Tags: Barton Cutter, disability, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, martial arts, wheelchairs
This past Friday, Megan and I attended one of her favorite literary events (Osler Literary Roundtable at Duke). This week happen to be an open reading where several of us had the possibility to share our work and receive critique. This was a wonderful opportunity, as I have not had the pleasure of being in workshop with my own material since finishing college.
As Megan and I have been revamping the great majority of some of our own writing, I took the chance to share a piece from a collection that we are collaborating on. After reading the piece aloud, I was looking forward to having several sets of critical eyes offer some constructive feedback on the piece.
To my surprise, however, the first comment that arose was, “I’m confused, do you ambulate when you train in martial arts or was this at a time when you were more ambulatory?”
Though it is not uncommon for people to be puzzled when I mention training in the martial arts, I was somewhat surprised (and amused) by how the question was phrased. “I don’t need to ambulate to train!”
I replied, with a smile. As I think about it now, I realize that I take for granted many of the ways that I have navigated my physical situation to design my ideal life.
While I understand that, at first glance, most people see the physical aspects of who I am and therefore assume my disability defines my approach to life. Yet, I’ve found that much of life success is founded upon personal prospective and one’s ability to find creative solutions to the challenges we face. In the case of martial arts, I found myself training in a school that emphasizes the cultivation of heart combined with exploring how to use one’s natural body movement to survive dangerous situations rather than forcing the body to fit a prescribed mold.
Tags: disability, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, interability marriage, martial arts, Megan Cutter, wheelchairs
When Barton and I were in Washington DC at a martial arts training seminar, just after we had gotten engaged, I stood in front of Barton and gave a punch, stopping just in front of him. I did what most people do when they train with Barton, pulling their punches. After chiding me, I gave a realistic attack, and Barton gave a realistic response, which surprised me as I wasn’t expecting an arm bar across his wheelchair nor my foot caught just under his footrest.
I had begun training in martial arts several years prior, and for, it was to navigate the chaos of an ending relationship as well as the death of my mother. I heard about martial arts from a close friend, who just said, “Come and see.” I never thought I would be training. I had grown up with asthma, not able to be as physically exerting as other students my age. After such dramatic losses in my life, I was on survival mode, yet I knew I needed to get back. The first evening I looked at students rolling on the grass at dusk, hitting and punching each other and thought, “What on earth are you doing? You want to do that?”
Training gave me not only the clarity I needed in a very turbulent time, I was also learning how my body worked in different situations, letting go physically as well as emotionally and learning how to stand back up on my own. One of the blackbelts also taught a creative writing series, and so I fell in love with journaling and writing again.
I certainly wasn’t expecting to meet the love of my life while training!
Tags: daily living, disability, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, Megan Cutter, vision, Work, writing
This evening, our friend came over to help us hang a huge white dry erase board in the kitchen. As we begin a new year, it was time for a reminder; apparently we needed quite a large one.
I admit, last year I would come home [after getting up at 3 or 4 in the morning], we would eat dinner and I would crash on the sofa watch all the mainstream tv shows, one after another until I fell asleep. It would take Barton nearly an hour to wake me, drag me off the sofa and into bed.
The winter has been harsh with weeks of near record lows and multiple snows, and I’ve wanted to hibernate since November. Yet, there has been much to do, and much to look forward to this next year.
A few weeks before Christmas, I was feeling low, and in the morning conversation with Barton, we realized we needed an overhaul. The next day, and I know this may come as a shock, we disengaged from the television. Now we still have and watch movies, but I needed a break from the traditional outlet overload of information.
I realized that watching news shows, even the evening shows- was making me extremely anxious all of the time. Yes we know the economy is horrible- we are all living in it, yes we know the world is full of horrible people doing horrible things. And on some levels I can differentiate that from my own life. But I realized that I was absorbing anxiety, fear and despair, which was not what I needed to contribute to the creativity I rely on everyday.
Barton and I came up with a list of things that we would like to do instead, both in the morning and the evening. It’s a fairly simple list, and includes both items we wanted to do individually as well as together.
We rearranged our day and spent the morning coming up not only with a new daily schedule, but also new goals for the year. What had we accomplished in 2010? How far we had come as a couple and in our own personal development. What are places where we still need some work? Financial sustainability, a family. We had fun dreaming up plans, nothing was off limits.
And I realized how important it was not only to be giving ideas, but to hear Barton plan and dream about our lives together as well.
Since then, we’ve both looked back at the board- it’s a reminder as to keep us on track. Now there have been times where I’ve kept a list that was nearly impossible to keep, so here, instead of feeling like we have to do everything, we try to fit as much as we can in the day, but let go of the rest.
Even in the week since the holidays, we’ve felt refreshed at the times spent together and working on other things in the morning and evening times. I have felt my concentration return to my creativity, and the uncontrollable fear has subsided into something more manageable. We’ve met at a local coffee shop- completely dismantled our manuscript and began writing again, together. How much fun the work became.
What dreams and goals do you have for the new year? Take out a scratch piece of paper, computer file, dry-erase board, collage, whatever fits your style- and create your vision for the year.