Little miracles. That’s how Anne Garcia McCullough describes it, sitting in a Longmont coffee shop with her friend, neighbor and partner-in-hope Maura Ellis Youle on a fall morning. There’s nothing like an inspirational story for the holidays, and Garcia McCullough’s little miracles—which in time became one big miracle—are like inspiration personified. Beaming like Christmas trees, they joyfully talk about hope and Hopeology, their new business that offers workshops, live and on CD, for those “who seek hope and want to call that hope to action.”
In 2002, Garcia McCullough was diagnosed with MS. It started with blurred vision, but over time, her body was hijacked by the disease: Legally blind, unable to walk, drive or put two words together, struck with tremors throughout her body, her doctor told her the goal was to make sure she didn’t get any worse. Not better, not worse, just the same.
“That wasn’t working for me,” she said. “I couldn’t take care of my kids. And friends were taking care of me.”
Years later, Garcia McCullough is full of life, passion and positivity with no signs of MS. It took speech therapy, physical therapy, acupuncture, yoga, a self awaking and yes, a few small miracles. One of those miracles, certainly, was meeting Youle, who came over to offer her new neighbor some help
“I had heard that the woman who moved into the house next door had MS. She was 36, had kids and was using a walker,” she said.
Youle, a yoga teacher, hardly knew what MS was, but she had found a book with some applicable yoga positions. It was a painful process; almost anything would cause Garcia McCullough to have tremors. But they worked on it: breathing, talking, using alternative medicine techniques and doing yoga. And they worked on McCullough’s personal issues—focusing on her confidence and self worth.
“The more she healed her spirit, the more her body healed,” Youle said.
She began walking with a walking stick, and then walking on her own. She rediscovered her bike, got her driver’s license back and even started kickboxing.
“It was like, I had this crappy roommate who I was just giving a room to,” Garcia McCullough said. “It wasn’t going to leave until I told it to leave.”
The two had gone through something almost miraculous, and they knew they wanted to share the experience. Garcia McCullough was a bit nervous about it at first. But she soon realized the potential.
“I feel guilty. I don’t have a cure or an answer. And people want a cure,” she said. “Then a friend said to me, ‘All people want is hope and inspiration. You can give people hope.’ Then I was free. I saw the light.”
They created an experience that could help anyone: a workshop in wellness inside and out, a seminar on hope.
“Hopeology becomes their story. It has been our story, but it becomes theirs,” Youle said.
In Their Words:
On her Hopeology cohort: “She’s like my sister. It’s a beautiful relationship. She believed in me,” Garcia McCullough says. “She had the vision. I was just a willing
“People say it’s a miracle. I say there are small miracles. It’s the healing process. I had good days but then I had some really bad days.
Every step was a small miracle. It’s the fight along the way and the journey. I see it, like, life is a miracle,” she says.
On the future: “(Hopeology) could help so many people. I think the goal is to help people,” Youle said. “To share Hopeology all over the world.” And “to get on Oprah!” Garcia McCullough adds with a laugh.
“The day I moved into our new house, I met Maura,” she says. “Little did I know how that would change my life.”
“We want people to realize everything works out in the end. If it’s not working out, it’s not the end,” Garcia McCullough says.
On alternative techniques: “Reiki scares some people because they don’t understand it,” Youle says. “But absolutely everyone can learn to do it. It isn’t the practitioner’s energy that comes through—we’re just a conduit. People have forgotten that we are electricity—energy. EKG’s, EEG’s measure electricity. …Reiki is like acupuncture—it helps clear out our electrical/energy channels.”