Tags: daily living, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, gratitude, interability marriage, Megan Cutter, vision
We might be a dorky couple, but every night after we get into bed, we cuddle for a few minutes and tell each other our thank you list out loud. Usually we take turns of who goes first- Barton always remembers who went the night before. Many times our thank you list is full of what happened that day, something meaningful, big and sometimes small. We thank God in times of doubt, each other for where we are in our relationship or those who have come to support us on our journey.
There are times when we’ve had a day- you know, the kind of day that smacks you like a truck and you’d rather hide underneath the covers than crawl out of bed to face whatever disaster is going to hit or so overwhelming it’s like you can’t breathe. Or we’ve gotten under each other’s skin, those little irritations puckering up like a blister just waiting to be popped. These are the days when our thank you might be a one-sentence statement.
“I’m thankful to be alive… Your turn.”
And at first, it might seem like a cop out, but this is a powerful, powerful statement.
This week I found out a young man I grew up with, who lived just a couple of doors down from my father’s house passed away after a stroke earlier in the month.
Sunday is Mother’s Day, and I always post a picture in my mother’s memory on Facebook and take time during the day to honor her in my own special way. After her death 10 years ago, I experienced a tangible fear about dying in the middle of the night, and once this experience passed, I found myself walking with personal epiphanies seeping out, about living, and how utterly amazing life is. Our bodies are living, breathing universes.
Being alive is a miracle in the scheme of things. And lying under the covers, wrapping my arms around someone I love is heavenly, even in times of fear or heartache.
No matter what happens during the day- the greatest high or the worst possible day, our thankful list grounds me, it puts brackets on the day. It helps me not to forget all of the minute moments that we so often skip over- that word or phrase that someone says, how a certain experience impacted us, the smell of rain, a dream from the night before.
And this thank you list brings me back to what is so important to me, to us. It’s not about what I got done or didn’t get done- the successes and failures will melt into the background. We are awakened in this reflection, and yet we must lie these moments down to awaken to a new morning, a new time.
What’s on your thank you list?
Tags: disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, fun, gratitude, interability marriage, love, love story, Megan Cutter, time together, vision
Last week was full of celebrations, as February 14th was Valentine’s Day, Barton and I had met on February 15th nine years ago, and Barton’s birthday followed closely afterward.
Yet, not only was it full of celebrations, but it one of our fullest weeks in quite a while. I taught four classes during the week, Barton had a conference with several adjoining events, and a barrage of emails, conversations and other to-do’s filtered throughout the week.
After Barton’s conference, we headed over with colleagues to one local restaurant, Irregardless for a celebration dinner. Owners Arthur and Anya are neighbors, and we see them often walking the path of our neighborhood. Sometimes I’ll be out with the dogs, or Barton will be zooming off to one of his meetings. This night turned out to be especially joyous. We were greeted by Arthur and Anya, students from a local school were playing incredible jazz, we shared desserts, and had a night of great conversation full of laughter. As we were leaving, the hostess asked if Barton wrote for the paper because someone had left a note for him telling him how much his articles meant- later he put it up on his desk. What an evening!
Friday, finally we had a little time on our own, and we found ourselves just being present, sharing pieces of our week, of what we learned and ideas that we had. We chatted about the generosity of others for our Kickstarter project for Ink in the Wheels: Stories to Make Love Roll and talked about how far we could go with our project. It was a delight just to feel the quiet flow of conversation and connection.
Whatever else may be going on, whatever hurdles or craziness of life has creeped up, taking the time out to celebrate, I am learning, is so necessary.
I’m one who uses lists- I have my daily to-do list, project list, creative list- it goes on. And sometimes I have a tendency to see what’s still left on my list at the end of the day, what hasn’t been accomplished. Over time, this can be awfully daunting to only see what’s left undone.
As long as we live, we will have goals and visions, things we would love to do, places where we raise the bar for ourselves, or someone else raise the bar offering a choice on whether we will jump in or stay where we are.
Taking a breath to celebrate what we have accomplished is a vital part of the journey, not to wallow in its glory, but to pause for just a moment, become aware of where we are before moving onto the next step.
There are times when these celebrations are for momentous occasions, to be shared with others, and there may be times in our lives when we need to celebrate the simplest acts, where making it through the day is a grand step, and these private celebrations are not seen by anyone.
What are you celebrating today?
Tags: disability, disability and humor, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, fun, interability marriage, love, Megan Cutter, Work, writing
Yesterday, we spent the afternoon with our beat-up flip camera filming a clip for our Kickstarter Project. Kickstarter is a way to connect funders with projects, and videos bring the story to life. It’s your chance to pitch your story, and communicate what you need. Don’t worry- you’ll hear more about our project in February, when it goes live.
We had a few hours in the afternoon, and we were determined to get out a version we could use. Mind you, we had spent the weekend writing a script, pieces Barton could say, and others I could, overlapping our voices and message together. So, we began by pulling out the script, and Barton had the bright idea of posting it somewhere for us to look at.
Yet, when we began arranging things in our studio, there was no way to post our script without being obvious. So we threw out that idea. Instead, we figured we would just tape as many versions we could and pick out the one we liked the best. Yes, we each had pieces we would say, but we would also jumped if we needed to. And then I got worried about screwing up our quote at the beginning, so Barton started us off right.
The result was a fun afternoon of improv and fits of laughter. Yes, I’m not sure which one of us got the giggles first, but every take after that was cut short; Barton even had me laughing so hard he brought tears to my eyes. When we were done, we were both exhausted, but we had great fun, and hopefully, accomplished what we needed for the project.
So much for being “serious” in front of a camera- but you know, we are who we are!
Tags: communication, disability, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, interability marriage, love, love story, Megan Cutter, vision, Work, writing
Over the holidays, a contract is diminishing for me and we finished a draft of our book, all within two weeks of each other. The glass half empty, the glass half full. At the moment, I’ve been sitting in the middle of the unknown- we don’t know what will happen as I am reworking one of my primary contracts, which we know will be cut in half or more, and at the same time sensing the elation of a project in the midst of manifestation after so long of talking and dreaming- it’s been quite a holiday.
Along the way, Barton has been amazing- offering the support to go with the flow, with the genuine and true belief that no matter what happens, we will be okay. And truly, there are many exciting and new possibilities at the cusp of fruition this year. Since our focus for the book has become clear with Barton’s excitement almost surpassing my own, the contagiousness of our energy has bounced off each other to create a momentum that I have not experienced before.
For me, it’s been vital to focus on our manuscript in this time of unknowing, and trust me, there has been much to do. Barton found that he could write much more material by using the Voice Memo App on his I-Phone and could record about a 7-minute piece to then email to me for transcription. I would sit down at my computer, open my in-box to find a string of 5-10 voice memos to transcribe. Since October, Barton has written, and I have transcribed, over 100 voice memos. Wow!
One by one, I would transcribe, typing about the same pace as Barton’s speaking rate, which worked perfectly. I created my own system, putting brackets around words that I could not make out, and leaving spaces between each section since the order I received them in was not necessarily the order that Barton intended.
I would also have pieces of material I was working on, and found myself as I normally do, writing at four or five in the morning to candlelight, and then later in the morning or evening transcribing Barton’s work, finally to put them together as overlapping voices for our story.
We were so determined to make our own deadline to send our draft to our editor that we worked through the winter holidays. In fact, New Years Eve, we were so exhausted we were asleep before any New Year’s celebrations began.
Yet, what a blessing to start the year of with a project that we believe in, have a clear vision for and hope that others will find what they need in their own lives. And so, for all of your inquiring minds- the first draft is done, yet there is much to do for publication this fall. We’ll keep you posted for pre-orders!!
Sunday was our seventh anniversary! And- we both crashed! The past few weeks have been exceptionally busy. We’ve had a variety of projects, meetings, workshops, and ended with Barton’s conference in Wilmington. Of course there were jokes about the weather- no hurricanes this year (although apparently there was a tropical storm that never made it to shore).
Since we do not have a van, I went along to make sure Barton was where he needed to be during the day, and snuck away during the day to get some of my own work and writing done. And, discovering that One Tree Hill was filming a block from the hotel, I admit I played hooky for a day to watch production set up.
When Barton’s conference ended on Thursday afternoon, we made a beeline for the beach, any time for a moment of rest & relaxation. As we watched the ocean waves from the hotel room balcony, we couldn’t help to smile and be amazed at the past year, full of adventure, excitement and a rollercoaster ride of events (from returning to a tornado-torn Tuscaloosa, removing a backyard tree only to realize that the floor of our house is sinking in, and transforming our business).
That evening, we enjoyed dinner at a local restaurant, taking time out to celebrate where we are in our lives, how close we have felt to each other the past year, and dreams and goals we have for this next year. It’s easy when there is a lot going on to run into the next project, skipping over the celebration. And taking the evening to celebrate was just what we needed.
I couldn’t help waking up just before sunrise to greet the sun from our hotel room- taking a moment to feel the gratitude of where we are in our crazy lives. I wouldn’t have it any other way- and in all of the events this past year, to feel as close to Barton as I do now, is just amazing. What a phenomenal life!
Even while we were relaxing on the patio Friday morning, we were working on an article together, weaving our stories and work. Before we left, it was warm enough to sit in rocking chairs on the veranda, and we watched dolphins play in the water.
By the time we made it to the weekend- home and unpacked, we were exhausted, and while we had all of this exciting and fun stuff planned for Saturday and Sunday, we just crashed.
And you know what, it’s perfectly okay. I wouldn’t have it any other way, because tomorrow we will wake up, grab a cup of coffee, enjoy the day (and work)– together.
Tags: disability, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, interability marriage, love, love story, Megan Cutter, Speaking Engagements, time together, vision, Work
This past week, I’ve posted updates about our travels to Tuscaloosa in my creative blog, Writing 4 Wellness. Yet, in taking a moment to step back, I am utterly taken back at how profound the time in Tuscaloosa was- because Barton came.
Originally, I was going to pack paintings and photography up in our little white Honda, cart it down, set it up, have the reception and drive home, and because of our budget, I was going to do it alone. But when Barton and I began discussing how we could support Tuscaloosa beyond the reception for the art show, it was clear that both of us needed to go.
I wasn’t prepared for how our trip would be a time of reflection and of honored time between us. Even as we drove into Tuscaloosa, we got off the highway at the normal exit I took to go to my mother’s old house, and as we made our way into town, Barton asked me, “Are you ready for this?” In that moment, I am so thankful I was not driving alone.
As I held a photograph up to the wall, Barton would give me directions- a little to the left, a little to the right. He was also keeper of the hammer, and in times where our energy waned, he provided comic relief as the hammer flippantly dropped out of his hand onto the floor and I became the character out of an “I Love Lucy Show” trying to hold the picture while reaching in vane for the hammer, just out of reach.
As the patterns of my photography and my mother’s artwork emerged on the walls, I found myself excited that Barton was present, able to witness the artist peeking out behind my written words. And to see how my mother’s creative spirit was very much alive and at work in my own life.
Even in the work outside of the art exhibit, as Barton and I led three creative expression classes and walked around my neighborhood with care packages to hand out, we bantered back and forth, playing off of each other, building off of the other.
Friday, the day we left was the most dramatic and intimate space held between us. It was the time where Barton and I were driving through the neighborhoods of Alberta (one of the hardest hit areas) alone- it was the time where we grieved the destruction and recovery work that lay before us in this town where we had been married and I had lived. And at first, I did not see the pile of children’s toys, until Barton took my hand, and we sat in the car a moment, crying together.
There are times when we must walk our own path set before us, and there are times when walking with another gives us strength, determination, and encouragement. I am honored enough that this time, this experience, we could share it together.
Tags: Barton Cutter, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, interability marriage, love, love story, vision, Work
Traveling to Tuscaloosa to support Megan in both the opening for her art show as well as the unexpected opportunities to work with the Tuscaloosa community in the wake of the April 27th tornado, I found myself extremely grateful to be able to share such a profound experience with my wife.
As many of you may know, Megan was originally going to travel to Tuscaloosa and set up her art show without me, but in the weeks after the tornado, we felt it necessary that I join her simply because we both wanted to offer a sense of hope and possibility for whomever we may meet while we were down there. Naturally, the synergy between Megan and I continually seems to be a source of inspiration to others. Our intent in both of us going together was to offer the spark amidst all the trauma and loss. What I experienced, however, was much more intimate and profound than I had ever expected.
Sitting in the gallery amidst it’s empty walls and the partially unraveled boxes of Megan’s artwork, I watched this love of mine transform herself from one who was once hesitant to acknowledge herself as an artist to a robust and inspired creative who with each piece hung took increasingly profound ownership of her photography, and with it, her whole essence as an artist.
Two days we spent hanging her photography side by side with a legacy of drawings, acrylics, and abstract glasswork by her mom. While I never had the pleasure of meeting her mother, I felt as though through observing this transformation of Megan’s recognition of her own artistic talents, along with the physical space of the gallery, I came to know and appreciate a deeper aspect of their relationship that I had never known before. I could see in spirit the pride of both a mother and daughter supporting one another’s talents and came to understand the beauty that her mother, Anna von deBardeleben, came to bestow on my amazing and talented wife. And for that I am ever thankful.
Tags: Barton Cutter, disability, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, interability marriage, love, love story
It is amazing to me the beauty that unfolds when we let go of the unnecessary and follow with a trusting heart where we are being led. The day after Valentine’s Day eight years ago I found myself in this exact position. Though at the time, I was not entirely aware of the extent to which this was occurring.
As some of you may know, this is the day I met Megan for the first time during a brief encounter when I dropped by a friend’s house to begin a new stage in my martial arts training. I had no idea at the time that this would be the same occasion that would bring me face to face with the woman that would become the love of my life. In fact, romance of any kind was the thing furthest from my mind at the moment. I had tentative plans for the night before to reconnect with an old flame in what was clearly a futile attempt to rekindle a relatively unhealthy and unwanted relationship. When the plans fell through, I took it as a clear sign that it was not where my focus needed to be, and, perhaps hopelessly began to believe that finding partnership in this lifetime was not where I was being led. Surprisingly, I was okay with this.
But boy, was I wrong, and thank God for that! My focus the day that Megan and I met was on training. And though I thought she was beautiful, it wasn’t until we met again three months later that I even considered pursuing her in any fashion. Fortunately, I did and though it took her a while to catch on, I feel confident in saying that it was probably the best thing for either of us that I’ve ever done.
After eight years, we’ve been through quite a bit, discovering a constant practice of rediscovering who we are as individuals and as a couple. It’s been a challenging, beautiful, exquisite, exhilarating journey, and while there’s always been more to work on, it feels like we are finally beginning to understand how true partnerships flow and function.
Last week, some dear friends of ours gave us a very fine gift to use for a special dinner for Valentine’s Day. We opted to make our reservations a day late and take the chance to celebrate not only our love for one another but to take the time to look back over these eight marvelous years we have known each other, and reflect on our on-going transformations and look forward to the opportunities to grow together that await us.
Tags: disability, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, interability marriage, love, love story, Megan Cutter
February is a month of celebration for us- not only is it Valentine’s Day, but over the Valentine’s Day weekend eight years ago, Barton & I met for the first time. I was in Arizona for an informal martial arts training at a friend’s house. In fact, I had skipped out on a local seminar so that I could be there.
That Saturday afternoon, I was in the hallway talking to several of my friends when I was introduced to Barton. My first thought was like most other people- how does he train in a wheelchair? Later I would quickly find out! In a flash he was gone, out the door, and I returned to training. I had not ever expected to find love within that brief meeting.
After all, I had spent the last two years recovering from the public break-up of an engagement and the death of my mother. And while I had begun training in martial arts and returned to my writing, the first steps to move on with my life, I never thought I would fall in love or get married.
Sure enough, my heart knew, but my mind took a while to catch up. When we said good-bye that April after a longer seminar, I tucked a note with my name and email and a piece of turquoise in his pocket, along with a kiss on the cheek. Later, I would catch myself talking about Barton or telling a Barton story to a friend. I couldn’t have expected the love that would follow.
This winter has been particularly difficult, and while we worked through all of the challenges that were presented to us side-by-side, it was wonderful to have such caring family and friends that allowed for us to take a breath, a break from the external chaos, and a chance to celebrate our relationship and connection. As we honor the transformation in our relationship over the last eight years, we look back at what a journey it has been and dream about what is to come!
This is one of our favorite quotes from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin that speaks to this transformation:
When you fall in love, it is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake, and then it subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. This is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the desire to mate every second of the day. It is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every part of your body. No… don’t blush. I am telling you some truths. For that is just being in love; which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over, when being in love has burned away. Doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? But it is!
~Iannis, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
Tags: Christmas Day, Christmas holiday, disability, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, holiday blog, holiday stories, interability marriage, Megan Cutter, snow, winter wonderland
This Christmas, we had plans to travel to Atlanta, to see my family. It was the first time to see my dad’s side of the family for a long time, and I was so excited about traveling down. But sometimes the best plans fall by the side of the road. With snow threatening North Carolina, Barton & I decided to stay home.
Though, we did decide to kennel the dogs anyway- they needed to play with other dogs, and I- a much needed break from the pack of three- the ol’referee (Bear), the wild child (Basho) & the little one (Beowulf).
I had been pretty exhausted from the past couple of weeks & with a few powerhouse weeks coming up full of potential and possibilities as the new year begins, what I really needed was a break.
On the way home, we picked up a pile of firewood, and along with every other neighbor in town, hit the grocery store. Even the staff at the store was unprepared for the Christmas Eve mob.
Instead of driving seven hours to Atlanta, we plopped ourselves in front of the fireplace and I melted into a soft noodle. Is it pathetic to say that by 7:30pm Christmas Eve, Barton was pulling me off the sofa to go to bed? Christmas Day we had fun with friends at a Christmas Day party, and returned home full of laughter, smiles and way too much sugar.
The snow indeed came to The Triangle. My half-hearted efforts to shovel off the porch was even more delayed by Barton calling me to add another log to the fire. Today has been a movie day, and as Barton put it- a romantic get-a-way without getting away. Complete with fire, love by my side and looking out the windows at the snow-lined branches, it feels like Christmas.
Christmas was my mother’s favorite holiday, complete with many gifts to unwrap. Instead, I wrap my arms around Barton and am thankful for what we have in our lives. We experience challenges everyday, but we return to the love and life we have found with each other. It’s more than I can ask for.
I have been pulled off the sofa every so often- taking the camera for some pictures of the white fluff, and the short trips outdoors- to push the Camilla bush off the ramp, a few snapshots and a breath of snow-filled air, and while Barton laughs at my need to organize and clean, I will return to my spot on the sofa in front of the fire.
Tomorrow we will wade through the snow soaked roads for a list of errands and to pick up the pack, and hopefully by then the roadways will be clearer, and we’ll be ready for the challenge.
Merry Christmas everyone- we hope your Christmas or winter celebration was filled with family, friends and love!