion, like Cris P. Bacon and Joshua the goat with bone disease:

Cris P. Bacon walkin wheels recipient

Joshua the goat with walkin wheels wheelchairSo…I don’t know. I think these specially-abled pets and the humans that love them are rather inspiring. There’s a lot of love there.

That said, if you would like to help pets with disabilities… Pets With Disabilities is a non-profit that rescues abandoned disabled pets and promots/facilitated disabled pet adoptions. Its pretty spectacular the lengths people go to for family.

Happy Monday friends!