Future Employee: Asher Ames

While the rest of our employees work on their bios, I’ll continue to post ideas or stories that come to me as I am constantly thinking about inclusiveness and love. This post is about a future Howdy employee, a boy that has a hold of my heart.

Future employees? Yes, we’re thinking long term. As other small businesses know, it is a constant labor of love to keep a dream like Howdy alive, but we sincerely hope Howdy will be around for future employees to work and gain experience here.

So, read on to get to know a future Howdy employee named Asher Ames!




Grandkids come to many of us in different ways. Some come from your own children, some come from adoption, and some just land in your life because you hit the jackpot! That’s how my grandson Asher (AKA Werewolf, Black Panther, Snow Leopard, or Ashy Bug) came into my life—I hit the jackpot.

In my opinion Asher may be the most amazing, beautiful child to walk this earth. He was born with Autism and, as many of you know, all children with autism are unique in their own way. Ash is a non-stop, energizer-bunny, howl-at-the-moon kind of boy. He is smart and introspective. He is graceful, athletic, and relentless, and we all tap out at one time or another when watching him. But at the end of the day he is mine, he is ours, and we all want his undivided attention.

I want to tell you a story about Asher and then tie it in with why I feel Howdy is such a special place.

Like many of you, our family has spent many days in Newport Beach, California. It is a perfect spot for families, friends, and making memories. I love it even more now because Asher has renamed it Grandma Heidi’s Beach. I’m currently waiting on the great state of California to formalize the name change. Don’t hold your breath waiting!

Anyway, we had just had a very successful bike ride and were on the Balboa ferry returning home. Asher had been perfect and we were so proud of how he had taken to riding on a tag along bike. The night had truly gone well.

For some unknown reason, the return trip on the ferry set Ash off. If familiar with Autism you know that anything can throw a child off and a good situation can quickly turn difficult. We were not sure what threw Asher off but he went into a full-blown meltdown. When this happens, everything escalates and you worry for their safety—especially being on a ferry in the middle of the bay—and you’re also concerned about those around you who probably don’t understand what is happening.

As we were trying to get Asher off the ferry a man looked at my husband and said, “This kid should be put in an institution.” It makes me physically ill to even write this and to imagine that in this modern day of knowledge and awareness that a statement so cruel could come out of someone’s mouth.

I was not a witness to this incident but as my husband relayed the events to me he said, “You would be so proud of me. I didn’t hit the guy.” I immediately responded with, ”Are you crazy? Why did you not hit him?” Classy of me, I know, but I was so angry and I wanted this man to be punished.

Now, please know that neither my husband nor I would actually condone a response of violence even though we were offended and upset by this man’s comment. I was so angry, though, that for a quick minute I thought I was willing to spend a couple days in jail to teach this poor man a lesson.

And also, it isn’t lost on me that we’re all capable of errors in judgment like this. How many of us have thought, “Get control!” or “That child is spoiled and lacks discipline!” when we’ve seen someone struggling with a child.

My wish and prayer is that we don’t ever judge or think we know better. Asher has Autism but does it really matter if he has a special need or not? He is a child trying to navigate a big world and he’s just like all of us—sometimes we just fall apart. And we all need to feel safe, accepted, and supported.

Why can’t every place be a safe zone? Better yet, how can we all help in creating an atmosphere of inclusion and acceptance?

Indulge me now as I have answered this question in my own mind. Let me start by introducing you to a favorite statement of mine. It comes from the Big Book, also known as the Alcoholics Anonymous Bible. The saying goes like this, “Take what you want and leave the rest behind.” With this in mind, you have the right to not agree with anything I may write in this next section.

I consider myself a religious person and I believe in a God who helps me daily. One of my strongest religious convictions is in a pre-mortal life. I do believe we lived and loved and made promises before we were born. One of the promises I believe I made was to take care of and love a little boy named Asher.

One day as I was playing with Ash, I looked in his eyes and had the strong impression as he looked back at me that I had promised to love him! I felt that we were friends before this life and we had made a pact to take care of each other. Although at this point I may be taking care of his safety and well-being, he is taking care of making me a better and more loving person.

This is where you may choose to use the saying, “Take what you want and leave the rest.” You may not believe as I do and I totally respect your beliefs. And I don’t want to change your beliefs either. What I want you to think about is how we take care of each other. Regardless of whether we lived before or this is our first life, I believe we have a responsibility to help, love, and care for each other.

In doing so we create safe zones of inclusion and acceptance. We see others and ourselves for who we are, even if that means we're a werewolf, snow leopard, energizer bunny, or howl-at-the-moon kind of person. We see each other and ourselves through kind eyes and this invokes patience and love.

At Howdy we hope we have created a safe zone for everyone that walks in our doors. I have seen some pretty good meltdowns at Howdy. Thankfully and humorously they usually involve a child not wanting to leave Howdy. I loved one night when I walked out on the patio and saw a little girl holding on to the fence bars for dear life as her dad tried to get her to leave. What a compliment to Howdy!

Today and everyday just imagine you already know everybody you meet and that you want to make their world better. Imagine that at sometime or someplace you promised to be friends. I know that when I accept people and treat them well, it always makes me feel happy. And hopefully with practice it will become a habit that I will never forget!

And if nothing else works come in and get some ice cream and stay awhile so we can get to know you!

Heidi Nielson2 Comments