My father came up to Raleigh for a visit this weekend, and you might wonder, what’s so important about that? The relationship with my father has changed significantly over the past few years, though because of limiting travel over the last few years, we haven’t seen each other as much.
I remember being so nervous about what my father would think of Barton. Of course Barton and I had to do things backwards- we didn’t mean to, but neither one of us really mentioned the other one of us to our families. So on Thanksgiving Day in 2003, when we called our families to tell them we were engaged, all of our parents asked, “To Who?”
I had just been through several years of trauma, from both the break up of an engagement to a so-called high-school sweetheart (thank God I didn’t get married then!) and my mother’s death. Needless to say, my father was a bit shocked.
The first time my father and Barton met was up in Washington DC at a martial arts training seminar. Barton wanted to do the respectable thing and asked him for our blessing, but my father didn’t know Barton, and so he told Barton he couldn’t support us, though he knew we would do what we wanted. We had a lot of catching up to do. I remember a conversation with my father and stepmother about trying to explain how Barton and I were planning on getting married. What’s funny is that both Barton and I have said if we ever have a daughter and she does that, her fiancé might face more than just a few questions.
My father was obviously concerned that I would become Barton’s caretaker, and it was at a cousin’s wedding that he was able to see us in a more intimate setting. Since then, we’ve shown how in taking steps and risks that we have, like moving to North Carolina, it has enabled us to be in the position we need to sustain and take care of our family.
Not only that, but last year I traveled down to Atlanta, dad and I had a wonderful discussion healing many of the past hurts, the effects of my mother and father’s divorce when I was three & the aftermath of switching houses nearly every day. My father was able to see how much my life has changed (for the better), and I was able to see his presence in my life.
Before my father left on this Sunday, Barton was asking questions about how dad set up his private psychology practice- scheduling, building the practice, best practice questions because Barton has found that he would like to be able to coach and mentor youth and their families in addition to his current work.
What a wonderful dialogue to have, and I realized there was quite a bit I didn’t know about how my father, how he set up his practice and work in his life that I wasn’t able to be open to or hear before. Not only that, but my father really acknowledged the work I was doing in addition to giving some advice to Barton as well. What an amazing gift this weekend!
Tags: Barton Cutter, disability, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, self advocacy, Speaking Engagements
Last week Megan and I had the opportunity to speak at the People First conference in West Virginia. It was a wonderful experience. The conference, this year, focused on building and maintaining healthy relationships and we were asked to present as one of the keynotes in addition to leading two breakout sessions. It was a rich experience for both of us.
We spent most of our larger presentation discussing how we met and using our story to encourage those in the audience to explore and develop their interests as a way to build relationships. One point which slipped my mind during our talk is that by connecting with people around a common interest, people are less likely to react based on preconceived notions and stereotypes if they know that there is a mutually shared interest.
Our breakout sessions got a bit more nitty-gritty as we talked about our lives as a married couple, the joys and challenges that we face from day to day and ways we’ve learned to move through and around those obstacles. We were fortunate enough to have lots of audience participation in both breakout sessions which made for lots of wonderful dialogue and questions.
As usual, our work didn’t end with the closing of our sessions. The second half of the conference focused on the risks involved in inappropriate relationships. Though much of the second keynote aimed at educating people about abuse toward people with disabilities, Megan and I had the opportunity to show those in attendance that there is an alternative to being a victim. This also opened the door for us to talk about the self-defense program we teach for people with disabilities. Perhaps next year we’ll have the opportunity to present on self protection and empowerment.
All in all, it was a wonderful three days and I hope we get the chance to do it again next year.
Tags: Barton Cutter, disability, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, Megan Cutter, Poetry, vision, Work, writing
When Barton and I met, I was living in Alabama while Barton was in Tucson, Arizona. For over six months, we would email poetry back and forth to each other, and because of the time zone, I would end up with two emails a day, one when I woke up in the morning, and one before I went to sleep in the evening. Poetry and flowers, no wonder I fell in love!
For our special days we celebrate together, we will write poetry to each other. Poetry always brings us back to center. There are times when we’ve dropped off, not writing poetry for a while because we are busy with other marketing projects. Let’s face it- it’s hard to write a poem on the computer when you’ve been on the computer all day. Or want to break free, writing outside, but are called back inside the office because other projects are due.
This last weekend, we traveled to Randolph, New Hampshire, and we had a moment to pull out my old trusty notebook and pen, drafting a poem. We sat on the back porch, overlooking the White Mountain Range, writing and rewriting the poem, Barton tweaking it ever so slightly each time.
I was fascinated with the space between words, the pace at which we wrote, and how each revision shaped and formed the poem into a new being each time.
Barton and I have been reading at local Open Mic readings in the Triangle area, facilitated by myself and Alice Osborn, another locally published author. Each time, we play around with how to read. I will go up with Barton and hold the poem for him to read. When we first started reading at opem mics, I would translate every word afterwards. Now, Barton will ask me not to translate, and we will offer to the audience that they may read his poem after the open mic if they do not understand. While someone asked us to have printed copies to read along with Barton, we noticed that people won’t listen to Barton, missing the connection between poet and listener. Each time, we experiment with something different.
It’s been such a joy to know that the person I love supports and encourages my writing, pushing me to write better with each new poem.